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But it is as silly to think about peer-to-peer as applying just to music as it would have been to think about the Internet as applying just to pornography. Whatever the initial use of the technology, it has nothing to do with the potential of the architecture to serve many other extremely important functions.
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It might be crazy to expect a high government official to speak the truth. It might be crazy to believe that government policy will be something more than the handmaiden of the most powerful interests. It might be crazy to argue that we should preserve a tradition that has been part of our tradition for most of our history -- free culture. If this is crazy, then let there be more crazies. Soon.
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The legal system doesn't work. Or more accurately, it doesn't work for anyone except those with the most resources. Not because the system is corrupt. I don't think our legal system (at the federal level, at least) is at all corrupt. I mean simply because the costs of our legal system are so astonishingly high that justice can practically never be done.
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There is a regulation of behavior on the Internet and in cyberspace, but that regulation is imposed primarily through code. The differences in the regulations effected through code distinguish different parts of the Internet and cyberspace. In some places, life is fairly free; in other places, it is more controlled. And the difference between these spaces is simply a difference in the architectures of control--that is, a difference in code.
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The more important point, however, is not about what the money does. It's about what has to be done to get the money. The effect of the money might be (democratically) benign. But what is done to secure that money is not necessarily benign. To miss this point is to betray the Robin Hood fallacy: the fact that the loot was distributed justly doesn't excuse the means taken to secure it.
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If 'piracy means using the creative property of others without their permission- if 'if value, then right' is true- then the history of the content industry is a history of piracy. Every important sector of 'big media' today- film, records, radio, and cable TV-was born of a kind of piracy so defined. The consistent story is how last generation's pirates join this generation's country club-until now.
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Copyright law has got to give up its obsession with 'the copy.' The law should not regulate 'copies' or 'modern reproductions' on their own. It should instead regulate uses-like public distributions of copies of copyrighted work-that connect directly to the economic incentive copyright law was intended to foster.
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So, ignorant we are. But we're not stupid. Indeed... remaining ignorant about politics and our government is a perfectly rational response to the government we have. The question isn't what we know. The question is what we're capable of knowing, and doing, if we have the right incentives, and the right opportunity.
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But, like all metaphoric wars, the copyright wars are not actual conflicts of survival. Or at least, they are not conflicts for survival of a people or a society, even if they are wars of survival for certain businesses or, more accurately, business models. Thus we must keep i mind the other values or objectives that might also be affected by this war. We must make sure this war doesn't cost more than it is worth. We must be sure it is winnable, or winnable at a price we're willing to pay.
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[The Internet] affects democracy... As more and more citizens express what they think, and defend it in writing, that will change the way people understand public issues. It is easy to be wrong and misguided in your head. It is harder when the product of your mind can be criticized by others. Of course, it is a rare human who admits that he has been persuaded that he is wrong. But it is even rarer for a human to ignore when he has been proven wrong. The writing of ideas, arguments, and criticism improves democracy.
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