I was mentioning in my last post that, after a brief interruption (two weeks !), I was coming back with new posts. Then, suddenly, there comes up the news that WordPress.com was about to be blocked in Brazil. So, I decided to wait a little bit more, to see if it will gonna happen at all, and concentrate my writings only on the other blog, to my undergrad students. I read in the news, that Marcel Leonardi was doing a great job defending WordPress (and, consequently, all of us) in this case. It seems that WordPress then decided to block the offending blog in question and, that they also changed some rules in the contract for new blogs (I got the following from Paula Góes‘ comment, on Matt’s announcement about this case):

” I heard about the changes in the WP’s T&C, which now says: “By making Content available, you represent and warrant that: […] your blog is not named in a manner that misleads your readers into thinking that you are another person or company. For example, your blog’s URL or name is not the name of a person other than yourself or company other than your own”.

I hope that the case is going to be finally solved, and that WordPress.com will still be available in Brazil. Following, I’m putting across some reflections related to this case :

  1. We all aspire to freely express ourselves in all aspects and situations, be it in the “cyberspace” or outside it. However, a very important issue concerns with liberty: our freedom goes up to the point that it does not interfere with another one’s liberty, and reciprocally.
  2. In respect to someone’s rights, we cannot use our freedom to cause any kind of harm or offense to anyone else. Also, this implies some legal responsibilities: we cannot let that somebody acts in our names, to cause harm or to offend someone else.
  3. Concerning real human beings, living their real lives, with their constituted rights, there is no such a place as a “cyberspace” or a “virtual society”. If you do something in the Internet, you are reaching real people, influencing them and possibly could be causing some harm. The implications of this will happen in their real lives. So, the place where the actions or damages should be judged are the civil rights institutions of their living places, or countries.
  4. It is conceivable that it is very romantic believing in a place like a “virtual networked society”, or whatever in this sense, where you are totally free. However, we must care of not confounding it with a kind of “cartoon world“, where even if you are fatally shot you won’t die. The cyberspace, using the name created by Gibson to denote this place, can be an abstraction of the actions of real people in a virtual place, but the people that interface with it are real, actual human beings. Being completely free doesn’t mean unrestrictedly free. The freedom of one restricts the freedom of other.

Well, this is some kind of response to some comments that I’ve read or heard about the case. It is not a legal statement, it’s just my point of view. It can be technically wrong in some aspects, so I hope that someone could correct me in the case. I feel that we must care to avoid creating a sense that everything is allowed in the Internet. I remember the words of Clifford Stoll in his book The Cuckoo’s Egg, that the Internet would work only if people could trust it. And I see that this includes respecting – in all aspects – the rights of people that uses the Internet:  no offenses should be directed to anyone,  no  court should ask for undiscriminated blocking of everybody.

To finish, we must thank Marcel Leonardi for his effort, defending our interests, and to WordPress for their wise decision.