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The Internet is inherently self-destructive.

By Jetifi in Internet
Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 08:39:39 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

The current architecture of the Internet embodies the principle of absolute freedom of information. In this manner, it diametrically opposes the world-view of large numbers of powerful corporations and some governments, making the Internet's current form one that is unlikely to last for long.

In addition, past events show that a vast majority of Internet users are unlikely to do anything about this.

Current Freedoms

The American and the global boom in Internet usage is a result of the current architecture of the Internet. The freedom offered has or will allow for online education, no-advert, no N-Sync radio, and this kind of site, which would never have gotten started under a more repressive Internet architecture. All of these (with the exception of Cryptome) draw users onto the Internet.

In it's current form, the Internet can educate people, can expand their horizons, and help them make them more informed purchasing choices. Of course, it can't make them do this, which is a pity - more on that later.

As pointed out in this article by Bruce Sterling, the world of old-style business has had some trouble adapting to the Internet. This, to borrow an ESR-ism, is because they don't get it. However, the business most concerned with information today (our friends in the content industry) have enough money and influence to change the Internet's architecture to suit them. And they intend to, and have done for quite a while, as this comment by a Sony VP demonstrated, and as the new legislation should convince you.

The Golden Rule

The big content providers have the money, and are more interested in controlling information than ensuring that it can be effortlessly propagated far and wide:

Like it or not, the ability to trade their copyrighted material is a direct consequence of an Internet that allows absolute freedom of information, regardless of the nature of that information. Routers don't block child porn when they see it5.

The core principle of copyright used to be about rewarding authors for their work, and ensuring that they have incentives to produce more work. However, copyright is becoming centered on the control of duplication of information, which, from the distributors point of view, should be absolute. But when information can be duplicated as easily as CTRL-C, CTRL-V, and the entire Internet makes copying trivial as a consequence of intrinsic design choices, what happens?

Well, copyright law has become weaker to reflect reality. The greater feedback and the two-way nature of the Internet have made authors more in touch with their audience, to the point where the adulation and gifts good authors receive have become more important than making piles of money. After all, you can't quantify respect and admiration, right? Multi-million dollar Hollywood films just aren't feasible as a business model anymore, and the studios are going to have to accept that.

Yeah, right.

There is a right answer, and it's a wrong one. The reality is that copyright law becomes stronger, and the content industry encourages hopelessly doomed software and hardware protection mechanisms. In case you think this is hyperbole: The most secure cryptoprocessor available, as used by cash-machines, VISA, and e-commerce sites all over the place6, does not withstand concerted attack, given basic permissions, 20 minutes access, and $1000. The cryptoprocessor itself probably costs as much as a high-end PC, minimum.

At the same time legislators are lobbied for stronger protection of weaker rights and idiotic access control systems, resulting in laws that afford greater protection to DVD scrambling algorithms than to H-bomb instructions1 or Top Secret reports from the Pentagon. Something is seriously wrong.

Contributions from the content industry to the lawmakers have increased sizably over the past few years, because they are asking for so much more. Copyright is currently an intricate web of compromises between composers and broadcasters, filmmakers and theatre-owners, etcetera. The general public hasn't had a say in the formulation of copyright law for almost as long as it has existed in the US Code2. And now copyright has become a tool with which to force the customer into the passive role of a consumer. A consumer, of course, who will be treated as a potential criminal.

Unfortunately, these are the interests shaping the future of the Internet. These are the people who have the ear of Congress.

But wait! People will never do this.

But wait! They already do.

Freedom of expression is something that has (to varying extents) been embodied in western cultures for a while now. This is not the case in other parts of the world, for example China and Saudi Arabia. Companies that flourished because of the Internet are happy to change the architecture of their customers' networks to allow for greater control and surveillance, in the name of profit margins, regardless of the human rights implications.

By implication, Cisco and Nortel are, I am sure, quite happy to embed DRM into their routers and other hardware if it becomes necessary. Michael Eisner (CEO of Disney) alluded to favourable negotiations with Cisco at this congressional hearing. The Great Firewall of China is acting as a dry run for what is going to be done to our own networks, and then some.

Why should you care if you're not in the US? This very cool graph shows how the US is still a central component of the Internet's topology. To start with, it sits between Asia and Europe. This means that what happens in the USA affects everybody, and not just because we've all signed the same treaties, and will therefore eventually attempt to pass similar legislation.

Why nothing will stop this from happening.

The Internet, at the last estimate, had roughly 220.4 million English-speaking users, with about 505 million users in total.

Of that fantastically huge number, how many of them are living in the USA and are EFF members? How many live in the UK and are members of the CDR? The answer, of course, is hardly any. Regardless of nationality, why don't people care about what's happening?

We don't know for sure, because no one has ever asked them. I suspect apathy and cynicism, because I am guilty of them myself.

What DO the masses of the Internet care about? What is universal enough that people know, care, and tell each other about? Three things:

  1. Free music, and free movies. Also the most popular Google searches.
  2. Jokes: FW: Fwd: FW: FW: FW: A man walks in to a bar...
  3. IMPORTANT! New virus! Do not open!

You get the idea.

In no way am I suggesting people get busy writing chain-emails about the SSSCA. But there is a problem of apathy and cynicism. This isn't just me flinging insults; you can hear this from Lawrence Lessig (answers 2, 3, 4, 11, and 14) or Hemos of Slashdot (quoted via Johnny3).

Mobilizing any sizable percentage of the Internet has yet to be achieved, even for hot-button issues such as gun control, abortion, woman's rights, etcetera. Vietnam-war journalism has yet to find an Internet equivalent, and it is unlikely to.

When you buy a newspaper, you see the headlines, and you'll see any pictures printed on it. When you watch the news, a click is required on your part to turn away from pictures of dead soldiers. But the chances are you'll be riveted. The principle is the same when you listen to the radio.

However, I check k5 daily, and I only just read the female circumcision story, which is weeks old, because I was thinking ''eeew'', and I was busy elsewhere. No push content here folks. Attempts at push content (popups being the most prevalent example) have been met with Junkbuster or Proxomitron, and good thing too, because in it's current form, push content sucks, and does more harm than good.

The mainstream media won't help here. Firstly, these powerful corporations own them, and secondly, Internet users have no voice in mainstream media, and are more prodded and subject to analysis, or mocked, than listened to.


Large, powerful corporations across the world have vested interests in changing the architecture of the Internet in a fundamental manner so as to increase their profits, protect their business models and/or control their ''consumers''. Companies such as Cisco have already carried out analogous tasks for customers far more ethically bankrupt than the content industry, and a repeat performance on home ground is perfectly feasible.

The users of the Internet in its current form are, like the rest of society, apathetic and cynical. Or maybe I'm just too cynical. They don't know, and they don't care. If they do know, it's old news.

Users of the Internet want their music and their movies, and they don't care where it comes from. Popular downloads should convince you of that. So maybe they really don't care about this threat to the architecture of the Internet. Maybe laws like the SSSCA (now CBDTPA, the article went up on Slashdot as I write this) will actually help. Sure, the small minority of us4 will be disadvantaged, or imprisoned (raise your hand if you're willing to do hard time in political protest, anyone?), but consumers will get their movies and their music.

Maybe Lessig is right when he says that we (meaning everyone) will probably end up with the Internet we deserve.


1: The case is ''United States v. Progressive (1979)''. A magazine name of ''The Progressive'' was to publish assembly instructions for a hydrogen bomb. A preliminary injunction in a district court prevented the publication until it was published in through alternate channels. The injunction was then lifted, unlike in MPAA v. 2600, where the injunction was upheld despite numerous copies of DeCSS floating around.

2: See Chapter 3 of ''Digital Copyright'', Jessica Litman, 1-57392-889-5.

3: Whose book rocks.

4: For the purposes of discussion, ''us'' refers to people who will be actively disadvantaged by laws such as these. I know there is no ''geek'' collective.

5: Blocking in Pennsylvania is done with human intervention, which is, from the perspective of the user, an ''act of god'', i.e. action by someone who controls the ''laws of nature'' for that network segment.

6: See Section 14.3 of ''Security Engineering'', Ross Anderson, 0-471-38922-6.

If anyone wants to reply outside of a public forum, use fo0m2b7lrvvy001 (the at sign) sneakemail d0t com.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Will this article have any impact at all on the real world?
o No chance in Hell. 35%
o You're nuts. 9%
o Of course not. 22%
o Unlikely. 9%
o Doubtfull. 7%
o Maybe. 1%
o Probably. 0%
o Hopefully. 12%

Votes: 112
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Slashdot
o Google
o American
o global
o online education
o no-advert, no N-Sync radio
o this kind of site
o informed
o purchasing choices
o article by Bruce Sterling
o this comment
o new legislation
o Viacom
o Paramount
o Disney
o News Corporation
o Bertelsman n
o Bertelsman n Music Group
o Vivendi-Un iversal
o Universal Studios
o PolyGram
o Interscope
o Motown Records
o Geffen
o A&M
o Def Jam Records
o Island Records
o Sony
o Columbia-T ristar Pictures
o AOL Time-Warner
o Atlantic Recording Group
o 5
o The most secure cryptoprocessor available
o 6
o does not withstand concerted attack
o 1
o Top Secret reports from the Pentagon
o Contributi ons from the content industry
o 2
o Saudi Arabia
o are
o happy
o regardless
o congressio nal hearing
o very cool graph
o last estimate
o Lawrence Lessig
o Hemos
o Johnny
o 3
o Junkbuster
o Proxomitro n
o Popular downloads
o 4
o preliminar y injunction
o in Pennsylvania
o Also by Jetifi

Display: Sort:
The Internet is inherently self-destructive. | 81 comments (72 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
Big corporations is not everything! (3.00 / 5) (#3)
by johwsun on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 02:40:35 AM EST

You forgot Linux and all the OSDN stuff...
This is the other side of the coin, and their are going to prevent the destruction of internet, if the big corporations decide to.
But i think that the big corporations are NOT willing to destroy internet.

RE: big corporations is not everything (none / 0) (#18)
by Majestix on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 09:11:24 AM EST

You misunderstand the context of destroy the internet i think. It should be phrased as, "destroy the internet as you know it". Will the internet go away? No, its too valuable. But it could be changed in ways that would destroy all this freedom we take for granted now.

[ Parent ]
Freedom? (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by lb008d on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 10:50:18 AM EST

all this freedom we take for granted now

I sure hope you aren't referring to the "freedom" to steal information. Copying a copyrighted piece of information and distributing it ouside of your own fair use sphere is illegal and should always remain so. I get really tired of people whining when they can't use their favorite ptop client to steal music.

These people don't realize that by stealing content on the internet they are only giving ammunition to lawmakers to stamp out what fair-use rights we still have left.

[ Parent ]

Quit thinking like a consumer (none / 0) (#24)
by bADlOGIN on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 11:54:19 AM EST

The REAL freedom of the internet being discussed here is not the so-called "right" to have all the boy-bands and movies they can stomach 24/7. It's the right to NOT be a vapid consumer. It's the right NOT to accept the behavior of corporate/congressional whores. It's the right NOT to have to depend on companies to create and control all software. It's the right to NOT be limited in how you can interact with other individuals or groups via computers. Ultimatly; the freedom to establish consentual connections from anywhere to anywhere for any purpose.

If you'll excuse the USAian perspective, the 'Net needs a serious Bill of Rights including most importantly; Freedom of speach & press, assembly, and unauthorized search and sizeure, and perhaps a "little keep and bear arms". Not that I think it would ever show up, but that's one way to put it in terms people would appreciate.
Sigs are stupid and waste bandwidth.
[ Parent ]

I'm talking only about theft (none / 0) (#25)
by lb008d on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 12:12:11 PM EST

I sure hope you aren't referring to the "freedom" to steal information

What part of that statement implied that I was referring to anything but the rampant theft of copyrighted material on the internet? Had you read my entire post, you would have realized that I am fully aware of the consequences of the current actions people are taking on the internet.

The long list of "rights" you mention will be taken away should people not realize the outcome of disregarding the law as it stands now. If people want to keep the internet open, free and unregulated they have to play by the rules now, and work to constructively change the rules, rather then break them outright. Just because a law becomes unenforcable due to the sheer impossibility of enforcement doesn't mean that those affected by lawlessness won't try every means they have to keep control.

The freedom to establish consentual connections from anywhere to anywhere for any purpose

This will be the first freedom lost should people not realize the consequences of their actions.

[ Parent ]

It's not stealing, it's unlawful duplication! (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by binaryalchemy on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 05:49:04 PM EST

Theft Theft, n. OE. thefte, AS. thorni'efethe, thorn=yfethe, thorne'ofethe. See Thief.
  1. (Law) The act of stealing; specifically, the felonious taking and removing of personal property, with an intent to deprive the rightful owner of the same; larceny.

I'd be happy to agree that warez are wrong, but please stop propagating the content industries horrible misnomer. Theft requires the removal of the object/information from their possession. What we are talking about here is the unlawful duplication of their work which, theoretically, deprives them of the ability to profit from it.
Defending the GPL from a commercial perspective is like defending the Microsft EULA from a moral perspective. - quartz
[ Parent ]

Huh? (none / 0) (#21)
by srichman on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 09:53:20 AM EST

What do Linux and OSDN have to do with saving the Internet? What are they going to do for you when routers start blocking unapproved application protocols? Or when they disallow encrypted and unidentifiable traffic, and only allowing media content to pass if the sender is on an approved list?

Yes, this is rather overly dramatic, but it's the sort of thing that the author is portending. How would Linux or CP/M or whatever have anything to do with this? If you mean that Linux will be DRM-free while Windows is under DRM-lockdown, then what happens when your hardware requires or enforces DRM?

How does OSDN have anything to do with this? What percentage of Internet users do you think read OSDN websites?

[ Parent ]

Do you know DSL? Do you know LRP? (none / 0) (#68)
by johwsun on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 04:03:36 AM EST

DSL allows people to communicate eachother without the need of a big corporation.
Linux router Project and other similiar projects can implement routing easily.

As you can understand, by having a 486, a Linux router and a simple cooper line, you can rebuild internet from scratch!

got me?

[ Parent ]
good article but... (3.71 / 7) (#6)
by dazzle on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 03:56:53 AM EST

...it's still old news. We all know that corporations / governments like to control and twist things to fit their own world views - much like anyone really.

Why sites like kuro5hin won't challenge the status quo of the mainstream media is because they are discussion sites and not news sites. People post, including me, links / articles on news published somewhere else, then other people discuss that news. It's self-defeating and self-referential.

I also don't think corporations / governments will destroy the web - they may have their own sections designed to entice people onto the web but they won't control the whole thing. What could 'destroy' the web is it's own users. As each community springs up they become more isolated and insulated, islands floating in the global void. The web maybe global but the people on it still think locally.

the internet: a global network of small minded people

Golden rule?! (3.33 / 3) (#7)
by rcarver on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 04:18:48 AM EST

"I belive in the golden rule. The man with the gold.. rules." -- Mr. T

Imminent death of Internet predicted (2.80 / 5) (#8)
by sigwinch on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 04:25:13 AM EST

Film at 11.

(I'm getting tired of writing these.)

I don't want the world, I just want your half.

I suppose I should explain... (4.80 / 10) (#15)
by Jetifi on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 07:49:28 AM EST

...why I chose the title, as in retrospect it doesn't fit the article all that well.

Thought experiment: I think up some way of scamming people out of large amounts of money. I do it to lots of people, who then tell (for example) the police. The police then tell everybody, using bulletins, TV, etcetera, and gradually behaviour changes so as to make the scam impossible.

The scam is unworkable, because people reacted to it's existence.

The Internet as it stands has the idea of freedom of information at the core. This is not new to you or I.

I recall a quote from Bill Gates, who said that the software industry moves an order of magnitude faster than normal industry. If you think about release cycles, and how rapidly software becomes obsolete, I think this is a reasonable statement. He went on to say that governments move an order of magnitude slower than normal industry. Leaving them two orders out on the software industry, and probably the world of hi-tech in general.

Thus, while the Internet and it's concepts are old hat and well understood in places like Kuro5hin (hence the irritance at me digging it all up again, I suspect :-), the entertainment industry has only just caught up. And now they're getting the government involved, and the government is basically being led by the nose at this point in time.

My concern is that this idea of absolute freedom of information is sufficiently threatening (as all new ideas are at first) to not only the government, who have had run-ins with things like the First Amendment before, but also to the entertainment industry; from reading the various statements, it looks as if to them, this idea is analogous to that of the scam I mentioned at the beginning of this comment.

They seem to consider it to be an anathema to business as usual, and a threat on par with being cheated out of large sums of money. So what do they do? They stamp out (with the assistance of the government) one of the most important values of the Internet.

Now, this isn't destruction, but it most certainly is getting there, and among other things threatens to turn the Internet in to a glorified cable-television/radio system.

At this point you're probably wondering why I put the ''destruction'' on the shoulders of the Internet's current architecture, instead of the entertainment industry and government (at least in the title. I got carried away in the article :-).

The music industry only started throwing fits when MP3 became a feasible method of transferring music via the net, and processing power & storage caught up. The movie industry sees DivX ;-) and is scared stiff that they'll be ''Napsterized'' next. And although I hate to say it, it's a legitimate concern - I already know people with >700 downloaded DivX movies burnt on to CDs, and they're of good enough quality (with the new codec) that you can use a monitor for a TV, crank up your speakers, and enjoy the film as you would a DVD or VHS. I don't condone this except for fair use, by the way.

What is becoming apparent here is that as the Internet's only real limitation - bandwidth[1] - becomes cheaper and more plentiful, the types of information that the Internet can handle will grow, and more and more people, businesses, and governments will feel threatened. Where next after MP3 and DivX? How about reliable wide-area conference calling? Bye-bye phone companies. Telepresence? Museums and Travel agents will hate that. To quote one of my favorite writers, the Internet as it stands ''will be forever dropping new bombs and beating on new doors with new kinds of fists.''

Which is a good thing, despite my rather violent metaphor. It's progress. People have to adapt, and I'm sure they will, given the chance. To quote William Gibson ''the street finds it's own uses for things''. It is impossible to know how these technologies, if and when they arrive, will be used. I know technology won't solve everything, and I share a lot of the concerns Bill Joy spelt out in ''Why the future doesn't need us'', but pure transfer of information, which is what the Internet is all about, in my humble opinion will serve primarily to allow communication on unheard of level and scale, offer enough information/knowledge to enable self-education, and, without this kind of law, take entertainment, passive or interactive, to new heights.

Yes, I am an idealist. But I am also a pessimist, as I'm afraid the article makes clear. And I don't want to see any of this stifled by self-interested corporations, and crippled by glacial government thought-processes. And because this is a battle which will be fought over and over throughout the future (apocalyptics notwithstanding), it is important to avoid setting such a terrible precedent. Hence the rant.

[1] Ignoring, for the moment, various multi-casting and QoS issues with TCP.

[ Parent ]
Now get this posted elsewhere (4.71 / 7) (#10)
by Builder on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 04:46:47 AM EST

The choir agrees. But the world still doesn't know.

I think that having articles like this published on more of the mainstream sites like zdnet or cnn would help more than having them published here.

Most people who read sites like Kuro5hin or /. already know about and agree on these issues. The challenge is getting this news to Joe Random at home. Sites like www.bbc.co.uk have wider audiences. These are the people that we need to reach.

Does anyone who posts or reads here have any idea how to go about getting an article like this posted on one of those sites? Share!

Be nice to your daemons
Map (3.50 / 4) (#13)
by djotto on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 05:54:00 AM EST

That map's really cool. I didn't understand it at all.

One point :

Just because it's important and valuable doesn't mean it must be profitable. Maybe there are no good business models beyond "mail-order shopping sans catalogue". And that would be just fine with me.

the point i was expecting (3.85 / 7) (#14)
by daedalus09 on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 07:25:13 AM EST

i must say that overall this article is well written. however, you never quite made the point i was expecting you to make. the current state of copyright was referred to repeatedly as one of the reasons for this whole mess. however, instead of blaming the copyright law, you kept blaming the corporations/gov't, which i think is misguided.

the corporations are only doing business in a manner which the current copyright law allows them - they control the content they produce for very long periods of time, which then becomes their main revenue stream. they've operated in this way for a very long time. so, naturally, when a medium (the internet) comes along that threatens their control of this content and therefore their revenue stream, they are going to take steps to try to prevent any financial harm to their companies.

what needs to change then, are not the corporations necessarily, but rather the copyright law. this has already been attempted once - the dmca was a misguided and dangerous attempt to bring the copyright law into the digital age which so far has been disasterous. so, just changing the law by itself won't fix anything. you must also change the public/social/cultural perception of the concept of copyright.

therein lies the key to the whole mess. it's not about the internet, anymore than it was about beta vcrs, or xerox machines. it's about content creation and who controls the content and for how long. the original copyright concept as layed out in the constitution was conceived to ensure that creativity and new discoveries would have an incentive to be created, not as a revenue stream for corporations that had control of those copyrights. copyright needs an overhaul, not just to bring it in line with the 21st century, but to reestablish the original intent.

that still doesn't address the issue of the internet, though - i'm getting there. copyright was never about keeping content from being copied. it was about keeping others from benefiting wrongly from your work by selling it or passing it off as their without giving you financial or creative credit. it wasn't ever about controlling what you could or couldn't do with a piece of copyrighted material. so, the internet isn't the problem, it's the copyright law as it's being applied today. change the concept, change the law, change the culture, problem goes away. the more you try to control what people do, the more problems you're gonna have.

Fear Sells (4.00 / 5) (#19)
by redelm on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 09:40:06 AM EST

You are telling us to be afraid of corporations. Just like the 6 o'clock news, fear sells. And no-one can say the fears are impossible.

But I don't buy it. Yes, corporate leadership is filled with self-serving control-phreaks just like government. It has to be, because that's the selection process. Corporate media are very good at making themselves look big, powerful and impressive. They work hard at it, and have experts. But they are not. Electronics manufacturers are much bigger than the content industry.

That doesn't mean that the content industry won't be able to buy egregious laws like the Sonny Bono Copyright extention of 1996, the DMCA or the SSSCA. But the law hardly matters unless people obey it. Viz Napster. Mass disobedience is impossible to stop. So more recent lobbying is against more concentrated targets -- the electronics industry. Those guys aren't saints either, but they don't want customers to shun their products. 'Way too many expensive product developments and launches are costly failures already. DIVX was a clear lesson. People vote with their dollars.

I'm not saying not to lobby against bad law. I do it myself and I'm surprised at how effective it can be. These things cannot stand the light of day. Time was, these things would all have passed in the dead of night. Now the stakes [publicity] is much higher.

One day, we can hope that the dinosaur brains running the content industries will wake up and realize that they can make more money if they don't fight their customers. But everyone has the right to be stupid, and corporations exercise that right very frequently.

One small nitpick (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by salsaman on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 01:27:23 PM EST

Yes, corporate leadership is filled with self-serving control-phreaks just like government. It has to be, because that's the selection process.

Those would be selection criteria not a selection process.

[ Parent ]

I work for the next corporation on that list... (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by Frodo the Ferret on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 12:57:18 AM EST

If the list of 'content providers' was one or two entries longer, my employer would have been next in line. What sets them apart, however, is that while one of the top ten 'Media companies', they are not out to throttle free sharing of information. (I suppose it helps that they own no record labels)

Not to toot my own horn, but there are still a few old-school media enterprises that remember their roots in the newspapers and then radio, when their reason for existence was to collect and distribute (not control) information.

What I'm trying to say is, it is not corporations that you should fear, but control freaks. It just so happens that some of the biggest corporations have taken on a life of their own as control freaks -- but not all.

[ Parent ]

Non control-freak is metastable (none / 0) (#58)
by redelm on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 09:31:23 AM EST

Yes, some organizations are run by people with ethics and principles. More often they are confined to mid and lower levels because they user their energies towards achieving results rather than impressing powerholders [boss].

Most unfortunately, this situation is meta-stable in the face of invasion by control-freaks. There is relentless pressure from the CFs, and no countervailing force except the occasional scandal. It's a defensive battle that will eventually lose.

[ Parent ]

Uh...aren't you missing something here? (5.00 / 2) (#54)
by kcbrown on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 12:59:07 AM EST

DIVX was a clear lesson. People vote with their dollars.
DIVX didn't have the force of law behind it. S 2048 will change the market in the U.S. so that all manufacturers have to implement DRM. People won't have any choice but to buy equipment with DRM, because that's the only equipment that will be available to them.

The actions of the individual in this case don't matter.

[ Parent ]

People won't buy (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by redelm on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 09:21:55 AM EST

You seem to have a very "sheeple" view of the world.

I believe people are much smarter than they are given credit for, particularly about their own wellbeing. If the market offerings don't have compelling advantages, they will spend their money elsewhere. Lots of new products flop - viz HDTV. This is what the electronic manufacturers fear.

Even the "dreaded" MPAA has to follow. They might like to issue DIVX2 disks, but if they won't sell, they'll have to release DVDs or forgo the revenue. That last path is very hard to take for a money-grubbing exec.

[ Parent ]

You don't understand... (5.00 / 2) (#59)
by kcbrown on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 06:11:24 PM EST

It's not so much that people are sheep (though there is some of that) but that computing equipment is strongly integrated into daily life, even for the average person.

S 2048 forces all manufacturers to create products for the U.S. market which all have DRM built-in.

And so, the only choice people will have will be between used equipment without DRM and new equipment with DRM. Isn't it obvious that in this scenario, the availability of used equipment will shrink over time due to attrition? And as it shrinks, the price will go up? And that, as a result, at some point everyone will buy new, encumbered equipment?

Because the only other choice people will really have is to do without entirely. And most people in the U.S. today depend on their computers for many things. I doubt most of them would be willing to give all of that up just to avoid buying equipment with DRM built-in.

However, if S 2048 forces manufacturers to build products which are, in essence, castrated (people depend on their ability to send arbitrary information to one another. Remove that ability and the usefulness of the computer goes out the window), then of course people won't buy it, because it would be the same thing as doing without anyway. And this is why the tech industry is so concerned about this bill -- it could well end up completely destroying the personal computer industry.

If this bill passes, expect to see a huge increase in the computer parts market -- people will start building their own computers from components, and individual components will be designed and manufactuered in such a way that no single component falls under the jurisdiction of the bill. But given that the definition of what does and doesn't fall under the scope of the bill will be determined by the FCC, even this option may not be available.

[ Parent ]

Better example (3.00 / 1) (#61)
by carbon on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 01:23:01 AM EST

Yeah, so then the government will go into people's houses and replace their equipment? They'll force businesses to put all their routers in the junk heap (can't sell them, they're as illegal as crack cocaine now) so they can buy new ones?

Not a chance. The government can only regulate new hardware coming out, and even then, slowly, because implementing this standard in all networking and computerized hardware will take many, many thousands of man hours and many, many millions of dollars. By the time its implemented universally (and it'll take at least 5 years, at the very least, to do it absolutely everywhere), everyone will just be buying foreign hardware, or the cracks will be extremely well known and implemented.

Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
"at least 5 years" != "never" (none / 0) (#62)
by kcbrown on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 07:06:48 AM EST

I certainly won't disagree that it'll take a while for this bill to have the kind of catastrophic effect that one would expect.

But in a way, that's even worse.

See, people tend to adapt to change better when that change comes slowly. As it would here. But as long as this bill remains in effect, the change will come.

You say:

By the time its implemented universally (and it'll take at least 5 years, at the very least, to do it absolutely everywhere), everyone will just be buying foreign hardware, or the cracks will be extremely well known and implemented.
I disagree. Firstly, where exactly will people be able to buy foreign hardware from? Vendors based outside the U.S.? So it's subject to interference from U.S. Customs, right? You can count on them confiscating anything that looks like computer equipment unless it's on the "approved" list (since an "approved" list is likely to be much shorter than any "unapproved" list).

Secondly, hardware cracks are much more difficult to implement widely than software cracks. You can't just download a hardware crack the way you would with software -- you have to go to the trouble of modifying your hardware, thus voiding any warranty you might have and potentially destroying an expensive piece of equipment in the process. That's not something most people will be willing to do.

As for the time it takes to implement, it should be obvious that the powers-that-be will ensure that it's implemented where it counts the most first: in personal computers. It doesn't matter if a router doesn't embed DRM if all the endpoints are covered. What'll take time is the attrition of grandfathered hardware. If it takes long enough, you can expect to see additional legislation outlawing that previously grandfathered hardware.

Look, nobody here is arguing that this bill won't be a complete disaster in many ways. But don't confuse that with the likelihood of its passage -- those are two completely independent things, because the latter depends only on the amount of money spent on the right things at the right time by the interested parties.

One other thing: it's obvious that enforcement of this bill would require highly draconian measures in many different areas. But that would be completely consistent with the direction I think we're headed.

[ Parent ]

Re: at least 5 years != never (none / 0) (#64)
by carbon on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 05:58:53 PM EST

See, people tend to adapt to change better when that change comes slowly. As it would here. But as long as this bill remains in effect, the change will come.

Yeah, hadn't thought of it that way, good point.

I disagree. Where exactly will people be able to buy foreign hardware from? Vendors based outside the U.S.? So it's subject to interference from U.S. Customs, right? You can count on them confiscating anything that looks like computer equipment unless it's on the "approved" list (since an "approved" list is likely to be much shorter than any "unapproved" list).

But most computer hardware (in fact, most everything shipped) comes in opaque boxes, and opening and going through the packaging of every box to come through customs would be a complete and utter PITA, requiruing a load of resources. Not every box shipped will contain new, easily registered computer hardware, either.Suppose I order computer hardware used, on eBay, from since before the bill was implemented, and from out of country, and so unpopular it's not on either list (say, because I collect antiques or something).

Secondly, hardware cracks are much more difficult to implement widely than software cracks. You can't just download a hardware crack the way you would with software -- you have to go to the trouble of modifying your hardware, thus voiding any warranty you might have and potentially destroying an expensive piece of equipment in the process. That's not something most people will be willing to do.

First of all, a lot of people will be willing to do things like this, especially if it doesnt take much effort. Not all hardware cracks require soldering. Many pieces of network hardware have expansion boards, and a crack could even be implemented on one of those (Cisco Game Genie?). Also, there are often software based cracks to hardware security measures, as with that IBM device.

Besides, with quite a bit of computer hardware, such as PCs, they'd probably have to implement this on the software level, making it even easier to get around. Otherwise, what are they going to do, outlaw all network traffic but IP so that a little chip on the (normally layer 2) NIC can parse it?

And secondly, often the people cracking the hardware to get around this mechanism would have complete access to it, because they OWN it, whereas many of the puzzles faced (and defeated!) by remote crackers all the time are based on extremely little access and knowledge.

Look, nobody here is arguing that this bill won't be a complete disaster in many ways. But don't confuse that with the likelihood of its passage -- those are two completely independent things, because the latter depends only on the amount of money spent on the right things at the right time by the interested parties.

Yeah, it sucks. I'd move elsewhere, but it seems like the same system of politicians ripping the public off is popular world wide.

Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
It's even simpler than all this ... (4.66 / 6) (#20)
by Bad Mojo on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 09:46:28 AM EST

People like to yak it up about who controls what people see. They like to fight over files and content and other things that might not `really' exist. This was common in the old days of MUDs. When someone contributed to the MUD, there were questions of who owns what and who can control this or that. Blah blah blah. When the guy who owned the hardware the MUD was on turned off the server, all of that went away. In the end, the site admin had all the power.

Just like in the real world, physical power is the basis for which power is built on. So on the internet, the physical powers are the people who own the routers and lines and whatnot that people use every day. They OWN the net. Back when it was all colleges and the NSF, you might have had a chance at some kind of utopic fantasy net. But that's all gone now. The net costs money and businesses aren't here to throw it away letting some random person start up a web site about over-throwing greedy corporations. Now that our tax dollars don't pay for that underlying infrastructure, we have to pay for what we use. What a bummer.

I hate to say it, but the halcyonic days of an internet of freedom are gone. It's all about maintaining a profit margin. As long as that's done you can say what you want. When that is in jeapordy, you can't do jack.

I run my own domain. I have a few servers out there. All at my own expense. I pay for my `speech' on the net. I cough up a couple hundred bucks a month to have a barely trafficed site. As long as I can afford it, I'll keep the site up. Even if I wanted to fabricate some noble community that really rocked, under the covers the cost of that community comes down to a certain number of dollars per month. I can't say I'm happy with that. But what choice have I got?

-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

Who owns the network? (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by Kyle on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 12:28:09 PM EST

I'd like it if the people owned the network. I have high hopes that some day every house will have a wireless gizmo that will network itself with all the other wireless gizmos in a five block radius. City hall will have one, and they'll be hooked up to the city next door.

I can dream, anyway.

If it ever does come to pass, we no longer have to worry about Enormous Media Corp. mandating what goes in and out of our homes on their wires.

I'm hoping that the network goes that direction because, frankly, it will be cheaper for everyone. Once everyone has a wireless gizmo, Internet is free.

Still dreaming, I know.

[ Parent ]

YE GODS MAN (none / 0) (#28)
by kuran42 on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 12:34:37 PM EST

The day my traffic has to be forwarded through 80 thousand wireless "subnets" (bad name but I can't think of anything better) is the day I blow up my computer and move to the country. This plan is not feasible using such low-distance networks. At some point you need long range, and the best long range we have now is fiber, and fiber costs money. Maybe something better will come along, but you can bet it will cost more than youy $50 wireless ethernet card. A lot more.

kuran42? genius? Nary a difference betwixt the two. -- Defect
[ Parent ]
Talking out my ass (4.00 / 2) (#30)
by Skippy on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 01:17:48 PM EST

Now, as the subject says, I'm talking out my ass, but I think that my traffic being forwarded through '80 thousand wireless "subnets"' is probably the BEST way to go. It would encourage EVERYTHING to be encrypted as that would be the only way to secure it. Your traffic would become just about untraceable. The resulting internet would also end up being the redundant "web" that everyone THINKS the Internet is now.

As for long distance transmission, people are already getting 10-20 miles using 802.11x and some good antennas. I'm betting longer distances aren't too far off. At $200 a repeater/20 miles it starts becoming feasible for an INDIVIDUAL to cover 100 miles between towns.

Read Carl Hollywood's description of the "internet" in Neal Stephensons The Diamond Age for what I'd love to see. And it's possible. The technology is available that INDIVIDUALS could start building a stand alone net like that today.

# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
[ Parent ]

Think of the ping time (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by kuran42 on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 01:37:00 PM EST

My Q3 games would suck!! Let's do some quick math.

Assume 100 mile repeaters with 80% forward progress (you can't expect a straight line from you to the destination).

I live in Maryland, my opponent lives in California, call the distance 4,000 miles (God, I don't know how far it is across my own country. Pity me).

That comes to 50 hops. Painful, but not intractable. Or is it? Let's now assume a minimal latency on each host (no one is saturating their network or has an overloaded CPU) of 10ms (This is what I get to my local gateway via a cable modem).

50 * 10ms gives us half a second for traffic to travel one way across this network. Ouch.

Maybe with 1000 mile wireless networks, but now you're getting into serious power requirements (Yea, like 100 miles wasn't serious already) and signal collision and a significant frequency range and oh what a mess. Radio is no good. Maybe with directed laser transmissions instead?

kuran42? genius? Nary a difference betwixt the two. -- Defect
[ Parent ]

Butt cheeks still gabbing (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by Skippy on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 02:04:09 PM EST

True you wouldn't be able to play Quake 7 (or whatever's out by the time it would take to build a network like I proposed) with that many hops, but would you have to? A lot of net traffic doesn't necessarily require low latency. If I had to take a guess, most doesn't.

If a large portion of that net traffic which doesn't require low latency was flowing over our hypothetical worldwide wireless network then the owners of the fiber have COMPETITION which allows more freedom then they do (at least for low-latency traffic). In the face of this the owners of the wire have to open up. Even if they don't they aren't going to go dig up all the fiber they already have laid. Just rent some bandwidth from them for your game. They'll have plenty to spare with the traffic they aren't carrying anymore.

Man, I love talking out my ass. It's so liberating :-)

# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
[ Parent ]

Dream on (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by Bad Mojo on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 02:19:08 PM EST

Stop dreaming. Design it. Impliment it. DO IT.

The world doesn't fall into your damn lap. You have to dry hump it a few times to get it to stick.

-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

[ Parent ]
Corps are not dumb (3.80 / 5) (#22)
by inerte on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 10:41:44 AM EST

I would like to make a resume of your article, clearing a few points:

Surely, big content corporations are in danger with the facility of trading. I don't like their plans to prevent this situation, but indeed they are the best choices available for them.

It has been proved that people will "brake the law" to download music, movies, warez, etc... Changing the law won't help. You can re-create the Internet at your own taste, and people will still keep doing this.

Why? Because the Internet can not be defined as an entity. Its own name, net, assumes that micro-parts are attached to others to form a larger one.

So, 'consumers', or people who want free content, can create 'sub-nets' inside the internet that will permit them to achieve this goal. Namely, Naspter, Gnutella, etc...

Now, there are two important parts on technology, hardware and software. The Free Software movement has taken care of one part. The current state of some options available, even if deprecated compared to commercial ones, satisfy a part of people's desire. But every software needs hardware.

That is where the danger, for us, lies. And the corporations have realized this. No laws, no software, you can't stop them. It's the hardware. Their SSSCA is a direct, and the best solution for their problems.

And it's a trap. If indeed all hardware becomes a tool to prevent current copyright infringements, there will be nothing we can do.

Sure, there are people that can hack a box and allow it to work as desired. But, there's a huge difference for the common person. Download one program, Napster, is far easier than moving jumpers, soldering connectors, etc...

It's also harder because if you screw with your equipment, that's 300-2000 dollars down the hole.

Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.

Lawrence Lessig Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (3.33 / 3) (#26)
by jck2000 on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 12:18:15 PM EST

Nicely written article. For a more detailed examination of the issues raised, I encourage everyone to read the Lawrence Lessig's "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace".

Lessig's new book (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by keymonkey on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 02:16:23 PM EST

I'm currenly in the middle of "The Future of Ideas". It is also a very interesting and informative look into who is making changes to the internet, and why. I highly recommend it.

[ Parent ]
Then again maybe not !! (4.00 / 4) (#29)
by snub on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 12:45:43 PM EST

As you say, corporations are trying to use copyright law to their own advantage. Well the company in the article below is using the law in a way that was NEVER intended and if they succeed it may just blow the whole idea of copyright law apart. Read on! (apologies for quoting so much but the writer does a better job than I can)

DNA codes may be protected as 'music'
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
22 March 2002

A biotechnology company is following in the footsteps of Lennon and McCartney by using the law on music copyright to protect a piece of work - only this time it is not a pop song they are trying to reserve but a sequence of DNA.

The plan is to convert a DNA sequence - the order of the four chemicals that form the genetic code of a plant or animal - into a piece of digitally encoded music that can then be copyrighted like any other tune.

The proposal is being studied by Neil Boorstyn, one of America's leading copyright lawyers, who once worked for the Beatles.

If the proposal works it would mean that companies could in effect protect a particular DNA sequence against exploitation by competitors without the need for DNA patenting, which is more difficult to achieve if there is no immediate invention involved.

It would also mean that the protection would last far longer because copyright laws can cover a period of up to 100 years rather than the 17 years covered by the patent laws of most countries...

The full article is available here

"Shredded cabbage and mayo go good together."
Cole's Law

You mean like pets? (1.00 / 1) (#31)
by spacejack on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 01:19:20 PM EST

"...the adulation and gifts good authors receive have become more important than making piles of money."

'Inherently Self Destructive.'............humans? (2.00 / 1) (#34)
by stpna5 on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 01:37:18 PM EST

I think the last corporate executive who had even a nanogram of creative talent was Charles Ives. The idea that these media companies are using the recorded music robber baron/rape procedures as their modus operandi in itself speaks volumes. Authors of novels, for instance, retain ownership of their copyrights after said works are published and released. Not so recording "artists" and/or musical artists. The folk in various American hog confinement facilities--- also referred to as legislative bodies--- who are helping the corporate interests in their strip mining of the culture are the same people who maintain the fiction that bribes/slushfunds/payoffs/kickbacks ("contributions" according to the Tweedldee/Tweedledum or GOP/DNC party)are protected speech. Like DNA is music. Yeah. OK. And if your aunt had balls she'd be your uncle. Shall we arrange that? It is not internet or digital technology that is the poison apple on the planet here, it is avarice or greed. That's the real viral epidemic of the age.

DIY Internet (4.40 / 5) (#38)
by technicolour on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 02:47:27 PM EST

I find it interesting that this article comes up at this point as I was contemplating similar thoughts. Due to, of course some of the recent legislative talk.
Guys you realize that we have lost the battle for The Internet. By the `we' here I mean the Open Source backing; Information Is Free; Don't Commercialize The `Net group. Basically the types who hang out at places like K5 and their ilk. As has been noted before The Internet is owned by BUSINESSES. BUSINESSES exist to make MONEY. The reason I am capitalizing those words is they are the major defining motives of what is bothering most of us here. The businesses have chosen to exert their power and they are using it to make money. The majority of Internet users are content using The Internet for purposes that support businesses making money. Anyway, that is as far as I am gong to go in dissecting the current situation. Again, we lost this front. The question is now; What are we going to do about it?
So there are those of us who would like to use networks and data connectivity for purposes other than buying shirts, killing pixels and viewing the pelvic motion. Some of us like to read articles about more intellectual topics. We use data networks for finding out about events that we would otherwise be unaware of, for education, for passing knowledge and ideas to others, for all the GOOD things that The Internet is described as having brought to humanity. However we are finding that we can do this less and less on The Internet.

So let's take our toys and go play someplace else!!!!! For frells sake we are the people who run The Internet! I am an Internetwork Engineer, people ask me what I do and I say I build The Internet! We have the knowledge, we have the technology, lets do it. Some good old PunkRock DIY is in order here.

Think about it. The Internet is a collection of networks. Quite a few of us have networks in our dwellings. Why not start tying these together? Your buddy lives next door? String some fiber, it's cheap. We have wireless technologies that are coming of age. Heck even Cringley has done long distance wireless. You can make a wireless antenna out of a Pringles can. The Naval Academy put up a cheap satellite. And there are probably a dozen other examples of cheap DIY tech achievements that are out there. (AlterNIC & OpenNIC for example.)
We have the experience and the history of watching a previous global data network grow. We have seen the mistakes, we can avoid them a second time around. And maybe we can make this a bit better in some ways.

I am aware that this will take money to make this happen. Yes I know that it is not cheap to send bits across an ocean. However if we have all this tech savvy and brainpower that we keep saying we have we can figure something out.
I'm not trying to propose any type of formal organization here, I'm not trying to set any standards or working groups. The point I want to get across here is that there is an alternative. There is always an alternative, sometimes you have to make it yourself though.
I think it is time we start making our own alternative.

Now, where did I put those numbers for Anixter???


Make your own map, it's easy.
This process has already started.. (none / 0) (#41)
by RandomAction on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 03:28:11 PM EST

Bay Area

Pretty cool.

[ Parent ]
out of curiosity (none / 0) (#46)
by spacejack on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 05:35:21 PM EST

So there are those of us who would like to use networks and data connectivity for purposes other than buying shirts, killing pixels and viewing the pelvic motion. Some of us like to read articles about more intellectual topics. We use data networks for finding out about events that we would otherwise be unaware of, for education, for passing knowledge and ideas to others, for all the GOOD things that The Internet is described as having brought to humanity. However we are finding that we can do this less and less on The Internet.

Less? Like what?

[ Parent ]
Like... (4.00 / 1) (#60)
by carbon on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 12:49:55 AM EST

Napster is dead. There are substitues, but none of them have achieved the same level of popularity, aiui. You know why it's dead? The RIAA didn't like it, because corporations didn't like it.

Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
DIY Content (4.50 / 2) (#51)
by opendna on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 10:02:10 PM EST

Maybe I'm naive. Correct this logic for me:
  1. Corporations must make profits.
  2. Corporations will implement physical technologies to prohibit copyright infringment.
  3. Physical technologies will not ban free products, only the transfer of stolen ones.
  4. Some data producers do not need profits. (e.g. Free Software, OpenSource)
  5. Banning the distribution of free data requires a police state to silence individuals.
Conclusion: Free data producers, such as this community, which discourage the lazyness of plagarism and copyright infringment by encouraging DIY data production will directly compete with Corporate data producers. I've seen what's on this site; why would I pay to read inferior stuff on a for-profit site?

If there's serious a crackdown on free speech on the net (as opposed to theft on Napster) I, and I suspect many others, would consider that The End of Democracy As We Know It. And yes, I'd react accordingly.

I wasn't raised to live under a police state and I'll be damned if my future children will.

Corporations know their property would be the first to get lit, so they won't provoke us.

[ Parent ]

Users don't care (4.66 / 3) (#39)
by quartz on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 03:06:31 PM EST

Frankly, I can't blame them. I myself don't care, even though I'm far more informed on the subject than the average Internet user. Mind you, I have different reasons.

The reason why I don't care about all this "copyrightization" of the Internet is that I have no interest in the information corporations are trying to protect. I could care less about all the Britney Nsyncs of the world (or whatever they're called), since I got rid of my TV I don't even know they exist anymore. For all I care, MPAA, RIAA & the rest of them can put however many locks on my hardware they want, I don't mind because I don't want their stuff. All I want from the Internet is to allow me to communicate with others, i.e. engage in a mutual exchange of copyrighted information for which I (and the people I communicate with, respectively) hold the copyright. This applies to a variety of types of communication, from my personal email to weblogs, Free Software and whatnot.

Nobody can do anything about that, so all the rest is irrelevant. And yes, I really believe nobody can stop me from freely communicating with others, no matter how hard they try. If I managed to do it for years under one of the most repressive dictatorships behind the iron curtain, I think I can safely assume that a bunch of stupid corporations in a supposed democracy have nothing on me.

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
Perhaps (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by Solus on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 04:51:18 PM EST

I agree with much of this comment. If the various corporations of the world all achieved Godlike power and could magically stop me from exchanging MP3s and DVDs and warez it would change my life not one iota. I too only want the net to let me communicate in my own style, visit kuro5hin and other communities, find information, etc.

The problem, I think, is that control of information seems unlikely to stop once those battles are won by the evil corporations of the world.

You may feel confident of your ability to leap the barriers set up to impede your progress. Perhaps you can. Many could not. And I think the most important thing with what the net has become and is becoming is not "who can defy the powers" but the emergent atmosphere that results when nobody has to.

The net, and the structures created on it by the people who play in it, are like dandelions that pop up because there's nobody pulling them up by the roots. That's when you get more dandelions. That's when interesting stuff starts to happen.

I remember the mid 80s and the BBSes and the counterculture we created under the radar of the world. It was cool. Maybe, with draconian overlords, the net will devolve back to the that. If it did, it might still be cool for some, but we'd lose something special, something that has yet to really show, in my opinion, how special it can be.

[ Parent ]

You should care (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by Secret Coward on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 11:11:25 PM EST

All I want from the Internet is to allow me to communicate with others

Nobody can do anything about that

Any communication system can be used to distribute pirated content. Over on Slashdot people copy and paste pirated news stories all the time.

What happens when sites like Slashdot and K5 are outlawed because they facilitate piracy? What happens when hardware specs are only disclosed under NDA, so that no one can run Free software on top of it? What happens when the only computers you can buy, prohibit you from using non-approved software? What happens when you have to get a license to publish on the internet?

The result will be widespread disobedience with people being randomly thrown in jail for decades at a time.

This "I myself don't care" attitude is what allows stupid laws to become entrenched in our legal system.

[ Parent ]

*sigh* (none / 0) (#69)
by quartz on Tue Mar 26, 2002 at 08:07:53 PM EST

Hehe. Slashdot outlawed, Internet requires license to publish. End of the world as we know it soon to follow. News at eleven.

I'm sorry, I can't really get worked up about this because I know perfectly well where it ends. I just can't. So sue me.

If I told you "information wants to be free", you'd probably laugh in my face. But really, that's the only thing I have to tell you. If 16 years of living under the most draconian information control laws you can imagine taught me something, they taught me that information wants to be free. Slashdot? Internet? Ha. Word-of-mouth, subtle allusions in censored media, clandestine newsletters typed on smuggled typewriters... Trust me, nobody can have complete control over information, not even in a dictatorship, much less in a democracy. Nobody.

If I don't care, that's only because I know that in a democracy my speech will always be protected by the very same laws (MP|RI)AA is using to protect theirs.

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
[ Parent ]
Not dead yet! (4.00 / 1) (#70)
by Kyle on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 01:27:33 PM EST

If the Internet is Under Control, we can still speak freely using typewriters. Fine. Take that as a given.

I don't want that! I've used outhouses, but that doesn't mean I don't care if indoor plumbing goes away! Sure, I can always fall back (so to speak) on a big stinky hole in the ground if and when my toilet doesn't work, but that's no excuse to let it happen.

You're right that we can't be completely stifled, but that's not the point. The point is, even incomplete stifling is too much. I don't want to be stifled even a little bit. I may accept some stifling for the common good (stifle the fires in theaters, etc.), but I won't accept some corp. stifling me for their profit.

[ Parent ]

Off a Quick Read (none / 0) (#40)
by underscore on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 03:27:02 PM EST

Thanks for taking the time to set out the issues, again. The threats amassing against the net as a 'free' dissemminator of information are formidible and must be met.

One quick impression, you wrote of not knowing why the net has not be a viable avenue for mobilizing people. You mention apathy and cynicism as two strong candidates. Let's flip perceptions around and see what we get. The movie and music industry pander, for the most part, to the suspension of critical testing and to the lulling of participants into one afferent state or another. Art is said by some to spring from the right side of the brain,and perhaps it speaks only to that side. Having broached the issue let me just say we're all junkies of our own bio-chem making. Having said this, I can point out that the reason the vast majority don't interact on the net to better their rights and freedoms is that they are pluged into the machine. If you want to shake them loose then you'll have to reach them in the only way any junkie can be reached, which is to cut off their dope supply. But when you cut off a junkie's dope supply you don't really get a lucid individual wanting an informed debate. *The people*, the voice of god, must be swayed, gently as not to disturb their slumber. We the information junkies are few but not without resources. Besides dark conspiracies and evil days really psyche you up for RPGs.

a geek possessed of animal cunning
is a most fearsome adversary

I don't think it's this distressing, and here's y (none / 0) (#56)
by A Trickster Imp on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 08:49:33 AM EST

Just point out at the next election that "senator soandso" is voting to make it harder for you to access whatever, make it easier for companies to track you, and so on.

Note that the Feds have completely stopped taxes on the Internet, even by states. Don't expect that to be lifted any time soon. Look at the vicious reactions to the urban legend about the Post Office looking to use Constitutional authority to sole-source "deliver the mail" as argument to tax E-mails.

Just put on the (other article's) propaganda hat and let 'er rip!

[ Parent ]
apathy... (2.00 / 2) (#42)
by frufru on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 04:04:07 PM EST

>We don't know for sure, because no one has ever
>asked them. I suspect apathy and cynicism,
>because I am guilty of them myself.

actally, it's because users aren't geeks. they usually don't *know* and if they do, they don't *understand*. it's not important for them anyway.

if the future gets really bad, all geeks just start using geeknet-vpn, and that's that ;)

Kuro5hin.org Confirms: The Internet is dying (2.00 / 2) (#43)
by momocrome on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 04:04:22 PM EST

You don't need to be a Kreskin to predict The Internet's future. The hand writing is on the wall: The Internet faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for The Internet because The Internet is dying. Things are looking very bad for The Internet....

"Give a wide berth to all that foam and spray." - - Lucian, The Way to Write History
dude... (4.20 / 5) (#45)
by garbanzo on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 05:07:44 PM EST

OK, i know i'm gonna get some flameage for making a nonconstructive smartass remark, but: switch to decaf, please.

Or: take a good look at the evidence around you for just a second. Wanna blog of your own? Wanna expose your blog with RSS? Go to Userland Software, buy Radio Userland for 40 US bucks and do it all year long, hosting included. Not only will there be no Britney or N'Stink on your blog, if you put any there, their lawyers will be on you like stink on their music.

If that's not cheap enough for you, rusty recommends Scoop. It runs on Linux, and like Linux, it is "free" which really means you will have to spend your "free" time learning, configuring, and managing it. I bet rusty pays more than 40 bucks a year for hosting, but k5 gets more traffic and needs more than 10MB of space.

As far as the "passive role" of the consumer goes, ask the poor bastards who paid millions for the rights to sell Mariah Carey's crap, only to find it would not sell. So they paid her millions to go away and ruin someone else's record company.

And if it just crisps your bacon that some people actually like Britney and N'Sync, get the fuck over that. It's a big ass world. Move around in it some. Top 40 radio is not everywhere. Buy something different or go see a live show or something. Go to a pawnshop and get a camera or a guitar and be creative.

In short: step away from the internet for awhile. It will be here when you get back, p2p filesharing and all.

sure, it's all fun and games--until someone puts an eye out

The more I think about it.... (3.83 / 6) (#47)
by alt on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 05:45:59 PM EST

The more I think about Mass Media, the Internet and Trans-global corporations, the more I ask myself, "Why do I bother?".

Maybe it's time for people to throw away the TV (or at least their DSS dishes and Cable Connections), unsubscribe from their Internet Service Providor and go to the Pub, enjoy a tall one and watch the Hockey Game (or whatever Pro-sport you like.)

Go for a walk instead of watching a stupid Sitcom. Play a game of pool instead of surfing for that ever elusive porn.

Ever notice how there are no TVs in Star Trek? Maybe there's a message in that. We have become a nation of slaves to the TV. The number of overweight people is at an all-time high (myself included). Average television viewing is around 3-4 hours a day! Net-addiction is a recognized "vice"!

What else could we be doing with our time and resources? What could that $40/mo Cable bill be used for instead?

If the Internet is taken over by Media, and we have to pay for content, will anybody bother with it? Will it die? Or will our consumer society just reach into their pockets and pay for regurgitated content fed to us by corporations more interested in their own balance sheets than in actually providing a quality product/service.

I say it's not just time to take our money back, it's time to take our lives back!!!!!

Shut off the damn TV! Shut off the Computer! Go outside and play a game of football with your buddies! Go have a few laughs at the pub! Plant a garden or at least mow your lawn!

Change yourselves, or forever be a slave to the machine!

TV yes, computer no (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by afree87 on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 06:37:05 PM EST

A major point of this article is that the Internet's content is uncontrolled and created by users (when they can find a place to put it). Television, on the other hand, is controlled by corporations powerful enough to pay for broadcasting on cable or over the airwaves. These companies control what shows will be played and where they will go, and they often broadcast shows that the public likes (ergo, sitcoms and misc. trash).

So, yes, I will never consider owning a television -- I'm not the target audience. But as long as the Internet remains as anarchic as it is now, and the content remains as useful as it is now, I'm keeping the computer.

I don't care much for American football anyway.
Ha... yeah.
[ Parent ]

Star Trek? (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by A Trickster Imp on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 08:30:11 AM EST

> Ever notice how there are no TVs in Star Trek?

If I could go into a holo-sim and screw the holy hell out of Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lopez, and Kate Winslet all at the same time (just give yourself 3 penises), complete with stinking, stinking pheromones custom tailored to plug perfectly into my own brain receptors for maximum arousal, why would I waste time with boring TV anyway?

They also have diet pills in the future so no one is fat unless they want to be for effect (e.g. Scotty) so you can be lazy and still be able to beat Arnie in arm wrestling if you want to.

Actually, we have safe and effective diet pills now. However, since these are speed based, they have been made illegal because addicts might get ahold of them illegally. That's right. You sit there, fat, because some drug addict down the corner might bribe or steal some from a pharmacy somewhere.

Thanks, FDA. You're probably killing more people via obesity by several orders of magnitude than you save. We won't even mention the immorality of making those choices for us about who lives and dies.

[ Parent ]
Hmmm....Well....No. (4.75 / 4) (#50)
by bjlhct on Fri Mar 22, 2002 at 07:36:55 PM EST

Inherently self-destructive? No, you're talking about companies wrecking the internet. It's not _its_ fault.

And as for those companies...so what if they're unhappy? Most of that mass-market stuff just doesn't pass my crap filter, and even _normal_ people aren't buying it anymore.

Regulation? Yes, it's sad our government can be manipulated to this extent, but this is a possibility. But...Software regulation? Regulate Freenet! Hardware? Data recorders and players create a chicken-and-egg problem for getting it going, and even then, one must account for fair use.

So ignore that, as the proposed laws seem to. Players would have to only play stuff with some embedded code that they read. So all content would have to get a code like this and be approved for not violating copyright.Ignore the fact that hardware for determining the code is in front of you and that making one would be quickly craked.

How about people recording their own stuff? Garage bands, videography, etc. Well, they'd need licenses too. This would mean they couldn't record because this would cost a lot of money. A database of all copyrighted info to check it against? Every lousy movie made, every article someone wrote? Hah! Checking it against it? HAH!

So, no more content by anyone not famous, and all content mass-market. The only way out is to selectively give licenses to who pays the politicians the most, and let them sue each other over copyright.

I'm hoping the pockets of the giants will run dry, or that our leaders are really actually human. Otherwise, I'll be in my bomb shelter.


[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism

Why does this sound like the apocalypse (none / 0) (#52)
by linuxhead154 on Sat Mar 23, 2002 at 12:47:22 AM EST

I'm reading this and I can't believe the facts. I acknowledge them, but still the dilema is there must be something we can do. Even if it is hopeless, I think there are enough that to make a dent in the corporate armour. If you want this age of free information, and unbiased uncensored literature to fade, you will always regret it. We must fight, boycotts will not help, since all opposition will just disappear against the companies. For now I am off to get my calling card, grenades and megaphone. :)

Lobby for a better law (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by Secret Coward on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 12:18:59 AM EST

If you want to fight back, I think you need to lobby congress to change the law in the peoples' favor. Digital Consumer goes part way, but not far enough. You need a bill that goes far enough, that when a compromise is reached, you end up where you wanted to be.

We need to form an organization which can lobby to

  1. Roll copyright back to 5 years (when deciding whether or not to produce something, content producers don't look past the first few years anyway)
  2. Guarantee the right to make personal copies
  3. Guarantee the right to distribute copies to friends (i.e. email a song to your significant other)
  4. Guarantee the right to distribute commercials (including songs that radio stations are paid to play)
  5. Guarantee the right to transfer content to another format
  6. Guarantee the right to publish software that is compatible with current networks and file formats
  7. Guarantee the right to process content in any manner you choose
  8. Guarantee the right to use small portions of a copyrighted work, in your own works (much like the various Flash animations that spread around the internet after the WTC attack)
  9. Guarantee the right to archive material, and to run a library.
  10. Guarantee the right to resell content that you have purchased
  11. Eliminate copyrights on any work protected from entering the public domain
  12. And stop granting copyrights on patently offensive material (it's ironic that congress would try to outlaw patently offensive material while at the same time promoting it with copyrights).

Congress needs to trust the people, much like some politicians claim when they push for tax cuts.

[ Parent ]

This bill is testing the waters (none / 0) (#63)
by dieMSdie on Sun Mar 24, 2002 at 01:50:29 PM EST

I think that Hilary & Jack, and their pet Senator Fritz, introduced this with not much hope of it passing. The whole point is to ask for something draconian, and settle for something acceptable. Of course, if it did pass, so much the better for them. When/if this bombs, watch for them to try to sneak portions of it into other, non-related bills. They will not stop until they have bankrupted or they control every item that could copy "content". There is no middle ground with these parasites.

"They don't know, and they don't care." (5.00 / 2) (#67)
by Walpurgis on Mon Mar 25, 2002 at 05:04:18 AM EST

I would agree that the interntet using public don't know, but it doesn't follow that they don't (or wouldn't) care. If they did know, they might care. I think you overestimate internet users in some regards, & are unfair to them in others. Most users have no clue what the architeture of the internet is, or what's involved. Your average user is likely to get confused just by how to post a message on this site. I don't think this is a case of apathy, but ignorance.

Furthermore people in the UK are not likely to see the internet as primarily for "Free music, and free movies." It takes a *long* time for anything to download in the UK, as they are using mainly dial-ups, and modem speeds are restricted to about 44 444 bps. I sense a tone of contempt towards the internet using public. For example, there was no mention that many users go online to read the news. The public may not know basic HTML, but they aren't completely feckless; cynicism towards a bwildered public is not going to help politicise them. Otherwise, an interesting read.



For one thing... (4.11 / 9) (#71)
by Dolgan on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:09:49 AM EST

For one thing, the drop down lists should be checkboxes.

Also... (4.11 / 9) (#72)
by Dolgan on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:10:18 AM EST

I find it funny farq took the time to refer to the girl in his bed as asian.

[ Parent ]
Correction: (4.11 / 9) (#73)
by Dolgan on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:10:42 AM EST


[ Parent ]
its a comment by defect: "I'm going to go cod (4.00 / 9) (#74)
by Dolgan on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:10:55 AM EST

its a comment by defect: "I'm going to go code a search deghettoifier now..."

[ Parent ]
Re: (4.00 / 9) (#75)
by Dolgan on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:11:09 AM EST

but.. she's irish.. and a redhead... with freckles.. waaaah!


[ Parent ]

Re (4.11 / 9) (#76)
by Dolgan on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:11:52 AM EST

just give tech the sql password and let him do a query :P

[ Parent ]
http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2002/3/22/2197/06 (3.87 / 8) (#77)
by Dolgan on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:17:45 AM EST


[ Parent ]
Linked (3.87 / 8) (#78)
by Dolgan on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:18:05 AM EST


[ Parent ]
New (3.87 / 8) (#79)
by Dolgan on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:18:18 AM EST


[ Parent ]
Brand new (3.87 / 8) (#80)
by Dolgan on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:18:30 AM EST


[ Parent ]
Wow (3.87 / 8) (#81)
by Dolgan on Fri Apr 12, 2002 at 12:27:09 AM EST

WOW! Fucking crazy!

[ Parent ]
The Internet is inherently self-destructive. | 81 comments (72 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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