Question Copyright Video

Aug 14th

A friend recently sent me a link to this Google Video about the history of copyright law, where Karl Fogel, of Question Copyright.org, debunks some myths surrounding copyright. MYTH #1: Being an Artist was unprofitable before copyright law existed.
FACT: Completely false, see below:

MYTH #2: Copyright was created for artists.
FACT: It was the exact opposite. When copyright was created in the Middle Ages of England, it was about censorship. The printing press had just been invented, and people were publishing of all kinds of writings and reprinting text from throughout history. Parliament feared it, so it set up a corporation with powers to enforce an exclusive printing monopoly.

MYTH #3: Copyright protects artists.
FACT: It protects the publishers, and few artists earn the majority of their income from it. In fact, many artists see no money from it at all--it all goes to their publishers.

MYTH #4: Copyright prevents plagiarism.
FACT: Thanks to technology like the Internet, attribution of original authorship is easily detectable, especially when works are published. In many cases, plagiarism (e.g. taking the successful work of one artist and re-selling it under your name) is even EASIER to detect by performing a Google search than via the United States Copyright Office.

---

Copyright laws made more sense in the age of printing presses, but in the age of the Internet it is irrelevant. Distribution does not require significant investment by publishers. In the video Karl also said the following quote about what he thought fair copyright law should resemble:

Your name can not be stripped and no one else can claim credit for it. That is credit, reputation is a non renewable resource. It can not be replicated. It can not be copied. To the degree that someone takes credit for your stuff, that's the degree to which you lose credit. It is always proportional.

I agree that current copyright law is messed up, but so is the way that Google handles what they deem to be search spam.

A work can be a collection of keywords and a navigational structure as much as it is a set piece of content. Trusted sites keep building more trust due to their visibility while untrusted sites have to send email spam or do other types of buzz related marketing to gain awareness.

If Google pays someone to steal your work and sets your (non-transferable) reputation at zero search is not a honest business model, especially if they have any hope of changing the world's perspective of copyright law, which they may need to do if they want to keep their current profit margins.

Published: August 14, 2007

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Comments

August 14, 2007 - 9:17pm

Interesting entry.

Other than using the search engines, are there tools out there to identify sites that may potentially be copying our work?

If we find site are copying our work, then what are the actions we need to take?

August 15, 2007 - 3:31pm

Taking other people's content and selling advertising around it is stealing. Google and YouTube steal content. That is how they make money. If there were no content, Google and YouTube would not be able to sell any ads! The value of the content is equal to the value that it can be sold for in the market and or the amount of money you can generate by selling ads around it. So essentially Google and YouTube STEALS content, gives it away for free, and profits by selling ads around it (which they couldn't do without the content otherwise.)

This search engineer who is talking about the history of copyright sounds like he read about it in a book but doesn't have a clue what it means to artists or the creators.

If Google were an honest company, they would ask the authors and creators if they can use their content, and offer them a revenue share on their ad revenue to do so. However the way Google and YouTube operate is they just take whatever they want without asking for permission and they DONT share their profits with the creators. So in essence they are pirates.

August 15, 2007 - 3:45pm

His whole argument is that the entire value of copyright is only about attribution (taking credit for the work), when in reality that is only PART of what copyright protects. Copyright protects USE of the work. Specifically who can reproduce it or create derivative versions! So this guy doesn't have a freaking clue. It's kind of funny... if this is Google's argument they are totally screwed! Whoohoo :)

Burn the witch!!!!

August 15, 2007 - 3:49pm

If copyrights are only about attribution, then I should be able to take the Google search engine source code, and use it to build my own business and simply attribute it to them, but compete directly with them! :)

Or I can take Aaron Wall's SEO Book and sell it on eBay as long as I give Aaron credit :)

Gene
August 15, 2007 - 4:34pm

I'm probably out of my element here, and for that I am sorry. I have been reading your posts for a couple of months now and it is a great place to get started and keep up to date with a ton of great SEO news and tips. I am new to SEO but I am learning what I can.

My problem is that I used to come here for great news and info on SEO, but recently, Google must have really pinned you somewhere. It seems SEOBook has become a place to rant about all the wrongdoings of Google and less of a place for valuable incite on the SEO community.

August 15, 2007 - 6:34pm

Hi Gene,

Welcome to the world of SEO, and whilst SEO book is a nice resource for some decent SEO knowledge, I think its heading in a nice direction by mixing up some genuine SEO content with some other relevant industry news.

The fact is, Google is on the end of quite a bit of criticism today, from endless lawsuits, to privacy issues, and you have to appreciate that knocking down Google is one of the best ways of linkbaiting.

However at the end of the day, they are the market leaders and the mountains of money they make more then makes up for all this.

August 15, 2007 - 6:36pm

My problem is that I used to come here for great news and info on SEO, but recently, Google must have really pinned you somewhere. It seems SEOBook has become a place to rant about all the wrongdoings of Google and less of a place for valuable incite on the SEO community.

It will be back to the regularly scheduled program soon. Part of competing though is realizing that if the market makers are a bit dishonest that needs to be public knowledge though.

August 15, 2007 - 9:32pm

Yeah, copyright is interesting. But wait until you get into Trademarks and Patents. That's where the law gets really interesting and ambiguous. (Well, more ambiguous)

August 15, 2007 - 9:38pm

Yeah, copyright is interesting. But wait until you get into Trademarks and Patents. That's where the law gets really interesting and ambiguous. (Well, more ambiguous)

Gene
August 16, 2007 - 4:36pm

Thanks for the responses. Good points. You're still in my (Google) reader and will be for a very long time. :-)

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