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An NRA for Communication Technology

By sanity in Internet
Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:44:43 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

In a recent discussion with a number of influential people in the digital freedom community, and inspired by a recent speech by Lawrence Lessig (who also participated in this discussion), the idea of an advocacy group, analogous to lobbying groups such as the National Rifle Association, was discussed. The purpose of this group would be to provide a counterbalance to groups such as the RIAA and MPAA, by presenting lawmakers with the pro-digital freedom perspective. I was asked to produce an initial draft for a statement of purpose for such an organization, and I would like to take advantage of the Kuro5hin hive-mind to obtain some initial feedback on this short piece of text.


I have tried to capture the essence of why many in the technical community feel such concern about laws like the DMCA and those which will inevitably follow. Again, remember, this is a first draft - all constructive criticism (particularly grammatical ;) is very welcome.

Here it is:

Humans have always been more than the flesh and blood which constitutes their body, in many ways it is what makes us human. The ancient hunter's spear is as much as part of him as his foot or arm. The crusader's shield, the poet's pen, the soldier's gun, the priest's Bible, the mathematician's logic, all as much a part of them as anything they were born with.

During the latter part of the last century, we developed a new tool that would become part of us in the same way that their tools became part of our ancestors. We developed the ability to communicate at the speed of light, we developed technology which can extend the borders of intellectual and political discussion beyond the exclusive schools of ancient Greece, the monasteries of middle-age Europe, or the expensive universities of modern-day America.

Already, computers and the Internet are becoming an essential part of how many of us interact with each-other, how we entertain ourselves, how we learn about our world, how we regulate our governments, how we determine what is right and what is wrong.

There are those who would impose controls and restrictions upon current and future development and use of this technology, out of short-sighted self-interest. This, as with many arguments based on such self-interest, is often framed in terms of economic benefit. No economy will ultimately prosper from the stifling of new ideas and new technologies to protect the interests of those who went before. In a market-driven society, nobody deserves a guarantee that their government will stifle any new technology which might challenge their business model.

Our mission is to ensure continued human learning, development, and progress, by using the tools of democracy to ensure that those with a vested interest in limiting this progress are not the only voices heard by our lawmakers.

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An NRA for Communication Technology | 149 comments (133 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
Just a very tiny note... (2.22 / 9) (#8)
by rapha on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 06:56:16 PM EST

...why do you put 'b-i-b-l-e' with an uppercase 'B', while 's-p-e-a-r', 's-h-i-e-l-d', 'p-e-n', 'g-u-n' and 'l-o-g-i-c' go with lowercase first letters? I just fell this to be a little inapropriate, especially since your text is pointing out the similarity between these tools. I would encourage you to put all of their first letters in upper case.


---
NIETS IS ONMOGELIJK!

In English (5.00 / 4) (#9)
by leviramsey on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 06:59:08 PM EST

The Bible, being the title of a work, is capitalized, while other nouns are not.



[ Parent ]
Yup (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by notcarlos on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 07:21:51 PM EST

Damn straight. This ain't German!

He will destroy you like an academic ninja.
-- Rating on Rate My Professors.com
[ Parent ]
I know pretty well this ain't German (2.66 / 3) (#32)
by rapha on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:23:29 AM EST

Aswell as I'm quite familiar with the English capitalization rules. Read that: rules. I just can't understand why English speaking people are in such horror of using their grammatics more ... creatively.

My main point here was and is, that only capitalizing the [b/B]ible makes it look more important than the ancient spear. And let me honestly doubt an ancient hunter to be better equipped with a [b/B]ible rather than with a spear.

Same thing, by the way, goes for [g/G]od. Especially the he/He issue. In my humble opinion, if you capitalize the '[h/H]e' that is referring to [g/G]od you should just aswell capitalize the [s/S]he for [e/E]arth. Yes I'm aware [e/E]arth to be of neutral gender in English, traditionally. Panta rhei.


---
NIETS IS ONMOGELIJK!

[ Parent ]

are you on glue? (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by mikpos on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:28:50 PM EST

The he/He thing is an honest criticism. None of your others do, though.

God is spelled with a capital G because it's a proper noun. Just as my name, Mike, starts with a capital letter, so does God's name, God. This is a rule in English: capitalise the first letter of a proper noun.

The word "Bible" is also usually a proper noun. Here it is important to distinguish between "some bibles on the table over there" and "the Bible". Note the usage of the word "the", making it clear that there is only one Bible, thus making it plausibly a proper noun.

The Bible/bible thing comes up in other places. e.g. I would say "go get to the mall, go west on Third Street", but I would say "American pioneers started migrating to the West". Note how in the first sentence, the word "west" is not a proper noun, whereas in the second sentence, the word "West" is a proper noun. Similar things happen with "bible" and "Bible".

Your arguments don't make any sense. You ignore the fact completele that the Bible is a proper noun, and thus deduce that "Bible" is capitalised because it's more important than an ancient spear? What kind of metric is that? "Hey there, Joe, how are you?" "Don't capitalise my name! My name is joe! Only people who are more important than ancient spears may have their names capitalised!" WTF?

You may want to take note that in my west/West example, I never made any claims that the West is more important than an ancient spear. And yet it was still capitalised. Almost as if it was capitalised because it's a proper noun. Huh. Weird.

[ Parent ]

ugh (none / 0) (#42)
by mikpos on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:33:01 PM EST

Usually I wouldn't worry about things as trivial as spelling and typing mistakes, but my mistakes were bad enough to make my post unintelligible.

"None of your others do" should be "None of your others are".
"completele" should be "completely".


[ Parent ]

i have to admit (3.00 / 2) (#43)
by SocratesGhost on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:37:18 PM EST

I've always had a problem with the capitalized word "Bible", which after all just means "book". It's good marketing to treat this as the mother of all books, but I have the same reluctance to Microsoft being able to trademark words in common usage such as Windows and Word. I hope my priest doesn't hear me. I'm Catholic.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
No (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by brunes69 on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 03:40:03 PM EST

"The Bible" does not mean "book". It s referring to a specific book. There is no difference between capitalizing "the Bible" and capitalizing "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade". It is because of the fact that it is a proper noun referring to a specific book that it is capitalized

BTW, in case for some reason you think this is specific to the Bible, you are also incorrect. All religious texts are capitalized in this fashion (the Koran, the Book of Mormon, etc) because they are referring to specific works, not because they are special in any way. It is the exact same reason you capitalized the word 'Windows' in your post, but you wouldn't in the sentence "My house has many windows.". Because you are referring to a specific work/person/item, aka a proper noun



---There is no Spoon---
[ Parent ]
First off, thanks for your explanations (3.00 / 1) (#69)
by rapha on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 04:51:46 AM EST

And what about the he/He and it/She issues? I am indeed interested in what you think of them, now.


---
NIETS IS ONMOGELIJK!

[ Parent ]
i don't understand you fully (none / 0) (#75)
by mikpos on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 12:30:35 PM EST

By the he/He issue you're talking about Christians referring to God as He instead of he, right? I've never understood the reasoning behind this; perhaps it has something to do with the translation from Hebrew into English (mind you I think you find the samething in the New Testament, too, which obviously wasn't written in Hebrew).

One explanation I've heard is that since God isn't really a person, he doesn't have a gender per se, so just saying "he" would be wrong. This seems incorrect to me on two counts. First, "he" is not a masculine pronoun, to the best of my knowledge. English does not have any masculine pronouns. It has feminine pronouns (she, etc.) and neuter pronouns (he, etc.). I guess English has evolved to the point where "he" may just as well be considered masculine, though. In any case, if God isn't a human and doesn't have any gender, then why not just refer to him as "it"?

Doesn't make any sense to me. God is an "it" or a "he". I don't see any way he could be a "He".

I don't know what you mean by the it/She issue, though?

[ Parent ]

Maybe (none / 0) (#126)
by rapha on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:51:15 AM EST

...I was caught into some dogmatism here. In my opinion, God was always referred to as (uppercase) "He", because believers in him rated him higher than normal mortals. Thus, my suggestion would have been to set the Earth to a higher status aswell, through referring to it as "She" instead of "it".

[ Parent ]
The Christian Bible... (none / 0) (#127)
by ph0rk on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 12:06:22 PM EST

is how I prefer to phrase it, though I often use merely "the christian bible" as a petty thing.

I feel that "The Bible" affords the concept a measure more respect than it deserves, and frankly, many other people may feel that way too.  

"The Christian Bible"  imho is a more proper and precise way of phrasing it.

.
[ f o r k . s c h i z o i d . c o m ]
[ Parent ]

Grammar Rules (none / 0) (#143)
by notcarlos on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 11:04:50 PM EST

Aswell as I'm quite familiar with the English capitalization rules. Read that: rules. I just can't understand why English speaking people are in such horror of using their grammatics more ... creatively.

BECAUSE... if we were to be 'creative', as you say, then the first function of lanaguage (i.e. to be understood) would go out the window. Granted, the rules of grammar change over time (cf. anything by Chaucer or even The Bard), and that's one thing. However, you can't just go around changing things for the hell of it. We have these rules so we can be understood, and so, in the case of English, we don't fall into complete anarchy.

He will destroy you like an academic ninja.
-- Rating on Rate My Professors.com
[ Parent ]
Well! (none / 0) (#95)
by notcarlos on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:33:13 AM EST

My work here is done.
(Maniacal laughter fills the halls of K5.)

He will destroy you like an academic ninja.
-- Rating on Rate My Professors.com
[ Parent ]
True, but... (1.00 / 1) (#48)
by revscat on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:25:06 PM EST

I think the rule that governs this is in regards to proper nouns. Those are capitalized, although since bible-with-a-lowercase-b is also a regular noun, I am tempted to say that either are acceptable. The context "a priest's Bible" could therefore go either way, but I think having it in uppercase is more appropriate.

All in all I think this case is a matter of stylistic choice as much as it is hard rules. I'll ask my wife when she gets home, though. She teaches freshman-sophomore level English at a local university. Doesn't mean I'll agree with her, though. :)



- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
[ Parent ]
according to Webster, its always capitalized (none / 0) (#51)
by ReverendX on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:42:05 PM EST

1 capitalized a : the sacred scriptures of Christians comprising the Old Testament and the New Testament b : the sacred scriptures of some other religion (as Judaism) 2 obsolete : BOOK 3 capitalized : a copy or an edition of the Bible

Being able to piss in an allyway is however, a very poor substitute for a warm bed and a hot cup of super-premium coffee. - homelessweek.com
[ Parent ]

K5 posting rule #745 (none / 0) (#134)
by laerm on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:19:47 PM EST

Nobody will ever nitpick with you on what you post on, but they will nitpick with you on something marginal and tangential to your post (at best).

laerm

putting things in boxes
[ Parent ]

+1... FP! (3.50 / 2) (#14)
by jabber on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 07:15:47 PM EST

What a great idea! Now this is something that the K5 non-profit could really sink its teeth into!

Hey Rusty!! I really think you should give this a close look as a pet project!

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

NRA vs MPAA? (4.50 / 2) (#18)
by delmoi on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 07:24:02 PM EST

Hrm. I've often thought of the NRA (as well as the ACLU) as a good example of citizens banding together to fight for something.

But, while there are some other citizens who are against gun laws, there are no major corporations also fighting for gun control. I wonder how they'd face up against a huge industrial organization.

The ACLU's biggest adversary is the government itself. I donno if you would really call them all that successful, though.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
No major corporations? (4.75 / 4) (#20)
by John Miles on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 07:46:59 PM EST

...there are no major corporations also fighting for gun control.

I wouldn't say that.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

But... (none / 0) (#100)
by Ken Arromdee on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:40:33 AM EST

There's a difference between a corporation fighting for a cause because they're in the media business and the media can be used to promote an ideology, and a corporation fighting for their profits. While CNN can fight for gun control, it can't spend money on it or focus on it like the MPAA can on the DMCA--it's not in the gun business.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps the EFF is worth mentioning (5.00 / 2) (#19)
by HidingMyName on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 07:38:10 PM EST

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) may be worth a mention. They have been at it for a while, and in some ways are doing just the kind of stuff you mention.

We did consider that... (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by sanity on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:10:18 PM EST

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) may be worth a mention. They have been at it for a while, and in some ways are doing just the kind of stuff you mention.
We considered that, and Larry Lessig, who was part of the discussion which lead to this document, is on the board of directors of the EFF.

I don't know the details, but according to Larry, because of the type of non-profit organisation it is, it is not permitted to lobby lawmakers, which would be the whole point of this organization.

[ Parent ]

non-profit exemptions (none / 0) (#66)
by adiffer on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:21:08 PM EST

It's a matter of which articles you organize the non-profit under.  Another group I belong to (Space Frontier Foundation) is organized as a 501(c)3 corporation, so it can't engage in political lobbying beyond a certain small percentage of its budget.  Many of its members wanted to do more, so they split off another corporation organized under 501(c)4.  The newer group named ProSpace can lobby as long as they do not show a party bias.  The ProSpace bylaws are actually up on their website in  case anyone might find them useful.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]
suggestion one (2.57 / 7) (#21)
by Skwirl on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 07:48:09 PM EST

Drop the NRA analogy. There's no need to open up that particular can of worms in this debate. Why can't you just say "A lobbying group for communication technology?" That's a heck of a lot more direct way to say what you mean and it won't turn people off by making them think you're some kind of geeky Charlton Heston.

Do you actually mean to model your group after the NRA? Or build ties between the two organizations? Cuz if that's the case, you're going to lose a lot of important support.

Oh, I get it, "a recent discussion with a number of influential people in the digital freedom community" is a euphemism for a circle jerk with Eric S. Raymond, right?

Technology rights, tech worker rights and the intersection of technology, mass media and culture are all going to be big deals in the coming years, but I'm going to want to make sure sane folks are at the head of the debate and not raving wackos.

--
"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse

Of course not (5.00 / 2) (#22)
by sanity on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:07:11 PM EST

Do you actually mean to model your group after the NRA? Or build ties between the two organizations? Cuz if that's the case, you're going to lose a lot of important support.
Of course not, and I find it difficult to believe that you could think that if you really read the article. I don't even personally agree with the NRA - I merely use them as an example of a highly successful lobbying group who also don't like regulation of technology (albeit the technology of efficiently killing people).

Would you have preferred that I use the RIAA or MPAA as examples?

[ Parent ]

Politics (3.00 / 3) (#30)
by Skwirl on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 04:40:44 AM EST

Of course not, and I find it difficult to believe that you could think that if you really read the article.
The rest of the article was all rhetoric. There were no further clues as to why you would feature the NRA prominently in your lead.
Would you have preferred that I use the RIAA or MPAA as examples?
Uh, I questioned whether or not an example was even necessary, but if it was, there're plenty of well-known advocacy/lobbying groups you could list besides the RIAA or the MPAA: Greenpeace, Sierra Club, ACLU, there's a PIRG for every state, IEEE, or, uh, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which, as far as I can tell, is not much different than what you're suggesting.

Here's the point: If you're going to be getting into the lobbying game, you're going to have to be very, very conscious of what you're saying. You're going to have to be very careful about your word choice. Subconscious manipulation and unspoken meaning: That's politics.

The acronym "NRA" sets off a klaxon in some people's heads. Other people might be affected by "NOW" or "abortion" or "creationism" or "infinite justice." The klaxon gets even louder if the reference is a non-sequitur. Politics is subterfuge, remember? Could be your veil has been revealed by a Freudian slip. Could be you worked that phrase in there to stick it in my own subconscious. Don't matter. A klaxon in your audience's head is going to get in the way of your message.

--
"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
[ Parent ]

Big difference (none / 0) (#41)
by sanity on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:30:48 PM EST

or, uh, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which, as far as I can tell, is not much different than what you're suggesting.
As I have discussed elsewhere, there is an important difference between this org and the EFF (namely that the EFF can't and won't lobby).

[ Parent ]
Perhaps I can clarify this (none / 0) (#78)
by alizard on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 03:38:15 PM EST

The EFF, etc. are 503(c) non-profit organizations. This means you can donate tax deductible money to them.

Such organizations are forbidden to contribute money to politician campaign funds and in general, to campaign in any other way. While there are many useful things such organizations can do, e.g. fund lawsuits and contribute to hacker legal defense where good test cases exist, basically, with respect to stopping bad laws, they've hit the limit of what they can do.

When Sanity says "can't lobby", she means "can't lobby effectively", i.e. can't show up with a large enough campaign contribution to a congresscritter's office to insure that the politician will pay attention.

What Sanity describes is a PAC, i.e. Political Action Committee.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Sanity, you've missed something (none / 0) (#79)
by alizard on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 03:53:18 PM EST

The big difference between the NRA or the AARP and the ordinary lobbying organization is that most lobbying organizations are conduits for corporate funds, generating the appearance of citizen support when need be via "astroturf", the NRA / AARP have mass participation in political action and an effective political lobby on The Hill.

Don't let a fear of guns peculiar in a person named "Sanity" force you to overlook the benefits of an effective model for political organization.

And back the hell off on your anti-gun rhetoric. Many if not most of your most active supporters are going to be Libertarian pro-gun types. Blow them off and your group is just another geekPAC. My personal position? I share many points of agreement with Libertarian. I'm not a Libertarian.

What you should have said is something on the order of "We don't have a position on gun control, that's not what our organization is about. We have members on both sides of the debate. If one of them expresses a position, he is not representing the organization in doing so."

Right now, you are representing your organization because you're the only member of it here that we know of.

That's another reason why your organization needs paid and experienced staffers... public contact. A paid professional generally wouldn't have shoved her foot into her mouth as far as you just did.

Pull your foot out and get back to business.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

better comparison: AARP (4.71 / 7) (#24)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 10:12:09 PM EST

it's a lot friendlier in public perception and it has a powerful model for recruitment/fundraising.

I've actually been giving this a lot of thought lately, on how an organization like this could be made viable. The quick obvious gloss is that money keeps it alive. Few organizations have been able to get through the long haul through recruiting and fundraising, but not offer back any services except lobbying. These usually break down into two kinds: 1) corporate interest entities, 2) the ACLU. Corporate interest entities exist solely as lobbying efforts and are funded by coalitions of companies to protect their interests. It's an acknowledged service that expresses the view of a small but capable minority. The ACLU has been able to survive through the seeming altruism of its members. However, recent years have seen drastic declines in enrollment, fundraising and support. ACLU branches have a greater tendency to close rather than open in any given year recently.

The correct model then would be to look outside the money for lobbying models. Of these, there are two prominent ones that have adopted similar approaches to each other: the NRA and the AARP. The elderly do not donate to the AARP merely because they have time and money on their hands (yes for one, but NO on the other). They donate because membership gives them a nice little card that gives them 10% off at Denny's, 15% off at hotels that accept AAA discounts, etc. The NRA receives most of its income through sales of periodicals and their presence in gun shows where they sell schwag to gun owners.

For technology representatives the solution to raising funds seems to present itself somewhat realistically: software developers are already committing resources to an open source movement with little expectation of material returns. If it's possible to harness that same enthusiasm in a for-profit way, raising funds should not be difficult. People will likely pay for such a product when it meets their needs, but also supports their interests. It becomes an easy sale. Here's a couple of ideas I have:
  1. Develop a free completely web-based Office suite, similar to Open Office, except that it can run entirely through the browser. Files created through the application may be saved locally or can be stored on a central server for a reasonable storage fee. Such files may be accessed from anywhere if you are using the Office Suite. Alternatively, you could license out the server for users who want to set up their home servers so they may access their files from anywhere.
  2. Offer a subscription based Linux/Apache support service. Pay a small knowledgeable staff to be on call to answer questions.
  3. Sell a membership card that recruited manufacturers will honor(*cough* TIVO *cough*), that will entitle the cardholder to a % discount on hardware, software, or service.
Now that I've said my piece, I'll respond to what you've asked for. I like the overall tone of the article, in that it is saying we have a natural interest in protecting our tools and their justified use. However, the ending sounds a bit defensive ("There are those who would impose controls..."). This sounds reactionary and shortens the lifespan to this organization for as long as the threat exists. Further, it takes too long to get to the point of what it is you're trying to protect. It's not until Paragraph 3 that you even mention computers or the internet.

Also, you have a sentence with no verb: "The crusader's shield, the poet's pen, the soldier's gun, the priest's Bible, the mathematician's logic, all as much a part of them as anything they were born with. "
From what it sounds like, I'm behind you 100%. If you have a site where I can read more details, please let me know, or if you feel so inclined, please contact me via email. If it makes sense, I'm prepared to donate both time and money to realizing this sort of an effort. I even have a domain name that I had registered a while ago when I first had this idea, and I'm willing to dedicate it to the cause: www.RetakeThe.Net

I think the time is ripe for such an organization.

-Soc
I drank what?


The reaction here... (4.50 / 2) (#26)
by sanity on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:11:04 AM EST

...is, in some ways, against those who believe that the solution exists within the geek world alone. This is what Larry expresses frustration with in his lecture. There comes a point when we have to drop the notion that "we are geeks, we can win this on our own turf - break out the C++ compiler", and we have to recognize that we can play them at their own game, in-fact, we must.

I do speak from experience in this regard. I am the architect of a reasonably well-known piece of software which is, in many ways, the dictionary definition of the geek "screw the political system" attitude, in that it is specifically designed to render government impotent.

I am not saying that this approach is flawed, it makes a great last-resort, but this organization can be our first resort.

I like many of your ideas for fundraising, but I think our real challenge is to convert a wider audience than the /. or K5 readership to our cause.

As for your comment about the missing verb - can you suggest a better way to express the same meaning?

[ Parent ]

How about (none / 0) (#28)
by ghackmann on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:39:22 AM EST

"The crusader's shield, the poet's pen, the soldier's gun, the priest's Bible, the mathematician's logic: all function as much a part of them as anything they were born with."
Changing the last comma to a colon also makes it flow better, IMHO. But it's your call.

[ Parent ]
so i think we agree (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by SocratesGhost on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 03:30:12 AM EST

in order to succeed, we must overcome the system from within, through progressive legal change and mainstream support. I've been thinking that for a little while now. The reason is twofold, if you don't mind hearing me out.

Suppose this effort does effect change, either legislatively or through subversion, but the change is without mass public support. Obviously, geeks aren't a majority in this country, and not even all geeks support Free Code. This means that a vocal minority forced a change upon the majority. The questions I ask then are these: Has Democracy been served by our actions? Are our actions different from our competition and is it worth this compromise? To both these, I'd say no.

For the first "no", lobbyists when successful in this way are abusing democracy, having allowed people with money a second chance at voting for all intents and purposes. Coders, when successful in this way are creating an either/or position where people in the mainstream will be forced into a system (and ultimately a philosophy) with which they do not wholly agree. Suppose Freenet wins out, copyrights must also go away. That's a lot to ask for my mother to accept all in one bite. So, no, such actions are not furthering the ends of democracy in and of themselves.

For the second "no", it is not worth the cost, because once we have succeeded, we have proven ourselves no better than our adversaries. Further, people understand our adversaries position, they do not understand ours. How long will it be, do you suppose, before they gang up and bully us right back, just as we had done to them?

Sure, we can be Rousseau and say people must be forced to be free, but Rousseau was talking about the systems where people force themselves to be free, so the freedom comes from within. We all agree on speeding laws. Even though I may speed, I have already agreed on the law and the system is designed so that my behavior is corrected by my own decision. In that way, I am free. To have freedom forced upon people from an outside agency will only cause resentment and confusion. We are more liable to see it backfire. John Brown announced that he would fight to free the slaves. He lost at Harper's Ferry with only a few slaves having come to help. His was a passive recruitment and these seldom win.

We must fight in a larger arena. We must enlist allies. They are out there if we petition them correctly. I am not opposed to lobbyist efforts, but only if it is made with a hand reached out to the public at large. Our job will be easier and more easily justified that way.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
But (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by sanity on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 05:46:09 AM EST

This means that a vocal minority forced a change upon the majority.
There is a difference between forcing change through force of political contributions - against the public interest, and reversing that change through persuasion and lobbying - in alignment with the public interest.

Do you think when the DMCA was passed, either the entertainment industry, or the communications industry (the other architect of the act), even gave a passing thought to the opinion of the majority?

We need to fight them on their own terms, by the rules they have already established.

[ Parent ]

lobbying is lobbying (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by SocratesGhost on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:18:11 AM EST

a good lobbyist campaign will do both. It will donate to candidates that it supports and it will lobby individual legislators to enact law. I think of lobbying as being like a gun, in that's it's a powerful but dangerous tool to achieving an end; it requires delicate use.

My greatest concern is success as a lobbying effort while not trying to bring the public along, too, which is what would happen by keeping our efforts solely within the tech community. These efforts will be most easily successful if we also have mass public appeal. If we do not then we may win small issues, but we will have polarized larger issues and find ourselves in a difficult situation of going up an opponent that is both organized and also has the backing of the populace.

If we can make the case that tech communication issues equates to real election benefits, that's the easiest lobbying effort of all. Right now we'd have a hard time making that case. Jack Valenti gets up during awards ceremonies and takes advantage of his bully pulpit. For the most part his audience doesn't see what's wrong with his point of view; which is essentially that protecting property is good. He's already painted our efforts as being in opposition to that.

We haven't made our case except among ourselves. As you've pointed out, it does no good to preach to the converted K5 and /. communities. The worst damage we can do is to foster greater opposition by a public that hasn't heard our side. We must reach out.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Abuse of Something... (none / 0) (#58)
by wnight on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:06:20 PM EST

You're really stretching when you try to say that forcing all government applications to be open source is an abuse of democracy.

What person, if asked a fair question, would support the government adoption of a system that locks the government into buying from one manufacturer while hurting any chance of future interoperability with any other product, and despite that manufacturer preventing anyone else from competing in the market through IP laws.

North American trains run on a single guage of tracks these days, precisely because nobody wanted to be locked into a product or service offered only by a monopoly.

I think anyone on the street would complain if they saw the government going to an odd track size because of free or cheep locomotives from some company, when anyone could see that the free samples are going to stop as soon as you're hooked. In fact, I doubt anyone would think it'd be a good idea even if prices were guaranteed to stay the same, simply because they can see that the lack of competition is going to result in the same crappy service they see every time some huge company has a government supported monopoly. (Phones, Cable TV, Airlines, etc)

These people may not know anything about the software market, and thus may not recognize the dangers of standardizing on a proprietary system, but this isn't important. It's their representatives mandate to act in their best interests. Those interests are server by the representative taking the actions that they would support, had they the time to aquaint themselves with the industry.

This is serving democracy.


[ Parent ]

that's not quite what I'm saying (none / 0) (#60)
by SocratesGhost on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:37:10 PM EST

i'm saying that if a vocal minority gets its way without making its case to the mainstream, that they run the risk of having a backlash and having their work undone. Also, lobbying without the public's support means to fight a greater uphill battle than if we had the public's support. After all, Open Source has as much of a philosophical component to it as it does a technological component. Standardizing on railway gauge didn't require people to buy into a system with which they may have disagreed.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Philosophy (none / 0) (#133)
by wnight on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 05:23:56 PM EST

Free Software has a philosophy, one I mostly agree with, but Open Source(tm) does not. Open Source can be supported just because it's the rational business decision.


[ Parent ]
On Legitimization (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by Cant Say on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:55:49 AM EST

"we have to recognize that we can play them at their own game"

Why, exactly, must we recognize that? Perhaps "their game" needs must be destroyed? Doesn't working within the system perpetuate the system? It seems that indeed it does.

"A quiet milquetoast who wears cardigan sweaters and enjoys billiard matches while sipping single-malt whiskey." --kitten
[ Parent ]

the system is democracy (3.00 / 1) (#37)
by SocratesGhost on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:56:45 PM EST

and although geeks may be dissatisfied with that, it's pretty well supported by most people, especially by those who can make or break our success: the mainstream.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
The U.S. and Democracy (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by Cant Say on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:49:20 PM EST

The U.S. is hardly a democracy. If it were a democracy, I might see the utility in working within the system. However, since we do not live in a democracy, I don't see how working within the system can create real change.

If the problem is, for example, special interests, then the answer is not to become a bigger special interest, but to destroy the mechanism that allows for such interests in the first place! Namely, the system of a democratic republic.

"A quiet milquetoast who wears cardigan sweaters and enjoys billiard matches while sipping single-malt whiskey." --kitten
[ Parent ]

how? (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by SocratesGhost on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:01:31 PM EST

And do you think if the nation took a vote, they would agree to get rid of all lobbyists? I think not. I think most people see it as a necessary evil. If you got rid of such an instrument in the face of public endorsement, what you are doing is not the will of a democracy but subversion.

Frankly, I don't think it's a bad system. It's just a tough system since success or failure has such profound consequences and so everyone works doubly hard to get their way.

I, too, have a preference for smaller localized government, and it seems foolish to petition the federal government when I really believe that small geographic communities should have a right of self-determination in spite of federal powers. However, such a pie-in-the-sky dream has a chance of occurring approaching zero. However, such a group as this has a more realistic chance of success in realizing some of these interests and so I'm willing to toss my hat in with them.

You can be antagonistic to the system, but I suspect that will be a harder road. After all, the people who really do have the power to change the system (Congress) won't be able to hear you unless you lobby in a coordinated manner.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Wrong problem (none / 0) (#129)
by rusty on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:18:31 PM EST

This is a thing that geeks tend to do, habitually. I know because I do it all the time. When confronted with a problem, we tend to look for the meta-problem, and try to solve that instead. Like here, you're saying "We're getting screwed because the system is unfair. We should make the system fair!" But changing the entire US government system is a ridiculously huge and impossible meta-problem. We need to stop screwing around with the larger issue and start figuring out how to get ourselves un-screwed. Not try to change the whole system, just try to reverse certain very specific conditions that we feel are wrong, like endless copyright extension and the odious DMCA.

The meta-problem here is insoluble, at least by us right now. Yes, it sucks. But nattering about the overall unfairness only guarantees that we never actually get anything done.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

For the long run (none / 0) (#80)
by alizard on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 04:01:29 PM EST

What the post you respond to is in part a prescription on how such an organization can be kept going in the long run... member services. We are going to need effective lobbying in government forever.

However, "In the long run we are all dead" is also relevant here, if we don't get the current problems solved, the US is out of the technology business and your organization's potential members are out of jobs and too busy surviving to get political.

We don't merely have to play the bad guys at their own game, we have to beat them until they are ready to make a deal we can all live with.

The average potential member of your organization has a lot more income and better education than the average NRA/AARP member, and I think the numbers are comparable. The anger at the fact that the government isn't interested in what we have to say is probably comparable to the anger that made either NRA or AARP possible.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Problems (5.00 / 3) (#33)
by epepke on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:59:02 AM EST

I'm glad this is being voted up, because it's an interesting topic. However, there are a number of problems.

Groups like the NRA and the ACLU and the AARP survive, largely, because people are willing to give them support and money based on their basic principles, even if they don't agree with all the details.

Lessig has gone on record as saying that IT/Computer Science people are basically lazy and apolitical. I wouldn't go that far, but many of us do have characteristics that make it difficult to achieve any kind of consensus. "We" are, for example, the kind of people who argue for hours about EMACS versus vi, or PC versus Macintosh, or other such nonsense. There's just no way that a single organization can please everybody to the extent that most IT people demand to be pleased before they'll cough up a dime. Everybody has an idea of how such an organization can be run, and since it can only be run one way, it can never please more than a tiny minority. Look at the alarming amount of flack that rusty has gotten. I can't think of any other group of people that consider facial hair a good reason to judge an organization, but that happens regularly with the EFF. We are going to get over that kind of puerile bullshit in order for such a thing to work, and I don't see much evidence of that happening.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


we aren't so different (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by sanity on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:28:07 PM EST

We" are, for example, the kind of people who argue for hours about EMACS versus vi, or PC versus Macintosh, or other such nonsense.
You don't think that the NRA membership have similar ly heated debates about whether such-and-such gun oil is better than such-and-such?

I don't think that geeks are so incredibly different from everyone else that they are incapable of supporting an organization which represents their common interests.

[ Parent ]

I'd like to believe that (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by epepke on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:18:02 PM EST

You don't think that the NRA membership have similarly heated debates about whether such-and-such gun oil is better than such-and-such?

Well, I'm a member of both communities, and I'd have to say yes, I don't think we have similarly heated debates. I mean, I prefer the Colt .45 to a S&W .40, but I haven't experienced anywhere near the hostility for simply having one that I experience when bringing up vi to edit a five-line file in front of someone who belongs to the Church of Emacs.

I don't think that geeks are so incredibly different from everyone else that they are incapable of supporting an organization which represents their common interests.

Then explain to me why it hasn't happened yet. Why isn't the EFF (or whoever) already a well financed pressure group?

I don't know if geeks are capable of doing it. However, I see a lot more talk and umbrage than I see action, and I see that as a problem.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
A few points - (5.00 / 4) (#36)
by gbroiles on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 12:27:59 PM EST

My interest and support isn't influenced significantly by the abstract goals of the organization (assuming I agree with them in the first place), but by the strategies and tactics it expects to use to reach those goals. There are tons of happy do-gooder organizations who mean well but rarely produce meaningful results outside of their own newsletters.

So I don't need more than a paragraph or so about how wonderful communication and learning and freedom are - I need to know a lot about how this organization is different from the EFF and EPIC and the FSF. You did answer that question a couple of layers deep in the comments here - it's going to engage in lobbying and campaign activity which is forbidden to 501(c)(3) orgs - but it'd have been helpful to me to make that a lot clearer a lot faster. I also want to know, in concrete terms, what the organization is going to do in the next year or two - try to go national and form tons of little chapters? focus on a single politically important race? focus on a politically insignificant but winnable race, to gain experience and demonstrate (limited) success?

If you are going to get any of my time or money, you need to give me the impression that you can direct and use them more efficiently than I can. That means that you need to do more than identify a happy vision of the future - you need to show me how you're going to get there from here, and how you're adding value along the way.

Big orgs like the NRA and the AARP can add value to member contributions by providing a single point for negotiation - if a congressperson gets $50,000 in the form of lots of $25 and $50 checks, none of those contributors can exert a whole lot of leverage over the congressperson - but if the contributors funnel their contributions through a single contact point, that contact point can say "If you vote the wrong way on this legislation, the next $50K we get won't go to you, it'll go to your opponent instead."

Of course, they can subtract value, too, by spending too much of the money on bullshit administrative expenses, or by using the money in a different way than the contributor would have done so themselves (like when the NRA gives some of my money to Jesse Helms, ugh.)



this document isn't intended to be a FAQ (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by sanity on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:25:59 PM EST

The purpose of this document is not to tell people everything they might want to know, but an attempt to articulate to people what the goal of the organization is, and why it has that goal - its mechanisms for achieving that goal are for another document.

[ Parent ]
I understand (4.50 / 2) (#61)
by gbroiles on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 07:17:54 PM EST

If you don't answer the question "Why are you worth thinking about?" within the first 20 seconds or so that someone's thinking about you, it's unlikely that they'll stick around long enought to read a FAQ to discover that your organization is helpful. There are lots of organizations and movements who lay claim to the ideological territory you're describing, but precious few who are worth paying attention to.

[ Parent ]
Statements of purpose (none / 0) (#82)
by alizard on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:42:57 PM EST

The time for wonderful sounding statements of purpose is in the past.

What people want to know is what kinds of action your organization has in mind.

The kind of people you want have seen these statements by the dozen followed by either no action or actions obviously doomed to ineffectiveness from the start.

While a mission statment is not a FAQ, if it doesn't serve many of the purposes of one, your intended audience will take a look, say "bullshit", and go on their merry way.

The statement I think you're trying to make belongs on a position paper somewhere inside the site. What people need to see in order to decide that you're worth joining must be something much more concrete.

I'd very much like to see a high-tech community PAC worth getting involved in. Provide it and I'm there with as many people as I can bring with me..
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Freedom of expression (5.00 / 3) (#47)
by richieb on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:18:30 PM EST

Perhaps you should point out that the groups like RIAA and MPAA are trying to limit the ability of non-members to create a distribute their works.

I don't care if Holywood's DVD movies are encrypted fourty two times over. I care that I can create a DVD that's free and that will play in everyone's player and/or computer, without me having to ask MPAA's permission and without paying licencing fees. Same with digital music.

This goes beyond the technological issues.

...rcichie
It is a good day to code.

Patents (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by pin0cchio on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 04:03:36 PM EST

I care that I can create a DVD that's free and that will play in everyone's player and/or computer, without me having to ask MPAA's permission and without paying licencing fees.

It's possible to create a DVD Video title that doesn't use CSS encryption, but it's not possible to create a DVD Video title that uses no royalty-bearing technologies. MPEG-2 video is patented.

Same with digital music.

MP3 is patented. Now that Tremor (an Ogg Vorbis decoder that uses fixed point arithmetic) has been freed, we all should pressure our favorite pocket music player vendors to add Ogg support.


lj65
[ Parent ]
I want to edit Superman (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by bill_mcgonigle on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:10:10 AM EST

I was thinking about this last night.  Superman I and II, the movies, were written as a single story.  For practical purposes, the movies were filmed with not enough introductory material for part II in part I, and too much exposition in part II that was already done in part I.

As a creative exercise, I'd like to do an edit of the two, to make a cohesive story that would be fun to watch.  If I do a decent job of it, I'd like to watch it again, maybe several times.  For this reason, I'd like the quality to be top notch.  

Now, I can do an analog edit, but the quality will be low, and that's just silly because I have the digital source.  But *because* it's digital, and *only* because it's digital, I'm prevented in engaging in this clear example of fair use.  There is no argument about the content, the intellectual property, rights of the authors, etc., the denial of rights is *solely* based the storage medium.

[ Parent ]

Good Idea, But "Been There, Done That" (4.33 / 3) (#49)
by Peahippo on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:34:56 PM EST

I have few-if-any doubts about the righteousness of your intent. I can clearly see how Microsoft and various large IP producers want to utterly control my hardware and software, to diminish my computing experience and make me into one of their serfs.

BUT ... starting the advocacy game is risky, like a sword you wield by the blade. Advocacy is not science; due to the drive to advocate, it tends to refuse entry of contrary data. Thus, it can get enormously out of control with the intents of advocacy in the first place (primarily the avoidance of being wiped out by strident opposition).

The temper the risks of advocacy, I suggest several things:

  1. Careful charter crafting to allow perhaps unprecedented membership controls of the officers.
  2. Open financial books; yes, every line item in accounting is put on a website.
  3. And the pipe dream: a membership that places the most moral of officers into power, and not just those deemed "iinfluential" or "connected".
Once those are in place, the thoroughly corrupt anti-freedom forces will start losing serious public control of the arguments, and we the people will have a fighting chance.


Influential -vs- Moral (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by Khendon on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 02:39:50 PM EST

You realise this will necessarily involve losing the argument? Influential and connected might not be "pure" enough for you, but without them you may as well just whine on a discussion website or something...

[ Parent ]
Re: Influential -vs- Moral (4.50 / 2) (#65)
by Peahippo on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:19:50 PM EST

Say what? If all social change is effected by the corruption of influential insider personalities, then we may as well give up now. But of course that is what the RIAA et al want us to do -- give up without a fight.

The corruption runs on secrecy, elitism and the lassitude of the affected population. Exposure alone assaults this process mightily. This doesn't require insider influence -- any reasonably good investigative reporter (and editors willing to publish his findings) will do.

Under my assumptions and judgment, using a moral personality (like the NRA's Charleton Heston) is the same thing as being "connected" with the public, who are the grouping that wants change or a defense in the first place. This proposed advocacy group (perhaps I should call it the People For the Public Domain) should be headed by somebody like Richard Stallman, who -- his rants and raves aside -- appears to have an obvious moral path that he follows despite hardship.


[ Parent ]
WashingtonDC area (3.66 / 3) (#52)
by pong2002 on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 03:14:31 PM EST

I've been thinking about this very thing since the early summer. I am interested in speaking with anyone in the WashingtonDC area who feels that this is a good idea and would like to make it viable. With all due respect to EFF and ACLU, they are pie in the sky Cali-type idealists. I'm thinking of a realpolitik in the WashDC trenches group. Reply below or email pong1138@yahoo.com

"communicate at the speed of light" (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by faecal on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 05:25:00 PM EST

I assume you want pedantic comments, so...
We were communicating at the speed of light when we signalled with sunlight reflected from mirrors. Besides, rate of communication cannot be compared to rate of light travel, unless you want to measure thoughts in metres.

Being even more pedantic... (none / 0) (#57)
by Jetifi on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 05:39:07 PM EST

The speed of electrons in copper is considerably less than the speed of light.

When we get fibre, though... <drool>



[ Parent ]
2 qs, + feedback (4.50 / 2) (#56)
by Jetifi on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 05:30:56 PM EST

Just out of interest, how likely is it that this will turn into real life action? I can see where you're going with this and I heartily approve, but I sincerely hope this isn't a precursor to vaporware.

Another thing is, we have the laws similar to the DMCA in the EU (EUCD, the upcoming UK Copyright Directive), and things like the WIPO treaty were organised on an international level. Although starting small is of course the only option, might it be worth making the ''NtechA'' similarly international?

The whole point of your article is to get feedback, which is why this is topical. Here I'm being anal for the greater good, so you'll see me removing commas and fixing grammar, along with less trivial changes. I confuse ''which'' and ''that'' a lot myself, so I changed them below. Changed text is in strong, italicised text has been re-ordered. Removed words are indicated by a pipe.

In the first paragraph: I'd split the first sentence into two. ''...their body. In many ways...''. Also I'd drop ''the crusader's shield'', and start with ''The poet's pen''. I'd probably drop ''the priest's Bible'' too. I've never been too good with apostrophes, but get someone to check them out. Also the second ''as'' in ''as much as'' drops it's s. This is what you'd get:

Humans have always been more than the flesh and blood that constitutes their body. In many ways this is what makes us human. The ancient hunter's spear is as much a part of him as his foot or arm. | The poet's pen, the soldier's gun, | and the mathematician's logic, all as much a part of them as anything they were born with.

I'd clean up the second paragraph as follows, removing the second ''we developed''. I don't know if ''expensive'' is a value judgement that could turn off academia, (maybe I'm over analysing this) so I replaced it with ''prestigious''. It might be worth replacing ''exclusive schools of ancient Greece, the monasteries of middle-age Europe'' with modern examples, as the text implies that intellectual and political discussion is still happening there. I've left them in because I can't come up with substitutes:

During the latter part of the 20th century, we developed a new tool that would become part of us in the same way that these tools became part of our ancestors. We developed the ability to communicate at the speed of light, | technology that can extend the borders of intellectual and political discussion beyond the exclusive schools of ancient Greece, the monasteries of middle-age Europe, or the prestigious universities of modern-day America.

For <p>3, I'd replace ''regulate our governments'' with something like ''interact with our governments''. I put in ''deal with'', but something snappier would be good.

Already, computers and the Internet are becoming an essential part of how many of us interact with each other[1], how we entertain ourselves, how we learn about our world, how we deal with our governments, and how we determine what is right and what is wrong.

And for 4, but I'd split it into two paragraphs. For the first below paragraph, I removed the coma after ''use of this technology''. In the second, I changed ''from the stifling of new'' to ''from stifling new''. Also, you used ''stifle'' twice, so I replaced the second occurence with ''hold back''. I also switched ''society'' and ''economy'', i.e. the economy is market-driven and the society won't prosper, as opposed to the market-driven society and the economy not prospering. I also rejigged the first sentence of the second para a little, to make it read a little easer:

There are those who would impose controls and restrictions upon current and future development and use of this technology out of short-sighted self-interest. This, as with many arguments based on such self-interest, is often framed in terms of economic benefit.

Ultimately, no society will prosper from stifling new ideas and new technologies to protect the interests of those that went before. In a market-driven economy, nobody deserves a guarantee that their government will hold back any new technology that might challenge their business model.

For the final <p>, ''development'' and ''progress'' are one and the same to my mind, so I struck '', and progress''. The coma before ''by using the tools of'' should be removed in any case. You used ''ensure'' twice. I'd replace the first occurrence with ''safeguard'' or the last occurrence with ''make sure'' (ain't thesauruses wonderful :-):

Our mission is to ensure continued human learning and development | by using the tools of democracy to make sure that those with a vested interest in limiting this progress are not the only voices heard by our lawmakers.

This is all strictly IMHO of course. Also, having this grilled by a nongeek, or even a marketing guy (no, wait, come back...) would obviously be useful, so I'll try and get that done when I meet one.

[1] hyphen added or removed. Not obvious, hence this.



Thanks - most changes implemented (none / 0) (#120)
by sanity on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:48:11 PM EST

I have implemented most of your changes. I didn't replace "regulate our governments" with "deal with" since I believe that regulation is closer to my actual meaning, where "deal with" is rather vague and sounds a-little too colloquial.

Almost all of your other suggestions have been implemented in my draft of this document.

[ Parent ]

k5.print(((Criticism)user.getPost(i++).toHTML()); (none / 0) (#139)
by Jetifi on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 02:31:48 PM EST

So the day after I posted the above, I ran both versions past the aforementioned marketing guy (wait, come back...) who's fairly tech-savvy and is real good at writing copy. Anyway, the following are his suggestions. Some are along the lines of the parent^2, i.e. specific rewording and reworking, and the rest are general criticism.

For <p>1, he made the point that ''priest's Bible'' is a good way to appeal to religious people. In the second sentence, he'd replace ''this'' with something more specific, for example ''our invention of tools we use''. He'd strike the third sentence, ''The ancient hunter...'', because the same idea is restated better in the following sentence.

<p>2: The first sentence becomes shortened: ''During the latter part of the 20th century, our tools evolved with us''. Now, our tools have always evolved with us since the year dot, but ''our tools evolved with us'' is simple and to the point. s/America/world/g on the last sentence maybe, although you have the patriotism angle there.

In <p>5 in parent^2, the statement ''Ultimately, no society'', needs some sort of short-and-sweet proof to back it up. This should be easy to find, since there are relevant examples since the start of the industrial revolution, and analogous examples to be found throughout history. The sentence ''...nobody deserves a guarantee...'' IHO need re-working, and he may have a point - one qualifier and four subjects makes for a fairly unwieldy construct.

It also might be worth working into there somewhere that for a market-driven <foo>, the best system is the most efficient system.

The most important point for the overall angle is that you're going through a standard beginning, middle and end process here. Background is <p>'s one, two, and three, the challenge/problem is laid out in three and four, and the end, aka ''why we're here'' is squeezed into some of four and all of five. This is the area that needs to be expanded upon, and clarified a little more than it is at present. Granted it may be the least concrete thing in the minds of you/whoever is planning this, but them's the breaks.

Hope this helps.



[ Parent ]
Want a million bucks? And EFF. (3.50 / 4) (#59)
by Fen on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:30:45 PM EST

EFF already does this. Looking for the million bucks that Duke got to combat intellectual property? All intellectual property laws must die NOW.
--Self.
No they don't (3.00 / 1) (#62)
by sanity on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 07:48:04 PM EST

The EFF can't lobby lawmakers.

[ Parent ]
This is true. (3.00 / 1) (#63)
by DrewArrowood on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:39:25 PM EST

They are a 501(c)3 and therefore can only "educate" voters. The right strategy is to create candidate surveys (as does the NRA).

Support an anti-DMCA candidate.

[ Parent ]

Intellectual property laws must exist for progress (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by skyknight on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 09:26:20 AM EST

It's far too sophomoric to say "all intellectual property laws must die NOW." That should not be the objective of this movement. What we really want are sensical and judicious IP rights. Should record companies have the right to defend their IP? Sure! Does that mean that they should get to restrict what kind of computer hardware you can legally buy? Absolutely not!

IP laws exist for a reason: to make the process of knowledge production sustainable. That some people try to twist them to their own ends is not reason to abolish them, but rather to watchdog them. We absolutely need them for progress. It's all fine and good for someone to go off with a handful of people and meanderingly create some open-source software product over the course of several years. That, however, is not representative of all IP creation.

An apt example for which IP rights are crucial is pharmaceutical drug manufacture. There are many other such good examples, but this one is illustrative of the point... The research process that all drugs must go through often ends up costing in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars to get approval from the FDA and whatnot. Furthermore, for every drug that does successfully make it to market, perhaps a dozen fail during trial phases as the result of some kind of unexpected, unacceptable side-effect. So, as you can probably deduce, not only does the occasional successful drug have to recoup its own research costs, but it also has to subsidize the costs of all the failed drugs. When patent rights are violated and manufacturers make a generic form of the drug, the company that did all of the research gets screwed, can't recoup its expenditures, and is left hung out to dry. This destroys the knowledge engine, grinding progress to a halt, and also causes investors to be wary of investing in such a process again.

If you can't see that this is theft on the part of the generic manufacturer, then you are very short-sighted. It is quite simply the looting of the productive product of someone's mind. If I'm a wood-worker and a make a dining room set, and you take it without paying, that's theft, but perhaps in your mind, if I'm a knowledge worker, and I create knowledge, and you take it without paying me, that is ok? Over the course of the next century technology will continue to improve to the point that physical labor of any kind will be practically obsolete in modernized societies. At that point, a very large segment of the population will be engaged in knowledge creation, and if an intelligent system for just compensation is not in place then there will be very serious problems.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Re: "intelligent system for just compensation (none / 0) (#76)
by dino on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 01:33:18 PM EST

I suppose you're claiming an "intelligent system for just compensation" exists now. We'll okay, we have a fair system for just compensation-- as long as you can pay to tens of thousands of dollars to patent every little idea you have, trademark every witty saying you've come up with and copyright everything else. It's fair as long as you haven't signed away your intellectual property rights, just to get a job doing what you know.

I think what the EFF, FSF and the like are arguing that our current system is unfair and that any future system built on top of it will be unfair.

[ Parent ]
Slavery laws must exist for progress... (none / 0) (#96)
by Fen on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:32:28 AM EST

Copy, paste, and replace.
--Self.
[ Parent ]
Almost any statement of purpose will do (4.75 / 4) (#64)
by alizard on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 10:39:29 PM EST

That such an organization is needed is a point I've been making over and over and over. On slashdot, I'm relatively new around here.

The primary issues at this point are restrictions on the use of the Internet and restrictions on the use of our computers by content providers.

Any clear statement of purpose with a reasonable resemblance to that which describes believable specifics about what you intend to use the money you want to raise is going to buy will be acceptable. It doesn't have to rank with Demosthenes's speeches or the Gettysburg Address in terms of literary quality.

What's important what you plan to do about it and if you're viable. I spotted GeekPAC as a circle jerk from the beginning and what's there at their site confirmed my initial opinion. An organization who's website looks like it was built by a third grader isn't going to take Congress back from the people.

  • Do you already have startup money raised? I've estimated that an organization set up to do this needs about $500K startup budget... before the first dollar is spent in campaign contributions or advertising.
  • Do you plan a Web to fax gateway with a mailing list so people will know when to contact Congress and have their faxes automatically routed to the right Congresscritter by zip code like the ACLU does? If you don't know why organized letter writing to Congress is BAD, get somebody with a clue onboard RIGHT NOW!
  • Are you going to raise and spend money on expertise or just wait and hope the right people volunteer? Not thinking in terms like this is a mistake common to most people who've tried to organize political action on behalf of our community. If we aren't willing to pay actual cash to protect our rights, our rights are not worth protecting and we will lose them.
  • Do you plan to have paid staff for legislative analysis so slashdot and k5 will be finding out that intervention on an issue is need NOW from you instead of vice versa?
  • Do you have lobbyists with major league experience willing to go to bat for us if the bucks are found?
  • Do you plan to raise and spend serious money on lobbying? Outbid Hollywood and "Hollywood" Hollings would probably rename himself Fritz "Open Source" Hollings.
  • Do you have an attorney willing to shepherd your organization through the FEC PAC registration process?
  • Do you plan to intervene in Congressional races? People want to see an organization ready to use our money to kick ass and take names... and to put the heads of the most offensive elected officials on a platter. Most people I've talked to want revenge at the ballot box. Money is good. The ability to make video sound-byte commercials and buy the media time to run them for independent campaigning against politicians we don't like is good. There's a lot of hate, anger, and frustration ready for the first viable PAC to turn into faxes to Congress and contributions and volunteer time.
  • Do you plan to collect information on people willing to donate time and energy to find out what we can do in terms of volunteering?
This is just a start. An organization ready as I described above has a chance of being effective.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
GeekPAC..oh dear motherfucking god! (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by Silver222 on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 12:18:19 AM EST

You've got a group of people that wants to enact change, and that's the best they can come up with? Jesus Christ, I could shit a better website tonight than that. Ughh. I don't care what the message is, you need to make it look somewhat attractive to get attention.

Btw, you are 100% right. If you're going to lobby do it right. NRA members don't give a fuck about what party a candidate belongs to. If a candidate is against gun rights, they are not a suitable person to vote for in the eyes of an NRA member. That's why they have power.

Is this issue important enough to you to ignore everying else? That's the question.

[ Parent ]

Single issue politics.EXACTLY. (3.50 / 2) (#68)
by alizard on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 01:50:35 AM EST

Is this issue important enough to you to ignore everying else? That's the question.

Hell, yes!.

The operational definition of both political organizing and business can be put simply: "Something one does with computers and the Internet."

Without meaningful access to both computers and cyberspace, i.e. access to do what we want to do, not law enforcement as 0wn3d by Hollywood permits us, we don't do business and we don't politically organize. This is true whether your usual first political priority is women's rights, the right to bear arms, environmentalism, or civil liberties in general.

Freedom to use computers and the Net now must be considered the first freedom.

Without them, freedom of speech goes as far as your voice can be heard. While a telephone can take your voice anywhere, the non-Internet one-to-many communication channels are monopolized by business and government.

Even the right to bear arms doesn't mean much, without the Internet, how the hell do we know who to point them at if we ever make a mistake that we can't resolve at the polls? "The government" isn't really an adequate answer, that's everyone from my mailman to the President. I'd kind of miss my snailmail, my checks from publishers get to me that way.

As for doing business, if DRM makes it impossible to back up our files or to get software that doesn't have Federal/Hollywood/MS approval, we aren't going to do a whole lot of that, either. Political organization takes money, and if the economy is pushed into the toilet by Federal law intended to protect content providers at the expense of everyone else, people will be too busy scrambling for survival to worry about civil liberties.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Forget the mass media model (1.00 / 1) (#70)
by epeus on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 05:02:29 AM EST

Work from the grass roots. Go out and find your candidates, and talk to them all indvidually about the issue.
Here's what I said at the campaign site I started

In the next 3 months, all the representatives of the people will be in their home districts, campaigning, holding public meetings, trekking from one place to another to meet their constituents.

What if there was a 'smart mob' waiting for them at each one?
Local constituents concerned and informed about the CBDTPA, Coble/Berman, the DMCA and the rest.

Lets set up a tree of weblogs - a top-level campaign one, giving the overview and highlights, then state and regional ones for each election. Brainstorm and hone a set of questions to ask each representative, and publish their responses, and an endorsement/rejection. Get the meeting attendees to bring video cameras and tape recorders and post the Q&A sessions in video and audio too. Sign up flyposters and canvassers. If there isn't an endorsable candidate, come up with a write-in candidate instead.

Instead of arguing about whether programmers or lawyers are doing more, or the details of which licence you release your software under, sign up to the broad principles we all can agree on - that the CBDTPA and Coble-Berman bills are an attempt to overturn the constitution by narrow interests.

Are we likely to win any seats? Probably not. But at the end of it, every representative will be aware of a big constituency who don't want the entertainment industry to have veto rights over the constitution. The DMCA was passed unanimously. Coble-Berman mustn't be.

I am a resident alien, and don't get to vote - taxation without representation is my lot.
You citizens need to do this - they are YOUR representatives.

Go out there and remind them.



[ Parent ]
You don't know what you're talking about (none / 0) (#71)
by alizard on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:57:57 AM EST

Sorry, but if you don't understand how the US political system works, you've got no more business telling us how to work the system than a newbie Windows user has telling us how to secure an IBM Z series enterprise server. I assume you come from a country where political campaigns are publically funded.

THIS IS NOT TRUE IN THE USA

The US political system does not work the way US civics textbooks describe it.

Our politicians have been ignoring our e-mail for years, even when sent by the tens of thousands. They are motivated mainly by the hopes of getting enough campaign contributions to pay for the media blitzes needed to win elections.

A constituency which can't back its ideas with campaign money can safely be ignored, unless it is in and of itself large enough to settle an election. If we were a clear majority of the population, we wouldn't be discussing this issue right now.

There are quite a few other things wrong with your idea, but it's late and I'm tired, there are others who know the answers as well as I do, and they can now have a whack at you.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Can do it on $0k, it's just not as effective (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by pjc50 on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:08:57 AM EST

Speaking as someone who's been involved with the UK Campaign for Digital Rights from the beginning, I'd say that action and access are the two most important parts of a campaign.

Action, because there's a natural geek tendancy to sit around discussing each other's slightly differing points of view until hell freezes over. "Just Do It", even if you're not sure whether it's the right thing. Do something rather than nothing.

Access, to the press and lawmakers. It's (at least in this country) surprisingly easy, if you go in with a good story and just keep knocking on people's doors until some start opening. Be unfailingly polite and accessible to the press, they appreciate it and will print your press releases verbatim.

[ Parent ]

if this organization isn't effective, it's DOA (none / 0) (#77)
by alizard on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 03:32:51 PM EST

Can do it on $0k, it's just not as effective

The UK has publically financed political campaigns, right? You obviously don't have any idea just how big a difference this makes to the political process. An elected official in the US pays far more attention to cultivating his largest political campaign contributors than to his political party.

The media situation is also extremely different, that's why most of the decent press coverage of the US 2000 Presidential election came out of The Guardian.

In any case, we don't need press releases printed verbatim, we need votes to be changed.

The difference between what you're doing and what needs doing is the difference between chalk and cheese.

With respect to effectiveness... how long has RIP been in place? Your organization has been making the same mistakes EFF and the other traditional geek advocacy groups in the US has been making, with the same results. If the program described here can be made to work, I suggest looking at the model to see what can be adapted to the UK.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Warning! Warning! (1.00 / 1) (#73)
by A Trickster Imp on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:41:04 AM EST

Warning, future  "NCA" advogates!

Your detractors will:

- Claim you will lead to the death of innocents
- Show actual cases where your actions lead to the deaths of innocents
- Claim the freedom issue you love so much is nothing more than anachronism, and that it's time to grow up and realize it's 2002 and not 1776 anymore.

You don't SERIOUSLY think the government will abuse its powers, do you?

[ Parent ]

Well said (none / 0) (#87)
by fsterman on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:05:31 AM EST

I'm sorry but he is right, only a politicians head on a platter can stop them from trapsing on our rights. I remember a Slashdotted article on this, about how we need to stop pissing a hundred bucks to a senator after they make a good vote. Does anyone remeber this article, Norml needs to read it.

[ Parent ]
Weak (5.00 / 1) (#81)
by Scrymarch on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 06:46:09 PM EST

This association may be a fine idea, but the text is too rough a draft to really be worth posting as an article.  I'm surprised there were no editorial comments to that effect, actually.  A better use of the hive mind would have been a collabarative draft on K4, followed by a posting of a well-organised proclamation.

As it is the manifesto lacks flow.  The first paragraph, for instance ....

Humans have always been more than flesh and blood. The ancient hunter's spear is as much as part of him as his foot or arm. The  poet's pen, the soldier's gun, the priest's scripture, the mathematician's logic; these things define us, and are a part of us, as much as anything we are born with.

Trimmed the military metaphors.  It's like the NRA, ok, we get it.  Heavily edited.  Not everyone is going to like my style, but I tried to make it more readable without meaning being lost.

(I recall reading that the committee editing process the Declaration of Independence went through put Jefferson into a fit of writer's pique.  Franklin noted in sympathy that it was his policy never to write anything that would be edited by a committee.)  

Wow! (3.00 / 2) (#83)
by broody on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 09:01:32 PM EST

You guys won't believe this. I was searching around the internet and found this amazing statement of purpose that matches sanity's goals. All thanks to that wacky google thingy.


~~ Whatever it takes
Dude? WTF? (none / 0) (#101)
by Swashbuckler on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:22:38 PM EST

doesn't anybody read the discussion thread and the article before they post?
Read then post, or just stfu.


*Note* - this comment contains no inside K5 humour because inside K5 humour is only for/by K5-wankers. Media does not = "community."
[ Parent ]
Oops! (none / 0) (#107)
by broody on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:44:58 PM EST

See here.


~~ Whatever it takes
[ Parent ]
I Support the Sentiment, but the Method is Flawed (3.50 / 2) (#84)
by ewhac on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:41:48 AM EST

The EFF was formed for the express purpose of becoming the NRA of the digital world; the authoratative voice on the political impact of all things digital. In that regard, it has been less than a stellar success.

Part of this is because our elected "representatives" have learned to ignore everyone. They ignore the ACLU. They ignore labor unions. They've been ignoring Native Americans since this country's founding. The voices are dismissed; they are not heard. To them, it is background noise.

Another part of it is that Washington is a school yard on a grand scale. Logic is not what drives these people, but the same petty, idiot rivalries that drove them around the school yard. There is an overwhelming desire to hang around the "popular" people (e.g. Hollywood stars, wealthy business executives, etc.) and shun the "geeks" (or, better, degrade and humiliate them). So Jack Valenti gets tons of ear time, and we get the dirty end of the stick.

But it recently occurred to me that there's another, larger problem we face. Our government subsists on reveune obtained through taxes, duties, and fees. The majority of it comes from taxes on commerce. The "popular" people in the media conglomerates propose to create new kinds of commerce by selling digital "content" over the Internet. This, they claim, will create new market opportunities, generate enormous revenues, boost the economy, and oh-by-the-way the government will get a cut of it all from the commerce taxes levied thereon.

However, for this ersatz Cinderella story to actually have a happy ending (for Hollywood and the government's coffers), all general-purpose computers must be outlawed, the Internet must be strictly regulated and controlled, and software developers and their tools must be licensed and approved by a central authority.

You see, the government sees the same pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that Hollywood does, and is eager to gets its, "fair share." Trouble is, the rainbow and pot of gold are all a mirage. But that doesn't matter; the government will happily erase freedoms, enact regulations, and turn ordinary, peaceful citizens into criminals because they think there's money in it for them as well. This is probably one reason why the laughably absurd meme, "Copying is Theft," has gotten so much traction inside the Beltway.

This is why I think, despite all the well-meaning dollars put toward the EFF, it ultimately won't make a difference, because it doesn't help the government make more money.

This is also why I think the best way to combat this problem is to vote the morons out. They work for you; so fire them. Remove these stupid people and replace them with people who understand digital technology, and the true economic implications it brings. There's no one on the ballot you like? Then put someone there that you do like; draft them into public service. The tech community can no longer afford the luxury of being apolitical.

Hire people who you know will listen to us, and will ignore the shrill childish whining from people who haven't left the school yard yet.

Schwab
---
Editor, A1-AAA AmeriCaptions. Priest, Internet Oracle.

The flaw in the EFF approach... (none / 0) (#90)
by alizard on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:45:46 AM EST

and the other "geek" lobbying groups is going for tax-deductible 503(c) status. The EFF was never a mass action organization.

There are many things a 503(c) group can do, i.e. funding lawsuits... but it can NOT lobby effectively on issues where there are major interests contributing money to politicians on the other side of an issue.

This group is allegedly going to fix this problem by ... sanity mentioned using NRA/AARP as model, which means to me a mass action organizational effort designed to dump hundreds of thousands of faxes into congressional fax machines, backed by a lobbying effort... people walking into Congressional offices with campaign checks as well as position papers.

As for ignoring labor unions... I suggest a look at where the Democratic state level parties in particular get their campaign contributions... as in government employee unions. They are not ignored. Unions in general are less important than they were as the percentage of unionization in the population drops.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Too much mumble-jumble (none / 0) (#85)
by kholmes on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:39:27 AM EST

In my opinion, I'd avoid the messy rhetoric. First, in your statement of purpose you don't need to legitimize your organization. In fact, I think you only need the last two paragraphs. The rest of your statement of purpose is going to cause too much disagreement among those who would otherwise support your group. For example, I don't know about anyone else but when I read "entertain" (and notice how that word was first in the list) I immediately thought "download music for free". But that's of course not a legitimate purpose for a lobbying organization.

Also, I think you need to tell us what you are for--not just what you are against. If you only want to repeal the DMCA and prevent laws like it, say that. You'll probably get a lot of support. If you want to lower copyright terms, then say that. Even that will get quite a bit of support. But if you want to eliminate copyright altogether, then say that. At least people will know where you stand.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.

Came in through the window, protected by a silver (none / 0) (#86)
by medham on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:55:45 AM EST

Spoon.

Now, this:

Humans have always been more than the flesh and blood which constitutes their body, in many ways it is what makes us human. The ancient hunter's spear is as much as part of him as his foot or arm. The crusader's shield, the poet's pen, the soldier's gun, the priest's Bible, the mathematician's logic, all as much a part of them as anything they were born with.
Is a bunch of hooey. The mathematician's logic is not a tool, not a technology. The shield of Achilles (and read Auden 1952 before Bobbitt 2002, or your little brain will rot) glints. The poet's pen and the solider's sword put together those bibles.

Logic spirals out of the growth of the mind like a Fibonacci thingy. You have to understand atomicity.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

You need to decide where you stand on the issues (none / 0) (#88)
by imclaren on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:19:05 AM EST

It's easy for the NRA - limiting anti-gun laws.  If you want my money, you need to decide where you stand on;
  1. Copyright - none, limited to 15 years, moral rights, fair use etc.
  2. DMCA provisions - answering this depends on your answer to the above - heaviness of penaties, anti-circumvention devices laws and exceptions.
  3. Patents - none, strict time limitation, no "business methods" patents, how is "business method" defined, how about drugs patents? - do we want them too - third world contires etc.  mp3 patents - should there be some new  rules disallowing this sort of thing?
  4. Microsoft and anti-trust - break them up, leave them be, palladium rules etc., which brings us to ...
  5. DVD's/music protection - more DMCA stuff - should region coding be allowed/enforceed, what about palladium/harware DRM restrictions, should manufacturers be forced to provide regionless DVDs.
etc.

These are not easy questions.  You can't just say, more freedom, you know, like beer and speach.  Geeks won't know where you stand, an politicians will say "What?, but Microsoft and the entertainment industry give us lots of money and tell us exactly what laws they want."

You need to get your act together.

:)

to make this workable... (none / 0) (#89)
by alizard on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:39:07 AM EST

This is going to have to be a "least common denominator" organization with a minimalist agenda, at least at the beginning.

Driving a stake through the heart of CBDTPA, modifying or killing DMCA, making sure that Internet content censorship doesn't get turned into law, disbanding the Broadcast Protection Working Group is as much of an agenda as I'd want to see. If such a group takes a position on everything, it will accomplish nothing.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Yes, but ... (none / 0) (#92)
by imclaren on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 05:16:10 AM EST

Driving a stake through the heart of CBDTPA, modifying or killing DMCA, making sure that Internet content censorship doesn't get turned into law, disbanding the Broadcast Protection Working Group is as much of an agenda as I'd want to see.

Yes, but the thing is, you're advocating taking a position here on some of the things I was talking about, plus some extra things.  This is a small list (we haven't covered everything here), but I don't think there is any agreement at all on what a "minimalist agenda" actually is.

I can see the point of picking a couple of issues and having specific recommendations is the way to go, but which ones?  How should the DMCA be modified, for example?  In order to get people behind the body, I think what is needed is to actually draft proposed ammendments, so people know exactly what the body stands for.

By "minimist agenda", I assume you mean that the body will not try for radical change - ie. eliminate all IP, or copyright, or patents, but I think that the body should pick things and be specific or it will be as irrellevant as all the other similar bodies that have been proposed in the past.

[ Parent ]

Get freaking real (none / 0) (#94)
by pong2002 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 07:56:12 AM EST

Look it's great to have dreams and overarching goals. But you want a non-industry based association that tries to compete with media companies, Microsoft, drug companies, oh yeah and every corp. that has biz method patents. My god man, go to opensecrets.org and see the kind of cash these people throw around. It is not possible (unless corp.s kick in) to compete on that level. I wholeheartedly agree the IP legal system must be reformed into something sane, but to just say scrap it is utter lunacy. Corp.s have spent billions of dollars developing and protecting their 'property'. They will not sit back idly and watch their investment flushed away. I also agree with your point of acting together. I do not mean to be divsive, just realistic. What do we want and what are the best arguments and when the time comes pay up.

[ Parent ]
um... (none / 0) (#99)
by lonemarauder on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:35:11 AM EST

The NRA, which is a good example of a widely supported and successful lobbying group, is not (largely) corporately funded. I'm sure outfits like Smith & Wesson donate, but they are not GE.

The NRA works because it is backed by people. Most of these people are of the older sort who consistently donate and consistently vote. If you want effective change, start there. Democracy does not require a corporate sponsor.



[ Parent ]
The price of freedom (none / 0) (#102)
by alizard on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:05:04 PM EST

Let's say there's 5,000,000 of us who are seriously and personally affected by these issues and are clued enough to know what they are. Kick in $20 each and we have the biggest political war chest in town. I've been to Open Secrets. Committee Chairmen are amazingly cheap, though $300K is really more than Fritz is worth as a person, even with his soul thrown in free. On a personal level, our average income is considerably higher than that of either the average NRA or AARP member. If we can't throw in the price of a low-end non-fast food meal in exchange for a chance at buying our freedom, it shows where our priorities are.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but... (none / 0) (#103)
by SLTrigger on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:06:51 PM EST

People don't just donate money (over paypal, by check, whatever) in those numbers. You might be able to get everyone to shell out a dollar or two, but not any more than that.

It's only gonna get weirder, so let's get on with the show!
[ Parent ]
Where *is* sanity, anyway? (none / 0) (#91)
by alizard on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:50:08 AM EST

He or she seems to have started a discussion which calls for some answers, but Sanity doesn't seem to be providing any. Has this organization already gone the vaporware route?
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
freenet-dev :-) (none / 0) (#93)
by Jetifi on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 06:14:25 AM EST

From the looks of freenet-dev he's been catching up on his dayjob (such as it is). Give the guy a break :-)

[ Parent ]
You might check out... (none / 0) (#104)
by SLTrigger on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:10:09 PM EST

Creative Commons. They are addressing som similar topics.

It's only gonna get weirder, so let's get on with the show!
Here's the right link... (none / 0) (#105)
by SLTrigger on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:14:11 PM EST

http://www.creativecommons.org

It's only gonna get weirder, so let's get on with the show!
[ Parent ]
freakin frakin frank (none / 0) (#106)
by broody on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:42:46 PM EST

Sarcasm.

The article is not even close to a statement of purpose. One look at a real one, like the linked EFF one, would make it obvious. If one has trouble writing a statement of purpose, starting a political committee with a non-profit umbrella organization is not for you. The EFF has a ton of overlap with what he is talking about and his statement should make the difference between them clear or his organization will be stillborn.

If this whole thing wasn't due a big bucket of cold water, I might have made a real contribution. Telling him to RTFM on forming a BoD, writing statement of organization, drafting bylaws, getting a bulk mail permit, po box, and bank account along with the other requirements of section 527 orgainzations on the federal level, plus the laws on his local level (for example CFDA in VA) would be a bit much. It's not like he has even hit the basics of Nolo or read even a little of Judge Lawrence Grey's guides.

Here's a 2 cent tip, try getting in a state campaign finance training seminar now, than gather an temporary BoD, file a Statement of Organization from your state electoral commission, and apply for an EIN. Draft bylaws, elect a treasurer and chair, record minutes, authorize and open an account, solicit donations, contribute to a local race, get the feel for the required paperwork, and slowly grow beyond the initial baby steps. Don't forget to file your informational return to start that statute of limitations ticking. At best he can accomplish this much by the next election cycle, assuming it goes faster than normal.

End of Rant.


~~ Whatever it takes
Now what do you have to offer that's useful? (none / 0) (#111)
by alizard on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 06:45:45 PM EST

From your discussion, I assume that you're either a pro or a very serious amateur at political organization. Can you set up an enterprise-class Web server without help? Note that this question wasn't pulled out of a hat, a PAC such as the one mentioned here will actually need one.

Expecting a person who's a political novice to know all of the things you discuss immediately on deciding to do this is no more reasonable than expecting the kind of political consultant who does this for a living to build a Web-fax gateway for "fax your legislator!" without help in any other way than to hire an expert.

PAC organizational expertise and knowledge of how to create technology are very rare in the same person. If this knowledge were common in the community, a PAC representing our interests would already be a major player in the DC scene and in most states, and our least favorite laws would either have been still-born or would have been rewritten into something we can live with and most of us would simply be contributing to it when asked.

I'm sure you weren't born knowing all this, and you found out what you know by seeing it done or asking lots of questions from people who've been there, done that. That's how people around here learned how to operate computers, and why most of us are happy to answer newbie questions.

The average geek who might be interested in doing such a thing doesn't even know what questions to ask.

That's why my recommendation that you'll find a lot further down the list is to raise some money first for organizational expenses, one purpose of which would be to hire the experts who know how to do the things you speak of. Do you consult in this area? What's your hourly rate? Or what's the range of hourly rates charged by people who do have the expertise?

If money can't be raised in the community to do this, our rights don't deserve protection and we will lose them. Is $500K enough for organizational setup, assuming the people doing the setup are in an extreme hurry? That was my own guessestimate. Note that I said setup, as in what's required to get a structure in place before a single dollar is spent on contributing to poltical campaigns.

If not, what's a reasonable budget and roughly what would it be spent on?

How does one set things up so that money for organizing this can be raised and spent legally?

You had the start of a very good how-to essay on setting up a PAC. If you're finished it as such instead of berating Sanity for not being a political wonk, you would have made a useful contribution.

What's a BoD? Nolo Press doesn't have any how-to books on setting up PACs that I ever heard of. Where can Judge Lawrence Grey's guides be found and what do they cover? Can an organization be set up directly at the national level? Those are examples. What else can you tell us that's useful. Howling about geeks not knowing anything about politics serves the interests of nobody but Hollywood content providers.

Or if you've got the balls for it, declare the revolution and start your own organization. Show that you've got something useful and viable and you'll have no trouble finding people willing to work with you.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

My Bad....+ your HOWTO (none / 0) (#115)
by broody on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:20:19 PM EST

I should have reconsidered before hitting that post button. It was a mistake. My apologies. I did intend it to be attached to the 'WTF' comment below though and was not directed at Sanity.

It's obvious you took some time calling me on my little rant and you'll get your HOWTO.

On to the questions...

Can you set up an enterprise-class Web server without help?

Yes. I could but I don't say that to be a dick, just being honest. I do have little doubt that others on the site could do it faster FWIW.

Do you consult in this area? What's your hourly rate? Or what's the range of hourly rates charged by people who do have the expertise?

I do not do political work professionally. I suspect you would be amazed to discover how many people do it part-time, after hours on a volunteer basis. I have been the state treasurer of a political party named after a color and did get a Bachelors in poli sci which is largely the source of my knowledge. I'm a developer and IT consultant by day.

The organizations that I have been deeply involved with were staffed by volunteers. Even those who were professionally qualified at the national level were not not paid. Sorry I don't know the going rate for such consultanting services.

Is $500K enough for organizational setup, assuming the people doing the setup are in an extreme hurry?

Only $500 would be enough to get the organization setup in the initial stages in a single state for local elections. The initial parts of the process are filing the right paperwork to get yourself recognized by the proper entities so contributions can be tracked by the regulatory agencies.

I am going to toss the national aspect far into the future. It's the most complicated part and also the one with which I have the least experience. I would guess it should not cost more than ten thousand to setup on the national level.

If not, what's a reasonable budget and roughly what would it be spent on?

If someone tells you it will cost more than a few thousand dollars, you are getting screwed. Obviously a national committee is a lot more money than what I am talking about here but it would be crazy for a political novice to start there.

How does one set things up so that money for organizing this can be raised and spent legally?

The first step is to realize that federal elections and state elections are different animals. The FEC is responsible for overseeing political contributions for federal elections. Each state has it's own entity for overseeing local elections, in Virginia it is the 'Virginia State Board of Elections' which is governed by the 'Campaighn Finance Disclosure Act'. In my experience the states are helpful to newbies and FEC is rude. Each of the various poltical entites also must report to the IRS under section 527 of the federal tax code. State taxes and policies vary dramaticly and your best consulting your state Board of Elections.

A single political committee can act on both a local and federal level but the money must be kept in separate accounts and proceses. This is detailed in the Federal Election Commissions Guide to Non-Connected Political Committees. I strongly advise you not to start there, it is the most complicated of the muck. Start simple and grow (for example, VA).

Each state offers training sessions and documentation on forming political commitees, political parties, and handling campaighn finance. Most of them are free or have a minor fee. It is vital to get as many people as possible to attend these sessions in your ogranization. You want as many friendly people as possible keeping you legal. In my experience the state staff is more than willing to patiently answer your questions if you do your homework.

In Virginia the process of forming a political committee is detailed in the 'Campaighn Finance Disclosure Handbook'. It does not tell you anything beyond complying with the regulatory laws so one cannot use it as the only guide but it does cover handling the money.

Fortunately the rules for bylaws, minutes, bank accounts, authorized expenditures, and the routine affairs for section 527 orgainzations is very similar to any other corporation. Guides such as Nolo for such processes will be fine the vast majority of the time.

The first step in the process is to get an interium Board of Directors together whom share a common vision. Sometimes this can be as small as two people, depending on state law and the number of interested people. A interium Treasurer and Chairman are required in Virgina, the Treasurer must be a state resident. This group can begin the adventure of a local political committee by filing a 'Statement of Orgainization' for a local polical committee.

Before filing your Statement of Organization it is best to have drafted bylaws and prepared the paperwork for your EIN number (Enterprise Identification Number) which is more or less a SSN for your 527. After the state and federal government return this paperwork, you can write a letter of authorization for the treasurer to open a bank account.

Be prepaired to pay some annoying fees at the bank, though Shandadoah National Bank does not have monthly fees, though you must pay for checks It is critical that all checks be made out to your name listed on the Statement of Orgainization and the transactions be recorded in a ledger. Nearly every contribution and expense must be reported to the state.

Get a PO box. Officers may come and go but you want to always receive your letters. It's amazing late things will come back. Mail forwarding is commone these days and works almost just like email forwarding. It makes those transitions so much smoother.

The process of a bulk mail permit is a trip. The post office doesn't seem to know how to handle these types of organizations correctly so be prepared for some run around. Make sure you have an authorization letter, copies of the paperwork, and a lot of patience. I believe the frank is $100 and is only good from the post office that issued it. Make sure you pick up a bulk mail packing guideline from the postal clerk. Sorry I delegated this chore whenever possible.

Before going public you should have sussed out your bylaws, membership criteria, methods of electing and removing the members of the board, etc. Again look to other's examples, particuarly the Nolo non-profit guides or political parties whom you respect and have seen working up close.

What's a BoD?

Board of Directors.

Nolo Press doesn't have any how-to books on setting up PACs that I ever heard of

Correct but they have excellent advice on bylaws, maintaining the books, minutes, and many other areas where non-profits and poltical entities overlap.

Where can Judge Lawrence Grey's guides be found and what do they cover?

An amazon search will turn up several 'How to Win a Local Election' by old Judge Grey. The critical thing to realize is that a cannidate gets his money from a cannidate poltical committee. Political Action Commiteees contribute to these cannidate political commitees. There is a great deal of overlap here in valuable advice. Get everything you can in writing from experts. There is a lot of bugus information floating around.

Sadly AFAIK there are no guides to setting up a PAC. It is a DIY kind of endevor. I suspect it keeps the rabble away from the castle.

Can an organization be set up directly at the national level?

Yes but that takes a great deal more money and skill. I would strongly suggest starting small where mistakes lead to little fines. A treasurer is liable for the errors of his organization. If you insist you want the FEC guide to Political Commitees.

Or if you've got the balls for it, declare the revolution and start your own organization

I'm burned out on politics. The most you can probably get out of me is this essay and perhaps an afternoon some weekend showing you how to fill out the VA paperwork. I must confess though that this was a more positive way to blow off steam.

Sorry for the lengthy ramble. If it's too much I'll take it to email next time.


~~ Whatever it takes
[ Parent ]
Green in VA!!!?????? (none / 0) (#117)
by pong2002 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:00:12 PM EST

No wonder you're burnt out on politics. I hope you can rejuvinate, soon.

PS I'm not too sure about your 'start locally' would work in anyplace other than California...maybe VA and NY (being tech-hubs) but they're, as I'm sure you know very very conservative.

PPS Maybe we should just try to help Boucher (though I doubt his race is close)? ...ooops you're burnt out though

[ Parent ]

PPPS (none / 0) (#118)
by pong2002 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:05:39 PM EST

I respect someone who would embrace a cause like that...you have serious balls and a true human being

[ Parent ]
What a Nightmare... (none / 0) (#119)
by broody on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:26:31 PM EST

This election cycle is more or less out of the picture in VA. You might be able to sneak a couple contributions in at the last second but it would hardly be worth it.

If I were fresh I would suggest collecting pledges to repeal UCITA in Virginia from the incoming Senators and Delegates of the 2003 election in exchange for a nice contribution. It would be a different approach from working directly with a handful of cannidates and even a few rumbles would make noise nationwide. Besides it takes time to dig up all those voting records, call em, write the pledge, collect funds, etc...

Of course, how realistic can one used to work for a party named after a color really be at the end of the day.


~~ Whatever it takes
[ Parent ]
then it's..... (none / 0) (#122)
by pong2002 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:10:55 AM EST

pistols at dawn...and yes I have been drinking throughout the night

[ Parent ]
Ook (none / 0) (#124)
by broody on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:02:17 AM EST

LOL. Pistol at dawn?

BTW, thanks for the compliment on the part of the thread.


~~ Whatever it takes
[ Parent ]
Getting somewhere (none / 0) (#130)
by pong2002 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 02:42:16 PM EST

First, I agree that the repeal of UCITA would make our hypo organization an overnight star and would generally be a good thing.

Second, we can't be that radical (yet). I don't know how the hell UCITA got passed in the first place. VA has a long history of being an extremely late adopter. Furthermore the House and Senate votes on UCITA were unanimous, which I take to mean it was an oral vote (although the legislative history says at least one study was done). I have my doubts as to how many sen/delagates or their aides actually read UCITA much less thought about what it really says or means.

Third, UCITA itself has been so unsucessful that they have seriously ammended it in the past two years. At first glance most of the changes appear to me to be cosmetic. But I have not poured over UCITA more less the amendments. Virginia passed amendments (some endorsed by UCITA, some by VA's own creation) in 2001, again unanimously.

Fourth, UCITA passed; it's the law. Although no one knows what that means as there has never been a published court opinion that even mentions UCITA (ok, there is a Wash. case, but it's only in passing). VA legis will not want to look like idiots. The only way it could be repealed wholesale is if you could show overwhelming and tangible damage to VA as a result of UCITA. I don't think this exists.

Good Part
Fifth, where does this leave us? Well how about we just change VA's version of UCITA? This might be a good k5 or /. topic as it would be a good use of hive think. I know a couple of standard stock arguments against UCITA, but more is always better in something like this. What do you personally have problems with concerning UCITA? That's probably the best way to lay a foundation for argument. There is nothing to say that a VA UCITA couldn't be changed to actually favor open source instead of closed source. But feedback on this is essential as I'm not going to give that many hours to studying UCITA unless it's worth it. I could go on a bit more, but it's already too long.

I'm posting (instead of email) because this is the most ontopic thread of any of them. Even if this is vapor, maybe someone can learn something, steal it, and make it work.

[ Parent ]

Ook! Ook! (none / 0) (#141)
by broody on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 09:17:17 PM EST

Second, we can't be that radical (yet)

Money opens doors. I am not saying that the amounts that many of the previous posters listed were anywhere near realistic but if they could raise even 10% of the amounts they were thinking it could have a huge impact. Still that probably ranks about as much likelyhood as a snowballs chances in hades.

That said the financial numbers are not that large to influence state Senator or more easily a state Delegate. Take a look yourself, the recent data is here.

The biggest difference between the two is that a Senator is more likely to have built up a war chest to carry from previous runs. The number of unopposed races is depressing. Let's do some quick and dirty comparisons for a preliminary understanding that will look like swiss cheese after the real work is done.

Let's examine available funds in the 2001 elections for two cannidates. For Capraesque irony, I shall choose Senator Deeds who collected $12,575.50 and carried over a war chest of $23,390.32. For the House, I'll use Delegate Carrico who raised $9,776.94 in the reporting period and has a war chest of $1,653.38. Notice the variation is mainly funds carried from past (often unopposed) runs for office. The unopposed election issue is for another rant though.

Keep in mind everything up to this point has been "in kind" meaning it includes cash plus any goods. Let's just look at cold hard cash over $100 from our Senator and Delegate. Notice how $500-750 will put you as the highest donor not linked to their party?

Here comes the homework. First research is done to indentify all of the Senators and Delgates who voted in favor of altering UCITA in the modifications that followed. They are ranked by favorabillity, noted by party, and direct relavance to appropiate committees to enable legislation. A little qualative research to figure out who their 'allies' are in party and out would not be out of bounds. Ok, research done. Let's plot how to take over the world.

Plan for Global Domination #1. Screw the Senate. Target whichever party has higher support of modify UCITA for recruitment. Arrange cannidates by likely to be most favorable to repeal and inversly by available funds. Approach the first five Senators offering $500-750 to sign the 'Repeal UCITA Pledge'. Add the first five as signatories, drop the amount to $250-500. Rince, repeat, rule the roost or adjust accordingly.

Plan for Global Domination #2. Committee Crunch. Identify appropate commitees, incumbants, and challengers. Approach the first five incumbants of the Senate and House with $500-$750, if that fails offer 50% that amount to the challenger. Drop to $250 gather another five. Drop to $100 and offer those who rejected in the previous rounds the chance to sign on now. Hit the remaning people with $50 dollar slots. Slam those who don't sign on in the local media.

OK enough simplified fantasy plans, you get the idea.

Third, UCITA itself has been so unsucessful that they have seriously ammended it in the past two years.

Fourth, UCITA passed; it's the law.


Does the phrase kick them while they are down seem a bit appros?

Fifth, where does this leave us?

Speaking is one thing, doing is another. Say what you will but barring someone offering around 75K annual salary for this little gig, I'm taking my marbles and going home. Well not really but you get the idea I am not going to be doing this as a hobby.

What do you personally have problems with concerning UCITA? That's probably the best way to lay a foundation for argument. There is nothing to say that a VA UCITA couldn't be changed to actually favor open source instead of closed source.

#1. I won't rehash what has been done so well before and just point to this.

#2. I would oppose a UCITA favoring open source as much as I oppose the current UCITA.

I'm not going into details at the moment becuase this post is too damn long already. That said, it doesn't even touch on how to do the real research, collect the appropiate contacts, get face time with the cannidates and handlers, fundraise, file appropiate reports, link up with the myriad of organizations that oppose UCITA, attack opponents on their own turf, etc...

Do you think Sanity has got his money's worth for the unfortunate flamage I sent his way?


~~ Whatever it takes
[ Parent ]
a facet of DB politics (none / 0) (#147)
by pong2002 on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 10:37:32 PM EST

That board of election site rocks. I wish I could get my hands on that database and join it with the legis.state one. I've been playing with it all night. God bless the internet! With the combined DB you could figure out exaxtly how much a paticular seat was worth. But it would be a real bitch to have to transpose those two sites. Do you think those DBs are proprietary? They sure seem like something in which the public should have an interest...at least to access....and I would hope some sort of progressive FOIA group might feel the same way.

[ Parent ]
I heard you could but YMMV. (none / 0) (#148)
by broody on Sun Sep 15, 2002 at 06:56:13 AM EST

Do you think those DBs are proprietary?

I think you can get the VA site on CD for something like $30. No clue how they distribute it though, so your taking your chances at getting something easier to work with. I haven't done it myself so YMMV. I'd suggest calling the 800 number and asking about it. The VA BoE are quite helpful and patient.

If the site seems impressive, check out the electronic filing software. It makes it quite hard to make a mistake and actually teaches you the right way to do reporting. Impressive stuff and if your nice they give it away.


~~ Whatever it takes
[ Parent ]
Good work! (none / 0) (#125)
by alizard on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:25:19 AM EST

While I think a high-tech community PAC needs to be started at the Federal level despite the risks because the content providers aren't going to give us time to start small, you've provided a useful starting point both here and in your rant, both of which are now resting on my HD... and I recommend that anybody who didn't know what you were talking about already should do the same.

thanks.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Don't need no stinkin subject. *wink* (none / 0) (#142)
by broody on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 10:06:51 PM EST

If you insist on going the national route I would suggest the following tatic.

First form a national (non-connected?) political commitee with the FEC. Second form affiliate local political commitees in Maryland, Virginia and the other UCITA states that slipped by while I wasn't paying attention.

This gives you the best of both worlds fundrasing wise. With this structure you can directly raise funds with the state PACs. You can also raise funds on the national level which in turn donates to the local state PACs where you initialy need it. BTW, if you try this you better bone up on those Demopublican examples out there.

Kill UCITA, reap the press benefits, tackle next "easiest" issue.

Keep in mind I think the whole idea is wacked as a part-time hobby. Your talking full time job level effort here and more than one person unless spending 80+ hours a week living, breathing, and not sleeping UCITA gets you hot. Plus various state residents willing to take the fall...er be on the BoD.

Lastly my "Ook! Ook!" post offers some tips for the local committees on a near earth orbit level.


~~ Whatever it takes
[ Parent ]
answers to some questions (none / 0) (#116)
by pong2002 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:31:30 PM EST

"Or what's the range of hourly rates charged by people who do have the expertise?"
Dunno, probably hard to calculate for a new organization of this type, but I'll look into it. I'll try to give you an answer by the end of the week.

"Is $500K enough for organizational setup, assuming the people doing the setup are in an extreme hurry?"
Damn, if you think raising 500K is easy, then you can defintely be my friend ;) Seriously though (if I can find the time I will write a decent k5 primer on this) there is a whole influence peddling system that exists. It will take time to setup and even more time to build useful realtionships, so 'we' will have to remain patient and focused.
PACs - give a small/finite amount of money for elections
Lobbyists - have the 'ear' of influential people in govt (this is a multi-billion dollar industry)
Associations - track bills, mobilize the troops, and hire lobbyists
My impression is what 'we' want formed is a Association/PAC.

"How does one set things up so that money for organizing this can be raised and spent legally?" Depends on what you want orgainzed? A non-profit corp., an LLC, a non-profit LLC, a LLP, an LLLP...

BoD - Board of Directors (this is a corp. form)

"Can an organization be set up directly at the national level?" Yes, but it will be a much better org if there are local chpts behind a national org (see NRA)

Don't have a clue who Judge Grey is.

I think you two are the only people having a serious discussion here. I would very much like to continue. However I have lotsa of Conlaw reading to get done for tomorrow, so I won't look like a jackass in class. But I will end by saying that I have a very serious desire to get something done with this idea, and I will be in touch with both of you (and any lurkers out there who are interested).

[ Parent ]

Why not just support the EFF? (2.00 / 1) (#108)
by dirvish on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:14:52 PM EST

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
Try reading the rest of the thread (none / 0) (#112)
by alizard on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 06:49:15 PM EST

The EFF isn't capable of doing the kind of lobbying needed to influence politicians whose committment to the other side is based on lots of campaign money.

The EFF can't be a PAC because they organized as a non-profit, which can't raise and spend money for political campaigns.

Politicians will listen to arguments reinforced with campaign money. If WE want our rights protected, we have to raise some. That's what a PAC is for. That's all that's left to us, the other stuff has been tried and it has failed.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Can't believe no one has said it yet (none / 0) (#109)
by jayhawk88 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:54:12 PM EST

I like the idea, but the mental picture of RMS standing at a podium in front of 50,000 cheering geeks, holding a keyboard aloft, and proclaiming "From my cold dead hands" is more than a little frightening to me.

Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web? -- John Ashcroft
RMS is the wrong idea... (none / 0) (#131)
by sanity on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 03:25:42 PM EST

...I think this organization should try to make non-techies care about these ideas as much as techies do. This means that we will need to relate to them on their own terms, and with all due respect to Stallman, I don't think he would be the right person for that job.

[ Parent ]
Crucial Difference (none / 0) (#110)
by Nyarly on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 05:27:32 PM EST

While I think that a hi-tech PAC would be an excellent thing to have (and be a part of) I see two problems with your goal here.

One: Why is this significantly different from the EFF or the ACLU? I'm asking primary in the name of devil's advocacy, but I'm really not sure what there is to provide that either the EFF or the ACLU (or others) don't already. Perhaps a purity of purpose, but that's about it.

Two: I think the NRA is a bad choice as the model of a hi-tech PAC. Consider the demographics of the NRA (disclaimer: which I will proceed to pull out of my ass). The NRA is composed primarily of the nations conservatives, and conservatism is linked to affluence. On the other hand, not only is the rights of the little guy in terms of copyright (etc) a liberal issue, but the people who will care most deeply (mostly techies) aspire to be producers of digital content and thus become affluent. So, an organization modeled on the NRA will be targeting for membership the wrong group - the affluent whose afluence depends in some way on IP laws being as they are, and who benefit from information monopolies. Look instead to the UCLA and Sierra Club, who's target membership more closely mirrors your own.

But hey, that just like, my opinion, you know, man?

"The believer is happy. The doubter is wise" --Hungarian Proverb

EFF? ACLU? Ha! (none / 0) (#144)
by upsilon on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 10:54:53 AM EST

The EFF, as pointed out numerous times in comments to this story, cannot lobby candidates. They are a non-profit.

The ACLU, I believe, has that same problem and they are complete technical incompetents. I greatly respect them for all the work they've done, but I have yet to see them show that they understand technological issues -- this is why the EFF was founded to begin with.
--
Once, I was the King of Spain.
[ Parent ]

they have one GOOD idea (none / 0) (#145)
by alizard on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 11:02:55 PM EST

Their mailing list coupled to a Web-fax gateway that allows users to enter a zipcode and have his canned message sent to Congresscritters is a setup that should be copied (or improved) by any mass-action political organization.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]
Problem faced by NRA is not the same (3.00 / 2) (#113)
by riptalon on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 07:54:22 PM EST

Comparing the intellectual property situation with problems like those faced by the NRA is erroneous. They are not the same. In the case of gun control there are no massive vested interests driving it. The main customers of the manufacturers of handguns and assault rifles are the police and military after all, who are not affected by such legislation, but any residual economic interest is on the side of the NRA. Compare this with the intellectual property situation where there are a vast array of vested interests fighting against you. Just because the NRA can put up a decent fight when their opponents are an equally weak lobby, does not mean that similar tactics will have any effect in this case.

Look at who your opponents are. It's not just the RIAA, MPAA and their bought politicians. Almost everyone else who matters in on their side as well. In particular the mass media isn't just sympathetic to your opponents but is actually part of the content industry you are attacking. Even the tech industry isn't really opposed to what they are trying to do, only the way they are trying to do it. Witness TPCA/Palladium. Wintel is perfectly happy with pervasive DRM provided that they are the ones forcing it on other people, not the other way around. The big players in the tech industry have a lot to gain from these sort of restrictions (massive amount of market control, barriers to entry for competitors etc.). The government also benefits in terms of enhanced ability to monitor and censor the net.

It is easy to push politicians in a particular direction, with a relatively small amounts of money, if the people pushing in to other direction are equally weak. However when it comes to fighting massively entrenched economic and political interests like this, there are very few success stories to copy. This issue is less like gun control or the 60's civil right movement and more like the environment, in terms of the strength of the opposition. But this issue much more difficult for ordinary people to understand or care about than environmental destruction and the successes of environmental pressure groups are not particularly stunning anyway. Overall your "advocacy group" will have a public image like the NRA and opponents on the level of Greenpeace, not a good combination.

Another point is whether you are actually fighting the right thing anyway. In the modern world corporations have as much power to enact change as governments. It is quite possible that the SSSCA/CBDTPA is just chest beating by the content industry to make sure that the tech industry gets on with implementing TPCA/Palladium in a timely manner. A lot of what the content industry wants to do may be better done through the back door using the Wintel monopoly, as this avoids any possibility of opposition. Any legislation could come later as a follow up to force smaller players (e.g. free software) into the fold or out business. By that time most people would have already accepted it as inevitable and opposition would be close to impossible.

In conclusion, in my opinion, we are screwed. One way or the other, legislation or a "gentleman's agreement" between corporations, the content industry is likely to get what it wants. Everyone with any power is backing them at some level and so far there has been no significant opposition. Even if a level of resistance equal to that on environmental issues was created, which seems close to impossible, experience would suggest that little but cosmetic concessions would be made. In particular the fact that the mass media is certain to remain firmly on the content industry's side, no matter what, removes any likelihood that the general public will ever really know what is going on.



So you want to give up? (none / 0) (#114)
by alizard on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:39:14 PM EST

Go ahead. You won't be missed. If you're willing to give up without a fight, you don't deserve to be free and you will not be.

Actually, I think the chances of winning are fairly good. Your opinion that "everyone who matters" is on the other side doesn't square with what's really going on, that in a wall-to-wall DRM culture, there's little incentive to buy new computers or software, that the multibillion dollar committment made to Open Source from companies from IBM on down gets flushed down the tubes, that in a Senate Committee discussing SSSCA, that tech companies expressed universal opposition and got reamed for it because Hollywood bought the majority of committee despite having less than 1/10th the money that high tech companies do.

Our income demographics are an improvement on that of the NRA or AARP. If corporations come on board with their support, which I regard as likely because it's to their interest to, we can outspend Hollywood on contributions and putting together our own campaigns to get rid of politicians we can't live with.

Our campaign contributions given comparable size will carry just as much weight on the Hill as that of Hollywood does. Politicians who give us cosmetic compliance with our wishes will find that the checkbook is open. To their opponents.

OK, you've salved your conscience by saying it's impossible and that we should follow your non-lead and give up without a fight. Now get out of the way of the rest of us.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

No, but playing their game is the same as quitting (none / 0) (#132)
by riptalon on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 03:30:41 PM EST

I am not free. You are not free. If we were free we wouldn't have to worry about this load of crooks being able to stop us using our computers. That is the whole point. Regardless of your delusions about freedom you are subject to the whims of corporations and politicians. What is your reason for thinking that they would give up all the money and power this promises them just because you write a few letters? If it is based on cases like the NRA and the civil rights movement, as I have said before they are not the same thing. Politicians are perfectly happy to bow to public pressure on issues they have no interest in. It gives them even more power to do whatever they like when it comes to the issues the really matter to them.

The "we can outspend Hollywood" arguement is I'm afraid to say, just ludicrous. The tech industry is not on your side. Mircosoft, Intel, AMD et al. have bought into pervasive DRM already and are opposed to you. Even IBM, with its Linux links, isn't going to help you. If this all goes through and the only way to have a fully functioning Linux on Intel/AMD hardware is if you have digitally signed binaries that are TPCA/Palladium complient, who do you think is going to be selling them? IBM is not an open source company and would be quite pleased with anything that pushes the majority of its competitors on the Linux front out of business.

Anyway who are you going to give what little money you can scrap together to? At present most politicians are not on your side. I didn't see much decent when the DMCA was passed. Hollings et al. are point men that are payed to do all the grunt work, but the legislation passes because all the politicians are for it. They don't own computers and they are rich people who are sympathetic to other rich people wanting their backs scratched. It isn't just about money they get now, it is about the money they can expect to get for years to come and the seats on boards they can expect after they retire. You can't compete with that. You would have to run your own candidates, which you can't afford, and with the mass media against you would be hopeless anyway. Basically we are back to the enviroment comparison again, and how much representation does the Green Party have in congress?

Just as importantly you are only fighting on one front anyway. Even if you could create a Maginot line on the legislative front (not that there is any chance of that), the content industry can just drive round it by using the Wintel monopoly anyway. In fact all this SSSCA/CBDTPA hoopla is looking more and more like a cattleprod up Microsoft/Intel's arse, to get them moving on that front, rather than a serious attempt at legislation. And it seems to be working. Microsoft anounced Palladium a couple of months ago and only today Intel anounced that it will be shipping DRM enabled chips next year. How is an "advocacy group" going to fight that?

However where did I say anything about giving up? I am just pointing out that the tatics that are being suggested are rather flawed. If you play their game you will lose. The house always wins in the end. But finding some tatics that will work is likely to be extremely difficult. Suggestions anyone. There is a fight going on at the moment but it is only over how pervasive DRM is implemented and by who. None of the protagonists are on our side and after it has all played out and they come to an agreement, they will unite to push it through. Advocating all you want will not stop this. If anything is to be done some real form of resitance must be found.



[ Parent ]
elaborate rationalizations (none / 0) (#135)
by alizard on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:43:27 PM EST

The political game is the only game in town with respect to protecting our rights.

A mass action organization with substantial membership could even persuade Intel and AMD to back down. Remember the Pentium chip ID and why Intel stopped it?

What happens if millions of organized people tell Intel/AMD "We aren't buying new servers and workstations from you until Palladium is no longer part of it."

What you're saying is just another elaborate rationalization for letting the corporations roll over us without putting up any sort of fight.

You have no alternatives. You would not participate in alternative action even if it were available. You just don't want to feel guilty over the idea that your freedom if it continues will be won for you by better and stronger people than you are.

Go away. You have no business here.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

He has a point (none / 0) (#136)
by Genjuro Kibagami on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:23:44 AM EST

The P-III Comparison is a valid one as far as I can see, Intel wanted that, we didn't, they backed down, people simply weren't interested in playing ball there.

Remember, they may be the ten thousand pound gorillas, but we have the bannanas.Stop feeding them if they don't do what you tell them.

[ Parent ]

Media Influence is More than Dollars (none / 0) (#146)
by FlipFlop on Sat Sep 14, 2002 at 12:35:03 PM EST

Our campaign contributions given comparable size will carry just as much weight on the Hill as that of Hollywood does.

What good are campaign contributions? They serve exactly one purpose: they allow politicians to pay for advertising. It is not money that makes or breaks a politician, it is media attention. The more money a politician has, the more attention they can buy. But the media can give a politician all the attention they could ever dream (or dread) for free. While your campaign contributions may carry as much weight as the media's, you also have to provide attention that's worth as much as what the media provides.

Why would the Copyright Term Extension Act pass unanimously in the Senate, one week before an election, without any debate? I have yet to meet anyone who thinks the extension is justified in any way whatsoever. Certainly, some senators must have questioned the wisdom of a copyright extension. The answer is obvious: a politician who fights the media, is a politician no more.

I would like to see a web site which complements opensecrets.org. Among other things, Open Secrets ranks the most politically active industries. They have some short, out of date background info on each of the industries, but it isn't enough. We need a web site which describes what bills those industries are lobbying for, and lists arguments for and against those bills.

I would also like to see churches inform their parishioners about copyright issues. Organized religion can distribute information as effectively as the media. Unfortunately, I don't think churches have much interest in copyright issues.

To fight the media, you should also recruit allies. For example, blind people have lobbied for accessibility in web pages, but I'm not aware of any blind people speaking out against DRM, even though DRM could potentially block them from accessing most of the internet.

AdTI - The think tank that didn't
[ Parent ]

Some answers to some frequently repeated comments: (none / 0) (#121)
by sanity on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 12:41:00 AM EST

I see the same comments over and over again, and despite answering them at various other points of this thread, they keep coming - so here is a quick FAQ:

Isn't this the same as the EFF?
No, because the EFF is a 501c3 organization, it cannot lobby lawmakers, and is generally limited in the kind of activities it can participate in. Larry Lessig is a board member of the EFF, and was one of those people who participated in the discussion that spawned this document - so we are more than aware of what the EFF is and is not.

But how will this work/what exactly will it do?
Good questions - but answering them wasn't the goal of this document. Rather, this document is intended to answer the "why", not the "how"s, "what"s, "where"s, and "who"s. Those questions must be answered in due course, but that isn't in the scope of this document.

Is this vapourware?
I don't know yet, it is merely the initial step in a process that may lead to the formation of a new organization. The first step in any such process is to have clarity on why the organization is needed, and that is the purpose of this document.

Well, then... (none / 0) (#123)
by alizard on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 03:17:35 AM EST

To start with, I suggest you start with the last 3 paragraphs, ditch everything else, and start over.

A mission statement that isn't extremely clear is useless.

Other than that, I suggest reading the discussion, there are specifics in it your people need to know and probably don't. Not all of us needs to be told what a 503(c)3 organization is or why one like the EFF is terminally handicapped in political lobbying.

Those of us who know why EFF can't lobby might be worth listening to. Pay special attention to Broody has to say, he's been there, done that... though I don't agree with him about starting at the state level, there just isn't time. Even his initial rather abrasive post has some good clues in it.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Re: Well then.... (none / 0) (#128)
by sanity on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:06:50 PM EST

To start with, I suggest you start with the last 3 paragraphs, ditch everything else, and start over.
If you are going to make that kind of suggestion, the least you can do is offer a modicum of justification.

[ Parent ]
since you asked (none / 0) (#137)
by alizard on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:50:58 AM EST

Humans have always been more than the flesh and blood which constitutes their body, in many ways it is what makes us human. The ancient hunter's spear is as much as part of him as his foot or arm. The crusader's shield, the poet's pen, the soldier's gun, the priest's Bible, the mathematician's logic, all as much a part of them as anything they were born with.

During the latter part of the last century, we developed a new tool that would become part of us in the same way that their tools became part of our ancestors. We developed the ability to communicate at the speed of light, we developed technology which can extend the borders of intellectual and political discussion beyond the exclusive schools of ancient Greece, the monasteries of middle-age Europe, or the expensive universities of modern-day America.

This is a MISSION STATEMENT, not an exercise in empty political rhetoric. Imagine yourself as a cynical political journalist trying to figure out what the hell your new political group is about starting with these two statements... trying to figure out who, what, when, where, why, how.

I'll also say ... why are you taking *this* much time over what should be a very simple statment of what your group is trying to do? If you don't know what it is trying to do, you aren't ready for any kind of public discussion about it yet.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

sorry I did (none / 0) (#138)
by sanity on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 01:00:40 PM EST

This is a MISSION STATEMENT, not an exercise in empty political rhetoric.
Actually, it is a STATEMENT OF PURPOSE. The goal is to explain why it is important to set-up this organization. The first two paragraphs may seem like "empty politicial rhetoric" to you, but remember that even though the claim that technology is good might be a truism to you, it isn't to many - and these people are the intended audience for the first two paragraphs.

[ Parent ]
something I don't think you get (none / 0) (#140)
by alizard on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 04:55:36 PM EST

The primary job of a PAC/mass action movement in its early stages is to REACH POTENTIAL SUPPORTERS.

Any likely reader of this statement (I hope this wasn't intended as part of a press release) is going to be either a potential supporter or someone from RIAA/MPAA doing opposition research.

For potential supporters, any clear statement of what you're about will work.

With respect to "why"... isn't the threat to people's incomes who do high tech for a living and the threat to the nation's economy implicit in Hollywood lawmaking as it affects high tech and the Net sufficient?

You seem to have some sort of perverse urge to compose some sort of literary work of art in this context.

What's needed is something that's practical, that practical people can look at and say, "this looks like it's done by people who know what's going on"...

Someone paying for an ad campaign wants one that draws customers, not win Clio awards.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico
[ Parent ]

Battle on 2 fronts. (none / 0) (#149)
by nanobug on Tue Nov 19, 2002 at 01:02:40 AM EST

The only way I can see a group like this working is if it doesn't attack DRM and other technologies, but copyright law at its core.

My personal belief is that copyrights should be able to be expanded indefinately, on a case by case basis, if it can be proven that there is no value to the common good for their release.

An example of this is Disney and holding the copyright to Mickey Mouse.  Turning Mickey Mouse movies into public domain works really has no benefit for the common good.  Mickey Mouse is still used as a character at Disney's theme parks, on their memorabilia, and in other ways.  Disney's economic vitality is based on Mickey Mouse and other characters.  People spend money to go to Disney park, to see Mickey Mouse and Snow White and all their characters come to life year after year.  

However, holding a copyright to music for longer than 5 years or so really has no benefit to anyone EXCEPT the music industry.  Whereas people will pay repeatedly to go to Disneypark, I don't know of many people who buy cds that are over 5 years old unless they are replacing damaged ones they already owned.   What is so complex about changing copyright law only in respect to music so that it is free for non-commercial and limited commercial use after 5 years.  

I can see why the music industry would want to prevent other people from just repackaging original songs into compilations and selling them without paying some sort of license fee -- this is definately something they should have a right to protect..  However, why should they be able to protect some 10 year old tune from being cut up and used in a breakbeat?   Chances are the artist is recieving negligable compensation by that point anyway for these works.

Other forms of copyrights I'm not too sure about. I know that Hollywood still makes a lot of money selling special edition DVD's of movies released back in the 70s and 80s, and I think they should have the right to do so.  However, infringing on fair use rights is not the way to protect that right, and that brings us to DRM.

Attacking DRM in the courts directly won't work.  The people with the money and power have a lot of vested interest in making DRM standard, and there is only ONE possible way of stopping it.  Boycott of all products containing DRM.  We have the brains to find DRM if it is released without our knowledge.  We have the internet, and we can use it to educate other people about the dangers of DRM.  

If the tech industry sees that people are not buying new tech with DRM in it, they will back off, same as Intel did with the serial numbered P3.  The upgrade cycle on newer computers is getting longer and longer, and DRM could easily be turned around on the tech industry as another reason NOT to upgrade -- who needs it when you've already got 3ghz of unrestricted power?   The battle has to be won first on our own turf.  The internet is still ours, even if the courts arent.  

An NRA for Communication Technology | 149 comments (133 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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