So, today we had a copyright specialist as a guest speaker in class. He went over copyright and how it functioned on the national and international level, in a whole variety of mediums.
It’s really kind of surreal. Something can be public domain in one place, but still under copyright in another. I could theoretically drive an hour down into the States and have something be copyrighted again.
Also, it’s reaching a point where things we know are becoming public domain. For example, “Rhapsody in Blue,” by George Gershwin, joined the ranks this year.
I don’t know why, but that’s incredibly surreal to me. I grew up adoring that song. It was in Fantasia 2000!
In hindsight, I wonder if the costliness and such of musical copyright is part of why the Fantasia franchise only has its two major iterations. I know that for the original 1940 film, Igor Stravinsky was alive to see what Disney had done with Rite of Spring.
I guess Rhapsody in Blue exists in a weird mental space of being both old and new. It’s decidedly more modern than, say, your Bach and your Mozart.
Music is also an especially dicey thing, copyright-wise. We spent a whole chunk of class discussing it, and how often it can hurt people. Taylor Swift, for example, who lost rights to her masters a while back.
And the laws are always being played with. Mickey Mouse, for example, is constantly fighting against it.
I remember, back when Disney started churning out its live-action remakes, everyone theorized it was to extend copyright.
Obviously, that’s not true, because that’s not how copyright works. I’m pretty sure those movies are just a cash grab.
We talked about Fair Use, too, and how much it’s gone through, what with how media is today. “Reaction videos” are a whole YouTube genre, often just ripping existing content and putting your face next to it. Tiktok has made a whole genre of using existing songs to make original videos.
At the end of the day, I guess one way you can beat copyright is becoming too big to stop. You can’t put these things back in the box, you know?
In a way, that’s just insane to me. As responding to and working off media becomes an empire in itself, copyright laws are almost forced to become more lax.
Like, another example? Look at fanfiction. Today, you can write entire novels about fanfiction writers.
Some might not remember this, but fanfiction used to be controversial as a concept. Just saying the name “Anne Rice” still makes some people shudder.
I guess that as long as culture keeps changing and mediums keep evolving, the laws around them will have to do the same to keep up.
Media’s strange like that, isn’t it?