Here is the conclusion to my research paper. There are references at the bottom if you would like to look at the original articles referenced in the conclusion. Basically this comes to the conclusion that copy righting something is like taking out an insurance policy. Sometimes you don’t know what is covered and in the end there is nothing you can do to protect your creative expression. Enjoy.
PS:If you are interested in anything referenced that doesn’t make sense I would be happy to expand upon it.
The grey world of copyright laws has only been further complicated by the copyrightable items being dispersed digitally. “New waves of technology have created novel expressive opportunities and dramatic improvements in the ability to distribute copyrighted works.” (Picker, 2012, p. 30) In addition to changing the landscape of creative expression it has also changed how people interact with them. Recipients of creative expressions are no longer simply owners or viewers or listeners, they fall under a new category called ‘users’.
It’s a revolutionary step towards experiencing creative expressions but it is also complicating copyright laws. “The open nature of ‘using’ as opposed to the closed nature of ‘reading’ means there is a larger possibility of what the user may or may not do.” (Griffin, 2006, p. 304) Suddenly, creative expressions that can be protected by copyright laws are no longer simply physical objects but are interactive copies of the original work. Video games are one of the most continuously interactive examples of a copyrightable expression that is an exception to the rule.
Most video games have achieved what other copyrightable expressions are trying to accomplish. Although there are examples of free copies being available over the internet that are a grey market good; most gamers will purchase their own copy. Video games can now be purchased as a digital copy but the common user won’t attempt to circumvent the DRMs. As the creators of Spore learned overly restrictive DRMs will cause the opposite reaction than they intended. Angry gamers took the game and dispersed it over the internet, creating a grey market good in a digital format.
It is almost impossible to share an eBook, a picture, or a comic book over the internet without sending a copy of the original. “However, these alternative versions can be in direct commercial competition with the original work.” (Griffin, 2006, p. 305) Where copyright laws fall short, the internet picks up and runs full speed with no intention of slowing down. This is the grey world that the digital age has created for copyrightable creative expressions. The question that is born from the existence of this grey world was; is it viable to copyright an electronic creative expression?
Despite the overwhelming evidence that copyright laws continually fail to keep up with technology, they are still a good investment. Unfortunately, this all depends on the location of the right holder’s customers, the intention the right holder expects it to be used, and the way the creative expression will enter the market. Copyright laws are now more of an insurance policy then an actionable law. When you get insurance to cover a home or an automobile you have to pick your policy. Copyright laws are basically a restrictive insurance policy in case a right holder’s creative expression is duplicated in the United States or cooperating countries. It would allow the right holder to take legal action against the infringing party, but there are many countries that wouldn’t cooperate.
Therefore, applying copyright laws to a digital creative expression is like taking out an insurance policy with varying degrees of applicableness. Copyright laws are no longer an ironclad way to protect a creative expression and should only be viewed as a way to mitigate risk. International users will find copyright laws less useful, as will those who want unlimited access for the users. DRMs have attempted to provide more protection and in some ways have, but they are extending rights beyond those covered by copyright laws. Copyright laws no longer operate in a black and white world, but in a grey world of interactivity for the user and protection; both sides are fighting for control.
Unfortunately, a creative individual who wishes to utilize the internet as a means to sell their work cannot abide by the honor system alone. On Halloween if you leave a bowl of candy on the deck with a sign that reads take one, most people will take one or two. However, it won’t take long until someone comes along who decides to take the entire bowl and dump it in their pumpkin bag. In fact they might take the bowl too, just because it is there. Interactivity would allow more freedom for the user but it is difficult to completely unprotect a digital creative expression without exposing it to unintended risk.
Griffin, J. G. (2006). ‘Interactivity’ and Digital Works: How Legal Rules are Restricting our Ability to use Digital Works as a Communications Medium. International Review of Law Computers & Technology, 301-310.
Picker, R. C. (2012). The Yin and Yang of Copyright and Technology. Coomunication of the ACM, 30-32.