In Which I Offer A Sophisticated Analysis Of Property Rights In The Age Of The Internet

November 26, 2011

Last week, one of my posts was stolen. Which, whatever, right? Who among us hasn’t had their content pilfered or scraped or otherwise reappropriated? Isn’t it just what people do on the Internet? Take content? Is it even theft, really? Doesn’t information want to be free?

Well, yes. But, also: no. Information does want to be free, but ‘free’ in the sense of unchained, accessible, shareable – not free in the sense of ‘nobody owns this, help yourself.’ Content on the Internet isn’t a box of mongrel puppies, free to a good home. My content isn’t free to a good home. It’s mine. I made it. I own it. MINE.

Which, yes, sounds childish, in a way, but it’s not. I’m not against sharing. I love sharing. You are welcome to share in my content, anytime. FEEL FREE. Just, you know, don’t forget that what you’re sharing is mine. That is, don’t pass it off as your own. That’s just playground etiquette, isn’t it? You don’t take my ball and then tell the other kids that it belongs to you. Which is a flawed analogy, I know, because I didn’t make that ball. BUT STILL. Imagine that I did make that ball, and then brought it out in public for everyone to enjoy, and then someone took it and went off to their own corner and told everyone that it was their ball and they made it and please, go ahead, share it, but tell everyone that you got it here, okay, and Her Bad Mother who?

No. Sorry. Not cool.

It’s really just as visceral as that. I made something, and someone took it, and I got mad, because it was – because it is – mine. And I could get all high and mighty and philosophic and wax on about John Locke and the basic principles of property rights in modern democracies and then maybe prattle on for a bit about Marx and postmodernism and all that is solid melting into air in what isn’t quite the post-capitalist age of the Internet, but I won’t, because what it all comes down to is this very basic, very simple, very toddler-stomping-feet principle: that’s MINE. DON’T STEAL.

Got it? Good.

You may now return to enjoying the Interwebs.

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    Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments November 29, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    It is yours. You did make it and you have every right to feel upset about it being stolen.

    As bloggers of course we like to share – we’re perpetual over-sharers – but is it too hard to ask for a “via Her Bad Mother” or an easy-as-pie link back to the post on your site?

    Personally, I have been inspired by many posts and have even taken to highlighting some of them on my blog but NEVER posting the content in it’s entirety and ALWAYS including “to read the rest…” with a link back to the original post.

    It may be the internet, but you’re right on the toddler-feet-stomping-truth: Don’t steal, it’s just wrong.

    Gwensarah November 30, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Completely off topic but I was browsing things over at and there was a book that immediately made me think of Jasper!! It’s called “Goodnight, iPad” it’s a parody of “Goodnight Moon” and since Jasper’s love of iphone cracks me up I had to mention the book :)
    On topic..yeah stealing is for assmonkeys.

    Mrs. Wilson November 30, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I saw from the corner of my eye someone linking to that on Facebook and I though, “Hm, didn’t herbadmother write something like that?” to which I thought that they had seen your post and written their OWN 10 and 1 things. I’m so sorry that your content was stolen. That SUCKS and is so not right.

    Schmutzie wrote a great article a while back about the laws of internet content. Apparently whoever stole your content should read that.

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