Copyright issues are particularly important to consider when constructing websites, developing a blog, or creating new media. Copyright comes into play in interesting ways online and it is an issue I have been meaning to go into more in this blog. I’ll even do a podcast episode or two on it.

For many people copyright was not really a big concern, besides the scary copyright FBI warnings on VHS tapes, before the RIAA lawsuits. When the RIAA started suing teenagers for downloading music on file sharing software such as KaZaA, everyone started taking note. Information may want to be free, but we do need to respect copyright.

The RIAA cases changed how many people, especially younger internet users, listened to music. But, the lawsuits have also resulted in an interesting copyright argument. As this article by Paul Glazowski on Mashable shows, one “music stealing” person won something of a financial break by drawing on a interesting part of copyright law. Copyright damages, according to 17 U.S.C. § 504 of the Copyright Act, are set at a minimum of $750 per work. However, it the act also states:

“where the infringer . . . was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages to a sum of not less than $200.” 17 U.S.C. § 504

The defendant in Maverick v. Harper received this lesser charge, a savings of $550 per item. This is still rather costly, but the leeway this gives those who can show they “didn’t know better” is good. While copyright is an important part of our intellectual property and distribution, consideration needs to be made of the context of infringement. Paul Glazowski makes a good argument for the cost of infringements in this same article, which I will not get into now.

Without diving much deeper into this issue, I will say I am a strong supporter of the Creative Commons movement. The RIAA lawsuits and other copyright lawsuits and issues have created an even greater need for the everyday person to have access to media that they can use in various ways. Copyright should be honored, but so should the creative needs of our citizens. Creative Commons is a good way to do both.

One Response to “Unaware copyright infringement equals less Money to the RIAA”

Copyrighting is very important specially if you wrote original articles both online and offline.~~:

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