06/52: Copyright 1975

Another year older


Each week for a year, I’m going to be designing a shirt and releasing it on my Threadless store. This is the sixth design of fifty-two.


This week, in 1975, I was born. My birthday isn’t a momentous one this year. I’m just another year older and a little more gray. 

I love when I was born — I got to see the advent of the personal computer, the growth of the internet, comic book movies that don’t suck, iPhones and digital cameras. But I also remember typewriters, card catalogs, Superfriends, rotary phones and working in a darkroom.

When I was younger, it was significant work and investment to share a creation. And copyright was one way that an artist protected that investment. Today, it’s simple for a creator to publish their own writing online, share thoughts on social media, sell music and even offer t-shirts that are printed on demand. And it’s easier than ever for others to steal your creations and profit off of them.

Copyright was relatively straightforward when I was born, but the changes in technology are forcing an evolution in how we look at intellectual property rights. Maybe copyright is like the technology of my youth — obsolete like a rotary phone? Or maybe it just needs to evolve to better protect artists in a digital age while preserving the freedom to create. Forty years from now, I imagine copyright law with be radically different.

This week’s shirt is Copyright 1975 and you can buy one from Threadless. Of course, it only makes sense to purchase one if you were born in 1975.

Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.