28th Nov2011

Intellectual Property Online

by sam

Recently the debate over intellectual property online along with copyright has been getting more and more complicated with the constant invention of new technology.  Two people who have strong opposing viewpoints on the subject are Larry Lessig and Mark Helprin. Larry Lessig gave a lecture explaining that he supports remixing and mashups of other people’s content for purely entertainment and pleasure purposes.  Like taking clips from television shows and music and making a new story and creative vision out of them.  He goes on to say that it is not pirating because it is no distributing the entire true version of the content, it is changing it and editing it to make it into something new.  Although he does not agree with many of the copyright laws, he does say that there needs to be a balance of the laws and the freedom.

Mark Helprin on the other hand, hates the idea of mashups and remixing so much that when he wrote something for the white house and they wanted to use parts of it, he refused.  He wanted them to use the whole thing or nothing at all.  He believes that if we do not have these strict copyright laws, there will be no individual voice left. In an interview with him, he says that digitalization makes it very easy to copy tings and it is barbaric that since people have the power to do this now, they think it is okay to do.

I tend to agree with Lessig because I enjoy watching videos like “The Best Of Sheldon Cooper” which is a highlight reel of all great lines from The Big Bang Theory.  There are so many great youtube videos that are constantly being taken down because they use a song or a clip that is copyrighted.  One of my own videos that I made has been muted because I used a song from glee as the backing track.  It was a PSA for a nonprofit that asked for people to donate prom dresses.   It was to help underprivileged girls be able to go to prom by supplying them with a dress to cut down the cost of attending. I did not understand why I could not use the song because I bought it on iTunes and it was not like I was making money off of it.  Did they want a portion of the dress donations?

James Boyle, author of The Public Domain: enclosing the commons of the mind, discusses Napster and many other services that were brought up on copyright lawsuits in his book. Napster was originally a peer-to-peer file sharing service that allowed users to share their music with others, very similar to LimeWire which I had used a few times in middle school.  Even though those were both either altered to not infringe on copyright or have been shut down completely, there are new ways of getting around buying music.  I have used listentoyoutube.com and vidtomp3.com which both convert youtube videos into mp3s.  There are also other ways to share music without having to buy it.  For example mix CDs allow you to burn music and give it to other people without them buying it.  Sometimes transferring the files through skype also works.

Boyle mentions Apple’s Rip, Mix, and Burn campaign for iPods and iTunes in 2001.  They encouraged people to share music on CDs to put into iTunes and then on their iPods.  (Video Below) I still use this method of sharing music to this day.

Back when we still used VCRs there was no way to regulate what people recorded from their televisions but now there are many restrictions.  Even though we have DVRs and Tivos with DVD burners in them, you cannot burn certain things to them such as pay-per-view movies and some other premium channels. Because it is getting easier and easier to make digital copies of things they have to create more laws to prevent the movie industry from going broke.

Apple’s Rip, Mix, Burn Campaign


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