Digital Media is very complicated when it comes to our relationship to copyright. So much information and knowledge is passed through digital media that ownership becomes very blurry. In reading the first few pages of chapter 5 of Taylor’s book, the author herself had issues with copyright when her documentary was pirated and posted online. She explained the costs in making the documentary and how her film being pirated may actually take money out of her pocket. It is a valid concern. The people who pirated the documentary also made a valid point. So who’s right in this situation? This example is a little more complicated because if you are actually making a documentary to spread knowledge to people you must know sooner or later this is going to be a work that is used as an educational reference.
Another example of the complexity of our relationship to copyright is the billions of people who have access to the internet and to digital media. How can you police that many people if they’ve stolen someone’s copyright. Of course there are laws in place but to catch every single offender would be too large a task. As a 2011 report to the UK government noted in the chapter, “The copyright regime cannot be considered fit for the digital age when millions of citizens are in daily breach of copyright, simply for shifting a piece of music or a vide from one device to another.”
Copyright protection is trying to get better with things like content ID systems and Digital Rights Management software but it’s still a heavy burden for the copyright owner. There are those who create content who may not be able to afford this protection. A lot of times artists take chances with their work being pirated leaving them with no guarantee of a financial gain. And some, if not most, only hope that their art can provide for themselves and their families.
This topic particularly is intriguing to me because I aspire to be an entertainment attorney who specializes in Intellectual Property Law. I believe that digital media is complicating our relation to copyright and bad things are happening to intellectual property because the laws have not yet caught up to the ever growing world of technology and digital media that exist today. There are so many copyright infringements that are happening today with digital media, and laws are not protecting the authors of the property because there is so much “networked amateurism” that prevents the laws from protecting the property of those who are unaware.
In Chapter 5: “The Double Anchor”, Taylor explains how; “we are moving from a creative economy of scarcity to one of abundance”, which simply means that creativity is null and void and that everything that is posted online is copied, sold, exchanged, traded, and duplicated for capital gain and profit. Taylor also explains that “creative work is available without limit, freely accessible; it tends also to become free of charge”. Therefore, it is unfortunate for the creator of works such as photos, literature, art and song, if the work is used freely and liberally without protection. Digital media is complicating copyright laws because of the gross infringement of works that are not protected because laws have not been set in place to protect the author. It’s unfair and unjust because works are being bought and sold while the creator gets nothing in return.
In an article posted for “Wired.com” by Vitalli Soldatenko entitled: “Copyright and Intellectual Property: Change is Coming” Soldatenko explains that “Our current intellectual property system benefits corporations by complicating the process of protecting the rights of content creators. In an era where opportunities and innovations abound our system is almost a tragic comedy.” He also thinks that we are moving in the direction where authors’ works will be protected, and we can move forward as business and consumer without the complications of creator content being compromised. However, today while the internet has made our lives easier, it certainly has made it a lot more complicated because big corporation benefits and we are lost in this paradox of having things made easy without looking at how and why.
In my hybrid assignment #3: Chapter 2, I defined “Networked Amateurism”. My understanding of “Networked Amateurism” is that as a generation, we are all connected, as we network through social media and through computer platforms. However, we are so unaware of the bigger picture, and amateurs at this game called Capital Strategy; that we fall short in knowing how the game is being played. Therefore, we are deprived of the benefits that we think are actually gained by using the internet. We are actually not the ones benefiting from what is being done online. Capitalist are the skillful manipulators of how content is being seen and heard, while we (the amateurs) are the unskillful members of a world that is using us to network in ways that we are unaware of and being used for the purpose of profit and gain.
In Chapter 3 Taylor brings up the term “Bored at Work Network” which to me defines certain times in one’s work schedule where there me a lag or, as stated in the book, “our diminishing attention spans” get the best of us. I have caught myself working on something diligently only to be distracted by a news alert on my phone or an email that may have come in on my personal account. For me I believe its the immediacy of wanting to know information as fast as possible and, in most cases, before anyone else.
It’s very interesting how Taylor mentions that the content that digital media is providing allows for “stolen moments on the job.” I know that this holds true for me. I usually don’t want to read “serious topics” that are “too weighty” as Taylor wrote because at times being at work is stressful enough and sometimes you’d like to see something positive or re-energizing that may make your day a little less stressful. Sometimes you want to just see the story of a dog that was a rescue and abused that transformed with the help of volunteers.
The “Bored at Work Network” to me always existed. Before there was digital media people would stand around a water cooler and talk about what was going in their lives, the world, etc. Maybe now, people are less inclined to do that and just stick with the digital media on their phone or computer. The social angle of the “Bored at Work Network” may have changed do to technology but this network has been around for a long time.
Digital media complicates our relationship to copyright through the ease in downloading, uploading, copying, and sharing of files such as movies, books, and music. An example of this is Taylor’s documentary Examined Life. A fully copy of the film and clips of it as well were posted online where it can be watched for free. Although Taylor felt grateful for the uploaders’ support of the film, she wrote to the uploaders with the hope that they would remove the film online because she would like viewers to pay for it when they watch it as a way for her to recover the amount of money she spent on the film production.
Copyright would grant Taylor control as the owner of her product as to who can access, use, or duplicate her work. However, there is also the concept of cultural ownership. According to Taylor, “The minute a film is released or an essay is published, it begins to race around the Internet, passed through peer-to-peer networks, posted on personal Websites, quoted in social media streams. In one sense, therefore, any ownership claim is fanciful, since, in practice, people’s creations circulate in ways they cannot control” (p. 145).
Because everything spreads easily online, including movies, e-books, and music, it becomes accessible for everyone. And when it gets easily accessible, it usually becomes free of charge to use. There’s a group of people who believe that creative work, art, and culture should be available for everyone to use for free, and there’s also another group of people who believe that they should be paid for. It would just be fair for the creators of the work to be compensated for their hard work and the financial expenses involved in the production of their work. They create their product for everyone to enjoy, but they also need to make a living.
The online content farms are just a reiteration of what we discussed in class the other day. The idea that we can search for something like “how to bake a pumpkin pie” and their position is to somehow determine how to get the most money for this information. It is mainly a reliance on the interest of consumers. Our dependence on search engines such as Google are ultimately where these sites and media companies acquire their data. Depending on how many people inquire about how to make these pumpkin pies will give companies the idea of how much to charge big name companies like Target and Walmart for advertising to make sure that those items necessary are seen by those who show interest. This is what produces the eerie advertisement on you Facebook feed about butter and baking pans because you searched for it.
This explains why the other day, while in incognito mode on Google Chrome, I saw items that could be associated with items I ordered from Walmart show up in my advertisements. Despite me trying to hide my content and using another email address to place my order, I failed to realize that my Gmail account had been signed into on another tab. So because of this, regardless of my obviously failed attempt at secrecy, the information was made available to companies, including those I ordered from to promote and advertise products that may benefit me based on my recent purchases. It all makes sense, albeit creepy.
The “Bored at Work Network” is described as a group of digital media users, particularly those who are bored in offices or other jobs, that are able to access and use digital media such as news and entertainment on devices such as computers/laptops, tablets or smart phones. Jonah Peretti, the cofounder of the Huffington Post and founder of Buzzfeed describes the contents that members of the “Bored at Work Network” access as “easy to understand, easy to share, and includes a social imperative” (p. 99). In addition, priority is placed on how popular and how fast an idea can be shared and spread over its quality.
These days, when some users get bored, it is very easy to just take out smart phones or tablets to surf the Web, watch movies or video clips, listen to music, read news or e-books, or play games. The “Bored at Work Network” types of contents are mostly what users with limited time (such as stolen moments at work as mentioned by Taylor on p. 99) engage themselves in since these contents are usually the popular ones and do not take up much of the users’ time to understand them. Because we know that these contents are always with us on our devices, we are very likely to get distracted wherever we are, even when we are in school or at work. Some users who get bored at work deal with the boredom by checking social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They share news and videos that not only interest them but also those they think that are easy to share and those that they want to go viral.
In the chapter “ The Double Anchor” it is seen that copyright has been in the rise since the welcoming of digital media. Has it been applied to digital media regulations on its entirely, not necessarily. It is so easy to search and at the instant of a click one could have access to information that is exposed by others. Nowadays, it is hard to define who is the owner of an idea when hundreds are able to share and even duplicate without ones consent. Digital media has facilitated the access to films that are still at movies, music that is not meant to be free and instead could be very easily downloaded, and also the access to articles that is not meant to be free and instead needs subscription.
As an example “ Companies like Facebook and Google, in contrast, mostly make their money by controlling the platforms on which people distribute various kinds of media, and selling access to their base to advertiser “ (Taylor, Loc 2409). The problem resides in the big corporations; they are the ones who profit from all these clicks and what the public and consumers have access too. Technology has made it easy to copy, burn and “jailbreak”.
It isn’t that digital media is complicating our relationship to copyright, its that we have always had a complicated relationship with copyright and the Internet is just the latest method in which the issue has become even more convoluted. Taylor makes it very clear that the concept of ownership of ideas and creative work has been an argument for hundreds of years. Every introduction of new technology that distributes creative work- books, records, radios, tapes, CDs, DVDs, and now the Internet – recreates a panic claiming that piracy by use of the new media will infringe on the rights and profits of those who legally own the art (though the legality of ownership versus distribution rights is another matter.)
The two major opposing views of the copyright issue can be generalized in one group as those who feel all culture should be shared freely as it was created by being influenced by existing culture. The other group are those who feel that something created is something owned and to be profited upon. Granted neither of these groups uphold or represent the views of most artists who wish to create their work for all to have access to it, but also want to pay their bills and have the means to create more art. The creators themselves are not often present in current legal debates about copyright law.
Digital media has further complicated this debate of ownership of content as the Internet, which does not actually produce a physical product, makes the ability to share information and media easier and faster than media (vinyl, cassette tapes, etc) of the past. More media is being shared without compensation than ever before. Internet platforms have also created new ways to profit via distribution that cut the artist from ownership of their own art. These media companies justify their actions by threatening to not distribute the artist’s work at all, cutting them off from any potential profit however minuscule.
Complex creative labor is the human touch placed upon a project or work. Most of our labor in modern times is done in rapid fashion due to our advancements in technology. Take for example the assembly line, a way of mass producing product for the masses but at the same time cutting much of the middle men from the equation. Technology has dipped it’s fingers in every aspect of our work place. Though, in many cases it has helped us for the greater good, it has also replaced the unique and one of a kind admiration we once had for products and goods we purchased. Everything becomes the same and robotic when all and everything mimics the next thing to its left and to its right. Beautiful words on a page are now translated into meaningless text without emotion through an app on our cellular phones or through a quick search on the web. Being creative in our labor allows for new ideas and inventions and prevents us from quickly getting to a point of stagnation. Creative labor brings with it culture and history within the completed end result rather it be a product or a work place. Much can be learned from this then simply putting workers on a line collecting parts or placing a piece of code through a computers software program