Photo Credit: AmericanCensorship.org
Recently, the internet has been all a buzz about SOPA and PIPA and how internet piracy needs to be taken more seriously and eliminated for the greater good of the American people. There are two side to every coin though. Some argue that these bills will prevent every American’s right to free speech and the First Amendment of the Constitution. Some argue these bills are preventing the stealing of intellectual property which is not covered under the First Amendment. After reading a good handful of articles and debates and even the actual bills themselves (before I had to call it quits because I was going cross-eyed), I think I got a grasp on the whole situation.
STEALING IS WRONG.
Yup, that sounds about right. It’s something we have all heard since we were little and it doesn’t seem that hard of a concept to grasp. While I understand that the internet is a complex entity, the simple element of stealing can still be classified as wrong. It not only hurts the person claiming the work, but it could also affect the people who have used that website obtain any information.
When I read other wedding blogs, or any blog for that matter, most of them have a spot on the site that addresses the notion of not stealing. A lot of times, some even offer up their content as long as a link back to their original work can be found; an in text work citation if you will. If I were to write an article on how I created this marvelous center piece and used another person’s writing and picture, that’s stealing. I would have to take down the post and I would lose a lot of credibility with my sparkly people out there.
In a day and age where the internet is oftentimes used as a tool for employment (all us bloggers and social media mavens out there), stealing work is stealing intellectual property. According to IP Committee Chairman Rep. Goodlatte said:
Intellectual property is one of America’s chief job creators and competitive advantages in the global marketplace, yet American inventors, authors, and entrepreneurs have been forced to stand by and watch as their works are stolen by foreign infringers beyond the reach of current U.S. laws. This legislation will update the laws to ensure that the economic incentives our Framers enshrined in the Constitution over 220 years ago – to encourage new writings, research, products and services – remain effective in the 21st Century’s global marketplace, which will create more American jobs. The bill will also protect consumers from dangerous counterfeit products, such as fake drugs, automobile parts and infant formula. I look forward to continuing to work with all parties on this important legislation as it moves forward.
While I found this quote on Wikipedia, it linked back to a Press Release from the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary web page. I didn’t steal the quote or not give the speaker the credit for saying these words. Try clicking on the underlined parts of that first sentence to see what I mean.
While wedding blogs aren’t trying to get you to buy drugs from Canada, the same idea applies for designers, photographers, and any of us who work hard to create pretty things. We deserve to have our work protected. When I see people posting Sasha Souza Events photos and designs, I get all excited. Obviously I recognize the work, so I don’t need a citation, but then when I think about it, I realize that just because I know doesn’t mean that everyone else out there who will see the work will know. What I love about Pinterest is how when I like something and I pin the photo, a link will automatically be attached to the photo, so no matter who sees it or repins it, that link will follow it forever. I will always know where that picture came from. Hopefully the website that originated the image will give credit where credit is due.
When it comes to speech and the written content, this too must be protected. Since elementary school, children are taught quotes. From every children’s book, they understand when a sentence is in the “two winks”, someone is speaking. This idea is forever ingrained in our mind, so taking those words and not using “two winks” or other appropriate citations to notify the reader the text is being quoted is also considered stealing. If someone wants to reblog any post, a simple link back is all that’s required; a little nod to the original writer to say thank you for writing something that resonated so deep that I needed to tell my followers as well. If it’s concerning censoring to prevent unsavory things from being said or written, the answer to that is, don’t read it if you don’t like it. If I want to quote something obscene, going against the majority beliefs system, I have that right as a United States Citizen to say it in any forum I choose, but I don’t have the right to claim I said or wrote something that I did not.
Censorship is becoming a hot button issue these days. The idea that our First Amendment rights will be taken away is terrifying to most people. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted in the New York Times saying:
When ideas are blocked, information deleted, conversations stifled and people constrained in their choices, the Internet is diminished for all of us…There isn’t an economic Internet and a social Internet and a political Internet. There’s just the Internet.
She is right. If Americans can’t access the information needed, how are we supposed to further educate ourselves? Because one person didn’t give credit for a quote or a picture, the whole site must be censored due to pirated material that is considered harmful to the reader. While I would like to relate Clinton’s quote to another hot button issue, marriage equality, I’ll stick with the censorship at hand. Who is to say what needs to be censored on the web? Sure smut and other lude content are reserved for the designated ages, but if I choose to break down the etymology of foul language and it’s appropriate or inappropriate use at a wedding, who’s to say that post won’t be censored by the appointed third party internet watchdog? Someone may need that information and may want to share it with more people.
Regardless of how you view each bill, know this: stealing any content on the internet is not okay. Taking away my work and claiming it for your own is not okay. If that simple concept cannot be recognized, stay away from my work. Sacking and pillaging a website for financial gain holds the same moral and judicial repercussions as stealing. SOPA and PIPA provide a stricter watch dog for the online community. No matter if you’re for or against the bills themselves, be against stealing. Hold yourself to a higher standard and take the time to simply site your source and give credit where it is due.