Earlier this week I took my blog down for the day to protest SOPA. This was easy for me to do because I don’t derive income from my website and because WordPress made it as easy as clicking a box to join in the protest.
Of course, easy or not, I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t believed in the cause. SOPA and similar bills, both in the past and future, threaten creativity and, more importantly, grant a little too much power to “Big Brother”.
Rather than explain it all to you myself, listen to Clay Shirky on the topic:
That pretty much sums up most of what you need to know, but there is more. [Ed Note: Almost immediately after hitting publish, Clay published a great post about not underestimating Hollywood]
A few years ago, I found a person blatantly copying my posts, and those of fellow Content Management bloggers, and marketing it as their own. I was upset. I wanted to take action. The only action I could realistically take, outside of complaining, was bring attention to it. I did so and it eventually stopped.
I felt violated. With SOPA I could have brought a charge and the site could have been shut down and removed. The legal authorities likely would have ignored me. Now imagine if I worked for a large company with lots of money, like Universal Studios. I’d get a lot of benefit of the doubt.
The thing is, we are all pirates and all copyright holders. Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research wrote a brilliant article on the topic yesterday. It clearly shows how we are all, on some level, hypocrites. We don’t like anti-piracy rules until they impact us.
If you think that you don’t have a bone in this fight, you have to read Josh’s article.
We have two choices, we stifle all sharing and the ability to build upon those items or we watch our personal creations get used beyond our control.
The thing is, no matter what side you come down on, the “real pirates” stealing that original HBO special that aired last night will still continue. Legislation can never keep up with technology, at least not since the early 1900s.
Maybe we should work on teaching ethics and the concept fair use to everyone. If we have a strong moral compass as a society, this ceases to be enough of a problem to matter.