If you’re going to copy, copyright!

I found a handy chart of copyright rules at:

http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm

I like to parody the style of other writers, often generating whole new portions of stories that use only a tiny seed of their language. This is probably allowable as fair comment, based on my reading of the 2-live Crew ruling at the Supreme court but I’m not an attorney and should check with a professional, don’t try this at home, use protective eyewear, and so on.

So here is a seed of Dickens turned into a passage from a work in progress:

In the wave of pre-teen demands for privacy, each had put hand written notices on or above their bedroom door. Megan (aged nine) made a neatly scripted square of white art paper, “ Suffer any wrong that can be done you rather than come here!” that she now described as “either unread or derstood.” Raised eyebrows forced an explanation from her, “If the prefix ‘un’ means not, then my warning was derstood because it certainly was not understood.”

Bonus points for anyone who knows what people were advised against entering in the original. How about mixing some auto-biography, a reference to another writer’s quirky interests, and a dash of Dickens–Dombey and son in this case:

“Cows are my passion,” Duncan said, watching from the bus window as they rumbled into the Warwickshire countryside.

“Next you’ll be writing to the editor about daft cures for foot and mouth disease. You need to get serious about university. Putting ‘cows’ on the preferred area of study line in your UCCA application isn’t going to be very productive.” Megan didn’t look at Duncan as she spoke, instead maintaining her gaze at her Nelkon and Parker text on physics which was wedge against her knees.

“It’s not a vice, more like a virtue taken to excess,” two degrees of defense warmed Duncan’s reply.

I also had a character from a folk song owning a woman in an old portrait painting the other day. Folk songs, as with other material published in the US prior to 1923, is out of copyright. It is even out of copyright after the ridiculous Mickey Mouse adjustment that the Disney corporation bought from congress with some bribe dollars disguised as campaign donations. Although you didn’t ask, I’ll share my view that copyright and patent terms have been inverted. It is ludicrous that the descendants of Walt Disney should reap the benefits of a doodle for a century and yet the most significant inventions are accorded hardly a decade after the grossly under funded PTO has had its wicked way with their applications. Grumble grumble. Normal service will be resumed shortly. ah, as I was saying…

Tim Finnegan treated Megan as if she was part of a Joshua Reynolds painting: an owned object, a woman conspicuously consumed. Megan never learned the sly smile of the robber baron’s wife, and resented dressing up for his Masonic dances and ladies night at the rugby club.

The footnotes could run for twice as many words as the original, but I’ll try to be brief. Finnegan was the subject of an Irish ballad that inspired some of the material in Finnegans Wake. Conspicuous consumption was a term used by Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).  I’ve always thought “Lucy, Lady Strange” was a wonderful name for a painting. You can see a load of paintings by Reynolds at:

http://www.abcgallery.com/R/reynolds/reynolds.html

I blame the anti-biotics when I wander off the reservation this way. Last dose is tonight. I’m off to see the big city for a week and hope to get back to this blog and writing (lady) strange things on a regular basis in August.

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About Ian Whatley

Ian Whatley -- British born, bred, educated, and then deported. His fiction has been published in The Legendary, Lost and Found Times, 3S and so on and so on and...

Posted on July 3, 2010, in Ian W and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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