Copyright law and its problems

Sometimes, the summer recess in the television programming schedule creates opportunities for documentaries to see the light in the Netherlands that otherwise would lose their slot to sports programs or a quiz. This evening the Dutch public service broadcaster aired the documentary RIP: A remix Manifesto, an account of the history and state of copyright law in the US in the digital information age.
It shows that, not only copyright issues are of all times, but it also seems to reach the level of absurdity regarding Digital Rights Management (DRM). Responsible are the lobby groups in the US representing the large media companies such as Viacom, Warner and NewsCorp.

Copyright law is still going strong, also in Europe. In Sweden the owners of the Pirate Bay (a bit torrent site) have been convicted. In the Netherlands the owners of the bit torrent site Mininova also are being prosecuted.

The documentary makes an interesting and relevant side step to science by referring to extensive patenting by medical and pharmaceutical companies.

Fortunately, not all is lost because awareness is growing that sharing in the long run may be beneficial to all, given the increasingly being used Creative Commons licenses. Brazil seems to be leading the way in this respect.

Published by

Maurice Vergeer

Associate professor, Radboud University