Free Speech is not threatened by copyright law, and neither is the internet. On the contrary, Free Speech is threatened by “Free Theft.” Free Speech is abused when it is claimed as a sheild to avoid responsibility for unlawful acts.

Solutions-Not Explanations

Even such empty philosophical inanities as “nobody really owns anything” and “information wants to be free” breed confusion on the information superhighway. As Winn Schwartau puts it, “The ‘information wants to be free’ cliche makes a great sound bite, but it really means nothing. Information has no persona. And lots of information can — and does — belong to people.”

Free speech is not threatened by copyright law, and neither is the Internet. On the contrary, free speech is threatened by “free theft.” Free speech is abused when it is claimed as a shield to avoid responsibility for unlawful acts.

The solution is to raise ethical standards through peer pressure from those who live and work in cyberspace. The Church of Scientology contributes to this in numerous ways, including sponsoring the Task Force for Responsibility and Freedom on the Internet, and taking part in the recent roundtable entitled “The Internet and Property Rights” which it helped organize. (See “Solutions in Cyberspace”.) The Task Force broadly distributes a “Netsurfer’s Simple Guide to copyright.”

“If the Internet is to flourish” said Mark Rost, head of the Silicon Valley chapter of the Task Force, “the creators of the information on our information superhighway must be protected. Intellectual property rights must be respected. If First Amendment rights are used as a justification for violating property rights, the next step will be the loss of some or all of these rights, as government bodies move in.”

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