Over on the Fair Copyright Facebook group, I'm in a bit of a discussion with a fellow named Darryl who runs the website Death by Copyright. Darryl seems like a very committed advocate for minimal copyright, and I respect his passion even while I strongly disagree with him.
I was cruising around his site recently, which aims to show how primarily follow-on creative works have been, as he puts it, "suppressed" by original creator copyright. He's dug up some interesting case law, but to me much of what he thinks this case law proves is bizarre.
A video rental company in Utah took their legally bought copies of the film Titanic and sanitized them by scrubbing out the nudeness of Kate Winslet's character in the scene where she is being sketched naked. The company was sued by the film's producers and lost. I'm surprised the teenagers of Utah didn't launch a class action.
Death by Copyright has this to say about Kate's abused privates:
"The question is how far should the rights of the creators extend AFTER they have sold the work? Once I've legally purchased a work, should I not be free to do with it as I wish? Unfortunately copyright law does not appear to work that way."
Seriously, is the drive for "fair" copyright really leading us to excuse blatant censorship? The video rental company may have bought copies of the movie, but they altered the "film" and THEN offered it commercially as the original work. Is that what we mean when we talk about follow-on creativity?
How far should those creator rights extend? I'd say right up to the nipples.