Gaiman on Rowling

Much has been written about JK Rowling’s copyright case against Steven Vander Ark, who compiled and published a lexicon of Potter paraphernalia (Potternalia?). She’s alleging brach of copyright, and his defence is one of fair use. Neil Gaiman chimes in with thoughts of his own:

My heart is on the side of the people doing the unauthorised books, probably because the first two books I did were unauthorised

But his blog post is pretty balanced, and acknowledges the complexity of the situation:

As with most grey areas of law, it isn’t cut and dried, and even when an appeals court-sized decision is handed down, it probably won’t become cut and dried, because “Fair Use” is one of those things, like pornography, we are meant to know when we see them.

Which is a pretty good summary. Not that I’m a copyright lawyer. But my take on it is that the problem for content creators (on both sides of the argument) is that copyright cultures are evolving. It has to, in a world of mashups and cut and paste in all media forms. And the mechanism by which copyright law (at least in the US) is meant to deal with such changes is fair use – which allows the courts to understand the evolving cultures, by articulating conceptions of fairness appropriate for the age. In a terrific analogy of the creative process (which may or may not apply to the Vander Ark case), Gaiman cites Terry Pratchett:

Genre fiction, as Terry Pratchett has pointed out, is a stew. You take stuff out of the pot, you put stuff back. The stew bubbles on.

via Techdirt



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