Good Defense Is Not A Victory. It Just Means You Haven’t Lost Yet.

Back in the day — going on ten years ago — we thought the 'net would change the world. We were right about that, but not in the ways we thought — we thought PGP and onion routing and an explosion of free speech meant an end to content control.

We vastly overestimated the speed with which non-techies would take up the toys; the growing and enduring dominance of one software platform that didn't take up the toys; and especially the ability of the empire to strike back via both tech (trusted user) and law (DMCA and worse).

Some time about four or five years ago, somewhere around the Article 2B/UCITA fight, of necessity we switched to fighting defense instead of offense. And don't get me wrong, that defense is important. But it's still defense.

But it's still disheartening to read real smart people writing that it's been a good year for those of us concerned about free speech, democracy, and creativity because we beat back the baddies.

I guess I think it wasn't a bad year, and yes there were some decent court decisions, but I call it not bad only because the hardware tech and the open source is still slowly spreading, and so far at least just keeping ahead of the Empire. And especially because of the growth of 'offense' movements such as the free culture movement.

[Sorry for the obscurity of some this post and the absence of links. I'm still digging out from under our move…and I have a ton of work.]

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7 Responses to Good Defense Is Not A Victory. It Just Means You Haven’t Lost Yet.

  1. Ravi says:

    I think the future is probably brighter than it looks… just not maybe for those of us in the US. I haven’t seen any sign that emerging economies like India and China are notably interested in adopting draconian IP technology (though, in the case of China, they may be interested in the censorship applications)… and if they’ve learned from the pirate heritage of the US, they know that loose IP controls are one way to become an innovation hub. And, remember, successful defense for a year is a victory – it means the future is that much closer.

  2. Hear, hear. I remember the heady days of the cypherpunks who thought cryptoanarchy was inevitable. It didn’t work out that way (and at least two of the nuttier ones went to jail, with the assist of a journalist who made hay from it all).

    Politics is hard. Very hard :-(.

  3. Marc says:

    Interesting post. I’m writing my seminar paper on a comparison of the DMCA with Europe’s version as it relates to online file-swapping (Kazaa, Groskter, etc.). I think that the world’s IP law is shifting in favor of the consumer and against industries that have had a monopoly on the bargaining powers at the table where copyright legislation is decided. As certain technologies become more dependent upon consumer’s downloading of programs rather than reliance on centralized servers,, more people enter the picture in international bargaining and the mass quantity of users (particularly political constituents) are affecting the drafting of laws and the judicial determinations yielding leniency for users (i.e. the recent Netherlands case).


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