Gutenberg revisited…network neutrality and copyright

There is a significant issue at hand with network neutrality, like many things, I first read about it on Jeff's blog and I'd urge everyone to spend some time understanding this. It may have a big impact on the future of the internet, not just in the US but globally. Make your own informed opinion. Also check out what tim had to say 

Lawrence Lessig is a must read, buy this book and give it to your mates to read. Those of us that spend time and perhaps earn a living in the web need to learn more about how it is regulated and the challenges it faces. The US government has a tremendous global responsibly in its stewardship of the Internet. My request to you congressmen and congresswomen, "please don't mess it up."

As Vinnie notes, get on to your representatives to make sure that the views other than that of the telcos and the moviemakers get heard.  I'm not sure what we can do sitting here in Europe, but I'm not comfortable at all with these developments. A two-speed internet in the US, would be a bad thing for all of us.

Lessig and other clever law types have written a lot about Internet regulation, and copyright remains one of the most complex and fraught areas. The links between the changing nature of copyright and technology have been well documented, and are at the centre of the assault on network neutrality.  I found this article recently which is well worth a read.

I especially like the comment about the monks…

During the oral argument in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., Justice Stephen Breyer questioned whether the petitioners' counsel would apply the test proposed for the new technology to some once-new technologies, such as the photocopying machine, the videocassette recorder, the iPod, and the printing press. When the counsel quickly responded in the affirmative in each case, Justice Breyer could not help but quip, "[F]or all I know, the monks had a fit when Gutenberg made his press." While the Justice's timely observation unsurprisingly earned laughter from the audience, it also provoked us to rethink the nature, newness, and ramifications of the challenge confronting the entertainment industry today.

I'm worried that the US congress will worry about keeping today's monks happy, instead of defending the rights of the that see a way forward.

10 years ago John Perry Barlow  (who also wrote Grateful Dead Lyrics) wrote .

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I
come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask
you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have
no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address
you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always
speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally
independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral
right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true
reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You
have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not
know us, nor do  you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your
borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public
construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows
itself through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you
create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our
ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order
than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this
claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't
exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will
identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social
Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our
world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself,
arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications.  Ours is a
world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice
accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her
beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence
or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and
context do not apply to us. They are based on matter, There is no matter
here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by
physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest,
and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be
distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our
constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope
we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis.  But we
cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications
Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams
of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These
dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world
where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust
your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly
to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of
humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole,
the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes
from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States,
you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at
the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small
time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in
bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate
themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own
speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be
another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world,
whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed
infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires
your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same
position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had
to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare
our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to
consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the
Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more
humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Davos, Switzerland
February 8, 1996

We are not in 1996 anymore, and there is a quaint woodstock to his words when we look at it 10 years later.  ( I thought it slightly naff even then)  But the message has never been more important.

The Internet today is clearly one of commerce and industry, but if we want it to continue as place of innovation and expression we need to make sure that the Internet's basic foundation, network neutrality remains intact, and isn't compromised because some existing companies can't make a business model that works. 

 Without web 1.0, there is no web 2.0.  So Hugh we need a cartoon.

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