Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Star Copyright Wars

“Without copyright, independent creation is impossible”
The above are not my words. They’re the words of Prof Michael Fraser, who at some point in time (and perhaps still) was the chair of the Australian Copyright Council (ACC). He said them at a debate I have attended and discussed before.
All the hype that’s currently in the air ahead of a Christmas release of the next Star Wars movie, episode 7, The Force Has a Coffee to Wake Up With, made me reminisce on Fraser words. Reminisce, and demonstrate in a post just how to debunk that statement was.

Think Star Wars for a moment. Think of the hype: clearly, there are many people out there looking forward, very looking forward, to the new Star Wars movie. And a big part of this longing is to do with the duration, measure in decades, between batches of Star Wars movies. The reason for that long duration? Copyright!
If it wasn’t for copyright, we would have had everybody in this world and their grandparents doing their own version of Star Wars. We would have had Star Wars coming out of our nostrils.
Copyright is not the enabler of creativity; it is the blocker of such. I know, because even my YouTube family baby video was taken down (thanks a bunch, Disney!) due to a copyright claim. You see, it had Star Wars music playing in the background.

No, I am not arguing we should kill copyright altogether in the name of enabling the mass creation of Star Wars stuff. I certainly think George Lucas is entitled to enjoy the fruits of his creation. That said, I think he would have done just as well with significantly less inhibiting copyrights.
Still, I hear you argue, that independently made Star Wars content would never be up to the quality the multibillion dollar juggernaut studios are able to produce. I agree; there is definitely a question of quantity vs. quality here. It does not, however, render my core argument – regarding copyright actually being an inhibitor of creation – wrong.
I will concede one thing: no independent production can rise to the peaks of quality delivered to us by The Phantom Menace.

9 August 2015 update:
If you didn't believe me on Star Wars, here comes Buck Rogers to prove the point.

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