The world has been up in arms over the SOPA/PIPA bills introduced into the House and Senate. I am against both, and was happy to see them pulled and the support people showed for those opposing it. However, I don’t know how many people noticed that while that was in the forefront of our minds, the Supreme Court was determining the fate of copyright laws and many works already in the public domain. The Supreme Court decided they should allow works by foreign artists to move out of the public domain and back under copyright protection. Now as a blogger, I feel that given the results of the Golan v. Holder case, I now have to make sure that what I quote or use in my posts that was in the public domain remains in the public domain. Otherwise, I am faced with legal action and/or fines that even small companies cannot afford, so how could I afford them?
How did this happen? Well in part because those for this adjustment of copyright law were backed by those that are also backing SOPA and PIPA. The music industry, the movie industry, and large corporations are all pushing to protect their money. I’m fine with copyright as it existed before this decision. I understand copyright and agree with it. If I create something and someone uses it without my permission to make a profit, then yes, by all means I will enforce my rights as the owner of said property. But when something that has been under public domain for years past the original copyright time frame suddenly goes from being public domain back to being protected, that is something I do not agree with.
Education in this country is appalling at best and through Google, libraries, and the Gutenberg Project, many of those works that would not otherwise be available to students of all ages, are now readily available. Changing the availability of these works so that more people can experience and enjoy them increases our populations cultural capital. Why should we let that be taken away? We are up in arms over the Internet being monitored and controlled, but we are letting the smaller issues slide by without so much as a second thought.
If the people have their rights taken away in a big way, people notice immediately and cause an uproar, but when it’s taken piece by piece over time, do we notice? What can we do about it then when we become use to the things as they are? It’s only a little thing we lost right? People will say it doesn’t matter. But in the end, if we aren’t aware of these little things and fight them with as much vehemence as we fight larger things like SOPA/PIPA we will all end up losing more in the end.