Intellectual property law is a sticky business for creative individuals — especially those who end up including existing works of expression in their creative works (documentary filmmakers, for example). Unfortunately, most educational materials on the subject are as dense, dull, and disengaging as the law itself. Not so with Bound by Law, a copyright textbook in comic book form.
It’s a whimsical but extraordinarily informative effort on an essential topic for artists and arts organizations. Says the blurb:
A documentary is being filmed. A cell phone rings, playing the “Rocky” theme song. The filmmaker is told she must pay $10,000 to clear the rights to the song. Can this be true? “Eyes on the Prize,” the great civil rights documentary, was pulled from circulation because the filmmakers’ rights to music and footage had expired. What’s going on here? It’s the collision of documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law, and it’s the inspiration for this new comic book. Follow its heroine Akiko as she films her documentary, and navigates the twists and turns of intellectual property. Why do we have copyrights? What’s “fair use”? Bound By Law reaches beyond documentary film to provide a commentary on the most pressing issues facing law, art, property and an increasingly digital world of remixed culture.
Now, if only someone would write a comic book on capital finance structure in the nonprofit arts. Perhaps the hero could be “Bond…Tax-exempt Bond.”