Posts tagged copyright
Now we live in a digital world, where the majority of content is delivered over the internets. But you don’t get something for nothing, and copyright ensures that this maxim holds true in the digital age. So it’s important to understand how the maths that drives copyright works. You can’t be a true netizen (I can’t believe my spellcheck accepts that as a valid word) without being copyright-math-numerate. Ted talks to the rescue:
A good explanation of copyright protection, with a particular focus on the length of protection – in particular the irony of Disney pushing for longer and longer copyright protection, when they’ve built their movie catalogue on the back of works that are out of copyright – makes me cross!
Check out this video of an MP in the New Zealand parliament debating new copyright infringement legislation. Be warned, this is scary.
This annoys me intensely for so many reasons. Whilst I understand the desire of content creators to derive income from their creative products, I don’t think legislators understand that the digital medium is giving them super rights that they previously did not have, and were not intended to have. Under copyright law, I can take any physical representation of a copyright work and lend it to someone for them to enjoy. I lend friends books all the time. This is not copyright infringement, and the author has no control over this activity, as it does not infringe any of the rights the author has been given by the government. It is not a breach of copyright to view a work, or use a work.
However, if I have a copyright work in a digital form, the only way to lend it to a friend is to transfer the bits to them via some medium, be it via the internet, a usb stick or by burning a good old fashioned CD (whatever happened to burning CD’s?). By transferring those bits onto a new medium, I am creating a “copy” of them. To be honest, everytime I play a digital file on my computer, I’m creating a new copy of the file that was sitting on my disk in RAM, and therefore breaching copyright too – although assuming I have a license to view/listen to the file, that’s probably permitted. However, my point remains. The breach in this situation arises not because the rights holder is being deprived of income that they would otherwise have received – lending a book in physical form is not a breach and wouldn’t provide any revenue to the rights holder – but simply as a side effect of the medium that the work is stored in. Why should rights holders get this windfall gain at our expense, and why are legislators falling for this?
My second objection is that depriving someone of internet access is a horribly disproportionate punishment for what is a civil – not criminal – matter. There is plenty of discussion of this topic around the internet.
However, my final and greatest objection, is the quality of understanding and debate on this topic by politicians. It is simply attrocious.