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March 22, 2005
Penning new Pan
Last year I wrote about the UK's Great Ormond Street Hospital possibly suing Disney. Ormond Street are the holders of the Peter Pan copyright and were miffed that they got nothing for the Peter Pan "prequel" book Peter and the Starcatchers.
Now, British author Geraldine McCaughrean has been selected to write the authorized sequel. The apparent motivation for this is to keep money flowing in as the original Europe copyright expires in in 2007 (US copyright runs until 2023).
McCaughrean is no novice though she's not well-known in the US - she has over 130 publication credits (primarily children's books and plays) and is the only writer to be given the Whitbread Children's Book Award three times.
I'm somewhat conflicted about this. On the one hand I'd be glad to see a copyright owner using that right to keep beloved material alive and vital. On the other hand, a one-shot contest seemingly sparked only by an imminent expiration of a long-held mark hardly seems to be the kind of creative flourishing that I'd like copyright to promote. Peter Pan is one of those few works that has remained in the public eye over a long period, and the monies collected do seem to go to a good cause. But somehow it feels to me like there's a great deal of potential here that isn't being made available to a wider range of creative talent.
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