Review: Copyright

I have strong if only 85% formed opinions on copyright law.  On the one hand, I am a writer and I can imagine the sort of horrors which could come from NOT having copyright laws in place to protect artists.  However, we live in a weird world where I also think copyright is used and abused.

The Good:

Harry Potter is an excellent example of a few people have tried to claim Rowling “stole” their idea (magical school isn’t exactly original…) and there is a LOT of fanfiction out there.  About the original characters; folks putting themselves into that universe; and just in the universe but utterly “original” in other ways.

Things like not being allowed to copy a book and resell the copies; “steal” and/or “pervert” characters; and simply changing names and re-publishing are all (unfortunately) required protections.  There is no part of these elements I would like to remove.

The Bad:

All that said, I do stand by saying copyright is broken.  Mickey Mouse is 89 years old – Walt Disney died over 50 years ago.  Why the hell isn’t Mickey (and everything else from the 20’s/30s) Creative commons yet? There are not a lot of folks old enough to even remember his original incarnation first-hand.

And Mickey is a terrible example for this because he is still a creative character in “active use” – but what about all the novels, music, & art which was produced in the 20’s, 30’s & 40s that is still under copyright because some “publisher” (corporate or private holder) has kept submitting to get their information renewed?   what has been lost in smoldering remains of a basement file because it wasn’t “cost effective” to keep publishing it but they sure as HELL aren’t going to let go of that copyright that might “someday” make them money!

Look at the stories of all the movies/tv we’ve lost because studios wouldn’t share and wouldn’t sell and stuff literally got moldy and destroyed?

The Idea:

Ha! You thought I was going to call it the ugly.  Well…. it is a pretty ugly idea right now, so….

This is a “rough draft” of an idea I’ve had for more-than-a-minute.  I know it isn’t perfect – I don’t understand enough how copyright protects completely visual art (painting, photography, etc.).  So Let me just say this is separating what I would call “individual” art (ie a painting)  from what I will call “replicative art” (ie tv shows, movies & books)

So here it is:

I would like copyright to say if you have your work of art unavailable for sale for >12 months (ie not on Amazon digital/ Google Play/ your website with a snail-mail-order-form), you lose the copyright.  With an adendum that if a Publisher (ie book publisher) “owns” the rights and THEY fail to keep it available, it can then revert automatically to the creator (ie the author) for an extra 12 months.

  1. False Scarcity (such as Disney hording movies in their “vault”) would be stopped
  2. Authors/creators would not be “held hostage” by a publishing house or bad agent-negotiated contract because their book wasn’t well received immediately (despite decades of evidence that sometimes stuff only becomes popular “later” rather than “now” ….)

Now, I know movies/tv shows have a weird relationship with like Netflix and Hulu, but in those cases the movies ARE available, I just might not like the price/location – which is a different issue altogether.  I might not like a font on a book, it doesn’t give me the right to scan the book in the MS word and start editing it for myself…. and shouldn’t.

Like I said, it’s a rough-draft idea.  I know it still has holes, but the more I read writers’ blogs, the more the current copyright laws make me UN-happy.