The Purpose Of Copyright Essay

1412 words - 6 pages

In today’s ever-accelerating world, we constantly find ourselves in a whirlwind of vague and complicated legal issues. Several of these relate specifically to something we encounter every time we listen to a song, look at a photograph, or read a book⎯copyrights. It appears that all these new controversies over copyrights and copyright infringement may be exaggerated or irrelevant. However, these issues pertaining copyright are neither irrelevant nor exaggerated, although this excessive attention constantly being drawn to it is certainly worth noting. The fact that copyrights are creating such an upheaval should not be attributed to over exaggeration. Instead, we must see this as a sign that copyrights as they are currently being maintained are in need of inspection and perhaps revision. Our excessive emphasis on claiming something as our property has caused copyright to act counter to its initial purpose.
In order to best understand what the initial intention of copyrights was, it is necessary to look to where it is first expressed in our society. As it turns out, copyrights have been in place in our society since the crafting of the Constitution. Although there were several views as go how to best implement it, ultimately it was Thomas Jefferson’s notion of copyright that was most clearly incorporated into the Constitution. In it, it “…gives Congress the authority to ‘promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries’” (Lethem 63). This inclusion of a copyright for authors and inventors had a clear purpose⎯to create an incentive for the mass of typically ordinary people to create and innovate. By securing a patent, the idea was that people would become more willing to take that risk to do what it is they were good and/or creative at in hopes of making it their living. If people were guaranteed that they would have a secure time and advantage over their future competitors, it would also lessen the risk of authoring or inventing something new. Because genius was no longer seen as just pertaining to a select few, it served in the interest of this emerging nation to attract as many people possible to create by ensuring that, if successful, they will be rewarded (Khan 3).
But there is another part to this early establishment of copyrights that often goes unnoticed. It is true that copyrights mainly served to secure authorship to the individual authors and inventors, but it cannot be forgotten that it was still part of the larger picture of the constitution. As B. Zorina Khan argues, “To the men who gathered in Philadelphia to ‘promote the general Welfare,’ it was self-evident that ideas, inventions, and democratic values were integrally related” (1). Even though it was not officially stated that creations and innovations should serve to benefit the public, this was always an underlying assumption that was made. Generally, what...

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