Copyright, what is right and what is wrong?

A copyright lecture was an ITC class that was presented by Mark, however I was unfortunately sick and was not present for this class. I do though have great friends in the class who have talked to me about the lesson and I have read over the requirements on the NMIT online website. So I’m going to answer the questions the best I can 🙂



Copyright was originally recognized in a 1709 English law, which gave protections to both authors and purchasers of printed books. Modern copyright law has since expanded to cover a wide variety of creative works, and has the 1886 Berne Convention (international agreement governing copyright, which was first accepted in Berne Switzerland, in 1886. Berne Convention) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (specialized agency of the United Nations,  “to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world.” World Intellectual Property Organization) as the main points of international reference.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA)

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a controversial United States digital rights management (DRM) law created October 28, 1998 by former President Bill Clinton. The reason behind DMCA was to create an updated version of copyright laws to deal with the special challenges of regulating digital material. Broadly, the aim of DMCA is to protect the rights of both copyright owners and consumers. The law complies with two treaties, the Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty which were both created by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and were ratified by over 50 countries around the world in 1996.

What do you see are the biggest issues/problems with Digital Copyright today?

Because I missed the lesson I have got pretty much all of my information online, I have added the proper links to websites I have got my information off, since this is a copyright blog I will be thorough with my references :-). Basically what I see as the biggest problem with Digital Copyright is the fact that people who aren’t actually doing anything illegal are being branded as criminals, “pirates” or people who are doing very minimal things being charged ridiculously for them.

Because digital copyright has such a broad spectrum to cover, a lot of the time when they catch someone doing what they suspect is “illegal” the punishment is usually unjust and unfair. For example the “safe harbour” part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which covers all of the copyright infringement takedown notices, which means websites such as YouTube, Facebook and other companies that host content. They aren’t responsible for what users upload, the sites only responsibilities are to remove content, without question, in an “expedient” fashion and to have a policy in place to deal with repeat offenders. There have been circumstances because of this where people such as parents are being smacked with notices for filming their kids dancing to a song on the radio, only faintly audible. How is that fair?

Phone unlocking and jailbreaking, both notorious examples of the DMCA’s quizzical reach beyond what would typically fall under copyright. But aren’t these more issues of access than problems with a “copy”? For example a Kindle download; if you remove 1201, it’s still illegal for you to copy the file and give it to a friend, or thousands of strangers on the internet. But what is suddenly not illegal is breaking open the file to cut and paste a paragraph or two for a block quote in a paper, or summarise it for specific words or phrases.

Everyone knows the stories about massive fines charged against people who were caught file-sharing, such as Joel Tenenbaum. Who was charged something like $675,000 for sharing 31 songs, which is about $22,000 per song. This ruined a twenty somethings life financially and dragged his name through the mud for a bunch of songs. Over the top things like this happen because of something called statutory damages. Which happens when a decision is made before a trial that it’s hard to quantify, exactly, what damages were suffered, so prosecutors submit a range of minimum and maximum possible damages suffered and theres nothing stopping that range from being massively stupid, like $75-$150,000.

So, basically the biggest problems I see with Digital Copyright is the fact that people either get punished for not doing anything wrong, a mother sharing a video of her kids dancing or they get extremely punished for doing something very minimal wrong, like sharing 31 songs.

What is fair and what is not?

Looking at the links that have been provided on Moodle, and doing a bit of research myself, has helped me learn things but also helped me get confused. There are a lot of things happening around the world, trying to sort out the constant what is copyright and what’s not battle. Some laws and acts are put in place to help the population such as Fair Dealing in the Copyright Act of New Zealand;

“Fair dealing” exceptions to infringement

A “fair dealing” with copyright material does not infringe copyright if it is for the
following purposes:

• research or private study;
• criticism or review; or
• reporting current events.

What is “fair” will depend on the facts of a particular case. Factors to take into
account when considering if a dealing is fair, include those listed below under
“Research or private study”.
Only the person doing the copying can rely on a fair dealing defence. It is not fair
dealing to copy for someone else’s purpose. For example, copying for another
person’s research is not fair, unless that person initiates a specific request for you to
make that copy on their behalf, for such a purpose.

Research or private study

Copying of copyright material does not infringe copyright if it is for the purpose of
either research or private study − and it is fair. No more than one copy may be made
on any one occasion.

The terms “research” and “private study” are given an ordinary meaning. In one
case, “research” has been described as “a diligent and systematic inquiry or
investigation into a subject in order to discover facts or principles”. In New Zealand,
research need not be for private purposes and may be commercially motivated.
Private study is generally personal to the person studying.

The Copyright Act lists several factors that must be taken into account in determining
whether copying for research or private study is fair. These factors are:
• the purpose of the copying (for example, copying for commercial purposes is
less fair than copying in connection with a course of study);
• the nature of the work copied (for example, it may be less fair to copy from a
work resulting from a high degree of skill than a mundane work);
Copyright Council of New Zealand

• whether the work could have been obtained within a reasonable time at an
ordinary commercial price (it may be fair to copy all or part of a work that is not
available commercially, but unfair to copy where you can buy it);
• the effect of the copying on the potential market for or value of the work (for
example, where a person copies a work that is available for sale or licence); and
• the amount and substantiality of the part copied (for example, it is less fair to
copy a large or important part of a work than to copy a small or unimportant part).
It is likely that a court would also refer to the above factors for dealings with copyright
material which are not copying.

Which helps us define the line between using, parts, links and quotes to enhance our work as students and full on stealing someone elses hard work. As a student I appreciate this as Fair Use because a lot of the time (including this blog) I use bits and pieces from different websites to help explain things and explain my point of view a lot better than I can. I think a lot of students, teachers, tutors do this as well, because name a subject and there will be someone on the internet that has given a lecture or explained the subject better than you can.”the nature of the work copied (for example, it may be less fair to copy from a work resulting from a high degree of skill than a mundane work)”, which is exactly right, if you have bits of information from different websites and one of them is from a highly educated person or a professional on the subject and the other is from a blogger or someone who is just having a “rant”. Using the educated choice could be considered as cheating because you are taking what professional on the subject has said whereas if you use something just from let’s say a blogger, an unprofessional person whose opinion is worded in a way that makes sense to you, or what they have said has a lot of meaning to you, explaining it better than you can. Being careful when choosing what information you use and where you use it from is crucial when following the Copyright laws.

However, there are some laws and acts that could be approaching that will not help the population in fact could make things a lot harder. Such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which is a trade agreement that is being secretly negotiated between 9 countries. Which is essentially the United States SOPA (is about theft of United States property, concerns websites and services located outside USA, which may get visitors or traffic from within the US) and ACTA (is about any internet content in any country) like policies, taking them and forcing them onto the rest of the world. Forcing them to sacrifice free speech and privacy in exchange for access to commodity markets (like tobacco and textiles). “But with TPP, the United States is trying to export the worst parts of its intellectual property law without bringing any of the above protections.” If TPP passes, it will be even harder to fix the existing problems is U.S Copyright Law. “TPP will undermine innovation around the world – kicking the ladder out from under developing countries.” Does this really sound like something that would be helpful and beneficial to the millions of people in those 9 countries, and after it is accepted in those countries what’s stopping it from being accepted by the rest of the would. Since America seems to be a real trend setter these days.


What are/is your solution(s) to these?

My solution to this is simple either provide easy legal alternatives or getting rid of these ridiculous fines for minimal offences. We have to realise that pirating is not going to slow down or stop anytime soon since it is an easy, cheap way to get things you want. I believe that people who “pirate” for their own personal use, to watch or listen to music is absolutely fine. People who are downloading for profit are the people that should be punished they are the real “pirates” who are stealing. So why not provide an easy alternative for those people downloading for personal use? That way the real criminals who are doing this to put money into their own pocket are rightfully punished, the ones that deserved to be punished. The issue of copyright is simple, people just need to give credit to the people who originally created it (text, picture, webpage, etc) , with for example; links, referencing, names, dates, numbers. I’m not saying they should create a new law but to simply fix the bugs in the current one. There is no need for anything new, especially for the United States to come in with their ridiculous “way of fixing things” and taking over the world, removing freedom of speech, taking over the internet essentially. Fixing the existing laws and acts put in place to prevent copyright, weeding out the bugs and putting in place more specific offences and punishments. I know it is difficult to define the line between non-criminal and criminal. Prosecute those who are intentionally stealing, and it is easy to tell between the two. Someone like a mother uploading a video on YouTube of her kids dancing to a barely audible song on the radio which is easily mistakenly done, compared to someone who intentionally uploads a TV episode or a movie. I mean it is pretty easy to tell who is in the wrong there.

What is your opinion of the current NZ and overseas legislation attempting to protect the owner of the work?

I believe that the legislations here in New Zealand and overseas need to be fixed up a bit, have things more specific, which I know is not an easy task! But I really believe that they have the right idea they just need to make them work in a more fair, just way.

Many politicians see the threat of so-called “piracy” as so significant that they’re willing to suspend conventional civil rights.

“The point was that eventually the measures employed in trying to fight such “wars” ends up crossing the lines that society draws around civil liberties, and the intangible cost to society becomes greater than any actual benefit. Professor [Lawrence] Lessig contends that the “Copyright war” has now reached that point”.
– Matthew Poole’s review of a Lessig talk on PublicAddress.Net

A lot of copyright law is being unduly influenced by large media companies.

There are many organisations trying to fix Copyright laws, and the CFF is just one of them. Internet NZ, Consumer NZ, and others are already pushing for due process to be carried out in New Zealand, and there are others pushing for fair changes to copyright laws. There are many viable solutions to this issue — all that is needed is for Copyright Law to be adapted so it makes sense for the 21st Century.

I took this from a website off Moodle, because it makes a lot of sense to me and touches on some good points towards what I am trying to say. That the Copyright laws don’t need to be thrown out, they just need to be “adapted so it makes sense for the 21st century”. I mean things are very different now, we are a technological age and we live on the internet, so this law definitely needs to be updated. It desperately needs to sort out the whole copyright, piracy, stealing dilemma that is a outgoing problem that will not be solved until specific laws are put in place. Not only to stop criminals but to help those non criminals not really doing anything wrong from getting wrongfully prosecuted.

This has been a difficult blog for me to put together because I missed the lesson but I have tried the best I can, using the resources on Moodle and from my own research.

Overall, we need to know what is right and what is wrong and those who are in the wrong need to be correctly punished. Those who are not in the wrong need to stop being punished. We want a fair law not a freedom of speech take over. We need an update, not a change.


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