Social & Economic Issues

Importance and Perpetual Security of Copyright Laws

By Valerie Cantillo

Copyright law is very important in entertainment. It is what allows authors to have ownership of and protection over their original works. It has been around for a very long time, ever since its creation in 1790. However, its last major revision was in 1976 and has remained the same ever since. Yes, the laws that are meant to protect artists have been outdated for 47 years and this topic has been one of the many criticisms against U.S. copyright laws. 

To understand the criticisms against copyright laws, it is important to understand what copyright laws really are. Established in 1790, they were made to give exclusive rights to creators for their original works, allow them to profit off of said work, and prevent people from stealing and unjustly profiting off of others’ work. 

Bayside High School Art Teacher Ms. Assel said, “I do think it’s important for artists to protect their works as much as they can.” The term of protection, which was originally 14 years long, was changed to 28 years in 1831.  Recently, in 1998, the term was extended to 95 years after publication of the original work or the author’s lifespan plus 70 years. However, fair use allows for people to use copyrighted material without permission as long as it falls under fair use. As long as the work does not attempt to act as a substitute for the original work, it may fall under fair use.

Although copyright laws were made to protect creators, many people argue that, in their current state, they only benefit large corporations and do not properly protect artists. In July 2016, Getty Images, a stock image company, was sued by photographer Carol M. Highsmith for charging royalties for her photos despite her works being in the public domain, meaning that anyone could use them free of charge. Getty Images had also charged Highsmith for using her own photos on her website. 

Bayside High School senior Jaiden Castellano exclaims, “I don’t think it’s good to steal someone else’s work.” Even though Getty Images falsely claimed copyright-claimed works that were in the public domain, the court ended up dismissing the case in November of that year. 

As stated before, copyright law is incredibly important and can be used to benefit artists. However, it is far too often that people abuse and take advantage of these laws. Without proper enforcement of copyright law, it may continue to fail the artists the laws were made to protect, especially as technology develops and changes how art is made. That’s why proper action must be taken against false claims, as well as updating current copyright laws to adapt to the current times.

With how vague and confusing the current laws are, copyright laws can be very difficult to understand. However, with advances in art and technology such as AI art and how it affects hand-drawn art, laws are likely to see new changes with how copyright works and how it can better protect artists.