I was just reading some stuff about copyright as it would appear to be seen in the States.
The main thrust of the article is that to own your own copyright in your own work you have to register it. Isn't this a rather absurd stance? It strikes me that it would be far simpler, less expensive and save an unbelieveable amount of 'paperwork' if the thing was viewed the other way around: copyright was automatically deemed yours unless someone could prove otherwise?
I imagine that the 'orphan works' thing would thus vanish as the bad dream it is. No longer would you have to actively defend yourself, but the law would place the onus on anyone trying to rip you off. They simply couldn't legally use anything that they could not demonstrate was theirs; subject, of course, to it being licensed to them.
By what divine right does any image surfer get to use unsigned images that he does not own?
The thing seems perfectly clear and blatantly obvious to me: if you don't own it, you can't use it without permission.
Why has it gone the wrong way around?
The internet has not only highlighted pedophile activity (some from high profile individuals) but also reminds us of the selfish, endemic, behaviour of our species in relation to taking material without authority. It is not enough for some people to view free content online, that has taken time, skill and cost to produce. Anything that has not been created by me, doesn't belong to me - period. This is not a difficult concept to comprehend. I have never seen it my right to use web material just because it interests me. If I can't download material my life won't be put on hold, nor will the planet implode. This amounts to no more than self discipline, being unselfish and respecting other's intellectual rights and hard work.
This year, before the end of the last parliament (UK), the Labour Gov's unelected minister (advisor), 'Lord' Mandleson, pushed through 'his' Digital Economy Bill at almost break-neck speed - usual whip (ensures party discipline) activity to try and ensure success. Section 43 of the Digital Economy Bill encouraged Theft by providing a defence to private individuals AND commercial use if the author could not be traced. Sections 43 showed an inability to grasp the complexities of digital asset file management in relation to the identification and traceability of an author's image. No author can guarantee their metadata will be stripped out by particular software, let alone those dishonest people who will intentionally strip out metadata to circumnavigate the law.
The governments thinking was that images floating around the internet could generate money for business. They also proposed setting up a licensing body to register works and award any claims for compensation. It goes without saying this Section 43 was a disaster for most authors. Fortunately enough professional's fought the Bill (I was also very active) and Section 43 was scrapped as the Conservative's and Liberal's agreed it was unfair and not workable, they would only supported the Bill if S43 was scrapped. The Conservatives are still keen to amend the Bill to free up material.Reducing
Illegal downloading can be tackled by education in our schools - copyright law is not included in the ICT subject in primary schools (my wife is a teacher) and yet Section 43 of the Digital Economy Bill absurdly educated a lack of taking responsibility by condoning selfish and dishonest behaviour. Their shouldn't be 'any defence' in law whatsoever to provide rights for other's to use web material - what is not yours should be left alone. There is a ton of material on the web that is marked for free download and therefore little excuse for taking copyrighted material. It amazes me that the Gov were attempting to introduce a law to tackle this problem without first having implemented a sound education policy in our schools - what an arse about face way of tackling copyright abuse.
Politicians keep reminding me that their purpose is to lead society and yet Labour did nothing over the last decade, since the internet took hold, to educate people about Copyright Theft. Their answer, another sticking plaster (attempt this time) through poorly written law.
From this side of the pond the US system seems absurd to me. Maybe it's another way of generating additional revenue for highly paid Copyright Lawyers. I have pursued many companies across the globe for Copyright abuse, all have paid-up except for one company in Australia - some are small companies, others with a 1.6 billion Euro turn over. It is not rocket science to record and gather evidence, before the client gets wind that you are onto their copyright abuse and present them with enough evidence to make them squirm - I accept there will be some complex cases; in such cases the quality of the evidence, through good evidence gathering, is essential to stand a good chance for a conviction.
Copyright Law in the UK is clear (if we taught the basics), the Theft Act 1968 and Copyright and Patents Act 1988 cover Copyright Theft (intangible goods).