Fictional Characters and Undead Celebrities in an Era of “Transpropertied” Media
This chapter explores changes in intellectual property law as part of a changing media ecology that began during the 1970s in which IP law is a medium of control in the digital age. It will be shown that the extension of copyright, trademark, and rights of publicity to fictional characters and authors helps set the boundaries of economic and social expression in the global media environment of the twenty-first century in a process defined by the author as transpropertization, whereby different types of IP protection overlap.
The mechanism or communicative practice associated with this new ecology of information is branding, which is evolving from a technique of marketing to an informal medium of control alongside these changes in the law.
Daniel Downes is Associate Professor of Information and Communication Studies at the University of New Brunswick at Saint John and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. An academic, musician, and broadcaster, Downes has published articles on copyright, the structure of the new media economy, and the role of media in the construction of community and personal identity. His research interests include media literacy (particularly new and social media) and the role of intellectual property in the regulation of cultural industries and popular culture. He is the author of Interactive Realism: the Poetics of Cyberspace (McGill University Press, 2005) and co-editor of Post-Colonial Distances: The Study of Popular Music in Canada and Australia with Bev Diamond and Denis Crowdy (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008).