How about that.... I didn't even realize people still made copies at the library. It made me want to rush back and find the microfiche machine. It's been a while since I have done that kind of in depth research, but there's nothing like listening to the whir of the years sliding by on newspaper pages.
When I was growing up my father wanted me ot go into law.... specifically, space law (at least, that is what he called it). He figured that specializing in legal questions of who owns outer space would guarantee me a job for life. Who knew that the real niche was internet and content law. Our space shuttles have been decommissioned while pods of content still make maiden voyages to places unknown. Really... It's true. I was shocked to find someone in Greece had reviewed my book. And, though Greece is obviously not unknown, (in fact, I wish I knew it better) who could imagine 20 years ago that with the click of a button I could allow my story to be read across the world.
This also ignores the people who have probably already figured out how to download it illegaly. Well, maybe not... I can't imagine Betting Jessica making it onto the radar yet of illegal download sites. But, the fact is, it could. And, I'd be refusing to acknowledge the elephant in the room if I didn't note that fact this week in particular. Congressional debate continues over two proposed anti-piracy laws. As usual, the real battle is taking place between the large corporations on both sides with much to lose. Make the laws too strict and technology innovation flounders (also being decried as first amendment issues); two lenient and big content providers see an opening for royalties to be lost (the anti-piracy call). (Check out this article at the NY Times for more on the debate.)
The balance between freedom and control is never simple.... I know since I wage it every day with my seven year old. And sometimes it is about timing. She may be ready to walk to the bus herself, but I wouldn't expect her to walk all the way to school yet. It may be that this battle is threading the same small needle. While it often feels like the internet has been around forever, of course the truth is, the information age is still in its infancy. And, like parents, we are learning as we go. The problem is, we have made mistakes before when we do this (uh, think Maccarthy era here). We are gun-shy, just like any new parent who has watched, from the outside, the mistakes of others. We react, rather than admit we don't have all the answers.
(side note here..... is anyone else worried that we force our politicians to claim they are superheros and thus know all the answers when clearly they don't?)
Anyway.... we do have precedent to help us. And, call me optimistic, but I also think most of us have a desire to do the right thing. What we don't have is a guaranteed outcome. But so be it. Would I give up the internet and go back to microfiche to protect my novel? No way!
I only ask, politely, that anyone who reads it considers that it took 10 years of my hard work to create. It may not be Pulitzer prize winning, but it does deserves to earn at least as much as a copy at the library.