Even though this manifesto regarding copyright is for an assignment, it has led me to think about what I believe about copyright law. I have had very little reason to look at copyright law until now and although I feel there are still many gray areas in the law, I have formed some basic opinions on the subject.

I believe the importance of communicating online is that it allows information to reach a broader audience than traditional print did. In the Technorealism Manifesto, point two states “The net is an extraordinary communications tool that provides a range of new opportunities for people, communities, businesses and government.” This shows that the net is useful to a broad range of users, and provides easy communication to users that would not have access to this information otherwise. Since the internet has the capacity of being used by so many, it is difficult to know the reliability of the information you find on it. For example, there are many sites on gardening available, but many of these don’t provide accurate information, especially the ones that are trying to sell their own products. I will try to use information that I have personally verified though my own experience and/or by checking with recognized experts in the field.

With technology use, there are always gray areas, including copyright law. I believe that it is appropriate to use others’ work so long as you give credit, and so long as your use of the work is not for profit. Also, if it is being used for educational purposes I believe that the use of any and all information should be allowed. In Negativeland & the RIAA: Negativeland’s Tenents of Free Appropriation it says “WE BELIEVE that artistic freedom for all is more important to the health of society than the supplemental and extraneous incomes derived from private copyright tariffs which create a cultural climate of art control and Art Police.” They believe that the artistic use of copyrighted material is more important than the almighty dollar. Also, it demonstrates that copyright law hurts artistic freedom more than it helps it. I mostly agree with that concept, although I do think that credit should always be given to the originator. My brother is a commuter programmer and helped to develop software where people could send crime stopper tips to the police via the internet. He and the other programmers on the project spent many hours developing the program. He even had to appear before a District Judge to prove that the informant could not be identified. The program was meant to be a Public Service program and it’s unlikely that he will ever realize any money at all from it. But, he would certainly like to receive credit for the work he did. In “The fair use doctrine: History, application, and implications for (new media) writing teachers” DeVoss and Porter list the four-factor test used by courts to determine fair use.

I believe, however, that if you are going to profit from the use of copyrighted material, the original producer should be provided some amount of compensation. I also believe that this should apply to the family of the original producer of the material if the original producer is no longer living. For example, if a singer puts out an album and then is killed in a plane crash, the family should be entitled to the profits. I believe that the family should be compensated for at least 20 years after the death and then the material should become public domain. One reason I chose 20 years is so that if they had any minor children they will likely have reached their majority.

For my use of copyrighted material, I will give credit where it is due. Since my use is not for profit but rather is educational I feel that this is not a violation of copyright laws. If I were going to profit from any of the copyrighted material, I would provide compensation to the original producer or to the producer’s family.

Creative Commons License

Plants for Every Season by
Missy Brandt is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


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