Copyright and Trivial Efforts

I am linking to How does copyright work in space? where I read the summary even though the actual article is at The Economist. That’s because while the subject of the complexity of copyright is interesting, or possibly depressing, what got me was this comment

We live in a world where sending a guitar into space is trivial while ironing out rights agreements is the tough part.

I understand the sentiment, but I’m also bothered by the characterization of sending anything into space as trivial (and besides, copyright is hard because we choose to make it so). Too often, “trivial” is a tag placed on an effort when someone else does it. It reminded me of a comment one of my previous commanding officers had made to the research group of which I am a member, which was basically that because of his past experience, he had the appreciation that most of the work that goes on in getting a job done happens behind the scenes. In our case, that building a top-of-the-line atomic clock isn’t easy, and that the uninformed often look at the final product (or result) without the comprehension that 90% or more of the project is invisible, like an iceberg. Making it look easy doesn’t mean it is easy.

Which is why I want to point out that putting a guitar into space, like many endeavors, isn’t trivial. I would also count some of the efforts of my former shipmates, such as operating a nuclear submarine, or landing an airplane on a tiny postage-stamp of a flight deck bobbing in the ocean. At night, even. A lot of really hard work and discipline go into achieving these things, and that you only rarely hear about failures of such efforts is pretty frikkin’ amazing.