Copyright Laws: They’re a little slippery

I was really excited to read about the copyright stuff for the week because it brings me back to a discussion I had in Theory of Knowledge my senior year. Part of our final grade was to create a 20 minute presentation on a current issue and discuss through the 6 areas of knowledge and 4 way of knowing. One of my good friends presentations was on intellectual property rights which go hand in hand with copyright law. Unfortunately, it was not as well received as she was expecting in part I think because we were still in high school and had limited exposure to these issues. For the most part anything we wanted to use, we could and claim educational purposes. Going back over this issue was really interesting.

The first thing I watched was A Fair(y) Use Tale. It goes through the definitions of copyright law and the loopholes in them such as fair use. Honestly, I was not a huge fan of the way the material was presented because it felt so disjointed which made it a little hard to understand. I also felt some words didn’t contain the emphasis they needed. I did like the concept behind it a lot though.

Next up was the TED talk. I really love TED talks so I was really excited to dive in and start watching. I immediately found myself disagreeing John Souza. Yes, there are a lot more people that watch movies and listen to music without creating their own. But I also think that the internet allows more media to reach new people that otherwise would not be inspired to pursue the arts. It gives new people a chance to pursue the arts and other people the chance to become more specialized in their fields while still appreciating others’ creations. Lawrence Lessing definitely agreed and really showed me how creative our culture is. It made me think of Instagram- anyone with a camera on their phone can now create something. I really liked the balance he proposes because I really feel it encourages creativity.

On a side note, this reminds me a lot of science. As is obvious from my blog an underlying theme is #sciencenoir. What has become more and more common is the usage of patents. Throughout most of history, discoveries and data has flowed freely. However, more recently there are many people going into science with the aims at making patents. By patenting their products, they can accuse others of stealing and there are some research groups that have started businesses based in suing anyone who violates the research PI’s patent. Data is also less frequently shared in the commons because of this growing patent movement. This leads to discoveries being made more slowly and when they are eventually made, they are often repeated by others because the two groups had no idea they were working on the same project. This is particularly relevant to me as I would like to see more open-ness in the science community as I go further.

Next up were the readings, the history of copyright re-articulated many of the ideas presented in the A Fair(y) Use Tale. The Fair Use Frequently Asked Questions answered most questions I had about copyright and also rearticulated the video. It also made me feel a little more strongly about the ideas presented by Lawrence Lessing. I think it’s important to be able to take older content and make it new, pay tribute to the old by creating something new. However, there should be more movement towards sharing intellectual property.

I found the 7 Things You Should Know About Creative Commons to be particularly compelling because of my background of taking Economics classes with professor Shawn Humphrey. He really emphasizes the impact of the tragedy of the commons. Intellectual property is just like any other property in that there are many different systems in which rights can be set up. This particular article puts forth the idea of the Creative Commons, however, a communal property right often leads to the tragedy of the commons. With intellectual property it is even harder to balance the private property rights from the communal rights.

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