Saving the Net

How to get past the intellectual and political logjams that threaten Linux and the Net.
Additional Resources, the plaintiff's site.

Lawrence Lessig's site and weblog.

"After the Copyright Smackdown: What's Next?" on Salon.

"John Bloom's Right and Wrong" (an excellent piece in National Review) and the Slashdot thread that followed.

"Copyright and the Constitution", in the Chicago Tribune.

"A Fine Balance" and "A Radical Rethink" in The Economist.

"Mickey Mouse in Chains" in the Sacramento Bee.

"Copyright Gets Sweeter for Big Business", in the Toronto Star.

"Voluntarily Limiting Copyright Terms", on Kuro5hin.

"Embrace File Sharing or Die", on Salon.

Lawmeme, Copyfight, GrepLaw and Bag & Baggage also have provided piles of coverage and many links to more sources of wisdom (B&B's list of law weblogs is comprehensive).

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal.



Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


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fobidik's picture

The last mile of the net is inherently asymmetric. The reason is quite simple. I have vastly more ability to consume than I do to create.


Burak Demir's picture

Really thanks you for that nice article.


photoshop's picture

Because you can't fight business with a guerrilla war. Business isn't like an invading army that can be killed effectively in small doses until it dies on its own. It's a force of society and of human nature. Like an iceberg, you don't 'beat it' by chipping away at it or pushing until it gets tired, you only 'win' by changing its state. I say, melt it and survive the flood. We really need that more profitable alternative use that will keep big-media from being able to buy the say on how users use the net....

Sooooo, anybody got an engineering degree and a wad to blow?


Misafir's picture

At the same time that media concentration restrictions are being
removed, such that three companies will own everything

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

Conservativism and Liberalism are two words that have many means to different people. A "Conservative" who wants to change the status quo of high taxes and big gov't can be seen as radicals. Liberals who want to maintain abortion rights, can be seen as conservatives. The two words have basically lost all meaning.

Two words that describe the same issues, but are much more clear in understanding are "Collectivism" and "Individualism". These are the two words that describe the issues that divide people. Collectivist consider it the responsibility of the state to care for the collective well being of the population. Individualist consider it their personal responsibility to care for themselves.

In terms of the Internet, a collectivist will want Net regulations to shepard the weak, poor, uneducated away from 'harmful' content, such as pornography, spam, and scams. They see the gov't as the protector of the Internet population. The Individualist wants to decide for themselves what is harmful, and take apporpriate actions against the harmful content.

The idea that everyone should be cared for, and no one should be lacking is a collectivist idea. An individualist will take care of themselves first, then share their wealth and power with the less fortunate as they see fit.

The original author of this posting conveys both individualistic ideals and collectivist ideals. In reality, most of life is lived in the middle. We do want everyone to be cared for, but we don't want the gov't to force us into providing the means to care for everyone.

The United States Gov't was originally set up as a structure to promote individualism. Over the past 200, the collectivist have inserted communal tendencies into every area of that gov't.

As far as the posters claim that morals are the dividing line between conservative and liberals, he is incorrect. Morals are an issue between the individual and their own God. When gov't uses morals to justify laws there is a slipperly slope towards collectivism and totalitarianism. A collectivist believes that the needs of the many outweight the needs of the few or the one. and Individualist beleives that the needs of the one or the few are equal to the needs of the many.

If one stops thinking in terms of conservative vs. liberal, which are meaningless in general and full of contradictions in the specific, and instead thinks in terms of the Individual vs. the Collective, he or she will quickly discover who they are and what they believe.

Re: Saving the Net

damonlynch's picture

"Both the Net and Linux were created, grew and flourished almost entirely outside the regulatory sphere. They are, in a literal sense, what free markets have done with their freedoms."
I don't know what the main idea of this statement is. If it means the Internet and Linux was developed without subsidies (through employment) from the public via universities and government agencies, and only by private businesses, it is so obviously false that something else must be intended. If it means however, that they were developed largely free of any government setting the rules all the way along, then it makes more sense -- but what does that have to do with with free markets? My understanding of free markets is that they involve businesses operating without subsidies and with limited control by the government. That is not the case with either the Internet or Linux.

At the same time that media

Incontri Coppia's picture

At the same time that media concentration restrictions are being
removed, such that three companies will own everything, so too are
neutrality restrictions for the network being eliminated, so that
those same three companies--who also will control broadband
access--are totally free to architect broadband however they wish.
"The Internet that is to be the savior is a dying breed. The
end-to-end architecture that gave us its power will, in effect, be
inverted. And so the games networks play to benefit their own will
bleed to this space too."

re:At the same time that media

Incontri Donna's picture

Who Owns What?
That's the fundamental question, and it's going to get more
fundamental as we roll toward the next presidential election here in
the US. Much is at stake, including Linux and its natural habitat: the
Net. Both have been extraordinarily good for business. Its perceived
"threat" to Microsoft and the dot-com crash are both red herrings.
Take away Linux and the Net, and both technology and the economy would
be a whole lot worse.

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

Law to the effect:

All commercial activity of any type or size will be resticted to gated networks (e.g. AOL, Prodigy, CompuServe) which may set fees, restictions, security measures etc. as they see fit but which must be declared in open policy aggreements.

The internet must be considered a world wide network of communication and community in which restictions are that of each individual's design.

Dean's been bought by the Israel lobby

Anonymous's picture

As I write this, Democratic candidate Howard Dean just gathered his party's largest campaign fund for the most recent quarter. The mainstream press has acknowledged that most of this money came from fund-raising on the Internet. But they avoid visiting a fact that should be deeply troubling to every candidate running (and then governing) for money rather than for voters: Dean's lead is owed to a huge number of small donations, not to a small number of large special interests. If he's being bought, it's by his voters. This is a New Thing. It's also been made possible by the Net.

The media also ignores the fact that Dean's campaign chair is Stephen Grossman, former president of the American Israel Political Action Committee. AIPAC is one of the most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill, if not the most persuasive one.

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

"But they avoid visiting a fact that should be deeply troubling to every candidate running (and then governing) for money rather than for voters: Dean's lead is owed to a huge number of small donations, not to a small number of large special interests."

The majority of donations that republicans receive are also small donations - the democrats traditionally are the ones getting large donations. I'm no republican, but I just thought I should point this out.

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

There are so many great ideas here, if we could just organize this into one place, and then decide how to go about reforming this situation... I would like to help, but Doc hasn't sent me any emails back so I guess I'll just fumble about until I find a place with like-minded people.

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

Better hurry before they pull the plug. Best just to set up a non profit with a group of patrons and then raise hell. This Government only looks a legit (Corporat) entity

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

Quote: "I think that I could turn and live with the animals... Not one of them is demented with the mania of owning things."
--Walt Whitman

Actually animals do have the idea of owning things, like territory (i.e. an animal marks its territory), or claims to food.

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

Tg new and unregistered

Not the same case. Animals compete for there spot in nature as should everyone else. As nature changes the animals die off or change areas. In an unbalanced ( regulated) system the prey over populates causing more problems to the enviroment or themselves. They own nothing. They use what nature gave them to survive and adapt in the world. They evolve and not remain perpetually in the same place for all that long. Dinasaurs anyone?

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by THE INEQUITIES of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds THE WEAK through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and a finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt TO POISON AND DESTROY my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."

Ezechiel 25.17

Re: Saving the Net

Incontri Sesso's picture

Hey Ezechiel - this is not working in real-life 8-))))

That passage doesn't exist but one that is as good does.

Anonymous's picture

Ezekiel 17:19, 20, &a21

As I live, my oath which he spurned, my covenant which he broke, I swear to bring down upon his head. I will spead MY NET over him, and he shall be taken in my snare. I will bring him to BABYLON and enter into judgment with him there over his breaking faith with me. All the crack troops among his forces shall fall by the sword, and the survivors shall be scattered in every direction. Thus you know that I, the Lord, have spoken.

Oh and then.............

Anonymous's picture

He gets up off the dirty tile floor looking down for a brief second. Turning to his subordinate............

AGENT SMITH say after hearing this speech. "TAKE HIM."

His chat operator screams at the web cam. "NOOOOOOO!"

A bit wrong, on property

dengel's picture

One of the things that many fail to recognize (a situation not helped by those who, according to Duhaime's Law Dictionary, say "property and law were born and die together," is that there is a fundamental difference between physical property (both personal and real property) and what we have come to refer to as "intellectual property."

The difference is that physical property is fundamental while intellectual property isn't.

Okay, if you define property as "the set of legal rights" that one has in an object, then to say that property is born with law is a mere tautology. That's not really useful to the discussion.

The point to recognize is that, when it comes to physical property, the laws that assign and enforce those rights over physical things do not do so arbitrarily, nor do they do so out of some social planning that sees a greater social good from it. The laws that relate to property are there because the notion of property (in the physical sense)--that is, the notions of "mine" and "yours," the ideas of giving and receiving and exchanging and their moral "realness," and the concept of stealing and its moral "wrongness"--is built into human nature. The law defines theft because humans have a built-in aversion to the morally wrong act that they call "stealing."

Thus, in a very real sense that is fundamental to humans, the legal rights associated with our physical property are just reflections--canonizations--of moral rights that we all recognize at some level.

(As an aside, I realize that real property is actually a bit different than personal property, and I'm not going to try to address that, here.)

With intellectual property, on the other hand, it is the case that the rights associated with it were themselves created by law. They don't derive from any more fundamental source; they're not built into human nature. The law, in the case of intellectual property, isn't an enforcement of any moral human notion, but an arbitrary expedient designed to achieve a strictly social end.

The problem with the current trend in law is that it confuses these notions of "property," to the detriment of both.

Such laws as the DMCA (and others) that seek to limit what nature of observation, analysis, etc. one can perform on a physical object one owns is a complete violation of what should be a sacred notion of property that the law enforces and respects but never undermines. This violation of the fundamental principle of physical property ("it's mine; I can do with it what I please") is being fueled by an over-application of the very non-fundamental principle of intellectual property. The failure to recognize the arbitrary and statutory nature of intellectual property is causing judges and lawmakers to see a conflict of rights where none exists.

If we are to really address the problem, we must do so by strengthening the framework of property, and by re-honing the division between the principles of physical property and those of intellectual property. We must strengthen the reality and inviolability of the former, while constantly educating the public, as well as lawyers and judges (yes, we have to educate them on principles of law!) on the statutory and contingent nature of the latter.

You Need Democracy

Anonymous's picture

The future of the NET is a worlwide issue rather than an issue for the American Legal/Politcal system which is only of accademic interest ouitside the US. US citizens will only be able to fight against large media companies trying to take control of the NET when the interests of the citizens becomes more important to gevernment than the interest of corporations. While the system of allowing corporations to make the government/laws by large monetary donations exists, the US citizens vote will remain worthless. The media in the US constanlty re-assures the US citizen of how fortunate they are to have their wonderful system of democracy and freedom, to the point where the citizens themselves have fallen to sleep to the sound and not realized that the power of democracy has been diluted to the point of uselessness. Power is not with the citizen anymore, but with the corporations with the biggest bank balance. US government has slowly and insidiously over time become everything that the original constitution was supposed to prevent. You will only be able to fight these battles when you have restored true democracy - WAKE UP!!!

I'M AWAKE!!! While I don't disagree COMPLETELY, ...

Anonymous's picture

... I think we need to narrow the focus to get away from beating up on the USA (which invented the Internet for its national defence, need I remind you). You're getting to the point at the end when you mention what the Constitution was supposed to prevent, an that was the concentration of power into too few hands. The "founding fathers" made sure church and state were separate (to prevent the kind of crap we've got in Africa and the Middle East); they made sure that only democratically (if not freely) elected representatives got to make laws, and then that the executive branch got to approve them, and ultimately the apolitical (HA!) appointed-for-life justices got to interpret the Constitution (to ensure nothing totally insane happened due to popular demand). Checks and balances, baby, and the marketplace *OF IDEAS* are still pretty damned brilliant. So the new FCC ruling is fairly unequivocally the EXACT OPPOSITE of that ideal, and it can be very strongly argued that the copyright stuff is too.

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

OK - here's a crazy idea.

Fundamentally, physically, what is the internet? It's digital data being transferred over wires. You have a cable from LA to Tokyo, and tokya and LA can talk. You put a router on each end, and there is the start of the internet.

How much does 12,000 km of fibre cost? How much does 2 routers cost? The net is a huge community now, and a huge proportion of those that use it today want to see it go back to it's glory days.

Let the disneys, RIAA, etc have the internet - but lets learn we went wrong, and how we lost it. And lets not do it again.

Lets start internet2 (Sorry - I'm not feeling very witty right now intwonet, maybe?).

It can start by piggybacking on original internet, but over time slowly split away.

Lets not start with 12,000 km of fibre across the pacific, lets start with 100m of 100baseT to your neighbour. Lets find what went wrong (both technical and political) in the internet, and do them correectly. Safeguards to protect the freedom it provides.

Revamped tech to support what it needs to do, rather than hacked old specs that are forced to maintain backwards compatability.

Maybe I'm not making any sense, but it strikes me as an idea thats worth discussing.

I think i also need some sleep. :-)

Re: Saving the Net - Too late

Anonymous's picture

Too late. It's already being done.

I won't say where (and the may be more instances than the one I know of - if there are, they may link up some day), as the people doing it are well outside of local regulations for doing so (mainly because the cabling is having to cross stretches of land not privately owned by participants). The operation is underground in more ways than one ;-)

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

Maybe the courts can not set what numbers we use, but I thought their job was to interpret the constitution...words like "for a limited time" and "to promote." I would think they would have the power to determine if the laws comply with the constitution...and if not, declare them unconstitutional and send them back to the legislature to find the happy medium where they do.

The Tragedy of the Commons

Anonymous's picture

Rather than post my rather lengthy response here, it can be found at

The short version is this: FEC records show that its liberals like Fritz Hollings who are the darlings of the media industry, not conservatives. Secondly, the regulations on the market that exist under current FCC rules serve to reduce choice and competition, and finally the 'NEA' system of organization for the Internet does not work because of the Tragedy of the Commons.

While I agree with some points, I think Doc Serl's view of conservatives is lacking in real depth, and he's essentially shooting at the wrong target. The biggest threat to freedom on the net are not corporations, but regulations that strangle innovation and diversity both on the net and in the media.

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

"conservatives consider strength a "moral value". Strong is good. Weak is bad."

That is exactly the core of the ideology of Nazism.

True, but the strong were limited to Aryan clubmembers

Anonymous's picture

George Bush (who has to represent all conservatives only for the duration of this sentence) is visibly not a club member.

Re: True, but the strong were limited to Aryan clubmembers

Anonymous's picture

True...but the statement in itself is ludicrous--the equivalent of "Good is good" and "bad is bad." Nobody wants weakness--the question therein is not good vs bad, strong vs weak, but what we associate with strength (good) and weakness (bad). For example, crying: is it a sign of strength (overcoming social discomfort to express emotions openly) or weakness (a character unable to withstand adversity; breaks down easily)? I've seen both be true at different times under different circumstances.

So it cannot be consolidated into a general statement without being false, innapropriate, harmful, derogatory, or just plain useless.

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

I was enlightened by the section that talks about the difference between liberals and conservatives, how conservatives consider strength a 'moral value' and try to reward it. I concur, we should not reward failure by proping up failing enterprises. The Japanese having been doing this for years by lending more and more money to business that should be allowed to die. Consequenty, their economy is in shambles.

Just as we don't want to reward failure, we need not reward success. Isn't success is its own reward, after all? Giving extra advantages to the strong cripples the weak and denies them any possibility of growing. They are then doomed to failure.

Corporations are trying to secure their intellectual property forever. This denies anyone else the ability to create new ideas based on the original (without paying handsomely). These corporations, however, drew lots of material from the public domain to build theier IP libraries. Just look at all the Disney movies that are based on stories from the public domain, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Cinderella, there must be dozens of them. If these creations aren't returned to the public once a profit has been made, the well of creativity will dry up.

Todays winners were the strugglers of yesterday. We can't let them pull up the ladder after they reach the top. Other must be able to follow.

Stephen Knoeck


Anonymous's picture

Of the several hundred replies I read to this article, this one captured the central point the best.

Re: Bingo.

Anonymous's picture

Well, that seems reasonable. The problem is that greed is unreasonable.


Anonymous's picture

Don't forget it could be someone trying to defame the mentioned product and its purveyor by spamming for it in a forum where most people are likely to react negatively toward the perceived origin of spam.


Anonymous's picture

Very good point.

I'm not sure which is worse:

A) if it is someone that is really trying to promote the product, perhaps the ploy will backfire because, as previously mentioned, people here hate spammers.

B) if it is someone posing as a promoter of the product but who is really trying to defame it, this could also backfire because, as they say, "there is no such thing as bad publicity."

Which is worse?

All I know is that either way, it's bad. Fight spam!


Anonymous's picture

Oh, yeah, spamming the Linux Journal site will definitely make me want to buy your product....

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

A very simple solution, in only 3 lines:

[1] Internet(c)
[2] This work is free of rights on Internet.
[3] All rights reserved in all countries
[and for all languages(*)].

(*) Apply for translatable works.

That's all. Kind regards

I.R.Maturana --
(LPT-ESv1r3 -

What is the

Anonymous's picture

I'm looking for the right argument to support copyright reduction. In my thinking process it comes down to defining the term "Public Good". What is it and what's good about it?

The definition must provide an answer to the following example.

I grow a tree on my property. I cut it down and use it to create a chair of my own design. Should you be able to come and take it from me, even after some waiting period?

I think most people would say no. It is in the interest of all the people that no one can come and take what I possess without some "good reason", otherwise known as "due process".

Now what if my chair design is so comfortable people who come to visit ask if they can make one just like it. I draw up and sell them the plans. After some waiting period should you be able to copy my plans and sell them too?

Why should you be able to do that? Why is this for the "public good"?


Re: What is the

Anonymous's picture

Rob wrote:

> I grow a tree on my property. I cut it down and use it
> to create a chair of my own design. Should you be able
> to come and take it from me, even after some waiting
> period?
> I think most people would say no. It is in the interest
> of all the people that no one can come and take what
> I possess without some "good reason", otherwise known
> as "due process".

Agreed. When I take a chair from you without compensation, you no longer have a chair.

> Now what if my chair design is so comfortable people
> who come to visit ask if they can make one just like it.
> I draw up and sell them the plans. After some waiting
> period should you be able to copy my plans and sell
> them too?
> Why should you be able to do that? Why is this for
> the "public good"?

Why should we have to wait, or for that matter why should we have to ask your permission to duplicate your design? Designs aren't things -- if we "take" your design, you still have it. There is nothing we can do which takes anything away from you.

Copyrights are a government enforced monopoly on the right to copy a design. If there is any fundamental right, it is the right to see something you like and make something just like it. If you like a painting of a sunset, you can paint one just like it, or hire someone to paint it for you. Why should you have to ask permission from the person who first had the idea of painting sunsets?

Ideas are not things. If I take your chair, you have one less chair. But if I take your idea of a chair, you still have it.

Copyright takes away the fundamental right to take ideas and build actual things from them, and makes it a government-mandated and enforced monopoly. This monopoly prohibits me from taking your design for a comfy chair and making it even more comfy without your permission -- and why would you give me that permission since it will lead to you losing sales?

Patents are anti-competitive. It gives the creator an exemption from having to compete with others who can make the same thing better or cheaper.

Social suffers from this loss. Who knows what wonderful inventions or designs or art we might have if people were free to take ideas and create new ideas from them?

The rational behind copyright is to lessen the good to society in favour of the good to an individual creator. Having ideas fall into the public domain after some time is a sop to limit society's loss: it doesn't take anything from the creator, all it does is remove that "exception from competition".

The reasoning behind this is to give the inventor a chance to make a profit from his invention, thus encouraging more people to be creative. Historically, artists and writers have not let the lack of copyright stop them from creating art and inventions. Shakespeare wasn't protected by copyright. Traditional music from all the world over wasn't protected by copyright. The Bible wasn't protected by copyright.

The government doesn't give a monopoly on selling chairs to the first person that opens a chair factory in a certain area. If the manufacturer wants to compete with the people who are sure to follow, he has to do so on his own merits, not based on a government monopoly. Why should the chair designer get special treatment?

Maybe we, as a society, have decided that the designer should get special treatment. But never forget that this isn't a RIGHT, it is a GIFT from society: we are grateful enough to forgo our rights to imitate and extend your chair design for a limited time. But don't imagine that this is your fundamental right.

Perhaps we should change the name to copygift.


False scarcity

Anonymous's picture

If I take your chair from you, you are denied its use.

If I reproduce your content, then I don't take away your right to reproduce it or make derivative works from it. You are not denied that which you have created. You are only denied the exclusive right to reproduce or derive from it.

This is why Doc was saying that it is a fallacy to equate copyright with property.

Big long response up side your head

Anonymous's picture

Yes. Because you can't possibly do as much "good" with them as my competitors and I could, no matter how hard you tried, and by waiting period X have had ample opportunity to try. It is for the "public good" because it is for the "good" of all people rather than just the people related to Rob. While I'm at it, I'll drastically improve on your design and use the profits I make off your insiration to make it even better and sell even more.

In fact, when you die I'm gonna take your original chair. You had an opportunity to try to live forever, but you failed, so I'm gonna have it. Your family may want to keep it, but I'll buy it from them for more money than you could ever have made selling them yourself, and give them one of my better chairs to sweeten the deal. You may be miffed that they're not already getting money for evey chair I sell, but you don't matter. You're dead, and your family is rich enough for not having invented the chair themselves. They can invent a new chair if they want more, and put me out of business before they all die or lose the rights to it. Then I'd be in quite a pickle.

In fact, that thought bothers me so much, I'm going to pay very smart people obscene amounts of money to invent one first to keep you, your family, and my neighbor down the street from taking my empire away from me. Furthermore, if they still beat me to the punch, I'll buy the rights from them and still hold my empire together. Oh, wait, my competitors already did that. Damn! Their chairs are even better! How'd they do that! Now they own the chair market. I'd better adopt a defensive strategy to hold on until their rights wear off, or else just out-improve them.

Stress!!! I'd better sit down before my head explodes. Mmmm, that's comfy. These fifth generation chairs are really therapeutic. I probably would have had to pay for back surgery by now without this thing. I wonder how many other people could say that? Billions by these sales figures. A third of the world ownes one of these wonderful chairs in one form or another. That's a soothing thought. Stress... melting away. Lumbars being supported.

Inherently Asymmetric

Anonymous's picture

The last mile of the net is inherently asymmetric. The reason is quite simple. I have vastly more ability to consume than I do to create.

I applauded the sentiment but deplore the stereotypes.

Anonymous's picture

I'm four square in favor of what this article supports but it fails to persuade even me! I don't have time to go into the many places this article lost me.

The overbearing use of liberal and conservative stereotypes is just one example. It doesn't help the case. It just alienates some of the readers and oversimplifies the complexities of the issues.

Perhaps I'm expecting too much, after all what have I done about it myself. Perhaps, just perhaps, I should actually stand up and be counted!


"Things should be made as simple as possible - but no simpler" - Albert Einstein

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

I think that Doc is totally correct in his analysis of "copyright" and "intellectual property" as semantic trickery. What I sorely miss in this discussion and elsewhere is *why* this is so treacherous, false, and insiduous. The reason is, and that reason is also why it is so absolutely protected by law against theft, that material property can be used only once. If I steal your car I deprive you of the benefit of using it. So-called "intellectual property" is *fundamentally different*, and it is a criminal act of law makers and their sponsors that they refuse to reflect this in law:

you can never *steal* an idea. You can only *share* it.

Some ideas and information are more valuable the less people know it - sharing that diminishes its value. However, most ideas and information (including arts) have network value: the more people share it, the more useful and valuable it becomes.
This is why talking about intellectual "property", and the american knee-jerk reaction "I'll shoot if you tresspass" is so immensely inappropriate.

This is not an american problem, but the USA is making the most trouble - the rest of the world are their puppets. I live on the other side of the pond, but suffer every day from the corrupt politics of the USA - on which I have 0 influence and no democratic control. So much for the land of the free and the champion of democracy. Not that the EU is much better, but they are both less powerful and less complacent, and sometimes even are considerate about civil rights.


What *Can't* We Do?

Anonymous's picture

Doc's article approaches this issue in an interesting fashion and suggests a "Save The Net" campaign to make it more understood by the general population. I think this could go much further by publicly answering the question "what won't we be able to do in a full DRM environment?" Exactly how will our freedoms be limited if those pushing copyrights (and patents) get the full extent of what they want. What won't we be able to do and why is that a bad thing?

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

Hey, Doc,

Great article, thanks! However, I would like to ask for clarification on one point. From your article:

"I think we need a galvanizing issue. I suggest Saving the Net. To do that, we need to treat the Net as two things:

a public domain, and therefore
a natural habitat for markets

In other words, we need to see the Net as a marketplace that has done enormous good, is under extreme threat and needs to be saved..."

While there is certainly some truth to the fact that parts of the 'net have become a terrific marketplace, there is also the problem of 'net abusers -- spammers -- to consider.

If I interpret your words above literally, it seems to me that you are saying that any 'net-connected device is in the public domain, free for anyone to use as they please.

This is certainly not the case. As a fully self-hosted small business owner, my servers are my own. I pay out of my pocket to operate and maintain them, and keep them connected, and I'm not about to leave them open to things like spammer abuse and mail relaying. In fact, as of this moment, I have several entire countries blocked from sending mail to me because of their widspread spammer infestations.

So, here's my question: When you say "public domain," are you referring to the transmission medium itself (a concept that I have no problem with at all), or the "intelligence" at each end of a connection?

If it's the latter, I've got a BIG problem with that.

Looking forward to your reply. Thanks much.


Bruce Lane, Owner & Head Hardware Heavy,
Blue Feather Technologies
kyrrin (a=t) bluefeathertech com

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

Just a couple of thoughts:

1) Conservatives dislike words like "fairness" (as typically used by liberals) because they're inherently ambiguous. Fair to whom? Who decides? The whole controversy at the U of Michigan law school was about fairness; is it fair to treat some people differently than others in the admissions process?

2) With respect to cable/dsl usage patterns, most consumers DO download more than upload, they don't run their own servers, and don't really care about the ending of their email address so long as email arrives quickly, reliably, and for free. I other words, things that are big issues for you with cable/dsl services probably aren't on the radar of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Sixpack.

3) While the media deregulation may seem like a step backwards because the current result is concentrated ownership of content and distribution I would argue that it's actually a big step forward from the regulatory cage it was kept in before. At least now, in a deregulated market, the playing field is leveled: any idiot with a big enough pile of cash can play if they want to, something that wasn't true in the backroom deal regulatory environment. Just because YOU can't afford to play doesn't mean it's wrong or unfair.

4) The reason we lost Eldridge isn't because of some disconnect on the realities of property and its ownership. The fundamental question the Supremes were attempting to answer was: "It it within Congress' constitutionally granted powers to extend the copyright law?" The answer, as they saw it, was "Yes." Irrespective of what they thought of the law itself, a review of how the Constitution is worded suggested to them that Congress could legally extend the law indefinitely. If we as constituents don't like it we can either change the law (easier but less permanant) or amend the constitution so the meaning is clear (harder but more permanent).

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

You may be right. I offer my experience trying to get a permanent IP from my DSL provider as evidence. I couldn't get one. My local phone company gave only a limited number of IP addresses to my provider and they were all used. I thought I could simply switch to my local phone company for DSL service in order to get one. Well, I could have, but it would cost me double! This is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be fixed, and I think deregulation will help level the playing field - it's a good thing.

point by point

Anonymous's picture

1. Is it fair to treat women differently in the military? Is it fair to treat children and the blind differently at the DMV? Is it fair for us to post here anonymously for free? ;-)

2. Yep, I think all of life should be geared to Mr/Mrs Sixpack.

3. Clearly, "biggest pile of cash wins" couldn't be any more fair.

4. I agree. [gasp. insert drumroll/rimshot here]

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

Everyone is obviously very keen on this debate, however who here is discussing plans for what happens if this fight is lost.
There will be a period of time before the technology is installed and mandated into our systems, and infrastructures.

We need to start planning away arround it. Stocking up on multi-processor machines, networking gear, etc ... Start talking about how to start up our own internet of freedom.
Unless everyone wants to sit idly by?

Re: Saving the Net

Anonymous's picture

You are right. The magnitudinous increase in communcations enabled by the internet will not go away - no matter what governments or corporations wish.