Thursday, August 5, 2010

Copyright and Brandon Sanderson

I just finished reading “Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson last night. Wonderful book, read my full review of it. As a writer, I came up with at least a dozen fabulous ideas while reading his book that I would love to act upon. 
Here are a few:
Re-do part of the story as a Manga book.
Novel detailing the Manywar and how the nations split after that.
Trilogy about how the gods started, or how the magic system came to be.
What if, 3000 years in the future, science caught up with magic. How would that play out? Airships powered by nuclear plasma that train colors behind them?
Sentient Lifeless. “Number 305 Came Alive!”
Fafen turns out to be a beatnick breakdancer, going on to win competitions, and helping her Idris citizens out of their slums. We’ll call it “Step Up: Monk Style” of “Save the last Breath”
One word: Steampunk
Two words: Paranormal romance. (With shiny, colorful, 8 foot tall were-bunnies. And Jacob.)
Three words: Soft core porno. (Bow chicka bow bow)
So there you have it, some great ideas. I’m sure there are some better, but what can I do about them?  Not much. I can write some fanfic, but I can’t make money off it. I could paint but, well, I can’t draw to save my life.
You can read Brandon’s Creative Common’s license text here. And before I launch into the meat of what I have to say, I have to again commend Brandon for releasing his work under the CC license. I think what he has done was bold, calculating, a little risky, and I hope it all pays off for him in the end.
That being said I wish more authors would release their works under different CC licenses that allowed for commercial gain.

Here’s my rationale:
Brandon publishes his book, containing a wonderful story, an imaginative and unique magic system, some lovable characters, and a whole world to explore.
I write something else, let’s say something opposite of his main genre of fantasy. Let’s say I put together the porno. I know, I know, but hear me out.
Brandon is LDS, and a fantasy author. I, producing said porno, could conceivably introduce Brandon’s world to a bunch of people that would not have been likely to see it. We all know how the soft-core LDS market is booming lately.
I put out the “movie”, making sure I attribute the ideas to Brandon, and introduce thousands more to his unique magic system. “Awakening” inanimate objects takes on a whole new meaning, but we won’t get into that.
Now under my ideal CC license, I start making money. On my website, I lavish praise upon Brandon for his wonderful system, encouraging people to go visit his website to find out where it came from. One bleary-eyed morning, Brandon gets his royalty statement from his agent and notices a large spike of “Warbreaker” sales shortly after the latest Adultcon.
He then throws caution to the wind, and pimps my um...creative work… to his audience. Some of them come to check it out, like it, and purchase it. I make money, he makes money. Everyone’s happy.
Now imagine if people kept doing this for the next 40 years. Every few years some artist discovers Brandon’s work (or mine), gets inspired, and does something. They paint murals, make movies, write sequels, star in off-broadway plays “Joseph, and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” could go off in an entirely new direction. All of these are attributed back to Brandon and pimped majorly by their respective inventors. Each time Brandon sees a surge in sales of his novel that people never knew about or had forgotten. He pimps back, everyone’s happy.
He retires comfortably on his own floating island above Provo, after reaching the Tenth Heightening.
Does my idea have holes? I’m sure it does, and I’d love to have them pointed out. But I think it has some merit. Not all IP would work well with this method. I think very unique systems that have never been thought of or produced before can benefit from this the most. Single artists that put their work out direct, or as direct to the public can benefit from this more. Well-flushed out magic systems might be the hurdle an author needs to get his first novel completed.
I think the main reason why this works over our current locked-down system with rights payment is innovation. If I have to pay to be able to use Brandon’s ideas in my work, I’m much less likely to even try. If I knew he wouldn’t come sue me, I’m much more likely to release my creativity and create something mutually beneficial to both of us.
Those are my thoughts, how bout yours?
And download and read Brandon's wonderful book: Warbreaker. It really is good!

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