Copyright works both ways

Posted by Martin Vilcans on 28 November 2010

This week there were upset voices on Twitter about copyright infringement. Copyright infringement? On the internet? Doesn't that happen all the time? Does anyone care? you may ask.

Well, those two cases retrieved attention from the internet crowd because the roles were reversed. (Of course, the people on the net are individuals with differing opinions. I use the term internet crowd as a sweeping generalization for the general views that are shared by most of the people active on Twitter, blogs etc.)

In the first case, food blogger Monica Gaudio discovered that an article she had written had been republished by a magazine without her permission or knowledge; a clear case of copyright infringement. In the other case (in Swedish), a web agency asked an applicant for a web design position to design a sample web site for one of their clients. The agency then sold the applicant's sample as their own to the client without paying or even telling the applicant.

Both these cases are the kind that cause uproar among the internet crowd. All while the very same crowd defends the organized copyright infringement on a grand scale that is known as file sharing. This phenomenon is understandable. In the case of the "little man" versus the powerful enemy, we humans tend to side with the underdog. But with millions of "little men" with the power of communication offered by the internet, they are more empowered than ever and can take down even a large corporation. It is not David versus Goliath anymore.

Copyright itself doesn't take sides. We need to remember that copyright is not only for the big corporations to abuse. There is some idea of fairness about it as well, an idea that the internet crowd seems to agree on. In the discussions about copyright and so called piracy, we need to keep in mind that copyright works both ways. It gives rights not only to the large corporations, but also to the little man.

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