In An Age Of Abundance, Attribution Is More Important Than Copying
from the now-we'll-find-out-who-actually-let-the-dogs-out dept
It’s no secret that copyright law has fit, at best, awkwardly into the digital age. Originally designed to make creators more profitable, as the cost of creation has fallen, the government granted monopoly seems more and more outdated. When ideas are abundant, limiting them seems silly. Now, the EFF’s Danny O’Brien points out that what might actually matter most to content creators is not limiting copies, but attaining proper attribution — even though that was not the intended purpose of copyright law.
Because copying used to be expensive, it was reasonable to assume that someone making a copy was going to sell it. Copyright law was aimed at that action to funnel money back to the original creators. It had the side effect of limiting plagiarism by making it more costly, but it was never copyright’s goal to mandate proper attribution. Now, however, copying isn’t anything extraordinary; in fact, it is the very nature of digital technologies. With the decrease in the price of copies, the cost associated with plagiarism has plummeted, too. O’Brien tells the story of a DJ friend who is more than happy to have her works widely distributed through copies online, but when she learned that another DJ was passing her creation off as his own, she became upset. Shirking copyright law for publicity’s sake was fine, but when the historical side-effect of proper attribution also disappeared, she was more worried. Although plagiarism isn’t always as troublesome as many assume, as attribution becomes untangled from copyright, the two ideas will be increasingly approached differently by creators.