Nov 25, 2007

France unveils new anti-piracy laws


Well, anyone expecting anything innovative from 'Sarko' clearly doesn't know their French politics very well. As most people who paid attention to the car burning debacle last year know, Sarkozy only knows how to use brute force to solve a problem. If its Algerians being forced out of the labour market and having to turn to crime to survive, tough luck. Equally, if its a tricky legal and economic issue that wont go away, just stop the people who created it from going online.

Now, I hate to point this out. In general, I am supportive of artist copyright laws, because its means they get to eat and live in a generally acceptable manner. But the simple fact is that the issue of downloading is not going to go away. Internet laws are barely enforced in first world nations, how are they going to stop people in Brazil or Russia (where there are thriving internet file-sharing cultures) from uploading and downloading?

The issue isn't going to go away, and some people have recognized this. A long term solution would be to look towards our socieities views on artists, intellectual copyright and the economics of the internet and music/film/book world. People have suggested solutions, including artistic support tokens, which can be given to artists and cashed in, for suitable amounts of money (raised via a general tax). Other economic plans, such as Basic Income or versions of Guaranteed Income (such as negative income, as proposed by Milton Friedman) could also work in favour of artists.

Some people are waking up to this, it seems. Radiohead and Saul Williams have taken this route recently, allowing customers to decide how much they want to pay for an album, from nothing upwards. But for now, they are minor voices against, firstly, the music corporations and secondly, proponents of the Anglo-American, big-government definition of the Free Market, who shudder in horror at ideas like the Negative Income Tax, despite their libertarian origins.

Also, I noted with interest, Sarkozy was saying this was
"A decisive moment for the future of a civilised internet"

One of the things I love about the internet is that it is not civilized. Sure, there are bastions of near law and order, but they are islands in a sea of anarchy. In an increasingly "civilized" world, I like the fact there are places we can go where these rules sometimes do not apply. Even better, unlike real places where the rule of law does not exist (like Somalia, Iraq etc) there is very little chance of you getting killed. And I don't even have to dress up and learn the language to go there.

This just could be my Nietzschean side coming out "to venture into states where it is not permitted to not be a barbarian" so to speak. But civilizing the internet would be essentially the same as taming it, breaking it. I like the dark, deep corners of the web, where people don't feel constrained by many social norms, that they feel free to act like their truly fucked up selves without any social cost. Obviously, those in power do not. Trying to civilize the internet reminds me of the stupid "make bloggers respectful" campaign or whatever it was called, which the government was trying to encourage people to do. Fuck that noise.

Gah, now my headache is coming back and I want to hit someone. Later.

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