World Book & Copyright Day take place on April 23 annually, 3 days prior to World Intellectual Property Day on April 26th. It is worth noting that books, whether printed or digitally published, contain text which is protected under copyright. If those books also contain illustrations, those drawings are also protected. So why choose books over movies is a good question, since copyright protects lots of subject matters, not only “books.” I have a theory. Copyright law in the United States (as a former colony) is borrowed somewhat from British law and so, in England, copyright arose under the reign of King Henry VIII. King Henry needed money for his wars, because hunting trips are expensive, and so are castles, and women. So he started a compulsory tax, the first mandatory copyright license, to fund his wars. He was able to do this successfully, because of the invention of the printing press, a disruptive tech back then, which allowed music, and all types of “books,” including songbooks, to be printed for the masses on machines. Makers of these machines therefore needed content (sound familiar)? So King Henry saw a win-win, and forced a license on content owners in his jurisdiction for the benefit of the publishers and for the crown, which was him. Hence, because “books,” were at the epicenter of the naissance of copyright, it seems fitting that World Copyright Day is celebrated conjoined with World Book Day.
If I had to summarize in only a few words, in layman’s terms, what the 4 major types of intellectual property (IP) are and why they matter, I would say: patents give us technology that improves the quality of life; trademarks give us consumer security; trade secrets give someone that competitive edge; and copyrights enable emotional support. In my opinion, it is safer to explore irrational and uncontrollable matter like a feeling in a work of art, literature, film, and dance in hopes of processing and understanding the nature of humans better. Such universal stories whether they arise in film or song, knit the world together one audience at a time. One film that did a great job of bringing people together is CODA, which won numerous awards since it premiered in 2021 at Sundance. Starting its journey ten years ago as the French film, La Famille Bélier, CODA (acronym for Child of Deaf Adults) tells the story of a teen trying to launch her singing career as the only hearing member of a deaf family. It is now being made into a musical, with the producers working with Tony Award-winning Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles.
As for patents, it is rare we get those in entertainment, but when we do, it is exciting! The human race has been in the “Digital Era” since 1976 – the invention that put us there? The “Digital Audio Tape” also known as the DAT tape. Since 1976, we have had many notable inventions change the landscape of entertainment as we know it. The biggest invention in in my opinion is the Internet – without it we would not have streaming. Streaming is where all entertainment coalesces now. Unless you are one of those die-hard cinema lovers and must see movies in a theater, which, I agree. My favorite format is IMAX because of the total immersion. And I am not alone feeling this way! Indeed, IMAX announced in March it is developing its next generation of cameras, with plans to release the first in late 2023. Motion picture cameras are examined at the United States Patent & Trademark Office in a class by their own (352), apart from cameras used for still photography. IMAX will enlist input from directors Christopher Nolan (Tenet) and Jordan Peele (Lovecraft Country) and cinematographers, who account for most of the large-scale movies shot on film and some shot digitally in recent years. And if you want to use one of these amazing films at work to make a presentation more fun and engaging, then visit the Copyright Clearance Center to apply for a Motion Picture License to legally use movies at work.