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My Voice, My Choice

Some basic copyright caveats By Douglas Spotted Eagle
Copyright. The mere word calls forth difficult emotions ranging from artists screaming at fans for downloading illegal MP3's from a peer2peer to dignified white collar workers vociferously defending their right to use media that they assume they've bought and paid for.

What is copyright? Quite literally; the right to copy. No one has a right to copy anything tangible that they didn't create unless theyve been given specific license to do so, generally by the author and partners in a copyrighted work without regard to it being a print, sound recording, or video recorded work unless it falls into a specific category of Fair Use.

The Constitution of the United States points to protecting sciences and the arts in Article I, Section 8, clause 8, indicating that protection from unauthorized copying of creative works is something our forefathers had considered. If only they'd had the foresight to understand digital media, because as technology has moved forward in the past 200 years, it's created a mess of laws and an even bigger mess from editors that claim to be 'in the know.' Most professional musicians, editors, and videographers are clueless as to the width, breadth, and depth of current copyright laws, but some are taking notice, since the passage of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, as the new Act has tremendous impact on digital rights management, the copying and use of digital media, and copyright in general. A new bill is being proposed, the Digital Media Consumers Rights Act, (actually reintroduced) that may change some of the parameters of the DMCA.

The Constitution of the United States Article I, Section 8, clause 8;
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

As a reasonably successful artist, Im constantly walking a tightrope because as an artist I wish protection for my musical works. As a videographer/editor I often want to have access to musical works that are not affordable, accessible, or sometimes even possible. I do know that its the single biggest issue to face the video and audio world in the coming years. I usually express the meaning of copyright with the phrase ?My Voice, My Choice in that the author, composer, creator of the copyrighted work is expressing their artistic voice in the process, and should always have the choice as to where that work is displayed or heard.

In the visual world, music plays a huge role in the creative process. In fact, Ive often been heard to say that audio is 70% of the visual experience and music certainly plays a big role in that statement. But it's often seemingly difficult to access the audio tracks that editors believe would make the video more appealing.

With the music industry in a serious economic crunch a new revenue stream has been discovered; ferreting out and suing copyright violators. This is certainly not limited to MP3 pirates sharing music over a peer to peer network. Its come down to wedding videographers being fined, along with high schools that have done video yearbooks for sale being fined for improper and illegal use of copyrighted media.

Understand that when you buy a CD, DVD, or other recorded media form, you dont own anything except a shiny silver disk or container (mechanical device) that holds the copyrighted work. The music, video, spoken word, text, software, graphic illustration, or whatever electronic media contained in the mechanical device remains the property of its creator and their partners. You have a permission to view/listen/enjoy the contents of the mechanical device. You do not own anything of value, and do not have the right to duplicate/replicate the contents in any form except in specific instances.

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