e291. Fables, Fanfic and Fair Using the Public Domain

episode artwork for possibly public domain characters including mickey mouse, bigby wolf, and the prophet

On this week’s episode we explore the complex topic of public domain publishing by tackling the recent controversy surrounding comic book author Bill Willingham, creator of Fables. After a long battle over ownership with DC Comics, Willingham recently announced that he was releasing the intellectual property of Fables into the public domain so that anyone anywhere could publish new derivative works, effectively open sourcing the entire world. Unsurprisingly, DC Comics disagrees, arguing that Fables is not Willingham’s to give away.

On this week’s show, Wayne and Mav are joined by returning guest comics scholar and author, A. David Lewis to explore the intricacies of copyright law, the nebulous overlap between copyrights and trademarks, and how this specific case could impact the future of intellectual property rights. We also discuss the ethics versus the legality of owning a copyright on characters that originated from public domain, and how fanfiction as well as David’s own public domain based comics (Kismet: Man of Fate, and The Prophet) work fits into the equation. And somehow we find a way to talk about Mickey Mouse and porn. No, not together!!! How’s it all work? Listen and then let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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