Monday, May 23, 2011

Thoughts on Copyright

I you look at the origins of copyright, and go back to the Statute of Ann, the actual purpose of this first copyright law was in the title of the statute - An Act for the Encouragement of Learning.

The idea was to compensate content creators enough that they had reason to continued to add new work to the commons. The intent and purpose being the overall education and enrichment of culture and society. That is, it was about helping to preserve and extend a public good.

Today copyright has gone far beyond that. It has drifted away from it's roots as something which seeks to create a balance between interests in order to create a public good, and has become a way to entrench the economic interests of creators and distributors at the expense of consumers.

Take the provisions regarding photographers, at least in Canada... right now if you commission a photographer to take pictures of your wedding or bar mitzvah, those pictures are yours, as in, you have the copyright to them. You can take them, put them online, make copies, whatever you want. But under the proposed new act, those pictures no longer belong to you. If you put them up on your Facebook page, the photographer has the legal right to then sue you for copyright infringement, unless you pay him a fee for the right to share "your" photos with others.

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