What’s in a Name?

One of the world’s most known philosophical questions.  Originally appearing in Romeo and Juliet, written by William Shakespeare; one of the most well known plagiarists in history.  Shakespeare sourced his Romeo and Juliet from Masuccio Salernitano’s novella “Mariotto and Giannozza” released in 1476, and English poet, Authur Brooke’s “Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet” released in 1562.  What would’ve happened to the world’s most famous writer if copyright had been around in the 17th century?

If this case were to be playing out today, it would be possible for Mr Brooke to claim intellectual property on the idea of Romeo and Juliet.  Although, because it Mr Salernitano’s was “originally” written almost 100 years before, copyright would have run out with the current 70 year protection.  But, because Mr Brooke had reinvented this story into his own, would copyright now be extended to protect his reinterpretation?  If that were to be the case Shakespeare may have had a duel on his hands.

Would fair use have been an option for Shakespeare?  No, I don’t believe so.  Unlike our little dancing friend rockin’ out to Prince, Shakespeare used Mr Brooke’s idea for his own popularity and monetary gain voiding any chance of getting out of his predicament.

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Seeing as copyright wasn’t around back in Shakespeare’s time, we were given the opportunity to read, perform and see his works in our time and into the future.  So how can the media industry defend the use of copyright laws by saying it encourages creativity?  To me copyright is an excuse to the industry so they can gain and keep control over the flow of ideas.  I don’t believe we would have seen such works from Shakespeare if he hadn’t been inspired by the work of others.  I wonder what creativity would be unleashed if copyright was “toned down” or creative commons became the norm.

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If copyright did not exist, what kind of creative world would we live in?

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