I attended the ‘rights online’ presentation and discussion held by open channel and the Association for Progressive Communications – Australia (APC.au). The key argument put forward by the conference organiser Andrew Garton seemed to be around the control of copyright over the release of content. In demonstrating his argument he showed a clip of a influential Martin Luther documentary that is now due to copyright regulations very difficult to access and has been taken out of circulation. My understanding of his argument was that copyright is necessary but can also be highly restrictive in terms of the ability to freely access cultural texts.
The first presenter Shaun Miller (Marshalls & Dent) introduced to the audience a brief overview of copyright law. His personal ‘rule of thumb’ as a way of dealing with copyright online is as he stated: “If you think it is worth stealing then it is worth protecting”.
The next speaker Dr Mark Williams (jdrlegal) examined issues of piracy in a statistic example on ipods where only 3% of music on ipods is copyright cleared – purchased from iTunes. His argument seemed to be around how artists – producers can protect their copyright as part of maintaining revenue for their creative work. He referred to an established organisation like APRA/AMCOS which aids musicians, composers etc with the process of recovering ongoing royalites for their creative works. He also referred to some local internet intiatives that he felt follwed a good line in terms of this objective. These where viscopy Visual Arts Copyright Collecting Agency and the art gallery and creative community of redbubble.
RedBubble brings together a community, marketplace and print-on-demand service to help people unleash their creativity.
RedBubble as an image database provides thumbnails only of what users post. Interested buyers can order printed copies of the original. Copyright is explained in easy to read detail on the site. He then moved onto video which he referred to as the “holy grail” of copyright. These video standards where referred to in the powerpoint:
Williams concluded with he called “identity and integrity”, whereby as far as I can understand the idea is that the content producer and user need to maintain an open transparent relationship that provides for some copyright content to be offered free, along with some like RedBubble that is purchased, returning funds to the creator. His mantra ” Give away good stuff, reserve the better stuff”. There seemed to be a consensus across both Williams and Miller for this type of approach. A perspective that was not necessarily totally positive towards movements like Creative Commons.
In the question session I quizzed them on the way that YouTube handles the copyright of uploaded video. The response in the timeframe was short and to the point mainly focusing on the process that users give away their copyright and allow there content to be re-used by anyone who wants to re-publish that material from YouTube. I would be interested in analysing in more detail the legal differences in the terms and conditions between YouTube and the video-sharing site blip.tv. Overall, the session was very much an introduction towards exploring how MySpace or YouTube handle artist’s copyright. The seminar brief:
Artists were pioneers on the net…now the net is pioneering artists. Is MySpace truly your space, does YouTube care about you? What can you do, what can’t you do and who owns what you put there?
There is plenty more here to debate and cover. I would be interested in seeing whether it would be possible for big content sharing sites like these being more prepared to follow some of the guidelines that viscopy and RedBubble are promoting. It seems important that more copyright education and knowledge is provided online for users. But, the question will always be whether or not anyone is interested to take the time to engage with it.