But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. – Matthew 6:20
A Note from the Editor:
I commissioned this article from staff writer Matthew Kinne when news broke that J.K. Rowling’s copyright infringement lawsuit against The Harry Potter Lexicon had gone to court here in the
As an educator, pastor, editor, and small-time publisher, I’ve dealt with copyright law and fair-use exemptions on a near-daily basis for years, and am very familiar with the ways in which copyright law both protects what I do and complicates (even hampers) what I do. As a writer and cultural philosopher, I’ve got my own ideas about copyright law, and how it ought to be revamped in order to encourage greater creativity. As a quasi-insider in the entertainment industry, I’ve even made a point of acquiring some intriguing direct knowledge of the technical ins-and-outs of evaluating potential copyright infringement with high-profile properties like The Lord of the Rings and Michael Clayton. A two-plus-hour chat with a Warner Bros. script-clearance attorney on a flight to
In the weeks leading up to initiation of the Rowling hearing, I had been following (with a great measure of interest) legal rumblings associated with the Ben Stein film Expelled. Just several days before Rowling appeared in court to argue her case, an animation firm issued a cease-and-desist letter to Expelled’s producers; and the day after Rowling’s case was first brought before the bench, Expelled’s producers responded to the cease-and-desist request by asking a
Copyright law is big news in the entertainment world right now. Mr. Kinne and I hope that you find this article both educational and entertaining, and convicting.
Disputes over ownership are as old as time. In today’s digital and information age, it’s easier than ever to obtain and discriminate information. Music, fiction, video and all art forms are all available for viewing and analysis on the World Wide Web; the potential for abuse and misuse of this information is equally prevalent.
In the year 2000, when electric file sharing was just hitting its stride, the heavy-metal band Metallica filed a lawsuit against file-sharing website Napster for illegally and freely distributing the band’s copyrighted material without the band’s consent. Since then, arguments and issues of copyright and fair use have continued to plague
Confusion remains because questions remain. When can fan fiction and fan appreciation turn into a threat to the original creator? How much citation of a text is too much? When does sharing become stealing? The answer to these questions are best answered by legal minds; but the broader implications of ownership, use, and sharing of intellectual property are worth exploration.
The notions of “fair use” go beyond our courtrooms and legal offices. Our authors, musicians, and other artists are barometers of our times: what they do and how we consume what they do set the moral and social tone for our culture.