enth says re August 16, 2003 : Wait! I didn't accuse the staff of running scared from the man regarding copyright, I accused them of pandering to a special interest group of twitchy copyright holders. Bit of a difference.

For my last two jobs (the substantial jobs, not the two-month stint at Gateway Country) one of my duties has been to serve as the public face of the IT department. People have a natural tendency to fear and resent IT departments, with their, "We will take away the comfy old software you've finally gotten used to and replace it with something you have to learn from scratch," and their, "We are removing your beloved screensaver depicting beautiful fields and mountain streams, and will respond to the question 'why' with technical gibberish, assuming we bother to respond at all." In my current position I am, among many other things, the scribbler who writes or at least edits nearly all the communiques that flow from our department out to the rest of the world.

So I've become very sensitive to how things are presented, and how they are received. A software upgrade or scheduled network outage can be a terrible thing that makes people angry, or a wonderful thing they'll welcome. Magic words and phrases can be used to quell opposition, enlighten or confuse as necessary, wrap fragile egos in cotton wool, allay fears, or even create fear if it will motivate people to back your effort to do something that needs doing, such as installing an antivirus update.

(It's this sort of thing that's going to turn me evil one day, I just know it. Next thing you know I'll be working for the Galactic Empire, a Goebbels type who writes the memo brilliantly explaining why the universe is better off without Alderaan.)

I was thinking about this just now as I pondered the change in site copyright policy. Sure, I've posted my share of other people's lyrics and poetry in the past, but I've always thought original work to be more admirable. The change in policy is a minor pain in the ass for me as I need to go through my thousand-plus writeups and toss some out, or rework them so the original stuff is substantial and the stuff I simply copied from someone else is gone. My only regret is the effort I put in to transcribe File 13's goofy dance single "Do It (Taste So Good)" to the database as the lyrics existed nowhere else on the Web. But all along I was thinking the good here is obvious. It reaffirms that our original writing is valued here.

Then enth and Pseudo_Intellectual (no doubt among others) accused E2's administration of running scared from the Man! It blew my mind becase I had never even considered that aspect of it. And for some reason it makes me wonder if all along, people have been placing the same value on what I consider to be my best writing here as they do on my simply adding paragraph tags and brackets around the lyrics to "I Touch Myself"? Or maybe not; maybe it's the principle of the thing--maybe having "I Touch Myself" up there is a symbolic way E2 gives the raspberry to the RIAA, and (as P_I's homenode currently suggests) giving the raspberry to the RIAA is considered very important by some folks here. I do remember back in the E1 days there was talk, even at the highest levels, of us being pirates and pillaging the rest of the Web for content. That idea was fun for a while but the appeal wore off for me when I'd click on a new node with an interesting title or by an noder I liked, found that it was just another set of lyrics or someone else's poem, and felt kind of cheated.

But this is a long digression. What I'm wondering is whether or not the response would have been different if this had not been presented as a change in copyright policy, but instead the admins saying, "You know what? A few years into this experiment we feel that original content rocks and copied content is lame. So from here on out the former stays and the latter goes, unless it's in the public domain in which case we'll let it stick around."

Hmm. Playing it out in my mind, I think people still would have been angry. (Just as politely explaining that the user's beloved screensaver makes their PC run slower and clogs up the network with useless traffic doesn't make them happy to lose their beautiful fields and waterfalls.) The choice between those options would seem to be between looking like tyrants handing down arbitrary decrees regarding what "belongs" here, or coming across as a buncha sellouts.