Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Well, I feel I now have the much more thorough understanding of copyright law that I felt I was missing after last week’s readings; as well as an understanding of copyfraud, which I think I may have been even less acquainted with them copyrights. However, despite the surprisingly plain language for such a complex topic (I particularly appreciated the examples of copyright cases and copyfraud respectively that the Stanford page and Mazzone offered), there is still so much that is up in the air.
In our information driven world it makes sense that creative work needs to be protected from unpermitted reproduction, so it is natural that the legislature would lean towards broadening the protection offered creators and owners; and they have. I found the idea that copyright protection started as a 14 year period and has now extended to the owner’s lifetime plus 70 years interesting. What has changed? It would seem that a good deal of it is all about the protection of financial gain through a given work. Was this not the case when the original laws hit the books? Maybe not to the same extent that it is today. That, and the fact that information has only become exponentially easier to spread and copy over time has seemed to require such action.
While the reasons why seem clear, the idea that copyright laws have become so wide spread and so one sided in their protection of rights is unsettling. The fears of being sued mixed with an unintentional neglect (I hope) of the public domain by lawmakers have given publishers a way to print their own money. It baffles the mind as to how there are not any clear cut ways to respond to and sanction those that take part in copyfraud. The fact that it is as widespread as it is illustrates very clearly, despite my new level of understanding, my continuing ignorance of this complex system and that I am apparently not alone. The example of universities that just purchase the licensing to everything at the eventual expense of the students in order to play it safe stands out particularly clearly in my mind.
Sorry. This is more rambling then synthesis.
I think the ideas Mazzone puts forth to help restore some of the balance and prevent copyfraud seem reasonable and relatively simple. The idea of the ‘PD’ stamp as a counterpart for the copyrights ‘c’ for example seems like it would be a simple way to help improve understanding in this situation. Plus, I really enjoy the idea of copyfraud bounty hunters. Why haven’t these or similar ideas been instituted?


  1. Zach, I agree that Mazzone's ideas for balancing copyright protections with protections for the public domain all seem reasonable and easy to implement and I can't imagine why our legislators haven't addressed these issues. Someone suggested 'down blog' that it may be hard to implement some of these public domain protections i.e. maintaining a database of public domain works and policing fraudulent copyright claims due to the costs associated with creating the appropriate bureaucracy to manage these functions. I would argue that it comes down to what kind of "information society" do we want to live in; one made of private fiefdoms where traffic and information access are controlled by private entities and limited to those with the ability to pay or one that is more democratic and egalitarian (while still respecting the rights of creators)?

    In addition, the associated costs with creating a bureaucracy to monitor and protect the public domain would certainly be far less than many of our other governmental mandates and initiatives. So again, it comes down to a question of values do we want another F-22 or a more vibrant and creative democratic culture with equitable access to information as one of its cornerstones?

  2. Great post and comment. I think you'll find, Zach, that we will get to grips directly with some of the answers to your question about what the change has been in later weeks. Your hypotheses about both greater commercialization (or perhaps greater media conglomeration) as well as technological factors are both relevant, I believe.