It's a long article but interesting to read for those wanting to know where copyrights are going.
The author is a photojournalist so some of it is related to photography.
"I'm a freelance professional photographer, and in recent years, the internet 'economy' has devastated my sector. It's now difficult to make a viable living due to widespread copyright theft from newspapers, media groups, individuals and a glut of images freely or cheaply available on the Web. These have combined to crash the unit cost of images across the board, regardless of category or intrinsic worth. For example, the introduction of Royalty Free 'microstock', which means you can now buy an image for $1.00, is just one factor that has dragged down professional fees.
I already hear you telling me to stop crying into my beer as the world doesn't owe me a living, and that expanding imagery on the Web has democratised the medium. I'd partially agree with both arguments, as in my work of newspaper and magazine photojournalism you're only as good as your last picture, and photojournalism in recent years has become infected with an unhealthy sense of elitism and entitlement which could do with a good kick up the arse."
"User Contributed Content should be more accurately termed 'Audience Stolen Content', because media groups rarely pay for Citizen Journalism images and more often than not, either claim the copyright or an all-encompassing license from contributors, when they send their pictures in. That's a copyright grab in all but name.
Only a fraction of the savings or additional income derived from publishing and syndicating user-contributed images is then actually reinvested in journalism. Most of it simply helps pay the media company's shareholder dividend. Massive newspaper job losses and wage cuts have cut a swathe through newsrooms this year and the slack is often taken up by stolen content, stolen from their own readers.
So much for media "democracy". Some newspapers and magazines are enthusiastically accepting such "content", simply because it's cheap or free, and the quality of the content largely reflects that."
"...the only entities that are now able to make decent profits from photography are large corporations - because only those corporations have the infrastructure to aggregate images into massive hubs...
Nearly all those agencies are out of business and now only a few major image corporations like Getty Images, Corbis - owned by Bill Gates - and Jupiter Images dominate the market and produce 'wholly owned' work - the corporation owns the copyright - either from staff or contract photographers. The work varies across the board, from high-end stock photography to news images.
If wholly-owned or virtually copyright-free (more commonly known as Royalty Free) content can be aggregated into a hub, and the economies of scale means the hub drives out smaller competitors, then huge profits be made."
"So the upshot is, a copyright-free environment has simply enriched large businesses at the direct expense of individual authors. But shouldn't the little guy enjoy the same protection of copyright law that the big corporations do?
We can't afford to. Suing for multiple copyright theft is simply not feasible for individuals...
Only the big money corporations have the means to enforce their ownership rights, so the widespread theft of individual authors rights benefits them the most, and this has a chilling effect, as it discourages authors from placing their work on the Web.
Instead of fighting the big corporations, the technology utopians have decided to fight the law that protects the little guy."