Intellectual Property and the Internet

Recently, I came across someone who had made an ebook available for free download from his dropbox in a Facebook group. An ebook that is normally sold for something like $20 (non-fiction). The Facebook group has almost 58,000 members. When asked whether he had permission to make the ebook available, he simply responded that it was offered on various Facebook sites and that he was only sharing what he had found. Which I take to mean no. Not long afterwards, someone asked me in a passive-aggressive way what my problem was and told me that everyone uses info from the Internet.

Wham! I bet that argument was meant to shut me down and show me what a fool I was making of myself for not knowing that apparently, since “everyone” was doing it, it was okay. Well, I have no clue who “everyone” is, but I do know that if “everyone” distributes copyrighted materials without permission, “everyone” is doing something illegal.

While I hope that “everyone” is only some clueless guy who might have never heard of intellectual property or copyright, I’m afraid “everyone” is a far larger group of people who either don’t know or don’t care about those rights.

I don’t get it. It’s rather simple, actually.

Did you create the content (text, photograph, image, comic, …)?

-> Yes: Great, go ahead and share it with the world if you want!

-> No: Did you find it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, …?

–> Yes: Click Share.

–> No: Did you find it on a website?

—> Yes: Then share the link to the website.

—> No: Is it content you paid for (by buying an ebook, paying for access to a password-protected website or forum, …)?

—-> Yes: Then don’t share it!

—-> In all other cases (or if you’re not sure): Go ask the creator if it’s okay to share.



5 thoughts on “Intellectual Property and the Internet

    1. Thanks! While I’m all for sharing stuff for free (I’m a big fan of the Open Education Resources movement, for example), it should always be the author’s / rights owner’s choice.


      1. Don’t get me wrong, free stuff is fantastic! But, I’m one who appreciates it, not expects it, especially from authors. Unless they’re a huge success in the industry, they aren’t able to afford to be giving a lot of things away, especially just starting out, being an indie author, etc. 🙂


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