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Assignment 4: Copyright Laws Suck! Fix Them!

After watching, “RIP: A Remix Manifesto,” I now have a whole new understanding of copyright laws, especially in the sense of music and movies. I used to think that copyrights were great and that they helped create what is great about our country, but now I think that they are one of the things that are tearing our country apart.  I still believe in copyright laws, after all as an engineer they are what protect my ideas, but I think they are getting a little extreme. With the things large corporations are able to copyright these days they are in essence buying away America’s freedom of creativity and imagination. The music artist “Girl Talk,” that was featured on “Remix Manifesto” was a great example. “Girl Talk,” essentially creates his music using beats and small clips from existing music albums and according to current copyright law this is copyright infringement and he could be sued by the artists, and record labels that own the songs that he is remixing. I personally think that this is going way too far, he isn’t taking anything from the songs but musical notes, but because he admits he heard them in existing songs he is doing something illegal? That is ridiculous, its like saying that because some artist used a B flat from a piano in one of his songs  that he owns the note and nobody else can use it without his permission. I mean what’s next are people going to start copyrighting colors, so Crayola LLC is going to own the whole visible light spectrum, and anyone who wants to visualize something has to pay Crayola to use that color.

The movie; “Guarding the Family Silver,” is another good example of how screwed up our copyright laws are. This movie discusses the  Maori tribe in New Zealand,  and how their culture is being copyrighted by people other than tribe members, and how legally they can’t even use things that were created by their ancestors. Now how messed up is that, why should you be able to take the rights of something that you didn’t even create? Now to be clear I’m Not taking a utilitarian standpoint as discussed in the book Digital Media Ethics where “the rights of the author should at least in theory extend no further than necessary to benefit the public and conceivably could be eliminated entirely if a convincing case against public benefit could be shown (Digital Media Ethics, pg. 74) .” Because again as an engineer I do believe that we should be rewarded for our hard work, but there is an extent. Disney’s “mouse”  and the “Happy Birthday” song are examples of copyrights that have gone on long enough, especially since their creators have long since deceased.

I guess to wrap up my rant, I just want to encourage everyone that reads this blog to think about how ridiculous our current copyright laws are and share your thoughts on it. I do believe that they are in serious need of reform, if only they be brought back to their original form, which can be seen here, and amended to meet the needs of modern technology. Companies should have to resubmit their copyrights and explain why they should own the rights to them. For more information, and to help you form your own opinion please see the following YouTube video:

and check out RIP: A Remix Manifesto in its entirety on Hulu:

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