Our class discussion on copyright has been well timed. Just this week we are in the midst of the SOPA and PIPA debate, and this week’s reading provided some background on the discussion. I realized that I, like many others, had many misconceptions about copyright and its purposes. My first thoughts when hearing the word copyright were of the protection of the owners and their profits. I knew little of the history and the intention. Check out Lydia Pallas Loren’s article, The Purpose of Copyright, to learn about the history of copyright.
Do we as a global society need to rethink copyright laws?
Yes! The original intention of promoting creativity and information that benefit society while offering some incentive to individuals to continue to come up with ideas has been lost. I was not alone in my misconception of copyright, and it is understandable why this confusion abounds. The result of the changes in US copyright laws is the opposite of their original intention. They are stifling the creative process. We all get inspiration from that which has come before us. For us to wait 70 years after the death of the creator to use and build upon their work, opportunity is lost and we all suffer.
With the current copyright laws in mind, many people have become so attached to the ownership of their work, that they lose sight of greater good that can come from sharing of knowledge, resources, and art. Yes, we deserve recognition for our creations, but that recognition need not be at the expense of sharing and progress. Check out Gladwell’s article, Something Borrowed, for an interesting case that provokes discussion about when copyright applies. He gives several real life situations where discussions of plagiarism or copyright have been present.
How do we teach copyright in countries where international copyright law is not often followed?
I think we should teach copyright the same way we would if we lived in the United States. I think it’s important to teach both the original intention and the laws as they stand currently, but more importantly our students need to have opportunities to discuss why these laws exist and who they protect, why it is important to recognize creators, and how one persons ideas can change the world around them and the ideas of others.