Re-Defining “copyrights”

According to webster, copyright is “ the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (such as a literary, musical, or artistic work)”

Copy right laws have always been criticized to render people’s right of expression and creation speechless, more and more so now in the digital area where the flow of information is not dictated by distance nor fortune. Although, This legal right was initiated in order to protect the original work of the creator, and to prevent others from stealing or claiming it as their own, Yet with the current revolution of technological communication, one might argue that these copyrights that were created for one person’s advantage are harming many more others by limiting their freedom of expression and denying their creative thoughts to flow throughout the different cultures on the world wide web. Therefore the main argument here is Does copyright protect or hinder innovation and creativity in the media and cinematic arts?

Copyright laws protect your own expression of a certain idea, through providing the exclusive right to preform, publish, print, distribute or create any literary, artistic or music piece for a specific number of year . “ The owner of the copyright to the collected work has the right to reproduce the work as a whole, but not to reproduce it’s individual parts” ( Packard, 2013). These law’s are aimed to promote the progress of artistic and scientific inventions, and to encourage others to add to such work , highlighting their individual expression, opinion and ideas. copy rights are not fixated , there are certain amount of years that should pass before the work is deemed public, if an individual decides to use a certain copyrighted material before the passing of these years, or without the approval of the original creator, his work is seen as a “ copyright infirgnment. According to Packard (2013) Reproducing, distributing, publicly displaying, publicly preforming, or producing a derivative version of a copyrighted work without the copyright holder’s permission, constitutes copyright infringement, which is an act punishable by law. So, if this law is actually made to protect our intellectual property, what negative effects could it have on our freedom of expression ?.

In the new era of technological uprising , the issue of freedom of speech has been more prominantly argued than ever before. With the tool to express,publish and share ideas and opinion all over the world, the public sphere is being translated into a world that lack borders and limitation. “The digital revolution makes possible widespread cultural participation and interaction that previously could not have existed on the same scale. At the same time, it creates new opportunities for limiting and controlling those forms of cultural participation and interaction” (Balkin, 2004). The digital revolution made it easier to portray you creative work, by offering a less costly and more effective way of publishing and receiving information throughout the world, this portrayal or expression is the main issue which copyright law’s deem as stolen intellectual property. In an age where the internet is used as a distributor and money maker for large companies, the goal for them to make the consumers buy products through advertisement and official websites, on the other hand there are websites that offer such information and products for a lesser amount , some even free of cost. “But digital technologies allow consumers the ability to route around these conditions. Thus, the conflict produced by the digital age is not simply a conflict about copying and piracy. It is also a conflict about control.” (Balkin, 2004).

This video gives some examples of youtube users, who suffered from the confusion of freedom of expression and copyright infrengment. It also demonstrates how copy right laws can sometimes harm the users encouraging them to create and share knowledge . “As these forms of mass media became increasingly pervasive parts of our life, the industries that create content — Hollywood, the publishing industry, and the advertising industry to name only three examples — began to push for increased protections of intellectual property rights.” (Balkin, 2004). Balkin explains that these limitations are made in order to transform knowledge and creation into wealth the benefits the bigger industrial companies. These laws act as a current form of censorship for new birthed idea, although ideas and facts are not protected by the copyright laws, people are still being censored or taken to court because they chose to take a project and express it in their own individual way.

In the case of Rogers Vs. Koons, The artist which re-invented the photographer’s painter as a sculpture should not have been subjected to the copy right law infringement , since ideas are not protected , only the expressions are. In which koons expressed the idea in a very different manner by greating a sculpture. Still the law saw it as an invasion of right and sided with the photographer.

Another case where the grounds of copyright proved to be invafor of wealth and no of art, is the case of Cariou v. Prince. Patrick Cariou, a photographer, sued Richard Prince, the famous artist, when Prince took Cariou’s photographs and used them in a series of shots , that where sold for millions of dollars. Although, prince did not pay Cariou for the right of fair-use, the court sided with prince, thus stripping cariou’s right from his own creation.

This youtube video explains the case of music plagerism and how the copyright laws especially in this field of creativity can be very blurry or confusing thus, resulting in the decrease of future artists’s creative process.

In conclusion, we could see that copy rights do not only limit the freedom of expression, but also put a fear of creating in the thoughts of emerging artists, still these laws serve a purpose that shouldnt be ignored, which is protecting the right of an authors dominance over his own work. Therefore by looking at many cases , the only way to create a fair environment of expression is to balance out the laws of copyright with the right of re-invention, and since we live ina digital area, there should be specific and studied rules and regulations that follow social media updates, also a specific group of people should posses certain qualifications to stand as judges in trails that handle such sensitive subjects , because every ruling will either enhance or destroy the capacity of freedom in which we should obtain to create.

Reference :

  • Packard, Ashley (2013) ‘Intellectual Property:Copyright’ in Digital Media Law, Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, NJ, p. 183 (Wiley version, p. 194–196; 203
  • Balkin (2004) “Digital Speech and Democratic Culture” in New York University Law review, Vol 79, p 3;5
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