Copyright Law is a legal right that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator to receive compensation for their effort. It dates way back to the eighteenth century when Noah Webster was trying to protect his revenues from his best selling book at that time, American Spelling Book. The law that Webster pushed the Connecticut legislature to pass was the first of its kind for the new nation. Although the law was passed, its terms still did not satisfy Webster, and copyright remains to be an issue to this day (a reason for our UMW honor code). In my opinion, traditional copyright law has been taken over by the more modern version, Creative Commons.
Fair Use (as it pertains to US copyright law) is the doctrine that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim. Fair use is limited to research, teaching, criticism and news reporting. To an extent, this use is permitted without the need for permission or payment. Fair Use doctrine is put into pracitce everyday, especially in the world of a student. Writing a research paper is a perfect example. While it is a right to exercise fair use, what you are using must be rightfully cited to where credit is given to the rightful party; the original author.
Creative Commons is a new and improved form (in my own words) of copyright law. Creative Commons allows the author of a particular work the rights to control what information is made available to the public, or in other words, it allows the creator to pick and choose what is “copyright” and what is not. I believe the CC movement has been a long time coming.
We now live in a word that is driven by technology. Smartphones give us access to everything in the world right at our fingertips. We can connect with friends, colleagues, family; anything you can think of with a simple internet or data connection. I mean, let’s be honest, the first thing most of us do in the morning is look right at our phones, usually before we are even out of bed. The growing impact of technology presents a hazard for those with documented work available online. Although, it also promotes creativity and intuitiveness. It is so easy for people to screenshot this work, copy and paste into a document or type it up word for word. Thus the need for the growing phenomena of Creative Commons. In my opinion, CC is exactly what we need. If you are a blogger, online journalist or simply maintaining a website, CC grants you the ability to use certain pertinent information. At the same time, as a blogger (or whatever it is you do online), you have the option to make certain things available for the public to use and other things you can retain. Original copyright law would hinder the ability to network, share, collaborate, create, sample and reuse. CC on the other hand, promotes these items in a positive way.
Food for thought: The only way to do great work is to love what you do. – Steve Jobs
Thanks for reading.