Paying attention to copyright

copyright One topic I’ve written about before in this blog is copyright, prompted in particular by my continuing puzzlement about why we continue to use laws that are based on geography in an age where intellectual property is increasingly digital and largely not based on geography.

(Note that I’m not a lawyer of course, so please pass the salt on any legalistic-sounding words in this post.)

A couple of days ago, I encountered an intriguing video made by a group of Canadian lawyers and influencers that shows different people from across Canada discussing the question “Why Copyright?” and contains some compelling examples of situations and recent events where copyright figures largely yet invisibly to most of us.

It’s a startling and well made film in that it shows people with firm opinions about a topic that they believe is important in society – one that you’d never imagine being of wide interest to people, and which includes many related points of view like privacy – to the extent that thousands of ordinary people would take protest action to make their views known about their government’s plans to introduce new copyright legislation that closely follows the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

[…] The public response to the bill was both immediate and angry – tens of thousands of Canadians wrote to the Minister and their local Members of Parliament, leading to town hall meetings, negative press coverage, and the growing realization that copyright was fast becoming a mainstream political and policy issue. This film, produced by Michael Geist and Daniel Albahary, asks Canadians from across the country and from a wide range of sectors the question – "why copyright?"

Here’s the film (45 minutes long):

The video obviously has a strong focus on what’s happening in Canada. But there is enough in here that is relevant to any jurisdiction to provoke much thought on this topic.

Copyright is something that ought to be of interest to anyone – whether you’re a creator or consumer of content – if you care about fairness, recognition and respect of the rights of others (it’s a given that you care about your own rights) as well as responsible freedoms of speech and privacy.

creativecommons I’m a firm believer in and strong supporter of Creative Commons, the voluntary trust-based system that enables copyright holders to grant some or all of their rights to the public while retaining others through a variety of licensing and contract schemes.

Creative Commons provides free, easy-to-use legal tools that give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. CC licenses let people easily change their copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright, so you can modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs. We’ve collaborated with intellectual property experts all around the world to ensure that our licenses work globally.

So I see CC licenses as complementing the legal framework surrounding copyright. It won’t stop the determined content thieves but it will give clear guidance to honest folk.

ccbadge I have a CC license on this blog, indicated by the badge you see here.

It makes it pretty clear to anyone what intellectual property rights I claim and what I’m willing to allow you to do.

Click the badge to see what the license says. It’s in plain English, too.

You can also apply CC protection to documents and other content you create. For instance, if you use any of the Microsoft Office products – Word, PowerPoint, etc – you can install an add-in that will include Creative Commons licensing information in your file.

Here are links to different versions of the add-in:

I find that pretty useful.

However you see it, it’s worth ensuring that anything you publish, that you protect your rights while making it easy for others to cite and connect to your content. Creative Commons is one way, and it’s easy to do and costs you no legal fees.

And the video above is a great way to learn more about copyright and why it’s important to everyone.

A bit of a no brainer, I’d say.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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