Viral & Vulnerable

Reflecting on ubiquity of unprotected ideas on the Internet

Illustration by Nebojša Cvetković from Bruketa&Žinić

Authorship and copyright in Internet has been an issue since this platform has started to serve as our area of self-expression. Although from the Law’s side we are still in 1976. This is the legal point on an idea’s protection:

In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.

—Section 102 of the Copyright Act

The edge between idea and its explanation is what generates YouTube accounts’ shutdowns, launching of firms specializing in copyright, and arguments in media. The text by Doreen St. Felix clearly illustrates how things, even those that seem ephemeral—memes, dance moves— can go viral, get appropriated by big companies but remain intangible for their authors.

Black teens producing dance videos, women singing and men composing blues, and other cases of unrecorded but evident authorship might not bother one, unless he faces it himself. That is to say, until you do not see your little comic illustration in blogs or retweets here and there without credit, who cares.

We are left to hope that young artists like Denzel Meechie still have plans for conquering the Internet, and that they will make us pay attention on things like credit and authorship more closely. And that one day somebody will write a wikipedia article on them, like this artist has. This video just shows how little (from the other side a lot—the whole talent) sometimes is enough for creating an impossible-to-take-eyes off image. For more cogency, watch it on mute.