Copyright can sometimes be viewed negatively, as a hurdle that an artist must overcome when creating/experiencing new pieces of artistic work.
But this is a reaction when one doesn’t understand much about the laws, and therefore how useful they actually are.
The copyright laws set out in Australia can be found under The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), with the purpose of being an incentive for people to create new works and as a legal framework to protect the work that has been made. These works are also protected for free as soon as they are created. This includes: textual material (literary works), computer programs, compilations, artistic works, dramatic works, musical works, cinematograph films, sound recordings, broadcasts and published editions.
The only exemptions that like outside the protection of copyright are ideas, information, styles and techniques (“An Introduction to Copyright in Australia”, 2014).
This information makes me feel more confident as a creative. It also encourages me to transfer ideas into pieces of work so it can be under that copyright protection. If an idea just stays an idea, and someone else thinks of it after you have and creates a work out of it, unfortunately they are protected and you no longer have a right to that idea.
Sometimes copyright can be a hassle, unless you create something and someone steals it and makes millions from it. An example of this happening recently was when singer Justin Bieber and his co-writers of 2015 song “Sorry” are being sued for stealing vocal riff from another artist who had used it in her own song a year before.
A recent example of the importance of copyright was when singer, Casey Dienel the lead singer from White Hinterland, sued Justin Bieber and his co-writers of the 2015 song “Sorry” for stealing part of her vocal riff in a song, Ring the Bell, she made a year prior. The riff was heavily used throughout both songs, which is immediately obvious upon hearing both songs.
“Sorry” reached 1.42 million (compared to White Hinterland’s 3.5 million views) and was critically acclaimed in a magazine for the specific riff. Justin Bieber and his writers and producers continue to claim they never stole it. (“Justin Bieber, Skrillex Sued for Copyright Infringement”, 2016)
Out of interest you can compare here for yourself!
Below is White Hinterland’s “Ring the Bell”, below that is Justin Bieber’s “Sorry”.
What about for film? There have been many major cases of copyright infringement in film. One of the characters in Hangover pt. II had a tattoo on their face, an exact replica of Mike Tyson’s face tattoo in fact. However the tattoo artist, S. Victor Whitmill, who specifically designed this tattoo for Tyson sued Warner Bros. for copying his design without permission. Whitmill wanted the tattoo completely taken out of the movie, and that would mean being digitally lifted from the character’s face. The case was finally rested when Warner Bros. settled the matter by paying the artist an undisclosed amount (“8 Famous Movies and the Lawsuits That Plagued Them”, 2016).
So you can now see how we really need these copyright laws to protect us, and also to inspire us to think of more new and innovative works. I think they’re encouraging to help us go above and beyond when it comes to creating new works of art, whatever that may be.
An Introduction to Copyright in Australia. (2014). Australian Copyright Council
Justin Bieber, Skrillex Sued for Copyright Infringement. (2016). The Fashion Law. Retrieved 19 June 2016, from http://www.thefashionlaw.com/home/justin-bieber-skrillex-sued-copyright
8 Famous Movies and the Lawsuits That Plagued Them. (2016). Mental Floss. Retrieved 19 June 2016, from http://mentalfloss.com/article/53331/8-famous-movies-and-lawsuits-plagued-them