November 26, 2020

Get off my intellectual property

Josh Coppenbarger is a sophomore journalism and film production major and assistant multimedia editor for The Journal.

On Jan. 18, the Internet participated in a “black out.” Many websites demonstrated how limited the Internet would be if Congress passed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA).

Images were censored, Google allowed users to sign a petition and Wikipedia redirected users to contact their congressmen about the dangers of SOPA. In all, the protest worked. Congress suspended both SOPA and PIPA until further revision was considered.

The next day, the FBI effectively seized control of torrent hub Megaupload. All this effort was based off of the principles of copyright.

Copyright serves the purpose of giving the respective rights to an author’s creative work and helps future artists become creative with their own original work.

As an aspiring filmmaker, it’s important for me to copyright my work to prohibit some random person on the Internet deciding to claim an idea of mine. I can’t imagine how angered I would be to know that my work and my ideas could be claimed by anyone other than me.

Intellectual property is vital to any artist. Trying to create something original and new may take a long time, and to have the ownership of that idea stripped away wouldn’t be the best feeling. How would it feel to not be credited for your work?

When the U.S. constitution was drafted in 1787, the writers believed in this concept and thought to add copyright as a power of Congress. In Article II, Section 8, it states, “The Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

This document we model our government after even wants us to protect ourselves with our ideas. It’s not just a capital gain.

Both SOPA and PIPA wanted to protect artists and their respective work from other people trying to steal it.

Under SOPA and PIPA, if an Internet user shares an image from one site onto another, such as Reddit, the government could then bar the U.S. population’s Internet browsers from accessing the website and all advertisement and endorsements to the site would be cut off.

The copyright law, however, does have a limit on when artists have control over his or her work — it has been changed four times but currently is 70 years after the artist’s death.

That means Hollywood can’t do a traditional remake of “Star Wars” until 2072 and “Lord of the Rings” won’t be in the public domain until 2050.

There have been many cases where artists haven’t had complete control of their work.

In August 2011, many musical artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Bob Dylan all reclaimed their work after an overlook in copyright law. For 35 years, these artists had no complete control of their work because it belonged to the record companies.

In October 2007, J.K. Rowling sued a small Michigan-based publishing company for trying to make a “Harry Potter” encyclopedia.

SOPA and PIPA were made to help the entertainment industry reclaim the money they have lost due to the Internet’s sharing community. Congressmen haven’t gone the right way to combat against the people who violate copyright law.

At least the government’s still protecting what they were sworn to defend — copyright. After all, it’s in the Constitution.

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