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Copyright Critics

Copyright Critics

Critics of copyright Critics of copyright as a whole fall broadly into two camps: Those who assert that the very concept of copyright has never been of net benefit to society, and has always served simply to enrich a few at the expense of creativity; and those who assert that the existing copyright regime must be reformed to maintain its relevance in the new Information society. Among the latter group, there are also some who continue to agree with copyright as a concept to grant authors rights, but feel that it "outlives its welcome" by granting copyright for too long, far beyond the lifetime of the author, and is therefore of little direct benefit to him or her.

The concepts of the public domain and the intrinsic freedom of information are necessary precepts for creators to be able to build on published expression. But these are gradually being eroded, as copyright terms are repeatedly extended to last beyond the lifetime of the audience which experienced and knows of the original work.

Other copyright scholars believe that irrespective of contemporary advances in technology, copyright remains the fundamental way by which authors, sculptors, artists, musicians and others can fund the creation of new works, and that absent legal protection of their material interests, many valuable books and pieces of art would not be created. This interest is arguably served even by repeated extension of copyright terms to encompass multiple generations beyond the copyright holder's life, not only because many "authors" and copyright holders are corporations, but also because the right of an author's heirs to continue to profit from a copyrighted work may provide a substantial part of the incentive to create.

The recent success of free software projects such as Linux, Mozilla Firefox, and the Apache web server has demonstrated that quality works can be created even in the absence of copyright-enforced monopoly rents. Instead, these products use copyright to enforce their license terms, which are designed to ensure the free nature of the work, rather than securing exclusive rights for the holder for monetary gain; such a license is called a copyleft or free software license.

Copyrighted works replicated onto digital media are easily and trivially copied via file sharing, and those who do this routinely break copyright laws hundreds or thousands of times, typically with minimal thought or concern. Producers of copyrighted material (like copyright logo) often attribute losses in their sales to online copying, yet they generally continue to produce material and make profits. This lack of apparent effect has been gradually eroding the belief that copyright as presently constructed is indispensable. A few artists actually support the file sharing of their own works, arguing that it expands their audience to include people who would not otherwise be able or willing to legally purchase their material.

It can be argued that, rather than criminalise the many millions of file sharers around the world who now routinely use the internet to commit acts that breach copyright (given that copyright laws have proven unenforceable), copyright holders use the legal system to apply extortion by charging for products that are readily available for free. Robert Greenwald, a director of Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War documentary was refused the right to use a clip of a George W. Bush interview from NBC's Meet the Press.

Although the fair use provisions may apply in such cases, the risks and the pressure from insurance companies usually prevents the use of materials without permission. In the US in 2003, controversial changes implemented by the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extending the length of copyright under U.S. copyright law by 20 years were constitutionally challenged unsuccessfully in the Supreme Court.

Public interest groups and industry and alike are entering the public education system to teach the curriculum from their perspectives. The lobbying group for the MPAA have a curriculum entitled What's the Diff? A public-wiki has been installed by Downhill Battle to build a copyright curriculum called Copyright Curriculum for teachers to download and use in their classrooms.

Facts on copyright

  • No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright based on the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a device or medium for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings. Later acts amended US Copyright law so that making 10 copies or more is considered commercial, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act effectively permits DRM (Digital Rights/Restrictions Management) to prevent manufacture, importation, or distribution of recording devices if the device bypasses an access or copy control.
  • With the exception of a small number of countries which still require notices to be on works, this requirement is generally optional except for works which were originally created before the particular country became a member of the Berne Convention (the members of which are collectively known as the Berne Union).
  • No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright based on the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a device or medium for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings. Later acts amended US Copyright law so that making 10 copies or more is considered commercial, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act effectively permits DRM (Digital Rights/Restrictions Management) to prevent manufacture, importation, or distribution of recording devices if the device bypasses an access or copy control.

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