All Your Property Is Belong To Me

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We live in an age where copy right acts have gone beyond the point of no return and with the internet freely allowing us to copy at will, it has become increasingly difficult for every day people to know where to draw the line when it comes to the use of other peoples intellectual property. Copy right is very important and highly necessary don’t get me wrong, without it no ones ideas, creations or property would be safe, but has copy right gone too far? To what extent should the Digital Rights Management (DRM) have control over what we as consumers and prosumers are allowed to have access to and or manipulate?

So basically DRM is any form access of control technology that inhibits uses of digital content that are not desired or intended by the content providers.  Sounds simple enough right? The problem is though, it isn’t.  The aim of DRM is to protect the sellers of digital content and give them continued creative control. However in today’s digital  world it is hard to specify what digital content can and can’t be controlled. As a result we as consumers suffer from these restrictions and are at times completely dumbfounded by the ridiculous nature of the bans we are subject to.  Did you know it’s illegal to sing Happy Birthday in a public or commercial context due to Copyright laws?

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Almost everything is protected under copy right and it is almost impossible not to be considered a criminal in today’s digital society. Every time you watch a video on Youtube you are most likely infringing on some form of copyright. That music playing in the background, do they have permission to use that?, that hilarious Lord of the Rings parody you just watched, was it officially approved? Every time you surf the net you are quite literally downloading digital data that you did not create.

DRM vs Consumer

What this means for society is a block on creativity and innovation. How are people supposed to expand on an idea if they can’t even use an existing one without being sued for stealing intellectual property. Now days almost everything has been done before so the idea of coming up with something entirely new is unfathomable. This causes us to take a step backwards from innovative growth.

In 2011 the  American Entertainment Consumers Association attempted to prevent a change to current copyright law that would include not just the unauthorised distribution and replication of copyrighted works (like pirated games and bootlegged movies), but also “public performances by electronic means.” ECA said in its statement. “We don’t need this draconian measure that’d make criminals out of millions of Americans who just want to share their enjoyment of their favorite entertainment.” That is the problem with DRM, the extent of it’s restrictions can extend to a point where suddenly people aren’t allowed to do simple un-harmful things like upload a cover of a song or a review/walkthrough of a video game.  Only recently EA was under scrutiny for its Sim City fiasco, in which they refused to let players (who had legally purchased the game) to play offline or even save their game files on their own computer, claiming that although they purchased and therefore ‘own’ a copy of the game, the game in no way actually ‘belongs’ to them and everything created within the game was in fact the ‘property’ of EA games itself.

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Copyright laws can be ridiculous, that is where Creative Commons come in. CC’s allow creators to specify how and to what extent their creations can be used. Are CC’s a shining beacon for the future of copyright laws? perhaps, but they are still not without fault. Not many things fall into the creative commons category due to the fact that is a rather difficult process to actually sit and specify the limits of your digital product use. So what does the future Of Copyright legislation have in store for us? who knows? but I do know that I don’t want to live in a world where absurd bureaucratic protocols stifle my rights as a consumer left, right and center.

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