June 24, 2004  ·  Lessig

So jump over here to Amazon.com where you can purchase an electronic version of the Constitution, fitted very nicely to a Microsoft Reader (not Mac compatible), and protected quite completely with DRM. The description says you’re not permitted to print it. The reader reviews report you’re permitted to print it twice a year. And don’t try to hack the code to print it more than twice — until Boucher’s H.R. 107 passes at least. (Though the ranking is higher than for my book. Maybe free fails after all?) (Thanks Paul!)

June 23, 2004  ·  Lessig

Senator Hatch (who used to understand stuff) has introduced the INDUCE Act, which will criminalize the act of inducing another to commit a copyright violation. This is a brand new theory of copyright liability, which, as this floor statement makes clear, is directed at overturning Sony with respect to p2p.

The proposal alone is troubling enough. But the outrageous part is that there is talk that this massive new layer of federal regulation of technology will happen without hearings — indeed, that it will be passed in the next weeks.

Whatever the merits of this new regulatory program are (and, imho, there are not many), it should not happen without an opportunity for Congress to consider the full implications of this new regulation. The ramifications of this reach far beyond p2p.

June 18, 2004  ·  Lessig

This comes to me from a reliable source, though I would very much like it if it were mistaken.

Apparently Microsoft has taken the first steps to filing a criminal defamation action against a Brazilian government official who was quoted criticizing Microsoft in a magazine article. Sergio Amadeu, head of the agency responsible for spreading free software within the Brazilian government, is reported to have accused “the company of a ‘drug-dealer practice’ for offering the operational system Windows to some governments and cities for digital inclusion programs. ‘This is a trojan horse, a form of securing critical mass to continue constraining the country’.”

He’s also quoted characterizing Microsoft’s strategy as a “strategy of fear, uncertainty and doubt.”

These statements have apparently earned Mr. Amadeu the right to defend himself in a defamation action. Microsoft characterizes Amadeu’s statements as “beyond being absurd and criminal” and as evincing an “excess in freedom of speech and freedom of thought.” “Freedom of speech and freedom of thought” is, Microsoft apparently believes, properly prosecuted in Brazil, and so it has brought this first step to prosecute the “felony of defamation” evinced by Amadeu’s words.

Such words could not rise to the level of defamation in the United States; I would be surprised if they were defamation in any sane state. But whether they are defamatory in Brazil or not, it is wrong for this company to use the law to silence a critic. In the American tradition, we meet bad speech with more speech, not with more lawyers. We should all teach Microsoft something of our tradition, by meeting its bad speech — a defamation action against a critic — with lots more speech criticizing it.