Re: Copyright And Intellectual Property (was OT: Music)

Subject: Re: Copyright And Intellectual Property (was OT: Music)
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2000 06:15:08 -0700 (PDT)

--- John Locke <mail -at- freelock -dot- com> wrote:

[SNIP to meet list quoting criteria]

> Quite a few artists, in fact, seem to think that Napster provides a vehicle
> for getting their music out to audiences that would not hear it otherwise,
> due to the stranglehold of the recording industry on distribution... and
> letting their music out for free leads to more sales, not less...
> To steer this back on topic, the whole issue of copyright seems to be going
> through quite an upheaval... it's interesting to note that copyright has its
> origins not in protecting the rights of the artist, but in providing a
> government-sanctioned monopoly for a limited time, as incentive for people
> to create works that will end up in the public domain. Funny how that's
> gradually changed over the centuries to the present 75 years after the death
> of the creator...
> Steve Read writes, regarding intellectual property:
> > I dunno about anyone else, but that's about all I have to sell.
> > Therefore, I
> > don't steal it from others.
> I tend to see things the same way, buying software/music/books rather than
> obtaining pirated versions. However, with the Open Source movement, Steven
> King making his new book available for a voluntary fee,
> Napster/Gnutella/other software making music copyrights unenforceable, I
> think we're in for some big changes.
> Anybody care to make any predictions? How relevant is copyright to what we
> do every day?

Predictions are always a dicey business, at best. There's no question that the
Internet is a rather chaotic (anarchic?) environment. It's so easy to copy,
link, edit, and download items of interest from music to books to articles to
graphics that a lot of people do it without thinking about whether or not they
are, in effect, stealing someone else's intellectual property. Indeed, as the
Stephen King situation points out, even copyright holders take different views
about protecting their assets. And, yes, there are plenty of artists who see
opportunities to get their work before a wider audience as a key benefit.

None of that excuses us from treating copyrighted materials casually. Just
because "everybody is doing it" even if that is to the point that it can be
considered standard practice on the Internet, or some such argument.

"How relevant is copyright to what we do every day?" I'd say it's pretty
relevant. Whether we're contractors or employees, as a group we deal with
intellectual property belonging to others on a daily basis. My view is that I
have an obligation to those I'm working for to protect their intellectual
property as if it were my own. I suppose a case could be made that we could be
considered negligent if we took any other view, but I have no formal legal
training, so I can't answer it from that standpoint. I just feel that until my
management gives me different directions, I do what I can to safeguard their
intellectual property.

Can I keep others from stealing it or misappropriating it or misusing it?
Probably not. What I can do is make sure everything is properly marked and

As to what I do myself, well I follow the rules as I understand them because I
think that is the right thing to do. I'm not trying to preach here; I'm just
trying to answer the question as to what I do with intellectual property.

Will the copyright go the way of all things? Maybe. I honestly don't know. With
so many lawyers in the U.S. I find it unlikely that copyrights will go away
without a lot of fighting and fussing. Will some people continue to treat
intellectual property casually? Undoubtedly. Will some copyright owners take a
less restrictive view of their intellectual property? Again, I think they will.
Is that the right thing to do? I guess I would leave that up to each
individual, but I don't think it is wrong to defend your copyright, if that's
what you feel you need to do.

Tom Murrell
Senior Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
Columbus, Ohio
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com

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