Damned if you do

After watching Everything is a Remix – Part 4.  I found myself agreeing with the argument that the current interpretation and enforcement of intellectual property rights has moved dangerously beyond the original intent of such legislation.

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Not only can patent and sample trolls make money through litigation rather than innovation and production, but companies such as Disney can take possession of those things which have traditionaly been held in the public domain, a process which has been called copyfraud.  The expansion of copyright law at the expense of the public domain not only stifles creative endeavours such as The Grey Album but also endangers our ability to be self sufficient.

In the battle of copyright vs public domain this Clay Shirky video highlights the dangers of a guilty before proven innocent approach.
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Whilst I agreed with Clay when watching the video this article about Grooveshark shows that the current legislation isn’t working either.  In trying to find a balance between intellectual property rights and the public domain it seems that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  Perhaps a large group of smarter and more highly paid people than I will solve the problem but it seems hard to believe that legislation and policing will ever move fast enough to control how people copy, transform and combine the ideas of others.  More likely inventors, musicians and artists will have to change their business models.  Bands might distribute music for free online whilst trying to make money through touring and merchandise.  Artists might post images and media online and try to make money by selling physical reproductions on canvas, t-shirts and posters whilst trying to monetise visitors to their site.  I really don’t know but I like this idea from Wired which suggests how to fix the patent process.

Although institutionalised education has not solved all of society’s short-comings we have made progress in areas such as environmental awareness and health promotion particularly the anti-smoking message and as such I think it is important to allow our students to learn and engage in issues such as intellectual property, copyright laws and the public domain through the use of technology and the creative commons framework.  By doing so we can hopefully instill in them a sense of fairness both to the individual and society that will allow them to improve this process for everyone.


One thought on “Damned if you do

  1. What a great post! So many great links to the current debate that surrounds the issue of copyright!

    I agree that something is going to have to change. I think the group that is going to end up presenting a workable solution to this problem is going to be one that seems completely disconnected to it. Traditional media companies and new media manipulators are too close to the topic to reach an agreement. It will have to be third party who comes up with the solution. Part of me hopes that Education could play a role in the solution…

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