Thursday, May 20, 2010

Copyright: time to change the laws?; BBC News, 5/17/10

Stephen Evans, BBC News; Copyright: time to change the laws?:

"The issue of copyright has to strike a delicate balance between protecting the creators of music, words or photographs and the dissemination of such material to a wider public.

On the one hand, you want to ensure that the creators get paid for what they create. On the other, if copyright protection is too tight, then dissemination of material becomes too restricted.
In the 18th century the spread of knowledge was dependent on reprinting.

A book produced in London or Paris would be reprinted in Geneva, Edinburgh or Dublin.

"That led to arguments among publishers and authors about whether reprinting was immoral or illegal," says Adrian Johns at the University of Chicago.

Blurred boundaries

The concept of intellectual property was based around the distinction between mechanical invention, and literary or cultural creation.

That idea is now less appropriate to the ways in which creativity is carried out - software development, biotechnology and gene science all conflict between the mechanical and the intellectual.

The advent of the internet has changed the way copyright works.

Under the previous technology, going into a shop and stealing a music CD was theft, and yet down-loading tracks from the internet seems un-theft-like.

This attitude, that if it is on the web then it is free, is even more pronounced with photographic images. When pictures were printed on paper it was easy to control, but new technology makes those old laws out-dated or at least difficult to enforce...

Future solutions

A few companies in Silicon Valley are working on ways for copyright information to be an integral part of the image which cannot be removed.

William Fisher at Harvard University thinks copyright protection is too strict, so, for example, works of art derived from photographs are blocked.

"There needs to be more creative freedom," he believes.

"The current system is over-protective. It extends copyright protection to too every snapshot, every digital image - billions are being created every minute all around the world and they are all protected by copyright law."

He acknowledges that a system is needed that affords protection to photographers who wish to have control over their work.

"But too much copyright protection impedes cultural conversations and cultural usage," he says.
He says there should be a change of bias when protecting work.

"It would be better if the photographer registered any image be wanted to protect with an online registration system," he says, "and that any other work was in the public domain.""

No comments: