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Josh Gawthorpe: Why I think that copyright laws should be abolished

Posted 20th April 2017 at 12:12 By Josh Gawthorpe

Academy | Updated: 27th April 2017 at 12:15

Josh Gawthorpe gives his opinion on the current copyright laws for the Unit 1 debate Part D.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, is the current UK copyright law. It gives the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the right to control the ways in which their material may be used. The Copyright act covers everyone from small ideas to songs and even large organisations. The Copyright protects the following:

  • Literary
  • Song lyrics, manuscripts, manuals, computer programs, commercial documents, leaflets, newsletters & articles and Computer programs etc.

  • Dramatic
  • Plays, dance, etc.

  • Musical
  • Recordings and scores.

  • Artistic
  • Photography, painting, sculptures, architecture, technical drawings/diagrams, maps,logos.

  • Typographical arrangement of published editions
  • Magazines, periodicals, etc.

  • Sound recording
  • May be recordings of other copyright works, e.g. musical and literary.

  • Film
  • Video footage, films, broadcasts and cable programmes.

    Firstly, from a creative perspective, I personally believe that copyright laws limit the countless opportunities of building on, and creating a finer tuned piece of work than its original creator. Copyright laws are so overboard that they actually stifle an individual’s creativity rather than encourage it. In many cases copyright is regarded as a money maker, this infuriates me because musicians, designers and artists often become so overrun with money they file lawsuits for the most pathetic and smallest things. I strongly believe that if copyright was abolished more businesses would open, more jobs and employment available, more competition around the globe advancing technology and designs dramatically.

    I believe that if copyright was abolished creators like game designers would most definitely excel in their industry, instead of building something from scratch game designers would be able to modify and finer tunes. Although modifying a game is illegal many people still choose to download and install game modifications. This is because installing a game modification enhances gameplay adding a more user creative game.

    I also believe that Copyright also limits video editing, sometimes during a filmed piece the presenter, interviewer or interviewee refers to a specific previous event. To give the viewers an understanding of what he/she is referring to, it would be of interest to the viewer to layer something referring to that specific event. It is often the case that this cannot be achieved due to copyright issues, as it is common that the rights do not belong to the company editing the piece. I believe that if copyright laws we’re abolished TV production would be a much more precise and higher standard. In my opinion if someone was to use my footage or graphic, I would certainly allow it as long as i receive the credit I am due.

    A perfect case of overboard graphic copyright was when famous street artist Shephard Fairey created the Hope poster during President Obama’s first run for presidential election in 2008. The design rapidly became a widely recognised symbol for Obama’s campaign. In January 2009, the photograph on which Shephard Fairey allegedly based the design was revealed by the Associated Press as one shot by AP freelancer Mannie Garcia. With the AP demanding compensation for its use in Shephard Fairey’s work.

    Shephard Fairey responded with the defence of fair use, claiming his work didn’t reduce the value of the original photograph. My personal opinion is that his case should not have even been accounted for, in this case copyright is not protecting the person it is just to make money. Annoyingly this is a perfect defect and abuse of the copyright law. Comparing the picture and the poster it’s not exact and could've been an image in an artist’s mind.

    However, some people will argue that copyright protects music artists, graphic designers, artists and production companies. Copyright ensures that other people cannot copy and reproduce work without overseeing its original creator, but can often be dealt with beforehand by crediting or paying its original creator. This is so that the creator can get all the credit and along with credit comes money. Copyright could also affect businesses, copyright protects businesses from other people using their ideas or name, and no business would be sustainable.

    To protect themselves software designers like “Adobe” for example give people the option to subscribe to a monthly payment for a licence to use their software. I personally believe that this is a great way of stopping other people from illegally downloading and Copyrighting the software, this is because, the subscription is simply affordable whereas obtaining a license for other software such as “Final Cut Pro” costing a £300 one off payment, is certainly a struggle for most people. Most music software like Ableton has incorporated licences, this helps so people can download the software but are unable to launch it without a valid license.

    After retrieving some questionnaires that I distributed to a selection of random people, i found that many people disagree and believe that copyright should remain as it is, each supporting the fact that copyright is there to protect the original work of each artist. One participant believed that the £50,000 fine is too harsh for a first time offender whereas another questionnaire states that the fine isn't harsh enough and to deter others form breeching Copyright the fine should be increased. Although many participants believed that copy right should remain as it is, a selection agreed that the punishment process could be handled much better.

    In some cases copyright could be dealt with better, for example, if a company was to be named “RugbyAM” no other person can name anything close to “RugbyAM” as they are then likely to be issued with a ridiculous fine or in some cases a prison sentence. This uncertainty and risk of being sued for infringement often stops people from creating the new work. I believe that if copyright was to remain in effect, the consequences should be looked into. I also believe that copyright should be much less strict a perfect example of this would be, being able to use others work but credit them for it. This then opens many opportunities for editors, when a video is uploaded to Youtube with music in, Youtube will automatically take it down. I believe that if Youtube recognises a piece with music in it should ensure that the Youtube user has credited the music artist. This benefits the music artist as they're promoting the piece for free.

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