Friday, November 04, 2011

is it even possible to break the Internet?

Over at the Copyhype blog this week, Terry Hart has written a comprehensive, fascinating and funny survey of "the sky is falling!" rhetoric about regulation's effect on our much beloved interwebs. It seems whenever any government grapples with the complexity of protecting intellectual property rights in the digital realm someone, somewhere predicts an end-times kind of doom.

As the US Congress introduces the new Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Hart has found a whole new batch of free culture panic. See the whole Copyhype article here:

Dispatches from the SOPAcolypse

And here are some of my favorite bits:

Hart quotes famed copyfighter (and lover of criticism) Cory Doctorow proclaiming that SOPA "might be the worst-ever copyright proposal in US legislative history," and then goes on to show that Doctorow has declared many copyright regulatory acts to be the worst ever. Copying one's own hyperbole is clearly not a regulated act in Doctorow's world.

Hart then sources the origins of the famous, free culture "this law will break the Internet" meme. It lies, unsurprisingly, in the copyleft primordial goop of Lawrence Lessig who literally wrote the book on Free Culture theory. Apparently, Hollywood has been trying to break the Internet for years now.

Wasn't the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) also supposed to break the Internet? Hart looks back at a number of panicked prognostications from when the DMCA was just a little old Bill in 1998, and then notes that on its tenth anniversary the DMCA was hailed by Wired Magazine as the Law That Saved the Web.

Anyway, if Hollywood really wanted to break the Internet, couldn't they simply ask it to compute to the last digit the value of Pi? That oughtta do it.

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John Duncan said...

I read the Wired article with interest as so often from the Tech crowd you hear the opposite. Surely without some kind of law protecting IP rights neither the creative industry or tech giants could have thrived.

As with any law though there were compromises and the abuses that showed up were fairly predicable beforehand. I think this is the same case with C-11, a middling document that neither pleases nor pacifies anyone, with pre-knowledge of the abuses that will follow.

Courtney said...

Haha, thanks for pointing out the post at Copyhype. I needed a good chuckle this morning.