Good place for a lemonade stand. The march of the gigantic temporary European computer city-state goes on: Late writes that "Assembly 2002 starts in Finland on Thursday at 12.00 EET-DST (GMT +3). With over 2800 computer places and an expected total of over 4500 visitors, Assembly is one of the largest combined demo- and lanparties in the world. Those of you who can't make it, can watch our streamed TV broadcast. We'll be broadcasting all the competitions, at least part of the seminars that include such speakers as Rob Hubbard (C64 music legend) and a whole bunch of other programs."
You are condemned to live even longer. h4mmer5tein writes: "The BBC has an update on the asteroid story from a few days ago saying that it won't, after all, hit the earth in 2019. More information is being collated but it seems that 2060 is unlikely to see an impact either."
Iron IronGorilla adds: "Much like a Microsoft crash^H^H^H^H^Hrelease date being pushed back, NASA is reporting here that we are not, in fact, all going to die on February 1st, 2019 ..."
The dangers of meeting someone who means what he says. A few weeks ago, reader Al3x wrote his account ("Results of the Commerce Dept's DRM Workshop") of the recent gathering in DC of (officially invited) representatives of the entertainment industry and the less-officially invited members of the public. Alex criticized the approach of several members of the Free software community on hand for the discussion, including Richard Stallman.
Stallman writes in response:
"Al3x went to the July 17 Washington Digital Restrictions Management panel feeling admiration for me, but left disappointed with my views and actions. I think his disappointment was partly due to a couple of misconceptions, so I hope this explanation will partly restore his good opinion of my work and methods.
I cannot deny Al3x's charge that I, and the rest of us, defied the rules of the meeting by refusing to be completely silent. If it is wrong to disobey an unfair system, I stand convicted, but I am not ashamed. However, in the scale of civil disobedience, ours was very mild. Women demanding the vote sometimes chained themselves to doorways, which might have been inconvenient for some passersby. Blacks demanding an end to segregation sometimes broke rules, and even laws, by sitting in a Whites-only diner or at the front of a bus. It is up to each of you to decide your ethical approach to judging acts of disobedience to an unfair system.
Al3x criticized NY Fair Use for 'preferring to show up and disrupt the debate' rather than ask for a seat on the panel. Our occasional laughter and less frequent verbal comments did not disrupt the panel, and all the panelists were able to express their views; but because our means were so limited, we could not communicate very much. We would have much preferred to participate officially, on an equal footing with Jack Valenti, but they had refused our request, just as they refused the EFF. Our measured protest appears to have obtained for us the chance for a seat on a subsequent panel.
After the meeting, Al3x asked me for my views on intellectual property. As it happens, I think it is a grave mistake to formulate one's views in terms of 'intellectual property,' and I explained why.
I explained that the term 'intellectual property' lumps together disparate areas of law, including copyright, patent, trademark, and others, and that they are so different that it is a mistake to try to group them together. The public policy issues of these various areas of law result from the details of how they restrict the public, and those details are different; if you try to form your opinions about 'intellectual property,' you will miss all of these issues, and you will be led to propose sweeping generalizations which cannot help being foolish. I explained the problems of the term 'intellectual property' to Al3x hoping this would help him and others he communicates with avoid that pitfall in thinking.
I suspect a miscommunication took place there, because when I said that his proposed copyright system for music might be a good one, he perceived that as a contradiction. Perhaps when I said 'the term "intellectual property" is bad,' he heard me as saying 'everything people call "intellectual property" is bad.' That, however, is exactly the sort of sweeping overgeneralization that the term 'intellectual property' leads people to form; it is to discourage such simplistic views that I ask people to avoid the term. I have views on copyright, views on patent, and views on trademark, but I do not have *any* position on 'intellectual property.' As Al3x learned, I'm not 100% opposed to copyright, though I believe it should be much less restrictive to the public than it is now.
See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.htm for more explanation of the problems of the term 'intellectual property.' If you're interested in my views on copyright, see www.gnu.org/philosophy/copyright-and-globalization.html.