Cracks in the system


We live in a world of miraculous innovation. The pace of change and advancement we have witnessed in just the last three decades has been astonishing. One of the most sweeping examples of this is how we now communicate in the modern, web-based world and the “universe” of the Internet. Thanks to that, much of the way we live has been fundamentally reordered. I would guess that most of us would probably admit that’s largely a good thing, but the inevitable flip side, as we now know, is that good things can always be hijacked and applied to bad purposes by bad people. Right now, one example of that is going on here in Emanuel County. Several weeks ago, the Forest Blade Publishing Company learned that each weekly issue of the local newspaper was being “stolen” by an online business going by the name of the “Crossroads News”. That entity “scoops up” each page of the weekly edition of the “copyright-protected” Forest Blade newspaper and represents it online as a production of “The Crossroads News”. The Forest Blade name is removed from the front page, and The Crossroads News name is inserted. This is all done electronically without the permission of, acknowledgment of, or copyright attribution to the Forest Blade. This hi-tech thief uses the Internet to hide his/her identification in the same way that other Internet schemes, identity theft scams, and fraudulent bank practices work to criminally deceive and defraud the public. An effort to learn more concerning the exact illicit nature of this activity and the identity of those involved is underway and on-going. Obviously, this activity is totally illegal, and the guilty party knows it. Copyright infringement, theft of intellectual property and plagiarism charges are serious and can be brought in civil court proceedings as well as criminal proceedings. It is not clear yet whether this scam is the work of a homegrown computer hacker or someone and something more nefarious. What is crystal clear is the fact that whenever the laws we live by are intentionally broken, the strength of our system suffers. A small crack grows larger and larger until it threatens the foundations we rely on. Whoever is perpetrating these activities is not only plagued by their own shortcomings and lack of ability, but even worse, by a callous lack of concern for the welfare and the image of this community and the unfavorable light it is cast in by this scam. The majority of the people living here understand what it takes to build a strong, progressive and respected community. They are proud to tell that story. This scheme of dishonesty and deception sends the wrong signal and those responsible should end it. It does not have a place in the story of our community.