[A2k] Copyright conundrum

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Tue Jan 17 15:46:01 PST 2012

Copyright conundrum
NATIONAL ISSUES: Internet-regulating legislation moving through the
United States Congress is troubling and could erode our freedoms.
By Senior Editorial Board

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 12:15 am
Updated Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 1:00 am
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 As students, we see the Internet as an integral part of our lives. We
grew up with the world at our fingertips. Studying for school,
networking with friends, laughing at cats and countless other online
activities have become part of who we are as a generation.

Two pieces of legislation currently in the United States Congress —
the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the now-stalled Stop Online Piracy Act
(SOPA) — could harm everything that makes the Internet so great. By
allowing the government to block access to Internet domains infringing
on a copyright, as well as allowing copyright holders to sue websites
that may link to their intellectual property, these bills harm the
free flow of information to which we’ve become so accustomed.

Yes, the piracy of copyrighted material is a problem. Quality products
come at a cost, and those that create should be protected. But neither
bill aims to actually eliminate pirate websites, most of which exist
outside of the United States’ jurisdiction. Svvy users will still be
able to pirate the blocked information in a roundabout way. The bills
only create mechanisms for greater information control and censorship.
By treating the symptoms of piracy as opposed to the cause, those
innocent of wrongdoing suffer.

The best way to fight copyright infringement is not excessive
regulation. Rather, the opening of legal, profitable and appealing
avenues for users goes a long way to discourage illicit activities.
Services like Netflix, Spotify and Grooveshark serve as good models
for distribution; SOPA and PIPA’s proponents should stop trying to
protect bad marketing strategies and instead focus on products that
people will want to buy, not pirate.

These pieces of legislation threaten us as students, threaten us as
consumers and threaten our rights to free speech and expression.
Sharing and building on one another’s ideas is such a key part of how
we discover information that even the smallest restrictions should
serve as cause for scrutiny and concern.

Legislators must further engage with tech and entertainment experts as
well as the American public and find a solution that protects
copyrighted property without chipping away at the rights and values we
all hold dear.

Manon Anne Ress
Knowledge Ecology International
1621 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009 USA
manon.ress at keionline.org

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