Do Copyright Laws Help us or Hurt us?

Sometimes "copyright infringement" is a hot button topic with artists, but copyright law is changing fast in the digital age -- and not always for the artist's benefit.

If you try to access or share some media content, you can be charged with a criminal felony of violating a copyright.

I am particularly concerned about content that was initially funded by tax payers, but is now being restricted by private companies for a profit.  Aaron Swartz was someone who fought these kind of copyright laws, and it led to a tragic ending.

Today, if you download pictures of  Disney characters without permission, and then share it with your friends for fun, according to current copyright laws, you might face a felony, fines, and 35 years of prison.  One has to ask:  Who wrote these laws? And for whose benefit?  

It is highly unlikely they were written for independent artists and musicians.

Oddly enough, I have never heard of a case where the federal government stepped in to protect an artist when their work was stolen. These cases normally end up in civil court. No one usually goes to jail.

As artists, we need to examine both sides of copyright law and look deeper into these issues and investigate how these laws effect us, and our access to resources.  We may be worried about someone stealing our picture and reproducing it, but I'm equally worried about copyright laws being enforced in such an irrational way, that it shuts down an entire generation of creativity in a society. 

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