Copyright As Censorship: After 22 Years, Joyce Estate Finally Lets Kate Bush Use Lyrics She Wanted
from the creativity? dept
It’s no secret that the James Joyce estate has been ridiculously overprotective when it comes to Joyce’s copyright. Of course, a lot of Joyce’s works are quickly approaching the public domain in various places (and some are already there), and so the estate may be losing its control. Still, it’s nice to see that the estate finally “agreed” to one usage. Glyn Moody points us to the news that after an astounding 22 years of asking, singer Kate Bush has finally been allowed to use Molly Bloom?s famous soliloquy from Ulysses as lyrics for a song. She had first asked in 1989… and was denied. She wrote different lyrics instead, but kept asking the estate. Perhaps realizing that (in the UK) the work was going into the public domain next year, the estate finally relented.
Of course, the copyright defenders always claim that cases like this are someone being “uncreative” and “just copying” works. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them argue that the world is better off because Bush was forced to come up with her own alternative lyrics. But if the song is really better off using Joyce’s prose as lyrics here, doesn’t that mean that the world was cut off from this cultural work for 22 years? Doesn’t that seem like a problem from a cultural perspective? Especially for a law that’s supposed to encourage more and better creative output? When, instead, it’s used to censor that kind of creative output, shouldn’t we all be concerned about what copyright is doing to culture?