Copyright and the BYU Student


A panel of four copyright experts discussed the effects of copyright at BYU recently and the direction they hope it goes in the future.

The panel agreed that copyright has a place in today’s society, but its role needs to change to adapt to evolving media.

Nancy Sims, from the University of Minnesota, believes copyright may have gone too far. Even pictures posted to Facebook can become a copyright issue. She also spoke about Pinterest, a popular website among women. The site allows users to post pictures from any site and other users can then “repin” them to their own wall. There has yet to be a copyright case on the issue, but it is a gray area.

“Social media does stuff without thinking about the considerations,” Sims said. “This causes individuals problems. The things we have in our pockets help us bump up against copyright law.”

Gideon Burton, of the BYU English Department, sees the Internet as changing the way copyright works but believes that copyright has a purpose.

“The rules have fundamentally changed with the Internet,” Burton said. “Copyright helps authors feel comfortable writing, knowing they will get paid. This structure provides order that allows society to thrive … Now copyright is working contrastingly to its original intent. [It is] affecting quick and effective intellectual change.”

This new media society has created an openness that may not be entirely good and has far reaching effects.

“Openness in society has caused some harm and I don’t think we’ve thought about how to address  it,” said Berne Broadbent, director of the intellectual property division for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Not everything should be open and available to the public.

“Too much sunshine gives you cancer,” said Paul Angerhofer of BYU’s copyright management office. That description is his version of “too much of a good thing.”

The panel agrees that copyright law needs to change, but there are problems about how to bring about that change.

“The law doesn’t do too well at changing quickly,” Sims said.

Broadbent believes copyright law needs to apply to those who only copy, but do not improve or change.

“If you are not transforming it, or if you are not adding creativity, it is not fair use,” Broadbent said.

Sims believes the law should follow common sense.

“Most things that most people do shouldn’t be a copyright issue,” Sims said.

Information explaining more about copyright law in the BYU sphere can be found at

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