Copyright

In my eyes, the biggest issue with Copyright is that it’s out of date. Copyright laws were created before we had the same power of technology that we do today, technology which allows for much of the “infringing” behaviour that is happening in today’s day and age eg movie piracy.

This quote by Andy Baio perfectly sums up my thoughts and opinions on copyright laws today. “Cut, copy, paste. The ability to reuse and remix is so deeply baked into our tools, it’s rewritten our culture. We learn to make great art by copying, and we participate in our culture by reusing and modifying what we see. But the law hasn’t caught up with our changing values, effectively criminalizing the creativity of millions. Cover songs on YouTube, fanfic, mashups, and supercuts all violate copyright, and lawyers are starting to find new tools to discover and enforce infringement. Welcome to the new Prohibition.” We are constantly changing, making advancements, copyright needs to keep up! Are we all criminals because we are actively participating in today’s society?

This talk by Andy Baio is one which I found very interesting and I think you should all have a wee watch!

Another issue I feel I should address relates to the influences of large companies over governments, the influence they have to push for the creation and enforcement of copyright laws solely to suit themselves. The internet today allows us to have ready access to a vast amount of information and allows for the sharing of ideas and the creation of new material. Internet piracy is becoming a much more common problem, and as the rate of piracy continues to rise, the government’s response (US in particular) is to come up with more and more extreme ways of shutting piracy down. Fortunately for those of us who are pirates, piracy always seems to be one step ahead. For every extreme measure put in place by governments, there always seems to be a way around it, or enough activists out there to shut it down.

Unfortunately I have no idea how to solve the issues of copyright. I have done my research, and I just can’t seem to think of a viable solution. The best I can come up with is spread awareness. Awareness of other forms of protecting your work. Awareness of why people are infringing copyright laws and what they want to happen so they no longer have to be doing it illegally.

SOPA

Basically, SOPA is a Pandora’s box of planned regulations that would make it easier for the government to censor the Internet. Current laws already allow owners of copyrighted material to get that content removed from unauthorized websites. But SOPA would mean entire sites could be shut down even for minor copyright infractions, a risky path to go down, which would challenge even good, legal content on the web and allow politically-motivated tirades against entire websites. I think it is a step to far, to expect search engines to alter their results, to require internet service providers to change their DNS servers and to expect payment processors like PayPal to cease business with certain foreign website. Major companies like Google, Facebook and twitter oppose this new proposed act, and I’d have to say I’m on their side.

Fair use

Fair use is an exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of any given piece of work. It is a policy that permits limited use of copyrighted material without gaining permission from the author/copyright holders. A few examples of fair use include criticism, parody, news reporting, research and teaching.

A good illustration of criticism as fair use, is a movie review. A movie review is someone’s personal opinion on that certain movie. They may be reviewing aspects like what worked, what didn’t, which parts were funny and plot summary. These reviews may come with an accompanying image/screenshot/clip of the film used to back up their statements and opinions. However, as this is only using a tiny percentage of the movie, and is non-profit, it is covered under the fair use policy.

Another good example of fair use is using copyrighted works for research. As long as the copyrighted work isn’t being recited word for word, this is covered by fair use. Using the works of others and gaining from their knowledge is definitely not a negative thing, however you have to be careful you are only using their work to help with your understanding, not copy and pasting it as your own work!

So to sum things up, I am by no means a copyright expert. This is actually the first time I’ve ever thought much into the topic! So these are just a few of my opinions on how I understand copyright to be working today.

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