Re: DeCSS ruling - more Freedom of Speech constraints

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2000 - 05:31:31 MST

On Fri, Feb 04, 2000 at 03:44:00AM -0800, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> At any rate, it gets very messy very fast, since the code was
> originally published in Norway and they don't have a "Digital
> Millennium Copyright Act"... Will there be an increase in
> "rogue" countries around the world that see the advantages
> for ignoring the copyright regulations of other countries
> (as Russia and China largely do now)?

Norway isn't a rogue; Norway is a respectable signatory of the
Berne Convention. Time was when the _USA_ was the copyright rogue,
ignoring copyright declarations on work filed in other countries
(as exemplified by the pirate publishing of Lord of the Rings
in the 1960's).

There seem to me to be two issues -- firstly, the fact that the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the USA can rock the boat
outside the USA (a market of 270 million people being too big to
ignore), and secondly, that the US government is keen to export
its legal standards in the name of removing barriers to free trade;
it is quite capable of trying to bring in such restrictions elsewhere
in the world, and some bodies (the European Commission in particular)
are dumb enough to think that anything invented in the USA _must_ be
worth emulating. (After all, the whole point of the EU is to emulate
American success at removing internal trade barriers between what
were once quasi-independent states; the Euro-Federalist agenda
explicitly aims to create an integrated economic superpower by
peaceful means.)

> I still think there are many people who don't understand that
> the troll isn't content to stay under the bridge any more.
Yup. I've been banging this drum for a while. Our existing concept
of copyright is based on technologically imposed limits (that
duplicating information requires expensive, bulky equipment that's
easy to monitor) that are no longer true. (And indeed, the whole
concept of copyright comes from an intermediate age, when copying
was possible but not easy, between the copy-it-longhand era and
the information-duplication-costs-tend-towards-zero era.

> As I and others have pointed out, the best model is to produce
> the "copyrighted works" cheaply enough that it eliminates the
> incentive to "steal" work.

Hence open source; copying is free advertising for a commercial software
vendor -- where they make their money is off services.

-- Charlie

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