Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Right or Wrong?



In the 21st century we have ethical dilemmas we could not have imagined even twenty years ago. I think immediately about medicine, of course, which has become so sophisticated that the families of sick people have options never before available, and therefore completely confusing.

Gone with the 20th century is the idea that no matter what we should always try to keep everyone alive as long as possible. Compassion trumped science when it became clear that sometimes, doing everything possible to keep someone from dying is actually cruel and unusual. Still, though, families have to decide what is cruel, what's too much, when should the feeding tube be removed, the respirator turned off. Having to make those kinds of decisions is, in itself, cruel.

I'm thinking about 21st century ethical dilemmas this morning not because of my interest in medicine, but because of the new Facebook Terms of Service in which they claim ownership of everything published on their site, forever. Forever? Hey Facebook, nothing is forever! The Facebook community is in an uproar of course. Ironic that this situation is being freely discussed within Facebook. I find that absolutely encouraging, and to be honest, kind of funny.

As for myself, I would not post anything here or on Facebook that's so precious to me that I wouldn't want it stolen. The internet is a place where anyone with a little know-how can steal anything they want, claim it for themselves, forever. At least Facebook is admitting it publicly.

That's no excuse, though. It'll be amusing to follow this particular ethical quagmire as it unfolds. Will Facebook change their tune in light of all the uproar? Who knows? We shall see!


I love that tiny Jake at the top of the pic, reflected from the rearview mirror.

40 comments:

dennis said...

Dennis Loves You. Dennis owns nothing.

Reya Mellicker said...

I love Dennis!!

Reya Mellicker said...

On Facebook this morning:

Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.


Power to the people.

Tessa said...

Yes, a thought provoking post. It's a dilemma we all face in this ever evolving world of technology. Quite apart from film and music constantly being illegally downloaded; any one of us who blogs or posts their photographs, art, prose and poetry will leave themselves wide open to copyright theft. Personally, I can't help wondering how many of my paintings are downloaded without my permission. But how else does one promote one's work to a worldwide audience quite so easily? A price we have to pay, I suppose.

Joanne said...

Sometimes it seems like quagmire doesn't even begin to describe these situations. I guess caution is the guide, as always. I agree with Tessa too, that the internet is such a wonderful showcase, we just have to weigh the pros and cons.

runmotman said...

The internet is such a great medium for all types of people with so many levels of talent to be seen and heard...but it is not the great equalizer...the people with the real and hard earned talent still have a bigger stage--the real world--to play on...

John Hayes said...

The intellectual property rights questions are going to keep coming up for sure. The Bonos also sought perpetual copyright in the "Mickey Mouse Protection Act," tho upon discovering that's unconstitutional, they had to settle for prolonging all rights for works from 1923 on (date of Steamboat Willie of course). I wonder if Facebook's assertion wouldn't have similar legal problems (in addition to the absurdness of it as you pointed out). Doesn't Blogger itself assert some rights regarding content for blogs it hosts?

re: "the people with the real and hard earned talent still have a bigger stage--the real world--to play on..." I wonder about that distinction at this point in time (real="greater" art, virtual="lesser" art). I respect the point-of-view, but I question the conclusion. Of course, there's writing & graphic art on blogs that doesn't have the level of skill found in "real world" media, but I've also found writing & graphic art in blogs that surpasses the skill of some counterparts in tangible media.

Michelle Stiles said...

I love the tree picture!

Hammer said...

Speaking of "ethical dilemmas we could not have imagined even twenty years ago," the Office of Naval Research just published a major report that discusses the difficulty of programming an ethical code into military robots.

Link here: http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article5741334.ece

Now if you'll 'scuse me, I'll be donning a tin foil hat and running for the hills. (Facebook doesn't own the hills yet do they? What, someone took pictures of the hills? Dammit!)

That's it - we're doomed. Forget running, I think I'll just curl into the fetal position start whistling "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

Hammer said...

Sorry, bad link. Try here. (Link to original report located with the Times article.)

Reya Mellicker said...

John, I agree with you about "hard" talent and the virtual vs. the "real." Though there is no such thing as a great equalizer (variety is the spice of life after all) I do think the internet allows public exposure to anyone with access to a computer and the desire to put themselves out there which is, in a sense, some type of equalizer.

All that said, there is no comparison between seeing a painting on the internet and standing in front of that same painting in a gallery. Live music vs. recorded music? There is no contest there.

Tessa I would LOVE to see your paintings up close and in "real" life. They are so exquisite, even here.

Hammer? I love you. That's all, I just do.

John Hayes said...

A great point about live vs. recorded/reproduced in any format

willow said...

I started a Facebook account a little over a year ago before I started blogging. It soon bored me and I thought I could just delete it. No. It is now "suspended" but not gone. Are they going to hold it forever? Who knows. Very strange.

Reya Mellicker said...

You know, Hammer, one of these days we're going to learn that the people who wear the tin foil hats actually know what's going on. Won't I be embarrassed then!

Lover of Life said...

I agree totally with your views on keeping people alive at all costs. Is it because we believe that nothing exists after life? I would argue that point. I think we actually "go home".

I loved your pictures today. That tree is amazing!

hele said...

One day when I am wealthy I am going to cover my walls with your beautiful trees.

A;though once I have seen them my heart will rejoice in their beauty forever. For real.

Sandra Leigh said...

Bowing to family pressure, I joined Facebook a few months ago. Talk about Pandora's box! People I had never heard of wanted to be my friend. Relatives wanted me to make our relationship Official Facebook Information. NO! It all seemed to me to be a terrible invasion of privacy. And now they want to own every inane comment I make? So I was right! Are all the similar sites that invasive? MySpace, Twitter?

Hilarywho said...

Love the tree collage. Maybe I shouldn't have an opinion about Facebook since I'm not a citizen of that domain, but what's there to protect? Isn't it all just a bunch of inane chatter? Not nearly as lofty as blogspot I'm sure!

Reya Mellicker said...

The truth? If Facebook wants my boring mundane info, they can have it!

Reya Mellicker said...

Forever!

Reya Mellicker said...

Forever!

Reya Mellicker said...

oops

Elizabeth said...

Happy belated birthday!
You always have such thoughtful posts.
Yes, keeping old, sick people who are in pain alive for doctors and hospitals to make money is indeed cruel and unusual. Don't get me started. I will go off to the third world with a vat of morphine when the time comes.
I really prefer blogging to Facebook.
About people stealing stuff on the web... I'm still such an amateur photographer that I don't mind.
But like it when people let me know.

Lisa said...

I totally agree re stealing from blogs and websites.
Blogger is open game to many who frequently lift what they want.
Interesting post
xx

Butternut Squash said...

Yesterday, I was worried about never having had a truly original thought. Today I am worried about people stealing them.

ArtSparker said...

You know I differ with you on this - Anybody who makes a living from art MUST advertise on the internet. Every single illustrator and designer I know has images on the web, as do stock illustration sites, which definitely expect to be paid for use their images.In fact, one site I use for my work recently requested that another user remove a work which I noted was in violation of copyright. There is a google tool to search for images similar to other images.

I know I've posted (aside from my own likeness on facebook) a fan art piece of the Al Sweringen character from Deadwood. It's mine only in a sense - If I tried to sell anything other than the original physical artt, HBO could sue me. So, Facebook, should they decide to keep their new rules, is going to have to deal with ownership questions with HBO about that particular piece..

Reya Mellicker said...

Hey Artsparker, I think your beautiful art should be honored and respected - I agree with you all the way on that!

But I can't figure out how to police any image, once it's out there.

I know bloggers who have discovered their posts, reprinted word for word, on other blogs.

The internet is like the wild frontier with no sheriff to safeguard the law.

Merle Sneed said...

I was able to deactivate my Facebook account. FB creeps me out.

Val said...

surely facebook has to address this or they will collapse? my favourite thing on FB is the status updates and looking at pics of distant friends....some of whom i might have lost touch with otherwise.
hmmm but i dont like that thing when you open a new application that you agree to give them access to everything.

I also do not know how to police copyright once something is 'out there'...

I love Butternut Squash's comment!

its good to e back in blogland - have some catching up to do

thanks for raising this issue xx

Ronda Laveen said...

My husband told me about the FB flap yesterday. And tonight he told me they rescinded their position--for now. It seems they will have as hard a time trying to keep everything as does everyone else. I have not been there to check how it works yet. Probably won't now other than to see what the hoopla is about.

I'm buying a box of tin foil and joining Hammer's Hat Brigade. Me like tin foil!

Ronda Laveen said...

Oh, almost forgot. Love the large, medium and wee Jake in the lower pic!

Angela said...

I admit that I got inspired from one of your posts, Reya, but I made a new one of it, did not copy word for word (what a very strange thing to do!!), so hopefully you won`t sue me for it ( I even mentioned you in admiration).
I think I might leave facebook.

Barry said...

"I would not post anything here or on Facebook that's so precious to me that I wouldn't want it stolen."

That is the wisest policy for us all to follow.

Reya Mellicker said...

I love Facebook. It's silly and goofy. I figure my credit card company knows more about me than Facebook, and I don't put anything there or here that I don't want to be haunted by later on.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ethical struggles are good for humans!

Lynne said...

I just love what you did with the top photo. What a great collage! I have yet to get into the whole Facebook thing. Maybe I should check it out. Or then again ... maybe not!

Steve said...

I don't post anything online that I'm concerned someone will steal. Frankly, I'm not sure I own anything that I'm concerned someone will steal. They can have it!

Arcadia said...

"I would not post anything here or on Facebook that's so precious to me that I wouldn't want it stolen."

I'm agree two!, but there are som ethics!

Visit My Blog
By Arcadia

Barbara Martin said...

It's no different with Blogger, Reya. Which is why I post very little of my own photos.

Georgia B. said...

this is AWESOME! (the tree collage)