19 December 2013

To Copy or Not to Copy! /Facebook stands




Thinking about how Marcus Yallow sets up a network against DHS, Doctorow points out that technology can be used either for or against surveillance. He refers to George Orwell's 1984 and how he thinks Orwell underestimated thepower of technology. 
Trying to find some recent instances how technology has worked against governments’ surveillance, I thought about the events of last year and Arab Spring.
I remembered how Facebook and such social networked worked to people’s benefit in those cases. Ghonim, who is from Egypt, after reading about an Egyptian guy being beaten to death by the government tried making a facebook page called “We are all Khaled Said” and in it, invited people to participate in different silent stands and riots. This, then, was one of the million things that lead to the ouster of his regime. 
The Internet, Ghonim says, was ‘instrumental in shaping my experiences as well as my character.’ Like many who grew up with instant messaging, online video games and the here-comes-everybody ethos of sites like Wikipedia, he refers to himself as a ‘real-life introvert yet an Internet extrovert.’” (Vargas 2)


It’s also good to talk about the issues around a book like Little Brother. We are aware that the book is available online for free download and interestingly enough he has made this clear to everyone. Too see where all these intellectual property and copyright laws stem from, I took a brief look at the history. Copyright laws can be traced back to Roman literature where dramatists started to sell the plays they wrote. It started to be an important issue with the invention of printing in Germany. It was then talked about in Italy, France and of course ENGLAND. Copyright laws took different forms. However, what basically is the foundation of American and British copyright laws is called The Statue of Anne (1710). It basically authorizes the author or his assigns can sell the books and it’s going to be on public domain after twenty years. Different international copyright legislation were formed after that but The Statue of Anne was the first important act.

Mark twain was an important figure in sharing his views and fighting for them regarding copyright laws. He was the first writer to incorporate and register his pseudonym as a trademark. His single most profitable property right was to a self-pasting scrapbook he patented in 1873. “The very first official thing I did, in my administration- and it was on the very first day of it too- was to start a patent office; for I knew that a country without a patent office and a good patent office laws was just a crab, and couldn’t travel anyway but sideways or backwards”.(Twain 70)

Going back to Doctorow and his interesting ideas about copyright laws leads us to the question of “Should these copyright laws be in applied or not? If so, how?” Aren't we all just copy machines ? Aren't we copying everything and everyone every second ? Why are we accusing others of doing that ?
Here's an interesting quote about copying: 

“Making bits harder to copy is like making water that's less wet.”
-Bruce Schneier
Bibliography:
  • Vaidhyanathan, Siva. Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity. New York: New York UP, 2001. Print.
  • Vargas, Jose A. "Spring Awakening How an Egyptian Revolution Began on Facebook." The New York Times (2012): n. pag. Www.nytimes.com. 17 Feb. 2012. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/books/review/how-an-egyptian-revolution-began-on-facebook.html>.
  • Bowker, R. R. Copyright, Its History and Its Law; Being a Summary of the Principles and Practice of Copyright with Special Reference to the American Code of 1909 and the British Act of 1911,. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1912. Print.
  • Cohen, Roger. "Wael Ghonim's Egypt." The New York Times (2011): n. pag. Www.nytimes.com. 9 Feb. 2011. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/10/opinion/10iht-edcohen10.html>.
  • Khan, Zorina, and Kenneth L. Sokoloff. "History Lessons: The Early Development of Intellectual Property Institutions in the United States." The Journal of Economic Perspectives 15.3 (2001): 233-46. JSTOR. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/2696565>.

3 comments:

Abigail Griffin said...

It's really interesting how you brought up the Arab Spring and the issues of intellectual property and copyright. If you google 'Academic Spring' it's a movement that was created in 2012 that promotes free access to online academic journals too. The open access movement is gaining quite a lot of popularity since many people believe that information (especially if it was funded by taxpayer dollars) should be free.

As well as surveillance, I think technology will pan out to be a struggle for power too. Although maybe not quite as sudden as what we read in Little Brother.

Melissa said...

Mark Twain said "“A day is coming, when, in the eye of the law, literary property will be as sacred as whisky, or any other of the necessaries of life."

I pulled a couple of facts from the "Mark Twain Project, because your presentation got me very interested in his views on copyright laws:
1.)Everything Mark Twain wrote that was published before 1923 is now in the public domain and therefore may be freely quoted or reproduced in its entirety, without permission or fees. In 1962

2.) The University of California contracted with the copyright holder for the exclusive right to publish all then-unpublished writings of Mark Twain. Between 1962 and the end of 2002, the University of California's Mark Twain Project published all this unpublished material, either in print editions or on microfilm. Some of the material was first published or reprinted during this period by other publishers, under license from UC Press.

3. Although the copyright on all such materials is held by the Mark Twain Foundation, the University of California controls the subsidiary rights to them for the duration of their copyright (through 2047).

Pretty interesting stuff I'd say. Smart man, and
great presentation!

Ellen Scherer said...

To be honest, I don't know that much about copyright law so I was happy that you chose this route for the presentation. I do think about the debates in illegal music and media downloads because the process is right at our fingertips. I often ask myself if it's wrong to download a song if I want to try it out, or an episode of a tv show I "can't wait" to come through to netflix. Tom W. Bell, a law professor made an interesting point about the use of the term "property" in relation to copyright. Although "property" and "copyright" are sometimes used interchangeably, they are two very different things. For example, Bell suggests that if you were to steal a car or candy bar you would be leaving another paying customer without something to eat or drive. If you download a movie illegally from the internet, that product is still available to others and the company still owns it; they are just making less money than anticipated. I understand this line of reasoning, but I also understand working hard to produce a piece of media that you are accountable for, I would fear a decrease in my credibility if I were producing an easily accessible product such as a tv show or film. I don't think anyone is in danger of losing an actual profit from their work, but the integrity might me in danger. Does anyone else agree?