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The 2015 Golden Globe winning Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, The Martian, is a movie about an astronaut, played by Matt Damon, who was left stranded on Mars after being presumed dead as the result of a storm. He ended up surviving and was left to find a way to signal Earth that he was alive. Many people may not connect this movie with copyright law, but about three-fourths of the way through the movie, Damon’s character makes the following statement: “I’ve been thinking about law on Mars. There’s an international treaty saying that no country can lay claim to anything that’s not on Earth. By another treaty, if you’re not in any country’s territory, maritime law applies. So Mars is international waters…the second I walk outside I’m in international waters. So I’m going to be taking a craft over in international waters without permission, which by definition…makes me a pirate.” Although not specifically referring to copyright law, it isn’t hard to see the huge issue that this quote exemplifies: people in international waters, and other negative spaces, know that they are outside the jurisdiction of any country and can, therefore, break any laws, including copyright, that they want to without having to face consequences.

This post was originally published on the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal website on April 26, 2016. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.

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