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Copyright Law Empowers the Woke Left: Time for Reform

The Woke Left controls American culture at the point of a gun. 

Copyright law is the source of this power. Through the ownership of the production and duplication of music, films, and books, a handful of wealthy corporations have effectively gained control over the tastes and habits of the American people.

These copyright holders, these engines of American culture, are overwhelmingly liberal. Their power over our common artistic life grants these titans an unholy and illegitimate level of control over our national life. Conservatives should fight to end this stranglehold. 

Take Walt Disney Company as an example. Disney has a market cap of $203 billion—virtually all of which is a result of Disney’s copyrights. Disney is valuable as a company because it has a monopoly on the reproduction of popular stories and intellectual properties. In 2012, for instance, Disney paid $4 billion for the rights to Star Wars. That monopoly on the profits from the Star Wars universe—with its attendant comics, novels, toys, movies, TV shows, and backlist—is worth a lot of money and cultural influence.

That translates to political power. If Disney wants to produce Star Wars movies with purple-haired girlbosses, homosexual characters, and ham-handed racial diversity, those cultural products are going to be seen by millions because they are part of the Star Wars universe, a major part of our cultural life. Disney has the money, the monopoly, and therefore the platform to make sure that political goals important to its leadership, such as the promotion of homosexuality and feminism, are seen by millions.

Without copyright protections, Star Wars would go into the public domain. The original films could be copied and sold by anyone, and a new author or company could use the Star Wars trademarks in order to create entirely new works of art. Disney’s gay girlboss version of Star Wars would simply be one of dozens, or even hundreds, of versions that could be produced at will. 

Copyright is the sole source of the multibillion-dollar value of the Star Wars universe and of every other cultural product that Disney currently owns. Take away copyright protections on Mickey Mouse, the Pixar films, and the Marvel series, and Disney would not have nearly the power and wealth it has now. Instead of grifting off of decades-old successes, Disney would need to constantly produce new and popular content for its audience. 

Under today’s copyright law, works remain under copyright, in most cases, for 70 years after the artist’s death. This state of affairs is ridiculous. For instance, JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series will not go into the public domain until the early 2040s, since Tolkien died in 1973. The more recent movies and TV shows, however, will remain under legal protection until well after 2100 under current law. That isn’t all. Virtually all of the titles and characters in Tolkien’s world are also trademarked. Trademarks can be renewed at ten-year intervals forever under federal law as long as certain conditions are met. 

Though Tolkien is long dead, massive corporations, like Amazon and HarperCollins, continue to profit off of his creative work and the value it created. Their monopolistic control of that world grants them the ability to milk his talent even decades after his death. 

That value should not be understated. For the Big 5 American book publishers—who collectively publish more than 90% of the bestselling books in America in a given year—ownership of legal rights to their older books, or “backlists,” is big business. In the fourth quarter of 2023, HarperCollins made 60% of its profit through the sale of books on its backlist.

At the time of the American Founding, under America’s first copyright law, the term of a copyright lasted just 14 years. If we went back to that original framework, every book, movie, TV show, and song published before 2010 would enter the public domain. 

This return to copyright as originally understood—as a temporary monopoly to incentivize the creation of new culturally and scientifically valuable work by allowing artists a way to monetize their labor—would strike a major blow at the left-wing corporations that now own our culture. A more limited copyright would also help new artists. By restricting the long-term monetization of cultural properties, publishers would need to fund and publish more new artists in order to turn a profit. 

Competition for new talent would make our cultural life more dynamic and introduce much-needed competition into our artistic and entertainment industries. Restricting copyright would cripple corporate gatekeepers to the benefit of small and up-and-coming artists and production companies. It would also make older books and films much cheaper. Due to digitization, the actual cost of transmitting public domain books and movies would drop to nearly zero. Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Paramount+, and Disney+ would not be able to charge high monthly fees to show older content that would now be available basically for free. 

A 14-year limit on copyright is still more than enough time for an artist to profit from their work. Hit films, books, and TV shows make plenty of money in their first runs. Preventing long-term monetization over decades doesn’t stop artists from making lots of money with a new piece of art, but it does put an end to grifting by production companies and estates that capitalize off of popular works of art for decades. 

Culture is downstream of politics. Laws are the most powerful teachers in our regime. The ability to punish unauthorized duplication of artistic works gives the holders of those rights unparalleled power to shape our culture. Take that power away, and America would be a much better country. 

Conservatives who oppose Hollywood’s degeneracy and the non-stop leftist agitation in the music and entertainment industries should work to take away the government-granted monopolies that make all this possible. 

Copyright reform is one of the most important steps we can take toward a better, healthier American cultural and political life. 

 

 

 

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About Josiah Lippincott

Josiah Lippincott is a Ph.D. student and a former U.S. Marine Corps officer. You can find him on Telegram at https://t.me/josiah_lippincott or subscribe to his Substack here.

Photo: Copyright concept