I don't like the MPAA. I may have mentioned it before. And instances like this are why:
The MPAA's "University Toolkit" (a piece of monitoring software that universities are being asked to install on their networks to spy on students' communications) has been taken down, due to copyright violations. [Via BB.]
Putting aside the whole questionable ethics about producing spyware, we're reminded yet again that the MPAA isn't really concerned about copyright. They're concerned about money. Money for them. Period. This isn't even the first time they've ripped off someone's software. If they were truly the copyright crusaders they make themselves out to be, you would think they would put a bit more effort into upholding those standards when it comes to others' copyrights (and resulting money). In reality, the MPAA is a hypocritical, corrupt organization that inexplicably has an unfair stranglehold on the practices of American film distribution.
From the Tech Liberation Front:
Indeed, I think about all this every time I attend a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on tech policy and listen to lawmakers regale each other with stories about when they bought their first transistor radio or black-and-white television. Then, without missing a beat, they make jokes about not ever using the Internet or computers but that they have staffers or young family members who do and keep them informed. And yet, despite this stunning unfamiliarity with all things high-tech, they then move right on to pass reams of regulations governing the Internet and digital economy.
I have very much the same problems with people who laugh about their "computer illiteracy." Since every job I've had has encompassed some degree of technical support, I've run into that attitude a lot. Not every user needs to be an expert, but flaunting your inability to use a machine you depend on daily in the course of your work seems ridiculous. No one laughs about not being able to read, do they? But to see this type of behavior in lawmakers and corporate decision-makers? (Remember BB's story last week about the Universal CEO who basically said that no one in the record industry understands technology and they don't know what to do with it when it comes to music distribution?) By making a joke out of not understanding technology, the real problems of how to handle it go unsolved.
While I am profoundly perturbed with this stance as content owners continue to stifle all innovation in the face of the digital revolution, it is consistent with what they have done in the past. So... we are challenged at the last second to find a way of bringing this idea to life without getting splashed by the urine as these media companies piss all over each other’s feet. We have a cool and innovative site ready to launch but we're currently scratching our heads as to how to proceed.
"This stance" is explained at the link, but basically Reznor is running into trouble with his record company trying to launch a website which encourages and features his music remixed by fans.
You know, once I got over my dark teenage obsession with The Downward Spiral, I didn't imagine Trent Reznor would ever really be one of my prominent heroes, but he's gone and become just that. I hope they find a way to make this work.
Wow - Lessig points to a book-in-progress by Tom Bell about "intellectual property" - or, as he is redefining it, intellectual privilege:
I here offer a third view of copyright. I largely agree with my friends on the left that copyright represents not so much a form of property as it does a policy device designed to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" (as the Constitution puts it). I thus call copyright a form of intellectual privilege.
Like my friends on the right, however, I hold our common law rights in very high regard. Hence my complaint against copyright: it violates the rights we would otherwise enjoy at common law to peaceably enjoy the free use our throats, pens, and presses. That is not to say that copyright is per se unjustified. We can excuse facial violations of our common law rights, such as the takings effectuated by taxation or the restraints imposed by antitrust law, as the costs of obtaining a greater good. But it does mean that copyright qualifies, at best, as a necessary evil.
When someone can sum up what I myself think about copyright in a couple of paragraphs like that, I can't wait to read his finished book.