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Monday, June 10, 2002
ratcheting up the rhetoric on our digital rights
[06:04 PM EST - link]

Donna Wentworth writes in Copyfight:

So we have a problem. The issue of protecting fair use in the digital arena isn't even the slightest bit trivial. But in most people's minds, it couldn't be more so. I want to hear from the hard-nosed on this. If tweaking rhetoric doesn't make the case appear legitimate, what's going to do the trick? How do you take a case like this and Betamax it?

along with the MIT's Frank Field and LawMeme's Ernest Miller, i'll throw my hat into the ring.

I think we're getting to the point where the symbolic term "fair use" has to be replaced in conversation with the actual things we will lose if Big Content gets their way: watching/listening to what you want, when you want to. these are things we're used to doing every day, whether or not we realize it's exercising doctrine of "fair use" or "first sale".

I think it's perfectly fair to emphasize that the fact that citizens are being treated like criminals -- presumed guilty, really -- to benefit a half-dozen giant companies (and their richer-than-Croesus CEOs) who are accountable to no one. the list of things that we're putting in the hands of Mike Eisner and Rupert Murdoch is endless. it comes down to the fact that Big Content wants to write the laws on digital rights. when everything is digital, you'll have no rights at all.

the rhetorical problem right now is that we're reactive, and focused on the laws themselves. that's only one part of the effort. we need to separate the legal work from the campaign for public opinion.

the EFF, taking a cue from civil rights victories of the past (what's the civil rights movement without the NAACP's Brown v Board of Ed?), has to see the fight in terms of legal efforts. lawyers like to counter arguments head-on, which is good in a trial but a mistake in a campaign. what happens in the media -- the battle for public opinion -- is a campaign. while the NAACP worked to have civil rights affirmed in the courts, it took men like Rev Martin Luther King, Jr to have civil rights affirmed in society.

it pays to remember that, in particular, Jack Valenti learned the art of political warfare from the master -- Lyndon Johnson. in LBJ's first congressional run in '48, he told his campaign manager that he wanted to hold a press conference where he would accuse his opponent of having had sex with pigs. his campaign manager, appalled, protested that the accusations were false. "It's not true," he said. "Of course it's not," Johnson replied, "but let's make the bastard deny it."

from Debunking DMCA: geeks get political
[05:15 PM EST - link]

yes, there's a long tradition of politically-minded techno-weinery, but the latest generation of code monkeys is getting mighty sick of crap like the DMCA. as a consequence, more and more of them are starting to get involved in policy, as i note in my latest post to Debunking DMCA.

"i wouldn't say i've been missing it, Bob..."
[04:51 PM EST - link]

why no posts? have i been on vacation? kind of -- i've certainly taken an extended holiday from a regular paycheck, but now it's time to come home.

some lucky company is going to have a new secret weapon -- me. before you embark on your quest for total global domination, let me know.