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Editorial The Internet Your Rights Online

Saving the Net 790

Posted by michael
from the great-american-pastime dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Doc Searls, editor at Linux Journal, has a very insightful editorial that brings it all together - the FCC media consolidation ruling, SCO vs. Linux, why broadband is under attack by telcos and cable systems, why we lost Eldred vs. Ashcroft, what's really interesting about Howard Dean's presidential campaign, and a very astute observation about the vast gulf between Liberals and Conservatives."
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Saving the Net

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  • Hrmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by acehole (174372) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:26AM (#6510520) Homepage
    How about we all agree to disband and join bbs's ?

    • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Funny)

      by Pig Hogger (10379)
      Fuck. **never again hammer-dialing**!!!!
    • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Winterblink (575267) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:00AM (#6510825) Homepage
      I wish. I miss the old BBS days. Sure we didn't have the full-on multimedia experience that the net is now. But we weren't constantly under fire from organizations trying to control our computers and the stuff we store on it. We weren't assaulted by spam and advertisements on any page view or mouse click. Most of all, what I miss was the greater sense of community the local BBS fostered. Sure you didn't necessarily KNOW the people there, but you lived in the same city or region they did. You could go to a BBS meet at a local bar or something, organize it a couple weeks in advance. Running a BBS was a blast too. One could actually distinguish themselves easily when there was only a couple dozen major boards in the area, and it was fun fostering the growth of your own little section of the community.

      I kind of feel sorry for people who didn't come from the old BBS days. They truly missed out on something special.

      • Re:Hrmm (Score:4, Interesting)

        by arkane1234 (457605) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @12:17PM (#6512195) Journal
        I'll have to agree with you, I really miss it. I used to run a BBS in maryland called Starpost Sentinel (later named Apocalypse)... short lived but very fun. Most of my time was being a user. I met more interesting people that way, and learned so much more within a timeframe of 4 years than I could have in 20, honestly. Not to mention programming WWIV :P

        • Re:Hrmm (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Winterblink (575267)
          I ran an anime board here in my area. Even got reviewed in Computer Shopper, back in the days when they had BBS reviews and it was a thicker magazine than the phone book. :) What was cool was I noticed this one guy logging in at weird hours with a crazy phone number and address. The guy was from BRAZIL, and called long distance to my system for the full two hours time limit every day to play Tradewars, VGA Planets, download some anime pics and chat on the message base. Crazy! He had a bunch of his frie
    • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by caluml (551744) <slashdotNO@SPAMspamgoeshere.calum.org> on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:04AM (#6510864) Homepage
      Why don't we just establish an overlay internetwork between like minded people, and use our own addresses schema within it. It would suffer slowness, but currently, the only thing that stops you being anonymous on the internet today is the fact that your IP address is tied to you by your ISP. If we could work out some kind of dynamic routing and allocation protocol whereby I wish to join this new network, so I send a query out with my chosen IP, and if no-one replies that it is taken, then I use the address, and advertise the route to it, then you would be free to choose whatever address you like. (Of course, routing table sizes would need to be worked on to make sure they stay small). GNoIN? (Geeknet over Internet)
    • by Dukeofshadows (607689) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @11:36AM (#6511770) Journal
      This is not a new concept: whoever controls information outlets controls what the readers of that content see. Ever wonder why there is a King James Version of the Bible? or a New International version? They started from arguments between groups that eventually resulted in new bibles being printed. The same thing happens with movies and music. Anyone over 40 can give you the name of a song they like that got remade recently and an incident where some kid thought the remake was the original, giving credit to the new artist. Or old TV movies/series that get remade to the same effect.

      Every time a new distribution media comes along it is usually controlled easily and readily because startup costs and production tended to be centralized. Publishing companies need printing presses, music and TV need studios, etc. People who want to control the distribution can easily do so by cutting it off or regulating it at the source. Distribution was also easily controlled since transportation cartels tended to be monopolies or oligopolies that would make deals with producers or get taken over by them. Localized distrubitors could be bullied with threats of price wars or bribed with treats of guarenteed monopolies in their area (much as states do with wine distribution contracts these days). Yet the internet is an entirely different entity, in that distributor and publisher have been combined into one and that no one corporation can hope to realistically control even the majority of computer-based infrastructure.

      As with any new medium, test cases arise that will set precedent for how to approach this new medium. Companies with the money are bribing Congressional officials to guarentee their copyrights and change the nature of them from honorable, respectable, limited right to an exact piece material into exclusive right to repress any and every idea even remotely based on the original idea for 75-100 years. Innovation has slowed dramatically as a result, and this would decimate engineering and scientific progress if the same ideas ever became law in those fields. Yet now people can readily copy material and distribute (publish) it with the click of a mouse. There's no time to tax it, regulate it, put it through a middleman, or anything else. Copyright laws were changing even before the internet came about, and music oligopolies were exploiting the populace for decades, but now they can be circumvented with ease. This infuriates the companies since fair-market value for their material turns out to be so much lower than their formerly enforcable prices were. Thus, in a backlash, they now want to charge more to "make up for lost profit" and have Draconian copyrights and copyright enforcement laws to protect their material ad infinitum whether it is justifiable or not.

      What really makes this tricky is that the infrastructure is diverse and the battlefield is international. Laws are limited only to the country they are made in. Ultimately it would take the UN to write legislation for anything realistic to apply to the entire planet, so the companies are going for the next-best thing: arresting or bankrupting anyone in the US involved in "copyright violation" and trying to force other countries to do the same. They do this by threatening trade sanctions by bemoaning their loss of revenues due to "pirates", legitimate or otherwise, and getting pity from some of the populace. It also helps that these same companies also tend to own TV and news stations as well as many congressmen who rely on those sources to get re-elected.

      It will be difficult to fight this war from our end since we lack the resources and congresmen of these giant companies. How do we fight back legally? First, get some like-minded friends together and write your congressmen and see if they won their last election by a thin margin. If they are not solidly rooted in their district, they will very likely listen to what you and your voting friends have to say. Second, if you are not already, get regist
      • Very good synopsis.

        One thing that might be a wrench in the plans is that there's a way for any single country to execute the IP equivilent of mutually assured destruction. You ever read Distraction by Bruce Sterling? Pretty good book... They give as the reason for the collapse of the US economy as being the result of this kind of attack. China decides that IP isn't worth it, and declares that within China, there's no such thing. So you can download any copyrighted work... including games, application

  • Dean for President (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:28AM (#6510537) Homepage Journal
    From the article: But they avoid visiting a fact that should be deeply troubling to every candidate running (and then governing) for money rather than for voters: Dean's lead is owed to a huge number of small donations, not to a small number of large special interests. If he's being bought, it's by his voters. This is a New Thing. It's also been made possible by the Net.

    This was part of what the internet was all about: democratizing the ability of an individual outside the established powers to enter into competition or publication or public recognition. Dean has been smart about this and so far, he certainly has my vote.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:39AM (#6510636)
      "This was part of what the internet was all about: democratizing the ability of an individual outside the established powers to enter into competition or publication or public recognition. "

      No, actually it was to facilitate the sharing of physics papers.
    • by ih8apple (607271) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:49AM (#6510728)
      One thing you're neglecting is that President Bush's money also comes from a huge number of small donations. A lot of them are "bundled" into a lump sum by lobby groups and corporations, but they are comprised of individual donations. Republicans tend to have an advantage during most election cycles in terms of the sheer number of individual donors. The influence still lies with the groups, not the individuals. Does this equal democratization? Or does this equal a small number of groups forcing employees or members to pony up so as to not violate campaign finance laws? (and Democrat groups do the same thing, btw, especially unions. The most ironic thing about campaign finance reform being pushed by the Democrats is that they were hurt the most by it.)
      • by micromoog (206608)
        One thing you're neglecting is that President Bush's money also comes from a huge number of small donations. A lot of them are "bundled" into a lump sum by lobby groups and corporations, but they are comprised of individual donations.

        This is simply not true [opensecrets.org]. The Republican Party leans heavily on large donations from individuals. These individuals generally are in the financial "upper crust", and generally benefit financially from a Republican administration (massive tax cuts, etc.).

        The Republican Party i

        • by gfxguy (98788)
          I call bullshit.

          If you're greedy, you vote democrat - that's how you get entitlements that you're not entitled to, and tax refunds where you never paid any taxes, and government subsidies for things that don't deserve to be subsidized.

          All the people who want money for nothing - that's greed.

          My apologies to the non-extemists out there reading this, but if someone's going to paint a broad, false picture of what it means to vote republican, I'll respond in kind. And NO, I'm NOT a republican.
          • Disagree Strongly (Score:4, Insightful)

            by thePancreas (690504) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:43AM (#6511206) Journal
            If you're greedy, you vote democrat - that's how you get entitlements that you're not entitled to, and tax refunds where you never paid any taxes

            Now Now! No reason to get all neo-con counterintuitive on us. Yes the Dems gave out some cash to some welfare cases, Yes those welfare cases probably are still welfare cases. Did those cases get rch of this money? No.

            Do all people benefit when neo-cons give out tax breaks that benefit the super rich most of all, welllll that's tough to say, but essentially the answer is: no

            the rich are getting rich, the middle class are now the working poor. And the dirt poor? They reap the HUGE benefit of a cheque for a hundred bucks from the Dems by accident.

          • by TamMan2000 (578899) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @11:40AM (#6511819) Journal
            If you're greedy, you vote democrat - that's how you get entitlements that you're not entitled to, and tax refunds where you never paid any taxes, and government subsidies for things that don't deserve to be subsidized.

            Nope, the vast majority of the people you descirbed don't vote [google.com].

            The democratic voters are those who care more about others than the republicans do...
        • by ih8apple (607271) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:48AM (#6511264)
          from this site [cfinst.org]:

          $220 million directly donated to presidential campaigns by individuals under the law (hard money, not soft money large donations from individuals)...
          $157 million to Republican candidates......
          $63 million to Democratic candidates......
          conclusion: your source is faulty.
          • by Wah (30840)
            I dunno what report you read. This one you linked included this tidbit.
            --
            REPUBLICANS
            1980 2000
            Winner (Reagan) (G.W. Bush)
            Percent donations over $750 19% 74%

            DEMOCRATS
            1980 2000
            Winner (Carter) (Gore)
            Percent donations over $750 35% 48%

            --

            Which, along with the other numbers, would seem to confirm, without a doubt, that much of the Republican campaign money from individuals, comes from rather rich ones. No surprise there.

            So this assertion (<i>
        • greedy? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @11:09AM (#6511490)

          The Republican Party is geared towards saving people money.

          Sounds good so far ... most people consider saving money to be a good thing.

          This is the key issue for Republican politics, regardless of all the morality bullshit they spew.

          Well, if you are immoral, then you don't understand morality. You can't image actually having it, so you impute weird motives instead of just listening to what people say.

          If you're greedy, you vote Republican, whether it's for an end to the estate tax or a $300 tax refund loan.

          How is it greedy to want to save money? Your own money?

          I put in the extra hours, I got the deliverable done on time, I did the work, why shouldn't I keep my money? How is that greedy? I think that coveting other people's money is what is greedy.

          • Re:greedy? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Daetrin (576516)
            I put in the extra hours, I got the deliverable done on time, I did the work, why shouldn't I keep my money? How is that greedy? I think that coveting other people's money is what is greedy

            Funny, i doubt the owners of big companies put in that many extra hours. Hell, a lot of them (take Enron for example) don't even get "the deliverable done on time," or whatever applies for their particular industry, yet they still make million. Even if the company as a whole crashes and burns and the workers all get lai

        • I have a friend that says 'he's too rich to be a Democrat.'
      • by Arker (91948) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @01:42PM (#6513023) Homepage

        The most ironic thing about campaign finance reform being pushed by the Democrats is that they were hurt the most by it.

        That's not actually true.

        The class hurt most by it is non-incumbents. Incumbents get free postage and lots of opportunities to effectively campaign from their official position and get plenty of free media coverage. Incumbents have little difficulty raising enough money to wage an effective campaign, both because they have the advantages mentioned above and so need less money, and also because donors know incumbents are likely to win and thus are better bets.

        It's challengers of any party, particularly from third parties of course, that this 'reform' hurts. It forces them to spend even more time and effort raising money, instead of campaigning, and it makes it even harder for them to raise enough money to make a viable campaign effort, particularly in the face of the advantages incumbents hold by default.

        The 'reform' is a fraud, whose primary effect is to make both Democratic and Republican incumbents even more safe from challengers, particularly from smaller parties like the Libertarians and the Greens.

    • This was nothing about what the Internet "was all about". This is a bit of what it could have been, and may just be. The Internet "was all about" military communications. DARPA. Get it through your thick skulls you mush brained flower power idiots. The Internet wasn't created to bring world peace and harmony through greater communication. At best, it allows people to find people they like who they wouldn't even have met, while at the same time allowing them to find and harrass people they didn't even
    • I agree. I hope he gets the dem nomination. When do they decide who gets the nomination? Is it at the national convention? Or is it similar to the electiorial college, you weigh each states votes?

      Anyway, I think it great what's going on. He's getting a lot of cash from those who actually vote for him. It's not to hard to get 40,000 people who like you to give $20. Granted it's only $800,000 and not the 100+ mil or whatever obscene about the retard currently in office spent. Get 1 million people to s
      • by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:15AM (#6510938) Homepage Journal
        When do they decide who gets the nomination? Is it at the national convention? Or is it similar to the electiorial college, you weigh each states votes?

        The candidates win delegates in each state primary, and the results are tallied at the national convention. Delegates can vote contrary to how their state voted, but it's unusual.

        It's not to hard to get 40,000 people who like you to give $20. Granted it's only $800,000 and not the 100+ mil or whatever obscene about the retard currently in office spent.

        Try 60,000+ people giving an average of over $60... the Dean campaign collected something like 7 million in the last quarter. Bush, of course, has about 200 million... but once the Democratic lineup thins out, it'll be easier to raise funds.
    • by phantomlord (38815) <slashdotNO@SPAMkrwtech.com> on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:03AM (#6510857) Journal
      In the 2000 election, GWB collected $81,260,483 from contributors of more than $200 and another $20,260,290 from people contributing less than $200. That means at least 182563 (81261+101302) contributors. Seems like a pretty significant amount of people.

      Looking at this year's race [opensecrets.org], GWB has 6996 contributors under the $2000 limit, compared to Dean at 8662. A difference of less than 1700 contributors isn't really that ground breaking, especially seeing as the campaign cycle hasn't gone into full swing yet.

      The dirty little secret is GWB, and republicans in general, actually do better at collecting numbers of small donations than the democrats do. The vast majority of democratic hard money come from large donations by people in the entertainment and legal fields whereas republicans do better in the flyover country that the democrats often like to ignore. Yes... Dean has more non-limit contributors than GWB right now, but remember that 101302 figure at the end of the 2000 cycle as the election season begins to brew.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:28AM (#6510540)
    I'm happy with AOL and MSN. They provide all I need. I find more useful content on there anyway then I do on the "internet"
  • liberal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:34AM (#6510595)
    When will Americans learn what "liberal" really means? Many Americans use it as if it is an insult, and they seem ignorant to the fact that the United States was founded on the basis of liberalism.
    • Re:liberal (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BWJones (18351)
      Many Americans use it as if it is an insult,

      Only if you are right wing Republican. :-) Most Democrats I know are more than happy to call themselves liberal.

      • Re:liberal (Score:4, Informative)

        by FatRatBastard (7583) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:47AM (#6510710) Homepage
        Most Democrats I know are more than happy to call themselves liberal. ..which has nothing to do with the word "liberalism" that the parent was talking about. I'm glad those on the left are abandoning the word "liberal" for the word "progressive." Hopefully popular usage of the word will revert back to its original meaning. I associate liberal with Isaiah Berlin, not Ralph Nader.
      • Umm no most democrats call themselves 'progressive' not liberal (ala Alan Combes).
    • Re:liberal (Score:3, Insightful)

      by syrinx (106469)
      americans mostly use a different definition for "liberal" then the "principles that the United States was founded on". hence the phrase "classical liberal".

      frankly, being a "liberal", in the sense that most americans use it, should be an insult. :P
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:34AM (#6510600)
    The author spends too much time polarizing this into a liberal vs. conservative issue. That's a meaningless division, much like republican vs. democrat. Obviously he has a lot of issues with what he deems as conservatives, so he's stereotyping them and lashing out.

    (As a side note, the raw meaning of the term "conservative" is pretty interesting in regard to his issues. You could say that people who want music and software to be free are "liberal." You could also say that people who think that a UNIX-alike is the pinnacle of operating system design are "conservative.")
    • You could also say that people who think that a UNIX-alike is the pinnacle of operating system design are "conservative."

      Then how does this explain Al Gore's presence on Apple board of directors given that OS X is a "UNIX-alike"? :-)

  • Conspiracy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:35AM (#6510603) Homepage Journal
    To paraphrase a common saying, do not attribute to consipracy that which can be adequately explained by greed.

    There's little doubt that there's movements working against what much of the Linux communities believe in, but there's no Big Bad hidden agenda here -- just simple, petty and local greed.

    Regards,
    --
    *Art
    • by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:52AM (#6510753) Homepage Journal
      I once told a friend, "There is far more Stupidity than Evil in the world."

      I have since unfortunately found the corollary, "Sufficient Stupidity combined with enough Power is effectively indistinguishable from Evil."

      Something like that applies here, "Sufficient Greed combined with enough Power/Wealth can effect the appearance of a Conspiracy."

      Think "Greedy Lemmings," and it can look like a Conspiracy.
  • by linuxislandsucks (461335) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:35AM (#6510605) Homepage Journal
    Terminator is trying to ..excuse me RIAA/MPAA is trying to get Arnold to run for President under their banner..

    Not a joke people..

    Its time for Revolution...
    • by Servo5678 (468237) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:40AM (#6510641)
      But wait a minute - I thought that one of the requirements to be president is that the candidate must be an American-born citizen. Arnold, being Austrian-born and all, doesn't meet that requirement.
      • Time to start paying attention to news sites other than Slashdot. Orrin Hatch (Senator from Utah) is pushing an ammendment to allow US Citizens that were not born in the US but have been citizens for a decent amount of time (I believe 20 years) to be eligible to be president. It's actually a good idea in my opinion, the requirement that you were born in the US is outdated.

        The ironic thing is wasn't there a Movie (was it Demolition Man?) about a future where they changed the laws to allow Arnold to become
    • trying to get Arnold to run for President


      Of course he can't be president without a constitutional ammendment allowing naturalized citizens to be president.

    • This isn't Demolition Man. Arnold can't run for president as he wasn't born in the United States. He can, however, run for "lesser" offices.
    • Terminator is trying to ..excuse me RIAA/MPAA is trying to get Arnold to run for President under their banner..

      I'm sorry but this is wrong. Actually Arnold is looking to run for the governership of the great state of California, which he declared that he would do if they recalled whatever-his-name-is.

    • Revolution? Because everyone else is too lazy to actually use a different business model and try to compete against the RIAA? Please.
  • Free Air Optical (Score:5, Interesting)

    by femto (459605) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:38AM (#6510629) Homepage
    What about geeks connecting to each other, in a mesh, using through-the-air optical links, thus forming a 'private' internet?
    • Raw components (LEDs and LASERs) are cheap .
    • Bandwidth is high >100MHz with cheap laser + PIN diode
    • Visible spectrum is unlicensed (it's just light)
    • Spectrum reuse is very high.
    • Consequently it has a very high data density (bits per second per unit volume)
    • In many juridiction it falls outside telecommunications regulation, as such regulation only covers wires, fibres and radio (frequency less than light) signals

    The only 'major' piece missing is a simple and cheap form of active aiming to keep the transmitter and receiver reliably pointing at each other. There's a project for someone.

    • Try RONJA (Score:4, Informative)

      by tonywestonuk (261622) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:42AM (#6511195)
      http://ronja.twibright.com/

      (Exactly what you were talking about!)

      Tony.
    • As many other posters have pointed out, suggesting optical links for anything larger than a LAN party must be a joke (you're not an idiot, right?). A much more reasonable suggestion is the launch of publicly-controlled communications microsatellites.

      Perhaps the launch vehicle could be built on some of that X-Prize technology that keeps generating press-releases. We might actually have to find some radio spectrum a little more useful than the visual range (since it's in space, I assume we only have to worr

  • Oh yeah? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Exatron (124633) <Exatron AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:39AM (#6510630) Homepage
    Well, I'll just go build my own internet... with blackjack and hookers. In fact, forget the internet.
  • How to Save the Net (Score:3, Interesting)

    by s20451 (410424) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:39AM (#6510635) Journal
    Move the whole thing to Canada [slashdot.org].

    Seriously now. You want Howard Dean? We've got a party full of them. [liberal.ca] We just keep electing them, and we can't stop ourselves.
  • by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:39AM (#6510638)
    Interesting article. If PCs (and presumably Macs) are going to end up crippled by DRM, what's to stop someone - such as the Chinese, who have demonstrated they can design and build a home-grown CPU, or possibly VIA - throwing away the x86/PowerPC architecture and building an alternative "personal computer"? Given a reasonable C compiler, I bet someone would have Linux running on it by the time it was ready for market, and then the owner of the new "PC" would be in the pocket of no-one - not MS, not Intel, not AOL-TW and not whoever is paying the US Government at that point in time.

    OK, AOL would never let you play streamed Harry Potter movies on it, but you could use the web and run office applications, which would keep most of us happy. Wouldn't it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:40AM (#6510642)
    That article just seemed to be a collection of random quotes thrown together without one original thought from the author or even an underlying explanation of how they fit together.

    A great example is the quote from the National Review. It is a great quote and specifically attacks the changes that have happened in copyright law. At the end of the quote the article "author" says "National Review is a conservative magazine. John Bloom is a conservative columnist. This is significant." But he doesn't go on to explain WHY this is significant. Is it because the author is surprised that a conservative can have an intelligent thought?

    In other things he is just plain wrong. He states that "Liberals often are flummoxed by the way conservatives seem to love big business (including, of course, big media)." Yet it is the democrats who are most in the pocket of big business. Here is a clue - Hollywood is 99.9% liberals. The other 0.1% is Drew Carey. Senator Hollings is a Democrat. DMCA was signed by a Democrat into law. Mary Bono may be a Republican but only in name.

    If you think that the internet is failing than this article is a great sign it isn't. The fact that any unintelligent schlub could post an article like this and receive praise for it proves it.
    • Equal criticism (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dachshund (300733)
      Senator Hollings is a Democrat. DMCA was signed by a Democrat into law. Mary Bono may be a Republican but only in name.

      Searls seemed quite honest in his article that Democrats are to blame for creating the sick regulatory environment that brought about this mess.

      His point, however, has to do with the here-and-now of a Republican controlled government. What he's saying is that in trying to "dismantle" media regulation in an inept fashion *, Republicans are only allowing its unhealthy spawn to metastasize

  • Consumer by Force (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rhadamanthus (200665) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:41AM (#6510656)
    Arguments supported by Hollywood promoting copyright as "property" has a more grevious undertone, in my opinion. It seeks to divide everyone into two categories: The content creators and the content consumers. To many people inside the corporate media sphere see themselves as the only suppliers of creative ingenuity, innovation, and art. It appears that for the sake of protecting their egomania and "intellectual property" anyone who owns a computer is going to be forced to have it turned into nothing more than a fancy TV.


    The word consumer, as a whole, is also a source of aggravation. It implies a notion of being fed, of being given content that you don't necessarily desire. And this is precisely what this notion of "distributors of intellectual property" is demanding of you. Sit down in front of your computer/TV, pay an exorbitant fee, and watch the same old boring content and advertisement barrage over and over again. The great thing about the current computer is its ability to allow for the construction of content, not its ability to supply it. This is further amplified by the Internet, and the accompanying ease of distribution and immense audience. For instance, a musician could record a song onto his computer and sell it via the Internet, or a graphic artist could market his art. In the future, perhaps even an independent film company could market it's wares online. A future dictated by DRM and "property" restrictions allows only a few select companies to digitally "watermark" their media in a manner which the now-crippled computer can read. Does anyone honestly believe that these same companies that desire such immense control will relinquish it in the future to independents desiring to sell to the same market?


    Suddenly a person is no longer an individual, but a forced consumer of multiple mega-corporations. The prospect is as disturbing as it is possible. The myth of "intellectual property" is curbing and inhibiting the free expression of ideas and content, precisely what copyright law was intended to promote.

    ---rhad


    • by autechre (121980) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:52AM (#6511304) Homepage
      It's very frustrating for me, and hard for me to understand. To me, the best way to live is to learn as much as you can, and try to find the best choices for yourself by gathering as much information as is possible (or feasible; you don't want to spend 2 hours researching where you will eat lunch today). Art and creation are, I believe, some of the most fun you can have without being naked (not that that's excluded...)

      But a lot of people seem really, truly content with being told what to eat, wear, listen to, drive, vote for, support, etc. There are people who always vote Democrat/Republican without any consideration for the actual candidate. There are people that prefer McDonald's to real food. Most people just do what their friends do, and how did their friends start doing it? What's the source? I guess there's no way to be sure, but I'm betting it was an advertisement.

      Maybe it's because it makes life easy. You listen to music to relax, and thinking about it is too hard. It's easier to watch TV than to read a book. It's easy to enjoy fast food, because it's a collection of chemicals designed to be pleasing to the largest number of people. No dangerous sharp edges for you to beware.

      Similarly, most people don't want to create. Artistic effort is difficult, requiring many hours to produce something. TV can be enjoyed now. Learning how to really cook would be hard, and my family needs dinner today. Hamburger Helper is good enough. It was a hard day at work and I have a lot on my mind. I don't have time to be creative.

      Now, there's great joy to be had in take-out pizza, beer, and Brotherhood of the Wolf. Some days, it's nice to let someone else take the helm. But Einstein understood that we have to keep our brains moving in new directions in order to keep them alive (he played the violin). If all you do is work and consume, you are a unit. I couldn't stand it.

      (Some people take great joy in their work, which is wonderful, and ideal even. But being one-dimensional is still bad. You'll get further if you stretch your mind in new directions as often as possible; you may be surprised at how related two seemingly dissimilar things really are.)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Quick! Call Al Gore!
  • ... money. Plain and simple.

    When a lot of big companies start seeing a potential to see their profits tumble they will react agressively to protect their interests. Is it any wonder that the media companies are worried that millions of people around the world are sharing millions of music tracks and films? Are the software companies worried about people downloading software? The answer is yes.

    Do such companies want to control the internet? Undoutedly. Can you imagine the potential for a company like D
  • by ornil (33732) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:47AM (#6510714)
    Howard Dean seems to be a very unusual candidate with regard to the use of technology and the tech crowd in general. How about we try to get an interview with him? We can ask him about DMCA, Patriot act and stuff like that. Wouldn't it be nice to have a president who actually heard of Slashdot?:)
    He appeared on Lessig's blog which has (I would guess) a lot fewer readers than Slashdot, so it seems likely he would agree, if we approached it right. Does anyone know his campaign people, so we can find out?
    • That is such a good idea that I just went and contacted him [deanforamerica.com] about it (well, I contacted his mail-reading interns anyway...) I welcome other to do the same.
    • Re:The Patriot act, Dean has serious concerns about it, and thinks that parts of it go way too far and violate civil rights.

      They do not have an official policy on the DMCA as of yet (I asked them) but they are formulating one, and I would suspect that it would be on the side of fair use and the right to tinker with what one owns.

      As well, they are against the consolidation of the medis, for whatever that's worth.

      Actually when it comes to tech, Dean is very close to Gingrich..which is not entirely a bad th
  • Being bought (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cryonic*angel (691695) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:50AM (#6510741)
    This is a frequent criticism of Modern Democracy. For the moment we'll hold aside the fact that Ancient Democracy was available only to property-holding males (something the republicans I'm sure would love to bring back). Ancient Democracy was not about getting paid, in salary or in kind; in was civic duty.

    Modern Democracy, at least as practiced in the USA, is all about money. And as has been said about corruption, "...follow the money." Why don't american politicians finally prove that they're not the lords of a corrupt system, but the leaders of a just system and ban soft money.

    • Much of our society is not fit to vote. They don't pay attention to the issues, they don't critically think about what they see and hear and they sure as hell don't have enough passion to keep a fire lit under our leaders' asses. Giving every tom, dick, harry, jane and sally the right to vote is the perfect way to guarantee that you will have a government that does represent us. "Swing voters" are only at best about 20% of the electorate, the rest are pretty much 50/50 both major parties. If we could get ri
    • Re:Being bought (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Orne (144925) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:40AM (#6511160) Homepage
      What? How does Flamebait like this get marked positive?

      It's funny that the Democratic party is historically [ghg.net] more pro-Slavery compared to [everythingmacosx.com] the Republican party... but I guess that if you don't like history, you get the schools and mass media to revise it until "history" is in your party's favor...

      And I agree, I'd love to ban soft money. Let's all bitch about the party of "big business"... So what if Democrats are more dependant [capitaleye.org] on (unregulated) Soft Money contributions than Republicans (Democrats: 61% of their overall funds in soft money, up from 47 percent two years ago. Republicans: 43% of their funds in soft money, increase of 8%).

      Since the start of our american congress in 1789, congress has always been paid [senate.gov] for participating. You will also find that even the Ancient Democracies had salaries [democracynature.org] ... the example you are thinking of is the Carthaginian [fordham.edu] model, which was an oligarchy [wikipedia.org]... the rich became senators, because only they could afford to serve for no pay, which shut out the poor from serving in government. Even Aristotle recognized the flaw in this method of governing. I would say then that paying our congressment is definitely the correct method in equalizing who can participate in government.

      I would argue that it is not the money that is the problem in our governments, instead the problem is with (1) the philosophies and (2) the beaurocracies of those involved. I have a problem with people who have no regard for other people's money, and do not have the personal restraint when it comes to spending it. This philosophy of socialism has morphed our government into asset reallocation, something the creators of the system never approved of. On top of that, there is so much redundancy, waste, and unaccountability... but we know that already.
  • by Featureless (599963) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:50AM (#6510742) Journal
    Very smart.

    The author does an excellent job of synthesizing a number of disparate, troubling issues going on in our society at the moment into a very coherent whole.

    If you can understand that democracies are only as good as their voters' information systems, or that markets are only as healthy as the exchange of goods, services, and ideas in them is free, then you should be able to appreciate where the author is going.

    The reason esoteric issues like telecom and media regulation, and intellectual "property" law end up commanding such a large amount of attention in the community is because both of these, people are realizing, are not just important, but absolutely essential, to maintaining those very important American principles.

    A cheap, ubiquitous communications medium. The free flow of information which respects, but it is not outrageously hobbled by, the rights of authors... It's only our economy, and our democracy, at stake.

    I think we need a galvanizing issue. I suggest Saving the Net. To do that, we need to treat the Net as two things:

    1. a public domain, and therefore
    2. a natural habitat for markets

    In other words, we need to see the Net as a marketplace that has done enormous good, is under extreme threat and needs to be saved.
  • ... if someone gets to rant to slashdot on the frontpage, than I shall counter with a comment rant!

    First off this the vast gulf between Liberals and Conservatives, I don't exactly know what to say to this except no shit that's like saying there's a huge contrast between black and white, seems to me that possibly stating the obvious is a little too much this early in the wonderful work day.

    Second off, why is everyone making SCO the talk of the town? It's the right of every american to be able to sue an

  • by Ethelred Unraed (32954) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:56AM (#6510791) Journal
    ...while I'm more or less a liberal (in the old-style Jeffersonian or European sense) and nearly always vote for Democrats, this particular comment struck me as unfair to conservatives and their ilk:

    The other [factor] is the high regard political conservatives hold for successful enterprises. Combine the two, and you get conservatives eagerly rewarding companies whose primary achievements consist of successful long-term adaptation to highly regulated environments. That's what's happened with broadcasting and telecom.

    Lest we forget, it is actually the Democratic Party that is more in the pocket of Hollywood and the media companies, while the Republican Party tends to favor "big business" in general. Both parties have their share of guilt in all this mess. The DMCA was passed with bipartisan (i.e. substantial Democratic) support and was signed into law by a Democrat (Clinton). Trial and IP lawyers also tend to support the Democrats (cf. John Edwards). (Over-)deregulation of the media and telecoms industries took place largely during the Clinton Administration (though it started in the first Bush Administration).

    I seriously doubt that Howard Dean is any angel on this, either. He's just as much a politician as any other. His rhetoric about being from the "Democractic wing of the Democratic Party" is a little ironic, given that he's against gun control, is hardly a pacifist (he supported Gulf War I and interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo), etc. etc. etc. I don't see him as being a liberal at all (neither in the modern "leftist" sense nor in the older Jeffersonian sense), but an opportunist like any other.

    FWIW given my own political positions I'll probably be voting for "anything but Dubya", but I dislike the idolizing that Dean has been benefitting from of late. And I also dislike disingenuous attacks on one party or the other...

    Cheers,

    Ethelred

    • The problem here is that you are equating "liberal" with "Democrat" and "conservative" with "Republican". While this may be true for the moment, it's not 100% accurate. There is a fairly large difference between liberals and conservatives. There is almost no difference between Democrats and Republicans, save whom exactly they are beholding to.
  • Proprietary Linux? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thoolihan (611712) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:58AM (#6510813) Homepage
    From the article: And I'm hearing from people who insist that Linux is not exactly ownerless, either. "Linux is a registered Trademark of Linus Torvalds" appears on 268,000 Web documents, Google tells me. In at least one sense, these folks say, Linus owns Linux. That means it is, in a limited sense, proprietary.

    This should really be corrected. The trademark is simply on the name. You can't go write your own software and call it Linux. But the software and code is as far from proprietary as you can get. If Linus started wrecking Linux with patches, you could take the code, rename it, and have your own kernel. This guy should RTFL (license) before he writes an article.

    -t
  • Nobody cares (Score:3, Informative)

    by raw-sewage (679226) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @09:59AM (#6510822)
    The article quotes John Bloom as saying the following. The big media companies, holding the copyrights of dead authors, have said, in effect, that Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton were wrong and that we should go back to the aristocratic system of hereditary ownership, granting copyrights in perpetuity.

    As another poster pointed out, it's plain and simple greed. The big media companies want perpetual copyright so they can continue to milk those works as long as possible. Copyright to a media company is the same as a manufacturing company's raw materials or even inventory. Manufacturing organizations are taxed on their inventory; if the big media companies want to own all that copyright, they should be taxed on it.

    The real issue here is that the overwhelming majority of people at large are not aware of these issues. Anyone attempting to educate the masses on such things are immediately shut out as hippie radicals. The only people really working at these issues are the ones who stand to make a profit on them (i.e. the big media companies). Those same people working relentlessly for profit via copyright are the ones who are so quick to equate Linux, open source, anything public domain, etc to communism.

    The cruel irony here is that the very people who label public domain as communism are the same people who are robbing our freedoms.

    Sigh. Linux and the Internet were great while they lasted.

  • Conservative? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drachemorder (549870) <brandon@christia ... g.org minus poet> on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:01AM (#6510833) Homepage
    "Liberals often are flummoxed by the way conservatives seem to love big business (including, of course, big media). Yet the reason is simple: they love winners, literally. They like to reward strength and achievement. They hate rewarding weakness for the same reason a parent hates rewarding kids' poor grades. This, more than anything else, is what makes conservatives so radically different from liberals. It's why favorite liberal buzzwords like "fairness" and "opportunity" are fingernails on the chalkboards of conservative minds. To conservatives, those words are code-talk for punishing the strong and rewarding the weak."

    I'm a hardcore conservative, and I'm not sure how much I agree with this definition. To my way of thinking, it's not a matter of "rewarding the strong". It's a matter of incentive --- if people are going to be taken care of no matter whether or not they do any useful work, they simply aren't likely to do any useful work. It's more a matter of rewarding effort than of rewarding strength. Granted, there are some serious problems with the way capitalism works too, and it does often turn out that the "stronger" ones do better. But I think that's the nature of freedom. You can't truly have freedom without the possibility of great success or great failure.

    On a side note, as a conservative, I'm very strongly against the modern notion of "intellectual property". I'm all for property rights, capitalism, and the free market. But as the article mentions, copyright isn't a property right and shouldn't be treated as one. I believe in the Constitution above everything else, as far as politics go. And in the thinking of the founders, copyright cannot be a property right. Property is a right that the founders envisionsed as being inherent to mankind --- right up there with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Rights like that cannot be infringed by the state. They are not granted by the state. They are inherent to the people. But, the Constitution allows Congress to GRANT and LIMIT copyright. If copyright were an inherent right, they would have protected it as such --- they certainly wouldn't have given Congress the authority to "grant" it. Therefore I must conclude that the notion of "intellectual property" is thoroughly unconstitutional, and thus I cannot support it.

    • Re:Conservative? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by veddermatic (143964)
      The difference is that the phone systems "content" is generated at both ends in real time, then goes away, except in rare cases like movie-phone and stuff like that.

      Internet content is generated and stored "somewhere" by "someone" and then is accessed by anyone at any time after that, which then makes the "something" akin to property.. who owns the content? Who is allowed to access the "somewhere" that it is stored? Who decides what "someones" are allowed to store content?

      These are the issues at stake / c
      • by DG (989)
        I'm a Canadian (who works in the US) and I've noted (given my constant exposure to it) that American politics are very, very strange.

        It seems that a large number of Americans see politics as some sort of sport or game, where "our team" plays against "their team" with control of the Presidency, House, Senate etc as both goal and a means of keeping score.

        As such, it seems that many, many voters look straight past the issues, and instead vote for their "team" regardless of the conduct of the actual players.
  • by sam_handelman (519767) <skh2003 AT columbia DOT edu> on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:03AM (#6510856) Homepage Journal
    News from the future:
    July 23rd, 2008

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court today upheld the Pre-emptive Piracy Prevention Act (PPPA), which gave the private armies employed by the sole remaining media corporation the power to declare and pursue war against individuals on US soil - who can then be designated as "enemy combatants" and tried by military tribunals created by our glorious leader, Grand Marshall Rupert Murdoch.

    Omnimedia spokesmen hailed the ruling, calling it a victory for intellectual property rights, and saying that it vindicated their use of nuclear weapons against the city of Palo Alto, where their intelligence indicated that the source of all the world's pirated content, the so-called "Universal Inserter," was hiding.

    Mere minutes after the blast, the Universal Inserter uploaded an illegal copy of Charlice's new video (purchase a license to view title) [goatse.cx], to his partner in crime, the Universal Downloader. Experts believe the upload is genuine.

    The attorney representing the Universal Inserter, Stanford Professor Lawrence Lessig, who has drawn considerable controversy for refusing to acknowledge that his client even exists, was unavailable for comment as he is being held on charges of aiding and abetting the enemy at the Omnimedia detention center in Gautonomo Bay.
  • by jimsum (587942) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:38AM (#6511133)
    I think the situation is even worse than the author describes. The media companies are turning copyright into a property right, which is bad enough, but they are also ensuring that they don't actually transfer any property rights when you buy from them.

    They are setting up a sort of feudal system, where they own all the property, and we are merely serfs who get to pay rent to access the property.

    It is important to restore some balance in the copyright law between the public and the media companies; but I think it is equally important to define what property rights (i.e. fair use rights) consumers have when they buy a CD or a DVD.
  • by CashCarSTAR (548853) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:44AM (#6511224)
    It's not about politics. At least not as how we normally think about it.

    The idea that "property" is the one all-consuming right that we have, quite frankly is self-destructive. Sure, property is important...but copyright is exactly that. IP is bullshit.

    To go a step further, the reason for this is the belief that we can all "do it ourselves". That somehow, we can pull ourselves up from the bootstraps and make ourselves successful is frankly...bullshit.

    There are more important things than business, and money and profit.

    Culture and society.

    Those are the most important things we have. Without those things, everything else is meaningless. We need to start to realize that.

    I agree with a limited copyright. My idea? Copyright should last for 20 years, or until the commercial aspect is gone. If you take something off the market, put it in the public domain. Allow those that care about the culture to nurture it.

    They are conservative ideas however. One of the problem is that nobody can refute them in the current political enviroment. Make a sneeze toward it and you called a commie.

    How can you fix it?

    I don't know..
  • by David Wong (199703) on Wednesday July 23, 2003 @10:58AM (#6511377) Homepage
    This is the key point from the article, the heart of what's wrong with the anti-IP movement and the Slashdot crowd:

    On such a simple scale, it was clear how the majority of the Court would vote. Not because they are conservative, but because they are Americans. We have a (generally sensible) pro-property bias in this culture that makes it extremely hard for people to think critically about the most complicated form of property out there--what most call "intellectual property." To question property of any form makes you a communist. Yet this is precisely our problem: To make it clear that we are pro-copyright without being extremists either way.

    So deep is this confusion that even a smart, and traditionally leftist, social commentator like Edward Rothstein makes the same fundamental mistake in a piece published Saturday. He describes the movement, of which I am part, as "countercultural," "radical," and anti-corporate. Now no doubt there are some for whom those terms are true descriptors. But I for one would be ecstatic if we could just have the same copyright law that existed under Richard Nixon..."


    Through history the "there should be no such thing as private property!" movement has been driven by those who simply don't have much private property of their own and thus would like some of yours. This is the perception most of the mainstream has of the "it's our right to download movies and software!" crowd; that they simply want something for free because they lack the resources to pay.

    You ask why we middle-Americans side with the big-media companies, but the answer is we don't. We side with the very basic American idea of you not being able to move into my houses with twenty of your hippy friends in the name of "property belongs to everybody!!! Who cares that we didn't build or maintain or earn or buy it!!!"

    Someone will shout back that this isn't the argument of the anti-IP side, and I understand; but that's how it sounds to us. You didn't write or film or fund the movie. So why do you claim a "right" to see it free?

    The author of the article is absolutely right; if you want to win the debate you must make it more about reforming copyright laws to make them more reasonable (the mainstream can get down with that), and less about "YOU EVIL CAPITALISTS DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO KEEP ANYTHING TO YOURSELVES WITHOUT SHARING WITH US!!!" The average American will NEVER come over to that side.

    The ability to own property is as fundamental a freedom to this country as free speech or the right to privacy. If you want to change the minds of the masses (and you must if you want the politicians and CEO's to change theirs; bribes or no bribes they will go with the flow of public opinion in order to stay in office) you must re-frame the argument in that way... or watch your movement slowly die as the open-trading technology window closes. And it WILL close.

Vax Vobiscum

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