James Duncan Davidson is a professional software developer and a professional photographer, so chances are you’ve seen him around if you’ve been to any of a huge number of geek-oriented tradeshows and conferences. His work often ends up (legally!) on marketing sites from people such as Apple or O’Reilly, promoting events or people with candid shots that Duncan has snapped of them.
His work is prolific and intimately associated with the web and technology, so it’s probably no surprise that when it comes to copyright infringements, accidental or otherwise, he’s found himself at the butt end of the situation on more than one occasion.
In a thoughtful blog entry on the subject, Duncan points to an inherent disparity in copyright infringement legal procedure that, as often is the case, favors deep-pocketed corporations over “the little guys.” In a nutshell, your ability to sue for substantial damages is dramatically improved if you register your copyrighted works. But doing so on a regular basis is both tedious and expensive.
“Once I started looking at the costs and process of registration of my own work, it became clear the economics of the situation were not in the favor of the little guy. The problem is that the little guys are making most of the cool stuff these days. […] No matter how you slice it, the little guy gets the bad end of the deal.”
I’m fascinated by copyright and have naively been expecting some dramatic overhaul to the system for at least 10 years now. As Duncan points out, the “system” is becoming increasingly relied upon, yet increasingly useless to, the millions of small-time independent content producers who are a growing part of the American creative work force.
This issue applies somehow to your work, if you create anything and it has inherent intellectual qualities, and you would be injured by other people brazenly copying it. I don’t know if, after so many years of waiting, I am any longer foolish enough to expect change, but I still hope for it.