Steven's Notebook

Look Ma - No Hands!

We All Own Our Copyrights

This is getting ridiculous. I’ve heard it now from Leo and the others on This Week in Tech, Emory and Alex on This Week In Media, and now even the Buzz Out Loud crew. Almost every time they get to talking about Google’s purchase of YouTube and the ever-present possibility of video-hosting sites being sued, they talk about video as though they exist in two distinctly different groups: “copyrighted” and “user-generated” material.

Let’s review here folks – every piece of text, audio or video is copyrighted the moment it’s created and “fixed” in a tangible form. From the U.S. Copyright office: “Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is ‘created’ when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time.” It’s been that way in almost every major nation since Berne copyright convention was agreed upon. In the US, almost every bit of audio, video, music and text created privately and originally after April 1, 1989 is copyrighted and protected whether it has a notice or not. There’s no difference between a multi-million dollar budget show created by Universal Studios’ people, a vidcast created by the good TWiT or CNet folks, or a 10-second video-phone clip of your dancing cat. They’re all copyrighted.

Yes, I understand that the discussion is about people posting works for which they don’t hold a copyright or license to redistribute. But that’ s not what they say. Saying it wrong just perpetuates the myth that works you or I create aren’t copyrighted. I’m sure that’s not what our podcasting friends mean, but it’s a meaning that the big companies would love us to believe – that their work is more important, more valuable, and more worthy of protection. That ours is worth less. Is worthless. That’s bogus.

end of rant

[later: Bravo to Tom, Molly & Veronica at Buzz Out Loud, who talked about this post on their 10/20/06 “National Brandied Fruit Day” episode. Thanks, BOL Crew.]

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