From Joe Konrath:
Last summer I wrote about the need to reform copyright.
. . . .
I talked about how fun it would be to write a comic where Superman, Hulk, and Spawn fight, but how that isn’t ever going to happen.
DC owns Superman. Marvel owns Hulk. Image owns Spawn.
Since none of these characters are in the pubic domain, the only way to use them is with a license. But that’s only one level of restriction. Even with an approved license, licencors will have rules. The few existing Marvel-DC/Hulk-Superman fights have been lackluster at best. That’s because the rules imposed by the licensor override any creative freedom on the part of the author/artist.
Writers who work for a specific comic company have rule sheets and bibles for what is allowed and what isn’t. Unless special exceptions are given, there are boundaries. It’s stifling creatively.
. . . .
How interesting it would be if fair use allowed writers to use the IPs of others. Let’s say it was a limited use; maybe 15% of the completed protect. It would still be a game-changer.
. . . .
We live in a world where artists are regularly screwed by publishers, producers, and record labels, but it’s okay because they signed on the dotted line, even though the contract sucked. But then we have a ridiculous double standard, where heirs and companies can hold onto the rights to Mickey Mouse and Sherlock Holmes and Carmina Burana for long after the original artists died.
I know I’m bringing up a lot of ideas here, some of them possibly conflicting, so let me highlight a few points:
- When an artist dies, any IP they created should revert to heirs.
- If that IP is currently being exploited by a company (producer, label, publisher) it should still revert. Artist dies, contract is over.
- Once reverted, heirs are allowed to hold that copyright for a minimal amount of time. Say 40 years. But they don’t have a say in how that copyright is used.
- Once reverted, any other artist or producer can use that IP in a commercial version of fair-use. I’ll propose that if a certain percentage of the IP is used in a certain percentage of a new work, the heirs get a certain percentage of profits associated with that work, or certain set fees if that work is for advertising purposes.
- If the artist is still alive, there should still be commercial fair use laws. Perhaps stricter than what the heirs have, but other people should still be able to use what the artist has done. I point to my Jack Daniels & Associates Kindle World as an example of that. Go ahead and use what I created, however you’d like, but pay me some set percentage.
Link to the rest at Joe Konrath