THE CHAOS OF COPYRIGTH

The most challenging aspects of copyright to me is the length of the copyright. The current length of copyright noted by Peter B. Hirtle is life of the author plus 70 years (Hirtle).  Protecting something for that many years seems to be too much. Derek Khanna’s states, “The reason they’ve done that infringement upon our personal liberty is in order to create that incentive. But the founders recognized that you have to have that eventually expire to allow for everybody to be able to build upon that work. And that’s why copyright is very different from traditional property. It has to expire (Pethokoukis).” As the class was going over copyright, I started wondering about certain work that could be challenging for them to just fit into the copyright rules. It seems like every type of work is covered, but there is a new type of problem that I believe will eventually pop-up for the copyright committee. Fanfiction,  will be the cause of the next big copyright issue. For those who do not know what fanfiction is, it is when a fan of a certain work rewrites the story or work to fit how they believe it should be. Some fanfiction even goes a far as drawing out the complete work and only keeping the characters. Some website has made up rules  that are supposed to comply with copyright rules by giving credit to the author for the characters, I believe the steps that the authors take to give credit is all they need to do. I did not see anywhere in Peter B. Hirtle “Recent Changes to the Copyright Law: Copyright Term Extension,” where this subject is brought up. I believe that it is worth having its own category in the copyright rules.

There are two sections in the copyright rules that I do not understand: special and sound recordings. First, each section seems to have a special cases section, but these sections should be removed. The law cannot be enforced if you leave a population of people out of side law. I understand there are other major issues that could be in play here, but just like we ignore them they can ignore us. This means section gives loopholes for others to exploit.

The second part that I am having trouble understanding is the sound recording rules. The lawsuit against Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson for the song ‘Uptown Funk’ confuses me. I am a huge Bruno Mars fan, having been to two concerts for two different tours, so I have been following him for a long time. What comes with following him so much is a know when something is said against him about one of his songs that he helped write. Since coming out with ‘Uptown Funk’ Bruno and Mark have been in and out of court. Michelle Fabio states, “Since its release in 2014, ‘Uptown Funk has been in the legal system almost as much as it’s been played in dance clubs (Fabio).” Fabio is referencing the four different court cases that were brought against Bruno and Mark for copyright infringement. What I do not get is how can four different people/companies state that Uptown Funk copied from their song, when they are all pointing at the same part as being copyrighted? Two of the cases are for the same lyrics and two are for the same instrumental tones at the beginning of the song.
Works Cited
Fabio, Michelle. Bruno Mars And Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’ Faces (Yet Another) Copyright Infringement Suit. n.d. website. 24 September 2018.
Hirtle, Peter B,. “Recent Changes To The Copyright Law: Copyright Term Extension.” Archival Outlook (1999).
Pethokoukis, James. Copyright law, crony capitalism, and economic growth: A Q&A with Derek Khanna. 10 February 2014. website. 23 September 2018.

 

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One thought on “THE CHAOS OF COPYRIGTH

  1. Hiya!

    I think you bring up a really interesting point with the complexities of copyright when it comes to fanfiction. I’ve seen several authors of fic have extended author’s notes saying “I don’t own these characters” as a disclaimer to ward off those who might try to respond with lawsuits; I know Anne Rice was pretty notorious back in the 1990s for going after people who wrote Lestat fic and sending them cease-and-desist letters. I wonder how this applies to “fanfiction” that extends on the canon of an extant work. Retellings of classic novels (i.e. work in the public domain) seems to be okay; I don’t think the estate of the Brontes is going to sue anyone for doing a retelling of Jane Eyre. But what if someone were to do a retelling of a “classic” novel that was published after 1923–say, doing a book inspired by Catcher in the Rye (1951)? Would that even be allowed or protected if the work were considered transformative? I suppose the other big one that comes to mind is Harry Potter; there’s obviously a lot of Harry Potter fic that’s come out in the past 20 years, and I’ve even seen writers do whole original novels (I’m thinking Alexandra Quick and the Thorn Circle) that take place in the world of Harry Potter, borrow certain magical elements, but remain wholly original. I guess those are okay as long as the author isn’t profiting off of the work. I also wonder about fanfiction that involves real people, like a lot of band fanfiction (think the One Direction fandom)–I know a few of those works have been published with names changed, but if you know the band(s) then you know which characters are based on which members. Real person fic differs as you can’t really have a disclaimer saying “I don’t own these characters” because, well, they’re not characters–they’re real people. Surely there are copyright limits on what you can do with a living person’s likeness.

    I found a very interesting article that might interest you about the role of fanfiction by Stacy Lantagne (2015). She argues that you can look at fanworks from a fair use standpoint, as it is (a) transformative and (b) usually furthers the goals of copyright for the original work. Most fanworks aren’t trying to profit actively or claim credit for the original ideas posited by the work they’re deriving from; a lot of the time, they’re trying to increase awareness of the original work, make people interested in that (i.e. if they’re doing Doctor Who fanart, the goal is to get more people to watch Doctor Who). A lot of the time, fanworks aren’t a direct competitor to whatever work they’re deriving from; instead, they’re there to supplant them, which I think is really interesting and should be considered within copyright law.

    References:
    Lantagne, S. M. (2015). Sherlock Holmes and the case of the lucrative fandom: Recognizing the economic power of fanworks and reimagining fair use in copyright. Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review, 21(2), 263-315.

    Like

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