- The “Occupy” and “Tea Party” Agree to Not Steal Copyrights in a “Post-Greed” or “Pro-IP” Era
- April 28, 2014 | Author: Timothy B. McCormack
- Law Firm: McCormack Intellectual Property Law PS - Seattle Office
The “occupy movement” and the “tea-party caucus” seem to agree on one thing: jobs matter. Although the two groups and their respective pundits will bicker about each other like an old married couple, the United States appears on the verge of a “post-greed” era, at least with regard to unauthorized use of copyrights and related intellectual property.
Although there are some people that oddly believe the Internet is a lawless cauldron of theft and piracy, most reasonable people these days understand that if they steal a picture, for example, a photographer or artist goes without. Here, both the “occupy movement” and the “tea-party caucus” appear to agree.
In fact, the development of intellectual property law protection seems to be ever progressing. Even in the unquestionably gridlocked Washington DC, where some parties have publically vowed not to allow any legislation from the Obama administration, we still make progress on the intellectual property protection front. In fact, the America Invents Act, signed by President Obama, is the most sweeping patent reform in 60 years.
The America Invents Act, referenced above, is discussed more fully in earlier articles on the Copyright Cow column.
Also this article discuss the America Invents Act further; showing the bi-partisan nature of this sweeping change.
Even the international developments in the area, seen in the form of multinational and b-lateral trade agreements do not raise an eyebrow. Here is another recent article on international intellectual property developments from this column.
In the end, it appears at least that everyone agrees that photographers and artists need to put gas in their cars just like we do. Even that our unified domestic interests in employing our people, selling our goods and helping to make the future, outweigh foreign interests what to pilfer the most valuable assets of the United States - its intellectual property.
Even domestically, we appear to be seeing less of the “Greed is Good,” and much less of the, “TAKE; STEAL; TAKE” like we did a few years back. Is this changing attitude a harbinger of the “post-greed” era or it is a sign of “pro-IP” or “pro-intellectual Property” era?
However the question is characterized, both the “occupy movement” and the “tea-party caucus” appear to agree protection of our intellectual property assets is a good idea. Although these movements are diverse and varied, the strong bipartisan consensus on the issue in Washington DC appear to reflect the correspondingly “populous” take on the same issues.
Most of us recall (it was not that long ago) when music pirating was rampant. This seemed to be fueled by a convergence of technology, like high speed Internet and software allowing the easier transfer and sharing of the music. Then we got used to free music. We were still mad at the fact that we had to $18 for a CD. Piracy was out of control - literally a “torrent” of theft and, I daresay, greed.
But today iTunes has facilitated well over 10 billion legitimate downloads of music songs. This seems like a sea-shift when compared to only a few years ago when “Napster” or “Bit-Torrent” were in their hay-day. Although I do not have specific data, I think we can surmise that both “occupy movement” and the “tea-party caucus” have iPods and even pay for music on iTunes.
Is that because we can now download a single song as opposed to buying a whole CD? Is it a new convergence of technology and marketing? Those questions are hard to answer but one thing appears certain, illegal downloading is down and legitimate purchasing is up. The same also appears true of the movie industry - where content is being streamed from every source yet all indications are that we are stealing fewer movies. Again, the “occupy movement” and the “tea-party caucus” both stream movies and neither seem set on stealing them. Given the political bickering between these two halves, it is nice to see some consensus. I think when it comes down to it, most people want to “do the right thing.”
We might disagree on the politics of that, but on an interpersonal level, we don’t covet thy neighbor and we certainly don’t steal from him or her. Perhaps this “agreement” if we can call it that is why President Obama was able to pass some of the most sweeping patent reform in 60 years - who said Congress got nothing done? It just isn’t controversial to most people. Now, there is the group I mentioned - the lawless cauldron of theft and piracy folks. Well, they don’t like anything and I am not sure they are worth anything but an odd footnote because most reasonable people agree (on both side of our politic isle) that protecting and enforcing intellectual property is a good thing.
Part of the work I do as an attorney is representing artists and photographers and the agencies that represent them, like Getty Images, the world’s largest provider of stock images and Gallery Stock, the world’s leader in representing commercial and museum photographers. I see this “post-greed” era shift in my work every day. When we approach another business and tell them that they appear to have used images from someone else without permission, the reaction is varied.
A summary of articles related to this issue Seattle Magazine , Getty Images and this column can be seen at McCormackLegal.
Also individual articles can been seen at:
1. Getty Images Demand Letter: 9 Things You Should Know
2. Getty Images Copyright Demand Letter: I Didn’t Know
3. Getty Images Demand: Copyright 101
4. Getty Images Demand Letter: Economics of Copyright Infringement
The overarching idea, however, is that photographers need to put gas in their cars just like we do seems to resonate more and more. Most good people want to do the right thing. Again, this appears to blend the otherwise clear lines of a highly divided and polarized electorate. This is especially true when we consider the impact on helping artists and photographers - some of whom dedicate their lives, without much hope of great reward, to the art of finding beauty and sharing it with the world to inspire life and love and living. Tea party: rejoice! Likewise, other artists and photographers risk their lives to bring us images from warzones or to help document human rights atrocities that can, and often do, help to change the world! Occupy: celebrate!
If we are not in a “post-greed” era, we at least appear to moving in the direction of mutual respect of copyrights and the like. We might disagree about whether the arts should be funded by the federal government, but we don’t seem to disagree that once the art is created, you should not steal it. That is a small thing, but it seems like progress.