7 Copyright Questions (and, how I keep writing)

herald loom

I’m at the point in my senior thesis research that I am both feeling 1) that everything I want to say has already been said and 2) I don’t really know anything about what I am writing. I know these are natural parts of a long research process, but that does not make them any less discouraging.

It is only you, dear readers, that keep me sitting down and pounding out post after post on intellectual property policy of the  past, present, and future. Charlie Brooker is right: sometimes I just need to be threatened to write, and the threat of lower pageview counts (and then the emails from family members) keep me staring at this blank screen, willing words to emerge.

In a bid to clarify my mind, here are 7 copyright questions which are running around my head like Corgis on caffein:

  1. Legally, what precisely distinguishes plagiarism from infringement from derivation from fair use from transformation from originality?
  2. What does the average fanfic writer need to know about copyright?
  3. What powerful person or group could benefit politically from protecting fanfiction from infringement suits?
  4. How does the fact that original copyright law was written for authors and then broadened to include fine artists and musicians affect its utility to them?
  5. Should most software be copyrighted?
  6. Can I use group worlds (Martin’s Wild Card series or the Superman or Batman franchises) as clearly legal parallels to fanfiction communities?
  7. Who could my thesis most help?

In Arabic class today, we had to answer (in Arabic) what we would do if our tuition money ran out. I said: أعمل في مكتبة في ولاية كاليفورنيا

Use Google translate if you’d like to know what I said. All I know is, regardless of how my research goes, I am not a one-trick pony, and have places to go and people to crash with. I don’t need them, but I like knowing they’re there. And writing keeps me not needing them, so thank you, dear readers.

Inspirational Quote:

“If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.”–Gustav Mahler

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