Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Easy Copyright Registration

It's been awhile since I last posted, but this seems like a great reason to. Dan Heller has a great idea that might help curb gross copyright violations (primarily by big companies) and make it easier to register your work. I'm sure someone could find a problem with it, but it sounds like a great start to me.

His idea would primarily affect those who might not have otherwise considered registering their work (ie. Flickr photos), but would ultimately make it much more difficult to get away with stealing photos off the internet.

Read it here.


Jeff Singer said...

Hmm, Dan doesn't allow comments on his blog.

The statement "Despite how easy and inexpensive it is to register an entire body of work" is oh so wrong. Yes, it is inexpensive, to some extent, but easy it's not. Oh sure, filling out the form and sending it in is easy enough. Assuming you know what you're doing:
Were those images published or unplublished? If they were published, when? Were some published and others weren't published? If they were published, were they published within the last 90 days? If they are all published, how many are there? Were they all created and published in the same year? What does published mean: Does a website count? Does an email count? Does putting it up in a coffee shop count?

And on and on and on.

The copyright process should be eliminated all together, your work should just be covered. Or, at the very least you should just be able to register anything at any time (within reason). As it is now, it is convoluted and makes it far to easy for an infringer's big shot lawyer to invalidate your registration.

You can't even talk to copyright experts and get the same answer to a question. And try giving the copyright office a call three different times and ask the same question. Want to guess how many different answers you'll get? I'll give you a hint: Its more than 3 (how's that even possible?). I know, I've done it.

Stock agencies already do some of what he's saying. I know workbookstock will (or at least used to, haven't checked lately) register your work for you.

What Dan's saying is a good idea, but more needs to change about the copyright process other than just outsourcing it.


Jeff Singer said...

Oops, missed the last snarky part of my comment:

If you can't get copyright lawyers and copyright officials to agree or know exactly what needs to be done, how is the $8 an hour employee at JiffyCopyright or KinkCoRight going to know what to do?


Michael Sugrue said...

I know, bureaucracy and an unclear definition of "published" are major hurdles. I think Dan's approach deals more with the idea of getting everyone to at least consider the fact that their work has value.

I don't see the government going for instant or automatic registration. In comparison with domain registration for example, a lot of the actual work was taken up by the private companies charging competitive fees, while the government simply collects more revenue. Seems like a win/win.

As opposed to having a domain to use for commercial or personal use, many of the people Dan's idea would affect just want to have their images online for their friends to see.

The hard part might be actually getting them to click one more button and/or pay a small fee to register. No matter how cheap or easy, many might not see the value in it.