The laws of copyright have dramatically changed over the years. What once granted publishers legal protection of 14 years after publication (or 21 years of protection for any book already in print), currently grants 70 years of protection from the end of the calendar year of the author’s death. Even now, governments are being pressured the four major company’s in production, Viacom, Disney, TimeWarner, Newscorp to make copyright of content last forever.
I understand the need for the laws, and to a point, the ‘right’ people have to enforce them. I can appreciate the need to retain the power to control the sharing of things, especially with the growth of our ever-connected world (and, in turn, the illegal practices that have been made so easy for us). However, when looking at modern acts within the copyright law, such as CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and EULA (End User License Agreement), I became acutely aware of how limited we are when creating new material today. With the amount of ideas and texts already out there, the question begs to be asked; is anything we create really our own?
With the countless acts of copyright, one is left to wonder whether the Australian Government is truly enriching our futures by ‘preserving’ content. Or are they simply prohibiting prosumers to do what has always been inherent in our minds, re-using and re-creating. As Chuck Palahniuk so interestingly says, “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.” Those from our history, their ideas and knowledge, influence us all and in turn influence our modern creations. No idea is our own, perhaps it is true to say all ideas are shared by many, but if that is so, then copyright has it all wrong.
Alternatively, Creative Commons “enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.” They have opted to search for a middle ground, one in which gives you the flexibility to protect your intellectual property while modifying your copyright terms to best suit your needs. Perhaps this will enable us to create freely without the worries of copyright minions looking over our shoulder?