Life After Death: Becoming an Intellectual Property Donor

Intellectual property is something of a hot topic these days, but artist Evan Roth is taking a unique look at the issue. His Public Domain Donor project consists of a simple sticker that could one day change the way we deal with creative products and intellectual property. According to Roth, slapping one of these stickers onto your driver’s license (and signing it) will inform authorities of your wish to donate any and all of your personal intellectual property to the public domain in the event of your death, much like an organ donation sticker.

Roth’s stickers proclaim their bearers to be “intellectual property donor[s],” or people willing to donate their personal intellectual property to the public domain. Currently, copyright laws prohibit the use of an individual’s creative projects for a period of 70 years following that person’s death. But Roth’s stickers would let people state their wishes to become intellectual property donors upon their death so that their work would immediately become available for others to use.

While we don’t know about the legality of a home-printed sticker, we do think Roth is on to an outstanding idea. Unless you have a significant library of intellectual property and a legacy of people who are counting on having exclusive access to it, why not donate your life’s work – whether that be research, music, or just a bunch of doodles – for the good of the rest of the world? It’s one way to ensure that at least part of you will live on forever.

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See more in Home & Personal or under Gadgets. January, 2011.