Assignment #12: Copyright!

Hi everyone!

You know, when I opened Larry Lessig’s TED talk, I wondered for a moment why he had a picture of Andy Warhol in the background, then it clicked. Yeah, there’s gonna be a LOT of legal grey area here.

So for those of you who don’t know, Andy Warhol was a 20th century pop artist, famous for his silkscreened images of famous people. You may have seen his work around the internet:


Warhol was very careful/lucky when it came to copyright infringement. He did the Marilyn Munroe silkscreens after her death so it was regarded as a tribute. In the case of Campbell Soup, he was insanely lucky. They literally wrote him a letter thanking him for promoting their product AND sent him free soup!

Keep in mind, Warhol was making money off of this, none of which went to Campbell Soup. I literally can’t imagine any company today doing the same. There was a very interesting case brought up against his foundation on whether his work with the Prince series was considered “fair use” or not after the photographer sued the foundation. The decision was ruled in favor of the Andy Warhol Foundation.


“I’m talking about people taking and recreating using other people’s content, using digital technologies to say things differently.”

– Larry Lessig

But in today’s society, it’s really hard to determine what constitutes “fair use”, because it heavily varies from case to case. Can I sue Andy Warhol for using my photograph in his work? That’s about as effective as trying to sue Picasso for appropriating African art and culture.

Yup, copyright is a double-edged sword. However, I don’t think that this should discourage us from creating art. Everyone has a right to express how they think and feel through art, and maybe your creativity is stimulated by seeing the things in your environment. No harm in looking for inspiration from the things around you.


What is copyright? “In simpler terms, copyright is the right to copy. This means that the original creators of products and anyone they give authorization to are the only ones with the exclusive right to reproduce the work.” –Investopedia.

Why is there copyright? I believe copyright exists to prevent someone from duplicating the original work of another. It exists to protect what we call “intellectual property.” Honestly, I have no idea what that means but from what I figured from Professor Sewslow’s post and what I read on other sites,  intellectual property is unique original creations that necessarily took a significant mental activity to create.

We practice copyright laws to protect that awesome content from getting remixed, modified, or reshared without permission!

We should all be aware of copyright laws. I mean, nobody likes a copycat, right? Maybe. I don’t think all situations are the same but, according to the law, they should be. So let’s be smart about the content we just love to re-share, share, and switch up a little bit!!!

Fair use is a doctrine that lets us use a limited amount of copyrighted content without the permission of the copyright holder. It is a way to give some liberty to use content without getting into serious trouble. This doctrine should be used more often since many of us have amazing ideas about other people’s work. I believe, most of the time, these ideas enhance the original version in creative ways almost to say, unlike anything else!!!


While watching Larry Lessing’s TedTalk, the quote I found most compelling was the following:

“Never before in the history of human culture had it been as professionalized, never before as concentrated, never before as creativity of the millions been as effectively displays, and displays because of these, quote: “infernal machines.”

This quote was referring to another type of machine, but I believe it reflects well with what is going on in digital technology. It clearly identifies the true intentions of those individuals who re-use, re-share and re-shape content. Lessing mentions this later on by saying that people take and recreate other people’s content using digital technologies to say things differently. Lessing also mentions the content serves as tools of creativity that become tools of speech, which I thought was very inspirational. To me, it is clear these people are doing it for the sake of creating something new and not to copy information and call it their own.




“culture where creativity was consumed but the consumer is not a creater. A culture which is owned with the “vocal cords” of the milions have been lost.”

Larry Lessig

This quote really made me think about the unfairness of media. Its crazy how one can steal ones creativity. I never though of it like that.

I think users of the web should consider the problems of sharing things thats to not belong to them. I will honestly say that when I reshare content, I do not consider the problems and the inequalities that comes from  it. However, I believe that the “big” influncers like intstagramers or youtubers should definitely consider it because alot of people are watching their content and would probably think that everthing they share belongs to them, when in reality it does not. Thats inequality and unfair! Imagine someone taking your property! Fair use is certainly not this!