How Long Can You Go Without Infringing On Copyright?

from the not-long-one-imagines... dept

A couple years ago, we wrote about a research paper looking at how often you infringe on copyrights in an average day to show just how ridiculous copyright law has become. Now, riffing on a recent post we did about how people take different views of copyright depending on whether they're making use of others' content or having their own content repurposed, one of our commenters has written up a blog post for, discussing how hard it is to not infringe on copyrights, noting that the original system was not built for a digital world:
As copyright was originally enacted, it was next to impossible to accidentally infringe. In the good old days in order to infringe on a copyright you had to physically publish a song or a book without permission by printing it onto paper via a printing press. There was no other way to copy or infringe on a song or a book and there was no such thing as a performance right protected by copyright.

Nowadays we infringe copyrights numerous times throughout the day without even thinking about it. Watching an unauthorized SNL clip on YouTube. Playing the radio in the background at work where customers can hear. Loaning a copy of your Finding Nemo DVD to play at your kids' daycare. Downloading clip art to use in a personal scrapbook. Scanning your own wedding photos. Forwarding a funny photograph to a friend. Loaning a co-worker some software. Etc., etc., etc...

Copyright laws are so utterly pervasive in our lives that we simply cannot reasonably function without at least some innocent infringement. I personally think it'd be easier to avoid jaywalking and speeding than it would be to avoid infringing. So my question to you guys and gals, how long do you think you could last without infringing a copyright?
Indeed. It's interesting to note that some have compared copyright to speeding, but it's true that people are probably "infringing" a lot more often than they speed... and lots of people speed quite a bit.

Filed Under: accidental infringement, copyright, infringement

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  1. identicon
    violet1999, 12 May 2009 @ 11:56pm

    Music Copyright

    I feel like these days it's really difficult to tell what is copyrighted and what isn't. I know that it is best to err on the safe side and to assume something IS copyrighted, but then again, there are a lot of artists out there that are cool and who will allow small-time ventures to use their music royalty-free. I think that websites like are really helpful in finding out whether something is copyrighted or not... but sometimes you just don't know.

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