Concept: 0 out of 5
Execution: 0 out of 5
Yeah, but: If it's pro-business and the Globe And Mail still hates it, it's really bad.

The Long Version: I have an odd relationship with American copyright law. I'm affected by it without being subject to it, but Canadian copyright law – at least under the Conservative government – will eventually aspire to match it. So I've only been paying minor attention to the current SOPA/PIPA kerfuffle up until recently – frankly, I figured that the DMCA is bad enough that I wasn't really expecting anything much worse.

Life's full of surprises.

I want good copyright protection. I'm generally a photographer, and images are easier to appropriate and use than songs or movies. I'm concerned for the font designers and independent creators who are out there trying to be paid for their work, but that's not who wrote out their worldview and expects it be made into law.

Thewsreviews inherently depends on photographing and describing other people's products, and I usually have some criticism on hand even for things that I love and recommend. But even though I'm nothing more than a tiny fleck of lint in the blogosphere, I've always been a little wary of whose toes I tread on.

The morning after I wrote my review of the NBC Studio Tour I had a half-dozen hits from an internet address that's assigned to their New York headquarters, and I have to admit that I was half-expecting an unhappy letter on very nice stationary as a result. Fortunately, they seem to have an unexpectedly good sense of humour, or they just appreciate that I own the full set of The Pretender DVDs.

But what if taking down objectionable content was easier than a libel suit, with less recourse than a take-down notice? I'm sure that the packaging for Gary Fong's collapsable lightsphere is copyrighted, but I need to reproduce it in order to critique the tremendous implausibility of its before-and-after photos. I was careful not to call it fraudulent or false advertising, because I don't know that and can't prove it, but SOPA/PIPA creates an entirely new concern. A complaint about copyright infringement – asserted, not proven, and without an opportunity for rebuttal – could remove this entire website from the American edition of the internet.

Corporate culture and communications are crowding further and further into public space. There would be no way to take part in the civic discourse about Toronto's "info pillars" without a photograph of the entire installation of an Astral Media advertising billboard, including the copyrighted Bell Canada advertisement. Those photos made it all the way to city hall. Should the companies that are the subject of the criticism have the right to block them from being seen? Fortunately for me, everyone involved in this example is Canadian, but it's a very real scenario for Americans who formerly liked the whole 'free speech' idea.

Thewsreviews is a hobby blog; I hope that people find it entertaining and useful, but it's here because I and a few others enjoy creating new content for it. I'll keep it going for as long as it remains engaging, but that won't include the time between 8am and 8pm on January 18, 2012.

last updated 17 jan 2012


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