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The Internet Your Rights Online

The Internet Under Siege 181

Gorgonzola writes: "Lawrence Lessig has written an accessible article in Foreign Policy on the threats to freedom on the internet, including the threat the DMCA poses to open and free software. Nothing new to Slashdot regulars, but good to see something appear in an influential magazine like Foreign Policy. An article mentioning the Sklyarov case like this one does, is going to draw a lot more attention from policymakers to the problems the DMCA and other legal troubles are posing to online freedom than your average rant on a board like this, how well reasoned it may be."
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The Internet Under Siege

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  • Accessible? (Score:5, Funny)

    by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @07:59PM (#2566633) Homepage
    "Lawrence Lessig has written an accessible article in Foreign Policy..."

    Give it time. /. effect seldom misses.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @07:59PM (#2566635) Homepage
    the only effect is that it generates a huge underground that replaces what the laws take away. and forces people to become criminals. (Prohabition in the 20's)

    The only use for any information control laws is to make a very few filthy rich at the expense of the general populace.
    • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @08:27PM (#2566760) Homepage Journal
      The Internet runs on fat pipes, and access to those pipes can be throttled. You can weasel your away around all you want, but ultimately whoever can control a router between you and the backbone controls your ability to speak. Right now, cable providers have terribly restrictive TOS, such that in some ways I'd almost prefer dialup if I could really get 56k instead of never quite making it to the full 33.6k.

      Unfortunately, the same entertainment industry we rail at for the DMCA and the like largely owns broadband to the home, (I guess ATT has some cable.) and they set the TOS. So far I haven't tried peer2peer, and I know that they've at least left port22 inbound open. But they could interpret their contract to shut down EVERY incoming port, if they so desired.

      I wouldn't feel too flush with civil disobedient power, especially with a business friendly administration in place. Otherwise, we're going to have to start rebuilding the old home BBS network.

      I agree that the real power of the Internet will emerge as peer2peer comes into its own, and flexes its muscles. But at the moment, the entertainment industries are POWERFUL and would just as soon turn the Internet into another broadcast medium, like the Vast Wasteland called TV.

      Give up? No way. But choose battles carefully and keep an eye to the desired end.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @08:40PM (#2566808) Homepage
        you'rfe only limited because the general masses aren't smart enough to find different ways in.

        Myself and 10 others have built a "internet" using wireless technology. we span over 10 square miles riht now with pockets of free-public access.

        we do not announce who we are, to keep the broadband providers from opressing us. if we become big enough they will probably try to shut us down, but hopefully by then we'll have long distance and more redundant connections to thwart any attempts.

        acess is always available... you just have to be clever enough to find it.
        • I guess you've taken my 'rebuild the BBS network' and done me one better. Great.


          From what I hear, the next rev of 802.11 is something like 5 times faster. 11Mbps is pretty neat for what wireless is doing today, but not so hot when trying to rebuild the Internet we knew and loved. Robert Cringely had an article on taking wireless and hooking it to a high-gain antenna to make a line-of-sight connect well beyond normal range. Stuff like that is next.

          What happens when two wireless bases have overlapping coverage?
          • Client picks the stronger signal and latches to it. We're setting up a system in our public library, and use this to make sure that hosts have seemless coverage. Requirements: same ethernet segment (VLAN to cheat...), same ESSID on base stations, etc.
          • High gain antennas are cheap ans small... Primestar dishes are the best choice for the price (free from the trash behind any cable tv company) and you can spend up to several thousands from there.. I have a 2watt 802.11b link that uses 2 amps designed for this stuff.. I get about 14 miles out of that one. it only goes down during rain storms. If you dont want to do massive scale, anyone can do this in a couple of weekends. but only of you are spaning a few thousand feet and there are no trees in the way.

            The most important thing, use antennas or dishes that look like everyone elses.... it makes noticing you very difficult.... I gotta love dish network and the other companies for providing the best camoflauage I could ask for.
      • While this is a possibility, it seems that in the current economic state the broadband providers are barely hanging on. They aren't likely to do anything to further alienate paying customers. In the future hopefully we will finally get some competition in broadband ensuring that no providers alienate their customers. Oh how I hate monopolies.
      • Your kidding right? I switched to cable from adsl and never looked back - 8 megabits (and I frequently get that) for 25$ per month is heaven on earth :).

        It is true - they seem to filter things like Kazaa (I don't know this for a fact) - but I can still talk to Kazaa people on @home.
      • "I agree that the real power of the Internet will emerge as peer2peer comes into its own, and flexes its muscles. But at the moment, the entertainment industries are POWERFUL and would just as soon turn the Internet into another broadcast medium, like the Vast Wasteland called TV."

        I think it's time people and organizations start connecting to each other more. I worked at a place that was 11 or more hops from another entity inside the same building. Not only will P2P (and the rest of the Internet) benefit immensely from more efficient traffic, but it will be much more resistant to mass-filtering.

        I've been thinking about putting really fat pipes between all the schools in Boston (where I'm in school), I think organizations have to start internetworking more so this internet-thing works well.
  • . . .is not necessarily that politicians don't understand the threat of DMCA like legislation to freedom (of speech, etc). Rather, it is that they have been put in the position of protecting our intrests, or protecting theirs. Face it, the status quo will always have a voice in society. Politicians (or most of them), are not going to bite the hand that feeds them (cash rich lobbies) to protect what has successfully been characterized as a hacker/pirate fringe.
    • It is the interests that paid the politicians the most money.

      Ever see The Distingueshed Gentleman with Eddie Murphy? It is a documentary on Washington politics.

      • by kingos ( 530288 )
        I don't get this political system, as I am not American. How can you guys allow such an obviously flawed system to exist?

        The person with the most money wins - the person who is payed buy the companies with the most money wins - the companies with the most money win

        This obviously makes the politicians cater to the needs of the big companies rather than the people. I know I am not saying anything new here, but why hasn't there been a greater effort to stop or get rid of this?

        No wonder you only get 2 weeks holiday a year! :)

        • How can you guys allow such an obviously flawed system to exist?
          The person with the most money wins

          To an extent, this is true in the vast majority of governments, but cause and effect are often reversed (the winners get the most money). But the reason it's true to such an extent in the US is that it crept up on us, and it has only become fully apparent recently. Governmental inertia is immense, and the current trajectory is in favor of more money influence.
        • I don't get this political system, as I am not American. How can you guys allow such an obviously flawed system to exist?

          Its quite simple really, we haven't seen anything else we like.

          Spekaing for myself, I see it as such:

          1)Communism (I think that the USSR showed us that this idea worked as well as a lead ballon.)

          2)Totalinarism (As I recall from my history classes, this is what a bunch of people died to get rid of here.)

          3)Socialism (Not bad on paper, but losing 70% of my paycheck to taxes doesn't sound fun, not to mention, that most of the stories I've heard, put the social services in such states as almost completely lacking.)

          4)Les Faire Capitalism(sp?)(We gave this a good go here, got us the Rockefellers, and oppresive work conditions.)

          5)Pure Democrocy (Logisticlly impossible, and can easily cause oppression of the minority. Not to mention.)

          That leaves us with what we have left, a corrupt, money driven govenment, with loads of self-serving representative. The only way we can control it, is by banding together as needed and giving the politicians a reason to do, or not do, something.(i.e. Small Business Association.) Its not great, but at least it forces the politicians to hide what they are doing, and lets me be responsible for my well being.

          Of course, we have ended up with some bad laws, but what govenment hasn't? But at least we have a mechanisim in place to get rid of them. And failing all else, we have the ability to preform a bloody revolt, as last resort.

          But this is just my view of home.
          • But at least we have a mechanisim in place to get rid of them.

            If money really does buy the election, then how do you have the mechanism to get rid of them? No one will legistlate against the bad laws, because they are kept in power by the companies that want those laws!

            And as for the other alternative, well most countries have the ability to perform a bloody result, no matter what type of government they have

            I think the biggest flaw with the US campaign system is that people can donate anonymously. Didn't it ever occur to anyone that politicians might be influenced by money from criminal/illegal sources?

            • Er, they can't donate anonymously. Donations are regulated, 'specially "hard" money (money sent to aid a specific candidate), which is quite limited.

              Interested? See opensecrets.org [opensecrets.org].

              In any event, as somebody noted -- it's not so much that money means winning, it's that winning means money.
          • Well, there's anarchism, which is difficult to implement, but not impossible. The major problem is that anarchist "states" (I know, a contradiction in terms, but y'know what I mean) tend to be crushed mercilessly by others states, be they capitalist, socialist, or fascist. There's nothing that can unify so many different political thinkers like a bunch of anarchists.

            I'd also dispute that the USSR demonstrated communism (I'd say authoritarian socialism, which is way different), or that socialist states necessarily have poor social services and eat up everyone's money (after all, the reason they're called socialist is because they consider social welfare to be of importance).

            And I think it's laissez faire capitalism: if I remember rightly, it means something like unrestricted capitalism, and to be honest I can't see how it differs from the free market that all the politicians seem so enamoured of. But then I'm no economist...

        • by czardonic ( 526710 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @09:16PM (#2566945) Homepage
          why hasn't there been a greater effort to stop or get rid of this?

          There has, but the people with the most money won.

          The problem with our system (with any system, really) is that it has gradually become a perversion of what it was intended to be. Consider the paradox that is the American political system: In order to serve the people, politicians need votes, and in order to get votes they need publicity, and in order to get publicity they need money, and in order to get money the need the support of monied private interests, and these private interests have no allegiance to the people that the politicians represent. In order to serve the people, politicians must peddle influence to parties that dissserve the people
          • Well put. As long as people with power are willing to screw others for their own gain, no social or political system will succeed as designed. It's a fundamental flaw of human nature.
        • remember we are a very young country, only 200+ years old, actualy i've gotten drunk in bars that were twice as old as the US was while in Germany. It could be argued that our country was a beta test for the French revolution, let'em see what worked and what didn't before they commited to themselves.

          Sure there is problems, we are learning, the US is starting to "play nice" with others. Our version of capitalism keeps trying to slip back to a form of political-industrial fuedalism. We are an evolving system and the pressures on us aren't realy that much different than on others just the form is different, here its money=power other countries its gun=power, in others it's who've married or know that counts.

          at least if we don't like the way a company acts we can buy stock and vote against the dirtbags at the stock-holders meeting.
  • What is the current status of the Skylarov case? Is there a website regularly posting updates about it? Did he return to the MotherLand or is he still chillin' in NoCal? Anyone have any new information?
  • The bill that became law in 1995 (signed by Bill Clinton). What role does it play in the DCMA era? Is the law still valid?

    I am canadian, I don't follow american law too much. :/
    • DMCA is a US American law. RIAA is a US American organisation. Open Source, Linux are not bound to one country specifically. As countries like China take Linux up in preference to other products, I do not see what a US American law can do about it. It is not in the intrest of most countries to take up offerings other than Open Source if the alternative is paying a "proprietary tax" where the proceeds go to the United States of America. So US American bills became law in the USA. And the rule in US America, it is not your law, it is not my law. Make sure that your representatives know why it is important that Open Source rules OK. If it were only from being free of seeing all these "proprietary tax" dollars going to the US of America. When US American laws try to enforce themselves over their borders like the Sylarkov case, the result is that well behaving people will shun the USA and not go there. This will make USA less influential and more of a ghetto. And information will become available not for publication in the USA like happened with the recent Linux vulnerabilities. All in all, it is a sad thing to see all this happen.
  • As Niccolò Machiavelli described long before the Internet, "Innovation makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old regime, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new."

    Price gouging, foisting inferior products/bands on consumers, ripping off artist, directors, consumers.

    Explains so much...when you fear for your life and livelyhood because you can't compete anymore you fight like hell with words and deeds.

    (Jafar voice)Hummm, Interesting (/off).
  • In this day and age, when so much business work, interpersonal communication, and research is done on the Internet, it is hard to imagine what it is like to not have Internet access. Often politicians talk the talk about the "digital divide," spewing rhetoric about how the lower classes have little exposure to technology; but when it comes time to vote, they hand out checks to the Baby Bells with no strings attached - business as usual. It seems like letting large private companies (who all have a vested interest in controlling consumers in every way possible) control Internet access is just asking for trouble.

    The time has come for the population to stand up and demand universal, unrestricted Internet access from our government. I would no longer balk at paying 1/3 of my salary in taxes if it meant that this country could start moving into the 21st century. (Observe the higher quality of life in Canada and the proliferation of subsidized Internet access over there. The two are related.) Freedom of speech means nothing if the government is not willing to provide its citizens with access to the predominant form of expression in the so-called "Information Age."

    Besides a more educated, more globally competitive populace, what else would this achieve? It would reduce transaction costs in general and put many parasites out of business. Many distributors and other undesirable middlemen would be out of business because people will learn to buy direct. If your neighborhood is devoid of useful businesses, you can order everything online - problem solved. Payday loans will become a thing of the past as consumers find decent rates from online bankers who actually need to compete with each other.

    Universal, unrestricted Internet access would work wonders for our society, promote competition and more efficient markets, and put some of that wasted money we pay in taxes to good use.


    • A "basic right", as you put it, is something that is manditory for survival.

      Basic Rights are:
      and shelter

      Unmetered Internet access is nothing more than a luxury. I know it may seem hard for *you* to live without such "necessities" as Jon Katz and Napster, but in the grand scheme of things, these are nothing more than another way to pass the time.

      While it would be nice to have a nice fat fibre pipe going to my flat, in no way is my government under obligation to provide me with such. This rings especially true when there are so many around the world who are forced to do without their real basic rights of food, water, and shelter.

      Before you write your representative demanding your God-given right to free 'net access. Think about those less fortunate, who would trade a lifetime of Internet usage for a single bowl of rice.

      • Um hmm...

        I see, and who is to PROVIDE you "food, water, and shelter" (much less, internet access!)? Me? Rights are basic and inalienable, as the passage once ran, and include life, liberty, and the pursuit (note, only the pursuit, not the achievement) of happiness. Anything which has to be provided for by yourself or someone else (food, internet access, et al.) is properly the province of economics and trade, not a natural "right."
      • For a mensa, you ought to realize that these are not basic rights, but basic necessities. Jefferson outlined basic rights as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

        Your three basic necessities would all fall under the first category of basic rights, necessities of life.

        This "think of the starving children" line is getting stale. Is rice more of a priority for some than 'net access? Certainly. But one of my great hopes for the internet is that it starts to level the playing field between the rich and the poor. Instead of helping to rich to stay that way, like the current market structure, the Internet may allow the truly creative or industrious to suceed.

        The barrier between now and this potential future is obviously the current rich and powerful, people who will strive to retain their power by controlling and limiting access to such a potentially destabilizing factor as the internet and unfettered access to knowledge.

      • It depends on how you define what a "basic right" is. In the US, some consider a free press to be a basic right... a cornerstone of democracy.

        This is a further stretch, but... One could say that the internet is just part of freedom of the press. In that by allowing everyone to broadcast their opinion, freedom of press is more guaranteed.

      • "-atrowe: Card-carrying Mensa member. I have no toleranse for stupidity."

        But poor spelling is ok?

      • A "basic right", as you put it, is something that is manditory for survival.
        Basic Rights are:
        and shelter


        The only "rights" we have is what those who rule grant the huddled masses. We dont have rights. We have privledges. And it really annoys me when poeple simply stamp and shout saying they have RIGHTS!!!

        For example, while for an infant, you have the pirvedge of a mother or father whom feeds you. This is not a right. There are laws in place to make sure that this pivedge is not taken away, but the point remians - your parents could well deny you food and shelter and you could have no recourse. The law of course says something about that, but it dont affect you when your dead.

        A right is something to be taken for granted. A privledge is something to be fought for / achieved. The USA have a misnamed document called the Bill of Rights that were a hard won set of privledges.

        A right is not something I need to struggle for. A privledge is. Are our privledges worth fighting for? Some are and some arent. It's really up to yourself to work out which ones are worthwhile.

        Right now, it is our privledge to have anonymous web and everything that comes with that. Is that worthwhile fighting for, to keep that? Worth keeping the privledge of free speech?

        I think so. Because once a privledge is removed, it's hard to get it back
      • While I do agree with your conclusion that Internet access is not even close to being a basic (or any other kind of) right, I must emphatically disagree with the premise you use to reach that conclusion.

        "Basic rights" have not the first thing to do with survival. Needs do not mandate rights any more than desires do.

        Rights per se cannot be given nor legislated into existence, they can only be taken by force or outlawed (basically the same thing, as law carries the weight of the threat of force by the state); such is the unique nature of rights. The U.S. Constitution was crafted and amended in recognition of this fact; nearly every single amendment to it is worded in the negative, not prescribing what rights are to spring into existence by fiat, but instead proscribing the taking away of that which already exists without reliance upon any man or any state for its continuance save that it not be stolen away by force or fraud. The system was not designed to give us our due, but to ensure that what we possess in ourselves is not forcibly removed from us.

        There is no basic right to food, water, or shelter. The only right associated with such things is the right to pursue them.

    • Observe the higher quality of life in Canada and the proliferation of subsidized Internet access over there. The two are related.

      What have you been smoking? Are you assuming that just because something is available in Canada that means it's subsidized by the government? We're not on crack here, nor are we "paying 1/3 of [our] salary in taxes" to provide subsidized internet access. We also don't wear toques in the summer or eat back bacon

      Canada (and Sweden, Finland et-al) are more wired than the USA because we have longer winters (no, not all 12 months) and this means people spend more for internet access during the months you'd prefer not to go outside. It's not because the government buys us a T1...

      • Excuse me, but back-bacon kicks ass.
      • We're not on crack here, nor are we "paying 1/3 of [our] salary in taxes" to provide subsidized internet access. We also don't wear toques in the summer or eat back bacon

        Hmmm... You're obviously not "making enough" to be in the 33% tax bracket. And yes, the government is subsidizing net access. Some of us wear toques in the summer (as they do in the U.S., it appears to be a "cool" thing to do) and back bacon kicks ass.

        Canada (and Sweden, Finland et-al) are more wired than the USA because we have longer winters (no, not all 12 months) and this means people spend more for internet access during the months you'd prefer not to go outside.

        Interesting theory, but I thought it was due to the Chretien government wanting to do for information access what Mackenzie did for transportation. At least I think it was Mackenzie.

        For a Canadian, you sure don't sound like one.

      • actually, if you make enough money in Canada, you will pay 1/3 of your income in taxes. And we're not talking the ultra-rich here, a good software developer would easily make enough to pay that much.
      • do the math:
        15 % for fica,
        18% for fed income taxes,
        5% state income taxes,
        6% or so for state sales tax,
        $180 for so for taxes on telephone (each line)
        not to mention taxes on heating fuel and electricity,
        33% or so of your gasoline cost is taxes
        how much in local property taxes?

        if this doesn't reach a third of our income I'll be suprised, then factor in how much more your paycheck or stock dividends would be except for fed and state business taxes and its probably over half.
    • I think that giving it as a basic right would probably end up causing even more legislation, which in my opinion is almost NEVER a good thing.

      Yes, In an ideal world equal access to the consciousness of the world seems like a good thing. Now if you can get the computer companies to give everyone a computer, you might have something.
    • Furthermore, I gotta say that while I can tolerate ignorant Americans, Americans who think they're smart because they know that Canada is "up thar yonder" just fail to impress me. Don't make sweeping statements about our political system if you've only read about it in "Democracy for Dummies..."
    • Freedom of speech means nothing if the government is not willing to provide its citizens with access to the predominant form of expression in the so-called "Information Age."

      If taxpayer funded internet access is necessary for freedom of speech, then let's not stop at TCP/IP. I want my newspapers delivered for free. I want cable TV without having to pay for it. I want to be able to walk into any bookstore and not have to pay for anything. I want the latest music albumns delivered to my mailbox daily at no charge. Heck, I want the government to broadcast my every utterance for free on all radio and television stations.

      Universal, unrestricted Internet access would work wonders for our society, promote competition and more efficient markets

      Universal, unrestricted access to all print media would also work wonders for our society.
    • It would reduce transaction costs in general and put many parasites out of business. Many distributors and other undesirable middlemen would be out of business because people will learn to buy direct.

      Well, something in there made sense. I'd love to see parasites going out of business (read as RIAA). The RIAA is a relic. They existed to help market the music, but they're no longer needed. That's just my two cents.

      Oh yeah, by the way, I'm Canadian and I pay for my own internet access! Listen up government...the people demand subsidized DSL! {sarcasm mode off}
    • This is so ridiculously deluded from a libertarian perspective, I'm not even going to touch it, other than to tell people to think about whether they REALLY want to pay for other peoples' network access.
  • On the DMCA takedown provision, we should provide liquidated damages to victims of wrongful take downs. That is, if a company does have someone's service cut (either web server or connection) disconnected, wrongfully, the party should be required to pay either $10K or actual damages plus attorney fees. This would make companies a little more careful on whom they try to shut down.

    • This would also create a problem with getting rid of spammers. You have to try balance the two.... do we hate spammers less than we hate the dmca ?
      • The DMCA provides incentive for an ISP to shut down a site where it is complained that the ISP has violated copyright of another. Shutting down a SPAMMER is using the terms of service of a provider.

        I am looking into a way to use copyright law to stop spammers.

  • My secret message to Dimitry Sklyarov:

    Vsyah basha osnoba - preenadpyehzhat nam.

    On July 17, 2001, the FBI arrested Dmitry Sklyarov, a Russian computer science student for an alleged violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). He delivered a speech in a Las Vegas hotel regarding Adobe eBooks entitled:

    "eBook Security: Theory and Practice" The application addressed in the speech bypasses Adobe eBooks security only if you have previously purchased the eBook. Furthermore, it allows the purchaser to backup their eBook, read the eBook on a platform other than Windows and is useful to the Blind. Adobe had him arrested.

    Since when are people arrested for pointing out a flaw? We believe this law, which enforces a WTO Treaty, should be reviewed and challenged. Free Speech allows someone to critize and/or demonstrate flaws within corporate products.

    Programmers speak in Code.

    The intimidation has already begun. The Public Libraries are next.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @08:17PM (#2566710)
    For those of you not familiar with Larry Lessig, he's the equivalent of Jon Katz, except he writes much better. Typically his articles/books contain self-coined buzz words, and rallying cries, but lack substantial arguments.
    He's a lawyer that has never practiced, and his Computer Science training is specious at best (a couple of undergrad classes at Penn.) Thus, before everyone gets a hard-on that a Stanford professor and a major magazine is pushing your political agenda. Please take a look at the article and see if it really goes somewhere. Here are some examples of Lessigism in practice.

    "This commons was built into the very architecture ..." Typical Lessig style. He uses a term-of-art with legal significance, but does not develop it or analyze it properly. His intent is to get everyone to agree that no country should regulate a commons. He even implies that "commons" are unregulated. He tries to illustrate this point by turning to patent law. Mr. Lessig is wrong on two counts.

    First, commons are regulated. Most parks and public properties have rules of use, and offer fines for those transgressing those uses. Mr. Lessig fails to point out any commons that does not have a regulation scheme. Please go to your nearest public park for an example of a regulated commons.

    Second, the patent law scheme that Mr. Lessig says threatens the Internet is not a US creation. The GATT imposes IP protection on its signatories. TRIPS expands the provision. Both are international regulatory conventions, not US conventions. No country was forced to sign either document.

    Mr. Lessig also rants about software patents, but mistakes several facts. Far before State Street and Excell, the cases Mr. Lessig implicitly sites for the crime of patenting business methods, inventors were able to achieve software patents by writing the claims to the machine. This was true even for the Member States that now make up the EU. Mr. Lessig, and most anti-IP pundits, seem to make this out to be a new creation.

    Its true that most people will empathize with the plight of Skylarov. Hopefully, these situations will help keep the laws in check. However, Mr. Lessig continues to post information that is only substantiated in his unresearched view of the world.
    • Lessig clearly states in the article that a commons can be regulated:

      Neutral or equal restrictions may apply to it (an entrance fee to a park, for example) but not the restrictions of an owner. A commons, in this sense, leaves its resources "free."

      One of his key points relates to the difference between 'neutral' and 'ownership' restrictions. (Since you appear to have missed it the first time, that's in the first paragraph under the "The Neutral Zone" heading)
      So at least in its current form, your first point goes bye-bye.

      Your second point is disingenuous... the US is the biggest proponent of the 'IP protection' pushed by GATT and TRIPS. US pressure definitely influenced the treaties in question, so it's entirely fair to call those patent laws a 'US creation'. This is particularly obvious when you note that the EU, whose constituent countries are signatories to TRIPS and to the GATT treaties, have different patent laws. (As was discussed in the article...)
      'No country was forced to sign either document' - but signing those treaties is rather important to being able to participate in international trade with the industrial world, so there's an awful lot of pressure to sign. Your second point doesn't stand up either.

      I don't like to be bitchy, but I strongly suggest that before you go out and accuse someone else of an 'unresearched view of the world', you should do some research of your own, and at the very least read carefully the article which you are commenting on.
    • ...The GATT imposes IP protection on its signatories. TRIPS expands the provision. Both are international regulatory conventions, not US conventions. No country was forced to sign either document.

      no... but its a bit like signing an agreement with Microsoft. you can either play by "our" rules or not play at all... it's your choice.
    • Actually the EU country where I live in has never allowed software patents and dont do so now. This is true of most EU countries. If software patents make there way into EU, it is only because USA pushes these issues in GATT negotiations.

      The patents you mention does not cover the software alone, it is the combination. You could easily write similar software and put it in another machine and be sure you didn't violated any patents.

      Software patents IS an invention from USA, no mistake there.
      • Actually all EU contries has software patents because EU has software patents.

        It may be so that you only think you do not have software patents, but since your country has to allow EU patents, you country recognize software patents.

        And its nothing you can do about it - except to get your country to leave EU or change EU's rules for patents.
  • the www.foreignpolicy.com website at the moment.
  • by dozing ( 111230 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @08:20PM (#2566727) Homepage
    The best solution to our problems would be voting for a politician who knows about technology and open source. To that end I am calling my congressman and encouraging him to vote yes on resolution 453 which would make "cowboy neal" an option on every voting card in the United States.
  • by zpengo ( 99887 )
    Why must everything be "under siege" these days? Slashdot is seeming less and less like a tech magazine and more and more like a bunch of rebellious teenagers sitting in there basement writing manifestoes about government conspiracies.

    Sorry to go against the party line kids, but I'm just getting tired of all this talk of oppression, big brother, etc., etc., etc., and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    • I probably would tend to agree with you to a certain extent BUT it is good that we are talking about and susequently raising wider issues. I would have never known what the damn RIAA stood for if not some of the discussions round here the past few years.

      What bought this home to me was having drinks last weekend with some of my non techie friends, the "burning cds" issue and poor Sony, BMG..etc came up conversation due to this guy who worked at Sony whining about lost Britney sales.

      What amazed me was the fucking level of cluelessness of some of my supposedly intelligent friends about how little they knew of the wider issues.

      Keep talking...and no i am not a teenager of in my basement...
    • Re:Yeesh (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Foreign Policy" magazine is hardly a group of basement-bound teenagers spouting the Slashdot party line.
    • Wow... i feel like hi-jacking a plane and smashing it into the whitehouse/congress/parliament. Its the only way to get my freedom back and... oh, no.. _bugger_ if i crash it in there then i die so i won't get my freedom back... maybe if i was to use some sort of remote control... no, it might go wrong and someone could get hurt, AHHH i could use a trained duck, yes, all the duck would need to do, is hide in the cockpit, then, when the time is right - jump out, the pilots will be confused at the duck and run away leaving said duck to re-program the navigation system with the new co-ordinates for aformentioned buildings... This duck could be trained relatively cheaply in underground facilities, and would only need rudamentry flying abilities (which it already has - beeing a duck and all) it would also be able to peck a hole in the window and jump out of the plane and fly away before impact...
    • I'd be more inclined to believe you when you say (admittedly I'm paraphrasing) "We don't have to worry so much, guys, this is just all paranoid ranting!" if there wasn't a Russian programmer sitting in jail because of new laws like the DMCA.

      I mean, if I'd brought up the Dimitry scenario back when the act got passed, would you have called me a rebellious anti-government teenager then? I'm guessing a lot of people would have.

      ...oh, and if you don't want to read these kinds of stories, you could always filter out the Your Rights Online catagory in your /. preferences.
  • by Eryq ( 313869 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @08:24PM (#2566744) Homepage
    ...is where he described how companies are invoking the DMCA to protect themselves from criticism.
    a British pharmaceutical company invoked the DMCA in order to force an ISP to shut down an animal rights site that criticized the British company. Said the ISP, "It's very clear [the British company] just wants to shut them up," but ISPs have no incentive to resist the claims.

    Consider the ramifications if applied widely. To call attention to, say, meat products in McDonald's supposedly-vegetarian food (as in India). To Nike's sweatshops. Even if the information is true, the ISPs might prefer to yank it rather than verify that it violates copyright. And, since you're obviously a troublemaker, they might cancel your account completely.

    So welcome to the DMCA future, where an unsubstantiated accusation carries punishment even without a conviction -- so long as the accusation is coming from a moneyed source.

    (Actually, given that people accused of crimes often have their reputations ruined, even after acquital, perhaps it's just a logical extension of the world today. But it still sucks.)

    • I believe that the DMCA requires the ISp to remove any contested site. The site which has been removed can request reinstatement, but free speech has already been throttled and a website now may have to spend considerable attorney fees to get reinstatement - though the complaint action is fairly inexpensive for a large corporation.
    • Yeah, You're referring to Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. [shac.net] The campaign to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences, a vivisection company (not a phharm company) with nothing but bad history. I'm glad you mention it, and I'm surprised that their case didn't get more press. All HLS had to do was threaten the host (envirolink.org) with the DMCA with copyright infringement, and they removed the site. SHAC just re-hosted in a few hours. It was a typical move by HLS, and a dangerous precedent.

  • An article mentioning the Sklyarov case like this one does, is going to draw a lot more attention from policymakers to the problems the DMCA and other legal troubles are posing to online freedom than your average rant on a board like this, how well reasoned it may be."

    Some of these people have more respect for good grammar and punctuation too. I can't imagine why.

    • Well, since I always had a hard time with punctuation in my native language and never quite understood English punctuation rules, could you please explain what went wrong in that sentence?

  • So many of us have lost our patience but have no additional outlets or avenues (already wrote the congresscritters, don't own any weapons of mass destruction...). Now the venue is becoming larger and--hopefully--the public will become aware of the creeping fascism. 'Cept if the five remaining media companies successfully spin this to prove to the masses that freedom is indeed slavery and war is indeed peace, etc...

    Anybody have a rock I can crawl under 'til the dust settles?

  • by dominion ( 3153 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @08:30PM (#2566767) Homepage
    It seems like for all the time I've been on Slashdot (at least 3 years now), there's been this constant discussion around whether we're losing our rights or not...

    I want this discussion to end. Not because it's not a valid discussion, but because conclusions have already been made.

    Yes, we are losing our rights.

    Where are we losing them from? Some say government, others say industry, and some insist that we're not losing our rights at all.

    I'm not interested in arguing with those who insist everything's just fine.

    There needs to be a basic analysis of how anarchic cultures like that of the internet and that of the free software movement interact (and many times, are at odds with) with heirarchical structures like the state and the capitalist marketplace.

    Ultimately, power corrupts, and any strong concentration of power moves towards greater concentration. In other words, "Welcome to the new economy, same as the old economy."

    Our rights are lost as corporations consolidate, create bigger lobbies, and government bends over backwards to accomodate them. Things like DMCA don't come out of anywhere, and if corporations and the "power elite" (C.Wright Mills) truly believed in a free marketplace, then DMCA would never have been created.

    So, you have us, the idealistic internet users, techies, free software advocates, etc., up against the biggest economic superpowers the world has ever known.

    What do we do? How do we fight this?

    Well, in one way, we've been doing really well in the realm of creating alternatives. Free software work, it works well, and it's not dependant on the NASDAQ for it's survival. Very good.

    In other realms, we haven't done all that well. There's been talk about creating a "tech" lobby, but it's never really materalized. And could it even stand up to the hegemony of the lobbies that are already entrenched in Washington DC?

    The EFF is a wonderful organization, but look at what they're up against. Look at how hard it is for the ACLU to influence lawmaking, and they've got a support base that's much larger than the EFF. The ACLU has written scathing reports on the threats to civil liberties that the USA-PATRIOT ACT (and the even scarier Illinois version), yet these are being pushed through without any consideration.

    I think in order to properly preserve our rights, and more importantly, greatly *EXPAND* them, we need to abandon all notions that the market and the state are on our side, in any way shape or form.

    Think in terms, not of what we want to oppose, but what we want. How should intellectual property be handled? Is it really *wrong* to reverse engineer something? Should a law stop us? If a law makes something illegal, can we create a technical solution to make it impossible to regulate (ie, gnutella/freenet?). What about a large project to create an internet service provider collective with incredibly cheap internet access? What about free internet access for everybody? Don't think we can do it? The hell we can't!

    And furthermore, does this only affect us, or does it affect everybody? Why are we only preaching to the choir? How do these issues tie in to other issues that affect people?

    Think about it. I hate to use the cliche, but we're gonna have to fight back. Sitting around on Slashdot, complaining about how we're losing our rights doesn't solve anything.

    Maybe we should, to use the old syndicalist slogan, start building the new world in the shell of the old...

    • Now what? Vote wisely, dammit! Go ahead, mod me down, say it's the overly-simplistic/obvious/cop-out answer, toss around all that bullshit about how votes don't matter. I don't care. You're wrong.

      This is happening because there has not been a strong Populist movement in the US since the 1920s, and the reason for that is twofold: (a) not enough people voting, and (b) not enough people THINKING about WHO they are voting for and WHY.

      Maybe you think money has so colored American politics that your vote is destined to be canceled out by Votes of the Wrong Kind. You're wrong there, too. Money buys exposure, money buys TV time, money buys billboards, but money ain't putting a gun to your head forcing you to be taken in by slick campaigns. Money doesn't turn off your brain. And money doesn't force you to push the little voting pin in next to some millionaire corporate shill's name.

      So read your damn sample ballots cover to cover. Write outraged ("outraged"!=angry/spiteful/immature) yet eloquent letters to your reps when they do stupid things like vote for the DMCA. Above all, STOP ELECTING THESE MORONS WHO ARE WILLING TO TRAMPLE ALL OVER YOUR FREEDOM.

      • Ah, but isn't that the problem though? Voting alone doesn't do it. If you and you alone are the one dissenting voice in the ballot box, there's no way any congressman is going to respect you. You've got to command a bloc of votes, like the religious right. They may not command the majority, but they are a substantial presence in this country and as such they wield a lot of power.

        What needs to happen, as the parent talked about (great post there BTW) is that we need to form some kind of consolidated power bloc. The EFF isn't enough, we need a movement. The state and businesses aren't on our side because they don't see us as being anything other than marginal. We, as people concerned with our rights in the digital age, do need to do more than what we've been doing. Unfortunately, I'm at a complete loss as to what that is.

        My brother, who's big in to political activism, just attended a seminar by a congressional staffer on the subject of grassroots influence. The staffer said you have two options: either assemble a lot of people together to influence public opinion or work on a campaign, get they guy elected and then get your voice heard from within. I think we need more of the former. We need to get people out there, talking about what's going on from our point of view, and we have to get them to see that it affects everyone, not just the geeks. I don't know how to mobilize this sort of thing though, and that's the problem. Like the parent said, what now?
        • It would need to start with several localized organizations, brought together by a national/international forum. Once the local organizations become more well known, so will the forum, which can then become more centralized. Once leadership develops from this, our influence can move up through the ranks. Anyone interested, send me a message at techi@sunflower.com.
      • Just getting more people to vote won't fix the problem.

        There have to be good candidates to vote for. If both candidates want to trample your freedom, it doesn't matter if you get lots of people to vote.

        Eh? What's that you say? Become a candidate yourself?

        This seems fine and good, except that it takes big bucks to get elected. The powerful have seen to that. Where do the $$ come from to finance a campaign? From the corporations. In order to get the big campaign contributions, you have to already bend over for the corporations, making you part of the problem.

        My point: getting more people to vote isn't the only problem. We need to reform our system. What happens each time campaign finance reform comes up?
    • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @11:15PM (#2567165) Homepage
      Nice post. Good points for discussion:

      I want this discussion to end. Not because it's not a valid discussion, but because conclusions have already been made.

      Yup. Every time you use and/or improve an Open Source software package, you're drawing that conclusion nearer. As one William H. Gates III put it, "There is a particular approach that breaks the cycle (of freely developed software being commercialised) called the GPL that is not worth getting into today, but I don't think there is much awareness about how so-called free software foundations designed that to break that cycle."

      Bill's right - we're breaking the system by accepting the validity (some would say neccesity) of giving away our time and intellectual resources to create things that cannot be forced into artificial scarcity, any who wish to use the fruits of this labour can do so - as long as they agree to only use it for the same purpose. IMHO, Richard Stallman didn't forsee or count on this, it's just a happy accident it turned out this way. There are many people who are (understandably, IMHO) terrified of the GPL - they think that they won't be able to put bread on the table if all software were open sourced, thier creativity would be squashed due to lack of funding and the world as they know it would generally come to an end. And as luck would have it, they're right.

      The EFF is a wonderful organization, but look at what they're up against. Look at how hard it is for the ACLU to influence lawmaking, and they've got a support base that's much larger than the EFF. The ACLU has written scathing reports on the threats to civil liberties that the USA-PATRIOT ACT (and the even scarier Illinois version), yet these are being pushed through without any consideration.

      I think in order to properly preserve our rights, and more importantly, greatly *EXPAND* them, we need to abandon all notions that the market and the state are on our side, in any way shape or form.

      I'm Canadian, and can serve as a willing nom-de-plume for publishing code that's not allowed in the US. See how much US laws affect the process in reality? The laws the state makes are ineffectual, unless they can succesfully stifle communications in some way. And those are usually circumvented in short order, aren't they?

      Think about it. I hate to use the cliche, but we're gonna have to fight back. Sitting around on Slashdot, complaining about how we're losing our rights doesn't solve anything.

      Fine. Don't fight though - just continue on your merry OSS way then, but purposefully move along your way. Never mind the threats hurled at you, nor the corpses of any combatants you see along the way. To paraphrase someone, if you see damage, route around it. If we all move towards a goal with purpose, and never shy from obtaining the goal, who's to stop us?

      Maybe we should, to use the old syndicalist slogan, start building the new world in the shell of the old...

      Nope. We will just slowly replace the old world piece by piece, and push anything that doesn't fit in off the edge. The GPL puts software into the commons, kicking and screaming if needs be. Some will definately suffer huge economic losses - very unfortunate, but when you tear down a world to replace it with another, however slowly and carefully, damage happens. The world has already changed - the first bricks of the wall that has been built between a user, thier data and the ways to communicate thier data have already been chipped off. It is this scarcity of easy, inexpensive communications channels that has kept our world from being more about one to one than many to many. When we take control of these channels, and open them to any and all who have the curiosity to try, we put more people on the other side of the wall, and more bricks are chipped off. Eventually, the wall will give. We just need to make sure it comes down on the right heads.

      As I've said before, we are the competition to the old economy - and competition at this level at times can get very, very ugly.

    • how is the capitalist marketplace NOT anarchy?
  • Only so helpful (Score:2, Insightful)

    by twilight30 ( 84644 )
    Hm. While I liked the piece, I have to wonder how effective this is going to be. OK. It's significant that this kind of article made it into FP in the first place -- the journal is notoriously biased to the conservative.

    However, the closing part of Lessig's argument, that American lawmakers should not regulate in an extra-territorial fashion, nor give tools to that effect to other entities, just will not work. Your government already has numerous laws pointed to enforcing American mores on other nationals. Time and again, your government has refused to modify those laws in the face of persistent criticism, particularly from your allies in Canada, the European Union, and Australia.

    What exactly convinces Lessig this will be any different?

  • The DMCA doens't threaten 'the internet'. IT threatens people from using the internet to legally disseminate information. IT's not specific to the internet.

    In the case of an actual copyright violation, parts of the DMCA make sense. It's just overly broad, with some bad sections. It's bad law, for sure.
    But it doesn't threaten the internet.. it threatens the actions of individuals and businesses.

    It's like making a press stop printing a certain book , or a store from selling that book, because the information inside it is stolen.
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @08:34PM (#2566784)
    In conjunction with his new book, Newsweek this week had a brief interview with him, mostly covering similar concerns; again, not enough space to convey everything that is wrong, but a very good read for JQPublic. (Eg, he likens how before the Internet, talking about Star Trek amoung friends was concidered benign, now you have to play on PAramont's rules if you use the Internet).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Here's the URL for this week's newsweek article. I found it somewhat ironic that it was from newsweek.msnbc.com.

  • The Internet has not only inspired invention, it has also inspired publication in a way that would never have been produced by the world of existing publishers.

    F'n A!

    This is what I have been saying for the longest time, even in several discussions elsewhere.

    One particular reply said, in effect: "So, broadband/the interentet is good only for stealing".

    Ummm, no. I suppose in a way I alluded to that is one "infringing use" but the rapid dissemination of *information* and *content* is what the net is all about.

    Now my brain is kinda fried after a long day, but the article said exactly what I am saying now.
    Information/content has to be thought of in nebulous terms, unfortunately, and that throws people off (and pisses them off, too. Referring, of course to the RI/MP-AA).

    If my train of thought leaves the station, the point is a network does not care "what is transmitted" only that a 'reasonable effort is made to get it to it's destination'.
    Therein lies the danger to the MP/RI-AA...content and information in the form of video, audio, text, images, html, voice, data of all kinds.

    Data is data. Binary, text...all data, correct?
    Video? Data. Audio? Data. Text? Data.

    All of the MP/RI-AA's "precious resources" are becoming commodities, plain and simple, just like air and sunshine, but, they are fighting like hell to "cut off our air supply" and keep people in the dark to keep themselves in business.

    Like I said before, it explains a lot.
  • by Zach` ( 71927 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @08:42PM (#2566822)
    That many people are now robbed of their right to free speech may utlimately cause a renaissance for free speech. I've heard stories from Russia, how during the Breshjnev period, there were lots of underground theater groups. Profound books were written, criticizing the regime. Protest singers were among the most popular artists. There was this guy singing about the wolfs, running through the woods with the wolfs biting at his heels. The song was really about the regime.

    Because of the censorship, they had to hide their messages, using creative images and fables. The people knew instinctively that these messages were important and they craved them.

    Then Glasnost came about, and eventually the Iron Carpet came down. Suddenly the people were free. Starved of free speech, there was a short flurry of popular political activity, with large political meetings, marches and what not.

    Then things settled down, and one day they woke up. All this new stuff they had been denied all these years was now available. What a disappointment it must have been to them to discover that although the political messages in the western press might be of a different color, most of the stuff was ads, tabloid reporting on celebrities, porn, worthless fiction, stupid game shows, and soap operas. We fought all these years to hear the message from the other side, and all they have to tell us is "Drink Coca Cola?"

    If I was Russion, I'd drown myself in vodka, too.

    And what has this to do with the DMCA? Just the fact that it will force U.S citizens to be vigilant (break the DMCA laws) in order to have their free speech. By being in opposition to the ruling regime (the megacorps), U.S citizens can enjoy the excitement of getting their free speech, in spite of the regime. Now it's worth something. Hard to come by free speech is valuable. Gratis free speech is worthless.
    • "The people knew instinctively that these messages were important and they craved them."

      That is the difference between the Russia of those years and the US of today.

      In Russia then, the living conditions were deplorable and the people scarcely had enough to eat. Although other factors may have contributed, they knew SOMETHING WAS VERY WRONG because although they had been promised (and were being promised) prosperity, they had hunger.
      This kind of thought does not exist in the US of A because people are prosperous. They have all this rhetoric about the high morals and freedoms their country stands for, and they believe it although these same freedoms are slowly being taken away from them. It is only a few who actually realise what is happening, and these few will not be able to do squat to prevent it.

      To put it short, Prosperity has mellowed that part of the people that is willing to fight for freedom. It's like 'Freedom for Money'.
      • To put it short, Prosperity has mellowed that part of the people that is willing to fight for freedom. It's like 'Freedom for Money'.

        Or like being "fattened up" for the slaughter. Cattle one week away from the slaughterhouse are amazingly well fed and (relative to their earlier existence) happy creatures ... exactly what is needed for maximizing the production of consumable meat.

        Which is exactly what we so-called consumers are to the multinationals clipping our wings and purchasing legislation designed to maximize their short term quarterly profits by stripping away our freedoms.

        By the time we are hungary enough to want to exersize those freedoms they will have been long gone for quite some time, and we'll all be feeling like the cattle must, as they stand in their stalls awaiting their execution, the smell of blood and mass death of their kind wafting in the air as a forshadowing of what awaits them in the very near future.

        Bin Laden (may his fanatacal, mad soul twitch in fear the short duration of his remaining life) managed to kill thousands. Lets not forget that it has been governments (Khmere Rouge, Taliban, Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, etc.) and corporations (British Opium Oligarchs a couple of centuries ago, Bayer AG during the early 20th, etc.) that have enslaved and killed millions. How ironic that we flee in fear of the former, minor threat and in so doing grant unprecented powers, ripe for abuse, to entities bearing remarkable organizational similarities to the latter.
  • I recently had someone on Angelfire linking directly to one of my drawings on my site, effectively costing me bandwidth which I really can't afford since my host lets me squeak by every month to begin with. The drawing was very obviously being linked to on my server, and you could even see where I signed the artwork, and when I e-mailed Angelfire (Lycos) asking them to remove the image (because it was costing me bandwidth), first they told me I had to file a copyright infringement request or some B.S. according to DMCA procedure. Then when I complained about that being stupid, they sent a nasty letter to the site owner saying to remove it or they'd delete her site. I couldn't find a link to e-mail the site owner or I would have myself. I can change the filenames, but usually people are understanding about either putting the image on their own space and giving me a mention, or removing it entirely. The Lycos guy said "for future reference, a written name at the bottom of an image is not enough evidence to claim copyright." WTF? And people wonder why a large portion of my drawings are pictures of me. Apparently my signature on it isn't enough to prove I created the image. I understand that Photoshop can be used to edit things very well, but come on, it matched every other drawing on my site and it's a picture of ME!

    I can't see how this nonsense is beneficial to anyone without a team of people at their disposal to make these "formal requests." All I wanted was to save myself a little bandwidth, and now I have to research the DMCA and fill out some non-existent form to do it? Nothanks!

  • Yes, the DCMA is very threatening to rights, but let's remember that the world "owns" the Net. In Canada they have the Internet Privacy Act, which gives one real rights to privacy, and in the EU (Europe) they have much stronger privacy rights, in fact they are outlawing cookies there.

    So in some ways it doesn't matter. The Net will, as it has since it was created, reroute and heal the damage.

  • As I read this article, I noticed the author kept coming back to the fact that "America started the internet ....". I'm just wondering how long before America starts enacting other acts (DMCA-like) which will further tighten our grip on other nations and their practices.
  • by GISboy ( 533907 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2001 @09:01PM (#2566890) Homepage
    Pardon my sillyness, but I can't seem to get this image out of my head.

    If you remember the "Beggin' Strips" commercial: I kept picturing that dog's nose saying "It's DATA! data-data over here, data-data over there...What's this?! I can't read!

    The MP/RI-AA is the "dog" chasing the smell of bacon/data (i.e. wielding the DMCA, lawsuits and general nastiness) and "they can't read" the writing on the wall, as it were, with code being free speech (or falling under the 1st Amen.)

    Honestly, I think the idea applies more to the MPAA than the RIAA, because of DeCSS's implications.
    Napster issues aside (and I am not touching that one) consider mp3, though.
    Mp3's are not illegal. Consider taping a program to ripping an mp3 being approximately the same.
    You are not stealing your own music, but you are "shifting" its form for later/different use.

    (I hope that made sense. Enterprise is on, gotta go)
  • In the post, http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=23793&cid=2566 678 [slashdot.org], I mentioned on what does the Internet Privacy Law have in relation with the DCMA. Yet I just found this on a website just a few short minutes ago...
    If you are affiliated with any government organization, anti-piracy organization or any other related group you are not permited to proceed to the following webpages or access any of the files on this webserve. (Affiliation includes but is not limited to: Employees and former Employees.) If you continue you are not agreeing to these terms and you are violating code 431.322.12 of the Internet Privacy Act signed by President Bill Clinton, 1995. Meaning you revoke the righ to threaten/prosecute any person(s) affiliated with this website. Thank you.
    Would that work under the DCMA?
  • The DMCA is just one of many problems threatening free speech. Another is the FBI Wiretap of the entire Internet [foxnews.com]
    The new FBI plans would give the agency a technical backdoor to the networks of Internet service providers' like AOL and Earthlink and Web hosting companies, Baker said. It would concentrate Internet traffic in several central locations where e-mail and other web activity could be wiretapped.
    coupled with the Internet's unsecured DNS [slashdot.org].

    The FBI could surreptitiously censor subtly or DOS sites that criticize the government, for example.

  • Write congress. Sign the DMCA abolition petition @ this link [petitiononline.com]

  • I for one have been rather worried that eventually the US government is going to get greedy/stifling and attempt to regulate the internet more and more. And unfortunately it seems obvious that this is a rather growing trend. Of course one country can only do so much to a global network, although that isn't quite the most powerful argument when applied to the United States considering how it thrusts its foreign policy all over the map.

    So the big question is what is going to happen when it goes too far? How are the internet masses going to respond? I know that already groups of Universities are conspiring to build their own 'internet sequel' which has faster connections and better planning (but that is quite smaller in scale). What about the rest of the world? Hackers? Can anyone actually envision a scenario where a large enough segment of the internet population revolts to the effect that it can persuade the governments of the world to act otherwise?

    The internet is in many ways(not factoring in the commercial backbones but instead focusing on content, lack of ownership, networking)a rare expression of anarchy in our world. All governments are by definition the antithesis of anarchy and thus diametrically opposed. It is no surprise then that governments are constantly trying to find ways to limit, tax and otherwise regulate it. Anarchy almost always falls apart at the seams. But cyberspace is a successful anarchy because it came into being and matured when no overseeing government existed to regulate it, and its very fabric is weaved of complete and utter interdependance. I wonder whether this will in the long run make a difference.
  • between the open source movement, and cases such as Skylarov's. The main difference being that, like it or not, I certainly do not, is that Mr. Skylarov broke copyright law, whereas in the open source market, these laws do not exist. The authorities would like Mr. Skylarov's actions to theft, even though it is perfectly legal in every other country to do what he did, the company that he affected was based in the USA, it is unjust and downright immoral the way that the US Attorneys are handling this case. But, back to what I was saying, I do not believe that the DMCA will have any effect on the Open Source Movement in general, or on the GPL in particular.Which would suck in ways that can not be put into words. I believe that alternatives need to exist in every market, in every industry, and it would be a shame if big government stepped in and fucked everything up in favor of big business, and special interests. This is a new era of fascism in my humble opinion, which has been hastened unquestionined by most after 9-11, so as we give up more and more of our rights, we will have less and less say in anything, lest we be labeled "terrorists".

    Insert Sig here.
  • I fear what America is becoming. But there are things that you and I can both do. Read about it here [goingware.com].

    Suggestions appreciated.

  • Speaking of tragedy of the commons, although ideas (Intellectual Property) are not subject to this rule (other people's use of my ideas diminishes my own potential for use not one bit) the BANDWIDTH of the Internet IS finite and thus subject to the tragedy of the commons. The economic structure of the internet, wherein everyone pays only for an access point, and pays the same amount regardless of how much traffic they generate, is doomed to failure! SPAM, DOS attacks, script kiddies, and the current uselessness of voice over IP or videoconferencing over the Internet are all side effects of this flawed economic model. The Internet must adopt some form of pay-per-bit in order to survive. Granted, this could be handled by segregating traffic by Quality of Service and having no fees for lowest QoS, but eventually some form of making users pay proportional to the bandwidth they use must be adopted.
  • But when the United States broke up AT&T in 1984, the resulting companies no longer had the freedom to discriminate against other uses of their lines. And when ISPs sought access to the local Bell lines to enable customers to connect to the Internet, the local Bells were required to grant access equally. This enabled a vigorous competition in Internet access, and this competition meant that the network could not behave strategically against this new technology. In effect, through a competitive market, an end-to-end design was created at the physical layer of the telephone network, which meant that an end-to-end design could be layered on top of that.

    Wonder what the effect of a Microsoft breakup would've been ? Thanks to the Bush administration, we'll never know.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin