Chapter One: Creators

Chapter One

In chapter one, Lessig discusses the creation of Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse in 1928. He launched the character in a cartoon called “Steamboat Wille,” a parody of a work created earlier that year, called “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” It was also a comedic work, and Lessig seems to imply that a cultural icon like Mickey Mouse could not have been born in an era as restrictive as ours.

In the second half of the chapter, Lessig discusses the Japanese phenomenon known as Doujinshi. Doujinshi are copies of mainstream copyrighted Japanese comic books, called Manga, that make some form of alteration to the source material they are based off of. Doujinshi represent a huge market and would be illegal in the US. The interesting thing, that Lessig notes, is that Japanese copyright law is just like that of the United States on paper. However, these copies are not prosecuted in courts of law with any regularity.

Despite their tenuous relationship with copyright law, Doujinshi benefit the entire industry of Manga, by creating more consumers and artists who make the market even larger and more profitable. Lessig states that this is how the American comic market used to be in its infancy. But as it has grown older, American comics have stagnated because of their inability to alter their characters and stories.

Lessig, Lawrence. (2004). Free culture: How big media uses technology and the law to lock down culture and control creativity. New York, NY: The Penguin Press.

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