Jonathan Lethem is one of the most interesting writers working today both for his work and his ideas.
In the February issue of Harper's, he wrote an essay, The Ecstacy of Influence, and then put some of
those ideas into practice with the The Promiscuous Materials Project which gave the non-exclusive rights
to adapt (for a dollar) nearly 20 of his stories as well as lyrics which could be used in songs for free. Several
films are being made and a number of songs have been recorded.
On May 15th, he'll go beyond his previous experiment and select a director to grant a free film option for his new novel, You Don’t Love Me Yet, which comes out on Tuesday (his tour begins March 15th in Chicago and he'll be in the bay area in mid-April).
Then five years after the film's debut, all ancillary rights to the film & novel ("anyone who cared to could make any number of other kinds of artwork based on the novel’s story and characters, or the film’s: a play, a television series, a comic book, a theme park ride, an opera – or even a sequel film or novel featuring the same characters. For that matter, they can remake the film with another script and new actors") will go into the public domain.
Details are at www.jonathanlethem.com/freelove.html He writes (I added links):
Lately I’ve become fitful about some of the typical ways art is commodified. Despite making my living (mostly) by licensing my own copyrights, I found myself questioning some of the particular ways such rights are transacted, and even some of the premises underlying what’s called intellectual property.
I came away with the sense that artists ought to engage these questions directly, rather than leaving it entirely for corporations (on one side) and public advocates (on the other) to hash out.
I also realized that sometimes giving things away – things that are usually seen to have an important and intrinsic ‘value’, like a film option – already felt like a meaningful part of what I do. I wanted to do more of it.
I was planning on buying the book (from a local bookstore, not amazon, but that is all that works now with vox), but now I'll definately see the film when it comes out. I hope this will inspire other writers (and creative people).
You can also learn more about these issues at Creative Commons.
Originally posted on tigerbeat.vox.com