Copyrighting isn’t as easy anymore. Thanks to Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, all copyrights must be registered with the US Government, or else no rights will be acknowledged in the eyes of the court. What brought about this issue? How are we to manage without registry anymore? And why is this a good thing for us Artists?
Since the first copyright of the Statute of Anne of 1710, we’ve all been worried about how strict countries have been about restricting our creative liberties. No one can just draw their own Mickey Mouse without a lawsuit from Disney, nor can anyone feel free to use Sherlock Holmes without permission from New York Socialite, Andrea Plunket. The classics are dead to many of us, thanks to this limitation, and we hardly have the chance to share these great works of art without a nay-sayer getting in the way of our fun!
But, it’s all for the greater good too. William Hogarth made the first copyright for Artists. It’s not a memorable copyright, as it’s been a public domain collection for centuries, but a landmark worth recognizing, nevertheless. In the 1720, the Statute of Anne made William Hogarth rich, thanks to his strategy of making copies of his artworks, through printing press. His limited collections of each artwork allowed a low class school teacher, rank above the middle class within ten years of his lifetime. His money allowed him to buy a manor of his own, and servants to boot. But his fame didn’t come without a price, as many forgers came about to reprint his artworks, and selling them for less than half of what they were originally sold. This diminished their value, and nearly led William Hogarth to bankruptcy. Hence, his fight to create the copyright became nominal for us all.
Today, not only do we have the Sonny Bono/Disney Act of extending a copyright to ninety-five years past the time of the author’s death to wait upon, but we also have copyrights reinstated through buyouts from generations of character ownership. Due to this, we grumble at the idea of kicking a dead horse. “Let it go already!”, we say. “We just want to enjoy it.” But…do we?
During the 1900’s, a highly scandalous novel, called, Le Fleurs du Mal, became public domain. People read it, shared it, and relished in its obscure homosexual and almost violent dominatrix philosophy and story. It’s writhed with promiscuous acts of bondage, and celebrates the lustful perversion of Marquis De Sade wrote about. It would be an ideal book to recreate, re-imagine, and re-told today – due to the vigor of the liberal politics involving our generation today. There are classes to concentrate on Gay History in schools, and even Lesbian romances released online-everywhere. So, why are we not reading this, and talking about this, or even creating fanfics for this?
Answer: no profit, no support.
Most of what we know is due to the fact that someone got paid to publish our fandom. And in order to continue its luster, it requires someone to make money off of the story or artwork, so that quality may be preserved. Otherwise, we’ll all see more Mona Lisa’s losing its three dimensional design to a cracked aged canvas, awaiting for another theif to invite the press for more humiliation.
With Disney, buying out all these films and novels, and artworks – we may have a chance to keep the integrity of these masterpieces alive. Yes, we may enjoy Masters of Margarita silently, as a small society of surreal readers. But can you imagine it becoming a movie or theme park? Think of how many new copies publishers would make of it? One can only dream to purchase a freshly pressed hardback with new illustrations, dust jackets, and reviews! You’d have talking cat toys everywhere, and a living room filled with parafanalia of your favorite scenes. And the jokes wouldn’t be just funny for some, but for everyone. We’d all be laughing, sighing, and smiling at the pages as we flip them together.
It happened with Annie Hall, and it happened with Minecraft. You know how this feels, I’m sure. But there’s always a new generation that only knows what they were introduced to, and many of them don’t even know about Adam and Lilith, but just Adam and Eve.
So, hail to public domain! We can enjoy them for free, and without care. Let’s make art and write songs, and build fandoms about them, until we die. But lo, beware if they go into obscurity, and lose their fans, their followers, and their friends. Who will continue its legacy then? Their children?
Their worth is in repetition, and reach. You lose either in the process, and its fame will diminish like a pillar of sand.
Cherish the copyright. It serves us more than you’d think. It allows the soul to brighten, and remind those that have forgotten it, to realize its value.