A Little Scandal

July 13th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

In our lifetime, we have seen many changes to copyright law (as Mickey Mouse ages, the laws continue to evolve to protect him). We are of two minds on this. Not the same as being wishy washy, though we’ve been accused of that as well. First, of course, is that an artist has the right to the fruits of his or her labor, and it is the responsibility of government to protect the artist’s copyright. On the other hand, we are concerned with the incessant extensions of copyright. The concept of public domain resonates with us (basically, in exchange for government protection for a certain period of time, the artist repays the investment, after death, when works go into the public domain). Because we cannot do this subject the intelligence it deserves, we refer you to Lawrence Lessig’s writings on the topic.

So, yes, it is a legitimate question? Why are we still writing and why are you still reading? You’ve been sent to the master; what more do we want from you? Ah, well, we have a treat in store: a twist and scandal. Plus a closing line to end all closing lines (not ours, alas, but the article’s). What we have going on here is a little feud; the victim, of course, is the public. In one corner, we have the copyright owner (unrelated to the deceased artist, a composer, except tangentially). In the other, we have the author of a scholarly work about the artist. The author is claiming fair use of materials; the copyright owner is claiming copyright infringment. The referee is saying, “Whoa! We don’t have the bucks to settle this issue in a court of law.” The copyright owner is happy. The author is threatening to go commando (not in the no-underwear sense of the word, thankfully).

You’re right — we simply cannot do this story justice. You must read it for yourself. Draw your own conclusions. Seriously, it’s like a mini-soap opera. Given the subject matter, we wish we had a final joke here, but you can write your own.

File Under: Square Pegs