Whack! Pow! Now here’s an inspired idea: a comic book account about how copyright law is both beneficial and harmful to creativity, especially in documentary filmmaking. Bound by Law? is a 78-page comic about a sexy filmmaker a la Lara Croft of Tomb Raider, and her adventures in trying to shoot a documentary about a day in the life of New York City.
The point of this improbable comic book is to demystify the arcane legalisms and absurdities of copyright law in a fun, entertaining way. God knows this stuff — fair use, the erosion of the public domain, the intricacies of the “permission culture” — does not normally go down easy. The comic has lots of visual puns and humor that brings to mind the Simpsons, all of it wrapped in the comic book gestalt. You can download the entire comic here — or buy it here from Amazon.com.
The fertile, enterprising minds behind Bound by Law? are intellectual property scholars Keith Aoki, James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins. Aoki is not only a professor at the University of Oregon, he’s the illustrator, and what an inspired job he does! Boyle is a professor at Duke Law School and the author of the landmark 1996 book, Shamans, Software and Spleens, one of the first books to explore the crazy imperialism of IP law. Jennifer Jenkins is the director of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain, who in a former life was involved in defending Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone against a lawsuit brought by the estate of Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind, which sought to stop Randall’s devastating parody of the racist classic.
Bound by Law? could go on to be a classic in its own right. It’s a real genre-stretcher embodying the very creativity that it seeks to promote.