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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.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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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

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November 18, 2009

Cognitive Dissonance Writ Large

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Nate Anderson provides extensive coverage of Michael Fricklas's talk at Yale Law. Fricklas is top legal attack dog for Viacom, and the headline on the ars piece highlights the lawyer's admission that the Cartel's jihad against its own customers was... well, a jihad, though he uses the word "terrorism" which is an equally emotionally laden term.

Viacom, says Fricklas, isn't out to destroy fair use. Indeed, the company has won lawsuits and published Web sites based on fair use principles. It's just that, like the rest of the Cartel's philosophy, it wants your fair use to be on its terms and under its conditions.

For example, Viacom supports a "three strikes" policy - another terrible bit of info-propaganda. When people say "three strikes" they're usually referring to things like state laws that assign extra punishment to people who have been convicted in courts of breaking felony statues multiple times. When the Cartel says "three strikes" it means "we accused you of three copyright violations."

And of course if you've been accused by the Cartel you MUST be guilty, so it's OK to take away your Internet. And your household's Internet, too. Damned terrorists... oh, wait, it's Viacom who are the terrorists. Can we take away their Internet?

Fricklas is also still a big fan of DRM, a position for which Cory has no sympathy at all, calling it "magic bean syndrome." In essence, the Cartel have sunk so much money, time, and public image into the idea and implementation of DRM that they're unable to understand that it's the cold fusion of the content world. Fricklas appears to believe that the problem isn't DRM-the-concept, it's just the specific DRM that the Cartel have used to date. I don't think, so, Mr. Fricklas.

So what do we make of this set of admissions and non-admissions? I think it's important to remember that Fricklas is not an independent person. He's paid to create and promote the party line and that's what he's doing. It's no surprise to any sentient observer that the Cartel have figured out that suing their customers is a disaster from both financial and PR standpoints, so backing down there is a given. But in a sense this is a diversionary tactic. The Copyright Wars are, and have always been, a struggle for control. Viacom is just shifting which weapons it uses to maintain and extend that control.

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