Below Property Line

Copyright is a big issue, especially since the rapid evolution of social media. Put simply, the most efficient way to avoid your intellectual property being appropriated online is to not upload it at all. While there are “safe” ways to share content, a lot of people just don’t do it. Typically, people don’t tend to feel they are doing something illegal if it is through their computer screen. There is no personal connection or affiliation with who you are “stealing” from. A couple of clicks and you are instantly breaching copyright laws. Piracy is a big one – while artists and large corporations missing out on millions from content they have created, there is little they can do to stop it. There is this general consensus of “if it’s on the internet it’s fair game” but really, it isn’t fair at all. You are legally responsible for all content you post or share online. Without crediting the original source or obtaining permission, you face the consequences.

Sharing someone else’s work online safely is when you only share from the original source. For instance, using the retweet button on Twitter. Sites such Facebook and Tumblr have “share” and “reblog” buttons for this purpose, but often users copy the content and post it without sharing directly from the source. This is a common example of somebody breaching copyright laws.

“A large, diverse society cannot survive without property; a large, diverse, and modern society cannot flourish without intellectual property.” – Lawrence Lessig

This quote from Lessig’s book Free Culture points out the importance of intellectual property. While copyright laws restrict the ways in which we can use previous creators’ work, it can stimulate individuals to generate new ideas. However, it is difficult to come up with something new. Most things we think of will have been done already in various ways. Subsequently, Lessig states that free cultures allow space for others to build upon, however with regard to increasing authorisations we are steering away from this. For example YouTube cases of people lip syncing/dancing to music, creating fandom etc are being sued for copyright infringement. It seems silly; as a lot of these cases include songs by popular artists that most people could identify without a reference. On the other hand, if the boundaries weren’t there I think prosumers would definitely take advantage of it even more than they do already.

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2 thoughts on “Below Property Line

  1. Hey,

    I really like what you say about people not feeling as though they are doing anything illegal because it is through a computer screen. There most definitely isn’t a personal connection or affiliation with who you are stealing from, which may be the reason society feels so comfortable with downloading illegal movies and music.

  2. It is a really interesting though you raise about ‘sharing’ or copying content via social media. I’ll be the first to admit it had never occured to me that copying across content could infact be in breach of copyright law. Whilst I agree wholehearted that copyright has a singificant place within society as for protecting original content and their authors, I think the grey areas of which have come about through the combination of Web 2.0 and outdated approaches to copyright need to be redfined and rethought. Otherwise we’re going to find ourselves with fresh modern technology and content protected by ancient laws of the copyright.

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