Law of the Blog?

Do you think, for us American bloggers with our sites hosted in the US, with an English, non-discriminating (aside from subject matter) audience, are we entitled to our First Amendment rights? Do we violate copyrights by including caps, lyrics, quotes from other texts (commonly other blogs, news, wikis, etc)? How about music? Designs (like a WP theme)? How about flaming and things like that?

IMO they’re all valid questions–just where the line is drawn? Obviously there’s little in terms of previous instances where a court said something. Blogging is generally new. We all know the Internet is the super copyright infringement machine, and even in that area of law the dust is far from settling. The niche that bloggers belong to seems like the least of all worries. Just how marketable are blogs? I guess they are as long as you’re not comparing them to selling CDs and DVDs.

I don’t have any real answers. What I’m trying to get at is that are two opposite but converging perspectives to look at the issue: free speech versus copyright. At times these two views are in conflict, but that’s rare; usually they mind themselves. But just when should good faith and interest in free expression overcome commercial interests?

After all, ultimately as long as you’re not just doing detail summaries with screen caps, you are probably putting a lot of copyright-able material into your blog. That’s good. It’s important to cite back either with a simple text saying where, or a trackback, or whatever, when you cop something. It is good to avoid plagerism. But neither is the case we worry about usually; or rather, it’s the opposite. We don’t want to be just merely pawning off pretty pictures from anime to “generate a lot of site traffic” or merely retelling a textual by-the-book synopsis as a public resource. There may be places for that, but are those uses “fair”? Is the world a better place without blogs telling you what’s hot in Japan so you can infringe copyright in a smart and efficient manner?

I don’t know. But it’s good to look on the other side of the coin every now and then.

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