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November 18, 2010

Go, Read: Colleen Doran On Digital Piracy At The Hill’s Congress Blog

imageThe cartoonist and artist Colleen Doran has written a lengthy and impassioned post for The Hill about her experience with on-line piracy. I imagine that the tenor of the time is such that the response will be to dismiss the piece or shout it down rather than engage with the ideas as expressed or the reality of Doran's experiences -- a reality that does not conform to that which some assert applies to everyone.

For me, this remains a fundamental issue of creators' rights. If someone doesn't want their work republished and says so unequivocally, the argument's finished forever. They probably shouldn't have had to say so, but if they do, game over. You don't get to decide how someone conducts their personal business. That's true even if you've convinced yourself the outcome is beneficial to that person. Even if you're right and Colleen Doran is wrong on the issue of Colleen Doran, it's her prerogative to be wrong. There are definitely gray areas in a few cases. Many folks, including myself, probably benefit a bit too much from those gray areas. But there's nothing Gray about a cartoonist like Doran saying she doesn't want this to happen and then it happening to her anyway. I can't imagine how extra-galling it must be to cartoonists like Doran that sacrificed in their careers to carve out a place for themselves and a certain kind of work so that they might have a creator's measure of control over it, to then have that taken away and told they're wrong to object.

I also refuse to believe that there can't be a paradigm shift in this area, because we've already seen one in the once-common practice of re-posting prose articles, a practice that was widespread in the mid-'90s and came with nearly all of the same rhetorical ploys. In fact, my hunch is one reason we haven't already seen a massive shift in attitudes regarding digital piracy is because we are starting to see entrenched financial interests involved.
posted 5:15 am PST | Permalink

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