In today’s society it is so easy to breach the copyright law without even knowing it. Unintentionally, we all find ourselves at some point in our life imitating someone else’s ideas and behavior. Who would have known a public performance of Time-Warner’s song, ‘Happy Birthday to You’ is a criminal act. Before copyright, people were able to freely replica and sell someone else’s content without the acknowledgment of the creator. The introduction of copyright in 1710, was a positive step towards giving creators exclusive rights of their innovative works. However, overtime the extension of the monopoly of rights have drastically limited creativity. Steve Collins (2008) states that “Like Humpty-Dumpty, the copyright law we used to know can never be put back together.” Has the pursuit for copyright supremacy gone far beyond our reach of control?
I have to wonder, if we have given too much power to the Digital Rights Management and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to protect our ideologies and creative works. In the article ‘Recovering fair use’, Collins (2008) explains how a eighteen month old child dancing to a background recording of Prince “Let’s Go Crazy” sparked YouTube to issue a take-down notice, due to copyright infringement. It’s astonishing how a clip purely posted for entertainment was caught in the middle of a lawsuit. More recently, Warner Bros. successfully sued Mark Towle’s creation of replica Batmobile vehicles for violation of trademark and copyright of their iconic Batman Vehicle.
Copyright intends to create artificial scarcity; by taking full control over content a highly valuable product will be formed. However, due to the rapid advancements of modern technology there is no scarcity on the internet. Accordingly to Kevin Kelly, “the internet is a copy machine”, consequently this poses a major challenge for the distribution of films. The production of a Hollywood blockbuster is a huge risk, due to the unpredictable financial uncertainties it brings. Marco Cucco (2009, p. 228) states that, “The movie theatre is crucial to… establish the commercial value of the film.” Due to the internet having no scarcity, why would we go pay to watch a film at the movie theatre when you can illegally download it for free in the comfort of your own home. For how much longer can we get away with being copycats?
In the end we are playing a game of cat and mouse, we will use the internet to our advantage, until we get caught in the act of breaching the copyright law. Where does the future lie for copyright? Are we going to be faced with endless regulations that will continual to diminish our ideologies or are we going to succeed in a society where copying flourishes online?
Collins, SC, (2008), ‘Recovering Fair Use’, M/C Media Culture, vol. 11, no. 6.
Cucco, MC, (2009), ‘The promise is great: the blockbuster and the Hollywood economy’, Media, Culture & Society, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 215-230.
Gardner, Eriq, (2013), Warner Bros. Wins Lawsuit Against Maker of Batmobile (Exclusive)/ Hollywood Esq, The Hollywood Reporter, viewed 18 March 2013
Kelly, Kevin, (2008), Better Than Free/ Issue 53 – 01, Change This, viewed 18 March 30, 2013