I’ve been busy with work, but I’ve been keeping my eye on the news. Politics have always been a bit…screwy. I’m not sure if they’re getting more screwier or I’m becoming more aware of what’s going on. – maybe just more cynical.

Representative Lamar Smith and Senator Patrick Leahy now joins the ranks of former Senator Ted Stevens1 in Internet Hall of Shame with his further bastardization of the copyright clause2 with their introduction of SOPA and PIPA

I’ve long rallied against the MPAA, RIAA, and their cronies, and for copyright reform (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

SOPA/PIPA is yet another horrible piece of legislation in a growing list of legislation unscrupulously backed by large corporations, and the Supreme Courts expansion of “corporate personhood” in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission doesn’t help either.

It expands the reach of copyright in ways that are detrimental to the very purpose of the copyrights, in particular by hindering the promotion of useful arts. And all this is done at the behest of corporations who, essentially, bribe politicians.

Even more unfortunate, the politicians writing these pieces of legislation — or at least responsible for introducing them, I have no idea if they actually write them — have no idea of the technical ramifications of what they are doing. Would you trust your Congressman to perform surgery on you? There are actually 18 medical doctors3, so you have about a 3.4% chance of standing a chance, but I think in general the answer would be no.

When it comes to technical issues though, of the 535 members of congress, one is a physicist, one is a chemist, six are engineers, and one is a microbiologist4. This is not to say that other members of congress may not be tech savvy, but with the average age of a congressman pushing 60, I’m guessing not so much. Of the 12 original co-sponsors of SOPA, not one has a technical background.

Surely the United States House Science Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, the subcommittee through with SOPA passed, has some technical experts. Nope. Not a single engineer or anyone with experience (as far as I could tell) in computer science. I would expect that people making the such decisions have, you know, actual expertise in those areas — a technocracy.

Anyway, I have poked around the SOPA legislation, and read many different analysis on it. I also do have an engineering degree. And so I feel very confident in saying that SOPA/PIPA is a bad idea from a technological standpoint. I also think’s it’s pretty bad from an overbearing-copyright standpoint, but that’s my personal bias.

In response to what SOPA/PIPA will do to the Internet if passed, I am joining other sites5 to protest SOPA and PIPA and will black out AFdN for all of Wednesday, January 18th, 2012. Any attempts to access AFdN will result in a HTTP 503 Service Unavailable error.

Seriously though, if SOPA/PIPA passes, I may have to take down AFdN lest I avoid getting sued. That’s a bridge I hope to never have to cross. In the meantime, take some time to educate yourself on how the internet works. Ask questions and I’ll try to answer them. And maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference.

Also, while I currently use GoDaddy as my domain name registrar, they supported SOPA and thus I will no longer support them. I’ll have another post on that in the future.

Some, but not all, interesting links:
Everything is a Remix
SOPA Infographic
House takes Senate’s bad Internet censorship bill, tries making it worse
Contact your congressman
Sopa 101: a guide to the USA’s proposed anti-piracy legislation
IP Law Wiki
Stanford Law Review: Don’t Break the Internet

Shit, I used Wikipedia about ten times to look up references for this post. Oh well, see you all Thursday!

  1. “And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.” 

  2. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” 

  3. Membership of the 112th Congress: A Profile 

  4. Membership of the 112th Congress: A Profile 

  5. such as Wikipedia, WordPress, reddit, Google, and BoingBoing 

More On Copyright

My cousin Amanda1 wants to know:

I just finished a painting and I wanted to put it on Facebook, but I need to know about copyright stuff, if I put it on Facebook does that give the Facebook people right to it?

Editors note: edited for grammar and such.

The short answer is yes.

Facebook has something called a “Terms of Service”2. It’s a long document, but the part you’re going to be interested in is near the top, section 2 “Sharing Your Content and Information.”

Part 1 reads: “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

I’m not a lawyer, but when you put content you create (such as a picture of your painting) on Facebook, you automatically give them certain rights. However, as soon as you delete the content, the rights you gave them are automatically rescinded unless your content has been shared with others who have not deleted it.

Copyright is a very interesting subject and one that is not very well understood by many people. I’d encourage you to learn more about it. A good place to start would be Wikipedia:

If you have any questions, feel free to let me know. I may not be able to answer all of them, however I can also ask my roommate who’s in law school.


I also sent an email to Auntie, just to make sure everyone is on same page and to (hopefully) provide a Teaching Moment™:

Amanda was asking me about copyrights, which I’m more than happy to give my two cents on in my non-lawyer capacity. However, I’m rather passionate about copyright (or more appropriately, the abuse of copyright and the rights of people) and was hoping this could turn into one of those “teaching moments” I so often hear about from my parents. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (sort of like the ACLU for the electronic age) has a website called “Teaching Copyright” ( which provides (for free) a curriculum for teachers to “present the laws surrounding digital rights in a balanced way.”

I think there’s lots of confusion about what copyright is and isn’t. The current copyright (and patent and trademark) system is (in my opinion) a mostly vile shell of what the original intention behind the system was. Yes, strong words, but also words I believe to be accurate. Anyway, I’d encourage you take a look. The site is pretty decent and while not comprehensive, at least gets the ball rolling.

You may also be interested in Creative Commons (, which “provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors.” An example of this would be my website ( and almost all of my photos.

As always, feel free to ask lots and lots of questions.


I’m curious where copyright and the like is headed. I’ve been fed-up with the current system a little while now, but I’m usually on the early side of the “early adopters”. My hope is, of course, that we are starting to see more uptick in the desire to return to the origins of the copyright, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”3

A graph of Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle model. Copyright 2007 Natebailey, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5.

  1. who is, incidentally, the sister of my cousin Nick 


  3. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution 

Copyrighting Your Work

My cousin Nick wants to know:

My question is about copywriting my pictures. To my knowledge every picture I make or take is copywrited just because I did it. I was wondering if putting “all images copyright john doe 2008” on the bottom of every page of my website would cover me, or do I need to do something else?
And should I copyright them to my name or my website? (“copyright john doe 2008” or “copyright 2008”)

Note: Don’t forget that I am not a lawyer (IANAL). These are merely my understandings and thoughts.

Under current United States laws, anything you make is automatically copyrighted. Additionally, you can submit your work to the United States Copyright Office for a fee, however I have never done this and don’t think it’s worthwhile.

To my knowledge, adding the “All images copyrighted by…” phrase does not offer any additional legal protection. If you were to add the phrase, I would use your name, since that’s the legal entity that owns the copyright.

I’d also like to take a second to mention something called Creative Commons. Almost all 10,000 of my photos and most of my blog is released under a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons allows you to retain the copyright, however it lets others use your work with specific requirements.

For example, most of my work is released under a By-Attribution, Share-Alike, Non-commercial license. This means that anyone is allowed to use my photos as long as it’s for non-commercial work (i.e. they can’t make money off of it), if they modify my work they must share it under a similar license, and they must attribute me.

I’d suggest you take a look at:

I hope that helps and let me know if you have any more questions.