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Donna Wentworth
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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

« Welcome to JD Lasica! | Main | Fair use and grassroots media »

June 6, 2005

Talking digital rights

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Posted by JD Lasica

Thanks for the hospitality, Donna!

I began researching and reporting my Darknet book (bit o' trivia: my choice for a title was Remix Planet) three years ago next month after reading about the fascinating discussions taking place on this topic at the ILaw seminar, and then following the postings on the original Copyfight and several other blogs. (Copyfight has been an invaluable resource for me in getting up to speed on these topics. You folks dish up the goods!)

The first thing I'll confess is: I'm no lawyer. Never even went to law school. For two decades I've been a journalist and writer as well as a member of management at several tech startups. I have nothing but admiration for the attorneys and scholars who have laid the intellectual foundation for these debates -- people like Larry Lessig, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Ernest Miller, Fred and Cory at EFF, Jessica Litman, David Bollier, the gang at LawMeme, and a long list of others.

But it was also obvious to me that we needed to bring this discussion out of its current orbit -- among IP experts, academia, Capitol Hill, geeks and tech conference attendees -- and try to connect with the wider public.

The public has been all but left out of this debate. Copyfight and dozens of other blogs have brought a spotlight to these issues, but we need to do more to engage and enlist the general public

And so I set about not to argue a new intellectual thesis, but to tell stories -- accessible, meaningful narrative accounts of the people affected by the battle over digital rights. (I use the admittedly fuzzy term "digital rights" on purpose, by the way. Too often, Hollywood has framed this as a debate about piracy. It's not. It's about whether the entertainment companies should have the ability to dumb down our digital devices in order to protect their existing business models.)

I'm not here to hawk the book -- you're welcome to check out some of these stories and interviews on Darknet.com, which I hope will become one of the spokes in the hub of conversations about these issues. Some of the stories up there include The teenage filmmakers, and The Prince of Darknet, and (just today) the story of Philip Gaines asserting his fair use rights to annotate and comment on his favorite TV show.

In the next day or two, I'll post an interview I had with Jack Valenti a few months before he stepped down as chairman of the MPAA.

OK, that's enough for an intro. I want to post some quick thoughts about fair use, and invite your thoughts and comments. I'm here to listen and learn as much as anything. And even after my guest blogging gig ends, I'll be returning on daily basis. Nice to be here.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Big Thoughts


COMMENTS

1. DRM is more technical than legal on June 9, 2005 7:25 AM writes...

Fine but let us not forget something that is being overlooked by those concerned about the legal and cultural ramification of digital rights management. I am talking about the technology issues that can be explained with the following principles of computers:

A. COMPUTERS ARE PROGRAMMED TO DO AS INSTRUCTED.
B. C0MPUTERS CAN BE PROGRAMMED TO IGNORE PREVIOUS INSTRUCTIONS.
C. COMPUERTS THAT CANNOT BE PROGRAMMED AS ABOVE, ARE NOT REAL COMPUTERS AND ARE USELESS.
D. WHAT COMPUTERS SEND TO MONITORS AND SPEAKERS CAN ALWAYS BE CAPTURED AND RECORDED AND REPRODUCED. ENCRYPTED SIGNALS CANNOT BE SENT TO MONITORS AND TO SPEAKERS.
D. NO ONE CAN CHANGE THE ABOVE.

The meaning: No one can legislate or change the nature of computers and all efforts to that end are doomed to failure. That includes DRM and all types of encryption. The the entertaiment industry suppliers of DRM technology know this and know that DRM can work only for a limited time but they are counting that their customes and others do not know this.

Rafael Venegas
http://www.gvenegas.com

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