In much of our writing over the years, we have noted the intersection of intellectual property laws and rights with the culture we consume and the things we buy. Looking at history, many of our commercial institutions grew to their current stature through their ability to rightly or wrongly dominate their respective marketplace, and much of that is seen in the brands and intellectual property that they have built over the years. There are ideas and products behind those companies that have venerated them long after their one-time competitors have faded into history.
Where intellectual property rights and our popular culture clash is at the point where we are using others' work in expressions of our own. This tremendous article from the EFF highlights some of the difficulties that arise when trying to protect both the rights of copyright holders as well as those of artists and creators who appropriate those works in their own. Copyright holders are obviously entitled to profit from their works, but how far should those rights extend? How prohibitive should owners' rights be in terms of preventing
Much of our popular culture is built upon itself and its component elements; pictures, videos, logos and other copyrighted material are an indivisible part of that culture, and as such tend to permeate the creative works of the time. But the EFF article presents a strong case that the law doesn't do enough to accommodate those creators, instead relying on a broad, blanket system that doesn't give enough consideration to context and places the burden on the accused rather than the accuser.
Laws are good laws only so far as they work and are effective, and many would argue that the intellectual property laws are not currently designed as such. When enforced properly, they can protect the rights of innovative companies and entrepreneurs, but an overzealous application can stifle creativity and lead to an excess of litigation. To move forward, the laws have to work for all, not just some.