Copyright is the exclusive right to print, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material for a certain number of years in a way the work is protected in all its forms (Ashley, 2013). This right protects creators’ work and pushes others to build on them. However, copyrights limit creativity in many different ways, where knowledge and information have become a key source of wealth (Liang, 2003). It is the way of preventing creative people from having access to information that is not freely allowed. It blocks individuals’ participation in society at the time people have the right to participate freely. In this digital era, copyrights are limiting the freedom of speech, in a way any document or piece of arts used to inform or criticize a generation is not allowed because of copyrights. For example, using Barbie in a food chain to criticize a generation through this art is not allowed and considered as a crime.
As I mentioned, copyright is the right to protect specific work for a period of time, and it is the right to print, perform, film and all other forms of art to be protected; it is the legal right given to the originator of creative work (Ashley, 2013). These rights protect musical, dramatic, geographic, photographs, graphic and sculptural, architectural and many other works; in addition to protecting the production of copyrighted work, derivative work based on copyrighted material, public performance of copyrighted work and the digital transmission of copyrighted works (Ashley, 2013). Also, it aims to promote the progress of science and useful arts, and also aims to assure authors exclusive rights to their original expression.
So, freedom of speech is limited by copyrights. Balkin says in his article that the digital revolution places freedom of speech in a new light, just as the development of broadcast technologies of radio and television did and brings features of the system to the forefront of people’s concern (Balkin, 2004). Thus, based on what Balkin said, it is clear that the initial idea of copyright is not in the right place anymore. New technologies have opened wider fields for people to express their creativity and embody their arts in different forms, but on the other side, the idea of copyrights blocks this improvement and ability to move forward. It prevents through the rights of what has been done before but still can be done better or used for positive purposes.
Moreover, copyrights as I mentioned protects creators’ work and art. They have benefits that are necessary for people work, as well as, it has harms that blocks others’ creativity.
For example, the wood painted sculpture done by Jeff Koons “String of Puppies” in 1998 is a great piece of art that is inspired by the photograph of Rogers “Puppies” in 1980. Koons used the photograph without permission and earned several hundred thousand dollars selling his sculpture (Rogers vs Koons, n.d). So, the benefits of doing this art are to sell it as a very creative and great piece and earn money from selling it. But this sculpture could have impact and harm on the originator of the photograph. It is not allowed to sell and earn money out of others’ work, even if the sculpture is done by Koons, but it decreases the profits of the photograph.
Also, another example is people who have access to online websites that allow them to watch movies online instead of movie theatres and cinemas. The money of watching movies and paying for them is going to box office for actors’ payment, however watching them online is not allowed for the rights of the actors and production houses. So, it is beneficial for having copyrights in such case, and not allowing these websites to screen the movies. For example, the latest movie “Star Wars: the last Jedi” is still in movie theatres right now, but it is available on online websites that allows people to watch for paying nothing.
Copyrights are the rights to protect creators’ art and work. It is essential in the world of art, but copyrights law should be altered in a way that has to protect originators’ work as well as others who could use it for good. Stealing others’ photographs or any piece of work in a way that could affects them should be copyrighted and not allowed, but at the same time, using their work for a general benefits in society without affecting them should be a must to improve, create and reach better results at the age of this new technologies.
Ashley, P. (2013). Intellectual Property Copyright in Digital Media law, Hobokin, NJ, p. 173.
Balkin, J. (2004). Digital Speech and Democratic Culture: A Theory of Freedom of Expression For the Information Society. retrieved from https://elearn.lau.edu.lb/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_207076_1&course_id=_24340_1