On Twitter a lot of people have been linking to the @herpderpedia account, which is retweeting people’s confused reactions to today’s Wikipedia blackout. On a mailing list I subscribe to, somebody wrote of this phenomenon:
It’s really amazing
A. how completely oblivious people are to the issues
B. how completely oblivious people are to the page they’re looking that explains why wikipedia is blacked out
C. how much I don’t want to live on this planet anymore
I share his sense of disappointment, but this kind of ironic distance is exactly what we don’t need right now. Instead, let’s have a little compassion for each other. Send those people links to help them understand why Wikipedia has gone dark today. That sharing capacity is exactly what this issue is all about.
For most people, sharing and remixing with attribution and no commercial intent is instinctually a-okay.
Under current copyright law, nearly every cover song on YouTube is technically illegal. Every fan-made music video, every mashup album, every supercut, every fanfic story? Quite probably illegal, though largely untested in court.
No amount of lawsuits or legal threats will change the fact that this behavior is considered normal — I’d wager the vast majority of people under 25 see nothing wrong with non-commercial sharing and remixing, or think it’s legal already.
I’m not sure about this last assessment. I think they consider infringement illegal, but in the same way speeding or jaywalking (in NYC at least) are illegal. The broader point about social norms being out of sync with copyright law is spot on.