Sunday, August 26, 2012

The philosophy of anonymity and copyright

One of the things I really took away from reading Ayn Rand is the importance of philosophy.

Right wing whackos don't ever, ever, ever, talk about this aspect of her work.  But really I think it's probably the single most important thing she had to say (and she might even agree, I think).

What is philosophy?  Good question.  Try this.  Go to Wikipedia.  Pick a random page--anything.  Now, click on the first link on that page.  Then on that page, click on the first link.  Continue.  Eventually, you will always end up on the Philosophy page.  This should blow your mind.  (more info)

Why is this?  Well, what we do is we organize information.  And ultimately, all organizations of information must rest upon some sort of philosophy.  You know--a systematized set of facts and observations about the universe.

Without philosophy, how do you make any sort of decisions?  If you have no values, you have no vectors to help you make choices.  And without some sort of philosophy, how can you have any values?  Channeling Rand there in a big way, but doesn't it make sense?

So that's why it is important to think about things.  There are a lot of people running around making decisions that affect a lot of people all the time who do not do this.  And this is the cause, in my opinion, of most of the human generated suffering in the world.

Word to the wise: God does need any help creating misery.  So please read a book or do something else useful with your mind before you start screwing up other people's lives.

Why on earth am I babbling about this?  Well, I was on my annual pilgrimage of investigating various anonymizing software packages when I came upon the Freenet philosophy page.  Freenet is a tool for using the internet anonymously.  They had a link to a philosophy page which I naturally jumped to, as I always do when I see one of those, because I know it will answer many fundamental questions.

It's certainly worth a read, with sections such as: "Communication is what makes us human" and "Knowledge is good" and "Democracy assumes a well informed population" and of course "And what of copyright?", which brings us to this blog.  The author sums it up nicely:

"You cannot guarantee freedom of speech and enforce copyright law"

which is certainly true.  If you've read much of this blog you'll know that I'm not for removing all copyright laws, but it has to be said that this ultimate statement is a fact.

I mean, if you're taking down servers because they share copyrighted content, you're still doing censorship, even if you happen to agree with it.

As important as anything though was a section from their FAQ page:

What about child porn, offensive content or terrorism?
While most people wish that child pornography and terrorism did not exist, humanity should not be deprived of their freedom to communicate just because of how a very small number of people might use that freedom.


And I think this is a sentiment that it is high time to propagate.  We can't let a few bad actors lead us into a police state--it defeats the entire purpose of safety.  If you're not safe to live a decent life--including expressing yourself freely--you're not safe, at all.




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