Intellectual Property Law; Where do we Stand?

In the past, IP law was such that after a certain amount of decades, original characters moved from the property of the creator into the public domain. Robin Hood is an example. Anyone can make a movie about that character and will pay no royalties and contend with no lawyers.

However, what will happen in the cases where corporations make billions of dollars from the likes of Micky Mouse, Bugs Bunny, or Superman? Will they one day enter the public domain? Will future generations be allowed to freely make Star Wars movies as we make Robin Hood or King Arthur movies?

Our culture is built on adapting, remaking, and adding to stories from previous generations. The most ironic part of this story is that Disney themselves have built their empire on making movies based on stories and legends that exist in the public domain, but refuse to let anyone touch their their characters other than themselves. Hercules, Mulan, or The Little Mermaid, anyone?

Nothing like this has ever happened before. No other time in human history has a massive corporation owned the rights to a character and prevented that character from entering the public domain. Disney consistently lobbies to increase private IP protections and it is unlikely that they will ever stop, meaning that it is possible that copyright on creative works will never end and we will never see new work enter the public domain for other creators to work with. After all, the likes of Disney are unlikely to just forfeit a massive source of revenue.

Our culture is built on adapting, remaking, and adding to stories from previous generations. Previous generations had new characters and works enter the public domain but we now have none, and will likely have no more ever again, thanks to nothing but corporate greed.

We are in uncharted territory.

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