Friday, June 20, 2008

Copyright v. Public Domain

I know that there are a whole bunch of people out with really great ideas, and they want to use those ideas to sell a product. I think that's great. I also think that patents, trademarks, and copyrights are great. However, I have been looking online for some sheet music. I know that this music is pretty old, and I have a pretty good idea that some of it, if not all, really should be in the Public Domain. Therefore, I want to find this music in one of the online download sections. If it's in the public domain, maybe I should pay some company for preserving it for me, but I shouldn't have to pay the price for the rights to the royalties or to the publishing company anymore.

Anyway, that said, I also feel very strongly about preserving people's copyrights. For awhile, I used to download songs off Kazaa on the internet. Then, I thought about it. I really like these songs. I really like the composers. If I copy their music and use it for free, I'm taking away their resources to produce more songs like these. People who produce music, books, patterns, or any other copyrighted material for a living have to have those copyrights. Also, their families deserve to have some consideration to be helped by the copyrights. The thing is, that copyrights were meant to expire. When the very first copyrights were being made, they lasted for 14 years. The most current legislation is for personal copyrights to last 75 years past the author's death. This most current legislation is the Sonny Bono act. It guarantees some corporate copyrights for 120 years. Many people believe that this act passed largely due to some 6.3 million dollars in campaign contributions by Disney. Mickey Mouse and his friends are very profitable to Disney. The problem that I see here is that Walt Disney is gone. Also, Disney is no longer owned by or run by Walt's family. Now, it's solely profitable to Disney Corporation, and society as a whole loses out because of that.

What if Mickey moves into the Public Domain? How is that any different than the great works by Mozart and Beethoven? It would be great to have some of Disney's characters move into the Public Domain. We could use those characters to teach art, animation, and other things just like we use Mozart and Beethoven to teach piano students about Classical music and the enjoyment of aesthetics. There is a great value to the Public Domain. The Supreme Court is going to rule on a decision about whether the Sonny Bono act is actually constitutional or not. As of tonight (5 am after studying this since about 1:30) I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for this case.

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