20 January 2006


…wait a moment, there is no clock ticking on Captain Hook. And that's why the Peter Pan issue isn't really about "copyright" as much as it is about "cultural artifacts," because that's what the UK's Parliament did: It turned Peter Pan into a perpetually protected cultural artifact of the native peoples of Greatormondstreetchildren'shospital. I've commented on this obliquely several times before at the blawg, and several other times elsewhere.

That's pretty sad: The UK's government demonstrated more greed than Disney (which is not to say that the US government never does!).

In any event, there's an excellent argument that the only way that the UK perpetual protection of Peter Pan can continue to exist is outside of copyright, because perpetual protection is explicitly disavowed in the Berne Convention and Universal Copyright Convention (not to mention the 1996 WIPO treaty). That's what makes the whole contretemps so amusing to those of us with sardonic senses of humor (and more than a trace of cynicism): The entire debate is framed, on both side of the Atlantic, in terms of copyright—but that frame excludes an awful lot of relevant—indeed, compelling—considerations.

The obvious implication is this: That copyright is not a sufficient theory to explain everything related to publishing rights. Now, if I could just get more authors and publishers (and, for that matter, IWTBF advocates) to even consider that possibility, we'd be a long way toward at least some dialogue, and maybe even a partial solution.