Bob Sullivan, a writer for MSNBC.com and an opponent of the SOPA/PIPA bills that are causing our favorite sites to shut down in protest, raises an interesting point that is well worth remembering:
So tonight, while you’re patting yourself on the back for being a part of a genuine Internet movement that has successfully influenced Congress – an impressive feat, mind you – know that there’s much more work to be done. Tell a friend they should link to a story instead of copy a story onto a blog. Because if we don’t find a reasonable way to protect intellectual property rights, you can bet an unreasonable one will rear its ugly head again soon.
Just because the SOPA/PIPA bills are badly written, draconian measures doesn’t mean that piracy should be ignored. Regardless of whether you think content should be free on the Internet or not, the highest quality content usually comes from people who get paid or otherwise compensated/rewarded. To steal content only means the Internet will devolve into an even bigger cesspool of belly-button examination than it already has. Give credit where credit is due.
That’s why I try to give credit whenever I can, accompanied by a link. I only quote portions of someone else’s work, never the entirety (unless I have permission), and make sure it’s evident I’m quoting. Is that really so much to ask? Malicious theft is bad enough, but lazy theft just exacerbates the problem. Sullivan is right: if we don’t start policing ourselves better there will be more bad legislation coming, and sooner or later, some of it’s going to stick.