©opyright. It’s a messy word. And yet we’re all susceptible to getting mixed up in its bogs of treachery and doom. I take an interest in it because 1.) I’ve been forced through school and work and 2.) I can’t get away from it because I like to read, listen to music, watch movies, and generally go about my life like most other people. The more I learn about it, the more I realize I don’t want to know and could care less. But ignorance isn’t an option, really. I’m sure many of us have heard the horror stories about the RIAA going after Grandma because her eight year old granddaughter downloaded mp3s on her computer without her knowledge.
I’m sure, on a smaller scale, we’ve had quandries about how to stay legal and still create presentations, make a mix, send a card, or get that song that hasn’t been available for decades. There aren’t any clear cut answers that I’m aware of, but there is a growing base of freely available material that is both good quality and not “infringing on anyone’s rights.” I say this sarcastically. “Rights,” as we say, are one of the most highly guarded treasures of America’s citizens. While I deeply appreciate the freedoms the public has to express their opinions without any topic without fear of imprisonment or worse, the very idea of “rights” has gotten convoluted. We worry about the “rights” to reproduce sections of text, tracks of music, or footage of film. Artists of all walks complain about their “rights” to residuals, profits, percentages, and the like. They want to “stick it to the man” and make a decent living. I agree. I also think it’s ridiculous to expect that huge corporations in a free market society are going to nicely fork over their profits to mere peons in the scheme of things. Take Radiohead, for example. While the numbers are a bit cloudy at this point with respect to their recently released album, In Rainbows, they’re making a whole heck of a lot more on it as they released it themselves than they would have through a major label. Even with the “pay as much or little as you want” philosophy, people are still willing to pay if they know their money is going to the artist rather than to the top 1%.
What am I even saying here? Actually, I’m not sure. I’m just curious and furious and trying to figure it all out. What really prompted me to post tonight was the discovery of some cool stock photo sites that let you download and post for free. As I find more of these sites, I’ll do my best to get them on here. Oh, and if you’re interested in finding out more about how copyright works, check out Stanford’s site. It’s about as good of an introduction to the madness as anything out there.