In the world of online bootlegs, the ability to download music and movies, and even desire to get tattoos of famous cartoons, copyright and copyright infringement is in everyone’s minds but no one really knows what it means. Sure you have your copying of ideas, songs, pictures, and so forth but there is a strange side to the copyright laws that are %100 true and %100 legal.
Hugh Stephens, well known blogger about copyright, shares a story last June on his personal page about how far these laws actually go. In Toronto, the couple Jason and Jodi Chapnick, living in a quiet suburb, decided to hire contractor Gordon Ridgely. He completely redid their property into a sleek but vintage style that was utterly original and based on his own personal schematics (Stephens, 2018). A few months after, however, another couple decided to remodel their own home as well. The Chapnicks took notice that this other house looked eerily similar to their own redone ideas. After claims of the second couple taking pictures of the Chapnicks’ home before their personal house renovations, Jodi and Jason demanded that the second couple change any remodeling done on the other home. The second couple refused. And so the Chapnicks filed a copyright infringement claim because Ridgely made the schematics for their house and no one else (Stephens, 2018). You heard right folks, homeowners can take someone to court over too similar home renovations. And they are allowed to do so.
Now, in any case, this would be settled fairly quickly. If you look at any suburban villages that popped up in the 1950s, they would seem to be a real life equivalent of hitting copy and paste (Stephens, 2018). The thing is though, is that many of those early settlements were all done by the same contractor. And with Ridgely dying in 2013, the second couple had to find another contractor, hence why Ridgely’s original schematics could be copyrighted and ergo “stolen” by another home contractor (Stephens, 2018). In the end, the matter was settled out of the court, but speculation has risen that the second couple had to make changes to their home and pay the Chapnicks some amount of money (Stephens, 2018). This is but one of hundreds of claims of copyright infringement for physical buildings. Battles for tennis courts, soccer fields, schools, office buildings, even bathrooms have popped up for years across the world (Stephens, 2018). If someone built a toilet too similar to another company’s design, they can get sued.
If you haven’t noticed from my tone, I find this whole ordeal very ridiculous. But, this shows what and how copyright laws really do work. It is not just about movies or songs or art being shared without paying or being passed off as another person’s creation. Any creative idea that is then put out into the world and gotten some kind of copyright protection can be stolen, copied, or imitated. And any imitations can be taken to legal action. Now why exactly have you not been sued by tattooing Spongebob to your left calf or don’t need to call up a lawyer because your Johnlock fanfiction got struck for infringement? Because the creator won’t. They don’t care, so they don’t file a claim. All of us are breaking copyright laws every day of our lives. There is no action, however, until the original creator decides for action. Learning about copyright has made me more savvy of it, but also realize that laws, especially ones about figurative concepts and ideas, can be broken but not cared about. The digital equivalent of jaywalking.
Hugh Stephens (2018, June 18). So You Admire Your Neighbor’s House? Best Not to Copy the Design. Accessed September 23, 2018 from https://hughstephensblog.net/2018/06/18/so-you-admire-your-neighbours-house-best-not-to-copy-the-design/