Now that I have your attention - if you're an independent filmmaker or dramatist, you may not have many chances to adapt works of popular fiction writers. Intellectual property law doesn't make it easy and licensing fees alone can make approaching big-name authors an expensive proposition.
Jonathan Lethem is one writer eager to see his work adapted by others. The bestselling author of "Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn" has started a project called "Promiscuous Materials." For the price of one dollar, anyone can adapt one of several short stories available into a film or one act play.
In an NPR interview, Lethem explained his reasoning: "What I'm doing is sort of saying, look, we give things away sometimes. That's part of our work, and... as it happens, I'd like to do more of it.... The reason this seemed so important to me is that... people talk about intellectual property as if it were an absolute concept with very easily defined terms and I want to suggest that actually there's an enormous grey area. There's a really big spectrum between charging for something and giving it away...."
Lethem takes his inspiration from the open source software movement and Creative Commons (though the license he is using is not a CC license). In a recent essay in Harper's, Lethem argued that contemporary ideas of intellectual property stifle creativity and prevent artists from building on achievements of others. To drive the point home, he constructed the entire article from quotations by other authors.
Not all of Lethem's work is available on his Promiscuous Materials terms and there are simple conditions to which artists must agree before using his material.
What's your view on intellectual property? Do you protect your work for selected use only, or do you offer other writers/artists/photographers the opportunity to expand on your work or incorporate your work in collaborative projects?
Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation and Jonathan Lethem's website. Photo of giant dice in a shop on Ile Saint Louis, Paris