Copyrights matter. Also on the internet
The world has changed greatly since the early twentieth century. Not the least because of the internet. The distinction between producer and consumer, as the Copyright Act makes, is no longer as clear as before. A blogger, influencer and even journalist is both a consumer and a producer of information.
The possibilities of digital copying and distribution of work have increased enormously. This means that checking compliance with the Copyright Act has become a bigger challenge. Nevertheless, I believe that copyright still has a meaningful role for two reasons: personal creativity and social awareness.
Creativity makes the world more beautiful, fun and interesting
Imagine if your favourite writer says: you now what, hell with it. I’m not going to to create that book anymore and go work in the garden for the rest of my life. That sounds far-fetched but it makes sense.
It took several years, but now it is normal to pay for music and movies. When it comes to texts and images, things are different. I know several people who read a free version of an e-book. And in my work I see a lot of content used without permission.
There is a logical explanation for this. Producing valuable content costs a lot of money, which makes it very attractive to take advantage of the creative work done by another. Copying parties improve their own (financial) position without a creative and financial effort.
The abolition of copyrights means that many professions have to stop. How can musicians or filmmakers make that great song or picture if their work is legally distributed on the internet for free? Why would a journalist conduct an in-depth investigation and be at risk?
The willingness to take action against copyright infringement has increased in recent years. Creators see that without enforcement no exploitation is possible. Thanks to copyright law, people can be compensated for the damage suffered, and remain creative. That principle has not changed in all these years.
Copyright lays a foundation for social awareness
Social media has turned us all into publishers. Everyone has the space to develop as an expert with influence on other users. That is very nice, but it has a downside. An opinion is given quickly and free of charge. Because the consequences are limited and the reward is great, it becomes very tempting to shout loudly and without nuance.
The corona crisis once again makes clear to me how difficult it can be to understand and interpret reporting. Many messages have been taken from other sources without proper control. And unfortunately reporting often turns out to be unreliable or even incorrect.
Without copyright, there was no money to conduct investigative journalism. Nor was there any money to disseminate the results of this study. Let alone to check and discuss it. Copyright also contributes to the fact that news cannot be distorted without consequences.