OPINION: What is the price of the internet's free-for-all?

Warren Lynam

IT never ceases to amaze how people think it is OK to steal other's work and claim it as their own.

With so many people trying to sell their works - music, art, blogs, craft items, etc - online these days, there are more and more cases of copyright infringements being discussed by victims.

The most recent case I came across was one about an eBay account set up in the UK claiming to be an artist with about 100 pieces for sale, most asking over $1 million Australian.

The problem is the works were not their originals.

One Australian artist discovered their works 'for sale' through this eBay account. No mention of that she was in fact the original artist.

This artist brought the account to the attention of others and it was soon discovered that there were works for sale that were originals by about six high profile artists across the globe, all being claimed to be originals of the eBay account holder.

But it is not just paintings that are being 'stolen' by online fraudsters (I say fraudster because I doubt this account holder actually has all of those original works in their possession).

Elizabeth Peru, an Australian astrologer and blogger, used to publish part of her blogs on her Facebook account and then point to the full blog on her website.

However, she discovered others were copying and pasting her blogs and posting them online, claiming they were the owners of the written works.

The copyright infringements continued despite Elizabeth setting her page up so that users had to pay to read her blogs.

So much to the point that she now only posts one or two sentences about the topic of the blog on Facebook and links back to her site.

Robin Thicke and Pharrell were ordered by courts to cough up a lot of money for copying Marvin Gaye when producing Blurred Lines. Gaye's family were awarded $5.3 million and 50% of the song's royalties for copyright infringement.

Richard Prince, a New York-based artist whose work often involves appropriating that of others, has been sued for copyright infringement by Donald Graham, a photographer who claims Prince knowingly reproduced his photo Rastafarian Smoking a Joint without seeking permission.

Activewear fashion label Lorna Jane is under fire for allegedly breaching copyright laws with an Instagram user in Brisbane claiming a photo of her was used on the brand's T-shirt range without permission.

Even news outlets are subjected to copyright infringements as readers copy and paste news stories and post on Facebook without permission from the news outlet, as opposed to sharing links of news stories on the social media site.

Are we really 'building up our profiles' by publishing our works -blogs, stories, photographs, artworks - online?

Or are we doing ourselves more damage by having our intellectual property blatantly abused by those who either don't know the copyright laws, or don't care and are out to make a quick dollar?

Topics:  copyright opinion

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