Re: IP was: My Extropian Manifesto...

From: Jason Joel Thompson (
Date: Wed Aug 16 2000 - 19:47:47 MDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Zero Powers" <>

> >Good thing that a bunch of smart people on this planet decided to try to
> >exert some influence over our reality despite its apparent inevitability.
> >Instead of shrugging and saying: "Hey, we can't stop Frank from chopping
> >down Roger's plum tree and setting his barn on fire, so let's not
> >they figured they'd whip up some aribitrary social contracts to control
> >undesirable individual behavior.
> OK, you're obviously a smart guy. Let's hear *your* idea for a workable
> "social contract" that's going to keep people from pirating music and
> software. Sure you can shut down Napster. But can you shut down IRC? or
> Gnutella? or Freenet? I'll tell you what, in the unlikely event that you
> *can* come up with a workable solution, I know some folks over at the RIAA
> who would be happy to make you very rich in exchange for your bright

The Internet is akin to the wild frontieer. Current laws have very little
teeth in the online world-- something that's leading to increasing concern
over issues such as invasion of privacy and online stalking.

If Internet time was a little bit slower, I expect that you would see a
natural evolution of structure-- more mom's and kids moving out to the wild
west, more need for stability, more law makers, etc.

As it stands however, the cowboys are running the salon, and they've got the
biggest guns.

As I've indicated before, my preferred solution is a technological one. But
I -am- in favor of social engineering to get us where we want to go. So,
what do we do?

Firstly, if we decide that something is against the law, we should be
prepared to enforce that law. People are taking a lot of things for granted
right now and they aren't going to be exactly happy to give up their free
toys. Nonetheless, the government can't wuss out. This requires an
educated, involved, technological government body-- and I think its pretty
clear to most people that we don't exactly have that just yet. Some simple,
educated commitment to protecting individual rights online would send a very
strong signal. People need to recognize that a significant portion of our
existence is making a move into a virtual realm and we need to be prepared
to bring significant structure to our new modality.

Of course the cowboys don't want to play nice-- they have all the power in
the current model. Unfortunately it seems hard to illuminate those
individuals to the larger perspective-- if we bring stability to this world,
a real civilization can start to form.

Alright, I don't have any pat answers, but I can suggest directions that we
should be moving towards:

a) Increased Education. We've been pirating stuff for so long, we've
forgotten its against the law. Remind people that some of us make a living
with our brains. Remind people that IP is valuable... and getting more so.

b) Involved Government. The law makers need to get online and get wired.
This is the new world and it's no longer good enough to just have good
people skills and an understanding of bridge tolls and urban violence.

c) Legitimate Access. I absolutely agree that the RIAA should have bought
Napster-- what were they thinking? A widely available means to legimately
access content is desperately needed-- and as a directly commercial venture
it should be able to offer better, more reliable, more legitimate service
than anyone else.

d) No wimps in Law Enforcement. The laws need teeth, and if you're going to
call it illegal, then do something about it.


e) Technology. To my mind, it's clear that there are huge benefits for
people to be more closely integrated with their information. Those benefits
need to be demonstrated and distributed. New technologies should focus on
personal power-- less about how thousand of college kids can get free music,
more about how you as an individual can make your own music. Technologies
that make it easy and profitable for people to be contributory, not easy and
profitable to leech. Superior encryption should be widely available.
Individuals should be able to participate in totally private, secure
communication and transactions. We need smart information: data that knows
stuff about itself, data that follows rules.


::jason.joel.thompson:: ::wild.ghost.studios::

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