if i believe

by e.e. cummings

if i believe in death be sure of this it is because you have loved me, moon and sunset stars and flowers gold creshendo and silver muting of seatides i trusted not, one night when in my fingers drooped your shining body when my heart sang between your perfect breasts darkness and beauty of stars was on my mouth petals danced against my eyes and down the singing reaches of my soul spoke the green-- greeting pale departing irrevocable sea i knew thee death. and when i have offered up each fragrant night,when all my days shall have before a certain face become white perfume only, from the ashes then thou wilt rise and thou wilt come to her and brush the mischief from her eyes and fold her mouth the new flower with thy unimaginable wings,where dwells the breath of all persisting stars

E. E. Cummings is important to me and maybe to you too. But you don't get to read "if i believe" today because monetizing his products sixty years after his death is more important to W W Norton, who sent me a copyright infringement notice for trying to show you this poem.

Copyright is harmful and counterproductive and it is strangling our culture and progress. No one has a natural right to own an idea. Owning ideas is intuitively absurd. And copyright holders do not own their ideas exactly. They have been granted a temporary monopoly on reproduction, in order to encourage artists to produce works of value to us all. Or it used to be temporary, anyway. The original Copyright Act on 1790 set the duration to 14 years, with the right of renewal for one additional 14 year term if the author was still alive. If that reasonable term was still in effect, works created before 1988 would all be in the public domain now (2012). Can you imagine a world where everything by The Beatles was in the public domain by now? It's easy if you try.

Dig the graph on this article about the objective harm copyright is doing to our culture, The Missing 20th Century. Ugly.