Happy Birthd….Stop, in the name of Copyright!

Now this is just silly, we can’t even record singing happy birthday? Is copyrighting ruining the ever-expanding world of social media? How far do you think some industries will take their control over consumers? Is it fair to say these blockbuster companies are just being frivolous?

It’s hard for Gen-Y people to think of a time when there was no copyright, since basically everything we watch, listen to and play is out of our control. Just think, even the songs we buy off Itunes (even though I download mine illegally shhh) we do not own. In fact just a week ago my poor, little brothers Ipod erased all his music that he bought off Itunes, only because he did not register an Itunes account. Why is it that he still paid for it from his hard-earned money but then gets ripped off when it comes to how much of the product he purchased, he can control? It’s because these Industries have control over whatever they please within their company.

This video is just an example of what we are not allowed to produce on YouTube in terms of copyright.

With the ever accessible world of hardware and technology us as consumers can now produce and consume, otherwise known as ‘Prosumerism’. As Steve Collins explains in his article “Recovering Fair Use”, are these media-giant companies causing copyright legislation to spin out of control? Collins states “Its shifted from being an engine of expression towards a legal regime for intellectual property and the courts basically seek out and punish virtually any use of Intellectual property by others.” Even though most copyright laws include ‘fair use’ exceptions, they are still quite strict. For instance, you can use quotes, videos, articles etc in an assignment, but if you affect the original in any way, shape or form you can be sued. Soundcloud, my chosen media platform for instance is a perfect example of ‘prosumerism’. It’s an online audio distribution platform that allows users to collaborate, promote and distribute their music or audio recordings. There is however copyright rules and regulations that users must follow to ensure they cannot be penalised. Soundcloud simply states “The best way to avoid copyright infringement is to ensure that you don’t use anything created by anyone else. Simple as that.” If the artist does want to for instance create a remix that uses another artists work they can ask for a license, but will cost money.

Now, lets ask ourselves, if copyright plays such a vital part in protecting an organisations intellectual property, inventions and products, how did such succesful organisations and individuals such as Shakespeare and Charles Dickens survive when their work was essentially in the public domain? My personal opinion is because their ideas and creations were so original and ground-breakingly good, they were highly respected so people did not dare to plagiarise their work. Plus the technology we have today used to plagiarise others work such as file sharing programs were obviously not accessible in that day and age.

Finally, the key questions regarding copyright and industry control from these findings are:

1) Is the growing strictness of copyright legislation forcing a more creative and original media world?

2) Can old ideas, inventions and innovations be expanded upon and improved if copyright legislation is loosened?

3) Will prosumeristic acts such as file sharing stricken these laws?

So no more singing ‘Happy birthday’, how about ‘Cheerful Birthday’?

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