I was talking on twitter this weekend about copyright law and how it favors corporate entertainment in our culture.
Really, it’s set up to defend Disney at all costs. Laws are changed, the “what’s copyright and what’s not” is vague and open to immense lawsuits where corporations can defend and make it not worthwhile for anyone to challenge with use of characters.
It needs to change. Copyrights on characters are not meant to last forever. I think everyone would agree that copywriting characters like Romeo + Juliet would be absurd, but for some reason you go back to the early 1900s where the creators are dead and you can’t use characters like Zorro or John Carter, who are very much part of Americana culture and general zeitgeist, because of these archaic laws that give corporations free reign over what’s “real” and what’s “not.”
It’s not right. It stifles creativity. It makes independent artists walk on eggshells.
Bill Willingham, a writer who I respect, talked about the subject and said he’s heard proposals where copyrights last 20 years flat and then end. That might be a good way to do things, though I also can see just the lifetime of the artist being a marker — of course, “lifetime” could be used by corporations in other nefarious ways if they want to get ahold of a property.
I’m not sure what the solution is, but as it stands now, it needs to be overhauled because protecting big monolith companies and keeping their oligopoly on art is destroying our culture.