[Foundation-l] Copyright issue with external links

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Sat Jan 13 08:33:51 UTC 2007

Jeff V. Merkey wrote:

>Expect big changes in the next 24 months on internet copyright and usage 
>in the United States Congress and Senate. Congress has been getting too 
>many people complaining. One sad note is that Slashdot is no longer 
>"news for geeks" but "news for hackers, and software pirates". The 
>pendulum is starting
>to swing back the other way and unfortunately, it may swing too far to 
>the right. Experimental internet IP litigation is where WE DO NOT
>WANT TO BE in the line of fire.
>Anything folks can do to limit our exposure here is a good thing. For 
>the most part, WMF and its policies err on the side of caution, and this 
>is a very
>good thing. The more prudent we can be in this area, the better. There's 
>just been too much abuse of the current copyright laws by the internet
>community as a whole.
Some would say the pendulum's already swung too far to the right; it 
needs to become more free.  In some ways I feel that the term extension 
to 95 years helped to awaken the open access community, as did the 
Ashcroft vs. Eldred case.. 

I think that copyrights became favorable to the publishing industry 
because it had no significant opposition.until relatively recently. 
Previously, serious copyright infringement was primarily an economic act 
that required a significant capitalization before it could happen  Now, 
everybody has the capacity to infringe just by banging away on his 
keyboard; that requires almost no capitalization at all because the home 
computer was likely already bought for other perfectly legitimate uses.  
With the heightened awarenes of open access, I expect that the lobbying 
efforts will be more balanced between the two sides than they have ever 
been.  Congress still needs to deal with the problem of orphan copyrights.

All that being said, I don't consider it wise to base policy on 
speculation about what the politicians may or may not do.  When almost 
any laws are passed they include an effective date which is only 
exceptionally retroactive.  My observation is that copyright enactments 
are usually made effective at the end of the current calandar year.

I can't comment about Slashdot  because I don't participate there.  I 
agree that there is rampan abuse of copyright laws on the net, and that 
swings both ways.  Some are obviously violating the copyrightsd of 
others, but so too are there numerous people claiming copyrights to 
which they have no right.

I have no dispute with being cautios.  I believe in pushing the limits, 
but I also believe that there is a point beyond which pushing those 
limits is stupidity. Taking prudence to excess, however, is also a 
mistake.  There is a point (that remains to be defined) beyond which 
copyright laws stifle creativity in a way contrary to the US 
constitution.  We owe it to ourselves to encourage a favorable 
definition of that point.


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