Young people's idea of copyright vs. the law

Andy Baio looks at youngsters' persistent misapprehensions about copyright law, which is stricter than many realize. Exhibit A: a popular YouTube of Pulp Fiction scenes, remixed in chronological order, posted with the disclaimer "No copyright infringement. I only put this up as a project."

Under current copyright law, nearly every cover song on YouTube is technically illegal. Every fan-made music video, every mashup album, every supercut, every fanfic story? Quite probably illegal, though largely untested in court.

No amount of lawsuits or legal threats will change the fact that this behavior is considered normal — I'd wager the vast majority people under 25 see nothing wrong with non-commercial sharing and remixing, or think it's legal already.

Isn't it also interesting how many young artists still instinctively honor the idea, as they see it, of copyright? Respect for other artists comes naturally. People don't stop respecting copyright until they see how little the claimed principles have to do with the reality of enforcement—especially when it's used to condem their own creative expressions as a form of theft.

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