Thoughts on Current Copyright Issues and the Future of "The New Prohibition"

We covered a story last year in which Andy Baio was sued for his use of a Miles Davis photograph as a reference for pixel art for a tribute album he created. Now, he's spoken about copyright issues and what constitutes "fair use." There are many opinions on this, but it's a great video if you're curious about the issue -- which you should be if you're any kind of artist or image-maker.

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Whine. Whine. Whine. Copyright is broken. Video should have been 25 minutes shorter.

If you are not making money on your copyright then you are doing it wrong, and if you are not protecting your copyright then you are throwing money away.

Thomas Shue's picture

Spoken like a true Lawyer or someone who profits from others work.

Lee Christiansen's picture

How about a variation in the copyright law...?

I agree we need to protect our copyright and this has been discussed not long ago where I strongly opposed people "sharing" copyrighted works without permission. I still feel this way.

However it would seem that there needs to be better control over the limits to which people can be sued or charged.

I think if copyright has been broken when a direct financial use has been made (so this would include Andy Baio's CD) then the rights owner has the right to claim up to or a fixed multiple (say 2x) of the turnover from the sales as well as any actual damages, as well as a fair licence for use.

In cases where no financial gain is made (ie blogs) then the rights owner has the right to charge a fair rate based on either "stock" rates (ie Gettys) or the fee to replicate such a work based on commercial rates.

Where large commercial organisations infringe then all bets are off and the fines currnetly imposed would seem fair enough. (The debate would then extend to what constitutes a large organisation I guess....)

This would at least limit the liability of infringement but still honour the rights of those producing creative work.

Lessig says it best (from his 2002 speech):

This is so sad. I feel like I just had a lobotomy. My creative lobe just went off.

His point is very valed. I get in the same frame of mind when I get to shoot street photography. Big names like Henri Cartier Bresson would never been abel to exist in these days as their works could be sued by many. As i see it art is at the mercy of the lawyer who just sees money. Thinking about it though a creative mind will always find away to make his way through, on the other side the lawmakers are always finding a way of making money off the creative mind.

The abuse of the law always destroys things, if we don't learn how to be tolerant and to be less selft center we are going to put a nail in to creativity, the internet and all the freedom/knowledge that carries

Here's a better discussion of it. The whole video is worth a watch for anyone who values their own time, work, and creativity.

The Miles Davis infringement is discussed at the 23:00 mark.

I'll be honest, I didn't watch this video. There has been a constant discussion for years on creative arts and copyright. My point might have been made in the video.

The one thing to remember about copyright (and patent) law in the U.S. is that it was originally designed to guaranty public access to creative works, not keep the public away from them.