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Just a Minute: What the Dickens…?

2 Dec, 2013 By: David Gibbons

The English novelist Charles Dickens was treated like “a modern rock star” on his first visit to the USA in 1842. He was just 30, but as BBC reporter Simon Watts discloses “the trip soon turned sour.” 

The “great expectations” that Dickens held towards Americans’ was dashed by those trying to make money off of his fame. Oliver Twist and the Pickwick Papers had already made him the most famous writer in the world. According to Watts, the American jeweler (NY), Tiffany & Co., had made copies of a Dickens’ bust. However, what annoyed him most was the “plagiarism” of his works. Americans’ were reading his works for free in pirated editions. In 1842 there were no international copyright laws in America. The issue, as Watts put it, “was a very modern one - intellectual property.”

Dickens’ realized that his popularity in the U.S. could substantially increase his income if his American fans paid to read his works. “I am the greatest loser alive by the present law,” he complained. Dickens argued that a copyright law would help American writers as well, and he stressed that he would "rather have the affectionate regard of my fellowmen as I would have heaps and mines of gold." However, the American press turned on Dickens. His visit to America ended with both sides accusing each other of being “vulgar money-grabbers.”

In Comparison

This interesting anecdote was shared with printer cartridge remanufacturers who gathered in Zhuhai, China last month. U.S. patent attorney Steve Adkins reminded the audience that many countries, including the USA, have ignored intellectual property rights (IPRs) in the past. However, as he reminded the 212 delegates from 41 countries, “When a nation sees the merit and value in new ideas and inventions, they seek to preserve them, and pass laws accordingly.” Adkins observed that countries like China, which have been accused of ignoring IPRs, have already started to implement IPR lawsin order to preserve the value of work created in their own country.

Stanislav Malinsky told remanufacturers there are no patents on printer consumables in his homeland of Russia. It’s currently “open slather” there for those who would want to sell “cloned” or copied printer cartridges. Many other countries around the globe are the same. However, OEMs and rechargers alike must be asking: “What the dickens (read Hell) is going on here?” I would agree.

David Gibbons is a director of communications for Recycling Times Media and broadcast host of In Touch News, and is a regular contributor to imageSource. http://www.recylingtimes.com

About the Author: David Gibbons

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