Copyright Obfuscation

While Disney has had great success with Micky Mouse laws that keep its original copyrights in force, there has also been a lot of effort on the enforcement side as well. TechDirt reports: Wall Street Journal Editorial Apparently Clueless Over Copyright.

The entire editorial mixes and matches different situations to try to make their point (that Google is ripping everyone off and deserves to be punished), but if you look at each specific situation, none of them stand up to any scrutiny.

This aspect of the copyright problem really started with software. It was so easy to copy software packages and they were (and many still are) so expensive that ‘pirating’ became an issue. People would ‘borrow’ a copy of some program so they could try it out or even just to have it in a collection so it was handy, just in case they had a need for its functionality sometime. Very few actually used the program and another very few actually violated the intent of copyright and intelllectual property law.

Next on the electronic media, easy to duplicate and distribute roster was entertainment. Audio especially because of better standardization of formats and moderate file sizes. This means the recording artists became fearful of loss of revenue and their association (RIAA) started going after anyone who they thought might have a copy of a recording they didn’t properly purchase. That led to a law known as the DMCA and that lead to copy protection schemes being built into both the recording media and the hardware needed to display it. These copy protection schemes make the equipment more difficult to use and create frustration even for legitimate use.

Google was the topic of the editorial because it was trying to ease some of that user frustration. The response was a rather typical defense.

the article trots out a bunch of weak arguments that we’ve discussed before, that can basically be summarized as jealousy that Google figured out how to make money by making others’ content more valuable. They all jump to the conclusion that it’s illegal …

Keep an eye out for this one! Its tentacles reach far and wide. It is already something you pay for whenever you purchase equipment that can display recordings. It influences how you can find and purchase those recordings. It influences how you can use what you purchased. And even prestigeous publishers can’t get it right in editorializing about it.

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