copyright expiration is profitable

brilliantly argued:

LXG is based on a comic book entitled The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which hit the shelves a few years back and chronicled the adventures of a late-19th-century crime-fighting team composed of the most remarkable literary characters of the Victorian Age: Allan Quartermain, hero of King Solomon�s Mines, H.G. Wells�s Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and the legendary Captain Nemo. Together they travel the world, interact with the fictitious creations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe, and even come to loggerheads with the Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu. It was a series that caused a stir amongst the comicati because it had it all: intelligent writing, literary allusion, and guys with superpowers punching the crap out of each other.

The book�s author, Alan Moore, was able to create this literary-parallel universe because the protagonists are all within the public domain, and so are not owned by any one person or corporation, and thus available for anyone to use without having to pay royalties. This is why you can watch low-budget Sherlock Holmes mysteries on PBS, buy a copy of Alice in Wonderland for under five bucks, and see Shakespeare in the park for free.
Curiously, many of those who fought the hardest for the [Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act] were those who had benefited the most from the public domain. Disney, afraid of losing exclusive control of Mickey Mouse (who first appeared in 1928 and would have gone public this year), lobbied vigorously for the 20-year extension, despite having made billions off such classic characters and stories as Cinderella and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Also in favor of the extension was the Motion Picture Association of America, the same institution that oversaw the production of the aforementioned LXG, a film that adds Tom Sawyer and Dorian Gray to the comic book�s original roster.
Disney�s arguments notwithstanding, I find it hard to believe that Steven Spielberg or John Grisham would change vocations knowing that their great-great-great-grandchildren would miss out on some royalty checks, or that J.K. Rowling would scrap her series without reassurance that Harry Potter wouldn�t guest star in a comic book within 69 years of her own dying day.

And at some point lengthening the copyright term surely stifles more creativity than it fosters. Just think: If just anyone could make a James Bond movie, MGM might invent some new heroes instead of churning out 007 flicks every 16 months; if Disney�s canon was turned into open game it might come up with some new material instead of plundering its own theme parks for movie ideas, in the case of the current Pirates of the Caribbean Johnny Depp vehicle.

Contrawise, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen � one of the most inventive comic series in recent memory � was made possible by the original copyright laws that recognized the public domain as a boon to artists, not a burden. Alas, the 2003 Supreme Court didn�t see it this way � it upheld the SBCEA, thereby keeping Mickey Mouse in his cage for another generation.

RWT (Read the Whole Thing).

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