Thursday, November 13, 2014

She's Lost Control - Trailer - Stockholm International Film Festival 2014

Not sure but at 1:30 there is a guy or girl wearing a pink thong outside of his/her fashion statement!  And quite risquee...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Final Paper

Alexandra Petrello
Public Communication in Digital Environments
Dr. Lance Strate
Term Paper
July 1st, 2010

Facebook—Beyond Social Networking

The year of 2004 stunned our world with many remarkable events such as: the Boston Red Sox’s victory in the World Series, the city of San Francisco issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, the finale of the ever-so popular Friends sitcom airing on television, capital punishment being declared unconstitutional in the state of New York, Hurricane Charley strikes strong in Florida, Martha Stewart is sentenced to five months in jail and Facebook joins the social networking scene. Since then, Facebook has come a long way within the media world and has formed many followers--about 400 million of them. Facebook claims that the average user has about 130 friends and spends over 55 minutes on per day. Over 100 million of these users are gaining access through their mobile device, however, they are also twice more active then non-mobile device users. There are approximately 70 site translations of Facebook and more than one million websites have incorporated the Facebook Platform. (Statistics provide by As the Facebook craze continues and as it’s popularity grows; Facebook is now being utilized beyond it’s social networking means.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and Chief Executive of Facebook, began this venture as an undergraduate at Harvard University. Many universities had actual face books, where students would be able to identify other students by their name and photo. Essentially, he took an everyday college item and turned it into a worldwide phenomenon. Originally, the site was only available to Harvard students; however, it quickly spread to other Ivy League universities, schools in the Boston area and then to other colleges/universities across the United States. In 2005 Facebook expanded to the high school network and to international schools. In 2006 work networks were added and Facebook reached 12 million active users. In the years to follow, Facebook Ads, Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Chat, Facebook Applications and Facebook Mobile launched.

Facebook is known to many as a social networking medium that allows it’s users to stay connected with friends, family, coworkers, class mates, etc… Through wall posts, photos, private messages, chats, news feeds and poking it is easy to stay in touch with people you know. Moreover, users are allowed to share messages, photos, videos, notes and postings with their Facebook friends. Originally, Facebook was created for students to keep in touch with one another on the World Wide Web. However, throughout the last two years, Facebook has soared to becoming the fourth largest website. This is partially due to the further development of Facebook as more than just a social networking medium. What makes Facebook so popular is its ability to operate beyond its social networking means. For instance, it is used by employers /companies/institutions to search profiles of possible, future employees and as a digital venue for advertising/marketing.

Facebook and Employers

It is a known fact that many employers are now using social networking sites during the interview and recruiting process. When looking at many qualified resumes, many employers have turned to Facebook to search the profiles of candidates for a few reasons. Firstly, since Facebook is so accessible, it is extremely easy and time efficient to search. Secondly, many feel that information on Facebook is public information because it is on the Web and therefore, it can be observed by all. Thirdly, Facebook can be used to express oneself and employers view it as another way to learn about the candidate beyond their resume and cover letter. Even though this may be true to some degree, viewing a Facebook profile may also manipulate an employer’s decision for the incorrect reasons. For instance, consider this scenario provided by Peter Engler and Peter Tanoury:

“A recruiter at a Denver based company has a stack of resumes on their desk from recent University of Colorado graduates. Due to time constraints and the fact that each applicant appears equally qualified, the recruiter decides to go online and check their Facebook profiles for any relevant information to aid in the hiring process. However, the recruiter does not have access to the CU Facebook network and asks one of their CU interns to log on for them. The recruiter begins searching through profiles based on the stack of submitted resumes. The first profile pops up. It doesn't take long before the recruiter sees that the applicant’s political affiliation is "very liberal" and listed under her interests is a pro-choice feminist club. Being a conservative Christian, the recruiter immediately throws away the applicant’s resume, never giving them a fair chance.”

This really is a shocking reality but looking at the basic information of any given Facebook profile provides you with personal information such as, sexual orientation, age, relationship status, political and religious views. This gives employers the opportunity to gather addition information beyond the resume and make wrongful assumptions. For instance, an employer may have a strong Republican background and might discriminate against someone who has chosen to declare himself as a Democrat on their Facebook profile. Furthermore, an employer may assume that if a female candidate’s relationship status is engaged on her profile that they do not plan on working for a long period of time because of her marriage and possible future pregnancy. However, all of this information is illegal to ask in a normal, face to face interview for this is personal information that can not be used against anyone in their place of employment or used against them during a interview process. Is this what some employers are looking for beyond the resume and cover letter? Furthermore, employers can even judge you on old photos, a wall post, a group you are part of, your interests or even who you are friends with on Facebook. It seems to be unfair as a Facebook profile does not express your work ethic or your job performance. However, it seems that many employers are resulting to Facebook to help make decisions on prospective candidates. A survey was done among 5, 000 employers throughout the United States by the University of Dayton. “Forty percent of employers say they would consider the Facebook profile of a potential employee as part of their hiring decision, and several reported rescinding offers after checking out Facebook.”(Wiley) Unfortunately Facebook searching to screen candidates is increasingly becoming more of a reality and interviewees need to be aware. Some career services suggest increasing privacy settings. Will Facebook users that are job searching need to alter their profiles to land a job? Employers need to remember that Facebook profiles are not resumes and are not designed to be a part of the interview process.

“Students have become afraid to post information in their profiles because they
don’t know how a prospective employer would interpret the information. Students have also become afraid to share their personal lives with their fellow college students due to the fact that it is easier for corporations to access user’s information if their profiles are left unprotected. Such instances are unfortunate as they reflect Facebook’s trend from a social networking website towards a bland collection of impersonal resumes.” (Engler and Tanoury, p11)

Even Facebook has something to say about this in their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which can be found on the website under the Terms link. All of the key statements are in bold font below.
“Protecting Other People's RightsWe respect other people's rights, and expect you to do the same.
You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else's rights or otherwise violates the law.
We can remove any content or information you post on Facebook if we believe that it violates this Statement.
We will provide you with tools to help you protect your intellectual property rights. To learn more, visit our How to Report Claims of Intellectual Property Infringement page.
If we remove your content for infringing someone else's copyright, and you believe we removed it by mistake, we will provide you with an opportunity to appeal.
If you repeatedly infringe other people's intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate.
You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Wall and 32665), or any confusingly similar marks, without our written permission.
If you collect information from users, you will: obtain their consent, make it clear you (and not Facebook) are the one collecting their information, and post a privacy policy explaining what information you collect and how you will use it.
You will not post anyone's identification documents or sensitive financial information on Facebook.
You will not tag users or send email invitations to non-users without their consent.”
Firstly, if Facebook respects the rights of it’s users then so should all employers. This includes following all anti-discrimination laws based from the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). Employers are required by law to respect potential employees by not asking them personal questions about their sex orientation, race, religion, age, etc… Additionally, they can not choose or not choose applicants based on the above information. Secondly, number 7 indicates that one needs to gain consent in order to collect information from any user’s profile. Accordingly, employers should then be asking their applicants for permission to gain information from their Facebook profile. Clearly many employers have violated the Terms set by Facebook. Not only are the Facebook Terms being violated but it also seems that the anti-discrimination laws are being breached.

Ultimately, Facebook profiles provide additional information that should not be part of any interview process and this information can be easily held against any candidate. Using Facebook or any other social networking medium makes the interview process an unfair one. Moreover, if wrongful assumptions are made and if some Facebook profiles are taken too seriously; employers might be missing out on many qualified candidates and fundamental assets to their team, company, institution, office or staff. Therefore, employers who rely on Facebook as a decision maker during the recruiting process might find themselves missing out on quality workers. The interview process should include things like a review of the cover letter, resume, face to face interview, criminal background check, drug test, etc… However, employers need to ask themselves--Is a social networking background check really necessary? It seems pretty unethical as it is hard to leave personal feelings and thoughts out of religion, political views or sexual orientation. To all the employers who Facebook search: Do you need to know if I’m a Liberal, a Republican, a heterosexual, a homosexual or engaged? Do you need to see pictures of when I was drunk back in college, when I played a prank on a old friend or dressed up for Halloween? Using personal information against a potential employee or making assumptions back on a Facebook profile should not be part of the decision making process when hiring for future employment.

Facebook and Advertising

Facebook has become the perfect site for advertisements with a large audience of 400 million users. It makes perfect sense to showcase Ads on a website that is viewed so many times a day by so many users. With such a large audience, advertising any product has become easily accessible.

Facebook has extensive advertising guidelines available on the website. From destination URLs to targeting Ads with alcohol content—Facebook lays it all out there. For instance:
“Ads that contain a URL or domain in the body must link to that same URL or domain,” “Any targeting of ads based on a user attribute, such as age, gender, location, or interest, must be directly relevant to the offer, and cannot be done by a method inconsistent with privacy and data policies,” and “Ads cannot include content that might appeal to (or mislead) minors by implying that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is fashionable or the accepted course of behavior for those who are underage.” (

Although detailed, Facebook advertising can easily target users by their profile interests, favorite music, movies and TV shows. Based on this information, Facebook displays Ads that we as users are interested in. Facebook states that they can “help transform existing advertising into messages that are tailored to the individual user.” Essentially, Facebook is catering to the user and their interests. Also, local businesses are now advertising on Facebook and targeting users that live in their local area. Local businesses are reaching out to their community right on the Facebook profile page. In addition, advertising on Facebook has become based on user-generated content. Not only are these advertisements being targeted towards Facebook users but users are also becoming part of the distribution of advertisements. Facebook gives companies the opportunity to directly seek out their best buyers as these advertisements run along side their profiles.

There are several ways to advertise on Facebook. Firstly, you can create a social Ad that is placed along side Facebook profiles. This is where you can target consumers based on information that is provided on profiles. Secondly, you can create a Facebook page or group for your company or product. Here, users can become a member of the group or a friend. Creating a group or page gives companies the opportunity to post information, sales, promotions or upcoming events for your product/business. Lastly, companies can become friends with or click the “Like” option for other products/businesses to get their name out there. Eventually, users will notice these products or businesses on other user’s profiles or in their news feed. This is the prime benefit of using a social networking site as a way of advertisement. Facebook users have an average of 130 friends and those friends have friends—this circle continues. Therefore, it is extremely easy to reach out to consumers and their friends.

Not only can advertisements use Facebook profile information to target users but users can also post, share, publish and chat about these product to their friends. This is the benefit of advertising on a social networking site as there is constant communication taking place. As Facebook’s popularity continues to soar, advertising on this site has changed the way companies reach out to their consumers.

The future of Facebook will be interesting as they are continuing changing, upgrading and modifying the site to best serve the needs of the users. There are constant new additions to the applications and users are constantly staying tuned to see what happens next. Of course, competition lies between Facebook and MySpace, Twitter, Linkedin, Friendster, Ning, etc…There has been some buzz about an upcoming Facebook competitor from Google—“Google Me.” Adam D'Angelo, a former Facebook Executive, stated that not only is it "not a rumor but that there are many people working on the project at Google” and he is “completely confident about this." It is always possible that another social networking site can become more popular than Facebook. Google is a major search engine and has the ability to create a successful social networking site. Users will need to stay tuned in to watch what happens among the social networking world. It will be interesting to see the further progress of Facebook in the upcoming year and how it matches up with current and future competitors.

Is The Internet A Public Sphere? (Final Paper)

Michael Vinciguerra
Dr. Lance Strate
Public Communication in Digital Environments

Is The Internet A Public Sphere?

Some scholars, most notably German Philosopher Jurgen Habermas, believe that a true public sphere flourished in the 18th century salons and coffeehouses of Paris, London and Ireland. There, the bourgeois class of Europe gathered to read newspapers, discuss political affairs, and monitor their governments over cups of coffee. These coffee houses were public forums where private individuals, except women, could deliberate and be critical of their government without worrying that their government was monitoring or convicting them of treason.

Habermas and other communication scholars believe that public opinion emerged from the discussions and deliberations that took place in these salons and coffeehouses of the 18th century. From their study of that 18th century phenomenon, 20th century scholars devised theories of the emergence of public opinion, democratic discourse and democratic participation. Jurgen Habermas brought the theory of the public sphere to the modern day forefront of communication discussion and argued that these once ideal places for discourse ceased to exist because of corporations, marketers, and advertisers, who have dominated the public sphere in a manner so the average voice can no longer be heard. According to Habermas (1964, 54), "because of the diffusion of press and propaganda, the public body expanded beyond the bounds of the bourgeoisie. The public body lost not only its social exclusivity; it lost in addition the coherence created by bourgeois social institutions and a relatively high standard of education." Rather than the public shaping their own opinions, corporate owned media, public relations, and economic factors shape the public’s opinion by keeping the public out of discussion. Habermas further argues that "with the interweaving of the public and private realm, not only do the political authorities assume certain functions in the sphere of commodity exchange and social labor, but conversely social powers now assume political functions. This leads to a kind of 'refeudalization' of the public sphere." ( Habermas, 54). Therefore, according to Habermas, large organizations strive for political compromises with the state and with each other, excluding the public sphere whenever possible.

Habermas developed strict criteria for what he believed should constitute the modern day public sphere. Habermas argued that for the public sphere to be successful, one must be able to express his opinion freely and logically, one must have access to the public sphere, there must not be a hierarchy present, and those in the public sphere must have equal footing in there participation. Habermas further explained that "citizens behave as a public body when they confer in an unrestricted fashion-that is, with the guarantee of freedom of assembly and association and the freedom to express and publish their opinions-about matters of general interest." (Habermas, 49). Though there should not be any censorship in the public sphere, some rules of law should be enforced to ensure respect and tranquility among those participating in the public sphere.

Habermas' criteria for the public sphere have not been universally accepted because it was considered by many scholars to be an idealized theory. Now, many scholars argue that the internet is a true public sphere, though Habermas, who is still living, has not weighed in on this argument. The goal of this review then is to summarize the findings of twelve of the most recent scholarly works that have attempted to determine whether the internet meets Habermas’ criteria of a public sphere. The articles reviewed in here were published between 2004 and 2010 and are extracted from three conference papers and eight communication journals. The three conference papers are from the annual meeting of the International Communication Association in 2004 and 2009 and the National Communication Association in 2008. The eight journals include Information, Communication & Society. Journal of Media Research, International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, Political Communication, NORDICOM Review, Communication Review, Information Society, and two articles from Javnost-The Public. The articles that comprise this literature review attempt to analyze questions in regards to the debate over the contributions of new communication technology to democracy, how the impairments of network neutrality might effect the public sphere on the internet, whether the theory of the public sphere can be used for an analysis of Internet web sites or online discussion, whether digital media introduce a new representative order of online political communication, whether democratic and fair public forums actually exist online, whether the public has speech rights in this medium, and what power relations are involved in defining what counts as legitimate online deliberation. While a few articles are more certain that the internet makes political debate more open to voices that are normally not acknowledged in the political field, a majority of the articles involved in this literature research are critical, seeking answers to questions such as why the advent of the Internet has not revitalized the public sphere to begin with and how the media tools used to enhance communication across the globe affects the transmission and reception of content in ways senders did not intend.

The methods of research these ten articles share is their gathering of information based on prior research fused with current observations and quantitative research. Further, a majority of these articles suggest that further theoretical work and a variety of empirical studies are still required to answer the questions relating to the topic of whether the Internet is the modern day equivalent of a public sphere.

In a series of conference papers called The Internet As A Public Sphere addressed at the International Communication Association, Soe (2004) argued that the Internet has the potential to be a public sphere, but is not reaching that maximum potential. In her abstract Soe (2004, 1) mentions that, “This paper is an analysis of online discussion sections based on Jurgen Habermas’ theory of the public sphere. Using the key concepts of the theory of the public sphere, this paper examines discussion sections of three different web sites to see if they can be called as promising electronic public spheres, where constructive public discourses could occur. The selected discussion sections are: ‘Online Community’ at, ‘The Opinion’ at, and ‘Waking Life Forums’ at In the analysis, the advantages and disadvantages of a virtual space in forming a public discourse are discussed. The needs of a mediator or a filtering system are further discussed at the end of the paper.”

Soe is concerned about whether applying the theory of the public sphere to Internet web sites and online discussions fosters positive results for the Internet acting as a public sphere. Soe pays tribute to other scholars, who acknowledge the Internet as a promising electronic sphere, by claiming that the Internet significantly lowers entry barriers and other cost factors. This allows lower class income families equal access and space for participation in the electronic public sphere. In addition, the Internet is where a range of interests can be represented and updated. However, Soe also addresses the more cynical scholars, who view the Internet and the emergence of online communities as a worrisome phenomenon. Social divides and group polarization is common on the Internet and social divides are created by the web's ability to personalize content. Soe argues that the web is a place that is quite vulnerable to social fragmentation because the more easily people receive information, the more they are interested only in what they are already interested in. This means on the web people can easily find like-minded people by visiting a site with one point of view and are mostly hearing more and louder echoes of their own voice. There also exist a growing number of hate groups and extremist organizations that own web sites, who provide links to one another in an attempt to foster recruitment and discussion. Therefore, Soe concludes group polarization is more likely and more extreme on the web than anywhere else and this is damaging to a democracy because mutual understanding becomes more difficult when people do not listen to others who have different or opposing views.

Like Soe, Rasmussen (2008) agrees the Internet poses some serious challenges due to increasing fragmentation and complexity. In “The Internet and Differentiation in the Political Public Sphere,” Rasmussen argues that when one examines the basic normative assumptions of the idea of a public sphere, it becomes clear that the Internet and personal media bring about changes in conjunction with other transformations in society, which pose new problems to democracy. While digital media brings increasing participation, inequalities, fresh viewpoints, and new solutions, it is harder to see how they enable consolidation and oversight. Therefore, Rasmussen suggests, the Internet contributes much more to diversity than to convergence within the public sphere. Similar to Soe, Kperogi (2008) acknowledges the potential of the Internet as having the requirements to deserve being conferred with the status of the public sphere in a digital form, but rejects the Internet as a vulgar, anarchic medium that is incapable of functioning as a site for rational-critical debate. In a series of conference papers called “The Electronic Village Square as a Transnational Public Sphere: Analysis of the Deliberative Practices of Diasporan Nigerians on the Internet,” Kperogi claims that the gains of Internet discussion groups in terms of opening up new vistas for advancing the concept of the public sphere are vitiated by the growing commercialization and commoditization of cyberspace by state and corporate concerns and a deficit of mutual tolerance. Kperogi seems to be saying that the same forces that caused the public sphere’s demise—state propaganda and corporate advertising—are already undermining the Internet’s potential to become a public sphere. In addition, Kperogi suggests the growing interventions of governments in the regulation of the Internet and the prevalence of filtering software are serious limitations to the Internet and detracting from the discursive openness that the Internet is supposed to provide. Kperogi postulates further that while the Internet meshes with existing and pre-existing social functions and extends them in many fresh fashions, the Internet does not fit easily in comparison to characteristically modern organizations and cultural institutions. Therefore, Kperogi concludes that while the Internet does have democratizing potential, it often fails as a public sphere in practice.

In agreement with Kperogi, Stein (2008) builds upon Kperogi's notion of the government intervening in cyberspace and destroying the criteria for the public sphere. In her article “Speech Without Rights: The Status of Public Space on the Internet,” Stein states that according to communication-centered democratic theorists, the media should serve a vital public function in democratic societies, which necessitate that the public have some affirmative speech rights in these spaces. These spaces should be accessible, available, and free from government and private control. However, under the first amendment public forum doctrine in the US, “Private owners and public, government managers of property have speech rights over the spaces and resources they own or oversee, as well as the right to exclude everyone else from this property (Stein, 1-2).” Generally, this means that the free expression rights of Internet users take a back seat to the rights of corporations and government entities’ authority to censor the websites they own. The courts have applied the public forum doctrine to define the Internet as a medium subject to proprietary control or government or private owners. When proprietary and third party, or users’ interests come into conflict, the courts have consistently favored the rights of the proprietors. The speech rights of public and private service providers, infrastructures, website managers, and search engines have thus far prevailed over those of the broader public. Public and private service providers can restrict email traffic and access to websites, search engines can exclude content providers from their search results, public web site managers can refuse to allow hyperlinks on their sites, and publicity authorized domain name registrars can decide what names to award or withhold content providers. Rather than protect public space online, Stein argues, the courts have used public forum law to preclude the existence of open forum spaces. Consequently, while the Internet may offer many speech opportunities, these are privileges rather than rights and media owners may rescind them. Stein concludes pessimistically, by suggesting as conditions online change due to pressure from both government and private interests, the broader public may find itself with few accessible and available spaces in which to speak online. Similar to Kperogi, Stein's argument is clearly another extension of Habermas’ original theory, which states that a true public sphere can never exist.

Koh (2009) would most likely agree with Kperogi and Stein in his examination of how network neutrality hinders the public from participating in the public sphere. In a series of conference papers called “Public Sphere and Network Neutrality,” Koh focuses on how the impairments of network neutrality might effect the public sphere on the Internet. He assumes that public spheres already exist on the Internet and he summarizes the public sphere as a buffer zone located between a private sector and a public sector offering a discussion area all interested groups can take part in. Ideally, according to Koh, the public sphere is the place that citizens can freely access, equally participate in, and recognize rules of procedure in a fully open way. The Internet, more than any other mass medium, has been in the spotlight in forming the perfect public sphere because of its interactivity, the relatively low cost, and its decentralized nature. However, Koh acknowledges that the Internet now faces threats that could impair these merits as a public sphere. Commercialization and concentration by huge conglomerates, especially network providers such as Comcast and AT&T, threaten the freedom and civil movements of users' rights to speech and they use three discriminatory practices: blocking, access- tiering, and quality degradation.

What actions need to be pursued to combat corporations and ensure freedom of speech on the internet? Network neutrality and the public sphere are positively related with each other in that they favor free and open Internet. According to Koh, if Comcast continues to have monopoly power in a network industry without regulation, it could conduct any action to control the public sphere and play a gatekeeper role in the future. Therefore, network neutrality rules can be a precondition of a well-functioned public sphere on the net. Proposed bills concerning network neutrality are commonly used to maintain the freedom of telecommunications networks, including the Internet. However, Koh acknowledges that the problem is how exactly to solve and regulate network neutrality related issues. Therefore, Koh concludes that the Internet rules are what we make with our efforts. Due to the development of new technologies, network owners are in a position to change the architecture of the Internet in their favor. Like Comcast subscribers, it is necessary for Internet users to pay attention to the Internet so as to keep it free and open. In doing so, the Internet should give citizens a better communication place than any other traditional media.

In his article, “The Emergence of a European Public Sphere,” Bârgăoanu (2010) acknowledges Soe's claim that everyone has the potential to use the Internet for online debate, but Bârgăoanu shows through quantitative research that not everyone actually has access or uses the Internet in the broader picture of the global community. Internet access across the European Union member states is unequally distributed and overall data collected by Bârgăoanu shows that one in two Europeans uses the Internet daily. If Bârgăoanu's assumption that a significant number of the people interviewed have not used the Internet for public debate over European affairs is correct, then one can infer that the percentage of people using the Internet for expressing their opinion with respect to European issues and for deliberation over such topics would be lower than the percentage of people using the Internet. The gap between the distributions of public participation in different European Union's member states is wider than most people probably could fathom and in countries where Internet access is at its lowest, genuine public debate over European topics simply does not exist in the world of cyberspace. As suitable to communication in the global era of instant transmission of information as it may be, the success of web sites and discussion forums in facilitating public debate over European issues depends largely on the reception of the content available by the readers. Therefore, Bargaoanu concludes given the significant differences in the rates of Internet access across European Union's member states, the uniformity of a pool of citizens involved in public deliberation simply cannot exist.

According to Albrecht (2006), who the participants are determines to a certain degree what is communicated, and this, in turn, may influence who participates. In his article, “Whose voice is heard in online deliberation? A Study of Participation and Representation in Political Debates on the Internet,” Albrecht argues there are factors that influence who participates in an online debate and what is communicated. These factors include economic and cultural resources, their political interest or lack thereof, and their social environment. Albrecht agrees with Bârgăoanu in that economic and cultural resources are also determinants of access to the Internet and those countries in Bârgăoanu's study who lack access to the Internet most likely are also low on the list in terms of economic resources. Perhaps another reason for why the public is not participating in the online public sphere is due to the political disinterest of society and the limitations of the capacities of people to understand and absorb information.

In Muhlberger's (2005) article, “Human Agency and the Revitalization of the Public Sphere,” he reasons that the online public sphere can be vitalized if the Internet as a medium offered more political cues. The logic behind his reasoning is that self-motivated people will attend to and act on political matters in the absence of political cues, others will attend when they encounter cues, and others will never attend. Therefore, since attention serves to determine which matters will receive thorough processing, then more people would participate in the online public sphere if more political cues were available to direct their attention to current affairs. For example, if publics were more aware of which congressional representatives were against a certain proposal, then these publics could debate online as to how that particular issue matters in their own set of political beliefs and what values are at stake in their votes. Ultimately, however, self-development and cognitive development explain why some people require political cues to participate and others are self-motivated and the ideal members of the online public sphere, according to Muhlberger, are systematic reasoners with integrated highly self-motivated selves who can act in the absence of political cues.

Perhaps scholars who are pessimistic about the Internet’s potential for serving as a public sphere need to rethink their stance of how they look at the communicative breakthroughs of the Internet and the classic model of the public sphere theory. Rather than negate the Internet as a public sphere entirely, scholars should understand that the Internet is reinventing a public sphere different from the one Habermas envisioned. At least that is the argument of another set of scholars.

Feenberg (2009) realizes that the debate over the contribution of new communication technology to democracy is far from settled. However, he argues that the most important contribution of new technology to democracy is not necessarily its effects on the conventional political process, but rather, its ability to assemble a public around technical networks that enroll individuals scattered over wide geographical areas. In his article titled “Critical Theory of Communication Technology: Introduction to the Special Section," Feenberg points out that politics is traditionally tied to geographically locality on the presumption that those who live close together share common interests and are able to meet to discuss them. Of course, there are likely to be disagreements, but as long as communication is possible, conflicts can be resolved by legitimate means, such as voting. Yet, in a more advanced phase of technological development, such as the Internet, this rather narrow definition of politics he just described is less plausible. Technologically advanced societies enroll their members in a wide variety of technical networks and these networks overlay the geographical communities and compete with them in significance in the lives of citizens.

Feenberg describes how technical communities now use the Internet to coordinate their demands for a fuller representation of their participant interests. Further, the ease of communication on the Internet by those who can afford it has made it possible for these new communities to organize. The new forms of online politics can not replace traditional geographically based representation, but activity in the public sphere can now extend to embrace technical issues formerly considered neutral and given over to experts to decide without consultation. Therefore, Feenberg concludes, as a result of the Internet, politics is no longer the exclusive affair of traditionally constituted political groups debating the traditional issues. The range of issues and groups is constantly widening in the most unpredictable ways.

As Trenz (2009) optimistically points out in his article, “Digital Media and the Return of the Representative Public Sphere,” new media are analyzed according to their potential to stimulate, engage, and integrate or alternatively to distract, disintegrate, and fragment audiences. The digital media are no exception in this regard because the digital media’s modern day self-description aims at a redefinition of the political space in which the public sphere unfolds, but not at a redefinition of its normative contents. Trenz suggests that the democratic credentials of the Internet measured against the old template of the public sphere should be analyzed not so much in terms of enhanced participation, but rather as a change in the representative mode of communication. Further, the Internet is unfolding as a representative space through which global diversity gains public visibility. Whereas in the traditional national public sphere, distinguished representative acts were performed in front of a larger audience, the Internet allows every single user to make a public performance. By publishing on the Internet, communicators create an aura of personal representation that does not primarily search argumentative force and consent, but seeks to proclaim truth and authority. Therefore, Trenz concludes the demonstrative publicity of the Internet should be understood as the rediscovery of the representative elements of the public sphere and through this new lens scholars can see that the Internet is not in conflict with the critical publicity of the bourgeois public sphere, but rather, continues its normative self-description.

As the Internet continues to transform Habermas' original criteria for determining what constitutes the public sphere, more and more scholars are starting to rethink new criteria for this transformation. In agreement with Trenz, Dahlberg (2007) argues that rather than discard the public sphere, the conception can be extended and radicalized through the introduction of another public sphere understanding that is being deployed in Internet-democracy commentary and research. In “The Internet, Deliberative Democracy, and Power: Radicalizing the Public Sphere,” Dahlberg pays close attention to how the "marginalized group" uses the Internet as a means for the formation of counter-publics and the articulation of identities and oppositional discourses. The concept of a counter-public enables the articulation of rational-critical deliberation. Therefore, Dahlberg theorizes the public sphere is no longer understood as a singular deliberative space, but a complex field of multiple contesting publics, including both dominant and counter-publics of various forms. Dahlberg's positive stance is radically different from the viewpoints of Soe and Rasmussen, who view opposing ideas online and in discussion forms as dangerous and corruptive to the public sphere and humanity in general.

Like Trenz and Dahlberg, Gripsrud (2009) present a positive and alternative lens for scholars when looking at the Internet as a public sphere. In his article, “Digitizing The Public Sphere: Two Key Issues,” Gripsrud argues because the online public sphere adds new dimensions and new forms of discourse, further theoretical work is required in order to better understand how these forms of discourse contribute towards the overall quality of health of democracy. Gripsrud does not believe these new dimensions are in any way damaging to the Internet as a public sphere. In fact, Gripsrud praises the Internet as an amazing vehicle for communicating and organizing across great distances and on a global scale. In addition, the Internet offers previously inconceivable opportunities for making available to a public any kind of cultural product or political utterance a person chooses to put forth. It therefore seems, Gripsrud suggests, that the Internet adds historically new and highly valuable forms of “publicness” to the traditional public sphere and the ability to now communicate visually along with written communication creates this new realm of “publicness.”

The old concept of the public sphere, as highlighted in the beginning of this literature review, exists, but does not appear to still work. While some scholars agree there can never truly be one online public sphere, according to Habermas' criteria, more and more scholars are beginning to redefine a new criteria for what constitutes the formation of a new public sphere. Even within the online public sphere, however, many scholars still debate whether mutual agreement among discourse in the public sphere leads to peaceful democratic deliberation or simply a repetition of the same voices. Though freedom of speech should be a guaranteed right online, some scholars fear there are those who abuse this right and courts, owners, and corporations do enforce laws when they feel discourse is threatening to their goals. Also, there are those who choose not to or simply cannot afford to participate in the public sphere due to disinterest or economic restraints. How can an online public sphere exist with this many obstacles?

Soe offers suggestions as to what the criteria should be in order for a web site to be considered an online public sphere. She suggests that web sites should consist of more openness and democratic debate with the notion of respect in mind, people should be willing to change their minds if necessary, there should be a willingness to modify or justify societal norms, and a trained moderator should be present to monitor the discussions. Discerning whether the Internet is the modern day public sphere only leads to more questions and many of the scholars presented in this literature review agree that more research and further probing may never be enough for a definitive answer. Dahlberg points out that we need to foster and expand the formation of new kinds of public spheres. We need to focus on not only fostering deliberation, but also upon the development of counter-publics of excluded discourse and the contestation of the discursive boundaries of the mainstream public sphere online. Muhlberger suggests that much research remains to be done to learn which cues trigger politically relevant selves and which selves matter for intensive political engagement in the public sphere. Feenberg believes that debate and further research in the belief that new approaches to politics are required by the technological changes reshaping our experience of ourselves and the world around us. Finally, Gripsrud suggests further theoretical work and a variety of empirical studies are required to better understand how democracy is affected by the introduction and functioning of the Internet.

Albrecht, S. (2006). Whose voice is heard in online deliberation? A study of participation and representation in political debates on the Internet. Information, Communication & Society, 9(1), 62-82.

Bârgăoanu, A., Negrea, E., & Dascălu, R. (2010). The Emergence of a European Public Sphere. An analysis of Europe's News Website Journal Of Media Research, (6), 3-17. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Dahlberg, L. The Internet, deliberative democracy, and power: Radicalizing the public sphere. International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, 3(1), 47- 64. (2007).

Feenberg, A. (2009). Critical Theory of Communication Technology: Introduction to the Special Section. Information Society, 25(2), 77-83. doi:10.1080/01972240802701536.

Gripsrud, J. (2009). Digitising The Public Sphere: Two Key Issues.. Javnost-The Public, 16(1), 5-16. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Habermas, J., Lennox, F., Lennox S. (1964). The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article. New German Critique, No. 3. (Autumn, 1974), pp. 49-55.

Koh, T. (2009). Public Sphere and Network Neutrality. Conference Papers -- International Communication Association, 1-25. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Kperogi, F. (2008). The Electronic Village Square as a Transnational Public Sphere: Analysis of the Deliberative Practices of Diasporan Nigerians on the Internet Conference Papers -- National Communication Association, 1. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Muhlberger, P. (2005). Human Agency and the Revitalization of the Public Sphere. Political Communication, 22(2), 163-178.doi:10.1080/10584600590933160.
Rasmussen, T. (2008). The Internet and Differentiation in the Political Public Sphere. NORDICOM Review, 29(2), 73-83. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Soe, Y. , 2004-05-27 "The Internet as a Public Sphere" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, New Orleans Sheraton, New Orleans, LA Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from

Stein, L. (2008). Speech Without Rights: The Status of Public Space on the Internet, Communication Review, 11(1), 1-23 (2008).

Trenz, H. (2009). Digital Media And The Return Of The Representative Public Sphere. Javnost-The Public, 16(1), 33-46. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Copyright Law: Can It Exist in Cyberspace?

Copyright Law:
Can It Exist in Cyberspace?

Jantzen Rodriguez
Digital Media Environments
Professor Lance Strate
July 1, 2010

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The term cyberspace represents many things to people, not just computer technology. It is an outlet that provides a whole new world of possibilities for people to express themselves or convey some message, whether it is in the form of a typed message (e-mail), a term paper at a school level, business report at a working level, or a graphic work of art at an entertainment level. For others, it is a form of a “space” created where communication becomes possible between or among individuals who may either know each other or who could be complete strangers. The latter condition is one that seems daunting, to say the least. It is in this “space” where ideas are interchanged, works are completed, interaction occurs, and where commerce is conducted. Cyberspace is also a place where professionals, such as writers, musicians, artists, business people, and the like promote their various works to receive exposure to audiences all over the world, with the hopes of capitalizing on their work. In other words, the more exposure an artist (e.g. author) has on cyberspace, the more likely he/she will be recognized and their works will be considered for purchase, given that the artist’s work receives the promotion it merits and there is a mechanism which allows for purchase of the artist’s work online. At least, this is the ideal case scenario. Similar to our “earthly” world, in traditional ways, professional authors, performers, even artists rely on their work and their intellectual contributions to bring to the people a piece of their passion, thus enabling them to profit from their endeavors. It is these “professionals” that have sacrificed their time, or even their entire lives, to producing work that provides for them a standard of living. For this reason, individuals in any field, whether it is education, business, entertainment, etc. want to assure that their work and their intellectual efforts are protected by law, so that other people (followers) who may be tempted to obtain such work and “profit” off it illegally are prosecuted to the fullest extent. This seems quite simple to understand, at least in a centralized system where law and order work effectively. The scenarios that I have mentioned are examples of what constitutes the need for “copyright law”. It is a way of safeguarding those individuals that rely on their talent or their original ideas and allows for them to benefit monetarily from their inventions or their efforts. But what happens when you decentralize a system such as ours, make the marketplace more competitive, and “pass on” many of these ideas to everyday people who have possession of a machine known as a “computer”?

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We are all connected to cyberspace and are fully aware that we are interacting in a “world” that is fueled by information. Can copyright law function in such an environment where the flow of information runs uncontrollably?
We must consider that practically the entire world is connected to cyberspace. There exists a ridiculous commercialization of every single item there is. Not to mention, there is a terrible commercialization of “intellectual property” even online. Because of this change in the way we operate on a daily basis, copyright law appears to be losing strength, especially when it comes to protecting information that is considered “intellectual property” and that is circulating in cyberspace. Some proponents of preserving copyright law want to extend traditional laws to apply to the Internet. Other skeptics (or those trying to capitalize themselves on the argument of a free cyberspace) feel that copyright law is outdated and must be undermined. Easier said than done, it is an issue that affects us all. Some people complain that copyright law is binding and circumvents the old excuse of denying “opportunities”. On the other hand, those that defend copyright see it as a necessary evil to protect their hard-earned labor. Others, such as myself, sees this as another “fashion or fad” that tries to push the other one out when in fact we could just leave things alone and strengthen current laws. Like the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!” Ok, I will leave that topic for another paper! To fully understand the issues we face regarding copyright law, it would be helpful to begin by understanding the history of and the original copyright law, its intention, and its limitations. Then we can apply it to the current culture and determine if it is worth revamping, if the law should be eliminated or undermined, or if copyright law can be applied to cyberspace. These are important points to consider, given the “entropy” that we face in our decentralized society, but it is worth our time and our examination especially when the implications of such a law interfere in cases of learning and for personal use. Let’s begin by examining the history of the law and its intended purpose.
According to the Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia, copyright is “the set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of the work, including the right to copy, distribute, and adapt the work” ( These rights can be assigned, licensed, or transferred, and copyright is said to last for a fixed period before it enters the public domain. During the copyright period, the work in question can be exclusively owned by the originator. Copyright laws came about with the advent of the printing press in the middle 15th century, as some form of royal privilege.
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Nevertheless, our copyright laws stem from the “Statute of Anne” (1709), which was an “Act for Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or Purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned” ( It was in England where the notion of what was considered “property” was conceived. The law is best explained by the reasoning of the World Intellectual Property Organization, which stated that its purpose was “to encourage a dynamic creative culture, while retaining value to creators so that they can lead a dignified economic existence, and to provide widespread, affordable access to content for the public” (wiki). It is in this quote that we can see the reasoning behind copyright law. Mostly this was affixed to “tangible property”, meaning property that was owned by an individual. Copyright has also been considered under the umbrella term “intellectual property”, along with patent and trademark since the 19th century, and it is by this idea of “intellectual property” that creators have wanted to exercise full control over their work, not to mention the monetary benefits that result from the protection of the law (publishers are guilty of this). Initially, copyright was utilized for books. The Statute of Anne allowed for copyright protection of fourteen years, as opposed to a perpetual term, so this kept the system from becoming a monopoly.
In France, royal privileges were needed to publish a book. This privilege was exclusive and allowed for up to six years. After that, the owner of such privilege could renew indefinitely. Later in around 1777, royal privileges were agreed to for ten years or the life of the author, whichever was longer. The author who purchased the privilege and did not transfer or sell the privilege could publish and sell books himself and pass on the privilege to his heirs, who would enjoy the privileges in perpetuity. It wasn’t until after the French Revolution that this “royal privilege” idea was countered because of a dispute with an art company named Comedie-Francaise for being granted exclusive rights to the public performance of all dramatic works. The argument was that anyone could set up a public theater and that any work, whose author had been deceased for five years, could be placed in the public domain. This abolished the royal privilege, so instead, a new copyright law was placed in 1793, which gave authors, artists, and composers the exclusive right to sell and distribute their works, and extend those rights to their heirs for ten years after the author’s death. This limited copyright allowed for competition and the protection against any monopoly that would result as a consequence. This law was labeled
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“Declaration of the Rights of Genius”. As a condition, copies of work created had to be deposited in the Bibliotheque Nationale. This act was considered “utilitarian”, meaning for the common good of mankind, back in the 19th century.
U.S. copyright law, on the other hand, was not so important for the early colonists because their culture was agrarian. There is record of only three copyright laws being passed before 1783. Two of the laws allowed for a five-year protection, the other lasted for seven. That same year some author’s petitions to the Continental Congress requested that “nothing is more properly a man’s own than the fruit of his study, and the protection and security of literary property would tend to encourage genius and promote useful discoveries” (wiki). However, under the Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress had no right to issue copyright, but instead passed a resolution allowing the States to “secure to the authors or publishers of any new book not hitherto printed the copyright of such books for a certain time not less than fourteen years from the date of the first publication, and to secure to the said authors, if they survive the first term, the copyright of such books for another term of time no less than fourteen years” (wiki). In a way, this sounds like a renewable contract, but it was estimated that the most a copyright would last was the lifetime of the author. For the most part, early copyright law followed the pattern of the Statue of Anne and the Continental Congress format of fourteen years, while other states enacted a single term of fourteen, twenty, or twenty-one years, with no renewal. Actual copyright law can go as long as 99 years! The first inkling of a copyright law was seen in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention, where James Madison of Virginia and Charles Pinckney of South Carolina made proposals that would grant copyright for a limited amount of time. These are the formations of the Copyright Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which allow for setting copyrights and patents for a limited amount of time to stimulate progress in sciences and the arts, thus serving as a utilitarian function. Initially set out to serve a common good, copyright law has served its purpose over the years, but as media has changed, so have the expectations of the law. It is through these expectations that we experience firsthand conflicts among three parties: the producer of such works, the receiver (namely the consumer of the work), and the government which fabricated the law. For now, we have an understanding of what the origins of the law are. Now let’s look at how this law can be used, abused, and in today’s era of cyberspace, how it can be manipulated to achieve a desired end. Let’s also take
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into consideration those who want to “do away” with copyright law as it is because, according to those skeptics, it doesn’t apply to an information “age”.
We begin by examining what a copyright is all about. To begin, it is “a protection that covers published and unpublished literary, scientific, and artistic works, whatever the form of expression, provided such works are fixed in a tangible or material form” (, 2010). This typically means that if you can see it, hear it, or touch it, it may be protected (ex: essay, play, photograph, song lyrics, sound score, video, dance move, HTML coding that can be placed on paper, recorded on tape, or saved on a hard drive, etc.). Copyright grants the producer or creator exclusive rights to reproduce, prepare related works, distribute, perform, and display or play the work in public. This only allows the creator, not the public, the right to execute any action he/she sees fit with the work in question. Protection of copyright begins when the work created becomes a fixed tangible form, such as when a person writes lyrics to a song on paper, signs on the bottom, and adds the copyright symbol© next to the name. This can be then sealed in an envelope and sent to the U.S. Copyright Office in order to be registered for protection. This also serves as protection for a creator in case someone else copies and redistributes the work without permission. The process applies to digital art and graphics as well. So, if a person produces, uses, copies, or distributes material, for commercial or personal purposes, without written authorization of the creator, the person is committing infringement of copyright and is, therefore, in violation of such. “It doesn’t matter if the person committing the violation is a ‘newbie’; and/or doesn’t know what copyright infringement is about” (, 2010). In other words, ignorance of the law does not make a person exempt from responsibility. The person using such work must exercise due diligence before using the work. No sensible person would allow someone else to sell their personal letters for publication without the creator receiving any kind of profit for it in return. That is the gist of the existence of copyright law.
Keep in mind that originally, copyright was intended for “tangible” property, meaning property that had physical form, such as books. There is another side to the argument of copyright, and that is the notion that property can also be “intangible”, meaning with no physical form, pertaining to the mind. Naturally, any work of art or science is the result of mental capacity which generates such work, for educational purposes or for aesthetic reasons. In our recent times, there has been a stirring debate about applying copyright protection to intangible
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property, meaning ideas and creativity. Some people view it as another way of holding to a monopoly that already exists, as a means of doing business. Others view it the opposite way: it is the protection of a creator’s brain power which helped generate some invaluable work. The debate becomes difficult when two principles collide, according to Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr. and Adam D. Thierer in their article “When Rights Collide: Principles to Guide the Intellectual Property Debate”. Crews and Thierer see two important principles collide: “legal protection for intangible works butts up against free expression and exchange of ideas” (Crews, Thierer, 2001). On one hand, there are the “radical voices” that believe there is no such thing as a right to own intangible ideas and the whole system of limited grants on monopolies is outdated and needs to be tossed aside. On the other, there is some consensus that innovators should be rewarded for their intellectual creations. Crews and Thierer tend to agree that with this limited grant, entrepreneurs are given the incentive to generate important life-enriching products and ideas, thus re-enforcing the common good approach. It’s not just about the capitalization of the work in question but how those unique ideas can benefit all of humanity in their quest for advancement. There does seem to be some agreement by the authors of this article that some people take this issue too far when there is a desire to promote excessive terms of protection, thus undermining motivation for creators when the original creators are already deceased (as in the case of Walt Disney and the famous copyright protection of its line of characters). The article points out that we face a problem of intellectual property on the Internet and in finding a balance of artistic and entrepreneurial incentives with the interests of the larger community of users in a “free, unhindered exchange of products and ideas” (Crews and Thierer, 2001). To this, the authors propose 3 ideas to keep in mind when considering this responsibility that should be exercised: 1) Take the principle “To Promote the Progress of Science and Useful Arts” seriously. Terms set for the amount of time copyright protection are valid and arbitrary. One must keep in mind that any copyright term that is indefinite or very long will provide diminished incentives for creativity. When copyright favors extended periods of time, the question to consider is whether this behavior leads to a monopoly, which only discourages the healthy progress of science and useful arts. 2) Don’t ban new technologies or business models to solve patent or copyright problems. This is the battle between the side of the argument that wants to restrict file-sharing technologies for the sake of reducing copyright control in cyberspace, while the other
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side that shares copyrighted files sometimes ridicules newer technologies that in turn aid the process of copyright protection, technologies that make possible digital watermarking, encryption, and incorporation of digital management into security hardware, to name a few. 3) The last proposal is to remove government barriers to the marketplace’s ability to protect intellectual property. Here, it is important to determine when exaggerated antitrust laws interfere with private efforts to grant licensing of songs (e.g.). In other words, restrictive contracts that antitrust law might regard as suspicious could benefit a consumer by ensuring returns for producers. Some people in the academic world have suggested that antitrust law may force the “need” for more intellectual property law and enforcement than is needed. Overall, the three suggestions contain, as an underlying purpose, the idea that relaxation of copyright law can only benefit those whose “intellectual and tangible properties” are in question, especially when dealing with cyberspace. Yet, when you look at both sides of the issue, both have reasonable defenses to state their case. It is a battle of arriving at a middle ground. Later in this paper, I propose two questions that should be asked when attempting to determine the motives for utilizing a copyrighted work from cyberspace.
Continuing with clarification of copyright law, the three most important topics of this law that merit attention and clarification are: plagiarism of text, infringement of copyright when using photocopying (Xerox) machines, and duplication of web pages and text on the Internet. Ronald Standler, author of the article “Some Observations on Copyright Law”, outlines what constitutes “fair use” of copyrighted material, and he dates this back to the Copyright Act of 1976, which points out where “fair use” can be applied: for the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or for nonprofit educational purposes, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. Standler adds: “The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors” (Standler, 2009). In other words, whether the work is published or not, the laws of copyright protection can be applied to defend the work of a creator. According to this article, Standler mentions instances when copyright is being infringed upon when creating a website. For example, finding text or a
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picture, uploading it on a website without any changes is outright copyright violation. The most favorable way of using copyrighted material in such a way is by posting a hyperlink for reference. Finding text, copying with a few changes or additions and uploading to a website is also copyright infringement, but if you take a small piece of text and include it in a quotation in your work, it is legal as long as you make the citation (as would be the case for writing a school paper or a book; it is debated that for educational purposes, the rules are different). One could also consider including a disclaimer on a web page calling to the author of some work to send an email requesting that the material be taken down, and if no answer, it is assumed that the creator of the work agrees with such action. This may be fine, but copyright law misunderstands that, according to Standler. One area of this article that I found most interesting was the section on how photocopying machines promote copyright violation. Examining a specific case, which applies to our educational field, Standler points to Princeton University v. Michigan Document Service, which was a case in which Princeton professors copied chapters from a textbook and submitted to Michigan Document Service to reproduce into custom-made textbooks for students. In light of the fact that no royalties were paid to the producers of the textbooks, the courts regarded this act as copyright infringement, thus sending a message out to all professors to show responsibility in demonstrating a good example for students in giving credit to the textbook authors.
On the Internet, there are many ways of making copies of copyrighted material. Since copyright was intended originally for books, recordings, films, etc., there is a move to extend copyright protection to the Internet, but this direction is quite unclear. Yet, there are still basic rules that apply when downloading or uploading copyrighted material for personal use. To begin, the plain use of viewing a page on the Internet implies that a copy is being made on the spot because the image or text is transferred from the screen to the Random Access Memory of the computer. This act in itself is not considered infringement because “authors post documents on the Internet with the intent of having other people read the documents, so there may be an implied license to copy web pages during the reading of them” (Standler, 2009). In addition, when the computer is turned off, RAM is erased. Web browsers make a second copy of the material, such as Internet Explorer as a cache file, in order to make lookup of the work faster. Retrieving a document from the hard drive is much faster than reading the document from the
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“source machine” and then transmitting the document through the Internet. This process of the copy in cache mode is acceptable by law, given that it is not used for any other purpose. The most practical way of making a copy is by using the Print command and printing your document. Here is where it becomes an issue. The act of printing immediately is considered an infringement of copyright law, or there may be an implied agreement or license for a set number of copies to be made by the author. This is why some web sites do not allow for printing of certain material. The way you know if material cannot be printed is if the article or the image either does not print out or generates multiple blank copies (as was the case when accessing one of the articles I wanted to use for this paper!) or increased slow time on the computer, which will manifest itself as a response to detection of copyright infringement (as in the case with some pictures). Another way of copying is to use the Save As command, which helps store HTML or JPEG files, as an example, on a hard drive.
It appears that copyright law is quite clear when it comes to cyberspace. Apparently, if you know how to dominate the code, copyright can work effectively. It should not be taken as a given that cyberspace is this outlet of “free information” that is uncontrollable. That is not so, and many people will argue that copyright laws can be extended (and they already are extended with much success) to the Internet. The battle among the government, corporations, and the consumer is a classic case which seems to have no end, yet all three are interdependent on each other, whether willing or unwilling. Going back to our USA copyright laws, and just as is the case with the rest of the world, copyright also involves foreign countries. Let’s face it, we are in a global economy and in a state of globalization, and the World Wide Web (as the name implies) is a network that makes the world “interdependent” on each other (countries). There are cases where certain nuances in the laws are different geographically. Let’s look at the moral rights of authors. In the USA, there is no such consideration for moral rights of authors, but in France, this law is important. For the French, they believe that protection of moral rights of authors does not depend on the law of the country of origin of the work. According to Standler, there was a case of actor John Huston’s film “Asphalt Jungle” which was black and white and colorized by Turner Networks. Turner has contracted with a company in France to show the movie in color. In turn, Huston’s heirs sued in a French court claiming that his moral rights had been violated. The court favored Huston’s case, and it was decided that there was violation of his moral rights.
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Sure, this case is clearly representing when entities other than the one you work for become involved in making decisions without the creator’s consent. To some extent, there is a corporate ulterior motive, as is the case with most entities in this corporate-driven country of ours. Needless, to say, the concept of copyright is quite forward and requires no need to misinterpret for the sake of tailoring it to our advantage (only if you have a solid foundation to your case). Continuing with the copyright issue on cyberspace, let’s look at the two sides of the issue, the one side which sees copyright as unnecessary and which “stifles” creativity and the other, which either sees the need for a balance to the copyright issue or ascertains that traditional copyright exists in the digital world, thus defending copyright law.
To begin this examination, one of the prime proponents and advocates of net neutrality and protecting creativity on the web is Lawrence Lessig. A Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and author of the book “Remix”, he is one of the individuals that promotes the idea of abolishing copyright and sees it as some mechanism that is corporate-driven, which stifles amateur creativity. The first video “Where Do Artists Draw the Line on Copyright Law shows Shepard Fairey, the creator of the famous Obama poster “Hope” talking about how copyright affects his work and the issues he faced with the dissemination of his famous poster. Frankly, Fairey is an individual who is quite lax about copyright law but makes it clear that he would only go after “bootleg” operations. Lessig, obviously, expresses that in the “remixing” concept, there is creativity involved and that copyrighters should not “go after” those engaging in this practice because it stifles creativity. He proposes that companies need to ask themselves, to paraphrase him, “How will this affect my business?” Another video of Lessig, “Do Copyright Laws Stifle Creativity?” shows Lessig making a presentation of remixes utilizing copyrighted works, among them using a Superman film strip and videos of people dancing to R&B artists’ music. He puts these issues in front of an audience and implies that such works only allow for creativity to flourish. In other words, copyright laws are “oppressive”, according to Lessig, and Lessig continues to remark that this is “the language” of people today. One point in this video that bothered me was the way Lessig tries to “convince” people that posting YouTube videos and amateur remixes are harmless, especially the part of a mother videotaping her children dancing to music and “copyright owners” asking that the video be taken down. Here is where copyright may go too far, especially if a home video is being produced for entertainment purposes. We
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should be aware that any social scenario typically features music of some artist which we play innocently just to have fun. In a country and an economy where “money matters”, that is just another example where money issues just go too far and making this a serious matter is unwarranted.
The other side of the argument poses the opposite argument: that copyright law is the law and must be regarded, even with cyberspace; however at times, it may want to find balance. Anne Fujita from the University of Florida College of Law wrote an article titled “The Great Internet Panic: How Digitization is Deforming Copyright Law”. In this article, which I consider to be ahead of its time, she states that “the new technology in our present “Information Age” has upset the delicate balance created and maintained by copyright law between the rights of authors, users, and the industries that collect the money” (Fujita, 1996). This statement raises issues of concern, such as fear of authors not being compensated for their efforts, the moral rights of authors, and even the fear of losing their right to read. Fast technology appears, according to the article, to be undermining copyright laws, or as people like to loosely state, “Our world is constantly changing”. She continues to say that the one distinction that is blurred is among the authors, the people that write and create, and the companies that get the works published. The multinational corporations are blamed for the merging of these functions. Not to mention, this is a result of a “global” economy, diluted and blurred. The emphasis on the money issue seems to be the main cause of this blur. Obviously, if you factor the three components mentioned, the author, creator, and the publishing company, you will see that everyone wants a “piece of the pie”, so the fight emerges between those creators and authors that have control of the work they create versus the consumer who wants greater access to the material and for less money. Yet another battle surges when you match up the author, the publisher, and the consumer against one another when the publisher wants to “add information” to the author’s current work and the consumer wants greater access in order to utilize this work for their own to incorporate in some work of their own, usually at an amateur level.
The reality of all of this is that the only ones here that are being affected are the authors themselves because publishers have more power to profit and manipulate any work that is circulating, with the intent of profit. The moral rights issue of authors become of concern. So in a way, copyright law is a necessary evil because it is these publishing houses that make
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information available to the masses for the purposes of a “greater good” for humankind. This may sound practical, but when you look at all of the sides involved, the conflict of interest will be evident, and therefore, some balance must be achieved. Returning to the author’s moral rights claim, we have not made such an issue of it in our country because, according to Fujita, “traditional technology provides a great deal of built-in protection for author’s moral rights. With the current technology, it is very difficult for an ordinary user, a member of the public, to violate an author’s moral rights on a widespread basis” (Fujita, 1996). It is the publishing industry who would ever attempt to violate these rights, so Fujita claims that technology doesn’t cause this to happen. The real issue which affects the copyright issue in cyberspace is the easiness of digitization to copy quickly, cheaply, and easily with no loss in quality, which is then distributed to millions of users in a matter of seconds. Alterations can also be made in the same manner. Even the author’s name can be deleted and your name can be inserted. It is this easiness of the process that many owners of copyright are afraid of: losing money on account of individual users. Yes, we can claim that the copies that are generated by the users are not the same high quality as that of the original, but this is the point that copyright advocates and owners fear: the profit issue in which they can’t capitalize on the fast technology that makes this all possible. Needless to say, the technology still cooperates with copyright law. Encryptions, watermarks, etc. make protection against illegal access possible. To summarize this viewpoint, Fujita mentions that “balance” that should exist. It merely states that “copyright is not a natural right. It is a right created by law”.
Because the new technology affects the balance to such a great extent, in ways never anticipated by the drafters of the Copyright Act, we cannot use the Copyright Act, particularly its specific language, as the starting point in our analysis” (Fujita,1996). These ideas of revamping copyright stem from the Clinton Administration’s Information Infrastructure Task Force, also known as “White Paper” and “Green Paper”, which represent the two sides to the copyright issue. Instead, she proposes that we start by attacking the issue of the moral rights of authors first. It would be a call to enacting a law that would prohibit the falsification, alteration, or removal of copyright management information which includes the name of the author, a law prohibiting the alteration and dissemination of the content of an author’s work, and the author, in turn, should receive notification on a work stating that it has been altered, indicating when the
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original can be accessed. Regardless of whether these measures appear to be barriers to creativity or freedom of speech, Fujita claims that there is a need for a balance. It is about sacrifice in some area. Yes, copyright law in dealing with cyberspace is quite difficult but there needs to be some written “code” which people can abide, consumers and publishers alike.
Her idea of balance is of first amending the current law, which factors in the fair use principle. As mentioned before, fair use means that we take four factors into consideration: the purpose and character of use, such as for profit or intellectual gain, nature of the copyrighted work, amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the work in question, and effect of the use upon its market value. While the White Paper side places emphasis on the economic side of the issue and is relentless, the Green Paper has some economic principle to it but is more concerned with the European commerce. More important, how we can disseminate more information in a global system? In the case of moral right, while the White Paper does not say much with regard to author’s moral rights, Green Paper suggests that this is important and could be resolved by requesting some kind of contract signed by the author permitting alteration to his or her work. In other words, if an author agrees to digitization of work, then he or she is bound to the conditions that may arise as a result. This alternative results in being more cooperative as opposed to passing a law requesting such behavior. Green Paper, therefore, offers this alternative. This is part of the balance that is being suggested when it comes to copyright because moral rights take the issue of intellectual property and appreciation for it one step further. The main balance here is a law amended to the copyright law that supports creativity in the sciences and the arts while protecting the dignity and privacy of individuals, rights that are granted to us by our Constitution. In an information age, this balance is the most desirable and perhaps the most complicated to achieve, but given our technology and its capacities, this can all work out with cooperation and responsibility. The key here is communication!
Conversely, there are people who adamantly believe that copyright is the same for regular media as well as digital media. Brad Templeton, author of “10 Big Myths about Copyright Explained” attempts to answer “myths” about copyright and Internet publications. Let me explain them briefly, according to Templeton: 1) If it doesn’t have a copyright notice, it’s not copyrighted. As Templeton states “This was true in the past” and “If it looks copyrighted, you should assume it is” (Templeton, 2008). He discourages people from scanning images from
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magazines and posting them to the web. 2) If I don’t charge for it, it’s not a violation. If the work has no commercial value, it may not be a violation, but if you give some piece of work away, it is still a violation, especially if the action harms the commercial value of it. 3) If it’s posted to Usenet, it’s in the public domain. This is false because it is up to the creator to do so and announce that it is “public”. 4) “My posting was just fair use!” Fair use applies to comments or alternate takes, like parodies, to works already in use, but damaging the commercial value is wrong, and this may be the case when posting some work on the web. 5) “If you don’t defend your copyright you lose it. Somebody has that name copyrighted!” Once again, the copyright has to be explicitly “given away” for this to happen. Otherwise, nothing keeps a person from using a name, such as Pan Am. 6)”If I make up my own stories, but base them on another work, my new work belongs to me.” Such is also false because these derivative works are still property of the originator of the work. 7) “They can’t get me; defendants in court have powerful rights!” Copyright law is a civil matter, not criminal, so the “innocent until proven guilty” adage does not work in this case. 8) “Oh, so copyright violation isn’t a crime or anything?” Depending upon the damage done, it could be considered a felony. 9) “It doesn’t hurt anybody – in fact, it’s free advertising.” This is contingent upon the creator if he/she wants this advertised free of charge. 10) “They e-mailed me a copy, so I can post it.” Any email is copyrighted, but you won’t be able to receive damages if someone posts your email because, due to privacy matters, emails don’t have commercial value. These myths only go to show that we shouldn’t assume that cyberspace is “public domain”. While anything posted online may be easy to copy, paste, etc., all material is still subjective and the owner of such material has the exclusive right to exercise controls on what can or cannot be published. The same rules that apply to standard media, or old media, apply in the new new media sense (to quote Professor Levinson, and I will look at his views on copyright law up next).
The book “New New Media” by Dr. Paul Levinson offers an example of copyright violation on the Internet with the example of YouTube. He posits an example of posting or uploading a video, an amateur creation, using Paul McCartney’s rendition of a George Harrison song. The video is uploaded with an embed from YouTube, people view it, and comments are generated, but within a month, you find out that the video is no longer available on the site because it violated terms of service. This results because “some person or corporation told YouTube that
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the video violated its copyright. The hand of old media enforcement, withered but without power, has just pulled the rug and the fun out from under your new media blog creation” (Levinson, 2009). Although people may argue that creativity has been stifled here, there is no doubt that uploading a video with copyrighted material is a violation of copyright and somehow it would be nice to credit the originator with some compensation for using his/her material. Even Levinson continues that practices, such as downloading YouTube videos for free using special software such as RealPlayer, while legal in theory, could be considered some sort of copyright infringement. The rules may not be clear-cut when it comes to new new media and what is considered legal but, as I mentioned before, it is a law and there is need for recourse to old methods to solve problems in actuality. In addition, Levinson states as his bottom line: “Dissemination of copies of a work, whether an MP3 of a recording of a YouTube clip, is impossible to prevent in the realm of new new media, and probably should not be prevented, unless money is made from the dissemination or the work is plagiarized” (Levinson, 2009). This is the problem with new new media. There are two parts to this issue, and the only thing that can be done right now is to attempt to coexist with both sides of the issue and come to some conclusion. Levinson’s book demonstrates the love and hate relationship with new new media. He is very frank when determining that copyright on the Internet is a reality despite the assumption that it is a public medium and information is everywhere.
So should copyright law be abolished, should there exist a balance, or should we assume that copyright law can be applied to cyberspace? Perhaps we need clarification to bring about a temporary solution, one that is practical and realistic, so there is no further confusion. I am going to resort back to the article “What Is Copyright Protection?” To begin, the Internet is NOT public domain! It may sound unrealistic to think, but let’s look at this argument closely. We may have the “power” to click on the mouse, access a web page, see a graphic photo, click on a hyperlink, copy the image, save it, print it, and yes, the copy is stored in cache mode. We also think that because it is on the web it is public domain, and we can take any work of another author without permission. This is false. To quote my source, “Just because your driveway is not inside of your house, is it in the public domain? Does that give anybody off the street the right to stay on your driveway without your permission?” (, 2010) This principle applies to the Internet, and “material copied on the web may be copied freely if the
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information is created by the 1) federal government, 2) if the copyright has expired, and 3) the copyright has been abandoned” (, 2010). The second point to consider is that any material that you have been granted permission to use, such as images, javascripts, HTML, text, and the like to display on your website should not be a ticket to claiming copyright over it. The third point is that graphic images, such as logos, provided by “free” graphic sites are also not public domain, and even those images that you receive for a fee, are not given to a user in ownership. Fourth, graphics, sound files, cascade-style sheets, and others that are placed in the public domain do not grant a user to claim it as copyright. You can only claim copyright to work that you created yourself and not the public information you are using because other users can utilize a Coca-Cola logo (e.g.) for their work, and you may have done the same. That is not protected under copyright. Fifth, HTML coding, web pages, and blog postings can be copyrighted. Some people assume that they can’t be copyrighted, but if the HTML and the blog postings have been original works, they deserve copyright protection. The only material that is not protected is information that has been copied and pasted from information that is copyrighted. The sixth point is quite practical. If a user takes text or HTML and change it to fit his/her needs, the individual may “own” the new version with the consent of the creator. Otherwise, it is seen as an act of plagiarism. The seventh point relates to translations into another language. Yes, permission is needed to translate material on the Internet into another language while adhering to the desires of the originator of the work (a form of a license). The final point I will mention is the fair use argument. As I mentioned before, fair use allows for “parody, news reporting, research and education about such copyrighted work without the permission of the author” (, 2010).
To summarize the above-mentioned points, copyright laws serve their purpose and were constructed with every possible case scenario in mind. The action that has been done is to take current law and apply it to those cases in cyberspace in order to show people that the assumption of cyberspace being “public” does not give anyone a free pass to take information and misuse it. Even when users take information for entertainment purposes, they should be held accountable, at least to the extent of being knowledgeable or possessing some working knowledge of copyright law. I am not saying that we all have to be experts in copyright law but we have a moral duty, just like we have a moral duty to be civilized, to know our limits. When dealing
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with cyberspace, this “space” that has been constructed has boundaries and territories. We can look at those lines as imaginary light beams that form barriers (as in science fiction movies that fence in a portion of space as exclusive territory).
To return to Lessig for a moment, while a proponent of creativity, Lessig fails to understand the big picture. It is not that creativity on the web is bad. The problem with Lessig’s approach is that it attempts to parallel a decentralized and out-of-control system with a centralized and classic system. He supports amateur works, which are exposed in a medium that also houses or displays the works of professionals. When both interfere, the lines blur (as is the case with most things nowadays, political party lines, copyright issues, gender, etc.), so we can’t tell which is which anymore. Most of those amateurs that display their work on places like YouTube or create their blogs mostly do this for entertainment purposes, or simply don’t have much ideas of their own so they “borrow” from mainstream. The bottom line, according to the way I view the problem, is that most young people are not taught the incentive to work hard and progress as healthy humans. Instead, young people are encouraged to think that the computer can solve their problems because “it is their generation”. This is the result of a lack of responsibility on the part of the caretakers, educational institutions, and, in an indirect form, corporate demands everywhere, whether in education, entertainment, even parents working two or three jobs to satisfy corporate demands. Lessig obviously refuses to look at this side of the argument and proceeds to take it as a given that computers are the “language of our youth”. Sure, after the private sector successfully induced computer technology upon us, using young people as their targets, Lessig “washes his hands” and becomes an activist for amateur creativity. He is fortunate that the system that he defends made him rich! So now he turns around and defames copyright laws. I am quite sure that if someone took a portion of his book “Remix” and used it for his or her personal gain, Lessig would have a holiday in court with that person. Could he turn around and justify the poor soul that tried cracking his shot at fame? Is it possible that copyright laws, even in cyberspace, are placed to truly foster creativity and make people less reliant on the web for inspiration? That is something to really think about, considering that the monster that you create could turn against you!

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Until now, copyright law was a law written by lobbyists for publishers and movie studios, so authors do not have legal protections for their rights. Still, it is the law by which works are protected from illegal use by unauthorized people. One of the proposals is to eliminate copyright law because of the ability to make copies with a photocopying machine or with a computer. Some people see this as a “disguised attempt to further reduce authors’ rights. The fundamental purpose of copyright law is to provide an incentive for authors to create expression, by recognizing that expression as a kind of property” (Standler, 2009). Not to mention, copyright infringement hurts them enough, it is not likely that copyright law is abolished any time soon. Keep in mind that, with regards to cyberspace, the available technology supports protection of an author’s or artist’s work. The balance that has been proposed in Fujita’s paper presents the best possible case scenario when dealing with copyright on the Internet. Yes, it is a fact that it is difficult to control the flow of information when it is no longer tied to “tangible property” (as in the case of books and cassettes) but the information control can be sustained with a new “code” to counteract it or remedy the situation. Right now, copyright law is alive and well in cyberspace. Programs exists which can protect the work or vital information of creators, which create control mechanisms that set conditions over who is authorized to view and/or access material. Creativity is not stifled, but there is a need to “communicate” effectively the needs of both parties. If both can come to some agreement and the agreement generates the “greater good”, then we will see that both can help each other.
In this “digital age”, problems will arise which need our attention, and copyright is one of those important issues which need to be dealt with. Yes, new media remediates old, but we always find ourselves resorting to old media for guidance. A system that has been utilizing a foundation for so many years cannot just “abandon” it and pretend like it doesn’t exist. It is our responsibility to “build” on the foundation and make good use of the opportunities that are available. Defending amateur works and diluting copyright law do not sound like a viable solution. Paralleling old media with new and making some connections is unrealistic. In looking at the consumer/producer concept, if these two could coexist then many years ago, when the first personal recording machines came out, such as recordable records and tapes, people that used these new devices would have had an opportunity to publicize their work and receive exposure. Even so, those who recorded personal works would still look for a talent scout with
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the hopes of receiving an opportunity to attaining fame. Remember, this would be a setting in the old world, which was more centralized and order existed. This is also a system that enforced hard work and dedication. There was no need to debate about copyright because 1) we weren’t “gung ho” over money as we are today and 2) the lines were drawn: professionals did their work and amateurs respected their space. However, in today’s world, the World Wide Web decentralized the system by blending personal entertainment with business, education, hobbies, and the like. Amateurs are on the same playing field with professionals, and this condition, which should serve as an educational experience, becomes a game of “pretend”. Coupled with the money factor, you have a big fight that ensues for control of territory. Cynicism runs rampant; people are being second-guessed about their motives for posting some work on the web because, after all, there are still rules to follow. The media tell us that the Web is this public domain and the “new language” of young people. On the other hand, we must abide by copyright laws that protect those individuals or professionals that post their work online for maximum exposure. Hey, even individuals at an amateur level should have some degree of copyright protection! We just can’t take for granted the adage of a public domain and use it to our advantage, especially when the advantage being sought is negative.
So can copyright law exist in cyberspace? YES! The balance that is being sought is one that allows for “communication and responsibility”. We also need to realize that while the Internet may appear to be public domain, copyright law is alive and well and classic copyright law applies to cyberspace at all times. It is not a matter of accepting current entropy and tailoring our specific needs to the situation, but instead, it is a matter of compromising and sacrificing for a desired end. However, we should begin by stepping back and asking ourselves two important questions before choosing to use copyrighted material: “Is the intent to use copyrighted material for an educational purpose?” or “Is my intent to use copyrighted material for a profit-driven incentive?” Sure, these questions may sound naïve and people may challenge me with a cynical outlook, such as, “You know that anyone can take information and use it!” If you, on the other hand, examine those questions, you will realize that it is a call to exercise responsible behavior and a call to be educated on the issue of copyright law. These questions can also be asked of people when entering cyberspace and people once again can argue if these questions are valid to ask when individual motives and feedback can be subjective. One thing I know and am aware of
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is that ultimately, in an era that is commanded by information and where we face issues regarding the protections we are granted, the factor that can determine what actions we can and cannot take is the manipulation of the code. It is this language which can set us apart from those at a greater advantage. This code can create the new social classes, and it extends far beyond any monetary factor. This will be contingent upon who has the appropriate software to counter irregularities and who is knowledgeable in a program language, more like the computer programmers. It is this condition which will finally bring some order to cyberspace and will once again draw the line between those who take computers for entertainment purposes or those who use computers for serious motives, such as business. Copyright law may just be one of many issues, but if it merits attention, it is because it involves a very valuable asset, which is intellectual ability (property). This goes beyond protection of physical or tangible objects; copyright law is and will always be a “police force” that must enforce the law when it comes to protecting other people’s property. We may as well tie in intellectual property together with moral rights. As for teaching our society’s young people that they have limits, it is up to authority figures like parents and teachers to set an example and not allow some machine to do their thinking for them. Reality awareness, interface awareness, those elements are key to the protection of other people’s “space”, but responsible behavior is priceless, and it must start from the top, with those in positions of authority so we can regain a centralized system. It is all about being educated, something that can only be experienced from human to human, one person at a time.

Works Cited (2010)
Crews, Jr. C.W. and Thierer, A. “When Rights Collide: Principles to Guide the Intellectual Property Debate. (2001)
Standler, R.B. “Some Observations on Copyright Law”. (2009).
Templeton, B. “10 Myths about Copyright Explained”. (2008).
Fujita, A. “The Great Internet Panic: How Digitization is Deforming Copyright Law”. (1996).
Levinson, P. “New New Media”. Allyn & Bacon: New York, 2009.