All Rights Reserved!

Two years ago, more or less, I attended a specialization course on digital literature. In one of the first lectures, the lecturer asked us to communicate our opinion regarding the copyright of digital literature and computer art, in general. I confess that this was an issue which did not concern me deform and, as I noted then, my classmates did not have a clear answer to give. The subject seemed quite complicate to me at the time; but this was also a great chance for us to start thinking and articulating our thoughts on the subject. My first impression, after our conversation, was that we were not sufficiently informed about the connection between copyright and computer art. We spent a lot of time connected to the internet, usually ignoring the efforts that have been made by other people to upload the stuff that we are reading.

The technological conquests of computer science increase day by day. Today it is easy for someone to create a copy of any kind of cultural artefact. There is free software which can be downloaded and used in an easy way and without special computer knowledge. Manuals are free too. Computer software can extract specific data even from a simple photograph and create an accurate copy of an artefact. So, every one of us has the opportunity to create their own copy, or copies, and do with them anything they like. The copy is subject to property of its creator. Once digitized, something is immediately available without temporal and spatial restrictions. The same technology that makes access to information easier, contributes also to the easy copying, legal or illegal. In consequence many of the intellectual property rules which are applied to physical objects are not applied with the same effectiveness to the digital reality.

But let us look into the copies of cultural artefacts. The original artefacts are protected from the copyright law; they belong to museums, institutes, private collectors or governments. The copies are considered as a whole a new item and they are subject to new copyright law. They are under their owner’s protective umbrella. The owners have the right to make use of the copies any way they see fit. What about digital copies? Who is their owner? Sometimes more than one specialist is required to create them. Who is the rightful owner? Unfortunately, governments have not adopted adequate legislation for the protection of digital artwork. Everyone has access to them; the data are millions and are not protected by anyone. So, it is not very difficult for people, without special computer knowledge to create their own copy. From a simple photograph one could create an accurate copy. There is free software on the internet that collects the proper data for instance from a photograph, and that is all. However, what is the meaning of the easiness of creation and the deficiency of protection. Could we all become potential occupants of well made copies of work arts and artefacts?

In conclusion, considering that there is a gap in the protection of copyright in the digital world, we should know that we are a kind of “illegal readers” of some of the most important works of literature and “illegal visitors” of the biggest art exhibitions in the world. How does this sound to you?

Readings:

Beck, A., Open Access to Heritage Resources – Risk, Opportunity, or Paradigm Shift?, https://www.academia.edu/2375241/Opening_access_to_heritage_resources_risk_opportunity_or_paradigm_shift, Web, Accessed on 16/10/2016

Cronin, Ch., Possession is 99% of the Law: 3D Printing, Public Domain Cultural Artifacts and Copyright, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2731935, Web, Accessed on 16/10/2016

Weinberg, M., 3D Scanning: A World without Copyright,   http://www.shapeways.com/blog/archives/25599-new-whitepaper-on-3d-scanning-and-the-lack-of-copyright.html, Web, Accessed on 16/10/2016.

Weinberg, M., What’s the Deal with Copyright and 3D Printing, https://www.linkedin.com/in/weinbergmichael, Web, Accessed on 16/10/2016.

About copyright law in EE: http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/digital-single-market/

4 thoughts on “All Rights Reserved!”

  1. It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
    I have read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or advice.
    Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article.

    I wish to read even more things about it!

    1. Thank you very much John for your comment! Of course, I would like to send me your suggestions and your advice. That is why I uploaded it. It is very important to receive feedback.

      As for the main topic of the article, I made a comment relevant to the issue in another blog today.
      http://dhblog.maynoothuniversity.ie/mdoran/2016/10/16/reflections-on-copyright-law-in-ireland-and-public-engagement-3d-scanning-projects/
      You might find it interesting as well.

  2. You made some good points there. I looked on the internet to learn more about the issue and found most people will go along with your
    views on this site.

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