Ken Eppstein talks about the best ways to protect one's intellectual properties.
So... In a snit about the whole Watchmen prequel deal? Well, I'm of two minds about that.
The first is, if you don't want to feed into the frenzy it's probably best to just shut up about it. Your tweets about how horrible the Before Ultimate Watchmen is going to be is just going to drive sales. All a twitter rant is going to do is convince people to go buy some copies to see "if its really that bad." Just vote with your dollars. Don't like it? Don't buy it. (While you're at it, quit buying Star Wars, Star Trek and Kiss crap. You're just encouraging more pabulum. The buck stops with you, fan boy.)
My second mindset has more to do with the whole notion of an intellectual property some how being an unapproachable altar. I personally hate the very notion of ownership of an idea. How is that possible, much less policeable? The answer in my mind, oddly enough is that its its not possible to own an idea, but unfortunately the false notion of ownership is policeable with litigation. Moore, to his credit, has decided to wash his hands of the whole mess. By his own admission he thinks it'd be useless to fight DC's army of attorneys.
Most of the artists I know cringe at the idea of setting up a simple resume or business plan. Fighting for themselves in a court of law? Forget about it. If Intellectual Property laws can help fell one of our giants like Moore, what chance do us little indie guys have in the same arena? None. No chance. At best its a David versus Goliath battle. And this time God is backing the Philistines.
Luckily, there is an alternate defense.
I was watching some TV Bio-pic about Little Richard not long ago o one of those channels that you only watch at 3:00am when fighting insomnia. The movie wasn't all that great, but there's this scene where Little Richard is trying to cope with the record company screwing him by promoting Pat Boone's versions of Richard's songs. Richard is despondent until one of his cronies suggests that he dig deep and create a song that there's NO WAY Boone could realistically cover. Something so steeped in Little-Richardness that ol' Pat wouldn't be able to keep up. Little Richard goes on to record "The Girl Can't Help It" and several more hits that no milquetoast square like Pat Boone could possibly cover.
No one can belt out a song like Little Richard and he's been doing it for nigh on sixty years now. No one can script a comic like Alan Moore and he's didn't quit writing when it became apparent that Watchmen had become something beyond what he wanted or intended. Both men were screwed early in their careers and both men kept at it despite the inequities inherent in our economic and legal systems.
Now, ain't one of us reading (or writing) this column an Alan Moore or a Little Richard. That doesn't mean we shouldn't take their lessons to heart. Whether phrased in the same manner as I have or not, they realized that fighting the powers that be on their own terms isn't a winnable war. Once an idea has gone public, whether its a piece of fiction or a song or a freakin' dog's genome, only the entity with enough money to back up its claim can be the "owner" of that idea.
See, it's like this: we actually ran out of ideas as a species a long time ago. Ideas are like real estate... They aren't making any more. What we do have is our own unique set of eyes and ears to examine old ideas form a new perspective. Better yet, those sense are coupled with a unique voice for expressing the new perspective. The world can borrow, buy and otherwise purloin your ideas. Let them. They weren't really yours anyway.
You get to keep the things they can never steal: your perspective and your voice. So use them. A lot. Keep writing, singing, guitar picking, painting or whatever it is you do. The future is full of low blows, rabbit punches and paid off referees. Your only defense is productivity.
(Another parallel between the music and comic industries. Yep. Sue me.)
Written or Contributed by: Ken Eppstein, Outhouse Contributor
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About the Author - Christian Hoffer
Christian Hoffer is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Hoffer is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.
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