by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 9th 2008 4:08pm
The Washington Post is running an article covering a bunch of cases where big companies have been using content from user-generated content sites, like Flickr, without permission -- upsetting the amateur content creators. Some of the cases we've talked about in the past, and a few others are pretty well known as well. Basically, they usually involve someone at a big company making use of an image he or she found on Flickr without getting permission and then using that on TV, in a magazine, in an advertisement or on the web. Quite often, the companies that are doing this are also known for their own overly-aggressive attempts to combat copyright infringement of their own works. What's unfortunate about these cases is that, rather than recognizing how silly copyright is no matter which direction it's going in, many of the people are reacting just like the big content companies themselves. This isn't surprising, but it is a little depressing. The Big Content companies only have themselves to blame, of course. Their "education" campaign has only alerted people to become more attuned to thinking of content as property, and more ready to sue over its use. This situation is only going to get worse, as more and more amateur content is out there, unless we start realizing that it's time to peel back copyright law, stop thinking of ideas as property that can be owned, and start recognizing there are ways to embrace the sharing of information and content that makes everyone better off. The Washington Post asks if that would be "total anarchy," which suggests little recognition of the history of content creation or free markets.
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