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The Parallel Politics of Copyright and Environment 128

Posted by timothy
from the I'll-take-the-environment-alex dept.
zumaya100k writes "In recent months, Slashdot has covered the rise of the Pirate Party and the battles in Europe over iPod interoperability. Canada's Hill Times has an insightful column from Michael Geist that links these developments as the growing importance of copyright as a political issue. He argues that copyright is now tracking the environment as a mainstream political issue." (Geist is talking about Canada here, but much the same can be said about the U.S. and other places.)
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The Parallel Politics of Copyright and Environment

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  • by balsy2001 (941953) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:46PM (#16410169)
    This has been a very big issue for corpoprations and politicians for years now (think of Disney getting copyright extensions for mickey mouse), but only recently due to the advances in technology has it become a household issue.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:12PM (#16410545)

    As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry?

    I agree with your basic premise (although I don't think we are anywhere near a police state as the phrase is normally used), but one thing we do need is a cleary stated and consice answer to the above question. There is an answer, but it *is* a fair question.

    happily ignore things until it becomes and issue when the police turn up at the front door

    And if your wife asks, "Why would they show up up the front door? Give me exact examples." what would you say? It's not that people are that willfully ignorant, it's just that those raising the issue are not succeeding in making the threat seem real enough.

  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:15PM (#16410595) Homepage
    I wonder why the publisher still make me take atoms when all I really want are bits.

    I.e. getting rid of copyrights (or bringing them back to 14+14 years) would help the environment.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:23PM (#16410661) Homepage
    you presented it wrong...

    Ask her if it's ok for the police to come into your home at any time and look through all your drawers and everything else at any time they like, and will jail you for telling them to go away or not letting them in.

    what is her response then?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:24PM (#16410685)
    And what about all those who don't vote

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_voting [wikipedia.org]

    It's a reform needed in the UK and the USA. Help moderate politics, keep government for all the people, support, argue, fight for compulsory balloting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:28PM (#16410733)
    You and the GP seem to use the word 'originally' quite creatively. As I see it, copyrights originally lasted for exactly 0 years, just as they still should.
  • by s20451 (410424) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:28PM (#16410741) Journal
    Both deal with the obligations of an individual to respect the interests (if not legally the rights) of the rest of the world. Intellectual property is essentially the intellectual equivalent of pollution, a by-product of the creation of ideas that is frequently toxic to other ideas and inventions.

    And yet the vast majority of "idea creators" (inventors, musicians, artists, etc) are in favour of intellectual property in some form.

    And yet the United States, with some of the world's most restrictive intellectual property legislation, is probably the most innovative society in science, technology, and the arts, that the world has ever produced.

    And yet without copyright, the GPL could not force downstream authors to release their source. Stallman's greatest contribution may have been to demonstrate the sheer power and flexibility of IP protection.

    My anecdotal observation is that the people most cheesed off about intellectual property are primarily or entirely consumers of IP, and not producers. Nobody enjoys paying for things, but that's how the economy works.

    I agree that current IP law needs reform. But to say that it is "pollution" is horseshit.
  • by element-o.p. (939033) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:47PM (#16411055) Homepage
    Exactly!

    To some extent, the freedoms that most Western countries (at least the U.S.--I have limited experience in other Western countries) have enjoyed for so long have become our own worst enemy, in a sense.

    Because most of us in the U.S. have not had to fear our own government, we have adopted the mindset that our government *wouldn't* do the kinds of things that the Constitution was designed to prevent. Therefore, we don't care if Bush wiretaps in violation of the 4th amendment and FISA, if the Patriot Act eliminates many of the safeguards that prevent abuse of power, etc. After all, it's only going to be used to Protect Us Against the Terrorists (tm) or For The Children (tm), right?

    Unfortunately, history proves otherwise...but most of us apparently slept through history class :/
  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:48PM (#16411071) Homepage Journal
    I can't believe this hasn't been modded up.

    I think you hit the nail on the head: copyright has been a political issue for a while, but it's only recently that it's started to affect normal people. Thus they care, where they didn't give a damn before.

    Most people don't care about things in the political realm, outside of the small sphere which they perceive as actually having a direct effect on their lives.

    E.g., one of the reasons the gun lobby is so big in the U.S., is that there are a lot of people who own guns, and realize that changes in gun laws could directly affect their lives, and thus take an interest in it, one way or the other.

    If you had as many bittorrent users as there are gun owners, and if those bittorrent users found their bittorrenting to be as important to them as gun owners find their gun ownership and its associated activities, then there's no reason why the "BitTorrent Lobby" wouldn't be equally powerful.

    It's all about making average people care.
  • by swarsron (612788) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @02:27PM (#16411571)
    "And if your wife asks, "Why would they show up up the front door? Give me exact examples." what would you say? It's not that people are that willfully ignorant, it's just that those raising the issue are not succeeding in making the threat seem real enough."

    That's a very real problem. But it's not necessarily the fault of the person raising the issue. I often discover that even if you give people quite concrete examples they disregard them because they think that it's too farfetched. And that's mainly because they don't understand the technological changes that took place.

    I live in germany and some of you will remember germany was parted into the BRD (nice USA loving part) and the DDR (bad evil communists). One of the main instruments to hold their power in the DDR was the Stasi ("Staatsicherheit", one could translate this to ministry of state (homeland ;) security). In the end there were 1 people out of 7 deployed by the stasi (not all full time, most of them only as snitches). So it was a really enourmous effort to get the information needed to control those with dissenting views.

    What people don't get is the power of correlating databases. One datasource by itself might not seem so bad but if you start to combine several you get information out of them which is way more interesting than just the sum of those databases. The instruments used by the stasi are nothing against what someone could do if he got access to the different databases we're currently creating. And all of this almost instantly and with way less people.

    If i tell people about this most of them just don't get it. Maybe it's because i can't make my point but i think that it is because they never worked with databases and really can't comprehend what's possible. I didn't realize it fully until i was at a congress of the CCC (http://www.ccc.de/) where someone demonstrated what you can do in 30 minutes with public databases. I'm convinced that people see us as paranoid because they just don't know whats possible and so it's very hard to give examples which seem relevant/plausible to them.
  • by Peaker (72084) <gnupeaker@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @05:23PM (#16414117) Homepage
    then it should be my prerogative to decide if I sell that book, if I give it away, who can distribute it...
    Why should it? I hope you realize that this is your personal opinion. A lot of us think that the individual freedom to share, copy, modify, or otherwise do anything I want with information in my posesion is more important than the distribution control of the author. This is obviously a tradeoff between certain factors:
    1. The author's control over the distribution (And thus, the profitability and incentive to create works).
    2. The freedom of users to share, copy, or modify the works (And thus, the possibility to enhance the state of the art and a potential to increase efficiency).
    3. The amount of government involvement.

    The position people have on copyright is not inherent, and I think you have been educated/conditioned to believe that one thing "should" be and the other shouldn't. I think we "should" decide whether copyright is right/moral based on the perceived value of that tradeoff.

    I see where copyright supporters come from, because they simply have different ideas about how important each item in the above list is.

    I personally find number 1 and 3 less important, and find number 2 (Both in the freedom and in the efficiency aspect) to be of much higher importance.

    That is why I think copyright is wrong.

    Copyright is the reason that a popular band cannot claim your work as their own.
    Even if that were the case (not having all the facts, I think it is not), a limited law about the ability to make a civilian libel case against those who attribute your work to them would be a satisfactory solution, regardless of copyright.

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