To copyright or not to copyright?

So once again I found myself in a crowded lecture theatre furiously scribbling down everything I can manage and once again I find myself in front of my computer screen trying to make sense of it all. This weeks BCM112 lecture and readings primarily revolved around the notion of copyright and the question of the possession of scarce resources.

Introduced in 1710 with the statue of Queen Anne (but I’m guessing you all know that), copyright has since become a necessity in modern society due to the fluctuations and advances in technologies. The worldwide web, or Internet, or web 2.0 has dramatically altered the previously accepted structure of copyright with customers becoming prosumers with the world literally at their fingertips.

The movement from analogue to digital media has caused the value and cost of intellectual work to disintegrate creating a need to reproduce artificial scarcity and to introduce the idea of fair use. Fair use is a defence that prevents oppressive monopolies by (in theory) balancing out the strict copyright regime. In the case of Stephanie Lenz and her “Let’s Go Crazy #1” home video the defence of fair use was able to stand against the multimillion-dollar company Universal. Which gives me some hope that censorship hasn’t infiltrated every aspect of society.

However a continual war rages over the content of industry and consolidation models between aggregators and distributors. Aggregators (Amazon.com and Google) merely collect information and allow access to it where as distributors (Disney and Time Warner) control and restrict information available. The question still to be answered is who will win? Do humans desire choice and freedom or authority and guidance?

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