Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Copyright Laws Should Not Impede Social Progress
As a Western society we have relied on structuring models for the advancement of our civilization. Beginning in England, copyright laws were established to foment scientific and cultural progress by motivating people with rewards. We have advanced as a society through inventions which have been built upon by others throughout the years. As such, while copyright laws serve to motivate progress in society, the laws should be flexible enough to allow for others to build upon them and drive advancement.
Helprin argues that copyright laws should be extended to secure reward for descendants on the grounds that it will keep motivating invention. While I do agree that rewarding motivates ideas and works to keep being produced, extending the law would just make it harder for other people to build upon the initial idea. Ideas are part of a society regardless of who invented them because they are produced in a particular localized moment in time. Making them available to the public after certain time enhances the society's contextualized history. Moreover, it enables the society to reinvent and build upon them, and make progress towards new eras of cultural and scientific knowledge.
This is not to say that authors go without credit on their work. As an author, I feel that my work can be used and I should be cited by the authors that use it. Likewise, I like to credit any work that I borrow. It is an ethical issue not to pass work that it's not ours as our own. Robbing ideas leads to authors persuing stricter copyright laws, and the whole society, not just offenders, is affected.
Using inventions without proper permission or citation has been an issue on the net world recently. The internet has made illegal use of music and film material rampant. Though, ideas and works have also been shared without permission, the music and movie industry has suffered the most. Therefore, the sharing of these materials on the internet should be under more control and authors should make their work easily and inexpensively accesible online to avoid abuse of their inventions. It will benefit authors by having more control over their works and earnings as well as benefit the public by having it accessible at a reasonable cost and easy access.
Finally, individual ownership of work has the rewards of motivating invention and progress. Tightening the laws protecting invention leads other authors to alienate their works from the social context in which they were born. It makes it harder for others to build upon them if they have to consult descendants everytime they even think of using someone else's ideas. These people may not be as knowledgeable as their ancestors about the work or may not even care about the contributions to society. Thus, copyright laws should not be extended and a percentage of financial gain can be established for descendants whenever usage of their ancestors' work acquires monetary gain. This way future inventors have access to ideas and descendants are keep financially secured and happy.