I attended Seybold San Francisco 2002, where I gave an opening keynote and shmoozed heavily. Probably the most stimulating session was the Digital Property Rights track session "The Antipiracy Wars. The moderator was the pleasantly cynical Bill Rosenblatt, a guy who worries about this full-time. On the panel were Ted Cohen, a shill for the record company EMI, Lawrence H. Leach of L2 Design & Development, and Ed McCoyd of the Association of American Publishers.

They were all, off the top, quite mild-mannered and said reasonable-sounding things. In particular the EMI guy had a fairly compelling metaphor - he said you can buy a Porsche that is capable of over 200kph, but there are systems in place that keep you from taking it up to its top speed in civilized surroundings. Similarly, while your home ADSL connection may make it possible for you to download the complete works of Roy Orbison and then ship them off to 120 of your closest friends by morning, that's probably bad behavior and it would be nice if systems could control that. I may not 100% buy into this world-view, but it sure sounds like a reasonable basis for debate.

But an hour or so into this, I got tired of everyone ignoring the 3-ton elephant in the room and got in a mini-rant:

"What you guys are saying sounds oh-so-reasonable. But what about all the legislation you're sponsoring? If the Hollings bill passes, it will be legal to buy a handgun, whose only purpose is to kill other human beings, but illegal to buy computer hardware that copies data without checking its copyright status. If the Berman bill passes, it will authorize record companies to hack my computer, something I care a lot about."

"And this is from the same people that are egregiously raping the copyright laws, extending term by 15 years any time the copyright on the Mouse is getting ready to expire in 10.

"These are radical, brutal, drastic steps. I can't begin to have a reasonable dialogue with you as long as you are taking these extreme, unreasonable measures."


author · Dad · software · colophon · rights
picture of the day
September 11, 2002
· Technology (87 fragments)
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