Watch but Don’t Touch- The Evolution of Copyright

Copyright- the reason why you can’t download that song you want, the reason your YouTube video was taken down, the reason you can’t watch that new episode you’ve been dying to see because you want to know what happens next.

It’s highly frustrating, I know. But in its own way, copyright is good!

Before copyright made an appearance, the notion of property was only related to resources like land, animals and objects. Intellectual work such as writing had no protection because you can’t ‘own’ an idea. Today, any and all content by a creator can be copyrighted, and monopoly rights for the protection of a creator’s work has increased from 14 years after publication to at least 50-70 years after the author’s death. Disney even managed to successfully extend their copyright laws on Mickey Mouse to 120 years after Walt Disney’s death!

As the public, we can freely access any content that the creator makes, but a large amount of intellectual property that does exist on the media currently is already subjected to copyright. Even the song ‘Happy Birthday’ was copyrighted by Time-Warner! Don’t worry, it’s a part of the public domain now, so if you want to post a video of your dog’s birthday, that’s totally fine to do so.


The meme I created above is one such example of the heavy laws that copyright has placed onto the public, especially YouTube copyright laws. On YouTube, any audio sound that sounds exactly like, or similar to, a copyrighted audio piece already owned on this platform is immediately taken down. In one of these cases of YouTube copyrights, a video of a cat purring was posted onto YouTube, and the video was taken down due to copyright violation of the sound of the cat’s purr. Pretty silly right? Another example of this, is the dispute between Germany and Google over the banning of watching a YouTube video. Remember the good old year of 2013? It was the year that a meteorite crashed into Russia, and YouTube practically exploded with numerous dash cam videos of the meteorites’ fall. In one of these videos, while the person is recording the meteor from their car, a song starts to play from their radio.

You can only guess why the video was banned.

However, in cases like this, the doctrine of fair use (<-click for more info) can be used to prove that no copyright violations were made in YouTube videos.


Well, that’s all for today, thank you for reading, if you want to check out more on the Germany/Russia YouTube dispute click here,  and I’ll catch you in the next blog real soon!




One thought on “Watch but Don’t Touch- The Evolution of Copyright

  1. gracebarr says:

    Truly, copyright is as much of a pain as it is a saviour to ocntent creators. Your point about copyright systems on youtube just proves how ineffective an automated system is in dealing with the issue. Another big issue that might’ve been worth mentioning more is how big companies/brands abuse the copyright system to gain money from youtubers.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s