In 1998 I gave a talk at DefCon 6 titled “Copyright vs. Free Speech,” the gist of which was that in order to protect the profits of the publishing industry in the face of technology which obsoleted centralized publishing, publishers had begun to buy from congress increasingly draconian legislation to protect their obsolete business model.
They have been patient and effective, implementing a long-term program of carefully designed disinformation to turn an effective method of promoting the progress of science and the useful arts into a weapon to aid extorting profit from the people’s commons.
Due to the success of their propaganda campaigns, it bears repeating that authors have no right to profit from their works. They do not “own” ideas. They, nor their assignees, have any right to control the reproduction, reuse, or dissemination of ideas and inventions once they’ve chosen to make them public. We the people have chosen to gift them with a temporary monopoly on commercial exploitation of their inventions as a mechanism the founding fathers thought would serve to maximize the availability of freely usable ideas in the public domain; that is, to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. A premise they have utterly perverted.
Any law which expands copyright steals from the public domain and gives exclusive right to commercial exploitation to the beneficiary. The copyright industry has been incredibly successful in bribing politicians into allowing them to graze their cattle in our public parks without any additional compensation to the public. Indeed, new copyright laws don’t even pay lip service to the public good and focus entirely on maximizing profits at the expense of the public domain. These legislative disasters are prima facia unconstitutional.
A new agreement, endorsed by the White House, effectively implements the dystopian warnings I gave in my 1998 talk: ISPs will begin to directly enforce copyright, acting as the muscle for the new business model the copyright industry has turned to now that publishing is obsolete: direct shakedowns.
It was clear in 1998 that if our economy was turning to the then touted model of an “information economy” (and not making things) it would become necessary to police the flow of information to block the unauthorized exchanges of ideas lest someone freely share an idea for which a private entity has been granted a monopoly and undermine the profitability of the imaginary economy.
Aside from the loss of privacy and retarding progress and the useful arts, a problematic consequence of the monitoring necessary to ensure the exchange of ideas is taxed is that citizens must always be monitored, and now directly and intrusively by their ISPs. Monitoring has a chilling effect on free speech as people are naturally disinclined to openly dissent, to only speak privately of ideas that challenge entrenched interests. Intrusive monitoring is an effective tool of totalitarianism by destroying the privacy in which informed dissent grows strong enough to overcome the entrenched.
There is no practical way to implement an effective monopoly enforcement scheme at the ISP level without active monitoring of every digital interaction, from every website visited to every message exchanged, lest one hide a privatized bit. ISP monitoring undermines the foundations of democracy, at least the significant portion which has migrated to digital forums. This is a massive implementation of the same monitoring technology and concepts used in Syria and China to control dissidents, applied here merely to further enrich a few petty plutocrats.
Hey, wow… sure, techdirt isn’t the WSJ, but for a blog it is somewhat authoritative and they’re actually noting that fact that we grant temporary monopolies to creators not as property (or to preserve jobs or to fund private jets for industry execs) but solely to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. Any IP law that retards the progress of science and the useful arts, no matter how many jobs or corporate jets it saves, is unconstitutional. Tell Victoria Espinel that she should be sworn to upholding the constitution, not the corporate profits.
This is relevant now because the press was just kicked out of the anti-“piracy” summit at the white house (by “piracy,” they of course mean vigilante trust busting, not the corporate pirates of the public domain).
Carolyn and I were in Canada for the election. We saw it from the safety of a Russian themed bar called Pravda in Toronto, one of our favorites (the Chicken Kiev is amazing and Andrea the bartender is the best).
We watched on a projection screen as the results came in and the initial McCain victories were soon overwhelmed by a tide of… well… for once not being a land of morons.
We left once the electoral victory was inevitable and heard the results on the radio between Toronto and Guelph. We were happy but not surprised. We listened to people describing how happy they were, Canadian commentators speaking about how “The States” was now not a joke and might perhaps once again participate in the world’s stage as something other than belligerent idiots. It was good.
Now I have to admit a bit of wistfulness at the results. Not that I didn’t want Obama to win… but I’m sorry to see Palin go the way of Kathleen Harris. Palin is such a caricature of extreme white trash, of all that is idiotic and embarrassing in America: the Tonya Harding of Politics but with a body double for her sex tape. I’m sad that tonight Jon Stewart will be boring. That for the next eight (please) years the most ridiculous news will come from somewhere other than the white house. We could have had Palin there and every day would have been a delight of absurdity. I’d trade good leadership for comedy, but it is not an unmitigated win.
Today, on the way out of Canada, I saw something that demonstrated in a small way how monumental this moment of history really is. I followed a black American man through security screening. It was obvious he was used to being given a hard time for his color, for his culture. He expected it, reacted to the scan and the follow up as if it were part of the normal sweat inducing stress he had to live through every day. What broke his stride was when he collected his things after passing the secondary mass spectrograph screening and the Indian screener said to him as he turned away “Yay Obama!”
Across boarders, across centuries, across races this is a moment that renders irrelevant such trivialities as a global depression or wars.
It turned out the guy grew up about 20 blocks from me in Philadelphia. The world is interconnected and small and overnight the good people have a reason to be optimistic. Finally.
The debate was entertaining. Sarah was not the trainwreck we’d all hoped for after the Couric intervierws, but it had its moments.
I thought most remarkable was that she occasionally went off script and got lost. The prep worked, but I guess they couldn’t cover every possible question. There were moments where the Sarah we came to know and love from Couric came out.
Otherwise she filled the time trying to be cute and mugging for the camera, rolling her eyes and making cutsy expressions and spouting folksy aphorisms.