Copyright and Intellectual Property

Sometimes I think: “I don’t believe in Intellectual Property!” but that’s not really true. For example, I think JoCo was burned by Glee’s appropriation of his arrangement of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” I get tetchy when I think someone else has the rights to use my pictures or blog posts because they own the site that hosts them. (And I’m not even planning to use them to make anything artistic or profitable!)

Also, the person who thought he could take credit for work done by The Oatmeal was a moron.

I want artists to make a living off their work and to get credit for having come up with something awesome. But I love transformative  and derivative works, and I think they tend to boost (or extend, recirculate) the profile of the art rather than compete with it – unless they are running around leaving scars, collecting a jar of…no, no, I mean, unless they are trying to take credit for or make money off of someone else’s brilliance without their consent. The way the internet works can make giving credit difficult (but also important), as John Green explains:

Copyright is still a relatively new notion and the beneficiaries are often corporations rather than creators. (This may or may not bother you, depending on how you feel about the status of corporations as people.) Hank Green explains:

If you wonder why people keep performing Shakespeare (apart from the awesomeness of Shakespeare) or why the best use they can find for Jeremy Renner right now is Hansel and Gretel (which I am totally going to see… at some point), part of the reason is that those stories are public domain. What I wonder is whether commercially copyrighted stories today will have the 300+ year staying-power without letting people use them to make art that will pull in a new generation of fans.

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