In 1793, Eli Whitney made his creation the cotton gin, but plantation owners looking to cash in on the famed cotton gin started to make their own, and sell them. If you could imagine, Eli wasn’t too happy about this. So he took his designs, the cotton gin, and patented the blueprint, so no one could take his idea and use it for their own gain. What Eli did not understand is that this idea of copyright would carry on for centuries making sure at an official level idea you came up with is yours (“Eli Whitney“). The United States Copyright Office states, “Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression” (Butler 3). Not only does copyright protect your original work and your authorship to it, it also protects your expression, your idea in a legal form. Copyright has done a great deal in protecting the lives and products made by American people. It has helped American innovators spot the thieves who have tried to steal their creation from them. Copyright has been set in stone to relieve the creators from further copycats, infringement, and even piracy. Companies, consumers, producers, and many others use copyright laws as a way to help protect the ownership of their creation, but copyright laws hurt the creativity of others.
In 1790, the First Congress implemented in the United States Constitution, the copyright provisions. Which gave American authors the right to print, reprint or publish their own works only for 14 years until a renewal had to be done. We were not the first to have copyright though, England was the first with the “Statute of Anne”. The Cathach, which is a paper with a rally cry written on it, is known to be the oldest account of copyright, dating back to 560-600 AD. The American copyright law is a timeless, and has lasted through the centuries, with small changes to it here and there, but what’s new with copyright is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA is just a special version of copyright that deals with digital affairs. It was enacted on October 28, 1998 by president Bill Clinton.
Even though the DMCA has been serving as our digital copyright law, it is extremely outdated. Amir Hassanabadi, Director of the Berkeley Law Alternative Dispute Resolution Environmental Negotiation Competitor, wrote, “The legal analysis in Viacom V. YouTube demonstrates that the DMCA is unprepared to handle the demands of today, and more importantly, the uncertainties of tomorrow” (Hassanabadi 1-2). In the court case of Viacom vs YouTube, Viacom sued YouTube for 1 billion dollars for having their programs such as Spongebob Squarepants, The Daily Show, and more uploaded on the YouTube website for users to watch. YouTube won though, because of the DMCA “safe harbor” provisions that saves YouTube from Viacom’s copyright infringement claims. The Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA) is a shielding for online service providers, for their own direct copyright infringement, and also protecting from secondary liability infringing acts of others. In the end, the backfire from this case was on the content creators of Youtube. YouTube is a constantly fluctuating website that has an advance copyright content finder in place. The downfall of this though, is many videos are taken down that follow the correct guidelines of the DMCA. Unfortunately, it makes a lot of mistakes, because of all the loopholes within the system. This hurts content creators in many, one is ruining their chances of becoming a big name on the platform.
One of these experiences on YouTube was of a man with the name of Pocho Álvarez. Eduardo Bertoni, Director of the National Data Protection Authority in Argentina states, “On October 9, 2013, Ecuadorian filmmaker Pocho Álvarez discovered that one of his documentaries had been removed from his YouTube page” (Bertoni 4). Álvarez made a film on the indigenous Intag community resistance of mining in the region. He used the voice of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, to show how the president believed the indigenous people were causing delays in regional development. Once Álvarez put the film on YouTube, he was hit with a copyrighted material claim, and had his video taken down from the website. This is known as the, “Notice and Take down” provision. The provision is used when an online host flags a work with copyrighted material in the video for infringement, and the company, if protected by the “Safe Harbor” provision, has to remove that content immediately for infringement. Not only did Álvarez get his video taken down, but also many political figures got their videos flagged for infringement just before big campaigns. Bertoni says, ”The viral video used archival footage of reporter Tom Brokaw announcing that Senator John McCain had “won” and was intended to encourage Obama supporters to vote” (Bertoni 6). Since their was a few seconds of footage, NBC gave an infringing notice on this video, and it was immediately taken down just a few days before voter registration deadlines. This is unfortunate, because since YouTube agreed to the “safe harbor” provisions they have to immediately take down videos as soon as their flagged for infringement. If some company, or person decides to flag a video for copyright the “safe harbor” provision, forces YouTube to take it down. The appeal process for these videos, if you win, to come back up, can take up to 2 weeks. This damages the creators fan base, views, likes, and more, which leads to less revenue, and that means less opportunity for more interesting and creative videos.
Also, SoundCloud is a music platform where others can download, share, and upload music. It is great way for creators to have ways of getting their tracks, and songs out to people who are potentially interested in them, or even just to listen to. SoundCloud also has a system implemented into their website that checks for copyrighted material. This system, like YouTube, has it’s drawbacks. It is not always persistent in finding copyrighted music if the tone, or pitch is altered, it is very possible it can slip passed the machine. This not only take away from original creators, but also from the company itself. It takes away from the creator, because the person who just uses someone else’s song, can take away your fan base from your song, that you put hard work and effort into.
In Japan the online gaming market has grown substantially with more than 8 billion dollars in online game sales, in 2013. With these immense sales growing every year gamers want to find a way to express themselves and to show off the game, their talents, and more. So, now all gamers everywhere are using game live streaming to show off whatever game they please and to interact with their live audience. What is unfortunate about this situation is that live streaming of these companies games is actually an infringement of copyright. Matsui, who severed in the Government as a member of the National Freedom of Information Board, states, ”There is a consensus in Japan that live game streaming without authorization is copyright infringement and is illegal.” (Matsui 2). Thankful live streaming is tolerated by gaming companies some even supporting it, but what is bad about it is the unpredictability of it. Every year their is an event that is held called, “Awesome Games Done Quick”(AGDQ). In this event, there are gamers from all over the world called, speed-runners who sit down at a chair, and play the game they are best at, trying to beat their game with the most optimal time possible. They usually do it in front of a huge crowd and also in front of a live stream that millions are watching. This event is held to raise money for the “Prevent Cancer Foundation”, which viewers from all over the world can donate to. The last AGDQ 2017 was the most successful one, raising over 2.2 million dollars within 7 days. Technically, though, all the games they are playing are infringing on copyright. Meaning, that their is absolutely no one protecting them if they were, all the sudden, flagged for copyright. This includes all the gamers that play and stream their video games, on websites like twitch and beam. It can be only a matter of time, till companies decide to start flagging these gamers, unless they add to the DMCA and allow some protection for them.
The Copyright law has protected the right to ownership for a long time now, but even so it also has its set of drawbacks. McDonald’s is probably known for its fast, cheap, and tasty food. Not only serving billions of people in today’s day and age, but also for being one of the most successful restaurants of all time. McDonald’s became so successful, because of the man named Ray Kroc, but McDonald’s was not originally owned or even created by Ray Kroc. That was the McDonalds brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald. Until Ray Kroc on March 2, 1955, bought out the McDonald’s name for 2.7 million dollars. This offer was not brought up, because the brothers wanted to sell their last name. It is, because Ray pretty much forced them into selling it. Ray Kroc said, “It’s not just the system Dick. It’s the name.” (“The Founder – Its Your”), Michael Keaton says, while portraying Ray Kroc in “The Founder”, this line is to express why all the other McDonald’s duplicates were failing. Ray Kroc leased all the land that the brothers had McDonald buildings on, and If they did not sell him the company and name, he would drop those leases, their restaurant, and dreams down the toilet. He obtained the copyrights to McDonald’s, and used it to make billions of dollars. This leads people to believe that the rights to ownership of a work, is not always cleanly cut, their seems to always be a way around the copyright system.
In the court case of DC Comics vs Towle, DC Comics sued Towle for the production and distribution of Batmobiles. Towle as a fan of the batman build a garage called, “The Gotham Garage”, where he spent his days building models, and replicas of the world famous Batmobile. Until DC Comics told him that he was infringing on the right of the batmobile, because he was selling and building them. So Towle argued that since the Batmobile was not copyrighted as a character, he was not infringing on any right but, “The Ninth Circuit concluded that the Batmobile, as a fictional character part of a larger work of art, is entitled to copyright protection” (Alphonso 3). Towle lost the court case, and if you can imagine this scared a lot replica builders and fans of works, because it is hard to say now what you can, and can not build. This puts a big limiter on creators who enjoy building things from certain movies, shows, games, anime, and more. It is, because creators do not know how to go about deciding whether an object is a fictional character. Alphonso says in his article that, “The character must (1) have “physical as well as conceptual qualities,” (2) be “sufficiently delineated,” and (3) be “especially distinctive” and “contain some unique elements of expression” (Alphonso 4). Some of these steps unfortunately can connect to almost everything set with a movie, show, or more.
Schools and professors are requiring that you have scholarly sources to cite, in most of today’s classrooms. Google caught on with this, and decided to make a program of their own called “Google Books”. From the Harvard Law Review article it states, “In 2004, Google announced a new partnership with the New York Public Library and the libraries at Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oxford to digitize these libraries’ collections,’* a project that eventually gave birth to the Google Books program” (Antitrust Law – Monopolization 1). Google after having these digitized books were sued by the “Association of American Publishers ‘(plaintiffs)’, individual authors, and numerous publishing companies” for using their writings without permission. All these sues lead Google to make an agreement with the plaintiffs, and filed the Amended Settlement Agreement (ASA). The agreement allowed Google to keep digitizing books, but the owners of the books could “license use of their books to Google’s competitor”, “prevent Google from digitizing their books and to demand that Google remove their books from the electronic database”, “receive payments of sixty-three percent of all revenues received from Google’s use of their books”, and finally pay “$45 million to a settlement fund to pay those rights-holders whose books had already been digitized”. In return Google is allowed to digitize “Orphan Books”, or books without authors for free, but had to make sure that they really couldn’t find the author. This potentially gave a monopoly of orphan books to Google, but not for long, because of the hefty searching they have to put into finding the orphaned books authors, it would be very hard to find one without an author. Google Books would be good, because of how easy the authors could drop out, and switch to other competitors if they confront problems with Google. Google Books would have also helped the public with having immediate access to millions of scholarly writings. Unfortunately, in the end, Judge Chin of the Second Circuit, denied the ruling. This is a major blow to the public and to creators alike. People who love to write history, read books, design art, and so much more, now do not have access to this huge library of educated writings. Students in today’s day and age complain about how little research they could find, but with a program like this it could be means to an end of those problems.
The Copyright acts are in place to protect us from the these truly harmful beings and to help us keep what is rightfully are. Simply though, the copyright laws are just so outdated, and are so obviously flawed. The works of art you look at, to the videos you watch, to the documents you read, are all created by people like you, that truly care about their work. Not only do they spend their time to get it out there, but they also work hard to achieve that. You to are also one of these creators. You to spend your time to perfecting, and designing your works of art. You as a creator should not be limited to what you can, and cannot do. Copyright laws needed to be looked over and revised so they can fit with today’s standards. This will help future creators truly have the freedom of expression without the fear of being accused of unlawful accusations.
Alphonso, Katherine. “DC Comics v. Towle: To the Batmobile!: Which Fictional Characters Deserve Protection Under Copyright Law.” Golden Gate University Law Review, Jan. 2017, Vol. 47, issue 1, p. 5-23.
This is a PDF file in the EBSCO database. In the beginning of this writing, she gives us an example of how a fan used a character from, “They Walk Among Us.” own their own story and profited from that story. The fan didn’t copy the original story they just used the character’s name. He wasn’t copyrighted for this, but in the case of DC Comics v. Towle, Towle was copyrighted for the production and sales of replica batmobiles in his garage. DC Comics ended up winning and made the batmobiles a fictional character. What this court case failed to mention was whether this was the same for book fictional characters. I’m going to use this court case to explain it as a law and some of his weird applications in media.
“Antitrust Law – Monopolization – Southern District of New York Rejects Proposed Google Books Settlement Agreement – Authors Guild v. Google Inc.” Harvard Law Review, Mar. 2012, Vol. 125 Issue 5, p.1274-1281.
Bertoni, Eduardo and Sophia Sadinsky. “The Use of the DMCA to Stifle Free Expression.” Revista de Derecho Comunicaciones y Nuevas Tecnologías, Jun. 2015, Issue 13, p. 1-21.
This PDF article on the EBSCO database. In this paper it’s talks about how copyright is misused and abused. It starts by explaining a short film made by, Pocho Alvarez was taken down by YouTube, because of copyright infringement. It was a 20 second clip of president Rafael Correa, saying, “let’s see who’s causing these problems,”. I’m using this because I believe it helps the reader understand more about the awfulness of copyright in today’s day and age. It helps put into contrast how easy it is to be infringing on copyright and be shutdown for it.
Butler, Rebecca. “Copyright Basics & Review.” Knowledge Quest, Nov/Dec. 2016, Vol. 45 Issue 2, p8-17.
This is a PDF file in the EBSCO database. This article explains how librarians should handle copyrighted material and how to help the students deal with copyrighted material. It also gives a definition of what copyright is. It also shows how to use copyright properly, and also to ask permission for the use of the material you are going to copy. I’m mostly using this material to help myself understand copyright a bit better. Also I am using it for the awesome definition of copyright it uses.
“Eli Whitney: Father of American Technology – Fast Facts | History.” Youtube, uploaded by HISTORY, Dec 2015. www.youtube.com/WATCHv=qyvxFCMShNQ.
I’m using this video from youtube about the cotton gin. In the video it talks about how the cotton gin was created and used. It also talks about how he got patents for the cotton gin. I’m using it because I believe it has a good point about copyright and its significances. Im also using it to tell my audience about how copyright is still used even today.
Hassanabadi, Amir. “Viacom v. YouTube—All Eyes Blind: The Limits of the DMCA in a Web 2.0 World.” Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 2011, Vol. 26, Issue 1, p. 405-439.
This is a PDF file in the EBSCO database. This writing talks about the court case of Viacom v. YouTube and it’s flaws. In the court case YouTube won, but it just show how the DMCA (digital media copyright act), made over a decade ago, isn’t keeping up with today’s standards. Viacom wanted YouTube to give them 100 million dollars and manually review every video uploaded to YouTube. Every minute there’s over 300 hours uploaded to Youtube. I’m using this article to help explain recent conversations that have been happening around YouTube. Such as the recent tough copyright systems that have been put in place in YouTube and how the content creators is losing creativity.
Jing, Xu. “DMCA Safe Harbors and the Future of New Digital Music Sharing Platforms.” Duke Law & Technology Review, Apr. 2012, Vol. 11, Issue 1, p. 145-162.
This article is a PDF file from the EBSCO database. In this article, he talks about how soundcloud which is a platform for sharing, uploading, and downloading music could be sued, like the Viacom v. YouTube case. The article talks about how soundcloud can protect itself from future lawsuits. I’m using this article for when I explain how copyright is done and also how it may be avoided.
Matsui, Shigenori. “Does it have to be a Copyright Infringement?: Live Game Streaming and Copyright” Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal, 2016, Vol. 24, Issue 2, p215-244
Picozzi, Ben. “What’s Wrong with Intentionalism? Transformative Use, Copyright Law, and Authorship.” Yale Law School, Mar. 2017, Vol. 126, Issue 5, p. 1408-1458. 51p.
In this work he talks about how transformative a person’s work is failing and weather a person’s work is interpreted right and the defendant’s views on their work. It is good to know this information because it shows how we can defend against harsh copyright laws in today’s day and age. I’m going to use this information by understanding how to defend against copyright laws and use it to my advantage in my essay to convince my audience of my side.
Seltzer, Wendy. “Free Speech Unmoored in Copyright’s Safe Harbor: Chilling Effects of the DMCA on the First Amendment.” Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, Fall 2010, Vol. 24, Issue 1, p. 171-232.
This is a PDF article within the EBSCO database. This article talks about how the copyright laws have effects on freedom of speech. It also talks about how copyright on Youtube, took down a political video for infringement, but it wasn’t infringing on copyright, because it only contained 10 seconds of copyrighted material. I’m using this material to show Youtube’s horrible copyright laws they use with today’s content creators.
“The Founder – Its Your Name – McDonalds” Youtube, uploaded by Alex Gonzalez, Feb 2017. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FxHY-vLMgs&list=FLFbAxfeqQeqFqZoaWZdXkfg.