When I mention content creators, I am specifically referring to the multi-billion dollar media conglomerates known as Disney, Nintendo, NBC/Fox/ABC, et al. At the bottom of my comment is a quick reference to those with more common-sense concerns.
I think copyright, as a legal question, has gotten way out of hand. As I learned in my Music Business course in college, copyright was considered a way to attribute
a work and provide a means of establishing arbitration should a dispute occur. It has since evolved into a privatization machine, creating propriety and notoriety above the actual work itself and making it some-what lucrative.
Copyright shifted to what we know now when Disney's poor-old Mickey was about to enter the public domain, and they wanted to retain the right to propriety because Mickey was, and is, so popular. So now we have what we have (at least in America) and it has lead to some things that I'd like to point out:
- Obtaining copyright is now mainly about establishing propriety to the work's sale. This seems obvious, but this is very different from establishing attribution, which for all intents and purposes is about establishing a record of the author and their right to keep that record. Propriety covers the enforcement of that record and the companies right to restrict its availability to the public.
- Copyright established that there was a reasonable amount of time after the creation of a work that the author had control over its dissemination and the terms of the dissemination, but derivatives of that work were up to the purchaser of that work. Now it is about restricting the freedom of ideas based on the propriety of said owner of the work for the sake of controlling the money which is made off of it. This is why we do not have spin-offs of Mickey Mouse, or popular-fiction spinning-off the Hunger Games.
- Copyright used to recognize that there was a reasonable amount of time after the creation of the work that the particular work was lucrative, also factoring in the fact that it wouldn't be long afterwards that artistic renditions or adaptations of said work would appear. Now it abhors the idea of a content creator never directly (or otherwise) benefiting from or retaining rights unto derivations of their work.
All of this, in my opinion, can be proven by a few things:
- Content creators do not control the re-sale of their products. This would be silly, as every re-sale book store would be shut down, and online retailers specializing in re-creation of texts or distributing used copies of out-of-print works would go straight into arbitration. Yet, this is the logical end-goal of Popular content creators like Disney: To control the ideas and derivations of their work. Their current grasp on the market would also collapse of the general public got wind of this logical end.
- Many content creators (especially multi-million dollar ones) are pushing for intellectual property rights. "If we can control how we distribute, execute, and manipulate our content, why not enforce people's free use of it in private or public? Why not bind their conscience to only use it in a way that is fitting in our vision for that content?" This is also the logical end of current copyright standards.
- By strictly controlling content and it's relative use in the public, content creators are artificially creating "bubbles" of profit and economies surrounding their work. Want to turn a profit? Convince the public that something made over 75 years ago will only be released once every 15 years in stunning quality to only never be seen again... because you "need" it. Overall this stifles creativity in those content creators, and overall new content quality plummets.
- Content creators are not interested in the free market of ideas. Nintendo has, since it's release of it's Super Mario Maker, aggressively attacked and posted DCMA notices to websites that host videos of ROM hacks (modifications or enhancements of their games) of their games that they no longer produce and support. Why? because they have rights... right? Yes, they have the right to restrict content, but creative derivations of content are threats under the law to the status of any content creators right to monetary gain.
Overall here are a few observations:
- The overall trajectory of current copyright standards in the US is on a path to utter insanity and buffoonery. This is well established in part by folks like Monsanto who, whether you like them or not, want to charge you money for the germination of their modified plants should their spores float onto your property.
- It has been recently proven that piracy and other "unauthorized" derivations of content are actually driving some of the sales of said content UP, not down. Don't want to dump the money into seeing that movie that you can't decide on? Watch it online, and see for yourself. Liked it a lot? Go buy the DVD! (FYI I don't condone piracy in anyway and I discourage it wherever I can, and I believe that there is certainly abuse in the system which is not ethical).
- Beyond about 25-30 years, the economic usefulness of a work begins to dramatically wane, unless you have artificial control of the content secured beyond the next generation or two.
- I was unsure of all of this until I examined the practice of publishers and engravers before modern copyright. What I've noticed is that the publishers had many ways of driving people to buy the music/products and were very creative in the sale and marketing of the music. They did not rely on the artificial incentive of the law to control the market. Also, in this system some of the best music was stylistically and often creatively copied from other composers.
- I do not want to communicate that I am happy with any level of pirating or unauthorized attribution of a work. It is neither ethically nor morally right. I want to emphasize the usefulness of basic copyright law, and a reasonable amount of room to arbitrate disputes. But, what we have today in terms of copyright, in my opinion, far exceeds the design and scope of copyright and severely limits or stifles creativity and cultural engagement.
EDIT: Word choices, confusing grammar, etc.