[LINK] The Future of Copyright

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Wed Jun 11 07:11:33 AEST 2008

Swedish Pirate Bureau founder's essay on copyright for Cato

 From Boing Boing:
> Rasmus Fleischer is a co-founder of The Piracy Bureau, a Swedish  
> group critical of copyright, and the parent organization of  
> BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay. This month he has a new essay up  
> at Cato Unbound, the Cato Institute's online magazine of ideas. In  
> it, he argues that attempts to impose 20th-century copyright  
> standards on digital media are doomed to failure -- indeed, they're  
> failing already, and threats to privacy and civil liberties are  
> growing:


Selected quotes:

> This change has taken place because previously distinct media are  
> now simulated within the singular medium of the Internet, and  
> copyright law simply seems unable to cope with it.


> This domino effect captures the essence of copyright maximalism:  
> Every broken regulation brings a cry for at least one new regulation  
> even more sweepingly worded than the last. Copyright law in the 21st  
> century tends to be less concerned about concrete cases of  
> infringement, and more about criminalizing entire technologies  
> because of their potential uses. This development undermines the  
> freedom of choice that Creative Commons licenses are meant to  
> realize. It will also have seriously chilling effects on innovation,  
> as the legal status of new technologies will always be uncertain  
> under ever more invasive rules.


> Today, to use digital information is to copy it.

> Computers operate by copying. They couldn’t care less whether the  
> physical distance between original and copy is measured in  
> micrometers or in miles; both work equally well for them. Copyright  
> law, on the other hand, must somehow draw a line between use and  
> distribution. That means putting an imaginary grid over the chaotic  
> myriad of network nodes, delineating clusters of devices that can be  
> attributed to individuals or households.

> Whatever happens inside such a cluster is defined as private use,  
> while any trespassing of these borders is potentially criminal. But  
> what can this strict division between private and public mean to  
> someone with 400 “friends” on Facebook?
> Another important consideration is that the digital is larger than  
> the online. According to one recent study 95 percent of British  
> youth engage in file sharing via burned CDs, instant messaging  
> clients, mobile phones, USB sticks, e-mail, and portable hard drives.


> We already have access to more film, music, text and images than we  
> can possibly incorporate into our lives. Retreating from this  
> paradigm of abundance to the old paradigm of scarcity is simply not  
> an alternative. Adding more “content” will strictly speaking produce  
> no value — whether culturally or economically. What’s valuable is  
> supplying a context where people can come together to create meaning  
> out of abundance.


> Music is far from unique in demonstrating how the pendulum has  
> swung. Kelly mentions how writers increasingly make their money from  
> appearing in person, promoted by their books, which may well be  
> available for free. The computer game industry has understood how to  
> make big money not by selling software, but by selling access to  
> online worlds.


> The real dispute, once again, is not between proponents and  
> opponents of copyright as a whole. It is between believers and non- 
> believers. Believers in copyright keep dreaming about building a  
> digital simulation of a 20th-century copyright economy, based on  
> scarcity and with distinct limits between broadcasting and unit  
> sales. I don’t believe such a stabilization will ever occur, but I  
> fear that this vision of copyright utopia is triggering an  
> escalation of technology regulations running out of control and  
> ruining civil liberties. Accepting a laissez-faire attitude  
> regarding software development and communication infrastructure can  
> prevent such an escalation.

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
Ph: +39 06 855 4294  M: +39 3494957443
mailto:kim at holburn.net  aim://kimholburn
skype://kholburn - PGP Public Key on request

Democracy imposed from without is the severest form of tyranny.
                           -- Lloyd Biggle, Jr. Analog, Apr 1961

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