Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Copyright Issue

I had an interesting learning experience today, one in which I felt really hit home for me.
As graphic design students we are open to use any imagery/material we would like to in our design work. Our options are literally endless and we have NO boundaries as to what we can plop into an illustrator document, print out, and call our own. We think we can call something "ours" when we really just screen-grabbed an image from a google search and placed it in a template where we maybe changed the color, and it is magically transformed into artwork that WE created! Sounds a lot like stealing or cheating to me. I find this to be a fault in the graphic design learning curriculum.
I posted a stop motion animation to facebook the other day thinking that it was no big deal, and I just wanted some of my friends to aquire a taste of what I was doing here at the "tute". After telling a few people to check out the video I was told that they couldn't find it on my facebook page. I thought that this was weird since it was working just fine the night before.
I curiously loaded my page and was so abruptly smacked in the face with a message stating "your video was removed because it appears to contain copyrighted material owned by a third party...please note if you re-upload this video without filing a counter-notice, or if you upload another video that infringes on the rights of a third party, we may remove that content. This could cause your ability to upload videos, or your facebook account itself, to be disabled."
Now, this may sound minor to some, but in my case it uprooted a much needed realization about copyright. The film that I uploaded contained imagery that was all mine, however the audio track was not. I thought that I had innocently uploaded that video, but in the real-world we cannot just "innocently" do things. I was pretty upset, because I felt like facebook was yelling at me like an angry but concerned parent when I didn't know that I was doing anything wrong.
I went back through and credited my sources wherever I posted the video on the web, and after I did this I realized that the cadence of this event was critical in my learning experience. I can be "told" over and over about copyright, but actually having the first-hand experience of an outside source (not from school) is when I realized the consequences of taking someone elses work.
In conclusion, I feel that the design curriculum here at KCAI should put much more emphasis on copyright infringement. I would like to know it as second nature not just as something I will have worry about later when I actually get outside of school. Facebook yelling at me was minor compared to what could happen outside of these brick walls that so solidly encase us. We work in a bubble, and in ways that is beneficial for experimental creativity but there seems to be a disconnect from the reality of this profession in terms of copyright and it's consequences.

1 comment:

thenewprogramme said...

great point, mo. i'm glad you had this experience. it is definitely important and something we spend little to no time on, except on the first day when it's covered in the syllabus. it would be a good idea to have a conversation about this in our class, because it pertains to everything you utilize in your work -- ideas in papers, images, written content, typefaces, and sound/music.