Four Things I Think About When Thinking About Copyright

Four Things I Think About When Thinking About Copyright

1. To be topical, this is my first item to share:

The internet is so much broader than the corporate world can manage or control. I think that it’s ridiculous that people are sued and threatened for insane amounts of money for sharing art. People do it in millions of different ways, from something large scale like creating a bit torrent to something personal and old fashioned like playing a song in a car to show a friend. Art is created to stimulate and entertain. Art that is effective in its creation does these very things to consumers and makes them want to share the love with others. Does that make it wrong? No, but the laws of copyright will treat you like a criminal for “committing” these offenses. But seriously, when it comes to media arts sharing, politics don’t care about morality; they care about money and who’s going to get it. Movies, music, newspapers, books, etcetera are all forms of art and you can’t REALLY put a price on art, but the corporate world is trying so hard to do so.


Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit was pretty much legally confined to a corner that would have sentenced him to harsh criminal penalties. I don’t have much more to say than I feel awful that this had to happen in order to make a statement. Basically, Swartz was sharing a series of documents to make available for scholarly use. Cut to a few accusations later, Swartz commits suicide. I only hope his story is forever remembered next time some youngster is being fined to death for copyrights.


I’m sure most of us have seen this awfully annoying “you wouldn’t steal a car” PSA before a lot of DVD’s in recent years. The funny thing is that the music that is used for the PSA is a stolen work. In short, the PSA was created by an anti-piracy group that eventually earned money for its creation and inclusion on thousands of DVD’s. The artist of the song was never compensated or even made aware of his music’s use.


I started driving in the summer of 2007. The license plate on my car was the “lone star panoramic” design, which can be viewed here:

It was not long before I got pulled over by a cop after a few weeks of driving. It was for prematurely driving in a shoulder for more than ten feet while attempting to utilize the turn-around lane. As upset as I was when I received the ticket, the mean cop also warned me that I was committing a second offense with the border around my license plate. Apparently, according to this cop, I was infringing on copyright laws because the frame on my license plate was covering the crappy artwork on the border of the plate. The artist of the plate had complained about seeing this happen not too long ago and allegedly the state implemented a law to protect his precious artwork.

As hard as I looked online for information regarding this “law,” I cannot find any information about it. Has anybody else ever been warned about your license plate frame?

-David Martinez

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