In reading different articles and blog posts surrounding copyright laws, I’ve noticed a couple of reoccurring themes. Primarily “I am not a lawyer” appears often when well known bloggers are offering up opinions/advice about copyright. Additionally, answers about copyright are ambiguous and vague…it seems that there are no fast and hard answers when it comes to this issue. Often people trying to ‘do the right thing’ are frustrated and left without a clear answer of what that ‘right thing’ is when it comes to using copyrighted material.
Doug Johnson wrote about this in his post Copyright Counseling. I love this title…I think it fits with the idea (as in counseling) that having a black and white answer to problems/questions isn’t how it works! His idea of taking in all the information and then making a judgment “based on your own interpretation of fair use” works for me.
As a global society, do we need to rethink copyright laws? Absolutely. An article about a high school athlete who was inadvertently catapulted into the limelight because of a routine photo taken at a track meet is a perfect illustration. How can we control copyright in a world that is hyper connected and linked? This girl legally has no avenue to put an end to the unwanted attention she’s received. Even if she did, it is unrealistic to think that she could even begin to find and retrieve all of the photos that have been posted and copied over and over again. How do we deal with these issues? My heart goes out to this girl and her family; they’ve had their lives turned upside down through no fault of their own. But how do we protect ourselves and our loved ones?
Protecting ourselves and determining ownership is one aspect of copyright. The other side of copyright is acknowledging the creators of material and ‘compensating’ people for their work. Shouldn’t artists be credited with their work and be able to receive compensation for what they have created? Of course they should…but maybe this will look a bit different in this digitally connected world we live in. Attempting to control the illegal downloads of songs and videos, for example, hasn’t seemed to work. The recent court case against Pirate Bay is a good example-last time I checked (this morning) the Pirate Bay website was still up and running!
I don’t have any answers, but I definitely think that our antiquated ideas of copyright need updating! Creative Commons seems to be a progressive way of looking at copyright…