Mike Godwin

American attorney and author

Michael Wayne Godwin (born October 26, 1956) is an American attorney and author. He was the first staff counsel of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and was general counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation between July 2007 and October 2010.

Mike Godwin in 2010

Quotes edit

  • As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
  • Let today be the first day of a new American Revolution - a Digital Revolution, a revolution built not on blood and conflict, but on language and reason and our faith in each other.
  • I worry about my child and the Internet all the time, even though she's too young to have logged on yet. Here's what I worry about. I worry that 10 or 15 or 20 years from now she will come to me and say, "Daddy, where were you when they took freedom of the press away from the Internet?"

Cyber Rights edit

Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age. ISBN 9780262571685
  • The decisions we make about the Internet don't affect just the Internet – they are answers to basic questions about the relationship each citizen has to the government and about the extent to which we trust one another with the full range of fundamental rights granted by the Constitution.
    • Cited in Hudson, David (July 16, 1998). "Net freedom ring". Salon (Salon Media Group). Retrieved on 2009-12-17. 
  • The remedy for the abuse of free speech is more speech.
    • Cited in DeCandido, GraceAnne A. (August 1998). "Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age". Booklist 94 (22).
  • Striking a balance in favor of individual rights has always been the right decision for us and that it remains so even when technology gives us new ways to exercise those rights. Individual liberty has never weakened us; freedom of speech, enhanced by the Net, will only make us stronger.
    • Cited in Kim, June (Summer 2004). "Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age". Law Library Journal 96 (3): 542–544.
  • In short, individual freedom of speech leads to a stronger society. But knowing that principle is not enough. You have to know how to put it to use on the Net.
    • 17.
  • When I worked as a journalist in the 1980s, I was constantly reminded by sources of the common asumption that a newspaper or magazine article wouldn't get things right or would distort the facts to reflect a particular bias. [...] The major newspapers, magazines, and television networks, which are typically, if not always, components of larger corporate organizations, are increasingly regarded by Americans as just another special interest.
    • Chapter 1
  • But don't confuse it with the first vision of "electronic democracy" [...] one day, we were told [in 1992], we'd listen to pundits and politicians debate the issues, and then we'd vote, maybe by pointing our remotes at our TV or computer monitors. Radical pluralism is something different. It's what happens when you put the power of a mass medium—computer communications—into the hands of individual citiens who could never have afforded creative access to other mass media like TV or newspapers. Everyone is now a "content producer".
    • Chapter 1
  • It's easy for a senator or a government official to blur the line between speech that's offensive and speech that lacks social value, yet in practice it's often the offensive speech that's the most valuable.
    • Chapter 2
  • I first became aware of this larger phenomenon in the wake of the bombing of a federal office building in Oklahoma City. In the days and weeks to follow, I got dozens of calls from the press asking me whether there was legislation pending to ban bomb information on the Net. [...] In reality, of course, the "Internet as threat" meme was generated and disseminated primarily by the press itself.
    • Chapter 3
  • The more you impose such liability, the greater the incentives you create for providers to become content police, and you undermine what for many and perhaps most users is the chief value of the Net: direct communication with the rest of the world.
    • Chapter 4
  • Leaving aside the issue of whether the comments about Arata and Branham were grounded in hostility toward their gender (rather than hostility toward them as individuals), it seemed clear that what the OCR wants to ban here is not "written conduct" but speech. By classifying it as "conduct," the OCR hoped to bypass the First Amendment's protections.
    • Chapter 5
  • Perhaps the most likely scenario is this: At some near-future date, perhaps as early as 2010, individuals may no longer be able to do the kinds of things they routinely do with their digital tools in 2003. [...] You can't overestimate the extent to which the two factions are bot pro-copyright [...]. One thing the Tech Faction and the Content Faction have in common is that both supported the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998.
    • Chapter 7
  • [The online users reaction to the cyberporn panic] may have been far more effective than a planned event would have been, however. It had vigor, spontaneity, and popular sentiment behind it and was driven by passion and not by calculated maneuvering. And it proved the power of online communities to take on the traditional media establishment, once the playing field has been leveled. The WELL and the World Wide Web and Usenet had leveled the field.
    • Chapter 9.2
  • What adds to the uncertainty, Hansen said, is that the "defenses" provided by the statute—that is, the things you have to do to avoid criminal liability—are defined in terms of whatever filtering or screening technologies happen to be available at any given moment [...] use of "reasonable and effective measures under current technology". As a result, Hansen said, the defenses will change every time the technology changes.
    • Chapter 10
  • That is why I found the tactics of the theocratic social conservatives deeply offensive. They were afraid that their convictions about pornography were unlikely to sway the majority of citizens in this country—so afraid, in fact, that they contrived a crisis (the threat to children posed by cyperporn) and even went so far as to help craft and position a purportedly objective (but in fact fraudulent) study whose real, cynical purpose was to promote a panic-driven anti-indecency legislative agenda.
    • Chapter 11

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