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41639Re: [hockhist] Re: Question to Authors

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  • Dr John Serrati
    Nov 2, 2003
      At 18:03 31/10/2003 +0000, Richard Krueger wrote:
      >Tom Stoppard's play _Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead_ uses
      >characters from Shakespeare's _Hamlet_ to tell an entirely different
      >story, whereas in _Strange Brew_, Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis retell
      >_Hamlet_ using SCTV characters. The latter movie infringes far more
      >on Shakespeare's rights than does the former. If Shakespeare were
      >alive, he would raise far more of a stink over _Strange Brew_ than
      >_Rosencrantz and Guildenstern..._

      However, poor Billy Shakespeare has no rights, at least not in terms of
      copyright. International copyright law is very clear in stating that
      copyrights last only for 75 years (only 50 years before the law was changed
      in 1996). Thus, I can publish or produce my own version of Hamlet & no one
      would have to be paid. I could reproduce all of Mary Shelley's work &
      claim it was mine. I would never get it published, but no one could get me
      on copyright infringement. Examples of this abound. The Scott Key family
      does not have to be paid every time the American national anthem is played;
      same w/ productions & recordings of all of Beethoven's or Mozart's
      work. You might have to pay a distributor to actually get hold of The
      Battleship Potemkin, but neither the Eisenstein family nor anybody else
      would have to be paid for you to show the film publicly & charge admission.

      Things like corporate logos work differently & certainly some copyrights
      can be renewed. However I know from assigning reading for my courses that
      all material published before 1928 is now out of copyright, & thus students
      may photocopy entire books from that era & not be breaking any laws.


      Dr John Serrati
      School of Classics and Ancient History
      The Queen's University of Belfast
      BT7 1NN

      (44) (0)(28)90 273421
      (44) (0)7966 298212

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