Friday, August 16, 2013
Digital Millennium Copyright Act at odds with our online sharing culture
Think of all the “share” buttons you see with articles and webpages today.
Our civilization is built on sharing and the free exchange of ideas. But that sharing is often at odds with copyright holders. The owners of photos, videos and other works frequently take a hard line on the sharing of their creations. They understandably want to get paid, but they also don’t care about “fair use” arguments or even the benefits of publicity.
And with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, they have a weapon to crack down on anybody who posts even a portion of their work online. Under the DMCA, people who share a copyrighted photo or video on their website are judged guilty until proven innocent. And sometimes the accused aren’t even allowed to state their case.
Thankfully not all copyright holders are interested in cracking down on sharing.
Consider Internet memes – those funny shared photos or videos. They usually start with copyrighted photos, videos or music. Most were allowed to proceed unfettered by copyright complaints.
In some cases, the copyright holders benefited greatly from the exposure. Think Psy of “Gangnam Style” fame, a music video and song that spawned countless homages and parodies. Psy and his viral video and catchy tune wouldn’t have gotten the same treatment had he and his lawyers cracked down on the copycats.
Photo: Sample of the Internet meme Grumpy Cat. (See the entry on Know Your Meme.)