The Concept of Copyright - preventing individuals from making a copy of work
Copyright refers to the protection that is provided by law to individuals or entities for the original works that they have produced. It is a type of intellectual property that provides a framework for relationships of players in the content industry (Nimmer, 2013). The basic concept of copyright is protecting the original works of an author. Copyright law was inspired by Statute of Anne. The constitution placed the power of protecting authors and their original works to the federal hands. A comprehensive copyright act was passed in 1790. The act was revised repeatedly in 1800s. The revisions were a reflection of changes in the copyright's idea. For example, a change in 1831 added musical compositions as a protected work. Other changes reflected technology and ideology. For example the changes in 1865 added photographs. Copyright has therefore been in force for a very long time with the aim of protecting author's original work.
The basic idea of copyright is preventing individuals from making a copy of work such as a book without the original author's permission. This was the main concept when the law was passed in 1790 an it is still the fundamental concept of copyright protection. The list of works listed in the protected list range from printed books, digital works, musical works, architectural work, computer software, to art (Varian, 2005).
Copyright law has many challenges due to its nature. One major issue with the copyright law is what work should be protected. There is an increasingly change in the international nature of communication. The technological landscape is also ever-changing. This makes it difficult for the copyright law to keep current. It results to challenges such as convincing the court that there are new forms of transmission that constitute writing. This makes it difficult since there are new forms of expression that make it hard to convince a court that they fall under the protected work definition (Waldfogel, 2013). It is often quite difficult to say that the law intended to protect some current forms of expression that were not in existence when the law was being passed.
One of the people that the law protects is printers. Before the beginning of printing press, there was no any need of protection against other people who may steal their work. During that time the work of copying books was very tedious and only very few books were being made. The first Stationer Company was established in the mid-sixteenth century by some printers who were in an agreement not to print books that was already being printed by another. According to Nimmer (2013) "One of the fatal flaw of their idea was the ability of new printers to show up with own presses and they would print anything they wanted" (Nimmer, 2013). To avoid the unfair competition, the company petitioned for a monopoly from the King and it was granted to them. The monopoly brought bout a censorship system whereby the King would control the work being printed. The exclusive right granted to print the books was the ultimate source of the copyright law body that is currently in United States and all over the world.
Another issue is the rights that should be protected for these works and how they should be protected. To understand this, it is important to know the reason why these works are protected. Copyright protection leads to many results. The goal of the Stationer Company was to protect the printers and the information that reached the people. However, what resulted is an absolute monopoly. If copyrights aims at simply giving the author total ownership and control of what they create, copyright protection will need to last and it can prevent any other person from using the work without permission from the original author. This is also a monopoly favoring the authors. If the aim of copyright protection is maximizing the work's social value, this will lead us to different results. Another aim that will bring about different results is if the goal is encouraging productivity and creativity.
Copyright protection seeks all the goals mentioned. However, it no longer aims or intends to result to absolute government censorship power. It also does not intend giving monopoly to individuals in the printing industry. The power and protection given to printers was changed in the Statute of Anne chapter one part three. The statute gave the protection to authors of the work and not the printers. It was the first modern but simple copyright law since it granted authors right over their work which powerful writers had total control over previously. The main purpose of copyright is therefore to encourage science and innovation development and providing financial benefits to the copyright holders for their original work while facilitating access to entertainment and knowledge by the public (Esquenet, 2013).