jonathan pearlman

jonathan pearlman

FINE ART Photography



Photo successfully downloaded from the internet from the Queensland Government's website, saved to my desktop and reproduced here without permission. 

Here's a nice conundrum, dear listener: let's say that you commission me to take a photograph of your house. Let's say that I spend hours processing this photo which I then pass on to you and you pay me for my professional work. Who now owns the original photo? You? Me? 

Let's say that you use my photograph on a real estate site and subsequently sell your house, as I intended for you to use the photo. Let's say you decide to publish the photo inside a book you've written about the house you just sold. The book sells millions of copies and you become an instant millionaire. Hollywood knocks on your door and offers you multi-millons for the film rights and you make squillions from the subsequent feature film.

What do I get? I get to purchase a writ with your name on it; we get to spend a couple of years in and out of court. We get to spend vast sums of money (most of which you have and I don't) on lawyers and continuing litigation. We rely on a judge of a superior court to sort out the mess.

Up to this point, then, all quite straight forward? As naiive and simplistic as my scenario might seem, we are on a small tour of the wonderfully fascinating world of intellectual property law

When Queensland State Health Minister, Lawrence Springborg, recently declared there had been a breach of intellectual property rights, he already had his head down a rabbit hole. Attempting to extricate himself from reality, Springborg further complicated his message by insisting the government was merely offering an ultimatum to the alleged perpetrators on behalf of a third party, the so-called intellectual property holders. 

In doing so, Minister Springborg sets an unusual and dangerous precedence. It may be the case that Minister Springborg relied on legal opinion (however ridiculous) in order to state his rather surreal pronouncements. More alarming is that a government minister would set out to censor printed material, however distasteful he deems it to be, through threats of legal action on behalf of a third party. This sets off alarm bells, in my mind, that echo back to the most oppressive regimes of the 20th century.

More pertinently, Springborg has only a layperson's understanding of what intellectual property law means. If it were as simple to prosecute as he believes, I could be a multi-millionaire instantly.

Then, you could keep my photo of your house and place it on a hundred billboards for all I cared.

(* For further reading, visit Grouch Marx's wonderful letter to Warner Bros over the alleged breach of copyright to the title 'Casablanca')


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