Copyright depresses me

Not even reading a comic book that deftly and efficiently explained copyright law (that was a brilliant piece of work, no?) can cheer me up. After all of the reading this week on the increasing restrictions of copyright law and the obvious corporate influences on the changes to said law, I’m ready for something completely different.  I mean, I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION! Our chief weapon is fear. Fear and surprise are our two main weapons… what? We’re copyrighted? So we can’t appear in this blog post without securing clearance? Aw, bugger.

Seriously, 70 years after the death of the author??? The entire 20th century since 1923 wrapped up in a nice little bundle accessible only to those with the cash to pay for it? As historians, we should be aghast at this over-reach of the law that seems clearly (to me anyway) skewed towards corporate interests in direct opposition to the public good. But then, that seems to be the theme of our society over the last decade or two, doesn’t it?

At least I can take cold comfort in the idea that I can parody the music industry’s RIAA as a blood-thirsty pack of ravenous lawyers eager to take down hardened law breaking music lovers like the single mother of five or the 12 year old file sharer and be on the right side of the law because it’s parody. But I’ll have to be careful, since I’m still not sure irony is covered.

On the positive side, I conducted a search of the Copyright Office’s Online Records and could not find the songs I wanted to use in my digital story. I did find one song by the artist, but it was not from even the same album (did I just date myself by calling it an “album”??). But according to our readings this week, since it was published after 1989 (1997), and outside of the U.S., the copyright protection is automatically applied. Did I read that right, or does this seem to be a gray area – the artist is Japanese, the music is an ancient art form (taiko drumming), and it’s unclear to me whether the songs are traditional or original.  Any thoughts?

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One Response
  1. cwarburton says:

    I thought your post was really interesting (particularly the inclusion of Monty Python!). But not only is there possible overreach of the law for the past 70 years, but consider that the past 70 years has included technology that has produced content more intensely than in previous eras. So it’s not only the time period but intensity of content produced during that period.