The Internet has spawned a new generation (not of the same age) who think that anything posted on the Internet is free for anyone else to use as they see fit. 

I am truly looking to engage others in a meaningful dialogue about this. 

It's probably obvious from this web site that I'm of the old school -- if you 
didn't create it, you shouldn't use it unless you've properly attributed it to 
the creator and/or compensated the creator. 

I'm hoping those of the new school will share why they believe otherwise. 

Unfortunately, I don't have the technological expertise to set up a truly 
interactive place for you to instantly post your thoughts. The best I've 
been able to come up with is the box to your right. Click on that and you 
can post your thoughts and see the posts of others. 

Additionally, below I've  written up some of my ideas -- and I plan to add others -- to give you my point of view and to stimulate reactions. 

Thanks to anyone who takes the time to respond. 
  Jeff Miller's
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The "Is it Stealing?" Forum 
 Anyone who has ever tried to create anything from nothing knows that  the process is not an  easy one. 

When it comes to writing, book author George Axelrod summed it up beautifully when he said: "Writing is easy. You just sit at your typewriter and concentrate until beads of blood form on your forehead."

Until the Internet came along, the question of who owned creativity was basically resolved in a seemingly logical, straightforward way  -- the creator owned his or her creation. And the law backed that up. 

But then came the Internet. What an incredible thing! It is staggering to think that the accumulated knowledge of human-kind is at the finger tips of anyone with a computer.

For that reason alone, I love the Internet (for many other reasons I fear the Internet).

The possibilities and potentials of the Internet when it first appeared are similar to those when TV first showed up. (No, I'm not totally equating TV and Internet -- especially when it comes to total impact, that is easily won by the Internet -- but their stories have a lot in common that can be instructive.)

As we all know, after the first blush of infatuation, people began to realize both TV and Internet have good and bad sides, limiting factors and constraints, and can be used in ways detrimental to the very audiences they try to serve.  
One major element they both share is unceasing demand for content -- they are insatiable beasts always on the prowl for something new that can be eaten up and regurgitated back to the audience. 

Of course, a fascinating Internet "extra" when it comes to content is that the "beast" can -- and many times is -- the audience itself. 

Photo used illegally 

An interesting example of abuse of creator rights via the Internet was written up by the Associated Press and run in the Denver Post on June 12, (

In a nutshell, a Missouri family's Christmas card photo was taken off a family member's blog and used on a huge billboard in Prague to advertise the delivery service of a Prague store. The Smiths and the photographer, Gina Kelly, never gave permission for the photo to be used. 

The mother, Danielle Smith, said, "This story doesn't frighten me, but the potential frightens me." 

Basically, the store was trying to get more business and make more money by using the efforts of another person. That's fine, when the other person is part of the action and makes money too. It's not fine when the originator is removed from the equation. 

"10 years after Napster, online pirates alive and well"

That's the June 24 headline from a USA Today article by Russ Juskalian ( It outlines how illegal sharing of songs, TV shows and movies are still a worldwide media concern. 

Personal use vs. commercial use 

I know that my little web site means nothing in the worldwide battle for songs, TV shows and movies. But, the principles used in such big league arenas are the same that protect the mom-and-pop sites like mine. 

What I'd like people to understand is that I would be overjoyed if someone who was going to Australia saw one of my Australia articles and read it and printed it out and went to some of the places I recommended. That's personal use for no commercial gain, and I'm all for that kind of sharing. 

What I'm totally against is that same Australian article (or an accompanying photo) used by some shop or web site to make money off other audiences. 

Once money is brought into the equation it changes everything. Even if it's only the potential to make money, that's still the same. And it still means that the creator needs to be compensated. 

There is intrinsic value to the article and photo -- regardless of if the person using them for commercial use makes money off them or not. 

Creativity -- Who Owns It? 
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