Technology religion wars

No, I’m not talking Mac versus Windows. I’m talking “electronic Hisbollah” as a metaphor in the battles over intellectual property (IP) online. Readers of this blog who are oriented more toward religion than technology may not have thought much about what’s happening with IP. Here’s the three-sentence recap. Back in the day, everything online was free. These days, content producers are trying to protect their content and make a buck by locking things down. Many people, including yours truly, believe that if content is free of restrictions, honest customers will pay for it, allowing everyone to come out on the good side.

After the jump, you can read notes by Cory Doctorow, who attended a presention by John Perry Barlow, the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Barlow gets all dramatic about the coming battles between producers and consumers, using the “Hizbollah” imagery? Justified or melodramatic? Read on, and let me know what you think.

John Perry Barlow: I am still optimistic. I didn’t expect that the entire wealth of the industrial period would gracefully allow us to render them irrelevant. They’re putting up a spirited fight, but I don’t think they’ll win. Victory comes to the patient. The content industry used to call me the devil, now the same people come to me for advice on how to make it work for them, they’re abandoning their King Canute strategy. I don’t think there’s proof that downloading has cost the record industry billions, for the same reason that hearing a song on the radio doesn’t cost a sale. There are lots of studies, but no one can say for sure. Last year I asked Cary Sherman if he’d co-design a study with EFF to give fair insight into what the losses or gains are from downloading. He said, “I don’t think we can do that. I don’t believe my constituents would allow that because it might turn out that you’re right.” Wouldn’t they want to know? “No, I don’t think it’s like that with them.” It’s a matter of religious belief. They’re near retirement, they can have any religion they want. They’ll be replaced by the electronic Hisbollah they’ve created with their Draconian strategies, the wild-eyed 17-year-olds who hack DRM will beat the 55 year olds in posh cars in Bel Air.

Can we come up with a regime for regulating the economy of ideas and the way of getting paid for work you do with your mind that doesn’t treat thought as a noun and therefore subject to being treated as property. The IP system is a gigantic kludge of patches that have been laid on in different regimes, as it all goes to bits, it needs to be harmonized with a regime that recognizes that this regulates the relationship of the creator and the audience.

Link to Cory’s notes, Link precs of the talk

Via Boing Boing.

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