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There are better ways to share knowledge than eating brains

There are better ways to share knowledge than eating brains

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Published by Elliott Bledsoe
This article analogises the term of copyright, in particular the continuation of protection for 70 years after the death of the creator (in many countries), with zombies. Content, like the bodies of the living reanimated after death, lingers on for years after the author is dead. Through the short stories of American author Kelly Link and her preoccupation with zombie contingency plans and the genre-mashup Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the article aims to draw into light the potentially limiting effect that posthumous copyright protection has on innovation.

This article was written for The Ownership Issue of WQ published by the Queensland Writers' Centre. If you republish it or reuse it please attribute me as the author and acknowledge that the article was first published in WQ, Iss 196, http://www.qwc.asn.au/WritersResources/WQMagazine.aspx Thank you.

Please be aware I have removed all third-party copyrighted material from the scan.

Bibliographical details: Bledsoe, E. (2010). “There are better ways to share knowledge than eating brains” in De Vantier, J (Ed), WQ, Iss 196, pp 8-9.
This article analogises the term of copyright, in particular the continuation of protection for 70 years after the death of the creator (in many countries), with zombies. Content, like the bodies of the living reanimated after death, lingers on for years after the author is dead. Through the short stories of American author Kelly Link and her preoccupation with zombie contingency plans and the genre-mashup Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the article aims to draw into light the potentially limiting effect that posthumous copyright protection has on innovation.

This article was written for The Ownership Issue of WQ published by the Queensland Writers' Centre. If you republish it or reuse it please attribute me as the author and acknowledge that the article was first published in WQ, Iss 196, http://www.qwc.asn.au/WritersResources/WQMagazine.aspx Thank you.

Please be aware I have removed all third-party copyrighted material from the scan.

Bibliographical details: Bledsoe, E. (2010). “There are better ways to share knowledge than eating brains” in De Vantier, J (Ed), WQ, Iss 196, pp 8-9.

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Published by: Elliott Bledsoe on May 31, 2010
Copyright:Attribution

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04/14/2014

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Elliott Bledsoe is onerned about zombies and opyrightlaw. He explains why below.
Kelly Link is worried abot zombies The American short story athor has been warning s o thecoming zombie apocalypse or some time now Back in 2008she declared the zombie otbreak ‘will happen at any moment’in an interiew with
The Nation
 Her stories remind s o theneed or zombie contingency plans What will yo do when thezombie epidemic starts while yo’re at home? Work? The gym? The shopping centre?Bt it is not only the fesh-rot-brain-eating zombie arietythat has Link concerned Like me, Link is also worried abotcopyright zombies In pretty mch eery contry arond theworld copyright grants creators rights to control copying andadaptation o their works withot permission Bt the ‘Yocan’t toch this’ approach o traditional copyright, copled withaggressie expansion o corporate control o signicant cltralprodcts, has heralded a ‘permissions cltre’, an enironmentwhere yo need to ask or permission to do pretty mchanything And this restriction does not end in death Ce theeerie msic
content orpses
 An athor does not take copyright to their grae Rathercopyright sbsists posthmosly (Rotting) fesh and bloodzombies hae a limited liespan Content corpses, the lingeringcarcasses o copyrighted works, stick arond mch longerunder crrent Astralian copyright law, these copyright zombieslimp along or 70 years ater the athor is dead Dring thistime they attract the same leel o protection they did dringthe creator’s lie, which has signicant implications or theaccessibility and seability o content Take last year’s Orwell e-books debacle or example Rememberthat? When Amazon deleted hndreds o prchased copies o George Orwell’s
Nineteen Eighty-Four 
and
 Animal Farm
romcstomers’ Kindles? Althogh the potential or Orwellian-Big-Brotherish conspiracy theory diatribe is almost too mch or meto stand, there is an eqally important copyright isse that thissaga highlights The problem or Amazon was that neither book was in thepblic domain — a designation gien to content that is nolonger sbject to copyright protection, and is thereore aailableor anyone to se reely or any prpose Nor had the e-bookpblisher secred a licence to create and distribte a digitalcopy o the books Orwell pblished
 Animal Farm
in 1945 and
Nineteen Eighty-Four 
in 1949, jst one year beore he died Inthe united States the term o copyright sbsists or the lie o the athor pls 70 years, meaning all o Orwell’s books remainprotected by copyright ntil 2020 (althogh it is worth notingthat, de to the complexities o the copyright term amendmentsoer the last ew years here in Astralia
 Animal Farm
,
NineteenEighty-Four,
and all o Orwell’s other books ell into the pblicdomain in 2000) When agents acting or Orwell’s estateinormed Amazon o the inringement they remotely deletedthe titles rom cstomers’ deices They sted them downthe memory hole one might say (sorry, I had to get at least oneOrwellian reerence in their)I am pretty sre that Orwell didn’t think abot his digitaldistribtion rights when he signed a pblishing deal or
 Animal Farm
or
Nineteen Eighty-Four 
 O corse, maybe the cratybgger knew e-books were coming Either way, the permissionsneeded to get his works, or any other athor who is deadbt whose works are not yet ot o copyright, online is a legalmineeld And orget clearing the rights to remix them; that goesinto the proerbial ‘too hard basket’
Rest in Piees
 Ater copyright in a book is oer yo can do pretty mchanything yo like with it Keeping in theme, a sperstar exampleo the kinds o creatie reinterpretations this may stimlate is thegenre mash-p
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
 The brainchildo Seth Grahame-Smith, it slips a ew meandering ndead (andcannibalism and ninjas!) between the pages o Jane Asten’sliterary classic Brilliant! Bt how do Asten’s relaties eelabot the Bennets and Mr Darcy doing battle with reanimatedcorpses in ‘ltraiolent zombie mayhem’? Who cares? There’sno copyright here, so there’s no need or permission; which iswhy we hae moie ater moie ater moie, a Tv miniseries anda msical amongst the piles and piles o printed editions!How is
PPZ 
airing? It was met with rae reiews rom themainstream media and the blogosphere alike It sat at thirdplace on the
New York Times
bestseller list and reqired asecond printing beore hitting sheles in the united Kingdom There’s talk o a moie adaptation staring Natalie Portman And its pblisher, Qirk Books, hae since released
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
and
Pride and Prejudice and  Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
 I 
Pride and Prejudice
were stillin copyright I dobt an ‘add zombies’ pitch wold hae gottenery ar Een i Asten’s estate spported the rewrite, yo canbet they wold hae wanted to talk royalty payments beore itgot to marketNot that I’m saying that Asten doesn’t desere to reap thebenets o her creatie otpts — jst that I’m not sre herestate shold or hndreds o years down the track Theabsolte natre o control while copyright does still sbsist canlead to some ridiclos otcomes, like James Joyce’s grandsonresing to allow pblic readings o his grandather’s works aspart o the Bloomsday celebrations in his honor
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There are better ways to share knowledge than eating brains
Elliott Bledsoe

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