Apr 152009

Write a Link Post
There are a lot of methods to this assignment, and I chose to expand on another idea written about by another blogger. I will be looking into thoughts and ideas presented in Cory Doctrow’s “Why I Copyfight” who blogs on craphound.com

The entire premise of this article is that the internet, by its very nature, has made modern copyright law an outdated mess that is in need of a drastic overhaul now. Before the internet was so common, people did things like record a movie off of TV, and take it to a friend’s house for a movie night. This type of activity, while undoubtably illegal, posed little danger to the film industry because the cost of enforcing such laws far exceeded the losses they were experiencing. I myself can remember taping songs off of the radio when I was a youngster and listening to them in my Walkman. Did the music industry miss any sales from me? No. If anything, they gained a few. Home recordings never fully capture the quality of a professionally-made copy, so I usually ended up at the store to buy a legitimate cassette when I had made enough money.

The home computer changed everything. By its very nature, a home computer connected to the internet needs to make copies of every bite of information, just to get its job done. Doctrow explains it further:

What’s more, Internet transactions are more apt to commit a copyright offense than their offline equivalents. That’s because every transaction on the Internet involves copies. The Internet is a system for efficiently making copies between computers. Whereas a conversation in your kitchen involves mere perturbations of air by noise, the same conversation on the net involves making thousands of copies. Every time you press a key, the keypress is copied several times on your computer, then copied into your modem, then copied onto a series of routers, thence (often) to a server, which may make hundreds of copies both ephemeral and long-term, and then to the other party(ies) to the conversation, where dozens more copies might be made.

Copyright law valorizes copying as a rare and noteworthy event. On the Internet, copying is automatic, massive, instantaneous, free, and constant. Clip a Dilbert cartoon and stick it on your office door and you’re not violating copyright. Take a picture of your office door and put it on your homepage so that the same co-workers can see it, and you’ve violated copyright law, and since copyright law treats copying as such a rarified activity, it assesses penalties that run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for each act of infringement.

Fortunately for large, rightholding firms (*cough*WarnerBrothers*cough*) the same system that made copying so easy — so necessary — also made it very cheap and easy to monitor who was copying what, and to bring the antiquated hammer of the law down on their head. What these companies haven’t thought about is how most of what they view as copyright infringement on the internet is little more than people having a conversation about art, music, literature, etc, that they enjoyed or hated. It’s just that with modern means, people want something to aid them in this conversation with their friend who may be hundreds of miles away, such as a clip or picture of the piece of media in question. By taking away people’s rights to fair use of media, copyright law is taking away a means for our culture and knowledge to expand at the exponential rate that has been made possible in this Broadband Age.

“Copyfighting” is in its essence, an effort to defend our right to share knowledge and culture with each other via the easiest means possible: the internet. It is a subject that has grown very near and dear to my heart over the last few years, and has caused me to put a Creative Commons license on all my work across the internet. Creative Commons really embodies what all copyrighting should be about, which is to share your work in the same way you’d like others to share with you, and to hope your work will be a building block for something bigger and better that will ultimately make us better as a society.

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