Saturday, October 16, 2010

Copyright Laws: 2 Cents

The function and value and enforcement of copyright law has been constantly in the news--for years, now.

Right off the bat, I will say that I believe in an individual's right to the intellectual property s/he has generated. 

You will notice that I attach my copyright to many articles. This is just a reminder to all, as this is additionally noted at the bottom of the blog. I am grateful that there is copyright protection for my work. I believe copyright protection important to free speech and truth, as well as to the freedom of art.

That said, I believe that the way in which the courts enforce copyright law is inadequate, draconian and inequitable.

We have forgotten the whole point of copyright.

Think of this phrase from the prophet Isaiah (55:8, NIV 1984):
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
What if the line read this way:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Creator.
Or, further:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the humble author.
I believe that each person is a fragment of a whole of Being called Life. We each perceive the world, existentially, in a different way from everyone else, and therefore have a unique expression to offer (and to share) as we so desire.  Hence, in this case, my blog. 

For my blog is not your blog! Et vive la difference!

I also believe that it is possible, like a layering of the pages in a book, that we are touched by and influenced, in our observations and perceptions, by everything that has come before us, to which we have been exposed. The growth of the human mind and spirit comes about because of all that has been written in the ages upon ages that have come before. All creativity is both self-referential and reflective of the richness of everything around us. Hopefully, we know when we are paying homage to work of the past, and so note it, legally and reverentially, when we publish.

Personally, I will always purchase an album or a book or a piece of art that I want to add to my personal collection. Many of these are artifacts are created by artists I know personally. I want to honor those artists, my friends, by purchasing their work. 

Yet, I am not interested in duplicating what they have done, even if I possibly could. Neither would I welcome seeing someone else's name on a facsimile, or close to one (plagiarists being, by nature, not terribly creative), of anything I have done.

Strange as it may seem, I am interested in expressing my thoughts, which are not your thoughts, nor could ever be. 

In saying that, I also acknowledge that I am unlikely to earn money of any substance from my own copyrighted work. That is really not what creativity is all about. There are lots of lucky folk out there who have turned themselves into popular commodities for public consumption; indeed, into veritable cottage industries. That seems unlikely to happen to most of the rest of us. But, again, I suggest: while this can be a welcome consequence, it is not the point of the exercising creativity. 

I add that I enjoy the possibility of collaboration, as well as the life of my creations moving beyond me (with my knowledge and permission, of course). And so, I thank the several composers who have moved my words off the manuscript page and into an art form, music, that lives beyond print. It is both a joy and a blessing to see and hear the work migrate into another idiom, as filtered through another mind. 

To recap: I exercise my right to what I create. I acknowledge and submit to the turning of the pages of life. I like to share. I enjoy collaboration, to see my work take on new life beyond me.

Can the courts do justice to that? Will the courts protect my rights to my small body of work and the rights of others to their small bodies of work? Or will they only protect the rights of huge corporations, littering case law with judgments against little people, who mostly have no money, for ripping mp3s? Will they protect only the cottage industry, commodified novelist or songwriter who made it big, on ideas of a work from a previous generation, because the novelist or songwriter is now a millionaire, but leave the less successful writers and songsmiths to fend for themselves?

If it is all about money, copyright justice remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, keep on creating, people! Vive la difference!

© 2010 by Elisabeth T. Eliassen

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