[LINK] Copyright in adapted works [was Digital copyright ...]

Frank O'Connor foconnor at ozemail.com.au
Tue Jun 10 22:24:07 AEST 2008

Yo Steve,

At 3:36 PM +1000 10/6/08, Stephen Wilson wrote:
>Frank O'Connor wrote:
>>  I started having problems with copyright when:
>>  a) Hollywood copyrighted classic English works of fiction (Bronte
>>  Sisters et alia) simply because they had done a film based on them.
>Can you expand on what exactly is going on in these cited cases?

I probably expanded enough with the Wuthering Heights example, but I 
think my point was made. The current copyright regime not only makes 
expired-copyrighted material a new copyright on the basis of a film, 
play or whatever that was adapted from them, but also acts a a 
disincentive to others who may wish to use the original material in 
another (heaven forbid - better) version to go into production. 
(Which I would argue was not the intent of copyright law at all when 
it was first introduced.)

>Maybe I've got the wrong end of the stick but it seems fair enough to
>copyright adaptations, or to copyright actual forms of adapted works.
>That is, if for instance I were to film a play, even if I don't change
>the script, I can claim copyright in the film, but not the original
>text.  IANAL but clearly, novels adapted into screenplays constitute
>genuine new creative works.  So why shouldn't copyright subsist in the
>new forms?

Not if you filmed the actual play. That would be naughty.      :)

As I said in the other post I have no problems with the idea of 
copyright ... I have real problems with the direction in which its 
been taken since the 1980's, and I have serious problems with the 
regimes that the copyright holders have been lobbying for with our 
governments and governments overseas. I was happy with Berne and the 
Copyright Convention ... right up until the mid 80's. Since then it's 
been a real screw the consumer (and some would argue, the original 
copyright creator) exercise.

>A more mundane but to me more familiar example is when I sign over to a
>publisher copyright in the production of a conference paper: they get to
>own the form in which it is produced by them, but I retain copyright in
>the original text.  It makes sense (to me at any rate) that my writing
>represents one piece of intellectual property, that I own and can modify
>and improve and publish again as I wish, while the actual printed work
>is another piece of IP, imbued with the publisher's brand, and improved
>by their editing, indexing and imprimatur, all of which adds some value.

Yeah ... I tried as hard as I could to retain copyright through 
limited assignment as well. It only makes sense to look after your 
own interests.


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