something to honk about
Remember Steal This Book? A book about social and political activism, written by Abbie Hoffman, it was titled Steal This Book. Well, I am offering up something far less valuable for theft if you so desire. That is this blog post, or any other post on my blog.
I write this stuff. It’s formulated in my unique mind and I use skills I learned in school and in life to record and pass along information to the best of my ability. I could attempt to copyright or protect it in some way. If my writing was valuable enough, I would copyright it and publish it in hard copy, in a book or magazine or newspaper. But these posts on my blog are just one-offs. Throwaway thoughts that would be forgotten if I didn’t record them somewhere.
Sometimes I’m sharing thoughts and opinions that I think will be valuable to someone else. In which case, feel free to use and spread, without attribution to me. I am merely a vessel, not an original source, anyway. Everything I am or have thought of originated somewhere else. I saw Arlo Guthrie live in concert once. He said writing a song was, for him, like fishing. Metaphorically, he would cast his line and pull something back from the stream of the Universe. And that would be a song. I’m sure he copyrights his work, but that is not my point.
I am doing a shit job of expressing my point. I know.
I’ve seen many blogs with a statement of copyright on the page. That is all well and fine if you feel so strongly that you must print your words online, in public, and then implore the public to not misuse or steal your words without proper attribution. That is your right to do so.
But saying it won’t make it so. If someone wants to steal they will. And theft of online content is so absurdly easy, most people feel it barely counts as stealing. Is it wrong? In many cases, yes. But there is a lot of grey area.
I would caution people away from relying on copyright law to protect their online published works. Laws work because most people agree to abide by them. There is nothing inherent in a written law that changes the ability to keep or break that law. It only changes the repercussions for doing so. And copyright of online published content, especially for very marginal works, does not carry much weight in the real world. It would be very difficult to recover damages associated with theft of such material.
For these reasons, I deliberately embrace the idea that my online published content is unprotected and free to anyone.
Want to copy and paste my words or images under your own name? Go right ahead. I put it online, that is all the invitation you need, as far as I’m concerned.
What do you think? How important is it to you to protect your online content?