[-empyre-] license

h w misterwarwick at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 30 04:51:36 EST 2012

Adam wrote:

We need to get rid of these fears, stop hiding behind licenses,
upholding old values and processes of closed culture within free culture and embrace the values and consequences of free culture no matter how uncomfortable they might be.

Normally I am a total lurker on this list. I was very active some years ago. I've been following this discussion, and what I quoted from Adam above is, IMHO, a really crucial and important point. Simon (Hi Simon!) asked about the legalistics, and that is also a good question. I think it is also a question that comes out of the fear that Adam describes above, and it is a real one. 

What this discussion is dancing around is Power. The media companies have it, and the rest of us don't. The media companies get to call file sharing, "Piracy". I never understood how some 12 year old boy in the comfort of his mother's basement downloading Katie Perry's latest offence against 40,000 years of music making is some how morally equivalent to the forcible seizure of watercraft by a gang of armed bloodthirsty thugs hellbent on the slaughter and/or enslavement, rape, and pillaging of the crew, the theft of the boat's contents, and then the final gleeful burning and murderous sinking of the vessel and all left on board. 

So, firstly - it's not PIRACY. It is file sharing or file trading. Stop calling it Piracy, and if someone calls it Piracy, correct them. If they insist on calling it Piracy, tell them you will not discuss the matter until they use your language. That's my beef with the Pirate Party. By adopting the epithet as an appropriation of a term to be worn as some badge of honour is a dated tactic and suboptimal at best. It doesn't help the argument and it obfuscates what is really going on: file sharing. So, please: It's Not Piracy. Period. 

Secondly - we need to get over the notion that the Internet is rhizomatic and flexible. Egypt proved otherwise. Sure, some people quickly routed around it, but for the vast majority who are not tech saavy, the internet went dark for them. SOPA and PIPA and C11 and ACTA are all just more nails in the coffin. The Internet is now arboretic - it is stiff and lacks flexibility - it is being cut into planks and nailed together into walled gardens as we speak. That's the whole point of replacing laptops with mobile devices.

Thirdly - people want files. They are easy to copy. My research has found that most of the pdf files of full length books I've DL'd tend to be around 5 megs in size. ePubs are smaller - averaging around 750k to 1 meg. The library at the school where I teach has about 550,000 books. At 1 meg each, that's 550 GB of ePubs, a few terabytes of pdfs. As epubs, the entire library would fit on a drive I can buy this afternoon for $69. I could dupe that drive very quickly via USB3. Why my university doesn't simply distribute such drives to each student when they pay their student fees would elude me if it wasn't for Adam's point about fear...

Fourthly - A license that says "use this I don't care" is not a license. A license has to be enforceable as it is a contract, and a contract has to be enforceable otherwise it's not a contract. It's just a proposal or a statement. If it is not enforceable, it is not a license. This means that without state sanctioned violence that is necesary for the enforcement of contracts and the disposition of property you cannot have a "use license". You can make a statement "Use this I don't care" and that's fine. But anything that has any restriction must have enforceability and consequences for infraction. The consequences are backed by state sanctioned violence. Because that's how civilisation works. The problem isn't license. The problem isn't even the illusion of property. The problem is this notion of civilisation, where people live in such density in specific areas that the importation of resources is REQUIRED. That is where the violence begins, and this is
 the source of the fear that Adam describes. 

The first step is to re-set our notions of property. That's a different discussion, and I need to go prepare lunch for my family....

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