The L Files

The future of blogs

One expert worries that the blogosphere's liberal interpretation of copyright laws may make them vulnerable to lawsuits.
Daniel Solove, a George Washington U professor, points to a potential threat to the future of blogs: copyright laws:
I think that it is a fair generalization to say that the use of copyrighted material is much more liberal in the blogosphere than in regular print publications. If I were writing something in print, for example, I would be much more cautious about the extent to which I’m quoting and using images. But I feel more emboldened on the Internet. Why?
The reason is that the blogosphere has developed a set of copyright norms in an area where there is very little enforcement. These norms about the use of copyrighted material are probably at odds with existing copyright law. The mainstream media and other websites have not been going after bloggers for copyright violations all that much. Although the music and movie industries have been on the copyright offensive, beyond them, the enforcement of copyright on the Internet has been rather laid back. [Concurring Opinions via Boing Boing]
Solove points out that this rather liberal interpretation of "fair use" is not borne out by past court rulings. And stock photography companies like Getty Images Inc. and Corbis Corp are already planning to crack down on offenders who 'borrow' their images.

So is a wave of lawsuits looming on the horizon? His conclusion: Yes, if blogging becomes too powerful and more importantly highly profitable.
Lakshmi Chaudhry is a senior editor at In These Times, and the former senior editor of AlterNet. You can write to her at lakshmi@alternet.org.