Cross-posted from The Illusion of More[by David Newhoff]
“We are all authors now.” This has long been a talking point of anti-copyright organizations. I have credited it to Gigi Sohn, co-founder and former director of Public Knowledge because she kept tweeting it during House Judiciary Committee hearings on building copyright consensus in May 2013; but I don’t really know who said it first. I only know that it’s a popular theme that may finally come around to bite the hands that tweet it.
Most of the time, my friends and I respond to this bumper-sticker phrase by criticizing the way in which it is false—namely that just because everyone posts stuff online, this does not make everyone authors of expressive works such that it demands a wholesale reversal of the way we think about copyright law. In plain terms, just because 1.2 billion of us are all chattering, clicking, and sharing on Facebook and Twitter, this does not make the professional creator’s copyrights worth any less than they were before social platforms existed.
On the other hand, there is an extent to which that phrase has an element of truth to it. Internet platforms and digital electronics have created opportunities for new kinds of authors, new forms of expression, and new avenues entrepreneurism. For several years, the copyright critics of the world have alluded generally to these new opportunities as a reason to prevent copyright enforcement online. And they got away with this proposition by painting a false portrait of who copyright owners really are.