Sonny Bono is Dead and Other Copyright Wackiness

The latest compilation project from Illegal Art is titled Sonny Bono is Dead:

This project is a protest against the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which passed through Congress in 1998 and was upheld by the US Supreme Court earlier this year. This act diminished the public’s ability to access older works while granting more control to corporations anxious to preserve a few copyrights from the 1920’s. Copyright law continues to expand and defeat its original purpose of promoting advances in the arts and sciences. These excesses damage the evolution of our culture and only serve corporate interests.

We encourage artists to liberally sample from works that would have fallen into the Public Domain by the year 2004 had the Sonny Bono Act failed. Artists are also encouraged to create new works by sampling Sonny Bono’s output (or other artists who embraced the notion of copyright lasting forever). The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2004.

Cinema Secrets, the makers of a Michael Myers Halloween mask, won a lawsuit against Don Post Studios, who had designed the mask used in the 1978 movie, by proving they took the idea from the movie.

Nosferatu, an unauthorised adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and one cinemas classic films, was almost lost due to copyright law. Florence Stoker, widow of Bram Stoker, sued the producers of Nosferatu for infringement and won. As part of the 1925 decision, all copies of Nosferatu were to be destroyed. Most were.

Over the next few years, any copies that became public were also destroyed. This may have meant the end of the film, except that a few isolated copies managed to survive Florence Stoker’s death in 1937.

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