Is Mickey’s interests repressing or fueling? – by “Zak K”

Sollozzo: I need a man who has powerful friends. I need a million dollars in cash. I need, Don Corleone, all of those politicians that you carry around in your pocket, like so many nickels and dimes.
Don Corleone: What is the interest for my family?”

Later on in the story the Don decides drugs are too dangerous a business. He wouldn’t jeopardize his power over the politicians, and therefore lose the superstructure he created for himself. Of course, one wants to relate everything to The Godfather, but the interesting thing for me is the parallels between political influence—in say—the criminal underworld and corporate America. Disney’s handling with the Mickey Mouse act, to me, leads to the question of the role the public plays in intellectual property.

As mentioned in the New York Times article about copyright perpetuity: has Mickey taught us (the public) something? Have we been pushed aside in the interest of corporate motives? The interesting thing about CTEA is the precedence it sets for the future of the term public, being a creativity term, an inventive term, and as a term of civil expansion.

CTEA has solidified its term of 95 years over pubic access, it affirms the idea of keeping corporate works out of reach. This law seems to be a clear step in the direction of copyright perpetuity, and if so, what has been lost, or better yet, what has been gained?

“In 1928, a hero of mine, Walt Disney, produced Steamboat Willie.” Here he showed a clip from Disney’s first successful sound cartoon, in which Mickey Mouse is a roustabout on a river steamer. “And it was from Steamboat Willie that we then got Mickey Mouse. So in a sense it is from Steamboat Willie we got Mickey Mouse, from Mickey Mouse we got the Disney Corporation.

“Now what you might not know is that in 1928 also there was another creative genius doing creative work. His name was Buster Keaton.” Keaton produced a film that year, before Disney’s cartoon, called Steamboat Bill, Jr. The Disney cartoon was heavily based on the Keaton film. “Steamboat Willie was built on Steamboat Bill. So in a sense it is from Steamboat Bill, Jr., that we got Steamboat Willie. From Steamboat Willie we got Mickey Mouse, from Mickey Mouse we got the Disney Corporation.”

—Lawrence Lessig Link

It seems—from looking at the past at least—that copyright perpetuity is inevitable, unless the public takes up it’s own rights. Current Technology, I believe, has now allowed public opinion to be heard. This action, is the transformative qualities of endless referential material. This material will lead to endless creative works, like in the case of pogo’s Alice song. These works will still be produced, but leaves the door open for corporate strong-arming. Sure, the material may never belong to the public, and yes, I think that this will damage some creative growth, but more importantly I think it encourages disregard.

Why is it that copying music seems relatively safe and inconsequential? Or why sharing software, or movies is accepted, even encouraged with the most stringent of people?  Mickey has taught the public a lesson, and not the one intended. The Mickey Mouse act has proven, possibly, the key to exposing the gap between true creative growth and ”family business”.

Zak K.

Interestingly, if copyright would have been kept to it’s original 14 years, these are some things that would be entering the public domain. Makes me wonder, what would be made with these items if they were given over to the public…

Top Movies of 1996

Top Music of 1996

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