A Final Word on Copyright

Unfortunately, this will be my final post about copyright. I am sorry, but keeping up with the ridiculous amount of suing going on between companies has become almost impossible. I am well aware that these recent “copyright, infringement and stupidity” posts have been mainly based on patent infringement, however, that was just to widen the extremely narrow topic of copyright. So, why did I choose this topic to talk about [for those who do not know, I was writing about this topic for my school ICT project] instead of something more “juicy”! The reason? I have absolutely no idea! I just liked the challenge of making an unbelievably dry topic interesting and I think I succeeded, sort of, even while going on a massive tangent towards patents.

Moving on, as a final assignment from school, I was set the task of making my own copyright law. Being the last in the register (and possibly the fact that I posted a lot on copyright over the past month) I was given the title “Tzar of copyright”! So, to fulfil my duty as Tzar, I shall divide this post up into distinctive parts (unlike my previous posts) to be topped off with a final copyright rant full of passion, as usual!
Let’s get started. The dictionary definition: Copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, preform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.
My interpretation of the definition: All ORIGINAL content is protected from any form of reproduction or copy, BUT this does not rule out remixes.
Unfortunately, being evil, the creators and/or the publisher read into this law way too much. In a time of user generated content (UGC), these laws restrict creativity, drastically. All the publishers/studios/creators/authors/etc. think that their content is divine, blessed by a deity, but really, how is theirs any different from the content I produce in my garage? It becomes automatically copyrighted as it is my own ORIGINAL work (you shall soon see why I spell that word in block capitals).
These companies drastically overreact to anyone remixing their content. They sue, demand compensation, the content be removed and several other unreasonable things, and the ridiculous thing is that the judges actually rule in favor of the company! The remixer has to remove the content and sometimes pay compensation!
As you may have guessed, we have moved into my disorganized ranting now!
There are some actions being taken to prevent this, for example, creative commons. They release free copyright licenses, which allows the creator to communicate what rights they reserve and what rights they waive for the consumer. This is good, but ineffective, in my opinion. There needs to be a law making it mandatory for certain rights to be released so creativity can thrive for years to come as UGC grows.
Back onto the idea of original content. The artist, photographer, etc. all produce original content. I make original content when I film and edit together a short film. All this is automatically copyrighted, depending on the country. In the UK and US this is the case. Now, listen to this compelling argument: I take someone’s original content, let’s say a clip of a film, and change it, add some music, play around with colors, edits, cuts, put a voiceover on and voila! You have your own original content! Granted you took the base clip from someone else’s content, but you put the work in to make it different and entertaining. That, in my opinion, is not copyright infringement. It is like saying that the DJ at a party is infringing copyright because he is remixing music! Luckily, this is not yet the case, but at the rate at which we are going at, it will soon be.
Her is an example of plain stealing. I had a website for an online radio station, run by me and 2 other old school friends, which I introduced to an acquaintance of mine, who took inspiration from me and started his own station. The issue came when I looked at their site: they had copied and pasted word for word text from our website onto theirs, even the slogan! We complained, they deleted us as members, we deleted them as members. I even looked into UK and US copyright law to see if we even had copyright protection, and we did. The situation has died done now, but there is still a lot of tension between us and the acquaintance.
Anyway, my new reformed law (bearing in mind that I have no skill in “legal speak”): Copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, preform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorise others to do the same, while allowing for various manifestations of the material where the origin is quoted.
Basically, you can make remixes as long as you quote where your base content came from.
As this is my final copyright post, ending the 10 post series, I shall be accepting any recommendations to my version of the copyright law, which I shall be arguing back to in my usual way in the comments section. There will be the occasional patent post and school assignment posted here, but for now, say good bye to copyright on this blog. If you are interested in this patent infringement stuff, TechCrunch and MacRumours are two good all round sources.
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