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Monday, November 17, 2008

Culture and Copyright

I'll be posting the next transcript from the Free Culture Conference this evening, but in the meantime, I'd like to point you to a great article from Cory Doctorow called Why I Copyfight. Here's a bit from the article:

Copyright law valorizes copying as a rare and noteworthy event. On the Internet, copying is automatic, massive, instantaneous, free, and constant. Clip a Dilbert cartoon and stick it on your office door and you're not violating copyright. Take a picture of your office door and put it on your homepage so that the same co-workers can see it, and you've violated copyright law, and since copyright law treats copying as such a rarified activity, it assesses penalties that run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for each act of infringement.

There's a word for all the stuff we do with creative works — all the conversing, retelling, singing, acting out, drawing, and thinking: we call it culture.

Culture's old. It's older than copyright.

The existence of culture is why copyright is valuable. The fact that we have a bottomless appetite for songs to sing together, for stories to share, for art to see and add to our visual vocabulary is the reason that people will pay money for these things.

Let me say that again: the reason copyright exists is because culture creates a market for creative works. If there was no market for creative works, there'd be no reason to care about copyright.





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6 comments:

jess said...

so what you're saying is that this applies to ME and not just to everyone else. ;P right?

Sra said...

Absotively ;)

B.R. said...

Copyright is definitely necessary, indispensable even. Plagiarism numbs the creative impulse of those who provide novel ideas and that is beyond shameful. In this day and age where the sharing of ideas has become so easy, those who create new work need to be protected. So, I'm confident you'll be practicing a kind of Law that will never go out of style.

Sra said...

Yes Copyright is necessary. I hope to work toward a better balanced Copyright law in my career, though. It is important to protect the rights of authors and artists, but it is also important to protect the rights of users. And I think life+75 or so years is too long of protection for Copyright. It doesn't serve the public, and doesn't really serve the artists either. It serves large corporations.

Especially when you consider the time limits of other areas of IP, such as patents, which are good for 20 years with a possibility of extension. To me that is a much more fair time line. The inventors get their period of protection, but eventually the technology enters the public domain.

But everything being created under Copyright in our lifetime will not enter the public domain under current law. To me, that is a shame.

There is much to be explored in this area. I haven't nailed down my opinions because I am not yet well educated enough to form good ones. But my instinct is that Copyright law has problems that need to be addressed.

Susan said...

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B.R. said...

Copyright is definitely necessary, indispensable even. Plagiarism numbs the creative impulse of those who provide novel ideas and that is beyond shameful. In this day and age where the sharing of ideas has become so easy, those who create new work need to be protected. So, I'm confident you'll be practicing a kind of Law that will never go out of style.

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