Recent lawsuits bring to light importance of recognizing copyright


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It’s a quintessential song that plagues our childhood memories. It is sung once a year to celebrate a turning of age. This infamous song, “Happy Birthday,” was recently named a part of the public domain after a feud between Summy Co., the acclaimed copyright holders to the song, and two Warner filmmakers who were making a documentary that traced the history of this acclaimed tune. Carly Colbert, YouTuber and sophomore, said she agrees with this decision as the song is so ingrained into not only the culture here in the United States, but around the globe as well.

“I think it is the right choice, (because) it is such a popular song that everybody uses,” Colbert said. “(It’s used) in so many cultures and places.”

Colbert is an avid YouTuber who posts videos approximately once a month. Many of these videos include music, and Colbert said there are steps she must take to ensure her videos don’t include any copyright violations.

“I usually try to get remixes of certain songs, and I have had a few videos taken down because of copyright laws,” Colbert said.Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 2.00.52 PM

Although steps must be taken in order to avoid breaking any copyright laws in many different fields, there are benefits to the reasons behind them. Business law teacher Holly Hochstedler said copyright laws are important in keeping the integrity of the works of others.

“Copyright laws protect what we call ‘intellectual property,’” Hochstedler said. “It means that someone owns the work that they do, so copyright laws protect any of us who have developed something from somebody else stealing that stuff.”

While there are punishments for breaking copyright laws, Colbert said copyright laws exist in the world today for important reasons. She also mentioned they can be an issue when producing videos.

“I think that copyright laws exist just so people who make their music or whatever content people are Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 2.01.15 PMusing get the credit that they deserve for it,” Colbert said. “Sometimes (copyright laws are an issue).”

According to CHTV sponsor Anna Kaiser, students are not always aware of what copyright laws entail.

“I would say that people know what they are, but don’t always follow them. Like, YouTube’s a big sensation and people have a lot of opportunities to take videos and place it with fun music to make it even better,” Kaiser said. “Whether the artist asks them to take the video down is up to the individual artist, but I don’t think that students don’t take into account they are breaking the law.”

Marly Rizkalla, CHTV staff member and senior, said steps must be taken in order to make sure the information reported is accurate and doesn’t violate the copyright laws currently in place.

“If you were to pick a story, you would have to first find (a) story online, print it off, read it and highlight the important facts,” Rizkalla said. “Then, you would have to write your script, and you’re supposed to be limited—you can’t write everything the actual story says; you’re supposed to change it up in your own words.”

Kaiser said that students must be aware of copyright laws in order to follow them correctly for both the staff of CHTV and students here at CHS.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 2.01.36 PM“We teach our students what copyright law is. We explain to them that we are (a) professional station and if we were to break those, we as a station could get in trouble. So, the main thing is to have students know what it is,” Kaiser said. “The next step is to review anything that goes on air. There are times when we will receive a video announcement from a different group when they are using a song they have not been given permission to use. Now, we are taking more steps on making sure teachers know about copyright law, and they can’t use copyright music. It all goes back to knowing what it is and abiding by those laws.”

Kaiser said there are many resources available to students who want to make videos, and do so without breaking copyright law.

“There are a lot of good resources out there that tell you about copyright lawwhat’s acceptable and what’s not,” Kaiser said. “There are some education opportunities, there are points where if you use less than 10 percent of a work it’s fine. There’s a lot of good websites that give royalty free and royalty-free videos.”

Although copyright law can be seen as directly related to both YouTube and CHTV, this concept can also be applied to the business field. The business field has many different aspects in which copyright laws must be taken into account, according to Hochstedler.

“I think just about everything,” Hochstedler said. “When you do any kind of research, any kind of writing or any kind of production, you have to follow copyright laws.”

Even though there are several steps both Colbert and Rizkalla have to take in order to make sure their work doesn’t violate any copyright laws, both continue to do their respective passions as they both believe that the end result outweighs the hard work put into the production of the final product.

Colbert said, “I make videos just because it is worth it in the end, just having a video out there and expressing what I like to do.”

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