Re: Greshams's Law: Free Mickey Mouse tends to drive out non-Mickey Mouse
Nice unicorn magic fairy world there. In the real world, those with established, successful properties devote significant time, effort and expense to raising as many barriers to entry for new ideas, concepts and “universes” as possible.
You also make a huge assumption; that a work using novel characters and a novel universe will do just as well as a work taking place in a tried and true universe. Let me take a moment to call this blatant, utter bullshit.
If your pixie dust view of copyright were true, why would Disney, (or for that matter Electronic Arts or Activision) bother with established characters and universes at all? Surely there is enough empirical evidence on hand to demonstrate the concept that sequels are a bit of a crapshoot. If your reasoning were sound, then a novel universe with novel characters would be a sound investment for established copyright houses.
Instead, let’s look at the real world: those enterprises that succeed in the entertainment space tend to do so by creating and then fleshing out a given universe. Start Trek, Stargate, Transformers, Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck, and so forth. Even reviving an old franchise after a bit of a lay down can be obscenely profitable (Fallout.)
Then there are the kinds of tropes that we can only get from building on the works that have gone before. Fantasy novels are heavily influenced by Tolkien; Tolkien embedded the now nearly universal conceptualization of common races; elves, dwarves and so forth. Terry Brooks’ works couldn’t have occurred without building upon Tolkien, nor the Dungeons and Dragons universe, Dragon Lance or hundreds of others.
Indeed, were the copyright cartels to have their way, we could even lose the rights to things like parody, taking original works like Galaxy Quest and Robot Chicken off the table.
Creativity does not occur in a vacuum. All of mankind’s endeavors build upon the creativity, intellect, insight, artistry and craftsmanship of our predecessors. From any angle you approach it, perpetual copyright is a gross detriment to society. It is a limitation economically, creatively and morally.
So what then? How do we bridge the gap?
A man should be rewarded for his capability and his efforts; if his capability and effort is greater than that of his peers, he should be more generously rewarded. A man should be able to ensure the wellbeing of his family and his heirs.
But the works of a man belong to mankind, be those works the works of his hands or the works of his mind. There must be a balance between the good of the group (in this case all of mankind) and rewarding the individual.
So copyright abolishment is ludicrous. It provides no reward for the efforts and capabilities that go in to a man’s work. And yet perpetual copyright is equally ludicrous; society must benefit from the works of all its individuals. From the bricklayer to the academic, the policeman to the writer.
A balance needs be struck. One that we – as a society, and as a collection of societies that form a global community – can live with. As creators, as consumers, as businesses and as individuals. This balance needs to be negotiated in an open fashion, and with the participation of all major stakeholders.
More importantly, it needs to be something that we can set in stone. It is to be the foundation of all intellectual enterprise for the next several hundred years.
It cannot be negotiated in back rooms. I cannot be negotiated under a veil of secrecy, a cone of silence or outside the boundaries of democracy. It cannot favor one special interest of another, it cannot pit creators against consumers, corporations against people.
It must bring clarity to the copyright mess. It must bring finality; an end to the perpetual lobbying. Most importantly it must feel fair to the majority of society. People will resist and rebel against any law so important to the fabric of our economy which is fundamentally unfair.
The extant copyright cartels – and the laws they are paying dearly to impose – are most certainly and unquestionably unfair.