I am an extreme moderate

November 17, 2011

Everything you know about copyright is wrong

Filed under: Uncategorized — niezmierniespokojny @ 3:15 pm

There’s a thing bothering me for quite some time – private copyright enforcement over the net. I spend a lot of time on discussion boards. From time to time sb. asks a question related to content they got from unofficial sources. Usually there’s somebody – frequently forum staff – shouting that talk about illegal things is prohibited. The topic gets closed.

The problem is that such illegality assessments are always premature. First, there are many misconceptions about copyright. I can speak for how it is in my country – and it’s very bad. There’s a lot of stories that don’t hold water and many ideas about the law that are just wrong, but don’t prevent people from shouting at ‘pirates’.
The bigger reason is that internet is global and laws are very different in different places. Even if doing some things would be illegal for the shouting member, it doesn’t mean it is for the person who did it.

To give you some examples of what is legal in Poland, but not in many other places:

  • to make a copy of a Avatar and give it to a friend,
  • to rip Lady Gaga’s Just Dance from internet radio station,
  • to download Sapkowski’s The Witcher pentalogy from Megaupload and enjoy the read.
  • (for the curious ones, English translation of the relevant part of the bill)

    OTOH there are things that are legal in some places, but not here, i.e. I can’t take a Bach concerto and claim to be its author.

    In other countries there are even weirder rules, i.e. in Iran, there’s no copyright for foreign works at all.

    Internet changed many things. Globalisation of communications wasn’t followed by globalisation of law. Copyright is just one example, although one that’s recurring quite often. I think it’s a big problem, and one that’s growing as individual countries proceed with Internet regulations. Hardly any big site looks the same in all countries now, they just can’t. Small sites usually ignore laws in individual countries. When threatened with sanctions they often cut a country off. Because of legislators, Internet is not global already. One can often read how one government or another tries to break the Internet, but they already did it. There’s a tiny hope that they recognize what they have done and try to repair it though. Recently India proposed to make internet regulations a duty of UN (click). I totally like the proposal. While I don’t like how some countries have more saying there than I’d give to them and I expect that laws created by my country would be better than ones from such body, I see the damage to Internet unity to be a bigger problem than not-too-great laws.

    As to the post title – well, it doesn’t match the contents too well. But at least it’s catchy.

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