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Characters Go Creative Commons

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The idea of copyright and character/property creation is a touchy subject in the comic book industry.  There’s the current fights between characters or their heirs and publishers or the ongoing battles against piracy.  It’s big business with lots of cash flowing around, so of course it’s going to get heated on all sides.  Mark Waid caused waves when he addressed the issue at this year’s Harvey Awards.

But where does public domain come into it all?  This article over at Wikipedia covers public domain pretty well as well as this list of public domain fictional characters.  The bigger issue is why are we bringing this up?

In a pretty stunning move, Vito Delsante has released 35 characters into the public domain under creative commons.  That means today, you can take his 35 characters and create your own comics, stories, movies, whatever.  His logic is simple, he only has so much time to deal with all these characters, and why leave good ideas on the shelf?

So what do you think?  Do companies keep the rights to characters too close to their chest?  How do you think this shakes up the comic industry?  Can you see new revenue models generated from this?