Thursday, October 26, 2006

COPA is one of a group of related issues

I have been following the COPA trial in detail on the ACLU website, and so far the first two days' testimony have appeared. There are about 250 pages of PDF file per day. Much of the testimony is quite detailed as to the way filters work or may work, and how the public could interact with them. is having some fun with its "gratuitous" photos, and so on, while making many valuable points in the satirical text blog entries. One important point is that it is impossible to protect kids perfectly from some speculative threats that usually require more in the way of common sense from parents than anything else.

COPA is one of a number of laws that have been around to "protect children." I've described them in detail elsewhere on Some of the laws have to do with library filtering, some with artificial images, and the like. Many states (including Virginia) have laws that mimic COPA; as far as I know, Virginia's is still before the state Supreme Court, probably waiting for this trial.

But frankly, there are a whole lot of issues that have to do with the relationship of the writer, publisher, and the way the artist distributes his material to the public, and the myriad of ways that the writer could be accused of stepping on someone else's "turf." Even the Grokster case in 2005 has this element. Nerve talks about some of this in a blog post about free content. That hits at one point: free content is a way to become known, and to put out much more original material, but free content can also be perceived as disrupting other people's ability to make a living the old fashioned way. There is an underlying philosophical problem: do you have to "pay your dues" before you have a right to an audience as an individual? Many people seem to think so, because they perceive their own situations in life to be so precarious. I don't mind saying, I don't like to have to prove myself by other people's rules, because I am so bad at them.

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