Son of a Pitch: Mechanical Fan Licenses

I don't know. I wanted a robot clerk. C'est la vie.

I just got done reading this fantastical book called "Freedom of Expression (R): Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity" by Kembrew McLeod.

And it's a wonderful read on the world of copyright, albeit, focusing a little too much on music stuff for my tastes.

However, the book did have some enlightening information on the nature of copyright. For example, I learnt, I could cover any song I like and pay basically a penny. Legally.

How so? Well, what happens is there exists something called a "compulsory mechanical license."

While it sounds like something those Squids from the Matrix would hand you, it's something much better. There is a system in place where you check with the government if a song's songwriter registered it to the copyright office. If it IS registered, you pay a laughable fee, and get to making those covers.

The government rounds up all that money and in the end pays the songwriter, should he or she be alive and findable.

You see, when you ask the record company that probably bought a second record company that owns the SONG( the actual recording) copyright to make a cover of that song, they can pretty much set their price. Their Price can get pretty high.  It seems that there is a system to reward the song writer and keep more songs pumping through. Everybody can win.
That cent can really make this guy's grandchildren's lives better.

Now, I know for a fact people want to remake, remix and re-edit more than just songs. I've been to Deviatnart,, and Paheal/Rule34xxx/Booru. We want to work with movies, games, and cartoons. Sadly, it doesn't seem likely DIC entertainment will let me  take on  Dinosaucers, that Sunsoft will let me make a sequel to Valis, and I'll be able to do much with my gritty origin to Mona Lisa. Working with the companies that own this IPs is unfeasable for mere mortals, and especially for profit(which is how you'd get any damn funding to begin with. Lucasarts likes Star Wars Uncut, but there are no ads in that stuff.)

So perhaps we should institute a mechanical license for fanworks. You pay a fee, (and it doesn't even have to be pathetic like the song license one. Paying a 1000 dollars to make your own legal, sellable Star wars movie seems like a reasonable amount compared to the actual "No, DON'T" perspective most companies have.)

Now, things might be going that way. Amazon is starting to allow fanmade derivative works under some kind of deal. Eidos, home of the Tomb Raider, is also making a new deal to allow fan takes on some of it's less used Franchises.
Now THIS is what the fanbase REALLY wants.

However, this are A) under the particular control of the company that owns the IP, and B) franchises that don't exactly arouse a lot of imagination. Sure, I guess somebody really wants Gex, and Fear Effect to return, and some people probably like Valiant Comics and Pretty Little Liars. But that's not what it is.

And besides, the worry of these programs, is that, by tying the profits of the work to the owner, it incentivizes the squashing of the native for love fanworks we all love. I mean, If Disney has a racket charging every chump who wants to film himself and his goons pretending to use lightsabers, that won't make MORE Star Wars movies, but LESS, because unlicenced Star Wars fan films now ARE competition.

But if Mechanical licenses where in place, derivative but unofficial works  would flourish.

You see, I think, for example, that it would be a mighty fine thing if there was a Wonder Woman open world game, where you explore, beat bad guys, talk to people and fly in an invisible jet. And I think I´m not the only one.I think it could be great and a lot of people would buy something like that. But WB owns WOnder Woman, and they don´t agree. They don´t think that people are willing to pay money to play as the world's most popular superheroine. For them "Wonder Woman: The Game" is an unnecessary risk." Just like Wonder Woman, the movie was, for over 30 years.

But they can't let YOU do it either, under a legal doctrine that basically says they MIGHT do it, so doing it yourself kind of robs them of the chance. It's the same reason Hasbro took down MLP: Fighting is Magic. Sure, they weren't gonna do a Pony fighting game themselves anyway. But if they do, it could lead to Mane 6 suing  Hasbro for ripping THEM of.

With a mechanical license, you could do it, and both works would become recognized as being related to each other, and nobody has to sue anyone. In the term of videogames, it would probably work out best, since  the mechanics of a game are legally safe to duplicate. Capcom couldn't sue Midway for emulating their gameplay mechanics, and Blizzard can't sue  Netherrealm Studios for doing a fighting game set within the DC Universe.

You see, I would GLADLY pay 1000 dollars to make my own version of Wonder Woman, and we'd be both supporting the company that bought  the company that owns the character after pressuring congress not to let it lapse into the public domain the artists, and I get to show off on Youtube or whatever. But guess what? I can't. It's not like with piracy, where the object of your affection usually can be acquired legally.

There is no way I can go to WB and convince them that I should have the license to Wonder Woman at all, even with money. If there was a mechanical license system, we could have had more than 1 Wonder Woman movie, more than zero Wonder Woman videogames,  while WB was twiddling it's thumbs and "trying to get it right".

We could have had good, passionate developers making quality remakes and upgrades to classic games and then SELLING them. Imagine  someone taking Sonic 2, and then upgrading it with  fully remade visuals, online competitive and cooperative, gameplay new characters, new modes voice acting...and then just putting all that into XBLA and Steam and PSN.

Now, there are downsides to my idea, and I don't want to look like a wide eyed idiot, so I will be addressing them.

Technically this sort of totally undermines copyrights original  intent, to protect the initial years of a work so that a creator or owner can recoup his or her invention and not have to compete with literal xeroxed copies. Besides the fact our current CR laws already do that pretty well on it's own (If I make a book, it doesn't really hurt my book sales if someone makes a fanfiction where my books characters are all m-preg nagas.) I do have a solution.

A non competition clause can kindly request that the work is actually canibalizing an the existing work. For example, If Sega already has a Sonic 2 in PSN, and Batzarro Presents: Sonic 2 is in danger of eating into Sega's shares they can put a stop to me in that particular system. However, if Sega doesn't have Sonic 2 in PSN, it wouldn't be able to stop someone else on the grounds that it MIGHT do it. It might incentivize them to actually do it. And if they  do do it, then that gives them the right to supercede the derivative work.

This is for derivative works. You can't  just dub over Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. You have to get your own actors, and film your own movie. You have to code your own Sonic 2. You have to draw and ink your own panels. You can use the John Williams Score, if you happen to make the music yourself.

You aquire a licence to adapt from individual works, not collected works. For example, Sonic 2 gives you Sonic 2. You want to add something from Sonic 3? Pay more. You want to add something from Sonic SAM?  Pay more. You want to add Mario, too? Pay more.

Law can insist that these type of works must have a clear lable or something, that indicates that they are NOT directly related to the makers of the original. Like "Based on the works of Alan Moore". Something like that.

And finally, maybe give it 5 years from the original's creation till you can do it. Most works don't make money beyond the 5.

But of course, if we could wrap our head around that kind of research, our copyright wouldn't last over 100 years, and cover a doodle a baby just made in his own poop.


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