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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Indisputedly, my dear Watson

Woke up from strange, riotous, brightly coloured dreams (of the kind that follow a dinner at the Cafe Adelaide with Patrick and Poppy so substantial and remarkable that I can at present never actually imagine eating again) opened my eyes and stared at a grey and black hotel wall, black and white photograph, black fittings and fixtures, and was, for a moment, convinced that the world had slipped into black and white and there was something wrong with my eyes.

I think that eating in New Orleans is something that should always be done in company with Poppy Z. Brite. You get astonishing service, amazing food and a big green ribbon on your table that tells the serving staff that you are to be looked after as if you were some kind of a god. A magical experience.

...

You've got a wrong phone number in your blog.The Comic Shop Locator Service isn't 1-800-COMIC-BOOK, it's 1-888-COMIC-BOOK.(Oddly enough, you can also reach it by calling 1-888-BOOGA-BOOGA)--Nat Gertler

...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/networks/radio4/aod.shtml?radio4/twentyeight_acts was fine comedic value for money. (Twenty eight acts in twenty eight minutes, recorded at the Edinburgh Fringe. Some duds, but not as many as you'd imagine, and they're over quickly.)

...

My friend Kit (who writes as C.E. Murphy) recently moved to Ireland and went to see the Coraline puppet show in Cork, which she really liked: http://mizkit.livejournal.com/98594.html -- I don't think she moved to Ireland just to see a puppet show, that was just an extra bonus.--Carl Rigney

Thanks, Carl. It sounds wonderful. Hope I get to see it this year. If I get a list from the Puca people of where it'll be showing around the world I'll put it up here.

Kind sir,I expect you'll get this question a lot after your most recent post. About the CNN article on Lost Girls...I was a little blown away to hear that Alan had used characters in his book that are apparently undisputedly owned by someone else. Isn't this just blatently and unarguably wrong and illegal? Or am I missing something? Thanks for all you do. John

Well, that could have been a fair summing up if it wasn't for the adverbs undisputedly blatently and unarguably. There's rather a lot of argument and dispute here, I'm afraid. If you want to take a deep breath and read this first -- http://www.alia.org.au/publishing/incite/2004/12/copyright.html -- you may be somewhat the wiser as to what they are.

The current status of Peter Pan is hugely disputed. That's why Disney was able to publish "Peter and the Starcatchers" and its sequel "Peter and the Shadow Thieves" along with a whole line of spin-off books, without any permission or (as far as I know) legal challenge from or compensation to Great Ormond Street Hospital, for example. There are many unauthorised Peter Pan sequels, and the Hospital has not been vigorous (or successful) in prosecuting them, particularly outside the UK (I note the Dave Barry Disney prequels are being published now in the UK.)

(Meanwhile, while Disney doesn't have a copyright on the underlying characters, it does have copyright on its depiction of them.)

It's further complicated by the fact that there is apparently some out-of-copyright Peter Pan material, and that the "perpetual copyright" granted to Great Ormond Street is probably only for the play "Peter Pan" and possibly the spin-off book "Peter Pan and Wendy", not for any of the other Peter Pan material Barrie wrote; and as I said, the "perpetual copyright" means the hospital continues to receive the income stream from the book and the play it would otherwise lose. (But it's a UK law, and it only applies to the UK.) And GOSH have also now licensed their own "authorised" sequel to Peter Pan.

It's even further complicated, because a graphic novel like Lost Girls or a book like Wendy (here's the Amazon link) is not a retelling of Peter Pan, using the characters from the book, but a reinterpretation of it. In Alan's book an adult woman called Wendy remembers playing in the park with a bunch of neighbourhood kids, and a scary adult paedophile with a hand deformed like a hook. There are resonances with the events of Peter Pan, but they are resonances.

So...

As far as I can see (and I'm not a copyright lawyer, and I am as capable of getting the wrong end of the stick as the next blogger), you can't do The Further Adventures of Tinkerbell and also use a Disney Tinkerbell on the book cover. But outside the UK, you could probably write and publish The Further Adventures of Tinkerbell. You definitely can in Australia. But wherever you were, you wouldn't have too much trouble writing a book about a wild, tempestuous, fairy-like girl that people called Tink, and her sad fixation on a local boy named Peter that might have somehow inspired J. M. Barrie.

And I keep wondering what would have happened if Shakespeare had given the revenue to Romeo and Juliet to the Cheap Street Home for Indigents and Mendicants, and Parliament had enshrined some kind of perpetual copyright in the law for that play. I don't think it would have been a good thing in the long term, even if many mendicants and beggars were helped by it, because it would have removed a piece of world culture from the table.

...

And finally, I keep forgetting to wish a Happy Fifth Birthday to the gang of assorted rapscallions and red-balloon-wagglers at the www.Neilgaiman.com message boards. They've been talking for five years now. Wish them belated birthday wishes at http://neilgaimanboard.com/6/ubb.x?cdra=Y&s=733605825
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