Noticing where Credit is Due

It was not until this summer when I started take my design work to a professional level by putting my portfolio online did I realize the many of rules and issues that are encountered with what is “copying” someone’s work. To create a design piece of one’s own, just like making a recipe, people always look to other work for inspiration. If I wanted to design a background for a poster I was creating, I would simply go on Google and find a number of backgrounds with I felt fit my piece. Then I would download or copy a number of the ones that I liked, (this process is called creating a swipe), and choose a background from this narrowed-down “swipe” of mine. Now, the issue that many young artists encounter is re-creating or altering the background so that it is your own. I cannot use any of the backgrounds I chose without altering it in Photoshop or Illustrator by changing the color, for example. I have come to realize that as an artist, I want the work that I make to be mine, and as easy as it is to just copy and paste a background into my work, I would not be able to truly say, “This artwork is mine.” This is why whenever I go to download a font on the internet, I always see a note underneath saying, “Please credit so-and-so for their work,” or it will say, ” for personal use only,” meaning that I can use their font if I am not sharing my work with public. The trust is in the hands of the individual that uses the font. Moreover, now probably due to the number of copyright issues, you have to pay to use someone font, and many fonts or over $35!

Copyright Laws

Before having a lecture on copyright laws, I never really thought about it before except when citing sources from the internet in a paper. I am definitely one of those people that download music online because it is free and I do not want to spend $2,000 worth of music on itunes. I get what the commercial on stealing from the internet is supposed to come across as, but I think because you are not literally taking a copy away from the source, it is not the same comparison.

If I can get away with watching movies, TV shows and downloading music online I will do it. I know I am not the only one doing this and it is not really “looked down upon” by my peers so I think that’s why it is more justifiable.

Reality Righteousness…Cyber Carelessness

Truthfully, I don’t think many people, myself included, really follow online copyright rules and regulations. When I am looking for a picture to add to a presentation or paper, I don’t worry about giving credit to the picture poster when I take one from Google Images. Similarly, I have no problems with illegally taking music and movies off of the internet. When I sat down to write this post and realized I don’t feel any remorse for illegally downloading content off the internet, I also recognized how hypocritical it all was. It’s funny to me that I would never, and have never, shoplifted from a store before and I would scold somebody for stealing something in person, but I have no issue stealing things I haven’t paid for off the internet. For example, I use a website that takes music directly from YouTube, converts it to be compatible to Itunes so I can listen to any type of music found through that site for free. And because almost every song I might want to download is available in some form via YouTube, I very rarely ever have to pay for a single song. This is no doubt stealing music and yet I have no issue with it and still I would never think about stealing a CD from a Best Buy or any other store. That had me wondering why my values are so righteous in reality but virtually criminal. Why would I ever think it is “okay” or fine to steal something off of the web but not in real life. My theory is that because I am sitting behind a computer where nobody can see me, that I don’t have to be as virtuous behind a computer screen as I am in person. I also think that the reason I am this way is because I have always understood the internet as a somewhat free experience… and therefore anything that is found on the web is free as well. If you put something on the internet, I automatically assume that is is there for me to see or use. I never once feel bad about using Wikipedia without having paid for it or watching a movie on YouTube before it is even out in theaters because somebody else put it there for me to see. Even though they a movie was illegally streamed, I assume that because I was not the one who illegally posted it, I’m not doing anything criminal and so I go ahead and take advantage of it being there. However,  I do recognize that this is wrong and it is the reason the music industry has lost so much money over the years from illegal online downloading. To be honest though, I don’t think it will stop me or anybody else from doing it.

I’m okay with being illegal

I have to say I am a lot like everyone else in this department.  When I am entering a site I do not pay attention to “terms and agreements” and I usually just click “accept” to get where I want to be faster.  I understand this clearly defeats the purpose of “terms and agreements” because after clicking “I accept” people then go ahead and abuse the internet.  I do not exploit the internet in any way, for the most part.

It has become a large part of our culture to “steal” things off of the internet.  Regretfully, I have to admit I do this A LOT.  On MOJO  I’m taking peoples music while I’m in the library and we’re on the same network.  While at my internship this past summer, I spent a large part of my time illegally downloading Final Cut Pro and Microsoft Office 2011 (I don’t know if I should really be putting this stuff in writing).

Although I do illegally take these things from various sites, I would never call them my own product or sell them somewhere else.  When you have to write a paper and you use outside information, you have to cite your source, otherwise you are plagiarizing.  My downloads are not plagiarism because I clearly know I do not have the technology or the mental capacity to create a program like Final Cut Pro–I just didn’t exactly pay for it.

I think it is also interesting to note that we are so willing to give our information out to various sites (like when a website will ask you to “connect to facebook”).  A friend of mine sent me this link that is pretty creepy.. but it does make a commentary on the fact that you should not hand out your personal information and have it so readily available for anyone to see.

Copyrights and Other Regulations

My experience with copyrights and other regulations throughout the Internet is not necessarily the best one, because I do not really choose to pay attention to them.  First and foremost, I don’t copy things, and I follow the “rules of the World Wide Web” or whatever you want to refer to it as, but I never stop to take a look at what is copyrighted, and what isn’t.  I assume just what every other person out there probably assumes: there is content on the web that is not meant to be copied, but is (for example: turning YouTube videos into mp3’s and stealing music) and most everything these days has a copyright.  Unfortunately, it has become slightly built into our culture to illegally download content from the Internet, no matter how much it continues to try and be stopped.  Also, I never stop to read the copyright agreements on major websites, because they all seem like the same thing to me.  We learned in lecture that copyright is “now the most prominent control of information and communication in free societies” but from my experience, it is not really much of a control at all, considering how much of the time it is broken.  I feel that copyrights are kind of just expected to be there. Many copyright laws are put into place throughout the Internet, and the numbers keep going up and up. It’s pretty much up to the individual user to determine if its worth it or not to break copyright laws, and most of the time, its not worth the risk.