September 21, 2003

The Copyright Elephant (and EFF)

Derek Slater has been discussing fallout from the conference Digital Media in Cyberspace and taking a little flack over associated questions regarding EFF's recent stances.

To mangle some famous phrasing:

"Derek, I knew "bad faith", I worked with "bad faith", "bad faith" was a friend of mine. Here, this is not "bad faith"..."

If you want to see what "bad faith" looks like, take a look at an old analysis of the censorware wars and Mike Godwin's tactics back then ("Sometimes they deliberately and calculatedly lie. Period. ... there may be tactical advantages in smearing your opponents so." - I didn't write that, and though it's from someone who is mentioned unfavorably in my blog these days, it's still a good essay). But I'm posting this to point out, that's what "bad faith" looks like - a lying, bullying, campaign. To echo a bit, I'm writing this to make clear - there have been bad-faith dealings on issues in the past, but these difficulties now aren't anywhere close.

Note all the above was from the old, more corporate-oriented, EFF, under Esther Dyson and Lori Fena. EFF's under new management as of a few years ago, under the far more civil-libertarian focused Shari Steele, and even gave me a treasured apology for the bad-faith dealings above.

Now, with that as background, the problem here is as follows: There's an elephant in the room, in that preserving copyright in anything close to its current form, seems to require draconian measures. I don't say it can or can't be done - but to do it, we're getting laws such as the DMCA, "spampoenas", lawsuits to strike fear into the hearts of file-shares everywhere, and so on.

There's no way out of this that fits in a press release. It's not clear if there even is a way out of this, which leads to a pundit-party of prodigious proportions. It's all about what do we do with the elephant? There's a path which starts out saying, "Don't put the elephant in with the tech-types (broadcast flag, etc.) - it should be wrangled by lawyers". Then "But wait, the lawyers are letting the elephant stampede, they shouldn't do that". And "Hey, it's not so gentle when one is dealing with an enraged bull elephant".

There are also a few blatherers talking about what a wonderful opportunity we have now in the evolution of Loxodonta<->Sapiens networking. A circus generally has some spectacle which is good filler-fodder, after all.

But all we're seeing here, is that EFF is not able to make that elephant go away, and is struggling like everyone else over where best to put it.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in copyblight | on September 21, 2003 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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