Now, to begin with you have to understand that I know nothing about copyright or trademark laws. But I have this idea that’s nagging at me. Maybe I’m crazy.
The idea is this: Can I copyright or trademark my personal information? You know, my personal combination of “Name, Address, telephone, e-mail, etc”. The basic personal information that everyone asks for.
Then, if I can do that, can I gain control over who uses it? Can I control who buys it, sells it or gives it away? Could I gain the same rights over my personal information that publishers have over the lyrics on a soundtrack?
If major corporations can keep people from using their name, why can’t I?
Sure there’s likely to be more than one Kevin Bedell, but not more than one with my Social Security number. If I could get copyright control over that combination then why wouldn’t I have the same rights as other intellectual property holders?
It just seems one-sided that a film publisher can send the FBI after me if I make a single copy of a DVD, but they can track all my purchases and visits to their website and sell my personal information to anyone, anywhere for as much as they want for as long as they want. Why don’t I have laws protecting my information the way they have laws protecting theirs?
How can I get that kind of leverage?
Even if I can’t copyright my personal information, why can’t I copyright a name - say, “Kevin Bedell #1″ or something - and use that information whenever I fill out forms? I could say that was my “trade name” and copyright it. Why not?
Some creative mind with the right knowledge is somewhere I know it. Someone can come up with the right spin on this. Maybe I have to incorporate. Maybe I have to publish my personal information in a book or something to get rights to it.
Imagine that. I could publish a book with only one page - containing only my personal information. (I could do it electronically.) I could include a copyright designation. Then, no one could use that information without my consent. Right?
Then we could build a web site with a form to fill out and it would publish/copyright your information. We could get 10,000 people to do this - and then have them all fill out Warranty cards for the same product and bring a class action suit against the manufacturer if they resell the information. That would turn heads - and change behavior if we were right.
Maybe I need a version of the information I use only when conducting business (something like appending the “#1″ as in the example above). Then I could restrict use of that information for business transactions. My ‘personal’ identity would be free to use - but only if you knew it. If you want to use the info I put on the form I filled out (my ‘business’ identity) then it’s under copyright.
I know this seems crazy, but why not? The laws should protect all of us - there has to be some twist I haven’t thought of yet that would make it possible…
It’s time we tried to stand up and take back some of the control we’ve lost or given away. How can we use existing laws to do it?
Am I crazy?