Copyright politics in the digital age

From: Jim Fehlinger (
Date: Tue Jan 23 2001 - 17:46:09 MST

I wrote the following comments to a friend some months
ago after reading _The Diamond Age_ by Neal Stephenson:

> I was a little annoyed at the nastiness of the cultural setting,
> still based on scarcity and social hierarchy amid the material
> plenty afforded by nanotech assemblers. ... I mean, why the hell did
> the action of the Neo-Victorian designer of the Young Lady's Guide in
> making a surreptitious copy for his own daughter constitute such a heinous
> crime, for crying out loud?

The perpetuation of scarcity in an age of plenty (in the culture
of Stephenson's "Neo-Victorian phyle") portrayed in that work of
science fiction is eerily echoed as a warning in the closing paragraphs
of an article by John Gilmore of the EFF on the evils of the
content-protection measures being jointly devised by the record, movie,
consumer electronics, and computer businesses:

One of the nasty little conspiracies alluded to in this article:
More than 20 years after Sony et al. won the Betamax case in
the U.S. Supreme Court, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association
of America) seems bound and determined to prevent consumer
taping of digital TV (and don't forget, that's not just HDTV, it will be
**all** TV by the time the decade is out, if the FCC has its way).


Jim F.

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