Monday, June 28, 2010

That's (Not) Entertainment

As a cap to my days of the ALA conference thinking about the big picture issues of librarianship, I went to an event tonight (actually not sponsored by ALA) featuring Cory Doctorow talking about copyright. The general point of his talk was that engaging copyright issues solely in terms of the entertainment and arts industries, both creators and consumers, is too limiting a framework. Instead, if we're going to get people to care about these issues we need to start talking about the bigger implications of the policies that the corporations are pushing. He summed up his talk tonight with the phrase, "Stop talking about cultural freedom and start talking about freedom."

In particular, he talked about the Three Strikes Rule (of the sort in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) in which three allegations of copyright violations would require an internet service provider to cut off an IP address from accessing the internet. The implications could be disastrous, as more and more of our lives are conducted online, someone who is blocked from accessing the internet (possibly through no fault of their own, since IP addresses rarely belong to a single user), would be unable to exercise rights of free speech, participate fully in political discourse, function economically, and so on. As an example, Doctorow cited a study which looked at similar low-income families and found that those with internet access had far better education and health outcomes for their kids than those without. In response to an audience question he also talked about how network freedom is key to being able to campaign on any other issue, the environment, poverty, etc. because the only way those campaigns are able to function is through the connections made via the network. In his view, he explained, that makes the work he's doing the most fundamental advocacy.

No comments:

Post a Comment