As Thomas Jefferson and that hardy and ferocious crew of Founding Fathers set the stage, I am confident they never meant for our emerging judicial system to be used as a blunt-edged weapon.
All too often we see people abuse the law, or the way it’s levied, in much too crude a fashion.
So, I suppose, considering the ominous circumstances, the fellow I am preparing to take to task won’t like my linking to an article about him, but that’s just tough. I have no tolerance for morons people like this, and even less so when they happen to be judges, and are supposed to know better.
If he takes offense to my umbrage he can fight me (preferably behind a courthouse).
In any event… This Richard Posner, a stolidly conservative judge, wants to ban hyperlinks – e.g., those found on Blogs and even on many newspaper websites (but, obviously I am more concerned about Blogs).
“Those who wish to keep the internet free and open had best dust off their legal arguments. One of America’s most influential conservative judges, Richard Posner, has proposed a ban on linking to online content without permission. The idea, he said in a blog post last week, is to prevent aggregators and bloggers from linking to newspaper websites without paying.”
Hah! I just used a hyperlink to help exhibit my very point! Judge that Posner.
That may already sound rather bad, but now read what Posner writes in his original piece (and, yes, I will link to, and quote from it):
Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion.
Let’s see what’s wrong with this nonsense theory.
Posner thinks we should ban hyperlinks to free content in order to …keep it free.
This is flat-out silly and impractical. I can see, for example, that newspapers might seek to ban news aggregators like Google News, because they are competitors. But every link a newspaper site receives, such as from a blogger who graciously links to a story on the newspaper’s website, should be celebrated. Contrary to Posner’s one-sided ignorant ill-researched (sigh) shallow thinking, perhaps bloggers should get a commission or share of the profits for driving eyeballs to the newspaper website. In some cases, I suspect a substantial portion of newspapers’ site traffic is derived from bloggers today.
While he at it, Posner thinking paraphrasing should be banned as well.
That would put an end to the entire newspaper racket right there. Most news reports in newspapers are a series of direct quotes and paraphrased quotes in indirect speech. If paraphrasing were banned too, it would leave a lot of empty space on newspaper pages. Newspapers themselves would be reduced to single-page editions.
Note: We have to assume the integrity of the media. This is, of course, problematic for me because, as consistent readers of this Blog are fully aware, I am deeply suspicious of the media, in general, and their collective agenda.
We shouldn’t forget in this context that any non-opinion, non-editorial pieces in newspapers are factual accounts of current events (at least in theory). Which means that the entire story, say, about the latest ethnic clashes in China, has to be – by definition a paraphrase from beginning to end.
Leveraging his years on the bottle bench and highly questionable greatly evident grasp of the law, as it pertains to intellectual property, Posner says linking to content is, and should be, a copyright violation.
Don’t judges have to take a test before they put on a robe? This really is nonsense, and would never stand up in a court of law. There is no precedent or case study to support this position (and, why doesn’t Posner understand this?). No lawyer, unless they chase ambulances (or, unless the presiding judge is a moron too) would consider filing a motion or brief trying to initiate such thinking. If linking to copyrighted material were illegal, then what about all the pages and longs lists of bibliography and references in, standard scientific papers? The very existence of such a list of “links” to names of authors, titles of books or papers, etc. would, in Posner’s view, be a major felony – as would be any quote from or paraphrasing of any of the titles thus referenced.
All my ranting aside (which, for me is most of the fun), I am reservedly confident this scheme idea will never fly. Apart from being uninspired and certainly unfair, it also feels like an underhanded attempt to silence citizen journalists and, thus, ultimately, an affront to people’s right of free speech – and, thus unconstitutional.
I will be very curious to see if any news writers pick up on this. Or, maybe Posner gets relegated to Night Court.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork