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Information Wants to Be Free

Additional Reading

From the Web2001 Internet and Mobile conference and
exposition at the Moscone convention center in San Francisco
August 4-8, comes an interesting set of keynote speakers
offered to attendees. Rather than major computer or software
company CEO's, we have commentators on our culture
speaking to a conference full of web developers and corporate
strategists charged with developing web initiatives.

One very important speaker was Dr. Lawrence Lessig, Stanford
Law professor, speaking on the threat represented by corporate
interests to the creativity of the web. A creativity being regularly
squashed and supressed by legal wrangling and debate.

I attended Dr. Lessig's talk given to web developers at Web2001
9-7-01 and expected a lively debate when I visited his
discussion forum at the Harvard Law web site. To visit and see
posts over a year old is disappointing and worries me. I
purchased his book, "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace" at
the show and highly recommend it to all small business

Dr. Lessig strongly advocates that creativity not be stifled by
intellectual property owners asserting control over software and
coding of web pages. This basically represents a viewpoint (and
only in my own humble opinion, not Dr. Lessig's) in support of
Open Source computing and freely available content for the web
with appropriate copyright protections extending only a short
time to allow the compensation of the creator.

As a list owner that distributes content freely to web publishers
and a columnist that publishes in multiple small business
forums and portals around the web, I am disturbed by the control
sought by
information "owners" over content.

My list at http://yahoogroups.com/group/free-content distributes
articles written by small business owners to publishers of small
business ezines and web sites across the web. We have over
700 members, some representing very large distribution ezines
and high-traffic web sites with potential exposure approaching 5
million readers.

This approach allows exposure for the authors and results in
sales of products or services from their web sites. The method
of producing and distributing web content is an accepted means
of small business exposure for the little guy. Sometimes we are
infiltrated by publicists and distributors of PR for large content
"owners" seeking wider distribution and access to a small
business market segment.

This inevitably leads to threats from publishers of "affiliate"
articles for distribution. They are suddenly concerned that we are
using their copyrighted articles and book excerpts for purposes
other than those intended by the affiliate programs they are
connected with. They then threaten the list and the affiliates
posting their "articles" (read PR pieces) with copyright violation.
This is bizarre, frustrating and worrisome.

Is it free or not?

Another talk at this conference by Stewart Brand, author of "How
Buildings Learn, What Happens to Them After They Are Built"
who is often quoted as saying "Information wants to be free". He
would be a welcome contributor at the "Free-Content" list and
would probably upset a lot of list participants torn between small
business ecommerce, copyright issues and other business
concerns about "ownership" and protecting that ownership.

Authors who contribute to free content request that their articles
only be used if their "Resource Box" is maintained and a link to
their site is listed. It is doubtful that any would persue violators
in court if that condition were not met, simply because most lack
the financial resources to do so. No money, no law suit. Simple.

Is it free or not?

About the Author

Mike Banks Valentine
Small Business Ecommerce Entrepreneur Ezine
Weekly at http://website101.com/arch/


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