At this time of year it is appropriate to blog on a seasonal theme. Copyright and Christmas. Now that has a nice ring to it—but how are the two connected? Perhaps I could blog on the need for only legitimate copyrighted goods to be found in Christmas stockings hung by the chimney with care, or the need to avoid any gifts with pirate themes under the tree? That’s a bit of a stretch. But wait—(as the TV commercials say)–what about this copyright story? The estate of Theodor S. Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) has brought suit against comic book publisher ComicMix for copyright (and trademark) infringement over the publication of a book called “Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go” which the estate alleges infringes the copyright of the 1990 Dr. Seuss book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”. The defendants are claiming a parody “fair use” defence; ComicMix work apparently attempts “to merge the stylings of Dr. Seuss with that of Star Trek”(!).
Now Dr. Seuss and Christmas definitely go together, given that one of the all-time Christmas favourites is “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”. I think I’ve found my copyright hook. So, with apologies to Dr. Seuss, here is my contribution to the spirit of the season, “The Pirates Who Stole Christmas”
Every writer and author liked Christmas a lot,
But those copyright pirates quite clearly DID NOT.
They hated to pay for the works of the season,
Please don’t ask me why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that they just want something for free,
They are not creators, like you or like me
But I think the most likely reason was that,
If they can do it they will—at the drop of a hat.
Whatever the reason, there’s just no excuse,
For flagrant, shameless, copyright abuse.
Now the pirates looked down with a sour, piratey frown,
At the warm lighted windows in publisher’s town.
The writers were thinking of good Christmas earnings,
But the pirates were set to destroy all their yearnings.
“They’re counting their royalties” they snarled with a sneer,
“Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!”
Then they growled, with their fingers nervously drumming,
“We MUST stop their Christmas payments from coming!”
For Tomorrow, they knew, all those creators,
Writers, photographers, film-makers, painters,
Would sit by the fire, as the lit Yule log burned
To count out the fees they’d honestly earned.
Then the pirates came up with a piratey trick,
They disguised themselves to look like Saint Nick.
From their online hideouts, they took the road down
To raid the creators in publisher’s town
All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the writers were dreaming sweet dreams without care.
The Pirates moved in, while claiming fair use,
But the creators cried foul, “that’s systemic abuse”.
“No, no, wrong”, said the Pirates, “it’s about innovation,
And Internet freedom, the nation’s salvation,
We’re taking away your payments and fees
And then we’ll do what we damned well please”.
The artists and authors reacted with shock,
They pulled out all stops, regrouped and took stock.
They prepared for the worst; they readied the fight,
“Let’s stand together; let’s support copyright”
We know that we all must support creativity,
In this Christmas season, the time of nativity.
The Pirates they saw this, and realized their wrong
With no writers or artists, it wouldn’t be long
Before content dried up, and there’d be no song
No songs to sing or films to see; no books to read, not even for free
So they changed their bad ways, and just like the Grinch
Who originally would not have given an inch
The Pirates agreed to respect copyright,
And to compensate authors, and do what was right,
To encourage creation and reward those who write,
They finally accepted the logic and reason
Of paying for content, this Christmas season.
© Hugh Stephens 2016. All Rights Reserved.