Copyright Week: Getting Copyright Right

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The week of January 13-18 is being used by a number of legal advocacy organizations in the United States as a week of action to speak out about potential changes to copyright law. The dates were chosen so that the conclusion today coincides with the anniversary of the SOPA/PIPA blackout in which many organizations and companies, large and small, worked together to protest this misguided legislative proposal.

A free and open Internet is essential to infrastructure, fostering speech, activism, new creativity and new business models for artists, authors, musicians and other creators. It must never be collateral damage in the copyright wars. All ideas and creations build upon each other and allow for both new creations and new ways of thinking. An open internet which fosters such communication allows for the expansion of ideas and culture.

Copyright has a valid purpose in that fostering of creativity. It encourages artists, writers, etc. to develop new and original ideas which can then be experienced by others. It serves as a way to recognize individuals for their creative achievements. However, copyright should never be so restrictive as to limit creativity and stifle growth. The free sharing of ideas and thoughts in many ways should be used to create new works from new creators who can then obtain copyrights for those works.

This balance between the rights of the creator and user have become more complex in our modern times as a free and open internet allow users to become creators through the creation of transformative works which derive from an original creation. Copyright should always encourage more creativity, not limit it. An open internet should also encourage creativity. Creativity in many ways drives both individuals and societies towards a better future through new ideas and inventions. We build upon old creations to make new creations and an open and free internet culture is crucial for this to happen.

The OTW has taken various steps to "get copyright right" on behalf of fans:

1) Via the Copyright Office, we have secured DMCA exemptions for fan creators so that video makers can use parts of their source in their works without being liable for copyright infringement.

2) We have joined legal arguments that address encroachment on fair uses of copyrighted works.

3) We have represented fans on academic and government panels that address existing or proposed legislation.

4) We have submitted comments to governmental bodies that oversee and propose copyright regulations.

5) We alert fans to new developments in cases that pertain to fair use, even if we are not participants, and we remain available to individual fans who have questions about fair use of materials.

This week is one of many opportunities to "get copyright right" through interactions between fans and lawmakers, as well as informing the larger public about concepts such as fair use and the public domain. The OTW and other organizations taking part in Copyright Week want to help facilitate those interactions and spread greater awareness of laws surrounding the use of creative works.

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