Would King Lear Ever Have Been Written If Copyright Law Existed?

from the probably-not... dept

This is great. For a few months now, I’ve been intending to write up a post that highlights how much of Shakespeare’s work would have run into copyright trouble today if he (or whoever wrote his stuff, for those who believe it was someone else) were faced with today’s copyright laws and/or today’s technologies. While I haven’t found the time, Groklaw has stepped up and done it for me — at least with regards to King Lear, noting how unlikely it is that King Lear would be written today under the same circumstances, since there would be numerous potential copyright claims:

If the current US Copyright Law had been in effect over Shakespeare, I think he could have been sued by many authors for copyright infringement for writing that masterpiece.

Count how many lawsuits there could have been just for King Lear alone:

Shakespeare’s play is based on various accounts of the semi-legendary Celtic mythological figure Lear/Lir. Shakespeare’s most important source is thought to be the second edition of The Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande by Raphael Holinshed, published in 1587. Holinshed himself found the story in the earlier Historia Regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth, which was written in the 12th century. Edmund Spenser‘s The Faerie Queene, published 1590, also contains a character named Cordelia, who also dies from hanging, as in King Lear.

Other possible sources are A Mirror for Magistrates (1574), by John Higgins; The Malcontent (1604), by John Marston; The London Prodigal (1605); Arcadia (1580-1590), by Sir Philip Sidney, from which Shakespeare took the main outline of the Gloucester subplot; Montaigne‘s Essays, which were translated into English by John Florio in 1603; An Historical Description of Iland of Britaine, by William Harrison; Remaines Concerning Britaine, by William Camden (1606); Albion’s England, by William Warner, (1589); and A Declaration of egregious Popish Impostures, by Samuel Harsnett (1603), which provided some of the language used by Edgar while he feigns madness. King Lear is also a literary variant of a common fairy tale, in which a father rejects his youngest daughter for a statement of her love that does not please him.[5]

The source of the subplot involving Gloucester, Edgar, and Edmund is a tale in Philip Sidney’s Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, with a blind Paphlagonian king and his two sons, Leonatus and Plexitrus.[6]

How many lawsuits do you see? At least a half dozen? I even see some methods and concepts claims, if we view it with modern copyright owner eyes. Remember J.K. Rowling’s litigation over methods and concepts that Darl McBride and Chris Sontag cited? I suppose he could have raised a transformational fair use claim. But what if he accessed the prior works in digital format? Does fair use exist there? Or maybe they’d have been DRM’d. He’d maybe then never have read them.

Of course, what really would have happened is there never would have been a King Lear written. It would have been too legally risky. You can go to jail for copyright infringement, after all, even if you are noncommercial, if you distribute a DVD, and if we are imagining, let’s imagine Shakespeare did that. Shakespeare wasn’t even noncommercial. And there are criminal sanctions under regular Copyright Law, too.

If Shakespeare had plenty of money, he could have contacted all the copyright owners and paid them whatever they asked, but if he didn’t have enough money, the result would have been he would have been unable to afford to write King Lear. Do we want a world where Shakespeare can only write King Lear if he has money? If you think I exaggerate, remember what happened to internet radio? And if one song is worth $80,000, is the sky not the limit, if you are a copyright owner and hold all the legal cards and can get Congress to keep upping the ante to suit you?

Incidentally, has anyone done a study to see how many songs in the history of the world earned $80,000 for their authors?

If King Lear had been written anyway, despite the odds, Shakespeare could have been sued for copyright infringement, one case after another, and his reputation would have been ruined, probably being branded a willful copyright infringer instead of an artistic genius, which he was, willfulness being assumed under the law, a rebuttable presumption, and he’d have likely faced damages equivalent to a lifetime of indentured servitude.

Indeed. This is a point that needs to be repeated again and again — and yet for some reason, industry execs, politicians and even many in the press seem to buy (hook, line and proverbial sinker) the idea that copyright is somehow necessary for the creation of great works, and that such punishment is reasonable under the law. They’ll claim that Shakespeare (or his modern equivalent) should simply write something different — though ignoring how this would rid the world of King Lear. Shakespeare didn’t rely on copyright to earn a living. Copyright is one form of enforcing a business model, but it is hardly the only one.

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Comments on “Would King Lear Ever Have Been Written If Copyright Law Existed?”

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BullJustin (profile) says:

Re: Re:

King Lear is believed to be written sometime between 1603 and 1606. Given the current length of copyright in the US, anything after 1533 to 1536 (assuming every author died upon publication) would have a viable copyright claim. That includes every work cited above except Historia Regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth.

C.T. says:

Re: Re: Re:

I should have been clear: even assuming that all the works in question were copyrighted at the time King Lear were written, I do not think the post makes a strong case that there is a cognizable claim for copyright infringement. Given that the works in question concern a popular mythology, their copyrights would have been very thin. Simply pointing to the fact that Shakespeare may have used other works on Lir as reference for King Lear is not very persuasive. It is unlikely that this would have resulted in a copyright suit, unless specific expression was taken from these works. Indeed, this is very common practice even in today’s litigious environment.

The author does present one compelling example, though. That Shakespeare allegedly mined
“A Declaration of egregious Popish Impostures” for “language used by Edgar while he feigns madness” does present potential claims for infringement. However, this single example does not really support the proposition that King Lear would never have been written had copyright existed in Shakespeare’s era.

Nonetheless… even if the point were conceded, it seems somewhat hollow to me. Much of the artwork of Shakespeare’s era was funded by patrons of the art. A system of copyright has as one of its aims to free artists from the parochialism involved in such a system. So…even if it is true that some art would not have been created in a copyright world, the question taken alone ignores the fact that but for copyright a lot of art would not have been created. It is in essence a two-way street.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Whether are not there are examples of actual copyright infringement, it seems like there’d be a good chance of lawsuits. Look at all the claims against J. K. Rowling, or the Satriani/Coldplay lawsuit. When copyright touches so many things for so long, you don’t need to actually infringe copyright to be the subject of an expensive lawsuit — you just need to be successful.

max (profile) says:

King Lear

I agree, King Lear and other Shakespeare works are great. But so are the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Motown artists, and countless others works. The fact that many labels and middle men abused the privilege of copyright protection doesn’t mean the creators of content should be stripped of an important means and reason to invest their time and energy into creating.
It simply means we must refine the system. Fortunately your dialog here is helping to do just that!

reality check says:

Re: King Lear

The system is so broken that no amount of refining can fix it. Trying to reform the current IP system is delusional.

What people need to understand that all this talk of “creation” and “creators” is formulated so as to think that the creators and their creation is 100% original. That is a fallacy. Everything is built on top of existing knowledge. We used to acknowledge that too. Do you know what is written on the side of the 2 Sterling pound coin? It says “Standing on the sholuders of giants”. Think about that for a bit. Let me give an example of a situation in which that still applies: scientific papers – the more citations, the better for the author because it means that his work was meaningful, the more refernces, the better, because it means that his work is built on top of sound ideas.

The bottom line is that we should stop being hypocritical and claiming that using existing ideas equates to ripping off the people coming up with those ideas. Those people, themselves, used their precursors idea and built on top of them. Letting others use these ideas should be considered a way of paying back for the fact that they had someting to build on… otherwise we would have to reinvent the wheel at each couple of generations.

Another important point is that inovation loses its novelty status rather quickly. If you were the first one to come up with the product, you already have the upper hand on your competitors and they will have to come up with something better or different to gain the upper hand on you. Creating state-granted monopolies (because that is what IP laws are) just slows that whole cycle down and hinders progress. It creates entrenched companies that can gain the upper hand on the market not by being more innovative or by creating better products or services, but by leveraging their economies of scale to stifle competition.

max (profile) says:

Re: Re: King Lear

I agree, there is nothing new under the sun. There is only those who move on their ideas and those who don’t. All ideas are obviously standing on the shoulders of what is already and what came before. The question is, how do persons who have chosen that path sustain a decent living from it? A doctor has man made rules to go by, a bus driver has man made rules to go by….why take away a writer’s rules to go by?
The big labels have left a bad taste in most peoples mouth but now we are in a time where writer’s are mainly self publishing. Let us build on that. It is a new day. The big labels rule is over….let it go.

max (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 King Lear

True…but they don’t make sense now because multimedia players did not unite when the Internet was born. It was every man for themselves and the opportunity was missed for positive growth putting them all on the nonproductive defensive for 10 years!

It’s no wonder the Internet generation has a negative point of view about copyright protection. All they’ve heard is “stop it, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, we’ll sue you, you’re stealing,”……and all under the banner of copyright infringement.

The Internet generation has to stop lumping copyright protection with big business. Big business’s job was to exploit copyrights on behalf of the creators that didn’t know how to do it themselves. Well they exploited themselves right out of business but you better believe they enjoyed it while it lasted. Now it’s over. This is the age of self publishing. Those who publish in this age have to learn to incorporate or refine existing laws to define this era. History shows it’s more likely to be done by improving the existing system not by totally destroying the idea born of many generations of shoulder standing.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 King Lear

“True…but they don’t make sense now because multimedia players did not unite when the Internet was born. It was every man for themselves and the opportunity was missed for positive growth putting them all on the nonproductive defensive for 10 years!”

No, the rules don’t make sense for largely technical reasons, rather than social ones. Copyright infringement was still illegal in the early days of the internet, but Napster flourished.

It’s not because of “it was every man for themselves.”

It’s because the Internet is a giant copying machine. The function at the heart of computing is copying. Copying is at the heart of the communicating on the web. If stuff is online, it’s going to be copied — that’s how the internet works.

Even more to the point: the marginal cost of reproduction is essentially $0. It doesn’t cost you anything more to have 3000 copies made than to have three, once you’ve got the first. In a competitive market, price approaches the marginal cost of reproduction, which in the case of digital files is $0.

It’s perfectly natural that the price of digital goods would approach $0, and that people using a giant computer network would engage in copying as they communicate.

The internet is about copying because the technology is about copying. It’s not because the entertainment industry was slow, it’s because they actually thought they could stop the technology.

max (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 King Lear

I don’t think it was very smart for the “industry” or those effected by digitization to try and stop the copying. Had they unified back in the 90’s they could have installed a system at the very top, (ISPs) that could have accounted for ALL multimedia activities via the Internet, (instead each entity tried to amend laws particular to themselves). But after 10 years of wasting time trying to stop copying and p2p sharing those old sub-systems of copyright exploitation are struggling to survive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: #10, "reality check"

Hi Nina, I recognized your particular brand of drivel and no, just because we’re all “standing on the backs of giants” does not mean we should destroy the economic scale of the arts in favor of your Utopian melting pot of collectivist amateurism.

And no, “Inspired” and “Derivative” are two different words with two different meanings and no amount of your sour grapes hyperbole will change that.

BTW, have you made even half your investment back with the movie yet? It’s been what? Two years now since people first saw it? How’s your next movie going? Have you even started it or are you waiting to recoup the money from the first one?

LostSailor (profile) says:

Shakespeare would have been fine

Cute article, but it overstates its case by a wide margin. Since the story of King Lear is based on old Celtic myths, widely known at the time, the basic story and the characters would not have been subject to copyright.

It was also a popular story, as evidenced by the many writers at the time who published different versions of the tale. As long as Shakespeare’s expression of the story was unique, there would likely have been little to sue over.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Shakespeare would have been fine

I’d bet that it wouldn’t stop Disney from threatening and possibly even fallowing threw despite the lack of a claim. So would millions of others given the same chance.

The risk of that alone would be enough to kill of many, many good works before they started. Plus if someone like Disney did push a case, it would bankrupt any one they were up against.

LostSailor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Shakespeare would have been fine

Disney would have to have some cause for action, and re-telling the Cinderella story wouldn’t be it (as it’s been done before without a lawsuit). The law does have some protections against frivolous suits as well.

As for the RIAA, while there have been stories of unsupported claims, most of the file-sharing cases I’ve looked at are not only at least minimally supported, but are often quite well supported.

The Thomas-Rasset case is a telling one: the jury found, and after reading many of the documents in the case I would agree, that she engaged in illegal file sharing and when caught, not only denied it (repeatedly, with changing stories, through two trials) but most likely destroyed evidence to hide her activities.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Shakespeare would have been fine

So, you are saying that the RIAA, MPAA, and all other copyright, trademark, and patent “trolls” as we call them only ever sue when they have a good case and never use the threat of lawsuit to stifle competition?

“No, no, that’s a bad printer. Don’t download that song”

LostSailor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Shakespeare would have been fine

Of course not. There are many companies that try to use the law to their advantage against competition, sometimes with little basis. But that doesn’t mean that all such suits or even the majority of such suits don’t have merit (regardless of whether they are ultimately successful).

Are you saying that none of the file sharers discovered by the RIAA are not guilty of the illegal conduct they’re accused of? I would certainly agree that the RIAA’s legal approach is ill-advised, but they’re well within their rights and it’s highly likely that most of the folks they target did break the law.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Shakespeare would have been fine

“Are you saying that none of the file sharers discovered by the RIAA are not guilty of the illegal conduct they’re accused of?”

Technically, I am, criminal infringement is a bullshit charge. In reality I know that a lot of people file share and it’s inevitable that a lot of file sharers are threatened (it’s a matter of odds, if you sue everyone, someone has to be in the wrong), but the vast majority of them are with limited or no evidence that they did anything. Going to trial with no evidence in the hopes that the person will be scared into settling (the outcome of most of the cases) and then backing off of most of the rest is wrong. The one case that has gone threw was hand picked because she destroyed evidence. And then we have the “damages”. $80,000 for one song isn’t just off, it should be criminally wrong.

And then we get back to the point I was originally trying to make: With all these threats and the possibility to be sued into nonexistence, I could most definitely see people not making something just out of fear of accusation. Especially from a company as big as Disney, even if it may be unfounded. And even if Disney decided not to push anything, someone else probably would.

LostSailor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Shakespeare would have been fine

First, as far as I know, the RIAA hasn’t accused anyone of “criminal infringement.” So far these have all been civil cases of infringement.

Second, RIAA has, despite clever rhetoric to the opposite, not “sued everyone”. Yes, they’ve started a lot of lawsuits that at the start had evidence only that infringement had occurred and linked it to an IP address and a name of the owner/user of that IP address. Unfortunately, that is sufficient to begin the pre-trial process of discovery, which is why most people settle. Some may settle due to the prospect of the cost of defense, but I’m guessing that many more people settle because if they’re honest with themselves, they know they did the infringing and that it will come out at trial.

The ones where the RIAA has “backed off,” as far as I can tell, are where there is insufficient evidence that the particular person charged did the infringement or where someone else was found to have done it on the suspected computer/internet account. Which, of course, is what they are supposed to do and what the court would force them to do.

Actually, while I agree that Thomas-Rasset most likely destroyed evidence by installing a new hard-drive, there was no direct evidence of that presented in court (though the impression was there).

I agree that $80,000 per song is wrong, but that’s what you get when you leave your fate to a jury. It’s less than they could have awarded.

And then we get back to the point I was originally trying to make: With all these threats and the possibility to be sued into nonexistence, I could most definitely see people not making something just out of fear of accusation.

Fortunately, most content creators don’t think this way. Music is still being made, recorded, and distributed (as Mike indicated in a post a few days ago, apparently more music than ever). Thousands of books are published every year (and hundreds of thousands more written but not likely to be published, at least not commercially). Movies are still made, etc.

Copyright really isn’t all that difficult and with minimal care, a content creator will be just fine. If there is a possibility that material might give rise to a copyright infringement claim, it’s not all that hard to have it reviewed. I understand that many here think that shouldn’t be necessary, but, still, it’s not all that hard.

mike42 says:

Re: Shakespeare would have been fine

What about his sources? They would not have been published, and he would have a hard time writing this from a vacuum. If it wasn’t for a proliferation of sources around this tale, I’m sure it wouldn’t have had the texture it has, if it had been written at all.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

Re: Profit

Huh? Well, since the global economy bases an awful lot of what it is on intellectual property laws, I say that there are a vast number of people out there (a majority, who knows, but billions I’m sure) that “profit” from IP. Profit may come in the way of a royalty payment, or a paycheck from a business that uses IP to make money, or perhaps the benefit of a design that saved a family member’s life, or a drug that cured their cold allowing them to go back to work a day early to earn more money. As a result, just about anyone in the media/publishing space, advertising, pharma, lots of manufacturing, design, academia and many, many more, “profit” from the “current system of intellectual property.” A broad statement requires broad evidence. Don’t think it’s there in this case.

I think a more correct and supportable statement would be that “Of the people who advocate AGAINST the current system of “intellectual property” most actually profit from it today, directly or indirectly.” Interesting, isn’t it? That said, just because someone benefits from a system does not mean that their advocacy or counter-advocacy is less valid or authentic.

max (profile) says:

Re: Profit

I agree, there is nothing new under the sun. There is only those who move on their ideas and those who don’t. All ideas are obviously standing on the shoulders of what is already and what came before. The question is, how do persons who have chosen that path sustain a decent living from it? A doctor has man made rules to go by, a bus driver has man made rules to go by….why take away a writer’s rules to go by?
The big labels have left a bad taste in most peoples mouth but now we are in a time where writer’s are mainly self publishing. Let us build on that. It is a new day. The big labels rule is over….let it go.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Profit

Yep, nothing new under the sun. In fact, we have known this for centuries, and several famous scientists through history have said that invention and discoveries will slow to a halt because, by golly, “there is nothing new under the sun” and we know it all.

On the other hand, since the last fool who said that died, we perfected flight, invented jets, went to the moon, invented freezers, tv dinners, television, plasma tv’s, the iPod, computers, jet packs, SCUBA, and millions of other devices.

There may be “nothing new under the sun,” but do not bother telling that to inventors and innovators who prove that statement wrong, DAILY, they might stop being inventive and innovative and who knows how long it will take to invent faster-than-light drive?

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Profit

Flight was created based of of Leonardo’s drawings of birds. Jets were based off of flight. Going to the moon was based on jets. Freezers were based off of ice boxes (and ice boxes were based off of ice). Television was based off of movies and movies were based off of stories. Plasma TV’s were based off of TVs. iPods were based off of other MP3 players witch were based off of portable CD players and tape players before. Computers were based off of, I forget what it’s called but it’s a glorified abacus (my dad has one). Jet packs are based off of jets. SCUBA is based off of the diving bell.

All devices are really just evolutions of the devices before or discoveries of things that already exist. Hell, the Internet, the most unique thing I can think of, is just based on networking computers.

Here’s a better one. Your personality is a combination of your DNA and past experiences. It’s not even a new thing.

So, knowing all of this, how can someone not stand on the shoulders of giants.

BobinBaltimore (profile) says:

The Premise is Problematic

This is an interesting attempt. Aside from the problems or potential problems other commentors have already pointed out (pre-existing legends, original publish dates that that would indicate expiration of copyrights at the time of Shakespeare’s writing), there is a problem with the premise that copyrights stunt creativity as an blanket statement. I can agree that aspects of copyright – most specifically the term – and IP laws as presently applied may hinder creative entry in certain cases and circumstances. But as a general statement, I think it’s absurd on its face. The premise underlying the Shakespearean study is only valid at the macro level if it can be shown that the pace, breadth and depth of human inventiveness and creativity has SLOWED since the advent of modern copyrights. That is clearly not the case. As a matter of fact, the amount of creation has accelerated dramatically as the means to create (printing, education, communications, technology) have become more easily obtained.

I agree that we have gone past the point of fairness and equity for the content creator in a number of cases/industries and that reform is needed. But trying to somehow demonstrate the badness of our current era by making a stretched-at-best case on a 400 year old example, when the macro-economic and cultural evidence is entirely to the contrary is pretty tough to take.

Additionally, using the example someone who is arguably history’s most successful playwright to say that “Shakespeare didn’t rely on copyright to earn a living” is yet another example of the use of exceptionalism to try to define a rule. Most authors don’t have wealthy benefactors, their own performance company or a trust fund to rest on. Before folks flame, I agree that singling our certain of the creative arts for royalty entitlements and not others is very problematic…don’t deny that. But saying that “gosh, the world’s greatest playwright didn’t need copyrights to make a living in an era where support for the arts was done in an entirely different way” hardly creates economic or fiscal constructs that are applicable to most involved in the pursuit today.

Steve R. (profile) says:

But, But, its still copyrighted!!!

If you take a look at Amazon.Com, you will see -if you follow the link below – that it is still under copyright!!!!


Actually, this points to another form of copyright abuse. What is and what is not protected by copyright is not clearly defined. That leaves the reader with the impression that the work is still “protected” by copyright when in fact it isn’t.

Also to follow-up on the Mike’s post concerning the requirement that Universities protect the RIAA and the MPAA. How would the University react if Oxford Press issues a bogus take-down notice for works that are in the public domain? Just because someone asserts copyright ownership doesn’t mean that they actually have a legitimate ownership interest. It unfortunate, that we seem to have changed the law so that someone can claim “ownership” without proof and point the finger of blame, but the pointee must somehow prove that the the pointer does not actually possess the “ownership”.

LostSailor (profile) says:

Re: But, But, its still copyrighted!!!

You are correct that the copyright notice in this Oxford edition of the play should have been worded more precisely, but much of the content of this book what looks like original commentary on the play (each page of the play is presented with lots of commentary and definitions), which are copyrightable.

The actual text of the play is not copyrightable (and the copyright notice should have spelled this out), but the presentation may be.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

The larger question

Assuming Lear had been written, would we know of it? Would it had been performed, disseminated, etc? Probably not.

There are those who contend that some iterations of his work came from people who copied his plays (early pirates, in other words) and recorded them for their own uses. Strike those.

Any of the performances or publications after the early seventeenth century until sometime in the eighteenth? Need to get licenses, and probably contend with the copyright claims against his works from the authors (or their estates) that he ‘borrowed’ from. (And Lear is not the best example for this particular excercise.) Scrap those.

But, hey, at least nobody will have been stolen from…

ASH says:

Well, this is just stupid.

Even the basic premise is flawed: If you’re presuming that all these copyright holders would have sued Shakespeare, then you’re ignoring that they all would have already sued each other–or not written their stories at all–and there wouldn’t be a dozen different copyright holders lingering around waiting to sue Bill.

Unless, of course, their stories were all different from each other–which would include Shakespeare’s–in which case they wouldn’t have a copyright claim against him either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Once again, another huge reach to try to make copyright look bad. Just too bad that there are so many things wrong with it.

Genres, or types of stories are not copyrightable. So all the BS about “like this fairy tale”, “like that type of father rejects daughter” is all horsecrap, a real bad attempt to attack copyright laws without basis.

Mike, you should be ashamed to even post this sort of thing, it really lowers the level of discussion.

Coward Anonymous says:

Re: Re:

And once again, our favourite Anonymous Coward fails to hit the nail on the head; nay, he misses the wall entirely.

Shakespeare copied more than a genre. Most of his plays except for “The Tempest” were based on stories or plots that already existed. And does it matter if genres aren’t copyrightable? Hasn’t stopped people from trying that for music styles.

No, Anonymous Coward, you are the one caught attacking articles without basis. Go invite your friend angry dude over here so you can go cry in a corner about t-shirts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Tee-hee. Aren’t you the clever one?

Ever the article itself suggests multiple sources of inspiration, and is careful to couch it’s assertoins.

As neither one of us was there at the time, we don’t know, example, if the stories are all based on a common piece of news, or the acts of a king / prince / nobility which each and every one of them heard about.

In the process of writing, your own ideas are often provoked by items you have read. None of the items listed here would be direct copyright violation even by modern terms, unless there is true word for word copying or complete scenerio copying.

“And once again, our favourite Anonymous Coward fails to hit the nail on the head; nay, he misses the wall entirely.”
You can’t see the nail, it’s driven in completely.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: genres are sometimes copyrightable

The article cites to this quotation about a case where a type of story was found copyrightable:

Sontag: My favorite example is the Russian author [Dmitry Yemets], who lost in a copyright case [after being sued by] J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, in a Dutch court. He had written a book: It was a girl, not a boy, with magical powers who rides a magical fiddle and not a broom, goes to a boarding school to learn witchcraft and wizardry, plays a game of throwing balls through hoops. All these things were very similar to Harry Potter. Could someone else ever write a book about wizards and witches? Sure. But when the structure and sequence is the same…maybe the words, the code, isnt exactly the same, but Linux is trying to be just like Unix System V. The question is whether Linux was trying to be like Unix System V by doing it in ways that were illegal.

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