[LINK] What's Wrong with Copy Protection
Wed, 24 Jan 2001 22:31:59 +1000
Demonization is in the eye of the beholder Bruce. Those who seek to
reduce current IP law restricting copying rights appear to be about
as likely to be demonized as those seeking to extend it.
If you don't think the current round of legislative change extends IP
ownership rights, I think we have a more fundamental problem. Maybe if
the wording is 'protects them, as technology emerges' you'd feel more
likely to agree. I don't see them as abstracts, which have to exist or
persist, or be protected. I see them as constraints on the individual, which
we agree to with very defined limits, and for very specific benefits. Thats
why I posted that quote from Marx: I think copyright law exemplifies the kind
of social constraint which is applied under a particular set of conditions
(to do with costs of production and dissemination) and which cease to have
validity if the cost of production and dissemination change enough, which I
think can be said to be true given the digital domain we now live in. This
was simply not forseen when life-long principles (hah!) like the 30/50/70
hear life of copyright, or the limits on re-use were accepted. There has
never been a time before this where non-destructive infinite copying was
possible. Why should we axiomatically accept that the law can only be used
to constrain this ability, instead of to exploit it?
Whats wrong with copy protection is that its a proposal to change the
social balance, reacting to technology shift, without adequate consideration
of longer term issues. Its protectionist (of existing IP rights) rather
than innovative (of user desires and technology-benefits).
It limits forseeable capabilities of ordinary people, and it has
side-effects for use of technology on non-copyright constrained
activity. It unfairly advantages IPR holders.
I did read the senate discussions. I think they were remarkably one-sided,
and had very few instances of parlimentarians daring to suggest things
might bear longer or more radical consideration. The few that did, I didn't
see reflected in the final outcomes. And based on what I read of international
trends, European/Uk academics are very very disheartened by trends there, and
I suspect the AVCC and library sector is not entirely happy with their
BTW Why do all LINK discussions have to drag Alston in? I haven't bad mouthed
him for months. I have almost completely given that habit up. I even praised
NOIE on more than one occasion.
I accept that you may work in the IP industry, it may pay your wages to
enhance IP law, I don't see this as evil, or biased in the pejorative sense.
If I chose to believe your comments are not dis-interested, does that not
maybe balance the obvious interest we have as IP consumers to explore what
wider freedom to copy might entail and also deliver?
Equally, I also _do_ work in the IP industry, I realize my employer
seeks to (and does) earn income from IP rights and I have personally
benefitted from them. Unlike you, I don't see this as either neccessary
for society, or a good thing for all time.
Maybe instead of sweeping measures, we need to break IPR into smaller
units of consideration. Its not impossible s/w IPR is deeply bad, and
music and print IPR is a lesser evil we want to only slightly modify.
(a contention s/w IPR is bad is actually very easy to defend. It positively
discourages innovation, prevents bug fixing and appears to limit the art
far more than it enhances it. Historically, even large concerns like IBM
were happy to give users full access to sources for mainframe code, and to
share comments, bugfixes and development. Alas, some time in the late 70s
this died. Why we are better off with shrink wrap needs to be explained to