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Move Over Government, Here Comes Google!
At the risk of alerting our Federal and State governments to what I'm sure they'd consider a huge oversight on their end, Google has pretty much rendered, or at least proven, the absurdity of a few antiquated labor and copyright laws.
In many states (http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/childentertain.htm) there are burdensome restrictions on “child labor.” The history of these laws vary depending on state and industry. My focus in this writing are laws involving the entertainment industry.
Child performers aren't new. They've been with us since the beginning. However, after well meaning laws like “Coogan” were legislated to help protect a child's earnings from squander by parents and guardians, others soon followed.
“Permits” are often required for a child (under the age of 16 in most states) to work in film, television and theater. Very young children can and do have limits as to how much time they can be spent in front of a camera or audience (as if a sleeping baby is so terribly overwhelmed by 10 minutes of “work,” as opposed to 5.) Production and casting companies are tasked with finding (and paying for) identical twins or triplets to extend the amount of time young talent can perform.
In New York (no surprise) traveling circus families are prohibited from allowing their minor children from participating in their practiced acts. Generations of circus performers have trained and used their children in fantastic feats of skill, but labor agents police small circus companies in New York to insure compliance with state law.
If you watch much YouTube, like I do, you may be aware of an amusing trend on the video giant. Namely, “family vlogging.” It involves a real family making videos of themselves in everyday life and/or during special events. Children are the stars, parents are the clowns, pets play supporting roles, and all the world is a lovable, joyous stage.
It's wonderful, and believe or not, these families have discovered they can make a comfortable living doing all this fun stuff! Google provides the platform, you provide the talent. Gain an audience, and the ad revenues stream in. No contracts. No permits. No regulations.
The internet is, without a doubt, proving how useless and restrictive labor laws can be. The kids are just being themselves. Scripts aren't necessary, but when they are necessary for something hilarious dreamed up by their dad, or dad's best friend, or, what the hell, a major advertising campaign, it's the furthest thing from “work” I could ever imagine.
Along with giving kids back the spotlight (and wage) they often crave, YouTube could, and perhaps already has, undercut the long, expensive copyright processes once strictly maintained only by the Federal Government.
I make videos. They're timestamped by YouTube. They're even protected from infringement. If someone tries to copy one of my videos and claim it as their own, I, or anyone can flag it. Google quickly investigates and the infringing copy is removed. The only thing I can't do is sue someone for infringement, but I don't care enough to whine about that. Other people do, however, and YouTube provides serious infringement protections for them.
Musicians, actors, writers, artists of all types have found a happy, respectful, generous new home with Google, without being forced to deal with government restrictions and rules.
The government shutdown has done nothing but offer fodder and inspiration for all creative types. For Google, it's good business.
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