Is anything legal anymore?
At the click of a button, we have immediate access to more information than ever before. But how much of this is really ours to use? It has become extremely apparent this week just how guilty I am of copyright. Up until this point, I definitely wasn’t aware of the extent to which I had committed copyright ‘crimes’. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has downloaded free music, watched endless hours of TV shows and movies online because it’s free, easier and faster.
In comes copyright… the laws and claims that are held exclusive to the originator of the content being produced. Before these laws existed in our society, people were free to steal, copy and exploit other people’s original work without consequence. This means that well-known artists such as Shakespeare and Beethoven could have had all of their work stolen or copied, without receiving any credit. One massive positive to copyright laws is the protection it provides original creators from illegal replication of their work. However, these laws also limit the creativity of others, as they can’t extract any sort of similarities from already published work in the fear of being accused of copying or stealing an original idea.
The aspect of the lecture that really indicated the extremity of copyright was in regards to the ‘Happy Birthday’ song, which I now know is owned by Time Warner. Until quite recently videoing anyone singing this was illegal! Thankfully it has now become public domain, so no one is going to be arrested for those embarrassing birthday videos where everyone stands around the cake and sings!
I also had no idea Taylor Swift or more importantly, her management team were so renowned for their constant copyright pursuits. However, I guess Taylor of all people understands the importance of copyright! I’m sure you’re all familiar with her hit song ‘Shake it Off’. Can you believe she was actually sued by this guy for $42 million, because of a song he wrote prior to its release?
As such, copyright laws certainly have their positive aspects, such as providing a protective barrier between the originator and unauthorised duplicates. However, they also hold negative aspects through the extremity of industry control and the lack of creativity for future creators as they could be accused of plagiarism.
So when in doubt, cite it.