My time working with the Center for Social Media included many discussions with lawyers. What any lawyer will tell you about copyright law is that it was actually implemented to protect innovation! The idea was that you give innovators a period of time to make money off of their work and they will thus be able to create more. Fair use is an exception to that bundle of rights that allows quoting, etc. when necessary to make new work. And the law specifically exempts ideas and facts from protection so that many people with the same ideas and facts can go out an make lots of new things.

The terms of copyright protection were short and required registration and renewal, but over the years, corporate interests have led to extentions in terms beyond reasonable lifetimes, elimination of renewal requirements, etc. They continue their assault by suing or threatening to sue anyone and everyone. Documentary filmmakers understand this state of affairs and have claimed that it hurts production of new work, skews how our history is shown in our media, as well as how our reality is viewed when there is the near constant need to edit out copyrighted material from taped reality.

Media artists should know that the battle over copyright doesn’t end at media. There is an eye-opening article in Business Week about how the invention of new technology has been stemmed because of fears of litigation. What kind of technology do you not have because content owners threaten new business ventures? FAIR USE: Protecting Innovation by Gary Shapiro.

Related Posts

Tags: ,