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Copyright Laws - Time to Evolve!

There is a real need for copyright laws to evolve and move with the times. At the very least there needs to be a new kind of licensing arrangement that encourages free use of copyrighted material but still taps into a share of revenue earnings should such free use begin to generate a substantial level of income.

The obvious case in point is the user generated content medium, online viral video. Many backyard video creators could have far greater earning potential with access to their favorite artist's latest music tracks.

Imagine being able to create your own music video clip for your favorite artist's latest single. For arguments sake, say you produce a clip that is better than the artist's original video clip. It goes 'viral' when you post it on a video site that pays, such as Revver or Metacafe. In the space of a day it's had 50,000 views with no sign of slowing down.

Suddenly you've earned a great deal of money by combining your talent with your favorite artist's music. It's at this point your work comes to the attention of the artist and, quite rightly, they want their share of the profits.

In today's market the artist usually demands you remove the clip from the internet and may even sue you for breach of copyright plus a slice of whatever income you've made but what if there was another option?

What if there was a licensing arrangement where you could use any kind of copyrighted material free of charge but make an agreement to pay the creator a negotiated royalty from any income generated over a specified amount (so as not waste everyone's time on trying to distribute minuscule amounts). How much more could everyone earn (and save in court fees) with this type of licensing? How much wider audience could a professional artist reach by allowing this kind of creative freedom with their work?

Admittedly it would be very hard to keep track of when content begins to earn substantial amounts of money but the sites that pay for user generated content must keep some kind of record of who has earned what in order to pay their creators. Logically it should be these sites that act as a go between and assist with artists being paid a royalty for the use of their music on user generated content.

For example, the video sharing site, YouTube, currently has a policy of not removing copyrighted content until the owner of that material makes a complaint and demands it be removed. What if a similar policy was adopted where by the owner of the copyright could claim their right to a percentage of the earnings?

It's all a bit messy I know but then the present copyright laws are messy too. However these laws need to evolve. It is currently impossible to keep track of how copyrighted material is used. It would be impossible to ensure that everyone who used copyrighted material signed a licensing agreement prior. There needs to be a middle ground.

Consumers are demanding the use of copyrighted material for their own creations. The owners of that material should be compensated if their work assists in generating substantial revenue.

User generated content is the future and it's here now. Copyright laws and professional creators need to embrace amateur creativity whilst still protecting income streams for all content creators whether they be amateur or professional.

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