Saturday, December 17, 2011

One Very Important Thought

I read a lot of great quality writing on blogs. User-driven communities online connect disparate people, creating common spaces for the consolidation of ideas and art around mutual interests. The blogrolls where we link to several, or many, other blogs spread out as we link to new blogs and interesting websites; they also reconnect inward as we inter-link to one another's blogs. We form an ever growing, ever solidifying body of writing and art around topics like outdoor pursuits, photography, music and more. And as we span out and interconnect, scores of others on the Internet are doing the same thing around other topics, interests, hobbies, professions, beliefs, and more. Just as the printing press shrunk our ancestors' world half a millennium ago by bringing together literate people, the Internet allows us to construct world-wide imagined communities, enriching our lives through the flow of fascinating information and conversations with one another.

It's important to understand that what we do - the harmless building of communities around common interests - is being threatened now in the United States. The introduction of a bill known as SOPA - or Stop Online Piracy Act - is currently under review by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. The Wikipedia page seems up to date and explains SOPA and the controversy well. Under the provisions of this bill, sites that publish copyrighted information are liable to be shut down and those who published copyrighted material punished as felons. While the intent to stop online piracy sounds like a logical thing to support, this act is written in a nebulous and open-ended manner that, depending on how it is interpreted, could make sites like Youtube, Google, and others unusable. Google has come out against SOPA. The companies that host our various blogs could also find themselves facing problems under SOPA and our pastimes and communities could vanish while they're still forming. If the Internet is to continue to revolutionize the size, scope, and nature of what we call communities, it must remain free. Copyright law can easily become censorship with the right (or wrong) interpretation.

The following clever quote from this odd little Boards of Canada track is adapted from the end of a 1982 adult film called "A Brief Affair:"

"If you can be told what you can see or read, then it follows that you can be told what to say or think.  Defend your constitutionally protected rights. No one else will do it for you."

How many copyrights am I violating by posting this video and quoting from the dialogue in the song? Could this post be taken down? How many of your posts might contain copyrighted material? Is what we're doing wrong? 

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