I was in the same room as Justin Peters…can I have extra credit now?

My grades are always a giant mystery until the end of the semester, so when I heard this class was having an extra credit opporotunity, I was interested. When Proctor said it was going to a gathering for our class reading book in a location I was going to be near anyway on my night off, I decided to jump on it. So during my journey from home in Connecticut to Manhattanville College, I skipped my transfer at the Fordham station (because Metro North is a moneysucker who makes the lives of those that have to go between White Plains to the New Haven line an inconvenient experience) and spent the extra $15 to make a pit stop at Grand Central Station, which was a very short walk away from the New York Public Library.

After struggling to figure out which building this event was in (and confusing the ladies at the information desk at the wrong building who barely knew how to use iPads to look up what I needed to know) and angrily stabbing the “6th Floor” button on the elevator for ten minutes, only to find out that it was impossible to get up to the sixth floor before 6 PM, I finally made my way to the room that would help me get a better grade in this course. I saw some fine print that said “by coming to this event you are agreeing to let us photograph you for we will be taking pictures of this event,” I found a nice cozy back corner where no one would see me, which to my luck was right next to an outlet that would support my dying iPhone. Eventually it came to 5 minutes before the event and Proctor had not arrived yet, to which I popped up ideas in my head of how to prove I pushed my exhaustion to come to this event (“Should I take a selfie with Justin Peters? Should I get him to autograph my flyer?”) as I sat there in rage. Eventually Proctor came in and sat with me so I stopped panicking about my efforts not being noticed.

It was an interesting experience. I’m not going to lie, the beginning part of it I found very boring and dry. Justin Peters read aloud the entire introduction of his book. Usually when I go to book events, authors read at most a paragraph out of their book. Hearing this guy read 15 pages of content that I could easily read myself on my own time frustrated me that this event was dragging on longer than it had to. Then Justin Peters gave an entire lecture on the history of copyright which could also easily be found within his book, so that also felt like a waste of time to me.

Finally, we got to the Q&A part, which is why I come to book events in the city. I love hearing authors talk about things in the book that are not covered in the book. Ten minutes into the Q&A, an interesting discussion about morals and copyright started to spark as Justin Peters tried to explain to confused older people how copyright infringement worked. Unfortunately, ten minutes in when the conversation was about to spark, a staff member said “we’re out of time.”

This event did spark a discussion in my head about copyright. On one side of the argument, the Internet should absolutely be a large source to get information for free. Everyone should have the right to access information to be educated on things around the world. On the other hand, content creators absolutely have the right to benefit from their work (aka receiving credit and getting money for it). So how do we make it so people can access what they want (that’s legal, of course) without draining their wallet while the content creator get monetary benefits for their work? Currently such scenarios (such as YouTube and podcasts) can be supported by ads and sponsors but many people don’t like ads and sponsors. Maybe in the future we will find a system that will make everyone happy, but for now the consumers are just going to have to tolerate being marketed at.

That event was longer than it had to be, but at least I got to think and at least I get some extra credit.

– Katie Leiper

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