Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Ernie on the value of information

Jenny ( asked: Hey, Bruce and Ernie – [what] if this defense of the DMCA is allowed to fly…?

And Ernie the Attorney responds with a great post about the issues confronted by both Washington and Hollywood on the DMCA.

She is referring to the Assistant US attorney’s argument that, “in creating the DMCA, Congress did not intend to make any allowances for technologies which might have lawful circumvention purposes, … instead it wanted ‘a blanket prohibition on any device that’s designed to circumvent (copyright restrictions),’ regardless of whether the device may have some legitimate purposes.” [Wired Article] (my emphasis)

I can’t speak to the aerodynamics of that argument, although I understand why it was made.  I haven’t spoken much about the whole digital rights issue, although I find it fascinating, and the legal issues are certainly interesting.    But forget the legal arguments; they always represent the trees in important debates like this.  Here’s some things that I have noticed about the struggle for digital rights (which includes Napster, DMCA, etc):

  • Information is a valuable resource, and it should be allowed to move about freely
  • People are hungry for knowledge and entertainment, which are forms of information
  • The government’s job is to facilitate that which increases learning and knowledge
  • There’s a lot of money at stake and so people get “confused” easily

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