If you're able to watch the videos inside those sites, you're in luck: you live in the US or your Internet is provided by an US-based company. If you're not, like me, you probably was welcomed by a notice that says that you are not allowed to watch the videos. Why is this so? Copyright.
It has been one of the topics most frequently talked about in the Technological section of the news these past few months, particularly because of the Pirate Bay trial that took place. I won't go into detail about the proceedings, but it has been an interesting ride.
I understand why an author/artist/inventor wants to protect what he or she has created, and not allow anybody else to take credit or make profit out of his or her creation. But, to what lengths? As an inventor, I want people to see and use my creation, and the more the better. I'll get feedback, and make my product better for people that aren't in my vicinity, making it applicable for an even greater amount of people. I thought that this was the ultimate goal of Copyright: by nominating the original creator and setting in stone who gets to decide what happens to the product, it is free to be shared among the users without fear of another person taking credit for others' work. How is it that it has turned into the complete opposite? Today, whenever I hear "copyright protected", the words "limited usage" come to mind, instead of "Oh, so that guy/gal did this?".
It is more than annoying, it borders at stupidity. I'm right now in the UK, and I can't see the YouTube video that I linked earlier. Ironically, the video is about a live performance of an UK band, People in Planes, but, because they signed with an US label, it can, by "enforcing copyright", not allow the video to show outside the US. Meaning that fans that live right around the corner from where they grew up can't see the band's videos.
(However, I did manage to get to see the video from somewhere else.)
Copyright is now being used as a limiting tool, instead of as a vehicle of sharing, which it can definitely be. Take the GPL licensing system, used in software development. Without the need of any lawyers or any copyright institutions, I can create a piece of software and license it to anybody that wants to use it, even to the point of providing my code to the user, and the credit of my work will be protected. The user gets this privilege, as well as that of sharing and even changing my code, with the obligation of passing on my name with it. If the user wishes so, I can incorporate his or her changes into the original code, and turn the project into a collaboration. And it works, the whole Open Source movement is based on it. So well in fact that the Internet wouldn't exist as it does today if it weren't for it. The majority of DNS servers, Web servers, and many of the more popular Website development tools are licensed using GPL.
However, I also understand that this is how I like to share my creations. Others would rather share them in different ways, such as the ones used by some music labels and movie studios. If an artist/inventor chooses that route, I can't do anything about it; it is their creation to protect in whatever means they feel necessary.
Still, that doesn't mean that I can't have an opinion about it:
I've had it with their completely moronic choices to "protect" the artist's work. They're dumb, counter-productive, and reek of greed. The fact of the matter is that copyright institutions are only protecting their bank accounts, not the artist's rights, which are reduced to poster children to be used as martyrs for the sake of the studio. It is a failing system that is only being kept alive by exploiting the artist's paranoia over their work being stolen. Screw the studios and their poor excuse of artistic intentions: if they keep overprotecting the artist's work, I won't spend my money on it. Simple as that.
EDIT: The People in Planes videos can't be viewed anymore in the link provided.
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