« Information dealers | Main | Pigeons galore? Not anymore! »

Bias of the beholder

Ideas are different than physical property, and they have been treated distinctly through our history. If I take your car, you can't use it. If I have a copy of your song, you still have the song. Infringement is wrong, and I don't defend it. But there has always been some infringement, and copyright holders have lived with it as part of their overall bargain with society. [Dan Gillmor, We the Media 216]

In Chapter 11, Gillmor explains some of the finer points of the copyright debate between the entertainment industry and consumers. He advocates stronger observance of the "fair use" rights of consumers, continually claiming that those rights are being undermined by the restrictions enforced by the law and court decisions.

As a college kid who loves to sidestep the rules sometimes, I can empathize with Gillmor's fear that the e-industry will someday have complete control over the distribution and use of its products. Likewise, as a college kid who dreams of one day becoming an author, I can empathize with the e-industry and its argument that its ideas should be treated as physical property, to a certain extent.

As Gillmor points out, a song is not physical property -- but it's still property, and a product, the result of creative work and imagination. Just because you can't physically hold the song itself in your hands doesn't mean that it should automatically be treated as less-worthy of copyright protections. Quite frankly, that's being unfair to the person(s) who produced the song; it's like telling them that their work is not as valuable as a car in the eyes of the law, simply because it doesn't take a physical form. After all, you could consider cars as ideas -- they're just more easily converted into a physical format, and the ideas are covered up along the way by the actual appearance and function of the vehicles themselves. The idea is still there; it's so widely dispersed and understood, however, that there's no need to try to squirm past its copyright protections.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments

Now that you can download a song for less than a dollar, a lot of the old arguments against record companies aren't so valid.

Great points, Lorin and Chera.

I hate to imagine how frustrating it would be to write and publish a full-length work of literature (or music, or film, or whatever suits your tastes) and then find it being distributed freely on the Net with no copyright laws protecting it from misuse. After all, you don't see other products -- such as cars or television sets -- being downloaded for free over the Net.

That's interesting that you commented on songs Chris. I agree with you and Gillmor. Songs should be protected by copywright laws even though it's not PHYSICAL property. The way that I always think about it, is that that song that was written as a result of creative work and imagination, was at one point WRITTEN ON PAPER! Just like the print journalism and books are written today and protected by copywright laws.

I was just commenting about copyright on Denamarie's Blog http://blogs.setonhill.edu/DenamarieErcolani/2005/11/we_the_media_ch_2.html#more
I was just saying that while I didn't realize how copyright laws seem to be abused, I also think they should be enforced where necessary. I agree that things like songs and ideas are property, even if they aren't tangible. I think you are right...it is like telling a singer or song writer that their work is not as valuable as a car because you can't touch it. People don't think it is ok to steal someone's car and not have to pay for it...so why should people be allowed to essentially own music without paying for it?

Also, in today's world there seems to be such a lack of original thought (for example, all the teen movies that have pretty much the same story line) that I think it is even more important to give credit where credit is due. Too many people really don't have fresh original ideas, so it is even more essentials that those who do are protected.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)