Is Wikipedia to blame for the Internet’s weak copyright ethos?

I was going to write about and recommend a job-hunting book for you today. The book was open on my desk, ready to have an excerpt lifted from its pages when a thought interjected, stopping my fluid henpecking¬†in its tracks. Isn’t it bad manners to use someone’s work without asking? Even if my mention could lead to a future sale or two, as I think a song from an album or a paragraph from a book could, is it right?

I know how it feels.

So is Wikipedia to blame for our lackadaisical approach to attribution? Collective contribution de-emphasizes the individual. In an age when everybody is an author, what difference does any one particular author make? The Internet makes it easier to steal, and blurs the borders between friendly sharing and theft. But it’s that cultural shift I’m most interested in. Does the mere existence of our huge collaborative content experiment (Wikipedia being a tidy metaphor for the Internet at large here), belittle the work of the individual, leading to softer rules of engagement?

Maybe I’ll write about the book, What Color Is Your Parachute? {amazon} another day.