While creators may have gained more rights, I think the public has lost them. 120 or 95 years from creation, with the possibility of renewal, seems rather ridiculous to me. I can understand the case for infinitely extending the copyright for a corporate logo, like Mickey Mouse… but what benefit does it have to keep the copyright of a book or music for 120 years? The author/creator would be dead and their descendants would be making any money, which probably isn’t much after 100 years. The transfer of copyright by buying or selling also seems somewhat farfetched. What motivates copyright terms to be so long except profit and greed?

I understand that creators may feel ownership over their work and want to control its distribution. This seems like a very human impulse, however, sharing with anyone brings its own risks. Perhaps you took a picture and shared it with a friend that forwarded it onto half a dozen friends because it’s pretty. Suddenly it shows up posted on a social networking site and used by a few dozen people as pretty wallpaper… This seems fundamentally different than deliberate plagiarism from a book into a school paper, which I think copyright exists more for this kind of example.

Where does digital storytelling fit into this? I think we need to consider the limits of ownership in the way of seeing things and also the culture of DST.

Category: W13: Copyright
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4 Responses
  1. sdouglass says:

    I agree, but it depends on the work, and the use to which the work will be put. I want to inject another thought here, and that is about a powerhouse like Google making arrangements with university and public libraries to take truckloads of books every week and scan them mechanically for publication online under the Google Conditions. Maybe they are not charging for that service now, but they are making money in other ways. They are in the process of vacuuming up the entire cultural production of the past two centuries, with no restrictions whatsoever. When they have that near monopoly, what are we plebeians going to do?

  2. jlapple says:

    I agree with your idea on the culture of digital storytelling. It seems that in all the complexities of copyright law we are neglecting the very essence of digital storytelling, which is ultimately to share our stories with others in the hopes that they will be moved to respond with a story of their own. This whole idea of interactivity is built from this very principle of sharing ideas amongst one another to elicit an active cycle of collaborative thinking.

  3. rfachner says:

    I think you make a great point that there are limits to copyright law, it seems at once too complicated and at the same time not complicated enough. It doesn’t take a lot of things into account, as you mention and is quite monolithic, corporate logos are not the same as a piece of music where the author is dead. Also, its worth wondering, at what point when you are using something someone else created to make your own art, at what point does your contribution become a separate piece of art itself?

  4. sblaher says:

    I think the problem with copyright laws is that they constantly change and get updated, so what should expire in a particular year is suddenly copyrighted under a new law for another three decades. Once you determine an items copyright status the idea of fair use comes in, which changes more frequently than copyright laws. Defining fair use is like the rest of history–nailing jelly to the wall.