Monday we talked about how copyright infringement is more public now than twenty years ago. It is also my opinion that part of the issues is that those who have grown up with the Internet don’t see copyright infringement as that big of a deal. Napster, eDonkey, Gnutella, and other sites were the first in a wave of being able to share copyrighted music and movies with not only those that lived in your neighborhood, but those who lived in another country. Youngsters (and even older folks) would just download songs from these sites without thinking twice about the fact they were committing copyright infringement. A whole generation has grown up where “borrowing” and “sharing” are the new terms for copyright infringement.
In addition to being able to easily commit copyright infringement, I think more people (especially those that are younger) don’t see music, videos, or other things as something that can be “owned”. When I was a kid, you had to buy content. When a band came out with a new album, you had to purchase the album to all of the songs on it. Only a few were played over the radio. To watch the videos, you had to have cable to get MTV (back when it played music videos that is). To get a book, you had to buy the book or borrow it from a friend who had bought it (many times fair use, which is another discussion) – to copy it on a printer was not worth the time and money that it took, in most cases you could buy the book cheaper than copying it.
However, with the advent of the internet, that all changed. All of sudden, you did not have to pay a cable bill to see the newest music video – you just went online. You did not have to make a mixed tape in your basement – you did it with a few clicks of a mouse. As a business owner, if I “borrow” something a business owner has written in a far away state, it no longer goes to 1,000 people in my metro area which the likelihood of that business owner knowing I even borrowed means they has to know one of those thousand of people here, but is put on my blog which may have a readership in every major city in the U.S., not to mention available by Google search.
Many people think that because it is online that it has been shared with the world and that the rights of the author have been given up. Of course, as we business attorneys know, that isn’t the case. People keep rights to works even if they distribute them online. They don’t give up rights just because they have published something online. However, as more people grow up online it may be that the laws will need to catch up to the change in society.
If you have questions about whether a work you have found online can be used on your site, contact your Denver small business attorney, Elizabeth Lewis today at 720-258-6647 or Elizabeth.Lewis at eclewis.com.