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On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
#1

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
I'm not really sure which subforum this belongs in, as it is somewhat philosophical, but also somewhat political, so mods, feel free to move this if it's misplaced.  Anyway, I just watched the new trailer for Disney's Mulan remake, and I left a mildly-long winded comment that raised an issue I've often thought about over the past few years.

Quote:Seriously, though, I'll miss seeing live-action Mulan belt out the lyrics about her reflection, but if they do this right, this whole no-singing route could actually work, perhaps in a way better than a straight-up musical remake would. The original is a classic, as is most of the animated Disney Renaissance canon. I've always thought the movies comprising that canon are so culturally pervasive that they should really be in a sort of public domain, as viable background fodder for derivative works (not that copyright-Nazi Disney would ever let that happen). This may be the closest we get to seeing the original classics actually treated as such, alluded to in much the same way that humanist literature from the actual (i.e. historical) Renaissance often alluded to Greco-Roman mythology. Those allusions may have worked as well as they did, at least in part, precisely because they tended to stay in the background instead of being the focus of what would've otherwise been just a point-for-point rehash of the old myths.

My hypothesis is that there's a certain threshold of popularity, iconicity, and sheer cultural pervasiveness beyond which any franchise transcends its corporate owners and rightfully belongs to the originating culture as a whole (i.e. the public domain).  Of course, actually implementing this is a total pipe dream, at least until corporate power can be knocked down a peg or two, but I'm mostly just interested in the principle of the matter.  Think about it.  If modern capitalist notions of copyright had existed since the classical period, for instance, all those Renaissance writers and artists probably would've faced at least a lawsuit or two from the distant descendants of Homer and Virgil.  In some cases, this may have bogged them down and discouraged them from producing their great works.  So is there a point at which copyright, originally intended to protect artists and foster further creativity, becomes unduly stifling and thus starts to undermine its own original purpose?  And if so, what franchises would you consider household-name-y enough to fit the bill?  For me, the Disney animated canon and a few of the major DC and Marvel superheroes come most readily to mind.  Also, is a certain amount of antiquity a prerequisite, or in today's world of accelerated meme diffusion, is a few decades enough?  What do you think?
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. - Carl Sagan
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν τῇ φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις. - Κᾱ́ρολος Σήγανος


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#2

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
Hard to put a number on it but there does seem like there should be a number, somewhere. Three generations? Four max? We're closer to the Renaissance in time than the Renaissance writers, painters, and sculptors were to the ancient classics, so that's an absurd long amount of time, surely too long for anyone to be profiting on works long embedded into general artistic culture. The Marvel comic stuff was from the 60s and 70s so seems reasonable that we are in the window of creators and creators children and grandchildren, who should benefit. Rule pulled Out of My Ass: when the last direct grandchild of the creator dies, the thing becomes public domain.
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#3

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
Santa Muerta - The musical
In the beginning was the misteak.
Book of Erors 1:1


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#4

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
I don't think that one should, effectively, penalize any creative author simply because they have done their job well. Public domain exists as a balance to the good of allowing authors to benefit from appreciation of their work as doing so provides incentive for others to create, and that is of benefit to society as a whole. Your argument suggests that other benefits might be prioritized, but I'm not sure they outweigh this more basic good.
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#5

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
Why the fuck does Disney obsess on musicals?
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#6

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
(12-07-2019, 01:28 PM)Gawdzilla Sama Wrote: Why the fuck does Disney obsess on musicals?

For the same reason they throw shit at the wall and hammer us with 77 sequels of whatever stuck. Profit.
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#7

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
I don't think copyright should be anything more than a protection for a particular producer of material during their life time.

At first, copyright was for 28 years, optionally renewable for 28 more. It has gradually been extended -- don't know offhand what it is now but it's a lot longer than that.

Even with the protection I think there should be a requirement that the book or music or film or whatever is actively being marketed. I was, for a time, collecting semi-rare music in certain genres where the LP or CD I was after had been "out of print" for like 20 years, and yet technically if someone made a digital copy of one of those discs and GAVE it to me (didn't even sell it), they are technically in violation of copyright and subject to sanctions. I'd have happily paid for a "legitimate" copy but no one was making them. I can't figure out how the copyright holder is in any way harmed by this; they are declining to make money anyway. It's an implicit admission that the product has no present market value. The best they could do is make a weak speculative argument that someone making copies might dilute FUTURE market value. But we all know that the scale on which such things operate is far too small for that to be the case.

All artists know that they have to continue to produce a decent volume of new works to make a living; they shouldn't expect to live off of the sale of reproductions of old works forever; certainly their HEIRS shouldn't expect that.

So I think current copyright law is both excessive and insufficiently nuanced.
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#8

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
(12-09-2019, 10:35 PM)mordant Wrote: At first, copyright was for 28 years, optionally renewable for 28 more. It has gradually been extended -- don't know offhand what it is now but it's a lot longer than that.

Disney had alot to do with that.  In fact, I think by some accounts at least, the House of Mouse is almost single-handedly responsible for the rampant copyright extension familiar to us today. Also, that was a great point about how actively the work is being marketed at the time of any alleged infraction.

Danu, I certainly see where you're coming from about potentially "punishing success," as the phrase goes, but I also think trying to hard not to do that can create other problems. For one thing, as Mordant hinted at, it can make some artists complacent and thus diminish the quality of their subsequent output. Similarly, it can unduly stifle exceptional derivative works that are of sufficient quality to deserve exposure.

Plus, mere success wouldn't be treated any differently than it currently is if what I'm proposing became a reality. I'm talking about a level above mere success. The franchise would have to get to the point where even those who are by no means what one would call fans still know the very basics of the mythos just through cultural osmosis. It would have to get to the point where it's a source of fodder for references, allusions, and figurative language even when the mythology itself isn't directly relevant or even known with any depth by the person uttering them. The only reason we all understand what someone means when they say, for instance, "That's my kryptonite," is because Superman is such an icon. Before Superman came along, the phrase would've been, "That's my Achilles' heel," and neither the speaker nor the listener would've necessarily needed any particular affinity for actual Greek mythology in order to use and comprehend that metaphor.
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. - Carl Sagan
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν τῇ φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις. - Κᾱ́ρολος Σήγανος


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#9

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
Public domain laws seem to differ in different countries, just to make it more confusing .

Check out The Internet Archive; they claim 20 MILLION items, which are available free to download or to borrow. Books, films and music.

https://archive.org/index.php

My latest free download was a few weeks ago; From the1930's ; original radio wire recordings of the Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce

Plus couple of books I just wanted to have, such as The Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam and 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu

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In the last few months, I've been spending time on Youtube, looking for free full movies. There are thousands ,especially old b&w. Seems to be a matter of both age and popularity. Worth while if you like older films or 'little films' ; last week, I found the original (1956) " A Town Like Alice'" with Virginia McKenna and Peter Finch . Heaps of old westerns (colour) musicals, and some classic silent films.

A good musical, if you like that kind of thing.


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OT Now I don't remember where I read this or saw it, so it may not be true: That after Elvis died, his ex wife Pricilla noticed there was open slather in people using Elvis' likeness on all kinds of things. The lady sue their arses. As a result, the law about intellectual copyright was changed in the US. It was that which has made Lisa Presley a very rich woman. At the time of his death, Elvis' estate was a relatively modest $5 million. (around $19 today)--In 2017 the estate was estimated at $300 million.
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#10

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
I have a friend who can go on non-stop about what's wrong with modern copyright law for two hours, only pausing to steal a breath, and grab your coat as you try to leave.

Copyright needs to be reformed, but as they say, you fight with the army you have, not the one you wish you had, so until then, we shouldn't try to extract a pound of flesh in defiance of current law.
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#11

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
I remember only a few years ago that major media companies such as Sony and Fox were whining about losing 'millions' to online piracy. The charge was of course bullshit, and it is not heard anymore.

At the time I thought all they needed to do was make their product cheaper and more easily available .

Since then music has become available on line at what? $1 a song, in MP3 format (don't have to buy an entire album) . DVD's have become a largely redundant technology, with emergence of huge streaming services such as Netflix and Stan . A huge content of mainly new product is always available; I pay Netflix $14 a month, because I wanted HD, that's extra. I will never be able to watch everything I want to watch . Gone are the days of paying to rent a single DVD, getting it home and hating it.


Of Course the PRC has never respected copyright or patent law. They continue to reverse engineer all kinds of things and churning out designer knock offs of fashion and technology, such a phones. Officially, the PRC has made all the right noises to the aggrieved capitalists, but doesn't seem to actually do anything about the issue

I wonder how much of the issue of copyright has to do with a complete lack of sympathy from consumers for the megalithic companies making millions from other people's ideas ?

I don't have a problem with a creator being paid even a great deal of money for his/her talent/invention. I DO have a problem with inherited intellectual property rights. But then, I also have an issue with inherited wealth , as in dynastic fortunes. What do I know?
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#12

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
(12-14-2019, 10:58 PM)grympy Wrote: I remember only a few years ago that major media companies such as Sony and Fox were whining about losing 'millions' to online piracy. The charge was of course bullshit, and it is not heard anymore.

At the time I thought all they needed to do was  make their product cheaper and more easily available .

Since then music has become available on line  at what? $1 a song, in MP3 format (don't have to buy an entire album) .  DVD's  have become a largely redundant technology, with emergence  of huge streaming services such as Netflix and Stan . A huge content of mainly new product is always available; I pay Netflix  $14 a month, because  I wanted HD, that's extra. I will never be able to watch everything I want to watch .  Gone are the days of paying to rent a single DVD, getting it home and hating it.


Of Course the PRC has never respected copyright or patent law. They continue to reverse  engineer all kinds of things and churning out designer knock offs  of fashion and technology, such a phones. Officially, the PRC has made  all the right noises to the aggrieved  capitalists, but doesn't seem to actually do anything about the issue    

I wonder how much of the issue of copyright has to do with a complete lack of sympathy from consumers for the megalithic companies making millions from other people's ideas ?

I don't have a problem with a creator being paid even a great deal of money for his/her talent/invention.  I DO have a problem with inherited intellectual property rights. But then, I also have an issue with inherited wealth , as in dynastic fortunes.   What do I know?

I think there are two primary views taken by those who oppose overly restrictive copyright laws. The first being that no one really begrudges artists making money from their creative pursuits, but they do begrudge people who had no hand whatsoever in that creation making huge profits by controlling people access to those works. The second being that the DMCA unfairly infringes the rights held by owners of legally obtained copies of those protected works. The First Sale Doctrine has been completely destroyed for digital content by the DMCA with the support of the supreme court, unfairly in the eyes of many. It's true that digital copies do not degrade the way previous copying methods did, but that's been an issue for content publishers since the first laser-disc players and it doesn't really address the rights of individuals and the choices they make about the dispensation of their own personal copies. It's truly sad that an exemption in the very code that "protects" digital content (and, that is usually "cracked" in days, if not hours) would cost next to nothing compared to the cost of digital security and would provide better security against the vast majority of "criminals" the industry has created by simply allowing them to do with digital copies what the law already allows them to do with analog copies, or even hardware secured digital copies (CD's, DVDs, Blu-Rays, etc...). It's why I insist on physical media for music and movies, and to an extent, books.
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#13

On Modern Mythologies and the Public Domain
(12-07-2019, 01:28 PM)Gawdzilla Sama Wrote: Why the fuck does Disney obsess on musicals?

$$$$

It works well for Disney.
In the beginning was the misteak.
Book of Erors 1:1


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