Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Perpetual Copyright and The Public Domain

There is a lot of hate for the Public Domain from the corporations that hold the Copyrights to a lot of culture and also to creators who created those cultural icons. But without the Public Domain, those creators wouldn’t have a bed of influences that allowed them to create their works without fear of lawsuits and copyright infringement.

Hell, even all of the blockbusters coming out these days are story boarded by using scenes from films that maybe should be in the Public Domain. Check out this article from The Guardian about how “Rogue One” and “War For The Planet Of The Apes” came together. As the article states;

“.. the film’s initial “cut”, designed to map out the movie before any shooting took place, was cobbled together by editor Colin Goudie using footage from hundreds of other existing films. For protagonist Jyn Erso’s early encounter with Mon Mothma and her comrades on the Rebel council, Goudie substituted in the interrogation scene from the beginning of Aliens; for the bit where Erso and her pals break into the Imperial data vault, the editor inserted a similar scene from 1983’s WarGames. Old Star Wars movies were also pilfered from. Using this celluloid patchwork quilt, director Gareth Edwards was able to devise a working template for Rogue One (albeit one that would later be ripped apart and stitched back together following extensive reshoots).”

Yes people, it’s okay to be influenced. It’s okay to take an existing work and use it as a template to build upon. No art is created in a vacuum. As the article further states;

“We watched every Planet of the Apes movie, war movies, westerns, The Empire Strikes Back,” Reeves told About Movies. “We just thought, ‘We have to pretend we have all the time in the world,’ even though we had limited time. We got really inspired.”
Matt Reeves – Director of “War For The Planet Of The Apes”

Just because they used other films for inspiration doesn’t make the movie crap. As the article further states;

The fact that many of the above movies are derivative does not make them bad films. Plagiarism, in many ways, is the oil that greases the cogs of the studio machine. Each film-maker takes something from the last, and hopefully passes something on to their successor. It has been ever so since the early days of silent film, and indeed even the era of Shakespeare.

Progress is derivative has been my motto since I started creating music. Be influenced by what you see, hear and read.

And all of this leads me to the Public Domain.

Each year on January 1, certain works should be entering the Public Domain. But in the biggest market, the U.S, the large movie studios and record labels, lobbied hard to change the Copyright laws and since 1978, nothing really enters the Public Domain in the U.S.

The below works from 1960 should all be in the Public Domain in 2017, however they aren’t. And we will not see them in the Public Domain for another 39 years.

The team over at Duke University always put together a comprehensive list. If the below works entered the public domain, creators could use them to build new works without fear of a copyright infringement case. Fans could make their own clips and homages or new movies without fear of copyright infringement.

Here are some movies that should be in the Public Domain that I recognise;

  • The Time Machine
  • Psycho
  • Spartacus
  • Exodus
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • Ocean’s 11
  • The Alamo
  • The Andy Griffith Show (first episodes)
  • The Flintstones (first episodes)

Here are some books that should be in the Public Domain that I recognise;

  • Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
  • John Updike, Rabbit, Run
  • Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

In the period these works were created, the writers and movie studios had a thriving public domain which they could call upon. They all created the above works, knowing that in time, the works would fall into the Public Domain and people would be free to use these books and movies in their own stories.

But the money in perpetual copyright created business that make millions, which in turn led to these businesses to pump politicians full of money, so they write and vote for laws that grants them a government monopoly.

There is research out that shows only 2% of works between 55 and 75 years old continue to retain commercial value. So apart from the famous works, the 98% remainder of the books and movies do not have any dollar value, however people cannot use them to build new works. No one benefits from perpetual copyright.

Standard
Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

The Public Domain Issue

January 1 of each new year is meant to be when certain works come out of copyright and into the Public Domain. However, each year, the Corporations in charge seem to lobby hard to get the terms extended. As such, the public domain is becoming less and less.

An artist is bringing a class action suit against Spotify for Copyright Infringement. It’s a perfect example of how far removed copyright is at this point in time, especially when Spotify obtained the music they have on their service from the record labels. The users didn’t upload it. Is YouTube such a perfect citizen when it comes to paying for mechanical licenses?

The case to free “Happy Birthday To You” a song penned in 1893 and still under the copyright control of a corporation is another example of the great Copyright Hijack.

The whole “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” copyright suit is another example of what a farce copyright is. A corporation had the rights to the song and they made a lot of money from licensing it out. Now a judge has ruled that the rights will go back to the children of the creators. It’s worth noting that the creators of the song died between 1975 and 1985. As far as I am concerned this song from the 1930’s is MEANT to be in the Public Domain and out of copyright. Read the article to see the absurdity of it all.

Here is another example of copyright stupidity.

Canada had shorter copyright terms, which meant early Beatles recordings entered the public domain. The record labels didn’t like this, so they lobbied/bribed hard in secret and copyright was extended on sound recordings for 20 years that are still under copyright without any debate or public discussion. Anyway a company called Stargrove Entertainment saw an opportunity to make money by releasing a CD of public domain Beatles music. By default it became a top seller in Canada and that’s when the Empire known as the Record Labels decided to strike back, because hey, the 60 year monopoly they had on the sound recordings was not enough.

Some of the Record Labels tricks included;

  • While the sound recordings are in the public domain, the compositions remain under copyright. So Stargrove paid the standard licensing fee and the record labels via the publishing companies they owned, decided to not approve the mechanical license and refunded Stargrove’s royalty payment.
  • Universal then interfered with the distributor so they could resolve “the public domain issue.”
  • Universal started posting negative reviews online of the Beatles CD.

Let’s remember the purpose of copyright. It gives the creator the right to stop people from copying their works for a certain period of time. Basically it is a monopoly given to the creator, so they have an incentive to create more works. Once upon a time that monopoly lasted 14 years and as soon as corporate entities started to make money from this monopoly, the length of time increased to life of the author plus seventy years.

In order for creators to be granted a monopoly on their works for a period of time, the trade-off was that once the copyright term expired, the works would fall into the public domain, which would mean they could be shared, adapted, improved, remixed and basically new stories be created.

I am still dumbfounded as to how people believe that a copyright term of 70 years after the death of the creator is a normal copyright term.

What incentive does a creator have to create more works when they have departed the land of the living?

It’s all about money and its driven by the blockbuster albums that continue to make money for decades. However, the majority of other creative works might have enjoyed a brief window of success and sales during a period of time and their value is very low compared to the block buster releases. Labels try to sign the artist for five albums on a 360 deal, with the promise to negotiate the original deal depending on how hot the artist becomes. It never happens without any incidence or litigation.

For example, Dokken and RATT had platinum certifications in the Eighties. If you look at their output it was five albums. The label made money and the bands saw money and success. In 2015, the value of their musical output is not the same in the eyes of the corporations compared to the value of Bon Jovi’s, Metallica, Motley Crue or Bruce Springsteen output. Metallica wasn’t as big as Ratt and Dokken in the Eighties, but we all know how that turned out after the behemoth “Black” album in the Nineties.

So from a copyright term perspective, the self-titled Metallica album is of a higher value compared to Dokken’s or RATT’s discography. And it is because of these blockbuster albums that Copyright terms get extended. Metallica and their heirs or the corporate entity that will own their rights will get richer while Dokken and Ratt fade into obscurity, locked up in 100 year copyright terms.

This article states that Copyright should be about 30 years.

Copyright should last a more-than-generous 30 years, and no longer. The Lord of the Rings would have been in the public domain in 1986, 13 years after Tolkien’s death. He would have been fine and his great trilogy would still have been written. Mickey Mouse would have been in the public domain in 1959. A tiny minority of wealthy creators would be somewhat poorer under such a scheme. But our culture would be vastly richer.

That would mean “Smoke On The Water” would be in the public domain and not locked up for a century plus. It would mean the Black Album would be in the public domain by 2021 for others to build on and enhance. It would mean that “Were Not Gonna Take It” would have entered the public domain in 2014.

I am sure Deep Purple, Metallica and Twisted Sister would be able to cope with that?

It would mean that Dokken and Ratt songs from the Eighties would be in the Public Domain for people to build upon and re-create, which means the songs live on and our culture is richer. Cast your mind back to the whole Sixties British movement, including the Beatles success is due to building upon blues works from the 1930’s.

Standard
Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Stupidity Incorporated

Stupidity just doesn’t seem to go away these days. Last month the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) promoted it’s World Intellectual Property Day with a slogan from a Bob Marley and the Wailers song called “Get Up, Stand Up”. WIPO’s theme was “Get Up, Stand Up. For Music”.

Did you know that a judge ruled against Bob Marley’s heirs a few years who sought to regain control of Marley’s copyrights from Universal Music claiming that Marley wrote the song as a work made for hire and thus Universal could keep the copyright, and not give it back to the Marley Estate.

Now “work for hire” means that an artist was commissioned to write a song to the exact specifications of the record label. Wikipedia states “work for hire” in the following way;

A work made for hire is a work created by an employee as part of his or her job, or a work created on behalf of a client where all parties agree in writing to the WFH designation.

I can’t believe how a judge would seriously believe that the record label at the time “Island Records” would have given the song titles to Bob Marley and told him the theme of what the song should be about.

Anyone involved in music knows too well that is not the case for at all. “Get Up, Stand Up” was written after Marley toured Haiti and the poverty that he was confronted with in that country.

As the Techdirt article points out, you have an organisation so dumb and out of touch with culture that it using a song from an artist that has been hijacked by the corporations who push for stronger copyright enforcement.

As far as I’m concerned, Bob Marley’s copyright MUST be in the Public Domain upon death. The public is meant to be the beneficiaries here, not the heirs and not the record labels.

Which brings me to the “Stairway To Heaven” court case.

You see I am not a fan of the heirs of an artist inheriting the copyrights of the artist once they die and I am definitely not a fan of the heirs of an artist suing others for money. We can all hear that Jimmy Page lifted the riff from the Spirit track “Taurus” and to be honest made a better derivative version of the Spirit track. For whatever reasons Spirit guitarist Randy California was cool with it and nothing happened. However the heirs are now challenging that.

What a sad state it is when a court has to decide on this and whichever way the court rules, the court is putting out the idea that one track is so original and the other is not. As a musician, trust me when I say that no song or riff is created in a vacuum. Each piece of music that comes out is a sum of our influences.

One final thing to add to my rant. When can the artists get it right when it comes to the music industry and recording industry references. Check out this quote from Ron Bumblefoot, the current guitarist in Guns N’ Roses.

”The music industry started to see their customers as their enemies and everybody suffered for it. Congratulations record industry – you’ve made a mess and you still don’t know how to clean it up.”

I always state over and over again, that the music industry is not the recording industry. They are two different entities. You see, the music industry didn’t see their customers as enemies, nor did they sue them, it was the recording industry that did that.

Standard
Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Living Under The Laws That Corporations Wrote And A Bit Of Metallica For Old Times Sake

“Alice In Wonderland” turned 150 years old recently and it is still in the public imagination.

Hell, it has been in the public domain since 1907 (42 years from when it was originally published) and that still hasn’t stopped the story from making money. By having the work in the public domain it has allowed other people to create derivative versions of the story and the characters. “Alice In Wonderland” is a perfect example of how adaptions of the original story has ensured that the story gets passed on to multiple generations.

So next time you hear of someone calling for longer copyright terms, tell them about “Alice In Wonderland”.  The incentive of a 42 year copyright monopoly was a sufficient motivator for Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) to create more works.

Alice In Wonderland Article

Carroll didn’t need a copyright to last 70 to 90 years after his death as an incentive to write stories. Sort of like the heirs of Marvin Gaye. Seriously, what the hell have they contributed to the arts. Copyright was never about being a lifetime pension that carries over to the children or the next of kin. The rule is simply, if the artist passes away, their music falls into the public domain.

As much as I love Hendrix, I don’t agree with his relatives holding a copyright monopoly on his works.

However a lot of people (with a large corporation or corporations attached) stand to profit from long-term copyrights.

Anyone heard of Wu-Tang-Clans single album that has an 88 year copyright caveat. What this means is that the person who paid something like $5 million dollars for has to wait 88 years to hear it. This is what happens when music is turned into something that is not music. The fans that made the group popular are not able to hear it, because greedy people attached to the group want to profit from it.

For those that do read my posts, you will note that I have mentioned a lot of times that fans of artists are not purchasing music anymore. They are purchasing art packaged as a must have for collectors. I always use Machine Head’s “Killers and Kings” Record Store Day single release with four different covers. Yep, I purchased all four singles and guess what, they are still in the shrink-wrap.

So if you need anymore proof that sales of music is all about collectables then look no further than Metallica’s “No Life Til Leather” cassette release for Record Store Day.

You see, releasing music should never be about the new album only. Music was never designed to be about locking yourself away for a year or for months in a studio while you record your new master opus. Music was never designed to be about spending months and months on promotion and marketing. Music was never designed to give rise to large copyright monopolistic corporations. However that is where music has come to.

Because it is these large copyright monopolies that have lobbied hard for internet service providers (ISP’s) around the world to store and then hand out the personal information of their users to these greedy corporations.

All in the name of copyright infringement.

What the large copyright groups have done, via their cashed up lobby groups is bypass legal process. If an internet user has been falsely accused, well, too bad. The burden (and a costly one at that) to prove that you are innocent is on the user, as the way the anti-piracy laws are written, there are basically no consequences for a copyright monopoly business from making false accusations.

I guess this is what it means to live under the laws written by corporations.

 

Standard
Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Don’t You Just Love What Copyright Has Become?

Remember the original intention of Copyright was to promote learning. It was conceived that if creators of works would have a 14 year monopoly on their creations (with the option to renew for another 14 years provided they were still alive), they had enough incentives to create new works and when the copyright expired on their older works, they would fall into the public domain so that others can use and build on these older works.

200 plus years later, we have a lot of stupidity around in the name of Copyright.

A German based association called, Total Wipes Music Group is using Google’s anti-piracy system to censor everything it doesn’t like. Read the article and be amazed at how Copyright is abused. In order to stop the infringement on an album they own the copyright  for,  Total Wipes Music Group tried to censor a legitimate article on how to download anonymously. Since then, they have targeted legitimate articles from the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF), AVG, Dropbox and Opera, just to name a few. And guess what, not one of those sites listed contained any infringing links or even mentioned the music that Total Wipes Music Group administers or holds the copyrights to. What Total Wipes attempted to do was to censor legitimate articles that provided users with information on downloading and anonymous VPN’s under the disguise of Copyright.

And the laughable thing is that the Group is now claiming that it was a bug in their automated takedown system. Well, I guess that bug just keeps on resurfacing each year.

Don’t you just love what copyright has become?

Then you have a powerful organisation like the MPAA trying to censor a website called Open Culture. Open Culture offers Public Domain movies however according to a takedown notice that the MPAA sent to Google, Open Culture’s list of 700 free public domain movies contains copyright infringing material.

Remember that Copyright’s intent was to promote learning and this was done by ensuring that each country has a rich public domain. Well it looks like in the U.S, the rich wealthy copyright monopolies want to control that as well and put those works back under Copyright protection.

Don’t you just love what copyright has become?

Remember the good old days when the copyright monopolies lobbied hard against radio, television, the introduction of blank cassette tapes and those advertisements that “Home Taping Is Killing the Music Business”, then blank CD’s, then mp3’s and piracy sites. They did that all in the name of the artist. That same artist that they exploited and signed to a deal that was stacked in the favour of the record label.

It’s pretty easy to read between the lines and see that the record labels and their lobby groups did all of this lobbying to protect their business models and to ensure that their copyright monopoly remains in place. And this leads to more lobby groups that want to have a say.

Now we have the Grammy Creators Alliance. On the face of it, they proclaim that they are backed by artists like Steven Tyler and their intention is to lobby Spotify, so that Spotify pays them fairly for their works. However, the organisation is run by agents and managers whose only interest is securing a big pay-day for themselves. Hell, these types of people don’t even create anything of value that people consume, however they now have a voice on copyright disputes because they have money behind them to give them that voice.

For the record Spotify does pay fairly to the Copyright Holders of the works. So maybe this new Alliance should lobby their record label to pay them fairly.

Don’t you just love what copyright has become?

And then on certain occasions you have some excellent innovation that happens when people don’t allow Copyright to influence their creations. iFlix is another torrent client that streams any magnet link in an instant. It’s easy to use, it’s available on Android and it uses material that has been infringed on.

It’s created by a Romanian software engineer. Romania is one of the poorer countries in the EU and it also has the highest rates of software piracy. And from all of this piracy, you wouldn’t believe what happened. It made Romania a powerhouse in software development. Romania now has the most techies in Europe. Google and Microsoft employ a lot of IT workers from Romania. All of this was made possible by infringing on the rights of others.

And going back to iFlix, the ecosystem all came about because the developer was hired to offer a service to parents to watch their kindergarten kids on their mobile.

Standard
Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Entertainment Industries Innovation V4.0 – When Will “Smoke On The Water” enter the Public Domain?

As a fan of music and the public domain it’s hard to understand why longer copyright durations are requested from the Corporations that control/hold the majority of copyrights. The majority of the music that I like was under copyright when I was born and by the time I die, it will still be under copyright. So how is that benefiting the creator in creating more works (who will be long gone) and the public who are meant to build off previous works because that is how culture thrives.

Remember, copyright was designed to give the creator a monopoly on their works for a certain period of time so that the creator can monetize their work, which in turn provides an incentive to create further works.

So without really realising it, we (the public) have a copyright law that more or less lasts a lifetime.

Let’s use “Smoke On The Water” as an example. It was released in 1972. Copyright on the work is meant to last the lifetime of the songwriters plus 70 years. The male life expectancy is 80 years. The songwriters listed for “Smoke On The Water” are Richie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover and Jon Lord (RIP).

Let’s start with Jon Lord. Due to his death in 2012, his copyright in the song will expire in 2082. However the song will still remain under copyright due to the later deaths of the other members.

Let’s assume that all of the members live to the life expectancy age of 80 years old. That would mean Richie Blackmore, Ian Gillan and Roger Glover would have an end date of 2025. Add another 70 years to that and the copyright that they hold in the song would expire in 2095. However at this point in time the song is still under copyright.

Ian Paice is born in 1948, therefore his life expectancy end date would be 2028. Add another seventy years to that and the copyright monopoly held by the corporations on “Smoke On The Water” will finally expire in 2098, 126 years after the song was released. That is when, the public (provided that no more retroactive extensions are added) are allowed to use the song to build other works and derivative versions.

So the next time a copyright maximalist insists that copyright has an expiry date, tell them they are full of it. Copyright in reality has no expiry date during our life time. Remember in the US, the “Copyright Term Extension Act” extended the copyright of old works that should have been in the Public Domain to 2019.

And guess what the copyright corporations are gearing up for?

Yep, you guessed it. They are gearing up for another secret lobby/bribery effort to extend it. Using PIRACY as their weapon of choice, the lobby groups are pushing hard for the Government to step in and protect their business models.

Maybe they should focus on paying their artists accurately and properly. A story over at Hollywood Reporter, mentions about how Sony Music Entertainment is getting sued by the music company “Thursday by 19 Recordings” for royalties not paid, to the tune of $10 million. The interesting part of the case is how the record labels treat streaming payments.

The lawsuit is making the claim that streaming payments to the artists need to be classified as licensed works and not as sold works. The difference between royalty payments for licensed works and sold works is huge.

On what about this for a piece of innovation from the entertainment industries. Poor old LeaseWeb, the web hosting provider. One if it’s clients was Megaupload.com. As we all know, Megaupload was taken down in an Osama Bin Laden style raid in a classic example of overreach by the entertainment industries. The law enforcement bodies took action on this case based on evidence provided/lobbied by the Entertainment Industries namely the MPAA. Anyway, fast forward to 2014 and LeaseWeb is now being sued for allowing the hosting of websites that infringed on copyrights. While we are at it, let’s sue the car manufacturers for allowing us to infringe on the speed limits.

In Australia, the Attorney General, George Brandis wants the ISP’s to outlay money and carry the burden of protecting the business models of the entertainment industries. How about the entertainment industries releasing content on time and at a reasonable price. Graduated response schemes haven’t worked in France, the US and New Zealand, so let’s keep on pushing for them.

And to make this story even more interesting, the lobby group that is pushing for this three strikes rule has donated close to AU$4 million to the Liberal and Labor parties since 1998.

The Australian Screen Association (ASA), formerly known as the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) who is well-known for the triple knockdown they received from iiNet in the courts. So of course, since the 2012 ruling, ASA has lobbied the government hard for a graduated response scheme. ZDNet did a great piece on this around the donations.

Keeping with the Australia theme, I just finished reading a story over at News.com.au about how Foxtel (the ONLY Pay TV provider in Australia) is planning on taking on the people who pirate “Game of Thrones” with a new cut-price plan. Before we get into the new cut price plan, it’s important to set the scenario.

Foxtel holds the exclusive rights to the “Game of Thrones” season 4 run in Australia. This means that the only legal way to watch the fourth series of “Game Of Thrones” in Australia is to pay for a subscription. Nice innovation.

Obviously this is an unpopular choice. No one wants to take out an expensive Pay TV subscription just for a TV show that has a 10 week run. Foxtel has another package called Foxtel Play, which is pay TV over the internet.

So Foxtel is saying to people, hey, if you have a Foxtel Play account, which costs $25 a month for a package based on a genre and of course the movie genre/Showtime is not included in that package, however if you chuck in another $35 over three months, you can watch “Game Of Thrones” legally.

So in reality, that three month run is going to cost a fan of the show, $110 to watch Game of Thrones legally in Australia. That is $75 (from the $25 a month for a Foxtel Play package that will still continue after the shows run is over) plus the $35 for the Showtime channel.

Yep, that is typical innovation from the entertainment industries.

Or how about the comments from John Landgraf, CEO of FX Network and Rick Cotton, Senior Counsellor of IP protection at NBC Universal.

“The legal copy of a property that’s been placed online can then be pirated.”

Yep, much the same way a legal DVD and Blu-Ray can be copied. Much the same way a legal airing of the TV show can be copied. Much the same way a legal VHS cassette could be copied.

Yep, sounds like typical innovation from the entertainment industries to me. I also like the part how they are trumping up the stats that piracy websites make a whopping $4.4 million annually on ads. If that is the case, then why don’t the entertainment industries offer the same service as the piracy websites do and make that same money. That is one way to compete with free. The reason why they don’t do it, is that the licensing deals they have around the world is worth way more. A lot more.

The audience for entertainment products has changed. Napster changed everything. That happened almost 15 years ago. So why haven’t the entertainment industries given the audience what Napster did 15 years ago.

http://m.theaustralian.com.au/business/latest/brandis-mooted-piracy-crackdown-riles-up-isps/story-e6frg90f-1226831754567

http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/game-on-foxtel-takes-on-game-of-thrones-pirates-with-new-cutprice-plan/story-e6frfmyi-1226835839975

http://www.zdnet.com/au/lobby-pushing-for-australian-piracy-crackdown-donates-millions-7000026421/

http://variety.com/2014/digital/news/nbc-universal-fx-chiefs-call-for-increased-anti-piracy-measures-1201111186/

http://www.vcpost.com/articles/21728/20140219/digital-citizens-alliance-report-shows-piracy-websites-also-make-a-whopping-4-4m-annually-on-ads.htm

Standard
Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, My Stories

The Public Domain, Derivative Works and The Walking Dead

“The Walking Dead” came back on TV screens in the US last week with 15.8 million viewers in the US. Add to that all of the other viewers worldwide and the results are pretty impressive. Basically, “The Walking Dead” is a juggernaut.

So how did a TV show, based on a niche Zombie comic, explode into the mainstream and into people’s consciousness.

In order to understand the answer you need to go back to the beginning. And the beginning for “The Walking Dead” goes back to 1968 and a movie called “Night Of The Living Dead”.

“The Walking Dead” is a classic case of building on works already in the public domain as well as building on existing copyrighted works by creating derivative works.

First the whole Zombie genre owes a large debt to George A. Romero’s classic “Night Of The Living Dead”. Many of the accepted Zombie formulas started here. Something that is quite common to us in 2014, was all brand new to audiences in 1968.

Due to a late name change from “Night Of The Flesh Eaters” to “Night Of The Living Dead”, the distributor forgot to include a copyright symbol on the release and due to this omission, the movie entered the Public Domain on its actual release date. That meant that anyone could do derivative works and also build on the existing story.

Remember my catch cry, “Progress Is Derivative”. George A Romero stated that he was originally influenced by writer Richard Matheson and his book “I Am Legend”. In the 2008 DVD release of “Night of the Living Dead”, Romero mentioned that he had written a short story, which basically was a rip off from the Richard Matheson 1954 novel called “I Am Legend”.

Progress Is Derivative

The whole opening scene from “The Walking Dead” of Rick Grimes waking up in the hospital alone, is taken from the movie “28 Days Later” released in 2002, which also drew inspiration from a 1951 post-apocalyptic novel called, “The Day of the Triffids”.

In “The Day of The Triffids, the main character awakes to a silent hospital to find that his town has been overrun with blinded people.

In “28 days Later”, a bicycle courier awakens from a coma to find the hospital and the city, completely deserted and overrun by people infected by the rage virus.

In “The Walking Dead” comics that came after all the works mentioned above, Rick Grimes wakes from a coma in the hospital to find his town overrun with walking corpses, referred to as ‘walkers’.

SOMETHING, SOMETHING COPYRIGHT

Romero did miss out on a hefty payday due to the copyright bungle with “Night of The Living Dead”, however did that stop him from making any more movies. Of course not. Romero’s story ends well.

The film’s popularity OPENED UP MORE OPPORTUNITIES. Romero continued to create movies and the fame that his Public Domain movie gave him, opened up other offers around comics and novels.

For “The Walking Dead”, “28 Days Later” and “Resident Evil”, the lapse of “Night of the Living Dead” into the public domain turned out to be a godsend. The rules were established by Romero and Russo and others went to town building on those rules. And the best thing about building the genre was that the writers didn’t need to license anything, and they had no fear of being sued.

Call “Night Of The Living Dead” the Blues. And as Keith Richards once said, “You can’t copyright the blues”.

In the end, the lack of copyright around one movie, grew and helped defined the zombie genre in the same way that the lack of copyright around earlier blues and folk standards grew and helped define the classic rock genre. So next time someone tells you they need stronger copyrights or longer copyrights, point them to the “Night Of The Living Dead” example.

That is why “The Walking Dead” is a success. It is a derivative work created without the threat of a lawsuit. It is a derivative work that is allowed to build on previous works.

http://www.popmatters.com/column/159439-legacy-of-the-living-dead/

http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2011/10/10/how-a-copyright-mistake-created-the-modern-zombie/

Standard