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Wired Interview with Copyright Comic Authors 31

An anonymous reader writes "Wired has an interesting interview with the authors of a recent book about comics, fair use and the permissions culture. There is also a gallery of some of the most interesting pages from the comic. According to the interview, their next project is going to be on the history of musical borrowing and the way law has affected it. 'Picture a conversation between Bach, Robert Johnson and John Lennon, in comic book form.' Now *that* would be 'Strange Fruit,' indeed."
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Wired Interview with Copyright Comic Authors

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  • by siriuskase ( 679431 ) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:53PM (#15566507) Homepage Journal
    The problem with creative property (ugh, but it does sound better than IP) is that without some sort of law, it can't be owned outright like material property. The minute it is shown, displayed, or performed in public, it is out of the bag. In the olden days, it meant other people could write it down, sing it, or otherwise reproduce it with there own hands which usually didn't make as good of a copy, certainly not an accurate copy. Now that virtually identical copies can be made for little cost, natural ownership is all but impossible unless it is shown/performed in a closed room with all witnesses signing enforcable nondisclosure contracts.

    So we have a law, that gives the owner complete control over his creation as long as everyone abides by the law. But, it is an unreasonable law, at least to those who want to create new creations that build on existing creations, which happens to be the way creative work has almost always been done. Visual artists, musicians, and writers have always had role models, teachers, and their work to inspire them to create something new, but usually retaining something of the masters' work. Too many people think it is ridiculus to look back to the previous centuries for all inspiration. This is the point of the original article, that recent culture is owned and can't be discussed or interpretted or used without the owner's permission.

    Sure, someone might not want their work used to sell commercial products, but I don't think that is the problem. The problem is that new work gets this permission automatically whether or not the creator registers his copyright. The potential user is in a risky position when he wants to make fair use because the owner or his agents might demand payment or some other condition that he won't be able to live with. And the only way to know for sure is to refuse to settle, go to court, and all that other stuff that we really don't want our young artists to do. To a large extent, once a work has gone public and become part of our culture, it really isn't the personal property of the creator any longer.

    Other people, consumers, have a different problem with the IP laws as they exist. It is so easy to make copies, it is difficult to comprehend exactly what it is the music and film industry are for. Developing new talent, packaging the disks, financing artists that might not ever make enough money to finance themselves. Sure, there is some risk there, but new distribution methods where artists can set up a relatively inexpensive website with a tip jar or something are available and real fans don't mind sending money directly to creators. There is a level of trust involved that old business models don't have, there are no guarantees that people will get paid. So, I don't think we are there yet, but the old business model is clearly broken.

    We are heading back to a business model for creatives that pays people for doing something more than for owning something. The rest of the industry will also make money by doing something tangible, by making CDs, DVDs, packaging, organizing tours, designing webpages, etc. There is a lot of real work to do, stuff where the laws are more clearcut and enforcable.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments