Free myths for the next generations


Hugh Hancock claiming They Took Our Myths:

As time marches forward, thanks to the magic of ever-extending copyright terms, the list of myths that we’ve got access to remains static. They become steadily less useful as myths for our current culture. For example, it’s been noticable over the last couple of decades that the Cthulhu Mythos’ original obsession with secretive, backward cults of non-white people has become more and more of a problem.

Volumes have been written about the non- or slow-growth of the old public domain. Less about its declining relevance; a useful mention. But if we’re going to accuse plural pronouns, a couple others can be targeted. We let them take our myths. We failed to create and make culturally relevant our own myths. In other words, we failed to compete in both product and policy.

But there’s no real prospect that anything’s going to successfully change that status quo in the near future.

Indeed, for some short definition of near future. Freedom infringing myth vendors have been granted policy deference even by reformers and it’s unclear how an individual creator who wishes for a mass audience, a large component of cultural relevance, can bypass those movie and other entertainment vendors and their distribution and marketing infrastructure, as noted several times in a Hacker News discussion including by Hancock.

In the long term the way to have (rather than rent and beg for) our myths is to start making incremental but very deliberate progress on both policy and product competition, now. Always be commoning the noosphere.

One way to make free/libre/open culture more relevant, more mythic, is to use, tell, and repurpose its artifacts, stories, and characters. That’s why I love Stephen Paul Weber’s initiative to make a children’s book based on Big Buck Bunny, the second Blender short film.

There’s also a relevant commons-favoring policy reform to begin putting on the agenda: drastically expand scènes à faire such that characters and stories (and APIs!) cannot be owned, even while particular artifacts such as a particular film are still restricted. Then “they” will no longer control our myths. But I suspect the most powerful way to put such (by today’s reformers’ standards) radical reform on the agenda is to bust the myth that we need freedom infringing mythmakers, by making our own free myths culturally relevant.

Why Everybody Wins If Batman & Superman Are Public Domain
Butterfly Bird Mean Sad Work Play Danger Lucky Wings Scared Happy
Coloring Book Commons
How Movie Studios Exploit Politicians to Demand Subsidies
Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year & how about commons promotional of the year?

Stephen Paul Weber’s initiative to make a children’s book based on Big Buck Bunny is now crowdfunding; explanatory article.


Weber has posted Creative Freedom for Children Who Become Adults, which is very much on point (ignore the trite first sentence). Conclusion:

There are stories and images in the world that are very child-friendly and also provide the creative freedom that will be so important as their desire to create matures. Some great examples include picture books available from Brothers Whim, a cute webcomic called Pepper & Carrot which recently got a printed book funded, and several animated shorts from the Blender Institute, many featuring characters and plots suitable for children.

I am also working in this area, creating a board book for young children using some of the Blender animated characters which you can currently back in crowdfunding.

These works, and others, can be part of the culture a child absorbs while growing up, becoming part of what inspires them later in life. When they find themselves confronted by the dilemma of being inspired by art that our society forbids them to be inspired by, there is a chance they will seize upon other images from their past. Ones they may reuse and remix to their heart’s content.

The Big Buck Bunny Board Book campaign needs help.Get copies for children you know and spam the word!


Discussed at