Information professionals are on the front lines of the most important (and least understood) policy fight of the 21st century -- the one on which all other policy fights will depend. The disastrous assumption that copyright should regulate the Internet because all Internet use involves copying means that we are in the bizarre position of trying to regulate debates over climate change, political campaigns, and personal relationships using copyright -- a tool that was developed to regulate the entertainment industry.

Combine this with a radical shift towards "applianceization" of computers, in which it is both technologically challenging and legally fraught to install software of your choosing on your own devices, and you have the makings of a dystopian future where the devices woven into the fabric of our lives are pressed into service as snitches and secret policemen, without any ability on our part to monitor, refuse, or reprogram them.

Librarians and their colleagues are the last professional group with a balanced, nuanced view of the way that copyright must be tempered by human rights -- the right to speak, the right to privacy, the right to assemble, the right to freely conduct your life without regulatory intrusion in the name of defending a business model from the mechanical age.

 

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