unto thee i

by e.e. cummings

unto thee i burn incense the bowl crackles upon the gloom arise purple pencils fluent spires of fragrance the bowl seethes a flutter of stars a turbulence of forms delightful with indefinable flowering, the air is deep with desirable flowers i think thou lovest incense for in the ambiguous faint aspirings the indolent frail ascensions, of thy smile rises the immaculate sorrow of thy low hair flutter the level litanies unto thee i burn incense,over the dim smoke straining my lips are vague with ecstasy my palpitating breasts inhale the slow supple flower of thy beauty,my heart discovers thee unto whom i burn olbanum

E. E. Cummings is important to me and maybe to you too. But you don't get to read "unto thee i" 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.