Thursday, January 19, 2012

Copyright, censorship and RAW

Yesterday was Robert Anton Wilson's birthday. I managed to miss posting anything about that, but I did notice that the official site was blacked out as part of the protest over SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act which Congress is debating. Its back today.

While it is impossible to predict with total certainty what RAW would have thought of SOPA, given that he's dead and was a contrarian, given his views on censorship and the importance of the Internet, I think there is a good probability he would have approved of blacking out his site.

I do with the same activism that's been used to fight SOPA had been in play when Congress approved an absurd extension of copyright law several years ago at the behest of corporate interests.

Sinclair Lewis, one of my favorite writers, died in 1951, more than 60 year ago, and yet many of his books remain in copyright. It Can't Happen Here, for example, is not available at Project Gutenberg.

I am an advocate of reasonable copyright. I have suggested several times at this blog that fans of RAW should legally purchase any of his books as are actually available, as I do, rather than just stealing them via Torrent or whatever. His family can use the money.

But do I think many of his books should remain under copyright in 2067?

No, I don't.

1 comment:

Jesse said...

When RAW and Karl Hess did a panel together at the 1987 LP convention, they both opposed intellectual property laws. That said, I know of at least one case where RAW had a lawyer look into whether something violated his copyright. I don't know if that's an inconsistency, a change of heart, or a more nuanced position.