I clearly remember the first time I heard my stolen words on a Denver radio station. I’d written some really fun copy for a specialty chocolatier. (Part of my payment was in truffles, but that’s another story, involving a three-year-old Kate stealthily sampling each of the 24 rich and richly priced pieces.) 😉 But hearing some of my best work repurposed without my permission, let alone payment, was infuriating.
And while that was the first time, it certainly wasn’t the last. Friends and clients who have read enough of my writing over the years to know my style regularly hand me articles carrying someone else’s byline and full paragraphs of my text. Ethical? No. Actionable? Yes, but not worth the effort, my Intellectual Properties attorney/friend Greg says.
All of which is to say I know, personally and professionally, that creative piracy is a problem. And you don’t have to be a mega-media mogul for it to cost you. But the thought that proposed legislation such as The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) might pass and turn out the lights on our freedom of information scares the daylights out of this writer.
How can we howl at the Chinese government over censoring ideas and watch these U.S. “guidelines” go forward?
What happens to public discourse if fear prevails and our 21st century “card catalogs” such as Wikipedia are no longer?
I wasn’t sure I would be able to post this, today, as WordPress.com–the host for our blog and countless others–has joined in the blackout protesting PIPA and SOPA. There are a bunch more–Reddit, Google–and if you visit some of their sites, you’ll find a nice little link to let your congressfolk know your views. (Thanks, Ed Perlmutter and Michael Bennet, for thinking this one over carefully.)
And c’mon people, shine a light.
Photo: Thank you, Vera Kratochvil, for this permitted use of your Public Domain Photo.
- Google, Wikipedia and others protest SOPA / PIPA (engadget.com)