Posted on April 13, 2010 by Simon Phipps
§ The election season has finally arrived in the UK, and leaflets have started to pour through the front door – too many to easily scan for The Straight Choice. Meanwhile on the web all sorts of election-related sites are springing up in an attempt to mobilise people, including Democracy Club and Vote Geek organising locally, 38 Degrees pinpointing issues, YourNextMP providing candidate details, Open Rights Group obsessing about the Digital Economy Bill (with some justification) and so on. There are so many of them that we need a web site just to keep track of them. (more…)
Filed under: Issues | Tagged: Digital Liberty, Election | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 12, 2010 by Simon Phipps
Geeks Vote Too
As the election in the UK approaches, I think it’s time to tell the people chasing our votes that actually we do understand the issues around digital liberty and we think it’s time for them to listen to us as well as the lobbyists. After all, we have votes and the lobbyists don’t.
I’ve designed the simple logo you see to the left. It’s meant to capture the idea that I’m a geek with a vote. During the election season, I intend to wear a badge with this logo, or at some events a t-shirt. I’d be delighted if other people did the same, and/or used the image online.
Filed under: Issues, Webmink | Tagged: Election | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 11, 2010 by Simon Phipps
This weekend is the 300th anniversary of the Statute of Anne, the first copyright law. As a wag on Twitter noted, we can’t sing it happy birthday because copyright law today prevents us. The essays on the site linked above are from a diverse set of authors, and make interesting reading. Behind almost all of them is the premise that copyright doesn’t work any more. I agree with this.
Copyright was never meant to apply to things you and I do; it was a law made in the context of the end of general censorship and the rise of the printing press. It was intended to protect the weak from the powerful and the powerful from each other. It never applied to people who read printed works, only to those who printed them.
We’ve seen the immense harm that’s resulted from the semantic sleight-of-hand that justifies the violation of our rights because the phrases “war on drugs” and “war on terror” includes the word “war”. A similar, more cunning sleight-of-mind observes that every enjoyment of a work in the digital age requires a “copy”. That means copyright law applies, and thus a license is required by the consumer to waive the monopoly which copyright grants. The freedoms around created works that the Statute of Anne was actually supposed to protect have thus become an excuse to require licenses for every form of modern enjoyment, imposed upon the very citizens who should expect to have their freedoms protected.
The contract expressed by the Statute of Anne (and then made concrete in its echo in the US Constitution) was supposed to be between the powerful producers and society; instead it has become an excuse for the imposition of abusive licenses by the middle-men on the individual – and without fair compensation to the vast majority of authors and other creators. Too many people believe copyright is about the way works are enjoyed, and that belief has led to a self-perpetuating spiral into the abyss of control. Radical reform is overdue.
Radical means “from the roots upwards”. My repeated call is for copyright to be re-interpreted for the connected era. Like Lessig, I think eliminating copyright is too extreme. The social contract upon which it is based – the exchange of temporary monopoly among distributors for protection of both the creator and ultimate enjoyer of the work – remains valid. But it needs casting in an age where every citizen is a peer, rather than in an age of controlling hubs and passive spokes.
In the UK, the election is upon us, and the outrage of the Digital Economy Act is fresh in our minds. Let’s get this reform rolling.
Other links: (more…)
Filed under: Copyright, Links | Tagged: Election | 3 Comments »
Posted on March 9, 2010 by Simon Phipps
§ I am standing in the election for the OpenSolaris Governing Board one last time (this would be my third consecutive term if elected, so it has to be the last time). Each term has been quite different to the others, and I have no doubt this next year will be very different again for the OpenSolaris community.
Since I no longer work at Sun, I’d like to make clear what my “platform” is in this election in addition to my candidate statement. (more…)
Filed under: Open Source, OpenSolaris, Webmink | Tagged: Community, Election, FOSS, Governance, OGB, Open Source, OpenSolaris | 4 Comments »