Subject: Re: As if the DMCA wasn't bad enough
From: Tom Lord <lord@regexps.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 19:34:47 -0700 (PDT)



       There is exactly one entity that has the power to interpret the
       Constitution, and that is the Supreme Court.  How you or I or some
       fringe Randite party interprets it is *totally* irrelevant.

At least several of the justices are quite clear that they do not
shield themselves from the intellectual thinking of their time.  They
read, too.  They talk and discuss outside of chambers.  Our opinions
are not irrelevant at all.

Moreover, as I've tried to point out, the meaning of the limited
federal legistlative power to grant "exclusive right" to "writings and
discoveries" is deeply intertwined with the technological and business
landscape.  When our opinions about copyright are implemented as
licenses, technology, and companies, we unavoidably influence law.

Turning the tech. knob all the way in one direction, we can arrange
(through utter tyranny) to permit only security-enforcing devices on
our soil.  If we do that, those who built fortunes on copyright law in
the era before cheap digital technology can continue to operate
without any significant changes in their manner of conducting
themselves.  To the extent they have previously promoted scientific
and artistic progress, they can continue to do so.

Turning the tech. knob all the way in the other direction (where it
starts out "by default" -- no tyranny required) we forsake any hope of
fully applying classical copyright protections to digital information.
Avoiding totalitarianism is one good reason to do so; implementing
economic mechanisms in such an environment that succeed at promoting
the progress of science and useful arts can pretty much seal the deal.

In the early early days of the FSB world, some of use to speculate how
it would be arranged for programmers to get paid.  We're starting to
see solutions to that -- with plenty more to do.  In addition to making
a wise business move, the implementors of those solutions are helping
to make a liberty-preserving political move.

Now it is the early early days of the Free Information Business world.

-t