Copyright: The Boring Lynch Pin of Net Neutrality

The Internet ain’t what it used to be. It’s the wild wild west and there are many players trying to score on how the web operates fundamentally – potentially to the disservice of Netizens. Take Copyright for example. By itself, it’s pretty boring. In context to the history of the Internet, the violation of copyrights is up there as the one major long standing beefs between Netizens and copyright holders.

Long before the suits that ran corporations were willing to accept that the Internet wasn’t just a fad. A generation of kids were growing up, accepting the Internet as an extension of themselves and sharing copyrighted music, movies and tv shows. It wasn’t always an act of rebellion, it started as a way to get access to their favorite media.

This is where it all went sour. Society matured in a space void of corporate persuasion and created their own rules. As users flocked to the Internet to gain access to all their favorite media, they built a universe of information that hinges one major tenant: Sharing.

“… If we don’t believe cigarette companies when they say smoking is good for you, why would we believe corporate lobbyists when they say file sharing hurts sales?…”

Around the time of Napster, copyright holders started to catch wind of the culture of file sharing and responded with disproportionately vicious attacks. Metallica, Madonna and Dr. Dre went after Napster, while the RIAA went after college students and parents of kids who were file sharing. It was about making an example out of everyone while holding on to claims that file sharing hurt sales.

If we don’t believe cigarette companies when they say smoking is good for you, why would we believe corporate lobbyists when they say file sharing hurts sales?

The act of file sharing turned into rebellion. And a legion of folk heroes arose, The Pirate Bay founders and Kim Dotcom.

Where this comes back to the average everyday human, is in the attempt for corporate lobbyists to push through laws and international treaty agreements that force people to adhere to the copyright laws of the United States. The most recent Trans Pacific Partnership, is a free-trade agreement that focuses on Pacific rim countries (and Canada), that took place behind closed doors – without a single reformist at the table. Among other things, TPP could mean that anytime a country wanted to change their copyright laws, they could be pulled into an international tribunal.

Closed door discussions are turning into the norm for web governance and at the center of it is copyright. Through copyright, we could all see ourselves losing rights to privacy online and the kind of knee-jerk reactions that are defined by “shoot first ask questions later” kind of response if a user is suspected of sharing copyrighted material. The only way we can fight back is by staying informed.

And we will share whatever information we find.


The moment I realized I had forced all my friends to watch AfroSquad, I knew that talking about Internet culture was where I was meant to be. Between reddit, Nat&Marie and eating junk food, there's just enough time for my personal blog That is all. That is it. Oh. Instagram: Karmacake

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