American angst is in the news these days, with much of the country divided as though the federal government is a football team with partisan fans on each side of both major parties. The US Constitution is also in the news these days, and spend some time on Twitter, you’ll soon see constitutional scholars multiplying like rabbits. Despite all the furor, fact is both major parties have for a very long time ignored the duty of Congress regarding copyrights spelled out in the Constitution.
Congress is responsible for copyright matters. Article I, Section 8 spells this duty out:
“To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
Despite that responsibility stated very clearly, Congress has traditionally missed the boat on copyrights in our ever-changing digital world. Filmmakers are hard hit, with piracy costing that industry a lot of money. Independent film is especially hard hit. John Pennoti, whose talent is obvious in films like Hell or High Water and Crazy Rich Asians, penned an essay in The Hill about losses due to piracy:
“Because our country’s lax internet laws have failed to hold companies like Google and Facebook accountable, piracy – and particularly, streaming piracy – is rampant online. YouTube is rife with illegally uploaded videos, and the site has failed to give creatives the necessary tools to deal with the scale of the problem. Facebook has a sizeable issue with movie piracy through its “Groups” feature, and the company can’t (or won’t) do anything about it.
It’s difficult to comprehend how easy it has become to steal the works I have dedicated my professional life to making. Even the most fearless producers turn pale when we see reports like this one from Digital TV Research, which predicts that, by 2022, online piracy will cost the U.S. film and television industry $52 billion annually.”
As 2019 dawned, the website Copyright.com gave an overview of legislative matters related to copyright. I haven’t copyrighted anything lately, but I remember my publisher talking about the time it took, and in that regard, not much has changed as you can see at the US Library of Congress website. The LOC does provide a lot of information about copyright, from the standpoint of creators and users.
In a world where technology breeds desire for instant gratification, much like the rabbit analogy I used above, it’s easier than ever for someone to pirate your intellectual property. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know most of those congresspersons we’ve elected have dropped the ball on that Constitution they love to defend when they’re in front of a mic on cable TV.
I recall a few years ago someone emailed to tell me a website had featured an article and photos I’d posted on my website. I clicked to see, and there was my work scraped in all its glory. The article and images had taken me a lot of time.
Did the website credit me? Of course not. When I emailed the thief, he emailed me back to tell me what I would have to do to protect my own rights. This clown was in another country. He knew I couldn’t do a blasted thing. So I expressed wishes for retaliatory karma, cursed him thoroughly, and put it behind me.
That’s just sad.
(Kay B. Day/Dec. 10, 2019)
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