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Cognitive Dissident: Interview with John Perry Barlow 140

Posted by timothy
from the always-good-to-listen-to dept.
Bob Hellbringer writes "Mother Jones Magazine has an online interview with John Perry Barlow of the EFF, on the things that all slashdotters love: 'the Total Information Awareness project, online activism, file sharing, and the prospect of a digital counterculture.'"
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Cognitive Dissident: Interview with John Perry Barlow

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  • by trmj (579410) <tmacfarlan @ g m a i l . com> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @03:17AM (#5221214) Journal
    the prospect of a digital counterculture.

    Last time I checked, all coutercultures were mandated by the RIAA. Perhaps this is the real reason they are so uppity about computers?
  • on the things that all slashdotters love: 'the Total Information Awareness project, online activism, file sharing, and the prospect of a digital counterculture.'

    Speak for yourself. I for one am utterly bored with the political direction Slashdot has taken in the past couple of years. And it's not even good politics! When the issues of the day are domestic and international terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, the prospect of war in Iraq and elsewhere, the economy, or even the space shuttle, the prevailing topics of discussion on Slashdot still center around that same list of drivel: the RIAA, Microsoft, and stories about "chilling effects" that are just barely more than "we hate the government but we don't know why" flamefests.

    If Slashdot wants to get political, at least get political in ways that people give a damn about. Otherwise, let's stick to the stuff that made Slashdot a fun place to hang out in the beginning: news for nerds.
    • by kscd (414074) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @03:38AM (#5221287)
      "the prevailing topics of discussion on Slashdot still center around that same list of drivel: the RIAA, Microsoft, and stories about "chilling effects" that are just barely more than "we hate the government but we don't know why" flamefests.""

      Probably gonna get flamed for this, but:
      The chilling effects people on /. are talking about are not drivel. They are rights that are in the process of being taken away. Sure right now it centers on the **AA's, but they are setting dangerous precedents. And on the whole hate the government thing, I don't think anyone is saying they hate the government. More like, they love the democratic government we have/had in the US, and don't want to see it stripped away for some short term gains.
      • The chilling effects people on /. are talking about are not drivel. They are rights that are in the process of being taken away.

        No, they're drivel. The two best examples I can think of both came up recently. They are the fake CNN story story (er, you know what I mean) posted earlier today, and the fake Dow Chemical web site and press release story, posted some weeks ago. In both of those cases, Slashdotters were quick to cry "chilling effect!" and "takedown!" and to decry the DMCA. It seems like in each case most people failed to take a minute and realize that the cases in question were more about trademark infringement than anything else, and that the actions taken by the offended parties were basically right. The same basic scenario arose around the whole Elcomsoft matter. Everybody cried "chilling effect!" without stopping to think that maybe what Elcomsoft did was actually wrong, and that both Adobe and, later, the government were doing the right thing in response.

        Basically, the Slashdot community has zero credibility when it comes to copyright and other IP matters. This is the same core community that made Napster a household name, and everything that goes up on Slashdot is colored by that fact. No matter what any one individual-- including I, myself-- may think or say, the prevailing opinion on and of Slashdot is that kids just want to download free music and movies. Because of that fact-- or perhaps perception is a better word-- it's impossible to take any of the Slashdot uproar seriously.

        But my original point, I think, still stands. If you want to argue about politics, let's argue about something that actually matters, instead of having yet another flame war about the Bono Copyright Extension Act, or whatever the hell the unbelievably trivial Slashdot issue of the day is.
        • Score:-1,Idiot
        • by Anonymous Coward
          No, you're wrong. The Dow Chemical case involved political parody NOT trademark infringement. Political parody is supposed to be protected speech. So it was most definitely a case of a chilling effect and a way out of proportion reaction, taking out the entire ISP where the website was hosted. They don't get much chillier than that.
          • 1. Political? What the fuck, dude? There's absolutely nothing political about Union Carbide or Dow Chemical. They're commercial concerns, not political.

            2. The Dow Chemical case involved the unauthorized use of the "Dow Chemcial" trademark and the associated logo. If the offending party hadn't used the name (if they'd called it "Cow Chemical" or some other similar but noninfringing name) and logo, they'd have been in the clear.

            3. The reason the issue was escalated to the Verio level was because Thing.net didn't have any sort of AUP against this kind of illegal activity. Verio, fortunately, does. So Dow went to Verio and said, "Hey, Verio, your client is violating your AUP." And Verio said, "You're absolutely right. Bad boys!" And that's that.

            4. Before you cry "chilling effect" again, you might want to see the big point that's staring you right in the face, here. The creators of the so-called parody site were breaking the law. Their unauthorized use of the Dow Chemical name and logo were not protected speech. If they had said, "Dow Chemical is bad," that would have been fine. If they had said, "We're Cow Chemical, and we're bad," that would have been fine. But because they said, "We're Dow Chemical, and we're bad," they got their pee pees smacked. See?

            5. This is exactly what I'm talking about. Thanks for providing an example of my point.
            • The reason the issue was escalated to the Verio level was because Thing.net didn't have any sort of AUP against this kind of illegal activity.

              If it was clearly illegal, why didn't Dow go to a judge and ask for an injunction against the people that actually put the thing on the net?

              One simple question for you - what should the liability for contribution be for intermediaries providing the communication channels?
        • Ok, This is a slightly off topic but I find it keeps coming up in these posts and I would like to clarify.

          The USA holds 5% of the worlds population. 95% of the world are not citizens of the USA.

          The assumption that bothers many people I know is that they are labeled with an Anti-Americian title whenever they disagree with what the leaders of the USA have to say right now about gov't, economic, and moral issues. A lot of people in the outside USA world have a democratic form of gov't, and when the USA leaders and some very right wing people from the USA try to enforce issues as above it is seen as a direct insult. How are the people supposed to react when the leader of a small minority of people in the world directly insult them? Roll over and say "Sure thing boss"?

          This is a larger problem then is given address. If the USA wants to implement a system of total observation on it own people -fine-, an issue for that 5% of the worlds population to deal with. But when it comes to a technology that contains the information that is not limited to the USA and contains the secure information of people of another soverein nations then it is a larger issue and one of global concern.
          • I agree. I think that gathering information on foreign citizens, foreign companies and foreign goverments is called espionage, and TIA will inevitably involve spying on allies.
    • by lacheur (588045)
      When the issues of the day are domestic and international terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, the prospect of war in Iraq and elsewhere

      I think this is one of the points he's trying to make. The "war on terror" is being used to distract people from the constitution-trampling our fearless leader is currently engaging in. When I see that 3/4 of the "issues of the day" revolve around the OssamaTerrorSaddamIraqWar, it just shows me that it's working. Personally, I'm far more worried about Bush taking away my freedom than Saddam Hussein throwing some empty chemical warheads at me.
      • The "war on terror" is being used to distract people from the constitution-trampling our fearless leader is currently engaging in.

        Oh, please. "Constitution-trampling?" Get a sense of perspective. The simple fact that you can climb on your computer and post a message about "Constitution-trampling" is a sign that the Constitution is alive and well.

        This is basically my problem, in a nutshell. Slashdotters-- not all of us, just a vocal and strident minority-- get on here and post sarcastic remarks about the government and about their freedoms without (1) any facts to back them up, and (2) any sense of perspective that allows them to interpret their perceived offenses in context. If I were to get my news only from Slashdot, I would think that copyright term extensions is the biggest issue facing our country today. Slashdotters don't talk about the war because they typically don't understand it, or even know that it's going on. Slashdotters don't talk about deficit spending because they typically don't know what the term means.

        Personally, I think Slashdot is a textbook example of a culture of affluence. Your average Slashdotter has never wanted for anything in his life, so he can't really internalize concepts like living in fear of a terrorist attack, or being unable to feed his family. So instead we get incredibly passionate screeds on the importance of source code and the long-term dangers of copyright extension, issues that even the most cursory examination reveals to be trivial in the extreme.

        Okay, way, way off-topic now. Oh, well. I guess I'm as guilty of being vocal and strident as anybody.
        • by davesag (140186) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:16AM (#5221672) Homepage
          The simple fact that you can climb on your computer and post a message about "Constitution-trampling" is a sign that the Constitution is alive and well.

          or the poster is in another country. sure you seppos have 'freedom', but you can't buy fresh milk in the shops can ya now? that's the freedom you want to impose on the rest of the world? the freedom to work for minimum wage for some mega-corp? the freedom to join the army or die in a ghetto? heck a huge proportion of amerikans don't even have the right to vote! freedom? don't make me laugh. contrast to europe. there you are free. free to say what you like, free to smoke pot in public, free to move from one country to another without restriction (you yanks can't even go visit cuba without repercussions -still think you are free?).

          the great shame of america is that you just can't see the bars of your iron cage. travel the world a bit and you'll see what real freedom is about. what you have is non-fattening-dairy-free artificial freedom substitute.

          • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @11:02AM (#5222759)
            but you can't buy fresh milk in the shops can ya now?
            Fresh milk? You mean like the radiation enhanced crap that can sit on a room temperature shelf for weeks on end? Or the non pasteurized stuff straight from the cow? I've had it. Doesn't sound too fresh to me.

            the freedom to work for minimum wage for some mega-corp?
            No one I know has a minumum wage job. Or are you speaking of the 'freedom' to be unemployed? Check the unemployment figures.

            the freedom to join the army
            I'd rather have the freedom to choose whether I join the military (and I did), rather than be forced to, as is the case in a lot of countries.

            a huge proportion of amerikans don't even have the right to vote!
            And you know why? They voluntarily gave up their right to vote. Being convicted of a felony can strip you of your right to vote. Want to vote? Don't commit a felony. Simple as that.
            Until a few short years ago (1971), 1/2 the population of Switzerland could not vote.

            free to say what you like
            Really...how is Europe so different from the US in this regard? Specifics please.

            free to smoke pot in public
            Just as not ALL countries in Europe turn a blind eye on smoking pot, not all States in the US toss you in jail for it either. Learn a little before you make such sweeping statements.

            free to move from one country to another without restriction
            How soon they forget. Just a few short years ago, people were being shot on sight just trying to go from one part of Germany to another. Freedom? Just a few short years ago, at every border crossing, you had to stop and show your 'papers'.

            Freedom to travel to Cuba? Try going from Greece to Turkey. Drive around Albania at night. See how long you last.
            Whose country has posted border guards in another country, ostensibly to stop illegal immigrants?
            Freedom to travel, as it is in the states, is contingent upon certain rights and responsibilities. it's not quite as 'free' as you imply.

            How about the 'freedom' to pay crushing taxes to give the slackers of society a free house. Or the 'freedom' to give to every family a monthly child benefit, regardless of need. I'd rather the money go to those who actually need it, not a government handout to a banker in London.
            How about the 'freedom' to be forced to give your employees several weeks of vacation, regardless of merit? Yes, it is nice to have significant vacation time, but should I as an employer be forced to do that?

            Should we have kept our military home during WWII? (and no, we did NOT win the war singlehandedly) You'd all be speaking German. The ones left alive, that is. Why did you beg for us to help out in Kosovo? Because you lacked the collective political will to do it yourselves.

            I have traveled the world a bit. I dare say, more than you. Grow up a little, and get some time perspective. Stop watching the horrowshow on the TV. Learn what actually happens.

            It's easy to say America sucks. When you're the big dog, everyone wants to take a shot at you. And no, it is not perfect.

            Show me a place that is, though.
            • by chimpo13 (471212)
              No one I know has a minumum wage job. Or are you speaking of the 'freedom' to be unemployed? Check the unemployment figures.

              You have a good life. Most people I know are working minum wage jobs or a dollar or two over minimum wage. I'm not fresh out of college either. But I know a lot of musicians which pretty much leads to a low paying job for some reason.

              Just as not ALL countries in Europe turn a blind eye on smoking pot, not all States in the US toss you in jail for it either. Learn a little before you make such sweeping statements.

              I'm confused on this one. What states don't toss you in jail for it? I don't mean to make such a sweeping statement -- I've only been to 40 states, so maybe it's the other 10 I haven't been to.

              Whose country has posted border guards in another country, ostensibly to stop illegal immigrants?

              Yeah! That's us! Stay away Mexicans! We've been doing that for years. 50 years ago we tossed the Japanese in internment camps. 100 years ago it was the Chinese. Based on that short record, we'll be tossing Muslims into jail shortly.

              How about the 'freedom' to pay crushing taxes to give the slackers of society a free house. Or the 'freedom' to give to every family a monthly child benefit, regardless of need. I'd rather the money go to those who actually need it, not a government handout to a banker in London.

              That's us again! Federal tax, state tax in most states, sales tax, gasoline tax, dmv fees, entrance fees to national parks, parking ticket fees, inheritance tax, blah blah blah fees & taxes. The US might not take 70% of what we make all at once, but it's got to be pretty danged close.

              And welfare? That's mostly for large corporations. Corporations take way more than our poor people. But you probably don't know that since you don't know any minimum wage earners.

              How about the 'freedom' to be forced to give your employees several weeks of vacation, regardless of merit? Yes, it is nice to have significant vacation time, but should I as an employer be forced to do that?

              Yes they should. Why should employers be forced to make us work 40 hour weeks? Why, just a few decades ago, that was unheard of! The humanity of it all!

              Should we have kept our military home during WWII? (and no, we did NOT win the war singlehandedly) You'd all be speaking German. The ones left alive, that is. Why did you beg for us to help out in Kosovo? Because you lacked the collective political will to do it yourselves.

              That is a completely asinine question. I really don't know where to start with that one. I hope someone else takes it on.

              Grow up a little, and get some time perspective. Learn what actually happens.

              Yes, please grow up a little. It's easy to say America sucks, because it sucks. There's no country in the world that I'd rather live in, but being critical of the US government doesn't make me a pinko commie liberal.

              You should learn how America works. Learn what actually happens. You tell the guy to quit watching the horrorshow on teevee -- which is good -- but how are you learning stuff? USA Today? Time magazine?

            • i'll address only a few of your points as i can't be bothered with the rest

              Fresh milk? You mean like the radiation enhanced crap that can sit on a room temperature shelf for weeks on end? Or the non pasteurized stuff straight from the cow?

              i mean fresh milk like non-enhanced, non-vitamin-d-added, full fat delicious cow tit juice. as a kid we used to put out a 5 litre bucket every few days and a milk truck would come past and fill it up for us. there would be 3cm of cream on the top - awesome stuff. now i don't have a problem with pasturisation, but the crazy 'enhancements' you seppos add to your milk, makes me ill. now i don;t give a damn if you go buy it, but when i make my coffee I want real, fresh, full-cream milk. from a cow, not a factory.

              They voluntarily gave up their right to vote. Being convicted of a felony can strip you of your right to vote. Want to vote? Don't commit a felony. Simple as that.

              so just cos you jay-walked three times in a row and got caught, or were caught pissing in public, or smoking some weed you now can't vote? in australia (as an example) you can vote as long as you have not been sentanced to longer than 5 years inside. just cos you did something stupid and are now paying your dues, does not remove you from society, nor lessen your overall responsibility to your fellow citizens. You still should have the right to vote.

              Just as not ALL countries in Europe turn a blind eye on smoking pot, not all States in the US toss you in jail for it either. Learn a little before you make such sweeping statements.

              the EU is slowly standardising all of its laws and progressive decrimanisation, and even legalisation of drugs is a huge part of that, despite objections by the US. where in the US can I legally smoke grass just for the fun of it? nowhere. In Holland, Spain, Portugal, the UK, and much of the rest of the EU you have that freedom already in some form or other and within a few years that will be extended to almost all non-prescription drugs.

              Try going from Greece to Turkey. Drive around Albania at night. See how long you last.

              well i had a really good time in greece recently, by all reports Turkey is also a great place to visit. I've not yet been to Albania but my gf just went to Macedonia to get her passport stamped and says it's quite pretty, despite the recent civil war there. I've been all over this dirty little planet and the only country where I was practically strip searched in the airport was the US. I was refused entry to the Transamerica bulding in SF because I didn't have my passport on me.

              there is no country on earth where if I visit it my goverment will fine me. But as an amerikan there is a huge list of places you are not allowed to go.

              When you're the big dog, everyone wants to take a shot at you.

              untrue. I have never shot at any dogs, big or small. when you are a bully, lording it up over the rest of the world, showing utter contempt for human rights, soverign rights, democratically elected governments, the rule of law, fair trade, etc you will however attract criticism.

              the US needs a truth comission where it could confess and atone for its criminal legacy. It needs to accept it perpetuates a culture of fear and violence, a cowboy culture. Like any other addict it needs to recognise its own illness for what it is, and work to make ammends.

    • by doom (14564)
      Timothy wrote:
      on the things that all slashdotters love: 'the Total Information Awareness project, online activism, file sharing, and the prospect of a digital counterculture.'
      Twirlip of the Mists (615030) wrote:
      Speak for yourself. I for one am utterly bored with the political direction Slashdot has taken in the past couple of years. And it's not even good politics! When the issues of the day are domestic and international terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, the prospect of war in Iraq and elsewhere, the economy, or even the space shuttle, the prevailing topics of discussion on Slashdot still center around that same list of drivel: the RIAA, Microsoft, and stories about "chilling effects" that are just barely more than "we hate the government but we don't know why" flamefests.

      If Slashdot wants to get political, at least get political in ways that people give a damn about.
      Yeah, why doesn't slashdot go into a feeding frenzy about the same hot button issues that the rest of the media is freaking out about? Why do they keep going on about irrelvent issues like intellectual freedom when we're all supposed to be focusing on hating the appointed national enemy?

      Oh, and what's up with this Barlow guy? He sounds like he's not a patriot:

      The Total Information Awareness project is truly diabolical -- mostly because of the legal changes which have made it possible in the first place. As a consequence of the Patriot Act, government now has access to all sorts of private and commercial databases that were previously off limits.
    • by Latrommi (615673)
      Terrorism, the war on Afghanistan (if you can call it that), and even the economy are all second to what makes the US the "land of the free". If we let organizations such as the RIAA destroy our freedom of speech and cripple our ability to learn, then there will be no point to trying to protecting this place from the "axis of evil". I say that the most devistating attack against the US, would be one that alters the fundamental ideals of US...Not rocket launchers mounted on camels.
      • If we let organizations such as the RIAA destroy our freedom of speech and cripple our ability to learn, then there will be no point to trying to protecting this place from the "axis of evil".

        Oh sweet christ on a cracker. Are you even listening to what you're saying here? "If I can't have my free music downloads, we might as well just bomb ourselves back into the stone age."

        No, I don't care whether or not that's what you meant. That's what you said. Maybe you need to think, for just a fraction of a second or so, before you say something so incredibly stupid, okay?
        • Uh hello, thanks to the DMCA, if I write a program that copies a file from location A to location B and I don't respect the "copyright protection" of every known file type (such as DVD's, fonts, etc.) I could get sued!

          No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

          In addition, it makes it illegal to distribute a program that breaks the copy protection on these new CD's that won't even play in computers.

          I'm not concerned about free music downloads (and have no idea how you inferred that from my post). Obviously, you don't understand the direction the RIAA is taking the country.
          • Uh hello, thanks to the DMCA, if I write a program that copies a file from location A to location B and I don't respect the "copyright protection" of every known file type (such as DVD's, fonts, etc.) I could get sued!

            Holy crap! Thanks to the law, if I do something that's against the law, I could get in trouble! Holy crap!

            In addition, it makes it illegal to distribute a program that breaks the copy protection on these new CD's that won't even play in computers.

            Yup. Sure does. Seeing as how actually copying the CD's is illegal anyway, this is not a problem.

            Obviously, you don't understand the direction the RIAA is taking the country.

            Of course I do. The RIAA produces music that is generally really crappy, and that generally sells really well. They want to protect their investment. Unscrupulous people want to copy CD's rather than paying for them. This is against the law, but because people haven't been prevented from doing it, they do it anyway. Some people undoubtedly don't even realize that it's wrong, but most of them realize it and don't care. So the RIAA is taking steps to protect their investment, just like you or I would if we were being victimized by thieves. They're making CD's that (in theory) can't be played on computers, and that (in theory) can't be digitally copied.

            Oh, you say, but this is infringing on my fair use rights! Guess what? You have no fair use rights. None. If you make certain uses of a work, those uses are defined by the law as being non-infringing. But that's an exception, not a right. If the copyright holder wants to use technological means to prevent you from exercising that exception, they're free to do so. And the law says you have to respect their wishes on that matter.

            But here's the deal. The RIAA only cares about preventing digital copying. They only care if you try to make a digital copy of a CD, or to generate digital MP3's from that CD. They don't give a damn about analog copies. If you want to listen to a copy of a CD in your car, make an analog copy! Run RCA cables from your CD player to your CD recorder. Works like a charm. Sounds just fine, too, although it's not mathematically perfect. If you want to listen to the CD on your iPod, run an RCA cable to the sound-input jack on your computer and rip away. That works just fine, too, and the RIAA doesn't care, and it's permitted by law. Your fair use "rights?" Completely intact.

            The culture of entitlement isn't satisfied with this arrangement, though. The culture of entitlement says that it's every American's God-given right to play CD's on his computer, and that it's every American's God-given right to make MP3's. The culture of entitlement can get stuffed.

            Your arguments about chilling effects add up to a big fat zero. Sorry.
            • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:39AM (#5222622) Homepage
              Yup. Sure does. Seeing as how actually copying the CD's is illegal anyway, this is not a problem.

              Copying CDs is not necessarily illegal. It depends on the circumstances. Your blanket statement is wrong.

              Oh, you say, but this is infringing on my fair use rights! Guess what? You have no fair use rights. None. If you make certain uses of a work, those uses are defined by the law as being non-infringing. But that's an exception, not a right. If the copyright holder wants to use technological means to prevent you from exercising that exception, they're free to do so. And the law says you have to respect their wishes on that matter.

              This is arguably a violation of the Copyright Clause, however since the DRM will effect public domain works. At the very least it is inappropriate for government to grant copyrights to such works, if not simply unconstitutional.

              (and of course, the exercise of fair use, and use of public domain works is protected by the First Amendment -- again making government-endorsed as it were interference impermissible)

              They don't give a damn about analog copies

              Well, first, they used to. Second, it's likely, considering the analog hole and the possibility of a shift towards analog again, that they will eventually attack it again.

              The culture of entitlement isn't satisfied with this arrangement, though. The culture of entitlement says that it's every American's God-given right to play CD's on his computer, and that it's every American's God-given right to make MP3's. The culture of entitlement can get stuffed.

              Given that copyright is intended to promote public aims and goals, if there is a culture of entitlement, then it has a lot going for it, and its wishes should be seriously taken into consideration in crafting copyright law, if not followed wholeheartedly. Copyright is supposed to work for people, not artists. Thus 'get stuffed' is wrong. A better answer would be 'we'll change things so that you are entitled as much as you want and practically can be.'
            • by LarsG (31008) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @11:50AM (#5223046) Journal
              Holy crap! Thanks to the law, if I do something that's against the law, I could get in trouble! Holy crap!

              By the devine digested foodstuff! If that law makes no sense, is it wrong of us to say that it is bad?

              Seeing as how actually copying the CD's is illegal anyway, this is not a problem.

              Huh? No, it isn't. Making copies might be legal or illegal. Redistributing copies is in most cases illegal.

              Unscrupulous people want to copy CD's rather than paying for them. This is against the law

              True so far.

              Oh, you say, but this is infringing on my fair use rights! Guess what? You have no fair use rights. None.

              This is where we disagree.

              First of all, you should read about the legislative history of "fair use". The current fair use portion of US copyright law was defined and carved out by the courts because they were presented with cases where copyright law and other rights (such as the right to free speech, critisism, science, etc) collided, and they had to make a compromise. This was later codified as a set of "fair use" rules (the four step test) in the 1976 revision of the copyright law.

              Some highlights to help your googling:
              1841: Folsom v. Marsh
              1973: Williams and Wilkins Co. v. United States
              1976: Fair use and first sale codified in US copyright law.

              If you make certain uses of a work, those uses are defined by the law as being non-infringing. But that's an exception, not a right.

              Actually, without fair use and other safety valves, copyright law would be unconstitutional. Even the copyright clause itself limit the scope of copyright law:

              "The Congress shall have power [...] To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"

              If the copyright holder wants to use technological means to prevent you from exercising that exception, they're free to do so. And the law says you have to respect their wishes on that matter.

              The law, prior to the DMCA, said nothing of the sort. And in the analog world, courts have ruled against copyright holders that have unfairly tried to limit other peoples' legal use of their creations.

              And I violently reject the notion that private interests should be free to rewrite copyright law to suit their own business plans - that is not, and never was, the purpose of copyright law.

              But here's the deal. The RIAA only cares about preventing digital copying. They only care if you try to make a digital copy of a CD, or to generate digital MP3's from that CD

              Ah, young Skywalker. Let me tell you about the olde times and "Home Taping Kills Music". In the ancient times of the cassette recorder, the RIAA entered a similar panic mode to prevent analog copying. The difference is that RIAA was not powerful enough then to buy laws and dictate technology. Today is seems like the movie/music industry is.

              Your arguments about chilling effects add up to a big fat zero. Sorry.

              Crypto research and computer security? The right to preserve something I've bought? Those "fair use" rights and all the explicit exemptions in copyright law? The media industry controlling the tech industry? The DMCA giving the creator of a protected media format patent-like monopoly protection?

              A few large economic interests are using copyright law to shape the digital world in their own picture, ignoring lots of other rights that are equally important.
              • > Unscrupulous people want to copy CD's rather than paying for them. This is against the law

                > True so far.

                Be Careful. Just because someone is unscrupulous AND wants to copy CD's rather than pay for them does not mean that their copying is against the law. If their copying falls under the auspices of fair use it is permissable.

                No matter how unscrupulous a person is, if they prefer to copy - for their own use - a CD they own, their actions are *for now* covered by fair use.

            • The culture of entitlement isn't satisfied with this arrangement, though. The culture of entitlement says that it's every American's God-given right to play CD's on his computer, and that it's every American's God-given right to make MP3's. The culture of entitlement can get stuffed.


              Issues of access to culture, of its reproduction and distribution have always been central to freedom of speech. In many cases, the individuals or organizations pushing the issue have been famously unpopular and have pushed issues with which the population at large have had strong disagreements. Consider Henry Miller, Lenny Bruce, even Larry Flint.


              Once, the printing press was a new technology. Publishing the Bible in the vernacular was illegal. [businessweek.com] For this crime William Tyndale paid dearly:


              Tyndale's king, Henry VIII, banned the English Bible, destroyed every copy he could get his hands on, and demolished scores of monasteries throughout the country. Then, for good measure, he had Tyndale burned at the stake.


              The issues discussed in Slashdot about rights of publication, rights to access material, rights to participate in culture in ways not officially approved go to the very heart of freedom. The access to this culture determines how and when we may discuss all other issues.


              This is true even if the folks downloading MP3s are not very sympathetic. The changes wrought by the printing press were due to the efforts of criminal heretics like Tyndale. The changes that will be wrought by digital replication are being wrought by other folks considered equally criminal and unsavory.

            • Seeing as how actually copying the CD's is illegal anyway, this is not a problem.

              This statement is mostly incorrect. The 1992 DHRA gives explicit rights to record CD's and even distribute them to other people (so long as you use the "taxed" CD-Audio blanks). Copy protected CD's are probably illegal because they don't allow this to occur (although no test case has established it). General copyright law allows the user to record CD's for a variety of reasons (including time-shifting and space-shifting).

              The narrow truth of the statement is that the DMCA makes it illegal to circumvent digital copy protection under most circumstances; and current court cases seem to support that the DMCA clause about protecting fair-use does not apply to the anti-circumvention rules.

              It is a big leap to go from DMCA prohibitions about not breaking copy protection (even for fair-use); to say that all coping of a CD is illegal.

              You have no fair use rights.

              Actually, that is a statement directly from the RIAA and MPAA spokesmen (usually followed by a statement that their latest scheme fully supports fair-use - i.e. their definition which is that there is no fair-use). It is an opinion from a biased source, and should not be treated as a fact. It is a complicated subject no doubt, but the rest of the post closely follows the RIAA/MPAA party-line and is highly biased.

              The culture of entitlement isn't satisfied with this arrangement, though.

              This is correct, although not in the way you meant. The RIAA and MPAA believe they are entitled too much, much more; which is why you see them trying to bills like the CDBTPA! They are used to buying the law they want, and think they are entitled to get even more. If the copyright balance and the health of our culture get in the way of their profits, the RIAA/MPAA profit entitlements should have the highest priority.

              Of course Twirlip thought he was referring to the general public with the entitlement description, and I'll grant that there might be some small kernel of truth in the "music-wants-to-be-free" crowd. But those people are actually pretty rare, and the majority of /. posts I've read (plus the actual copyright reformers I've met) are really protesting the massive give-away of our rights and money to large corporations.

              The current DMCA reduction of fair-use should not be treated as the historical default, and the protestors as whiners. It is in fact a historical aberration, which only occurs because of a combination of specialized lobbying and a careless congress. We, citizens and society, have been ripped-off, and that is not an entitlement issue.
              • Copy protected CD?s are probably illegal because they don?t allow this to occur

                Wrong. There is no legal mandate for copyright holders to allow anybody to do anything with their works. Remember, kids, fair use is an exception, not a right.

                General copyright law allows the user to record CD's for a variety of reasons (including time-shifting and space-shifting).

                Also wrong. Copyright law does not allow anybody to make a copy of anything. That privilege is reserved exclusively for the copyright holder. The law does name a set of very narrow and specific exceptions, defining activities which are non-infringing. That's not the same thing at all.

                It is an opinion from a biased source, and should not be treated as a fact.

                Oh, for cryin' out loud. Find me any piece of US law that mentions fair use rights. Find me any piece of US law that prohibits a copyright holder from making it impossible for a consumer to make a copy of a copyrighted work. These are not opinions we're talking about here. These are not interpretations. These are facts, plain and simple, black and white.

                The RIAA and MPAA believe they are entitled too much, much more

                The RIAA is entitled to control copying and distribution of works for which they own the copyrights. The MPAA is entitled to control copying and distribution of works for which they own the copyrights. You are entitled to control copying and distribution of works for which you own the copyrights.

                You are not entitled to control the copying and distribution of works for which you do not hold the copyrights.

                Got it?

                the majority of /. posts I?ve read (plus the actual copyright reformers I?ve met) are really protesting the massive give-away of our rights and money to large corporations.

                Where did you get the idea that you have any kind of right related to somebody else's work? Did you read it on the back of a pamphlet or something? Because it is not true. You have no rights over other people's works. None. You are entitled to nothing.

                Why is this so hard to understand? Why do you keep spouting vague remarks about "the massive give-away of our rights" when any reasonably intelligent person knows that there are no rights to give away here?

                We, citizens and society, have been ripped-off, and that is not an entitlement issue.

                I want something that is not mine, and I want it to be given to me for free. I feel that efforts to restrict my access to what I want amount to ripping me off. But this isn't an entitlement issue.

                Whatever, dude.
                • There is no legal mandate for copyright holders to allow anybody to do anything with their works.

                  This statement (and others in the post supporting this position) is so far from reality, it makes it difficult to know where to start. Copyright law provides creators with a set of privileges, but these privileges are by no means absolute. At the very basis, copyright only protects the expression, not the ideas. Copyrighted material is time limited, and subject to many other considerations like "first sale doctrine" and "compulsory licensing".

                  The actual copyright law is extremely complex, and defies ordinary definitions of "right and wrong". This is true both for people who want to expand the rights of copyright creators, as well for those of us who want to reform the system.

                  Copyright law does not allow anybody to make a copy of anything.

                  Perhaps this is an issue of wording. There are very few places where the Copyright law gives positive rights to people on the other side of the copyright bargain (aside: perhaps that is part of what is wrong with it). But your statement implies that copyright law completely prohibits people (without the copyright holder's permission) from making a copy. That is totally incorrect, the easiest counter-example is the Digital Home Recording Act (DHRA) of 1992; although there are many, many other examples.

                  When the RIAA/MPAA (and you) belittle fair-use as merely a defense against a copyright infringement suit, it is like saying "going below the speed limit is merely a defense against a speeding ticket". These activities are legal (they both even have gray areas, like weather conditions that can change the safe speed).

                  Where did you get the idea that you have any kind of right related to somebody else's work? ... You are entitled to nothing.

                  Rhetorically speaking, where did you get the idea that copyright holders have complete control and rights over their work? It is certainly not true legally, and you don't have to stretch too far to see why it is not true morally (the biggest key is to stop confusing copyrights with property ownership). Although you seem to think so, I'm not advocating the removal of copyrights (my living is helped by copyright law). What I am saying is that copyright is a balance (not original to me, read the US Constitution), and that the balance has gone out of whack.

                  Why do you keep spouting vague remarks about "the massive give-away of our rights"...

                  In terms of cold hard cash, the Sonny-Bono Copyright Extension Act (and the 10 other extensions that have occurred in the last 100 years) is the best example. There is nothing in the copyright balance that promises an author that he will hold all rights and privileges to their work until the work is worthless (although you seem to believe it). The retroactive increasing of copyright terms by 20 years essentially steals from the public domain (which is "owned" by citizens and culture), and any additional profits given to the copyright holders are essentially stolen from us. I'd suggest reading the briefs from the Eldritch case for depth on this subject.

                  The radical expansion of "derivative works" is a more insidious method that copyright laws have stolen from us (citizenry and the culture). Copyright law is only supposed to protect the expression, not the ideas. There is a fuzzy line here, and IMHO it has gone way too far into protecting ideas as well. A good example was the lawsuit against "The Wind Done Gone". This is clearly a very original work, although it uses characters and even dialogue from "Gone with the Wind". The lawsuit was eventually dismissed because of another fair-use safety valve (parody), but it should not even have been able to happen in the first place.

                  How can we say copyright is promoting the arts when someone can be successfully sued for using a 3 note-rift in a song that is also used in another song? Unless you think the creation of copyrighted work occurs in a vacuum, the removal of "ideas" from culture for life+75 years is not good for society!

                  I want something that is not mine, and I want it to be given to me for free. I feel that efforts to restrict my access to what I want amount to ripping me off. But this isn't an entitlement issue.

                  We used to be able to perform certain useful and legal actions (back-ups, time-shifting, etc.). The DMCA contained a loophole, which allows copyright holders to legally prevent me from performing these legal and useful actions. This prohibition costs me real money (real example: can't back-up child's favorite tape with post-DMCA VCR, so I had buy another one when it was worn out a year later). So I loose money (directly, and through inconvenience), and the copyright holders get more money. That is my definition of a government give-away.

                  You can only get away with calling it an "entitlement" if you can prove the activities now prohibited by the DMCA anti-circumvention loophole were illegal in the first place, otherwise it is clearly a case of a new law taking away legal (and useful) activities. So far the best you have done is claim that legal actions are actually illegal without any proof (not to mention spouting RIAA/MPAA propaganda). Let me turn around the challenge: show me a federal law that prohibits fair-use activities like "the first sale doctrine", "time-shifting", or "making back-up copies". The best you will be able to do is come up with partial prohibitions in narrow circumstances. That is because these activities are legal!

                  PS: Homework Hint - In order to prove time-shifting is illegal, you have two main targets. First you have to explain away the "Sony vs. Universal" Supreme Court decision. Next you have to somehow explain why the DMCA Section K does not mean what it says (this is one of the very few areas of copyright law that gives positives rights to consumers, we can thank Rep. Boucher for this one).
                  • This statement (and others in the post supporting this position) is so far from reality, it makes it difficult to know where to start.

                    Well, you could start by finding any source, any citation, that indicates that I'm wrong. Find me evidence that copyright law does, in fact, place a mandate on copyright holders to enable the general public to make fair use of their works.

                    There are very few places where the Copyright law gives positive rights to people on the other side of the copyright bargain

                    If by "very few" you mean "none at all," I'm in complete agreement.

                    But your statement implies that copyright law completely prohibits people (without the copyright holder?s permission) from making a copy.

                    Nonsense. I made no such implication. Copyright law places the absolute authority or controlling copying and distribution in the hands of copyright holders. It defines certain narrow exceptions, acts with would otherwise be infringement, and declares them to be non-infringing. This is what people are talking about when they say "fair use."

                    Copyright law neither mandates nor prohibits anything directly. It puts the matter of determining what is and what is not allowed in the hands of the copyright holder.

                    Rhetorically speaking, where did you get the idea that copyright holders have complete control and rights over their work?

                    The law. It says, basically, "Copyright holders have complete control and rights over their works for the duration of the copyright, except for the following exceptions."

                    the biggest key is to stop confusing copyrights with property ownership

                    Unless you're an appellate court justice, please keep your interpretations out of the discussion and stick to the law and to the body of relevant case law. The fact that you disagree with the law's interpretation of the situation amounts to a hill of beans.

                    The retroactive increasing of copyright terms by 20 years essentially steals from the public domain

                    Oh, what a crock. All works will end up in the public domain sooner or later. All works, without exception. This is mandated by the Constitution, because it says that Congress may only grant exclusive monopolies temporarily. So unless Congress somehow finds a way to keep a work out of the public domain forever and ever, the phrase "steals from the public domain" is just so much hogwash.

                    I?d suggest reading the briefs from the Eldritch case for depth on this subject.

                    Um. The Eldritch case was decided in favor of the status quo. Briefs in the Eldritch case arguing against copyright extensions were judged by the Supreme Court to amount to a hill of beans.

                    The radical expansion of ?derivative works? is a more insidious method that copyright laws have stolen from us (citizenry and the culture).

                    I just love how you keep talking about how not getting access to other people's work amounts to theft. That's the postwar culture of entitlement for you.

                    A good example was the lawsuit against ?The Wind Done Gone?. This is clearly a very original work, although it uses characters and even dialogue from ?Gone with the Wind?.

                    Friend, if you use "characters and even dialogue" from somebody else's work, then your own work is not original. I think you might be well served by keeping a dictionary by your computer for moments like these.

                    In that case, as you correctly point out, the fact that the work is not even remotely original was deemed to be irrelevant, because that particular form of non-originality is an exception under the copyright act. See? The system works.

                    How can we say copyright is promoting the arts when someone can be successfully sued for using a 3 note-rift in a song that is also used in another song?

                    Get out there and come up with your own 3-note riff and then sue people for using it without your permission. How's that for an incentive?

                    Unless you think the creation of copyrighted work occurs in a vacuum, the removal of ?ideas? from culture for life+75 years is not good for society!

                    Um. We're talking about copyright, right? You know, that legal construct that protects expressions of ideas, not ideas themselves, right? The fact that a work is protected by copyright does nothing at all to impede you, or even discourage you, from creating your own works inspired by that work.

                    real example: can?t back-up child?s favorite tape with post-DMCA VCR, so I had buy another one when it was worn out a year later

                    I wrecked my car. The car company, to my everlasting amazement, refuses to give me another one. They say I have to buy another one. Pretty unfair, huh?

                    You can only get away with calling it an "entitlement" if you can prove the activities now prohibited by the DMCA anti-circumvention loophole were illegal in the first place, otherwise it is clearly a case of a new law taking away legal (and useful) activities.

                    Well, shit, dude. Every new law makes stuff that was previous not illegal illegal. So fucking what? "Waa, waa. I want to be able to do stuff that the law says I can't do! This is so unfair! Waa!"

                    Deal with it, okay? The DMCA is, so far, constitutional. It is a legal law. Just like you have to obey the speed limit and pay your taxes, you have to obey the DMCA. The fact that you personally don't like it because... I don't know, something about not taking care of your videotapes... earns you absolutely no sympathy from me whatsoever.

                    Let me turn around the challenge: show me a federal law that prohibits fair-use activities like ?the first sale doctrine?, ?time-shifting?, or ?making back-up copies?.

                    There are none. Those things are legal, and you're free to do them as you please. (Although the "making back-up copies" thing is complete and utter bullshit, and we all know it. But it's not illegal, so that's fine.) But since I know where you're going with this, I can cut right to the chase. If a copyright holder releases a work that is protected by encryption or another access-control mechanism, and you circumvent that mechanism for any purpose whatsoever that is not covered by one of the exceptions listed in the statute-- in other words, if you're not a public library, basically-- then you have broken the law, and can be brought up for both civil and criminal remedies.

                    If you don't like it, lobby your representatives to get it changed. But you'll still have to obey it until that happens. But don't try to argue that it somehow amounts to theft or whatever. You have no rights here. You are not entitled to do whatever you want with works that are protected by copyright. Okay? Got it?
                    • They say you tell when the conversation deteriorates by the ration of quoting vs. original material. I'll take one more shot at it, to clear up the misunderstandings of what I'm saying (as opposed to the spots where we just disagree).

                      If by "very few" you mean "none at all," I'm in complete agreement.

                      I gave several examples of "positive rights", including "time-shifting", and DHRA copying (although the DHRA primarily works by providing exceptions, there are elements of the bill that imply an reciprocal responsibility, as I mentioned earlier this has not been tested in the courts). There are also some formalized rights in the 1976 bill, such as the "first sale doctrine" (which first arose through the courts).

                      The fact that you disagree with the law's interpretation...

                      Sorry if you got confused here - I was talking ethics, not law. My point was that if you approach copyrights as though they were forms of property (like owning land), your ethical and moral conclusions will be incorrectly biased.

                      Briefs in the Eldritch case arguing against copyright extensions were judged by the Supreme Court to amount to a hill of beans.

                      I was suggesting the briefs in Eldritch because of their analysis of what losses and gains occurred because of copyright term extensions. They provide insightful reading. The merits of the case were actually decided on other factors (congressional power primarily), and does nothing to diminish the educational value of some of the Eldritch briefs.

                      So unless Congress somehow finds a way to keep a work out of the public domain forever and ever, the phrase "steals from the public domain" is just so much hogwash.

                      Works that were supposed to go into the public domain were delayed by 20 years (this time). This amounts to a multi-billion dollar gift to the current copyright holders. It also means the approx. 98% of the work that is not currently published (presumably because it is not valuable enough to make money) is also unavailable. The undisputed analysis of this is contained within the Eldritch briefs, which is why I recommended them.

                      I did not say that copyrighted items were never going into the public domain (although in the past I have postulated that additional delays may occur if congress continues without countervailing input). The retroactive delays are costing society money, some of which goes directly to the copyright holders. The material created in the 1920 is now protected an additional 60 years or so, compared to law when they were created. I think you can rightly argue the exact term, but almost everyone agrees we are past a point that is justified. This includes the Supreme Court in the Eldritch case; even the assenting opinion said that congress's actions might be unwise, but there was not enough grounds to overturn the law just because it was unwise.

                      I just love how you keep talking about how not getting access to other people's work amounts to theft. That's the postwar culture of entitlement for you.

                      The fact you call using ideas from other copyrighted works "theft" clearly shows your lack of knowledge of the creative process. Perhaps you really do believe that ideas, as well as expressions of those ideas, are created completely without regards to culture and society (hint: those categories include material that is currently copyrighted).

                      Regardless of what you believe, copyright law was written to protect expression, not ideas. The reason copyright laws have expanded to protect ideas is because they were largely written by copyright owners (and congress mostly rubber-stamped them), who had a vested interest in reducing competition through a government granted monopoly. I'd recommend Digital Copyright by Jessica Litman for a through explanation of how copyright laws have been produced in the last 100 years (I am not exaggerating in my statement about copyright holders writing the laws).

                      Friend, if you use "characters and even dialogue" from somebody else's work, then your own work is not original.

                      Again, the distinction is between expression and ideas. My real point here (not the one you pretend to believe) is that all people, and especially successful creators, are strongly influenced by many factors. Copyright is supposed to balance this positive process of influence by providing some protection to the authors. What I argue is that the amount of protection is gotten out of whack, and is actually harmful to new authors; and therefore to society.

                      Get out there and come up with your own 3-note riff

                      How much do you know about music composition? I'd say there is probably a 99% chance that the 3-note rift had been used somewhere before (very likely in music that is now in the public domain). When you get down to such small elements of music, this is more like an "idea" than an "expression". As I said, the line is fuzzy and I can certainly accept that people can write songs with a substantial infringement upon other songs. My argument is that the fuzzy line has been pushed too far, and the 3-note rift is an example of that. Your belief in total originality with no other influences is very touching.

                      I said: real example: can?t back-up child?s favorite tape with post-DMCA VCR, so I had buy another one when it was worn out a year later

                      You replied: I wrecked my car. The car company, to my everlasting amazement, refuses to give me another one. They say I have to buy another one. Pretty unfair, huh?

                      That is a really pitiful analogy, try this instead: I bought a car, and saw the tires were going to wear out. I used to be able to replace the tires, but the DMCAR law was passed with a loophole that allowed manufacturers to prevent me from replacing the tires. Now when the tires wear out, I have to buy a new car instead. I'm told to stop complaining, I'm just a whiner who thought I was somehow entitled to replace tires.

                      If you don't like it, lobby your representatives to get it changed.

                      At last, something we can both agree upon!
                    • I gave several examples of ?positive rights?, including ?time-shifting?, and DHRA copying

                      These are not rights. These are privileges. For example, consider the proposed broadcast flag. Some content protected by the broadcast flag may not be timeshifted by digital means. This is not illegal. It's perfectly legal. Why? Because timeshifting is not a right.

                      Maybe we need to have a little refresher on the definition of "right." A right is a legally guaranteed freedom. I have a right to free speech, for example, because the Constitution prohibits the passing of a law that abridges my freedom of speech. Get it? A right is a legally guaranteed freedom.

                      You have no legally guaranteed freedom to timeshift, or to make home recordings, or to create a parody, or to do any other thing with somebody else's copyrighted works. If you do these things, it is not a copyright infringement, but that's far from being the same thing as saying that you have the legally guaranteed freedom to do those things. Copyright holders, on the other hand, have the right-- the legally guaranteed freedom-- to determine who can and who can't make use of their works. I, as a copyright holder, am legally entitled to release a CD that, through some hypothetical technical means, can only be played on a Tuesday. There's nothing in the copyright statues, or any other body of US law, that makes that illegal. If you do something to your CD player that enables you to play my CD on a Saturday, however, you have broken the law. Because I, as the copyright holder, have the legally guaranteed freedom to decide when and how you can play my CD.

                      Are you starting to understand the difference between privileges and rights now?

                      Sorry if you got confused here - I was talking ethics, not law.

                      No offense, but I'm not convinced that you're qualified to have an ethical discussion of this matter. It seems obvious from your posts thus far that you're only interested in the mythical "rights" of the consumer, and care not for the very much real rights of the producer. Because of your obvious bias, I'd have to say that I'm really not all that interested in hearing your opinion on the ethics of copyright.

                      The reason copyright laws have expanded to protect ideas is because they were largely written by copyright owners

                      Um. I hate to break it to you, dude, but you are a copyright owner. Every person who has ever written anything down is a copyright owner. Trying to couch this in terms of haves versus have-nots just makes you look like an idiot.

                      What I argue is that the amount of protection is gotten out of whack, and is actually harmful to new authors

                      Harmful how? Because you can't take characters, dialogue, or plots from other people's work to use in your own? That's specious at best. Re-adapting old works for a new audience is certainly one form of artistic expression, but it's hardly a significant form. And the body of work that is not protected by copyright is vast and broad; anybody who just insists that they have to adapt somebody else's work instead of creating their own original work-- like, say, Disney-- can draw on the vast and ever-increasing body of public domain works. Having recent works protected by copyright does those people no harm whatsoever. None.

                      It all comes down to the difference between copying and inspiration. Copyright prohibits copying. It has no effect whatsoever on inspiration.

                      Your belief in total originality with no other influences is very touching.

                      Your belief that protecting a work with a copyright has any effect whatsoever on that work's being an influence to others is... well, not touching. It's really fucking stupid. Blindingly stupid, even.

                      I bought a car, and saw the tires were going to wear out. I used to be able to replace the tires, but the DMCAR law was passed with a loophole that allowed manufacturers to prevent me from replacing the tires.

                      Bzzt. My bullshit detector is going off. See, the DMCA doesn't prevent you from being able to replace something. It prevents you from being able to make an unauthorized copy of something. Your analogy is-- quite deliberately, I'm starting to believe-- bogus, because you're saying that the DMCA doesn't let you replace something that has worn out. If your copy of "Deep Throat" wears out, buy another. The idea that you feel like should be somehow entitled to a free set of tires-- i.e., to make an unauthorized, illegal copy-- is laughable at best, and really incredibly depressing at worst.

                      Look, the way I see it this is coming down in one of two ways. Option one: you are uninformed and naive. This is fine. I have no problem with this. Ignorance is not a crime. Option two: you are deliberately choosing to ignore the plain facts in an effort to advance some kind of a political agenda. That prospect frankly turns my stomach. So which is it?
                    • Some content protected by the broadcast flag may not be timeshifted by digital means. This is not illegal. It's perfectly legal. Why? Because timeshifting is not a right.

                      Read section K of the DMCA (it is evident you have not). Is specifically requires time-shifting for all material (and goes so far as to specify differences between ordinary broadcasts and pay-per-view). Now explain to me again how that is an "exception" and not a "right". I'm giving you examples, but you are ignoring them!

                      I'm not convinced that you're qualified to have an ethical discussion of this matter...

                      Oh yes, personal attacks always help a discussion of supposed facts. Actually lets clarify this discussion for a moment: I said [paraphrasing]: "morally speaking copyrights are not the same thing as property ownership", and you replied to the effect of "just because you don't agree with the law, what kind of standing do you have to disagree". I am just now coming to the conclusion that perhaps you do believe copyrights and property ownership are indeed the same thing. I can't really believe you are so ignorant to believe the law treats property ownership and copyright even remotely close to each other. Perhaps you want to rephrase or clarify these comments?

                      I hate to break it to you, dude, but you are a copyright owner.

                      I confess, careless shorthand reference. To be really accurate when describing participants of the copyright conventions over 100 years takes several paragraphs or even pages (and my posts already tend to run too long). A slightly more accurate description would be "entrenched and organized copyright holders". For example the movie industry got royally screwed by the first couple of copyright conventions in the 20th century - it was not until they organized in 1910's that they started having input into the law writing process. The two universal participants who did not participate in these conventions were business that had not been invented yet (naturally) and the general public (who were theoretically represented by congress, but in truth not very well).

                      Harmful how?

                      Think about the bad software patents that have been granted. That is not too far from where the music industry is now. Certain basic elements in the craft of creating music have been "removed" by the misuse of copyrights. Just like software patents, there are only a few bad actors (i.e. compare the 3-note rift case to British Telecom trying to go after people for use hyperlinks). The amount of misuse in the music industry is worse, and the potential is much worse.

                      Copyright prohibits copying. It has no effect whatsoever on inspiration.

                      I'm a great fan of Tom Stoppard, and the play that really launched his career was "Rosencrantz and Guilenstren Are Dead" (sorry I've misspelled something here). He takes inspiration from Shakespeare's Hamlet and creates a brilliant work. Very few people would call this a "copy" of Hamlet. The case I quoted ("The Wind Done Gone") is a similar treatment to "Gone With the Wind". In the last 50 some odd years copyright law has greatly expanded and essentially has given the author the ability to control "sequels" - something that has no real historical precedence. Part of the power of a great work (and even some so-so ones like Star Trek) is to inspire people to go into the "world" created by the author and play their own games "what if this happened, what would have changed".

                      You deride this as theft, intellectual weakness, and as something that should be under the control of the original author. Since I think many creations started out this way (listen to author interviews, see how they come up with story ideas), I think it is a practice that is at worst lazy. At best it allows ideas to be multiplied and leveraged (standing on the shoulders of giants), and also provides insights into commonality or differences of people and society. In my opinion sequels should be a "trademark" matter (so that potential audience as well as the author clearly understand the work's pedigree), but venturing into protecting ideas is where copyright law overreaches. As you said, the law is supposed to prohibit copying an expression, not inspiration.

                      Having recent works protected by copyright does those people no harm whatsoever.

                      If copyrights were only protecting the expression, I would agree.

                      See, the DMCA doesn't prevent you from being able to replace something.

                      Define "unauthorized"! In my example, I've been prevented from making a back-up copy, an act that is legal (I'll agree that it is not a "right", but the legality of making back-ups is well defined through actual court cases). The copyright holder may or not approve, but making a back-up is legal.

                      So in a literal sense it is an "unauthorized" copy, but you make an incorrect leap when you call the action illegal (that is also how this thread started, you asserted that any unauthorized copy of a CD were illegal, and still have not provided any proof beyond broad assertions). Now back to the analogy, the car manufacturer may not like the fact I can change tires, and may even make such actions "unauthorized". That does not make it illegal either. This is where the new law comes in, and changes the status quo. The manufacturer (i.e. copyright holder) gets broad new powers and the ability to legally prevent actions that are legal. That is precisely what the DMCA has done with its anti-circumvention clause.

                      You can spout RIAA/MPAA propaganda about the difference between a right and an exception; but the plain fact is that the bill gives publishers the ability to prohibit legal activities. It is quite evident that you morally felt some of these activities should not have been legal, but your feelings don't really count when it comes to the law (hmmm, where have I heard that before).

                    • Read section K of the DMCA

                      Section K? The sections of Title 17 are numbered, as are the sections of the bill that amended it. Would you mind citing something a little more specific, please?

                      Oh yes, personal attacks always help a discussion of supposed facts.

                      While I'm certainly not above making a personal attack when I feel it's called for, this wasn't such a case. I'm just telling you the facts. From your previous posts, I'm not convinced your qualified to have an ethical discussion on this matter. So we're not going to have one.

                      Think about the bad software patents that have been granted.

                      I am unaware of any bad software patents. I am aware that there are some vocal individuals and groups who assert that some patents are bad, but I've found universally that those particular individuals and groups are either completely unfamiliar with the text of the patents in question, or deliberately misrepresenting them in order to make their point.

                      Certain basic elements in the craft of creating music have been ?removed? by the misuse of copyrights.

                      For example?

                      He takes inspiration from Shakespeare?s Hamlet and creates a brilliant work.

                      Good for him. Anybody is free to do the same thing with any work in the vast library of public domain works. The liibrary of public domain works is ever-increasing-- some works have entered the public domain this very day! I fail to see any harm here.

                      The case I quoted (?The Wind Done Gone?) is a similar treatment to ?Gone With the Wind?.

                      That was ruled to be non-infringing by the courts. Again, no harm. You're arguing against the status quo, but using examples of ways that the status quo is working perfectly to support your argument!

                      At best it allows ideas to be multiplied and leveraged (standing on the shoulders of giants), and also provides insights into commonality or differences of people and society.

                      Blah blah. You keep talking about ideas, but ignore the fact that copyright protection has no effect on ideas. Only on expressions of ideas. Your argument is completely inapplicable!

                      Define ?unauthorized?!

                      Um. Without authorization. Do you need a dictionary?

                      In my example, I?ve been prevented from making a back-up copy, an act that is legal (I?ll agree that it is not a ?right?, but the legality of making back-ups is well defined through actual court cases).

                      Yup. And if you get around to letting me know what, exactly, is wrong with that, please let me know. We are all prevented from doing otherwise perfectly legal things every day. I used to work for a company that had a strict dress code policy. It's perfectly legal for me to wear a shirt without a tie, but I was not allowed to do so in my place of business. Are you suggesting that my employer was breaking the law?

                      So in a literal sense it is an ?unauthorized? copy, but you make an incorrect leap when you call the action illegal

                      Title 17, chapter 12, defines the act of circumventing an access control mechanism as being unlawful, and specifies both civil and criminal remedies. I'm not making a leap. I'm simply quoting the law.

                      Now back to the analogy, the car manufacturer may not like the fact I can change tires, and may even make such actions ?unauthorized?. That does not make it illegal either.

                      It does if there's a law on the books that says you can't circumvent a tire access control mechanism.

                      This is where the new law comes in, and changes the status quo. The manufacturer (i.e. copyright holder) gets broad new powers and the ability to legally prevent actions that are legal. That is precisely what the DMCA has done with its anti-circumvention clause.

                      Amazing. So you're telling me that a new law, passed recently, took something that was previously legal and made it illegal? My head's swimming. That's certainly unprecedented.

                      You can spout RIAA/MPAA propaganda about the difference between a right and an exception; but the plain fact is that the bill gives publishers the ability to prohibit legal activities.

                      And you can get as up-in-arms about this as you like, but the plain fact is that it is not an illegal, unconstitutional, or unjust state of affairs. In fact, if you could get your head out of your ass for just a fraction of a second and consider the question from the point of view of a copyright holder-- which you are, though you seem reluctant to admit it for some reason-- you'll realize that the new law is, in fact, quite appropriate and reasonable, and it serves to close a loophole in the existing statute that was, at best, a serious nuisance to copyright holders. Which is, again, all of us.
                    • So you're telling me that a new law, passed recently, took something that was previously legal and made it illegal?

                      You have forgotten the context, this was a discussion of entitlements vs. government give-aways. You claimed it was always illegal, so I was just a whiner complaining about loosing entitlements. I said it was a government give away, and offered several reasons why the activities were legal, up to the time the DMCA passed. You have now conceded that the activities I claimed to be legal, were in fact legal before the DMCA.

                      Why can't you take the next step, and admit that the copyright owners gained new powers from the passage of the DMCA, at the direct expense of consumers? Whenever I've asked you in the past, you have always claimed the anti-circumvention clause in the DMCA just preserved existing rights.

                      I am unaware of any bad software patents.

                      OK (as I shake my head in wonder). Perhaps my examples comparing bad patents to an overly broad copyright system will be useful to other people (if anybody else is still reading the thread). I don't feel a need to go down the path of trying to explain that one from scratch. Suffice to say that there are any number of overly broad, and insufficiently unique patents that have been issued over the years.

                      To spell out the similarity - Poor patents take ideas from the public domain and undeservedly give someone control over them; just like an overly broad music copyright can let people undeservedly control a 3-note rift.

                      Some content protected by the broadcast flag may not be timeshifted by digital mean.

                      I apologize that I missed your kinda-sorta acknowledgement that time-shifting was a right. I never claimed is was a right without any exceptions (all of the rights you mentioned like free speech from the 1st amendment have similar types of exceptions). The point you raise about broadcast flags is not in the DMCA; but has come up during FCC rules-making discussions (those rules are still governed by the DMCA section K granted rights concerning time-shifting).

                      ----

                      At this point, I think we agree on the facts at least, which is why I've kept my side of the thread active. We still disagree on a lot of topics, but I'll save those conversations for future times. I care deeply about both the health of our culture, and the value of encouraging new creations of work. Although we have used lots of examples from fiction, it is also important to remember copyright can encourage (or discourage) important scholarship and social situations. Don't forget the first copyright laws were actually designed to censor and control information. The Constitutional stated goals of benefiting authors and society is worthy. Copyright requires a balance, and should not be measured by benefit to authors alone.

                      I'll close with a quote from William Gibson's review of the Matrixblog [slashdot.org]. In this web page, Gibson discusses the importance of cultural influences upon the process of creation. Note that all of the influences he cited are still under copyright, and my brief quote here is plainly fair-use.

                      Whatever of my work may be there [e.g. in the movie The Matrix], it seems to me to have gotten there by exactly the kind of creative cultural osmosis I've always depended on myself. If there's NEUROMANCER in THE MATRIX, there's THE STARS MY DESTINATION and DHALGREN in NEUROMANCER, and much else besides, down to and including actual bits of embarrassingly undigested gristle. And while I was drawing directly from those originals, and many others, the makers of THE MATRIX were drawing through a pre-existing "cyberpunk" esthetic, which constituted as much of a found object, for them, as "science fiction" did for me. From where they were, they had the added luxury of choosing bits from, say, Billy Idol's "Neuromancer" as well.
                    • You claimed it was always illegal

                      Never. I implied-- I don't think I every actually said-- that it was wrong before the DMCA was passed, and that it should have been illegal. But the specific acts with which the DMCA dealt were not illegal before the bill's passage. Which should be blindingly obvious; a bill that merely restates that which is already written in the statutes would serve no purpose.

                      Why can't you take the next step, and admit that the copyright owners gained new powers from the passage of the DMCA, at the direct expense of consumers?

                      Because "powers" is a loaded word, and one completely inappropriate in this context. A better word is the one that the legislation itself uses: remedies. Previously, if you broke a license agreement by circumventing an access control mechanism, you could be sued, but there was no explicit statutory civil remedy. Now there is.

                      Copyright holders have always had the right to tell you what you can and can't do with their works. This right is implicit in the copyright act. Only the copyright holder is authorized to give you a copy of the work, so the copyright holder can set whatever terms for that transaction he wants. Unfortunately, there was no direct legal option if you decided, after the fact, to break the license agreement. Now there are remedies in place to make sure that the copyright holder has a recourse if you do circumvent an access control mechanism without permission.

                      If you want to couch the discussion in terms of words like "power," that's your business. But don't think that's the best way to describe the situation.

                      Suffice to say that there are any number of overly broad, and insufficiently unique patents that have been issued over the years.

                      In whose opinion? Yours? We've already established that you're not qualified to make meaningful value judgments about these sorts of questions, due to your obvious bias.

                      I apologize that I missed your kinda-sorta acknowledgement that time-shifting was a right.

                      I acknowledged no such thing. Time-shifting is not a right. Show me the statute that protects time-shifting as a right. Show me the statute that says it is unlawful to prevent time-shifting.

                      it is also important to remember copyright can encourage (or discourage) important scholarship and social situations.

                      I do not accept this assertion. Copyrighthas absolutely no effect on scholarship, because uses of copyrighted material for scholarly purposes are explicitly excepted as being non-infringing by statute. And as for "social situations," I don't even know what you mean by that.

                      Don't forget the first copyright laws were actually designed to censor and control information.

                      The very first copyright law, the 1710 Statute of Anne, was passed to make it unlawful for printers to print and distribute copies of a book without authorization. You might want to read up a bit on this so you don't stick your foot in your mouth again in future with some off-the-cuff remark about censorship.

                      In this web page, Gibson discusses the importance of cultural influences upon the process of creation.

                      Since copyright has absolutely no impact on what you call "cultural influences," I question the value of the effort it took you to cut-and-paste this paragraph.

                      In fact, since copyright protection encourages authors to create new works, by giving them a temporary monopoly that they can use to make money from their work, I dare say that this point supports my own argument, not yours.
    • Well, it isn't that politically selective... You overlook the fact that most of /. readers are...
      • Users of P2P apps, and no matter how ardent they deny it, use it mainly for downloading MP3s and the occasional pr0n (or vice-versa, to each his/her own)
      • Hardcore politicians themselves... Just look at the many ongoing campaigns... Linux is more stable than Windows... Desktop Linux are the OS of the future... FreeBSD is Dead... and so on.
      • True believers of make -f makefile not war. Let the army geeks worry about nuclear holocausts and whatnot... as if Saddam has nukes in the first place, he can't even secure his own email!

    • Could you provide some examples for those of us who've always known /. as you described? Respectfully, I don't get the same flamefest impression you do, but maybe that's because I came from Usenet and IRC.

      Also, I can understand why these same topics (MS & the RIAA) would be repeatedly covered. Although you maye be understandably tired of hearing about their latest shenanigans, /. also seems to act as a vocal focal point to educate people. These two topics, IMHO, should be continually returned to, as a way of keeping peoples' eyes open.

      For every dozen posters, I'll bet there's fifty important, influential people monitoring these boards or assigning people to monitor them. These people may have good or bad intentions. There's astroturfing, sure. But (maybe I'm being idealistic here) I'd like to think that, every once in a while, an influential person with good intentions finds an illuminating discussion that causes them to act in a way that makes life a little bit better for Some People, Somewhere.

      Anyway, whatever, nevermind.
    • by donscarletti (569232) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @05:00AM (#5221474)
      I for one are much more sick and tired by posters doing slashdot bashing on slashdot itself! To me, Slashdot is a site for the discussion of all things electronic, online and virtual (if you will excuse the buzzwords, they are sickening I know)

      For now, the threat on peoples lives comes from both terrorists and the reckless United States Governement with their wars against defensless countries like Iraq, like you said. But these days the theme of slashdot is quite detached from real world suffering and distruction. Slashdot is news for nerds, a suppliment to the regular news to bring us things of particualar importance for net-dwellers. And for this special esoteric news the villins are not terrorists, not uncle sam, not faulty heat sheilds but those who want to change our environment (the net and our own computers) forever. People like Microsoft, the RIAA and legislators that want to turn information into something that is tightly monitored and unacessable even on ones own computers are what the slashdot community (the bulk of them) are most threatened by.

      People come to slashdot. They insult it on the forums they created. They insult the bulk of the community by calling them repetitive. They use words like karma-burn to discribe their posts to make moderators feel guilty to give them the -1s they deserve and they dare to try and change it to fit them!

      Slashdot is getting political in a way people give a damn about. It gets political in a way as its readers and community gives a damn about with the exception of those who consider it some matter of their vain pride that they attend it to mock their opinions in a medium created for them. If you want to see war, turn on the TV, there is death, poverty, flaming astronaughts, germ bombs, guncrazy preasidents threatening to use nukes. Then you can discuss them, with friends and family over dinner. You could join a political party, join some demonstration, write a letter to the newspaper or member of parlement, write an alegorical novel, take up sculpture and express yourself that way, become a vidgilante and linch someone, join a terrorist organisation, or you could even go as far as posting your conserns at a different website... there are plenty out there that would love to hear you opinions about "real" political issues. Even post to slashdot when they post their numorous stories about your beloved reality (the space shuttle was mentioned twice). Get political about something that people give a damn about, but don't stop us from getting political about things that people don't.

    • Speak for yourself. I for one am utterly bored with the political direction Slashdot has taken in the past couple of years. And it's not even good politics! When the issues of the day are domestic and international terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, the prospect of war in Iraq and elsewhere, the economy, or even the space shuttle, the prevailing topics of discussion on Slashdot still center around that same list of drivel: the RIAA, Microsoft, and stories about "chilling effects" that are just barely more than "we hate the government but we don't know why" flamefests.

      What? Geeks talk about things that effect and interest them! Who ever would have thought...
    • Which enemy is more important, the one inside the fence or the one outside?
  • by mabu (178417) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @03:45AM (#5221313)
    I can think of no organization that is more active in protecting the base rights that most people in the tech community relish than the EFF [eff.org], of which Barlow is a founder. Every member of Slashdot should also be a member of this organization. Among other things, the EFF is defending Fair Use Doctrine [eff.org] especially as it applies to digital content (an area where there seems to be lots of double standards), Internet Censorship [eff.org], Government/Corporate surveillance [eff.org] and a lot more.
    • I started taking the EFF less seriously when they started taking the position that spam was an example of free speech.

      It's not that they haven't done a lot of great things, and continue to do them, but I have to wonder what other positions they will take that clearly go against the majority of the people they are trying to represent.

    • by Zoop (59907) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:13AM (#5222459)
      And such an effective political institution it is.

      Oh, wait:

      <sarcasm>And such an effective political institution it is.</sarcasm>

      When, oh when, is the EFF going to get a DC office? A friend of mine called about volunteering. Neither of us had great sums of money, but we had time. Their response?

      "Oh, we only accept local volunteer help."

      "That's OK, we're in DC."

      "Um, we only have an office in SF."

      "???"

      Helloooooo--the political capital of the U.S. is in Washington, DC, not Berkeley, CA. You don't even have to rent space in the District to be effective. The NRA has a massive complex in Fairfax, VA. So why, oh why, is the EFF only in SF? Do they think that Ashcroft is going to come to them to ask them what they think? Are they going to get videoconferences with congresscritters? Do they think the'll have any political influence without playing the political game? Not with all the more money they bring to the table.

      I like the ideals of the EFF, I just find it to be a fairly lackluster effort. I'd give time and what little money I can spare to an effective organization, but at the moment, my charitable money is better given to the Institute for Justice [ij.org] (politically unpopular with Slashdotters, I know) and the ACLU [aclu.org].

      It's not as if there are no successful models to follow, people.
      • Lawyers = teh win (Score:2, Insightful)

        by wbraunoh (22509)
        EFF used to have an office in Washington. Given the relatively small pot of honey (around $1 million) they have to work with on an annual basis, however, eventually they found it more productive to legislate through litigation rather than lobbying.

        It makes perfect sense when you think about who they go up against. Big media, big industry, big government, big money. Swift, underpaid non-profit lawyers have a far better chance in the courtroom than swift, underpaid lobbyists would have in Gucci Gulch.

        In addition, being in San Francisco allows EFF to connect to that freaky activist hippy vibe community. Also helps that some of the world's largest/wealthiest/most-sympathetic-to-their-cause companies are located within 50 miles of EFF's offices down in the Mission.

        Makes pretty goddamned good sense to be in San Francisco rather than Washington, if you ask me. They used to have a one-person-show liasing in DC for them after they moved to SF, but as far as I know, that "office" of the EFF is now gone. And as far as volunteers go, the EFF usually has more in-house than it knows what to do with. It'd be far better to give/raise money for the organization than volunteer your webmastering or Linux skizznils to the cause.
        • It makes perfect sense when you think about who they go up against. Big media, big industry, big government, big money. Swift, underpaid non-profit lawyers have a far better chance in the courtroom than swift, underpaid lobbyists would have in Gucci Gulch. The problem with this thinking is that the judges these swift underpaid folks must appeal to are chosen in Washington. Because EFF (and the ACLU as well) have dismissed democracy and legislative process as a lost cause, the judiciary of our nation keeps drifting slowly to the right, especially in the Supreme Court. Makes absolutely no goddamned sense not to be in Washington, if you ask me.
          • TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) wrote:
            It makes perfect sense when you think about who they go up against. Big media, big industry, big government, big money. Swift, underpaid non-profit lawyers have a far better chance in the courtroom than swift, underpaid lobbyists would have in Gucci Gulch.

            The problem with this thinking is that the judges these swift underpaid folks must appeal to are chosen in Washington. Because EFF (and the ACLU as well) have dismissed democracy and legislative process as a lost cause, the judiciary of our nation keeps drifting slowly to the right, especially in the Supreme Court. Makes absolutely no goddamned sense not to be in Washington, if you ask me.
            Well, I suspect what's it's really about is a symbolic challenge... they probably liked the idea that the SF Bay Area is a new center of power, challenging the old east coast establishment.

            A little while back, ESR was talking about founding a new organization, something like a political lobbying counterpart to the EFFs legal approach. I don't know what happened with that...

            I wish he'd get on it, though. After 9/11 I joined the EFF. Then I joined the ACLU. If things get any worse, I'll need something else to join.

  • by updog (608318) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @03:56AM (#5221339) Homepage
    Another interesting persepective of TIA can be found here [sfgate.com]. It basically says that for every 250 people correctly identified as terrorists, there will be 250,000 people incorrectly labeled as terrorists. And, if 0.1% of these people are sufficiently traumatized, they could potentially become terrorists, and you now have 250 new terrorists, just as many as you found in the first place!

    Not to mention the violation of privacy and civil liberties of those 250,000 innocent individuals...

    • Asked if TIA would actually spot terroists Barlow says:

      If you have the Total Information Awareness project working, it might be relatively easy to find everyone who had bought more than a ton of fertilizer and 500 gallons of diesel in the last year, which would be a great way of spotting potential Tim McVeighs -- but it would also spot half the farmers and ranchers in America. But having spotted them, it couldn't toss them out until it'd exposed them to the next layer of search. .... which includes what I consider to be cultural crimes, like say marijuana smoking.

      And there, in a nutshell, you have failure to predict and prevent. Who said Tim McVeigh smoked dope? Each "layer" of search is based on someone's idea of what a terroist is, not what one actually will be. What you end up with is a shit list, which may or may not contain a suspect. Before the event you don't know what to look for. Before September 11th, the purchase of a dozen box cutters had no predictive value.

      God, things are screwed up. I'm reading Mother Jones and it makes sense while traditional media is clueless or conspiratory.

      • God, things are screwed up. I'm reading Mother Jones and it makes sense while traditional media is clueless or conspiratory.

        When have you ever know the "traditional media" to have a clue? Whether or not any specific counter-cultural source of news is in line with your politics and philosophy, they are much more likely to expose a kernel of the truth. The talking heads of the networks and cable news vendors pretend to be unbiased and neutral, all the while they are spouting the corporate angle of their owners and sponsors.

        In many cases, knowledge is a primary source of bias, and if the knowledge is valid, then the bias is a good thing. Yes, there are times when the only way to find the answer is to empty your head of preconceptions, but more often they claim to be "unbiased" is just a cover for willful ignorance.

        • Things have gotten worse as the number of corporate owners has dwindled. They don't tell on each other as much when there are fewer of them. The New York Times used to have people everywhere and though their North East US centric views would color things, the fact that something happened would emerge. Today, their pages are filled with AP crap, which looks nothing like reality and is written by people who go nowhere. The Wall Street Journal still puts people out into the world and gives them reasonable freedom to write. Time ruined CNN with sentimental nonsense. What's worse, however, is the lack of independent news services with the resources to put people where things are hapening. It's up to you and me to tell what's going on now.
  • by Captain Beefheart (628365) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @03:58AM (#5221344)
    I don't mean to niggle, but I was under the impression that it was William Gibson who popularized this phrase. Do I just need to cut down on my crack habit or something?
    • I wondered the same thing, but then did some homework. To quote from Barlow's own page (http://www.eff.org/~barlow/):

      "In 1990, he first applied William Gibson's science fiction term Cyberspace to the already-existing global electronic social space now generally referred to by that name. Until his naming it, it had not been considered any sort of place."
    • AFAIK, Gibson is the originator of this term. His use of it in his books and stories is probably not the first example. Anyone know of earlier citations?
  • Only in our time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by squared99 (466315) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @04:04AM (#5221359)
    could the songwriter for the Grateful Dead become the voice of reason. And a good one at that. Meanwhile "elected" officals are trigger happy, right wing, christian capitalists zeolots.

    JPB:
    There are a million virtual streetcorners with a million lonely pamphleteers on them, all of them decrying the war and not actually coming together in any organized fashion to oppose it. It strikes me that existing political institutions -- whether it's the administration or Congress or large corporations -- only respond to other institutions.

    I hear a lot of complaints about slashdot being too political lately, not enough cool techy stuff. I disagree, if we have the resource of a forum like this one, we need to keep it going. We need to share this infomration, it affects a lot of us and it affects a lot of things to come. The information shared on this site has led to a lot of individual's political awakening, and those that awaken are starting to realize that they can make a difference, either by writing to an elected official, or making a donation to an organization like the EFF.

    Keep it up slashdot. Cool toys and gadgets are great, but I like freedom more.
    • I never thought I'd see the day that "capitalists" is used in a derogatory fashion. Especially by someone who goes on to say "I like freedom more".

      You are a truly confused and conflicted individual.
      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @10:26AM (#5222544) Homepage
        Really? The Communists did for over a hundred years. Are you a kid?

        And besides which, there have been plenty of fervent capitalists who were opposed to personal freedoms -- the ones that they couldn't make money off of, and other people's that interfered with their own profits. See for example the attacks on unions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

        Capitalism is not any good at protecting liberty, and that's not what it's for. It's a decently good economic system, but that doesn't make it the best possible or anything. Swearing allegience to capitalism is like swearing allegience to your car. It's just a tool, not an end all by itself.
        • You're right on here, it is only much later that the capitalists themselves start to use the term and attempt to remove the negative associations.

          If you look at the last century, I think it is pretty clear that market capitalism is very effective at efficiently allocating scarce resources. It can break down in the limits (monopolies are only effiecient for the monopoly, and bad policies can cause things to break down as in the '30s), but for most mainstream economic activities, it is hard to beat. I would even go so far as to claim that it is an essential part of any fair and efficient economic system, as long as there is regulation from abuse, and it is only applied where it makes sense.

          On the other hand, it can be terribly innefficient when applied to some situations. Can anyone point to a situation where "information markets" are a good thing? To the extent that companies are able to commercially exploit an idea through exclusive ownership, they have also set up the situation where both the customer and the competition are thinking about how to re-create the technology as their own. Everyone decries the NIH syndrom, but it is inevitable where information is traded as property.

          Without doing a research paper on the subject, I can point to several examples of the ineffectiveness of "information markets" as a concept. Why do you thing RAMBUS failed and is now resorting to legal tactics for profitability? You just can't sell and idea without revealing it, and once it is out, it is really difficult to keep others from exploiting it. Note that you don't (can't) patent or copyright an idea itself, just particular expressions of it. In general, I don't see many companies with a workable business model selling the intellectual property rights to system components or technologies. They can and do sell complete products and services, but the idea that you could build a SOC (system on chip) composed from sub-chip units bought from different vendors has never developed.

          Take a look at the system software market as well. Either you build an OS to support the hardware systems you want to sell, or you attempt to build a monopoly. Nothing else seems to work very well. One other thing works, Open/Free source development is the one workable model because it allows a community to develop around shared IP, and customers and system designers benefit. You no longer have to have a huge organization that is vertically integrated so they can control everything.

      • I never thought I'd see the day that "capitalists" is used in a derogatory fashion. Especially by someone who goes on to say "I like freedom more".

        You are a truly confused and conflicted individual.


        The essence of democracy: one person, one vote.

        The essence of capitalism: one dollar, one vote.

        See any conflicts?
  • Good interview (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Diabolical (2110) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @04:47AM (#5221450) Homepage
    Really. Quite entertaining. Wish /.'s interviews were like this.

    Anyhow. His view on the current laws on cyberterrorism is exactly my view (i'm contributing to BoF [www.bof.nl] (Bits of Freedom) a dutch "EFF" if you want).

    It frightens me that the US government is taking these steps and stands. The country which used to be known for his freedom is slowly turning into a country like Irak itself. Controlling it's own people. It would not surprise me if even the American press is being controlled. I used to dream of leavin my own country and live in the USA. That dream has been destroyed over the last couple of years when it became clear that what constitutes freedom in my mind did not have the same meaning in the USA.

    I'm so disappointed in my countrymen.

    This is a pretty harsh remark but i guess it's right on the mark for most of the people i know who live in the US. They all share the feeling that their countrymen look deliberately the other way because they are afraid that if they speak up they would be branded anti-patriotic. The worst part of it is that they too look the other way. They refuse too admit it but whenever i want to discuss the TIA they just response with the phrase "It's for the protection of us all" and that's it.

    I hope that the EFF can create enough momentum to turn the tide. Otherwise we are facing a grim future.
  • by RestiffBard (110729) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @05:05AM (#5221485) Homepage
    The only thing that gives me much hope for our private futures is that all of this can change iin a few years with a new administration. It might not, but it could. The only law in the United States that lets me sleep at night is the 22nd Ammendment (no more than two four year presidential terms). When someone tries to change that I'll get my gun.
    • the 22nd Ammendment (no more than two four year presidential terms). When someone tries to change that I'll get my gun.

      RED FLAG
      Intensive security investigation indicated.

      Threat to assassinate the president. Catagory: TERRORIST

      Constitutional override. Full use of force authorized. Agents should be reminded that we must protect the children.

      -
      • great, now you're scaring the shit out of me. :)
        • Chuckle. Glad to be of service.

          I'm not sure if it's any consolation, but I'm sure I've gotten myself on the "redflag" list as well by now. I occationally visit "redflag" websites, like the North Korean one recently. North Korea has ONE website. It is hosted in the US chuckle. It is entirely possible to read propaganda and lies in a +1 interesting +informative and +1 insightful manner. My conclusion from reading that website is that North Korea really is paranoid and delusional. They really do intend to conquer South Korea, but of course they view it as "reunifacation" and a "liberation" from the "puppet government" controlled by the US. The international nuclear inspection organization and the UN are puppets of the US too, chuckle.

          A government that issues propaganda is bad. A when that government begins to believe its own propaganda it becomes delusional and dangerous.

          There's probably a computer tracking visits to websites like Iraq, Afghanisan, anti-Isreal, or terrorist sympathic ones. There's no way that computer can tell the difference between a sympathizer or someone with a brain using the wisdom "know thy enemy".

          What scares me is that since 9/11 I have reason to believe the US government has been meddling in the news media. I'm not going to spread rumors, but I will point out one anomoly. After the 9/11 attack they shutdown most of the NYC bridges and tunnels for a few DAYS. The fact that the governemnt never gave a reason is peculiar. The fact that the news media never ASKED for a reason is scary.

          Suppressing news to prevent panic is a small step, but it is a step towards government run news like they have in Iraq and N. Korea.

          It's bad when supporting the constitution can get you labeled as opposing the government. Free press. Free speach. Privacy. Protection from government searches. Civil rights. Silly little things the governemnt "needs" to sweep aside in the War on Terror.

          Red flag.

          -
  • by D+iz+a+n+k+Meister (609493) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @05:06AM (#5221488) Journal
    If the government would just legalize weed, I'd put up with a lot more TIA type stuff.
    • I have to agree (oh wait, what am I saying!?)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If the government would just legalize weed, I'd put up with a lot more TIA type stuff.

      I think it goes a little deeper than that but you raise a good point.
      The big problem with the government tracking people is that we don't have a benevolent government.
      Right now they prosecute peaceful people with insane drug laws, and in some areas persecute people based on private sexual behavior.

      I'd be a lot less worried about government invasions of privacy if I didn't have to fear they'd do something insane to hurt good people with the info.
    • Yeah, but if they legalized weed, they'd be looking at ways of making money off it... ...permits, sales tax, excise tax, rolling paper tax, bong tax... they'd tax and regulate it all. And then just imagine all the paperwork that'd create! Hell, whole industries could be created just to deal with agriculture, processing, inspection, permit and taxation processes, marketing, packaging, distribution... You get the picture. But, fortunately, they don't.
  • Barlow is comitting the same sin he is complaining about everyone including himself, of comitting anyway. Basically a lightweight rant, dust off, continue on.

    I didn't see anything concrete or useful in that piece. I guess I'm looking for activism in old Libertarians who are little more than Republicans who smoke pot. c'est la guerre.
  • by seven89 (303868) <rc&m3peeps,org> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @09:21AM (#5222153) Homepage
    JPB said:
    There are a million virtual streetcorners with a million lonely pamphleteers on them, all of them decrying the war and not actually coming together in any organized fashion to oppose it.
    On a purly practical level, this remark is off base. There was a long build-up to American-Iraqi War I, but there were no serious mass protests (that I can recall) until the bombing began. Then the bombing campaign and the subsequent mop-up ground action was over before the opposition could make much of a difference. Things are very different these days -- the opposition continues to build and the fighting has not even started. I suspect the war will proceed as planned, but at every escalation point the anti-war structures now in place will facilitate a great escalation of opposition from the general public.

    Meanwhile, sites such as www.antiwar.com [antiwar.com] provide hundreds of thousands of people with information about what the Bush administration is doing, what's happening in Europe and in the Arab world. That kind of easy access to relevant news and excellent commentary simply didn't exist during any other war or buildup to war. True, today the guy who checks out antiwar.com every morning might not be doing anything else. But next month maybe he will be marching in streets in protest, and he will have absorbed a great deal of background information that will make a difference in subsequent "yeah, I was there" conversations.

    That kind of talk directly adresses a fundamental weakness of the Bush people -- the mass consent, such as it is, they have engineered is based primarily on the shallow propaganda technique of constant repetition. Saying "Saddam has got to disarm!" and "weapons of mass destruction!" over and over again creates in the minds of many people the notion that Iraq is just as dangerous as, say, North Korea. BUT, quite often, really, conversation with more knowledgable fellow citizens can disabuse people from such impressions.

    As to the "phamphleteers," if there really are a million of them, that's wonderful! Getting intellectualy involved with issues, formulating one's thoughts, putting them in words, putting them up, almost literally, before the whole world -- those things are often precursors to more active forms of involvement. And I bet some of them have some worthy ideas, too.

  • They stole my name! Can I sue?
  • I thought that one of his best comments was how many individuals ranting about politics on the internet could be a bad thing:

    He said that institutions like the government, corporations, etc. only tend to react to other institutions - I think that I agree with that.

    As a new years resolution, I started doing my political rants on my blog, and I am cooling it a bit with my family and friends. I find that just expressing my discomfort with things like the oil war, etc. has a mellowing effect on me - but, as JPB implied, does it do any good?

    I know that the best thing that can be done is to support organizations like EFF, etc. that can get the attention (hopefully!) of congress.

    -Mark

  • I think this [shackspace.com] says all you need to know about the Information Awarenss Office. Or at least my opinion of it.

    (Other files in that directory might not be safe to look at while at work. So browse with care.)

  • leaders or no? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phriedom (561200) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @04:02PM (#5225510)
    from the article:"It strikes me that existing political institutions -- whether it's the administration or Congress or large corporations -- only respond to other institutions. I don't care how many individuals you have marching in the streets, they're not going to pay attention until there's a leader for those individuals who can come forward and say I represent the organization of those individuals and we're going to amass the necessary money and votes to kick you the hell out of office."

    Well, I can't find the article, but I read an opposing viewpoint that promoted a leaderless movement. The biggest advantage was that "they can't stop your movement with one bullet." When I look at history and see how the deaths of MLK, the Kennedys, and more recently Rabin, destroyed a movement, it gives me pause. I don't know how a leaderless movement works, but it is an idea worthy of discussion.

    Then again, maybe a leaderless movement can still have institutions.
    • An effective movement is driven by solid principles that make sense to everyone involved. The purpose of leaders is to get those principles into the minds of the public. If the principles don't take on a life of their own aside from how they're hyped by the leaders, the value of said principles is limited in movement-building.

      I think you're getting the underlying motivations for a movement confused with the tactical execution of actions that involve it.
  • JPB: The thing that spooks me about the Total Information Awareness program is that that it's inside DARPA [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency]. And unlike the CIA or the NSA, DARPA has a great track record of actually going out and making big technology happen -- because they're small, they're light, they're anti-bureaucratic, they're engineering minded. And Poindexter may be a convicted felon but he's a very, very smart guy. So where while I'd like to say there's no way that this is going to happen under any other circumstances, I'm less assured of that at the moment.
    That DARPA is involved is the thing that reassures me about the IAO in general. DARPA is an institution mainly involved in powerpoint engineering. DARPA is the US's investment in what some of you may remember from Spaceward Ho! as "Radical Tech". It doesn't come to fruition very often, and you almost never get what you wanted.

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