Friday, January 06, 2012

No new art, ever?

From BodyInMind:
The file-sharing website Megaupload has launched a lawsuit against Universal Music Group, and it might mean nothing less than the end of new art being created in human civilization. The details of the case are actually not that important. What is significant - and downright terrifying - is that a company that specializes in making money by allowing millions of people to share music, movies, software, and photos on the internet has made enough money doing it that they can now afford to sue a major music corporation.

Megaupload claims it fights copyright infringement by deleting reported files and by closing the accounts of repeat copyright infringers. But obviously, if Megaupload deleted all illegally posted files and all copyright infringers they would lose most of their income. Megaupload charges a fee to download files, and even if the files are removed for copyright infringement, Megaupload can legally keep the money they made. Record companies, movie studios, and porn sites are now in grave danger. File-sharing companies seem to be making more money from their artwork than they are.

To protect themselves copyright owners should have spent as much money as possible to have the current copyright legislation, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, struck down for the unfair burden of forcing them to police their own copyrights. If they'd been successful the laws that offer government protection for copyrights in magazines, newspapers, television and movies would have applied to the internet as well. These laws would have held file-sharing companies like Megaupload responsible for copyright violations the same way it has held these other publishers responsible.

Copyright laws worked for decades without a hitch, until the DMCA came along. The DMCA has protected thieves and burdened creators for so long that the artist or creative company that can afford to launch a lawsuit in defense of its copyrights may now be a thing of the past. How long will an artist produce new work when it is constantly being stolen? How long can a society or civilization survive without art that is worth paying for being made? We're not sure but we think we're about to find out.

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