Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The New Rules of the New Aristocrats

It's getting harder and harder for me not to link to BoingBoing, whose near-daily updates on the ongoing corporate war against the rights of ordinary consumers stir up my righteous indignation, making clear the threat against free expression soon to be facing our society as corporate interests begin to dictate the law. This war isn't isolated to a particular country - it's worldwide and it's happening now.

Two consecutive posts prove particularly relevant: first, an update on Michael Geist's writings on the Canadian Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and how its institution would affect Canadians (follow the story's link for the full rundown on how the DMCA criminalizes legal uses of consumer-purchased goods by making it illegal to circumvent copy-protection and adding special provisions to fair use, essentially invalidating it) .

Just as sickening are the new rules from the Associated Press restricting legal quotations of their own articles, in direct contradiction to U.S. law. Those willing to pay for already-legal consumer uses of AP stories may buy overpriced "quotation licenses" designed to limit AP story access, licenses terminable by the AP at will.

The following quote from Patrick Nielsen Hayden, printed in the article, is so important that I'm reprinting it here:

The New York Times, an AP member organization, refers to this as an “attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt.” I suggest it’s better described as yet another attempt by a big media company to replace the established legal and social order with a system of private law (the very definition of the word “privilege”) in which a few private organizations get to dictate to the rest of society what the rules will be. See also Virgin Media claiming the right to dictate to private citizens in Britain how they’re allowed to configure their home routers, or the new copyright bill being introduced in Canada, under which the international entertainment industry, rather than democratically-accountable representatives of the Canadian people, will get to define what does and doesn’t amount to proscribed “circumvention.” Hey, why have laws? Let’s just ask established businesses what kinds of behaviors they find inconvenient, and then send the police around to shut those behaviors down. Imagine the effort we’ll save.

Welcome to a world in which you won’t be able to effectively criticize the press, because you’ll be required to pay to quote as few as five words from what they publish.

Welcome to a world in which you won’t own any of your technology or your music or your books, because ensuring that someone makes their profit margins will justify depriving you of the even the most basic, commonsensical rights in your personal, hand-level household goods.

The people pushing for this stuff are not well-meaning, and they are not interested in making life better for artists, writers, or any other kind of individual creators. They are would-be aristocrats who fully intend to return us to a society of orders and classes, and they’re using so-called “intellectual property” law as a tool with which to do it. Whether or not you have ever personally taped a TV show or written a blog post, if you think you’re going to wind up on top in the sort of world these people are working to build, you are out of your mind.

This inevitable aristocratization of America is a direct result of inaction on the behalf of every political party in the world, every elected representative and every corporate fat cat who allows these liberty-destroying laws and loopholes through the legal floodgate of modern legislation. The mainstream media is not reporting it because they are part of it, and most people don't even know that it's happening.

Goodbye, democracy. Tomorrow is the dawn of The Corporation.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting - I reserve the right only to delete ads, nonsensical spam or comments indistinguishable from such.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.