• Alex

    Sure it’s sane. It gives people in higher education exactly what they want — equal representation despite the fact that they’re a minority, the freedom to do whatever they wish whenever they want with whichever they choose, and the moral high ground. Who could ask for anything more?

  • Matthew Saroff

    Gotta love your argument.

    Copyright is created as a limited exclusive license to encourage people to overcome the costs of creating and distributing their work.

    When creating and distributing the work becomes easier, it means that this exclusive license should be expanded, taking from everyone else in society.

    The creation of intellectual product is becoming cheaper and easier. This argues for a more limited license to encourage creation, not a more expansive license.

  • Jason

    “When creating and distributing the work becomes easier, it means that this exclusive license should be expanded, taking from everyone else in society.”

    I think it is precisely the conflation of the concepts of creation and distribution that made copyright law so biased towards creators. The distribution middle-men managed to insert themselves into the issue and, now that the distribution and publication of ideas has become marginalized, they’re understandably fighting to remain relevant (although I also happen to think that their fear is unfounded). I don’t think anyone would argue that creators of intellectual works do not deserve the protection of copyright, but society also has a dog in this hunt and this is why the current predicament exists.

  • third blind mice

    Mr. Geist wrote,

    The conflicting responses reflect two very different visions of the Internet. Those calling for stronger copyright protections, including the Bulte committee, view the Internet primarily as a new distribution channel and method to copy. In their view, new copyright laws are therefore needed to control unsanctioned copying and to restore appropriate levels of compensation.

    Really? That �the Internet� is �a new distribution channel and method to copy� seems to be more of a simple technical fact than a biased viewpoint.

    At the connection level, TCP/IP works on a copy-and-send protocol � the robustness of the net arises from the ability of each router to re-transmit packets which are lost, or otherwise not received. Re-transmission requires that a copy of the transmitted packet be retained in the transmitting server/forwarding router � even if only for a moment.

    On the application level as well �the Internet� acts as a copying machine. Most HTML applications � such as this blog � work on the principle of copying entire HTML documents from a server to a computer.

    More importantly, however, �the Internet� is simultaneously a distribution machine of massive and unprecedented proportion. Its capacity, efficiency, and speed is many, many orders of magnitude greater than 8-track and cassette tapes, photostatic copy machines, VCRs, and is at least on a par with the CD and DVD – for most people, a box full of 100 DVDs sent by DHL delivers more bits to their door than a good DSL connection does in the same amount of time (although improvements in bandwidth will eventually overcome this.)

    On the other hand, if the bits contained on 1 DVD are sent to be sent to 100 different addresses, or 1000 different addresses, or 10,000, the Internet � in its present form � has no present or historical rival. It is an amazing invention. Some argue it is the greatest invention ever, but this is surely hyperbole. One thing is certain, whatever else it might be, �the Internet� is without question is a copying and distribution machine like nothing else ever created by man (with all due respect to Herr Gutenberg.)

    With this in mind, it seems rather reasonable that copyright laws written to address the impact of lesser technologies such as photocopying machines would need adjustment and/or amendment for application to this new technology.

    What Mr. Geist presents, however, is a distorted picture of this rational process by coloring it with a good-versus-evil subtext: those who support creativity and innovation � and those who (apparently) do not.

    Those concerned about the effects of greater protections view the Internet primarily as a technology for creating, not a technology for copying. For this group, represented by the millions of Internet users that post messages to newsgroups, maintain blogs, or actively share their work online, the Internet is not a spectator sport. From their perspective, copyright law should support innovative and creative work, not obstruct it.

    The question is not one of whether or not copyright laws obstruct innovation and creativity derived from copyrighted works � for most certainly they do � this is after all the whole point of copyright. The question is rather to what extent should copyright laws designed to protect artists, photographers, authors, poets, playwrights, and musicians impinge on the creativity and innovation of others.

    This is the core issue: whose innovation is more important? Is it the artists, photographers, authors, poets, playwrights, and musicians who create the images, words, and sounds that we call �culture� or is it the �Internet users� who need the content those other people create in order to breathe life into their invention and to enable their creativity?

    It�s not an easy question to answer. There is no one right answer. Professor Lessig shamelessly panders to the latter and we three blind mice shamelessly pander to the former.

    Now the thing that makes this story interesting is this: as the three blind mice see it, the tension between competing groups such as these is best relieved by a mechanism known as �price� in something called �a market.� This is our vision.

    The vision of the �Free Culture� movement depends almost entirely on a free-as-in-zero-price solution. Any royalty, any license is a burden too great to bear. �Free culture� is an inherently anti-market solution. It has to be.

    Thus, the conflict of vision over �the Internet� is not the conflict between creators and copiers as Mr. Geist and others would have us believe � the conflict of vision over �the Internet� is the competition between political ideologies that Thomas Sowell described it in his book Conflict of Visions.

    And this is why it is such a tough nut to crack.

  • John S.

    MIce: “Really? That �the Internet� is �a new distribution channel and method to copy� seems to be more of a simple technical fact than a biased viewpoint.”

    I see your point, but to me the distinction seems to hinge on the word “channel.” Thinking of it like a TV channel where there is a clear producer and a clear consumer is a different viewpoint that viewing the Internet as a peer-to-peer, distributed network.

  • Miles Jackson

    TBM writes:

    This is the core issue: whose innovation is more important? Is it the artists, photographers, authors, poets, playwrights, and musicians who create the images, words, and sounds that we call �culture� or is it the �Internet users� who need the content those other people create in order to breathe life into their invention and to enable their creativity?

    This is a false dichotomy. These aren�t two competing, distinct groups; one of Lessig�s major points is that many Internet users are in fact artists, photographers, and authors. Thus onerous restrictions on the creative commons on the Internet (and elsewhere) are barriers to artistic production. Art does not emerge full blown from the artist, like Athena from the head of Zeus; it is vitally dependent on what has come before (like the simile I just provided). TBM�s failure to appreciate this is what leads to the false dichotomy I quoted above.

  • http://www.easylum.net Wonko The Sane

    Sane indeed.

    The internet is not a *new* medium, it’s a medium in it’s youth. There’s a difference; if it were new we would have a fresh start. We don’t. We’re battling all the way.

    I’d have to term this adolescence.

  • http://www.digital-copyright.ca/ Russell McOrmond

    I am glad that this article got BLOGGED here. We are trying to make digital copyright, the Internet and Open Source more visible during the current Canadian federal election. The more people who find out about us at Digital-Copyright.ca the better.

    The person who suggested that the Internet is not a new medium missed the point. The point is not whether the wires or other technology is new, but whether the way in which it is used is new. The design of the Internet is fundamentally peer-to-peer, end-to-end, many-to-many – where each node has the opportunity to be a peer and operate at the same structural level as any other node.

    This is fundamentally different than other ICT that came before it which was one-to-many (broadcast media) or one-to-one (telephone). The importance of the medium is not the electronics, but the socio-economic-cultural aspects of it.

    Heritage Committee (read: old, out of date, rusting ;-) of the Canadian parliament essentially believes that the Internet is another form of broadcast media. This is entirely false. If they continue to treat it that way, and regulate and tax it that way, they will essentially destroy the Internet in Canada. Gone will be the collaborative innovation that has been sparked by the Internet for those who choose to stay in Canada (and not flea to a more modern country – and no, with the DMCA the USA doesn’t qualify ;-)

    If you have TCP/IP forced by legislation and taxation into a one-to-many (broadcast media) configuration, it is no longer the Internet as it is not the protocols or the wires that make the Internet what it is but it’s many-to-many, peer-to-peer nature.

  • http://home.telepath.com/~hrothgar/telae_tabulae.html Timothy Phillips

    In re free culture, Here is an article about how Alan Moore and Peter Hogan are working on a new project with public domain comic book characters. Apparently these characters (from the 1940s) are in the public domain thanks to one of the old balancing mechanisms now no longer used: the renewal requirement.