Copyright Law in the Information Age

Copyright Law in the Information Age

In a time when originality is lacking and everything is copied and pasted from another corner of the web, you might want to use someone else’s content. Is this an ethical choice? Who decides what is okay to copy in a world of screenshots and repost apps?

As a public relations student with little to no experience with posting anything of importance online, I typically do not think twice about posting a funny meme on my personal Instagram or Facebook account, but should people with a customer base and thousands of followers give it more thought?

My personal opinion is that posting content that you did not create is okay if you credit the creator until you are making money off of it.

An example of making money off of someone else’s idea is the recent lawsuit Katy Perry threatened Fernando Sosa with. During the 2015 Superbowl, Perry had backup dancers in shark costumes, which happened to be her idea. After the dancing sharks went viral (because the Internet), Sosa created 3-D prints of one of the dancing sharks, selling them on his Etsy account for $24.99.

Katy_Perry_-_Super_Bowl_XLIX_Halftime_02
Katy Perry at 2015 Superbowl//Wikipedia
The letter Perry’s lawyer sent to Sosa stated that the shark figure in question is Perry’s copyrighted material, therefore cannot be recreated and sold for profit by someone else.

Katy Perry created something, and it blew up on the Internet. Photos and memes of the sharks were all over Twitter, Instagram, even the news outlets with no action taken against the posters. But once Fernando Sosa decided to make a profit on Perry’s idea, lawyers were ready to stop it.

I think this can be applied to most digital media. If you are going to post something you did not create, credit the creator if you know who it is. If you are going to sell something, such as 3-D figurines of Superbowl performers or even framed prints of Internet quotes, make sure the creator of that content is okay with it.

Is this legal advice? Of course not. But hopefully your moral compass will steer you away from selling someone else’s creations.

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