There’s No Copyright Infringement if There’s No Copyright

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by and they cancelled my frikkin' show. I totally shoulda took the road that had all those people on it. Damn. Joss Whedon Quote

Eagle-eyed Hindsight – though, to be honest, I’d say he doesn’t get sole responsibility.

This Joss Whedon quote is pure gold – it’s got everything! Characterization, dialect, and inside jokes for the fans (albeit bittersweet ones). It even uses the art of the unexpected by starting off with a quote from Robert Frost and then veering off in a totally different direction. That’s an allusion, right? Or is it a parody? Or both? Either way, it only uses a line or two, so that would be fair use, right?

Oh, wait. That poem’s no longer copyrighted. You know what that means? Nobody cares.

That’s right. It doesn’t matter what you do with that poem because its copyright expired.  Once the copyright expires (or is not renewed), you can do anything you want with that work. You can publish, parody, or otherwise modify a written piece however you want if it’s no longer copyrighted (although I’d be very careful to make sure that’s the case first).

That means that in 200 years, people can do whatever they want with your books. In fact, people in countries that don’t have copyright laws (or don’t honor the copyright laws between nations), can do whatever they want now.

How terrifying is that?


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