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The Parallel Politics of Copyright and Environment 128

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 TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:45PM (#16410153) Journal
    The average Canadian knows little about the intricacies of fair dealing or technological protection measures, yet the implications of copyright policies that hamper free speech, privacy, security, and consumer rights are far easier to appreciate.
    The simpler the cause, the easier it is to make it a mainstream issue.

    Complexity is anathema to politics in most countries.
  • by Suzumushi ( 907838 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:48PM (#16410191)
    A more appropriate comparison/parallel for the copyright issue would be civil rights, not the environment.

    And similarily, landmark court decisions and not legislation will probably determine the direction that copyright will take us...back to the slave owning days, or to a future of equal opportunity.

  • by rf0 ( 159958 ) <> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:59PM (#16410345) Homepage
    I always take my wife as a normal type person who just wants technology to work. She reads email, writes letters and does a little bit of surfing. She doesn't really care about computers and seems to live in her own little bubble. So I posed gave her a quick run down of the UK RIP bill (,651 2,334007,00.html) basically saying that the government can come along and watch everything she does on the net, can be put in jail for refusing to give her password out etc and her response was. " As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry? "

    To me it seems people will only notice things are becoming a police state when its a bit to late. Most /.'ers can see what is coming but the general populs, the ones who vote (though how effective that is I don't know) will happily ignore things until it becomes and issue when the police turn up at the front door
  • US Economy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by javilon ( 99157 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:13PM (#16410569) Homepage
    After the manufacturing sector imploded and now the services sector is hit by outsourcing, the only strongly exportable products produced by the American economy are linked to IP.
    The problem is that for this to work, the rest of the world has to adopt USA IP laws, and most countries know it goes against their best interest, so they are not very enthusiastic about it.

  • by forkazoo ( 138186 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {snarcesorw}> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:35PM (#16410855) 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?

    You still overestimate the average person. They will say that the police would only do it to criminals, so they have no reason to fear the police having that authority. Seriously, I've tried to use this exact explanation. Somewhere along the line, people stopped believing that they themselves were the fundamental source of authority, and have come to believe that governments have inherent power. They believe that the government is always looking out for them, and beyond criticism. Somehow, they just don't get the fact the government is just a big group of people who are lazy, stupid, and power hungry as everybody else. Often, more so.
  • by mcwop ( 31034 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:51PM (#16411093) Homepage
    In a world with no copyright protection, companies will simply create their own protection schemes. Absent law that states otherwise, companies will not be obligated to share their protection schemes with anyone that won't meet their terms. Of course, people could try and circumvent the protection schemes, and the schemes might prevent market success for their products (though this is not guaranteed). But, it is foolish to think that without copyright everything would be easily copy able by everyone except the technologically savvy.

    Without copyright, maybe even Microsoft might come up with a protection scheme that works.

  • Most human beings are happier under the boot of some dictatorship or the other. As long as they're in a relatively snug groove of the boot, the stamping doesn't really bother them.

    Let's look at the history of humanity. For most of human civilisation, and even before that, humans lived in societies without rights, equality, freedoms or justice. The powerful ruled, and if you objected, you would either be brutally beaten or killed outright. Not only that, your extended family could also be expected to suffer as well.

    So with that in mind, lets consider the human "liberty loving" gene, the one that bristles when your rights are infringed upon. Do you think that is now a common gene? Do you think most human beings have retained a strong expression in genes like that one. Or do you think that rather, it is those humans who expressed more "quiet sheep" genes that proliferated throughout most of history.

    Most people are descended from a long, long line of quiet, contented serfs. Ergo, most people will naturally act and behave like quiet, contented serfs. You are surrounded by them daily, choked by their suffocating apathy. They are individual only in the individual ways that they acquiesce to other humans who exude the "master" pheromone. Ultimately, democracy collapses under the dead weight of their inborn complacency
  • by testong129 ( 1012739 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @02:14PM (#16411397)
    I have thought of that as an excuse for this behavior also, but then I think: who am to decide what is "right" and "wrong"? I am sure that your wife, as almost everyone else, does "wrong" things every day - speeding on the freeway, copying music CDs to her ipod, and now it is criticizing the government. In the past it was perfectly fine to go break Jewish-owned shops, intern Japanese-Americans, own slaves, [fill in something bad that your government did in the past]. We can always pretend that we are model citizens, but in the end we are all criminals.

    So it is the government and not her that gets to decide what is right and wrong. One day, they will decide that for whatever reason, they need to sniff her e-mails, or sniff her underwear drawer for drugs or bombs. And that day, there will be something "wrong" with her e-mail or whatever (e.g. thats not a picture of your 1 year old cousin taking a bath, that is kiddie porn). Then she is in prison mumbling, "first they came for my e-mail and I did nothing, then they came for my underwear and I did nothing, then they came for me..."

    I wonder what she, and the rest of you, would say about that.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @02:42PM (#16411799) Journal
    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.
    They do not see laws designed to strip the rights of Bad Guys (copyright infringers, terrorists, anti-social asshats) as affecting them, because they do not percieve Bad Guys as part of their "community".

    Change "making the threat seem real enough"
    to "making the threat seem personal enough"

    The quickest and easiest way to do that is to ask [Whoever] personal questions you know they aren't going to answer.

    When [Whoever] refuses, ask them "As long as you didn't do anything wrong, why shouldn't you answer?"

    The answer they give you is the same answer to the question "As long as I don't do anything wrong why should I worry?"

    Once you change the way those people look at the issue, you can change the way they feel about it. To do that, you have to go after their fundamental assumption that Bad Guys != Their Community.
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @02:56PM (#16411929) Homepage Journal
    How about the New York State Thruway analogy.

    Back in the old days, the speed limit on the NYST was 55mph, like other limited-access highways. But NOBODY went 55mph, and in fact it was quite common to drive past police cars at 70mph, assuming they weren't driving right beside you at that speed, or faster.

    In essence, EVERYONE was breaking the law. That also meant that had they wanted to, or if they had to fill a quota of some sort, they could stop ANYONE for at least a speeding ticket. Beyond that, they could probably add reckless endangerment, etc. But the reality is, since everyone was breaking the law, they could adopt alternate criteria for stopping you, say they don't like your looks, or your car's looks.

    To be honest, I don't know that the system was ever abused in this way. I never heard of any abuse, that that doesn't mean that there was or wasn't any.

    But the possiblity was there.

    Now to bring it home to your wife...

    Do you KNOW that you're not breaking any laws? When was the last time you sat down and read ALL the laws, to sort out which ones are applicable to you? How about Blue Laws? I've heard that some places have laws on the books that the Missionary Position is the only legal method for sexual intercourse. I don't know whether that's true or not, but I do remember some time in the past few years, a high court ruling that upheld a law against sex toys in your own bedroom. There was recently a rider forbidding mail-order purchase prescription drugs from Canada, and it was tacked onto a completely unrelated bill. It turns out that sometimes these riders are added late in the process, too late to be in the version of the bill given to legislators for review. Things can sail right under the radar, leaving room for "selective enforcement."

    In these days, I'd mostly fear not knowing enough about who I'm doing business with. In a completely innocent fashion, it's possible to "make material contributions to terrorist organizations," by simply buying something from the wrong people.

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