What does copyright mean? It is the legal device that allows the “creator of a literary, artistic, musical, or other creative work the sole right to publish and sell the artwork”. This means that the person who created the product has the full right to choose what to do with it and can sue you if s/he ever finds out that you have used their work without permission.
In a world where everything can be put up and shared online, this law has extended to photos, songs, movies, and other works that are published on the internet. Yes, there are fines in place for those who violate these laws. But these violations happen regularly everyday. It is not that easy to keep track of who is copying whose work unless the creator himself brings it up to the authorities. Besides, unless you are the owner of Disney or Century Fox suing the person who stole your work, there is not much you will get from accusing someone of copyright infringement. The fine you get is based on how much you will gain from publishing your work. So, is it really worth it to fight over a stock photo someone took from you online?
Another issue there is to copyright law is our understanding of it. How clear are we on the different terms and licenses? Do we really know what to use and when to accuse someone of violating the rights? When you put up any files on the internet, it has become public domain. For example, if your work is licensed under Creative Commons, you need to understand that other users of the internet can use your work but must credit you for it. It is not considered as a violation of copyright laws for them to use your work. Here is some a simple guide to the terms.
The thing about copyright for videos is this idea of immediately it down if the real creator feels that his work has been copied. They are always shutting down videos before informing the uploader of the violation that they committed. This can bring about confusion especially when the uploader has done nothing wrong. An example is SOPA where the US had wanted to combat online copyright infringement. However, there were protests stating that it was a violation of free speech. Due to all the disagreements, they will postpone consideration of the legislation until they found a better solution.
Copyright laws do help in ensuring some sense of security for creators of online works but I feel there are still loopholes. The main reason behind copyright laws even existing is that creators are afraid of their works getting stolen and losing money. So instead of disallowing other users totally, finding an alternative that is cheaper and easier may be the solution. For example, iTunes and Spotify are not alternatives to record stores where users pay a lower price and artists still gain a lot of money. So, it is not about changing the whole copyright law. It is about giving the users a choice, an alternative that is both a win-win for the creators and the users.
Vaughan, Pamela. June 10, 2013. Copyright Law on the Internet is a Total Train Wreck Right Now. Retrived from http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/internet-copyright-law-failure
Wagner, Kyle. March 21, 2013. Everything wrong with Digital Copyright. Retrieved from: http://gizmodo.com/5989166/everything-wrong-with-digital-copyright
Villasenor, John. July 13, 2013. How to Reduce Copyright Lawsuits and Make the Internet a Better Place to Share Content. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnvillasenor/2013/07/13/how-to-reduce-copyright-lawsuits-and-make-the-internet-a-better-place-to-share-content/