Wednesday, May 2, 2012

If you don't behave we'll kick you off the internet

Speaking of Communism, I incompetently failed to post this yesterday, May 1.  But I kinda like the theme so I'm sticking to it!

Hmm May 1, May Day, what suitably Communistic topic could I come up with for today?  Oh, that's right, the whole reason for the existence of this blog!

But actually no, that's not right, because I do not advocate that commercial usage of creative works should be encompassed within fair use.  Or, maybe it would under Communism, I don't know.  I am not a Communist, though, and I don't think expanding fair use to cover all non-commercial usage is a Communist idea.  In fact, I have actually read and liked Ayn Rand, but I don't think she was 100% correct in all things.  I mean, this chick would have every road be a privately owned toll road.  No, thank you.

It's hard to say how Rand would have viewed the current copyright kerfuffle on the internet.  I know she would have supported free speech very strongly.  But I think she would have been flummoxed on the property rights aspect of it, eventually.  No doubt she would take a dim view of infringement at first, as many of our elders do, since that's what they grew up knowing.  But lots of people defended segregation for the same reason--Because It's The Right Thing To Do.  Which is wasn't.  What you have thought in the past is not in any way a defense for a wrong opinion now, though.

Which is not to say I would not love someone to prove me wrong.  The more Quality Assurance we can do on this idea, the better.

Speaking of Communists, in Europe there are a number of laws in the books, especially in France, where you can have your internet connection severed if you share too many files that are on the "unapproved" list (copyrighted by a conglomerate).

So it seems to me as I write this that my biggest challenge is to make the case that the current copyright regime is a dire threat to free speech on the internet.  I think this is a good example.

Someone accuses your IP address (they have no way of knowing you yourself are on your computer, of course) shared files that they claim body and soul ownership of.  You cannot share those bits!  Disconnect them, Mr. ISP!

And they do, with the force of law.

What could possibly go wrong?

Here in the U.S., the copyright industry has chosen a new extra-legal way of trying to enforce their will by enlisting Internet Service Providers (ISP's) on their behalf.  So far it's all very vague.  The ISP's have agreed to send warning letters, and threaten unspecified damages against the people who pay their bills (us, the customers).  ISP's participating include "AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon".  So just avoid those and you're fine.

Good luck with that, right?  We desperately need more competition in the broadband industry.

Anyway, those are the ISP's who care more for jerks who don't even pay them than their paying customers.  Something to think about.

This is also a simple example of why Comcast should never have been allowed to purchase NBC, a content provider.  The conflict of interest between internet access provider and content provider is obvious.

Information is data.  Media is data.  All data must be equal on the internet, or it (and we) will not be free.  Actions to restrict use of copyrighted material restrict all data indiscriminately, by their very nature (after all, they don't know what person at the IP address did the pirating).

And that is not a good thing.

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