WARNING! This may be subject to copyright

In this tech savvy and internet obsessed day and age we have access to more information and content than ever before. So major media industries have the need to protect their intellectual property with the assistance of a scary little friend that looks like this … ©

Scarcity = Value. Prior to modern copyright laws, it was understood that only rare resources were worthy possessions. Think about it, land, gold, oil, are all seen as valuable property. Today however, our ideas and creativity seem more valuable than ever.

It has come to my attention, with the help of Steve Collins’ article Recovering Fair Use (2008) that a considerable sum of internet content is in fact illegal, breaking copyright laws. Collins’ discussion of the role of “file sharing” sites like YouTube made me consider the amount of videos I have seen on this platform that are indeed illegal. From a viral parody of blockbuster films to a lyric video of the latest pop songs, it’s doubtful that every single user has sought out permission to use the copyrighted content from the owner. So we’re able to ask as Collins’ does,

“what is fair in the digital age(?)”

Collins’ details the opinions of Supreme Courts that have dealt with copyright issues and claimed…

“Copyright was intended to promote creativity”

But is this really the case? If the adored works of artists including Shakespeare and Mozart were produced before copyright even existed, surely then without copyright creativity would still thrive. This also calls on us to question the inevitable fact that in the creation of anything elements need to be borrowed from other sources. Particularly in this digital era, appropriation has become an integral part of creation. So is copyright really protecting our creativity or restricting it? (Collins, 2008)

In the case of the film industry it appears that with the woes caused by internet piracy, protecting content is necessary. Marco Cucco’s The promise is great: the blockbuster and the Hollywood economy (2009) brought to my understanding the comparison between the high cost of entry in Hollywood and the virtual no cost of entry on the online world. The idea that an expensive and impressive blockbuster will ultimately “give a better performance at the box office” has ultimately changed the film industry looking at the blockbuster not as “an artistic product but as a commercial one.” Relative to this, film producers have made efforts to sustain the popularity and thus a profit.

Let’s look at the re-release of James Cameron’s 1997 epic Titanic in theaters and on DVD last year to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking. Could this just be an attempt to continue the film’s appeal? (Although, I was happy enough to buy the special edition DVD, despite already owning a copy – don’t judge , it is my favorite film) Similarly, is the release of Disney’s beloved children’s cartoons in a new, shiny, special edition format, complete with bonus features and interactive games just been an attempt to continue the ‘shelf-life’ of these films? We can certainly ask  as in this article, Disney calls for extended copyright in international trade agreement, sees Disney’s push towards extending their international copyright protection. “Covering everything from classic animation to much more modern franchises like Star Wars.” (Matthew Rimmer, Australian National University College of Law associate professor), so why are large industries, like Disney, supporting to have their products secured further?

Well the answer my friends lies on the internet. With this network, content can flow freely to so many locations and onto so many platforms. It’s hard to keep up that copyright may soon no longer be able to slow it down.

Till next time, Jasmine


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