On Friday, June 17, 2011, I was invited to be part of the conversation at the Social Marketing for Business Meetup. One of the questions I was asked as part of this conversation was why is copyright infringement seem to be so much more prevalent now than before the advent of the internet. In my opinion, the answer is twofold. First, it is easier to infringe on someone’s copyright today in public view than it was 20 years ago. Second, it is more acceptable among younger generations to infringe on someone’s copyright.
In regards to the first point, even twenty years ago copyright infringement occurred. A teenage boy trying to woo a teenage girl would create a mixed tape of her favorite songs – I highly doubt more than 2 boys twenty years ago got permission to do these mixed tapes (although I have nothing to back this claim up, it is just an instinct). People would use two VCRs to copy one videotaped (and copyrighted) movie to a blank tape. Bars would play copyrighted music into the night without paying royalty rights. Copyright infringement occurred twenty years ago – it just wasn’t as visible as it now – or as detectible.
Twenty years ago, it would be hard to for the general public to learn that a forlorn teenage boy had made a mixed tape to get the girl he loved to go to prom with him. Today, a 2011 version of that forlorn boy posts a musical stream to the girl he loves on his blog and within a few days, it is the stuff of legends on Comedy Central. The posting of a single photo online can end up on a thousand sites by the end of the day. And with tools like Google Alerts, the owner of an authored work can have digests sent to them of posts using a similar sentence.
Twenty years ago, copyright infringement occurred in small doses behind walls and out of public view. It happened – don’t get me wrong. However, it wasn’t happening online for hundreds, or millions, to see. The Internet and other modern technological devices like the iPod and computer make copyright infringement easy and something that can be done in public view.
Stay tuned for Thursday’s post on how society’s view of copyright infringement is changing. Until then, if you have questions about whether you may have infringing materials on your website or any other questions about your business, contact your Denver business lawyer, Elizabeth Lewis today at 720-258-6647 or Elizabeth.Lewis at eclewis.com.