Copyright & Copyleft
Copyright protects the property rights of creative works. It applies to literary, , software, audio and video works. Copyright is applied by default as soon as a work is created.
Copyright breach – using someone else’s work without their permission- is definitely theft. However, it does allow ‘fair use’ of works but these are limited. Typical fair use rights apply to educational use , journalism, research and parody. These rights usually come with conditions such as attribution or permission.
Although many copyright breaches occur every day, it tends to be those who own the copyright and stand to make significant money that protect copyright. This might be a movie studio or a record label.
According to the Copyright Amendment Act 2011 allows copytright holders to make allegation of copyright breach and these allegations are presumed to be correct by the court unless evidence is presented to prove copyright has not been breached. In other words, guilty until proven innocent.
Recently the proposed U.S. SOPA and PIPA legislation threatened to stifle the internet by allowing the government to shut down sites whihc they believed were infringing on copyright. This legislation would not only have affected U.S. sites but also foreign sites internationally.
One of the reasons why copyright is so often breached and many people take part in pirate behaviour is because many things that are avialable on line by pirate methods are not available in any other practical way e,g movies not available for rent locally.
Perhaps one way of protecting copyright but allowing access and inhibiting the damage of piracy would be to attach a cost to data download which allows for people to access material that wasn’t otherwise available and still protects copyright.
Copyleft advocates believe that some of the applications fo copyright laws are in error and are a corrosive influence on society. They believe, for one, that the concept of sharing should be taken into account. They also believe that when attribution is given perhaps copyright infringement should not apply. Essentially they believe that if an artist allows for their work to be copied i.e. copyleft, then copyright infringment should not apply.
In recent years, Creative Commons licensing has become available. This follows the precepts of the copyright laws but enables creators of work to make their work available to others without having to give each use individual permission. Other stipulations can apply e.g use for non-commercial work, attribution and dreivatives etc.