Thursday, 16 April 2015

Episode 101: Victorian Action Detective and the Fate of the Dinosaurs

It's after midnight at the beardy discussion diner. The 100th party is over, Justin's eaten too much cake and passed out, so out come the weighty philosophical ideas. What's baking Leo's noodle this week is the twin dilemma that lurks between current copyright law and our digital ability to back up everything.

On the one hand it is sad that copyright material that is not cherished and preserved is lost forever, but creative things are lost all the time. Sure, for some reason we all know about Robin Hood the outlaw of Nottingham who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor but what about Melvin Tabard the Cheeky Bandito of Cleethorpes. He robbed from a variety of people, pooled the money and gave it back to them divided equally, also known as the Dutch Deliverer? We've all forgotten him, or I just made him up to illustrate a point.

The unfortunate fact is that since the mid-noughties it has become almost impossible to get rid of a cultural artifact that, at some point, was rendered into digital format. This sounds good in theory but when people en masse prefer to recycle old things in the form of franchises, sequels, prequels and works based on other works how do we ensure that artists continue to create new, far less popular things?

Ironically, copyright and its ridiculous terms has created, in addition to a sort of enforced forgetting, an enforced create something passably new situation. A work may be "heavily influenced" but it is, at least, its own thing.

Does this make copyright an unintentional hero fighting for the cause of novelty? Almost certainly. Is this new idea likely to be popular? Probably not, new things don't gain much traction in this day and age. Good job we have copyright to fence off huge swathes of intellectual property from lazy artists eh? Who's with me! See, that's what I thought. Not a popular idea. But just WAIT for the sequel! Incidental Music by

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