Property Rights

The cultural goods which are not embodied in concrete physical objects present different problems, which actually increase with the ease with which the spiritual ideas can be disembodied from the original sources.

This stems from the fact that they are difficult to produce but easy to reproduce. It applies in particular for scientific achievements. A mathematical theorem, once needing the genius of an Euler or a Gauss for discovery and proof, can later be reproved by every college student.

As we will see, there has been a lot of theft of ideas over the ages, and a tendency to keep disembodied ideas in secrecy. In the 17th and 18th Centuries musical ideas were reused not only by the proper composers themselves, but by colleagues as well, sometimes without any indication of origin. Below we will see how difficult it was for Mersenne in the 17th Century to found an academy of sciences to the end of creating a platform for safe dissipation of ideas so as to speed up development.

True copyright laws were rather late to appear, and applied to the publisher rather than to the originator. This still holds for literature, including science. As for music, copyright for published music included the right to perform! It was as late as in 1898 that Richard Strauss founded the association of composers in Germany, and with great difficulty managed to make legislators differentiate the rights of the publisher, proper copyright, ("Verlegerrechte") from the rights of the composer, including performance rights, ("Urheberrechte"). See Deppisch, "Richard Strauss". It was these entrepre neurial talents which made Goebbels offer Strauss to become president of the "Reichsmusikkammer" of Nazi Germany, an honour the great composer, unfortunately for his later reputation, accepted, until he was later disposed of for collaboration with Jewish librettists.

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