Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Keep the information super-highway open

I'm not joining in the online blackout in protest at the US government's attempts to keep control of information firmly in the hands of big business. But only because I'm sure that nobody gives a toss whether or not they can access this blog. Otherwise I'm right behind Wikipedia's stance today.

Copyright's is a funny old thing: Before Gutenberg and Caxton changed the world forever with movable type legislation wasn't really necessary - the Catholic Church had pretty much got the medieval media sewn up on its own. Printing blew that apart and the artisan printer / publisher (because they were often the same person) was often a fee-thinking radical too.  So the first copyright laws were all about ensuring control of reproduction by the state - such as the1534  charter from Henry VII to the Cambridge University Press. And nothing much seems to have changed.

For a  while the waters got muddied and we all got bogged down in the idea that copyright laws were there to protect the little guys. Certainly it sometimes looks that way in my former world of the 'creative industries'. Laws are there to stop designers and photographers having their work ripped off by bastard clients. But in the real world these laws are only as good as they can be practically enforced. And if you're a sole-trader designer pursuing a multinational brand from using the work you did as part of an unpaid pitch - then best of luck. 

But that's another argument - and not at all what the present rows over  SOPA / PIPA is about. The fact that Rupert-sodding-Murdoch and his empire of evil - the modern day version of the Holy Inquisition when it comes to media control - are behind the US government's attempt to police the internet is probably enough reason in itself to support Wikipedia.

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