deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
deborah ([personal profile] deborah) wrote2010-03-17 03:13 pm

but who will educate the copyright educators?

from the YALSA blog: "Whose Line is it Anyway? or Teens and Plagiarism Within Creative Works". This essay discusses the Helene Hegemann and Nick Simmons cases, and makes me a little uncomfortable in the way it does so.

Excerpts from the post:

"The past month has brought us two stories from the publishing world that highlight just how little most people understand copyright law.
From scanalations to fanfic and fanart to blatantly stealing someone else’s ideas, most people just don’t understand copyright and why we have it.
I’ll be the first to admit, it can be confusing. Sampling has long been an accepted technique in electronic music and Hip Hop, and major artistic figures like William S. Burroughs and Robert Rauschenberg have based their careers around different techniques of borrowing and re-purposing the creations of others. Add to it things like fan videos on Youtube and you have a climate that makes people think it’s okay to take someone else’s ideas whenever you want and do whatever you like with them without obtaining permission."

The post author doesn't draw any explicit conclusions himself about copyright and fair use. I admit that I have no knowledge of the merits of either Hegemann's or Simmons' cases. But there's something about the phrasing -- "From scanalations to fanfic and fanart to blatantly stealing someone else’s ideas, most people just don’t understand copyright and why we have it" -- that strongly implies that scanalations, fanfic, and fanart come out of a complete lack of understanding of copyright, just as blatantly stealing someone else’s ideas does. "Add it to things like fan videos" to you create "a climate that makes people think" it's okay to steal?

I don't know whether or not the post author has such a simplistic idea of fair use and transformative work, or whether he has a very complex understanding and was just careless in his phrasing in this instance. But either way, the whole blog post makes me uncomfortable.

I 100% agree that people need to be more educated about copyright and why we have it. The number of people who don't understand that you can't just rip passages and images wholesale off Wikipedia and put them in your own book is just ludicrous. But part of educating people about copyright is not frightening them. Fair use and transformative works -- from sampling to fan fiction to machinima -- is not the same thing as a copyright violation.

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