Which got me wondering. What would happen if an author waived his rights? Just said: "Anyone can turn this into a film, play, tv series. I really don't care and I won't try any legal way to stop you."
Would it be that the wannabe film makers would have to be that much more careful? Because all of a sudden they no longer have exclusivity. If they fuck it all up then not only will the author tell the world what a load of old rubbish it is but the chances would be that there would be a better version coming along in the not-too-distant future.
That was how the Soviet Union designed much of its suite of military equipment. Rival teams were given a set of specification and deadlines, and through a series of stages the teams presented prototypes, and contest supervisors winnowed the field. Stalin liked these contests. They created urgency and a strong sense of priorities, and they helped speed along development. This was also a system without patents or even notions of intellectual property, at least as we know them in the West. So design convergence was part of the process—the teams and the judges, as time passed, could mix and match features from different submissions. Think of a game of Mr. Potato Head. Now imagine a similar game, in which many different elements and features of an automatic rifle are available to you, and more are available at each cycle, and you can gradually pluck the best features and assemble them into a new whole. In some ways, this was the process here.
It was always been a great puzzle to me how the half-way capitalist Tsarists managed to lose their world war while the full-on commies won theirs. My explanation had always been that the disciplines learnt under the Tsar and the extraordinary growth that Russia experienced prior to the First World War, somehow kept going. But, surely, twenty years of Leninist, followed by Stalinist communism will destroy anything. Or, maybe, that Allied aid to the Soviets was more than we tend to think. The explanation that it’s to do with intellectual property seems far more plausible. And it also explains why the Soviets were good at military stuff but lousy at everything else.