Monthly Archives: October 2010

Combating Online Infringement

“Hey, I’ve got the link to a free copy of Clockwork Angel, want it?”

Ever gotten an email like this?  (and no, I don’t really have the link.  Please don’t get mad at me, Cassandra Clare, I love your books!)  What is your response?  Do you think, cool, I get to read it for free, or do you send an email back saying that you’ll purchase your own copy?  The fact that so many copyrighted works are now distributed online without permission of the owner is now the subject of a bill before the US Senate…but how will it really work? Will it work at all?

Senate bill 3804 is the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” and the full text can be found at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s111-3804.  The bill seeks to curb websites whose purpose is to distribute material (books, music, movies, etc.) without the copyright holder’s permission, and stop the sale and distribution of counterfeit materials via the web.  The bill provides the office of Attorney General the power to force the service provider of infringing domains to lock a suspect domain so that users can no longer access it.

Sounds great…or does it?  As an author, I’d really hate so see my book show up on a BitTorrent where anyone could download it rather than shell out a measly $5 to

The western front of the United States Capitol...

Can a Law stop internet copyright infringement? (Image via Wikipedia)

compensate me for the work I put into it.  And yet, I fully expect to see it out there someday, and not be able to do anything about it.  If the government shut down the sites (or made them inaccessible) that’d work, right?

Maybe, maybe not.  The other side of the coin is censorship.  Does the bill provide for enough due process or does it give the government too broad of power to shutdown sites without enough cause?  Shouldn’t we have the right to make our own moral choices about what we download?  What about youtube…much of the content there is copyrighted, but they take stuff down all the time when they are told of a violation.  Because of all the videos that haven’t been reported but are still copyrighted, would they get shut down, too?

The issue isn’t as clear cut as either side would make it out to be, and as you’ve noticed, I’m not offering any answers, only questions to discuss and ponder.  The biggest question I have is, even if this bill passes and becomes law, can it really be enforced? To borrow one of my husband’s favorite phrases, it’d be like herding cats.  The internet world is one of free information sharing and is a global phenomenon, not one limited to the United States.  The US government is powerful, but can it really stop overseas websites?  Sure, some offenders, possibly the biggest ones, could be cut off, but like weeds, three more will spring up to take their place, emanating from countries all around the world.

So is there any hope, or are we destined for a world where information is free and authors are not compensated at all?

I don’t know.  What do you think?

Here are just two references on either side of the argument; there’s many more out there:

Pro: http://www.uschamber.com/issues/letters/2010/letter-supporting-s-3804

Con: http://www.cdt.org/blogs/andrew-mcdiarmid/senate-needs-rein-copyright-bill

Register your vote: http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/widget/200525967.html

And above all, I’d love to hear your comments!

Meet an Author Monday is here again! Click here to check out the other authors on the hop, or to enter your link and join the fun.

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Review of Mockingjay

Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mockingjay proved to be the book that delivered on the promise of revolution, but the carnage and games continue.

Of the three books, this one started the slowest, I think. There’s a lot of anticipation, both of the battles to come and of who’s going to die. After reading the first two books, I was expecting the worst, so was kind of surprised at who ended up surviving. Don’t get your hopes up, though, there’s no happy ending here either.

Many have spoken of the triangle between Katniss, Gale, and Peeta, but I really didn’t feel like it was much of a LOVE triangle. Maybe a LOYALTY triangle, but I’m not sure Katniss ever will understand or feel love for anyone but her sister, Prim. The resolution between Katniss and her two beaus is believable, though, and felt right to me.

As far as the story goes, I’m reminded of a quote from a TV show (a Star Trek episode, I think, but I can’t remember): Everybody dies. No, this isn’t a spoiler…but as is true in any war, everyone dies in some way, be it physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Including Katniss. I think that’s the saddest part about the end of this series, is that the Katniss I loved in book one is gone.

There’s two decisions that Katniss makes at the end of this book that I don’t understand. Well, one I understand but would have liked to know that SHE understood it, and the other didn’t really make sense to me. If you’re curious which ones, drop me a line. And the consequences from those decisions seemed a little contrived, but that’s probably because we’re stuck in Katniss’ point of view and really don’t know what happens behind the scenes.

The one criticism I have is the epilogue. I really feel it was unnecessary. Perhaps it was an attempt to give the reader (or the editor) some kind of happy ending, but I don’t think it was in character. After everything the characters went through and the thorough destruction of their trust in EVERYTHING, what is described in the epilogue is not really believable, no matter how much time has passed. Again, if you’d like specifics, message me.

This series is not a love story, it’s the story of the ravages of war and the corruption of power. I think we’ll be seeing the first book, The Hunger Games, being added to high school curricula in the future, and rightly so. And after reading all three books, I have a much greater respect for our soldiers returning from war, and the demons they have to carry for the rest of their lives.

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Review of Catching Fire

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second installment of the Hunger Games series picks up pretty much where the first left off, though the heart of the action is actually a year later. Katniss finds herself in more trouble, and not just due to her own actions. There’s another force at work this time, so though she faces a similar fight-to-the-death situation as the first book, she’s dealt a very different hand this time. While she’s very attuned to some aspects of her survival, she’s quite naive in others. She only gets a glimpse of the forces throwing her life into chaos in this book, though…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I don’t want to post spoilers, so I won’t go into any more detail about the plot. Katniss continues to be strong and assertive in this book, which I like. There is a definite repetition of what happened in book 1, but the end result is very different.

Ms. Collins continues to put every character in jeopardy, so don’t get too attached to anyone. The real warning is this: Don’t start this book unless you have the third, Mockingjay, ready to go when you finish.

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The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many have raved about The Hunger Games, and I can see why. It’s an engaging, if tragic, story about a girl making the best of a hopeless situation.

I won’t give any kind of summary here – you can find many who will do it more justice than I can. Also, I don’t want to spoil you, which would be difficult if I tried to summarize. Suffice to say, that while the love triangle is relatively obvious, I found the political overtones just as intriguing, if not moreso. That’s what I will be looking forward to in the sequel.

Katniss is an interesting character: smart, athletic, resourceful…a survivor. On the other hand, she’s also young, and it’s her emotional growth that’s the basis of her internal struggles. By the end of the book, I had to really think about how old she was…

It’s the external struggle that’s still taking shape when this book ends, and what I’m most interested to see develop in the second book. I’ll admit I haven’t read 1984…but after this book, I think I should, just so I can compare the two. The idea of “big brother” isn’t new, but in Katniss’ world, it seems he’s not quite as all-powerful as he could be.

I recommend this to teens and adults alike, but younger kids may want to tread lightly. The deaths and injuries are graphic, and unlike other authors, Ms. Collins is not afraid to sacrifice a likable character.

I’m definitely picking up the second book!

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