Well I thought the assault of the Internet had just begun. I was startled with the proposal to fine and imprison bloggers who intimidate, coerce, etc.. , see Scott’s blog from The Liberty Journal. It’s absolutely a restriction on the freedom of speech. Then I learn of a proposal from conservative Judge Richard Posner, seventh circuit court of appeals in Chicago, to restrict bloggers’ ability to link to newspaper articles under copyright protection.
It’s merely another disguise to stifle free speech, but with a twist. To help the profits, or lack thereof, of newspapers as a result in the decline in readership over the past couple of years. As a former subscriber of two local newspapers in SC, my decision to quit subscribing was more of a quality issue versus an economic one. A blog from Judge Posner himself indicated to me he’s looking to keep readers from moving to a more comfortable, less controlled venue. In his blog from June 2009, Posner states that bloggers are freeloading parasites:
They copy the news and opinion generated by the conventional media, often at considerable expense, without picking up any of the tab. The degree of parasitism is striking in the case of those blogs that provide their readers with links to newspaper articles. The links enable the audience to read the articles without buying the newspaper.
Wow, we are not only parasites, but freeloading parasite. Well, obviously Posner position is that all information should be paid for, regardless, as a means of helping newspaper offset their losses. What about fair use laws?
Well, newspapers are losing readership for several reasons. First, the newspaper is an advertisement itself, with a few bits of newsworthy information sprinkled in. I hated the fact that I had to dig through all the ads to find a decent article. The second reason is that our loose regulation of the media, including newsprint, allowed the massive consolidation of ownership. While there should be some concern about the monopoly issue, the primary concern that this semi-monopolized industry has been taken over by liberal media. When my local newspaper reflects the prevailing views of their liberal New York owners, instead of my community, what’s the point in subscribing.
Another statement in the blog, Posner states
The economic downturn has doubtless accelerated the trend, but economic recovery is unlikely to reverse it. To repeat my earlier point, many of the people who have switched under economic pressure to the free medium may find themselves as happy or happier and hence will not switch back when their financial condition improves.
Well maybe people moved away for some economic reason, but the bottom line is, when people get a taste of information freedom, they just don’t want to go back to the old black and white, slanted, non-representative newspaper.
But then here’s where Posner position seems to fly in face of freedom of speech
Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion.
So he claims that we need permission to post content or link site content from major new sites which are allowed that operate under freedom of speech and the press. So what Judge Posner, only free speech for the press. I’m very surprised of this position of a conservative judge to take up the side of liberal media. It seems Posner proposal would effectively shut down blog sites. If you allow any legislation of that nature, the media is not going to allow use of their articles, therefore forcing readers to their sites, where they will be ultimately inundated with nauseating erectile dysfunction ads and liberal slants that would make Nancy Pelosi proud. Without countering viewpoints to offset the biased extreme viewpoints, there is no watchdog to assure accurate reporting. Media used to be designated the watchdog over the government. Now, bloggers are the watchdog of both government and the media.
I think Judge Posner needs to stick to the bench and stop trying to influence public policy. I am not sure if Posner has a vested interest in the media, but his position runs counter to the vested interests of the freedom of speech and open discourse among his fellow Americans.