Who benefits from Copyright?

Hands up if you think the answer is,”The Walt Disney Corporation”?

And Disney is a Big Business, Big Business is bad and greedy, ergo anthing that benefits Big Business can’t be good for ordinary people. Right?


Artists are ordinary people too. Well, most of them. Creators need to make a buck and feed their families like everyone else.

Artists do what they do for a complex of reasons, and making money isn’t necessarily the most important. But anyone who takes their art seriously sooner or later wants to spend the majority of their time concentrating on it. Good art takes … practice. And to practice, you need to be at least a little bit free of worrying about where next week’s rent money is coming from.

So, if you accept these points, which I do not believe are in any way controversial, read on and see what an open mind might make of the following article:



A brief extract, starting with a discussion about the impact of “new technologies” on the question of “access”, and the proposition by copyright critics that copyright inhibits access (yes it does – it inhibits access by rogue third parties into artist’s pockets).

“It’s tempting to reduce the scope of copyright protection to “permit unfettered use” by new technologies “in order to increase access,” but doing so “risks eroding the very basis of copyright law, by depriving authors of control over their works and consequently of their incentive to create.”

The Justices added these remarks from Abraham Kaminstein, Register of Copyrights during the run-up to the 1976 Copyright Act revision:

I realize, more clearly now than I did in 1961, that the revolution in communications has brought with it a serious challenge to the author’s copyright. This challenge comes not only from the ever-growing commercial interests who wish to use the author’s works for private gain. An equally serious attack has come from people with a sincere interest in the public welfare who fully recognize … ‘that the real heart of civilization… owes its existence to the author’; ironically, in seeking to make the author’s works widely available by freeing them from copyright restrictions, they fail to realize that they are whittling away the very thing that nurtures authorship in the first place. An accommodation among conflicting demands must be worked out, true enough, but not by denying the fundamental constitutional directive: to encourage cultural progress by securing the author’s exclusive rights to him for a limited time.5


About Costa Botes

I'm a freelance film maker based in Wellington, New Zealand. I make mainly long form independent documentaries about characters I find interesting.
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