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October 20, 2011
David Post on DMCA and the Arab Spring
David Post has been heavily involved in Viacom v. YouTube for many months
. Recently he posted to Volokh Conspiracy an item he wrote as an op-ed that never got published, as arguments in the case began yesterday
In this piece he draws a line between the DMCA and the Arab Spring, as we in the west have come to call the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere that have toppled dictators and probably changed the face of politics in the region for generations to come. The argument is pretty simple: without the Safe Harbor provisions of the Act, open public social services such as Twitter and YouTube would not have flourished. You can even argue that more closed systems such as Facebook that still depend on user contributions for the majority of their content would not have succeeded. And without these services, Post contends, the protests would never have coalesced.
It's fun to argue counterfactuals over beer and pretzels with your friends and you can probably argue that these revolutions would have happened sooner or later even without the networking effects of social media sites. However, this misses the larger point that I think Post wants to make, which is that the narrow concerns of the Cartel in seeking to overturn Safe Harbor need to be weighed against the enormous social goods and still unknown potentials that the provisions have allowed to develop.
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