The explosion online has led to information being passed around in ways that intellectual property laws never anticipated. Corporate zeal to enforce has led to things like this:
In 1995, the ASCAP tried to charge the Girl Scouts royalty fees for singing songs at camp. Yep, the Girl Scouts. Originally going after them for a really high fee, public outrage backed them into a corner. These days they charge an “honorary” $1/year. http://mentalflossr.tumblr.com/post/2441236184/girl-scout-camps-and-copyright-infringement
The RIAA’s idea that putting your tunes in a shared folder on your computer constitutes copyright infringement. The concept is that since the potential for someone to grab it is there, then you’ve already done it. (You evil thing, you.) Thankfully, a court struck this idea down in 2008. http://bit.ly/eBYH9y
In 2010, the “U.S. Copyright Group” filed 30,000 lawsuits against Bit Torrent users. http://bit.ly/bS1QOL
Corporations buy ideas and entertainment up and then do their best to fence it in tight so no one else can play with it. Personally, I thought humans taught others to share toys around the age of 2 or 3. But I could be mistaken. A lot of people are talking about the need to rethink copyright law in light of today’s speed of information. But companies have a very strong lobby presence, and they aren’t likely to bend to more flexible ideas anytime soon.
Creative Commons has stepped into the middle of this mess and forged a third path. Here, they explain why they feel it’s important.