Copyright Fight

Copyrights and related intellectual property law hold the leash of modern media.  Today’s “free information” internet has caused the need for redefining and solidifying the line between public domain and private property.

A recent Senate bill known as the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act was drafted to control and/or eliminate the use of pirated information and files by online domains.  The bill would grant the U.S. Department of Justice power to both order that sites using pirated material be shut down and restrict U.S. citizens from accessing such domain names.

The bill has come under scrutiny from many internet innovators who believe that it will inhibit the exchange of information that is the life force of the internet.  In a recent CNET article, CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, Ed Black said “Legislation like this goes through, we start to break the Internet.  Nobody is arguing that copyright infringement doesn’t exist. But Lady Gaga isn’t going to go broke tomorrow. We should be trying to solve the copyright issue in as an unobtrusive and thoughtful way as possible and not creating anti-First Amendment laws.” Those in favor of the bill say it will help clean up the multitudes of illegally obtained media on the internet, which some contribute to the damaged U.S. economy.  Spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America, Jonathan Lamy, said ““These illegal enterprises undermine our economy and contribute to thousands of hard-working Americans losing their jobs.”
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While I am a firm believer in protecting intellectual property rights, I think law makers need to be careful in deciding who takes the blame/responsibility for piracy.  Shutting down sites such as YouTube that unfortunately contain a great deal of copyrighted material is not a logical and culturally healthy option.  Anyone personally and knowingly gaining a profit from stolen content should be stopped, but those viewing content that is wrongly made public by others are not the ones who should be held accountable.  It is a tough topic with a good deal of gray area.  I am interested to see how it all plays out.

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