keeping control of one’s speech

I really like the Creative Commons project because it approaches the notion of copyright from the perspective that i believe it was originally intended. Copyright was to protect individuals so that they could keep producing more of whatever they produced. It was intended to go into the public domain after a set period of time so that it could be expanded and furthered. Likewise, original copyright laws protected those who wanted to comment on and build upon copyright, since it was for the good of all. With new copyright laws (most notably the Sonny Bono act), it seems as though the public good part of copyright is completely gone.

The web takes issues of copyright and IP to a new level. In particular, i’m fascinated by the impact of persistent data and archivability of data on the social quality of the web. The US Constitution guarantees the right of free speech, but it does not guarantee that you own your own speech. What happens when you post your opinion to another site? Do you own your words or does the site owner (or the collector of public discourse)? Deja made lots of money off of selling its archive of Usenet posts. What control do you have over your persistent presence on others’ sites? Do you own your Friendster profile? What about information about you that you did not authorize (such as videos of you going into Planned Parenthood)? Issues of databases and persistent data bring up new issues in data control.

Of course, this is where i’m fascinated by Creative Commons. Is it possible for sites to create an equivalent stating that anything that you post to this site is your property? Would this type of action be protected by law? Could it help build trust and safety (furthering TRUSTe)? Should they vow not to sell your data in any form (including in aggregate)? How would such a system work and be effective?

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