Problem with Copyright

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.

cc-licenses-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.

 

References:

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/copyright

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/

http://commonsmachinery.se/2014/05/easy-guide-to-creative-commons-licenses/

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3 thoughts on “Problem with Copyright

  1. While you did mention that copyright laws have a commercial dimension to protect the creator’s work from being stolen, I actually think that it is more to do with incentivising creators to produce quality content. That being said, it does work only to a certain extent before creators gain full monopoly over ideas which then creates barriers to entry for new players.

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  2. agree with tzehern.

    in any case copyright law is meant to inspire and incentivise the creators. there are also ways where people can use other people’s work for their creative pursuits(as long as it constitutes fair use). it would be perhaps good to review the copyright law and fair use for the internet now, given the proliferation of internet.

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  3. I would like to point out that iTunes and Spotify does not provide artists with a lot of money. The online streaming model only favors million-sales recording artists like Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris etc. and these artists make up less than 1% of artists worldwide. Based on Spotify’s website, the average song generates between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream in royalties.

    Like what Tzehern mentioned, copyright laws exist not just for commercial purposes but to recognize the efforts that artists put into their works.

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