Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wk 1 Reading: Copyright Issues pt.1-3: What's it all for?

Welcome to my first blog post for the Media Asset Creation course. In this post I will discuss copyrighting issues in this day and age. I watched a few different videos and read a few different articles. What I was surprised to notice was that there was little to no mention of the issue of moral rights in the USA. According to The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (UK) there are a number of different rights associated with work creations. Moral rights, which is one of them, is the right to object to the derogatory use of works. For example, if a piece of music was is in a pornographic movie, the owner can contest the use of the material on moral grounds. Though there are in fact many differences between UK and US rights, I’m afraid that it may take days to comb through them.

Why is it that more often than not it is these giant companies that want to sue the smaller party over copyright infringements. Have they really paid their dues? How many legendary jazz artists were just paid as session musicians? These musicians who never see pennies worth of royalties . . . I ponder. As the Swedish gentlemen said in the documentary Good Copy Bad Copy, what gives the big US Corporations the right to enforce their ideals and laws on other territories yet so unabashedly disregard those of other territories?

We are in an age where the World is at our fingertips. Even though the USA is the biggest exporter of popular culture it is by no means the ruler of the world. More and more we are expanding, experimenting, creating and remixing. And so the beauty of Creative Commons licensing allows us to safely share our creations without the big bad wolf coming after us. I just hope that great works of art, film and music do not become lost in the memory of days gone by because of licensing. A funny point here was that the company I worked for actually tried to get copyright permission to use the MLK speech in the course books but couldn’t get permission. Why would they deny the use for educational purposes? Should we then think about where the priorities lie for these licensers? Is it to better society or better their profits?

If you want to know a bit more about UK IP issues please follow the link below.


  1. Michelle,
    I like the emphasis you place in this post on the context of use of material, rather that just the fact and law of it. I think that if and when copyright laws allow for the creative and reverent appropriation of cultural works, it will help to ensure the endurance of our most valuable cultural artworks and artifacts.

  2. Michelle,
    The topic of intended use is pretty broad, and while most of us, as educators, look at usage for education as morally correct, I can also understand why people do not see it the same way. As a teacher, I think everything should be available for use, as it serves the greater good. But, from a copyright holder, I can also see the negative side, thinking that the more my work is out in the open, the more chances that it will be infringed upon. It's a tough topic to debate, but I agree that creative commons can open up more possibilities for us as educators.

  3. Michelle, I didn't know the whole "Moral" approach in the UK. That seems to be a very good aspect to take into account. I am not to sure how Creative Commons holds up in the UK. Because it is solely based in the US, I do not think it would work in a UK Court. This deserves some further research, but perhaps the internet is such a worldly tool, perhaps Creative Commons might cross continents. That is something to consider, thank you for allowing us to see things from another perspective.

  4. Great take on the international flavor of the copyright question. I included the good copy/bad copy specifically because US citizens and companies tend to have no sense that the US is NOT the world. Truth is that the US hesitated signing the Berne Convention that governs world copyright issues because up until software piracy was becoming a real problem the US liked not having to answer to other sovereignties when it came to US companies ignoring other countries copyright laws. I can't imagine how messed things would be if someone tried a moral defense with any of this stuff. Yikes.