brian carroll on 10 Mar 2001 20:47:37 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] re: copy=right

    copyright issues made it to my radar screen after receiving
    an overview of the issues in a content development course i
    am now taking. the teacher has a background in publishing
    and has given a literal perspective of what _could_ happen
    if copyright were to be enforced online. the short of it,
    from my view, is that it would stop all discourse instantly.
    no forwarded news articles. no posting of articles without
    either permission or licensing, and _no_archives_ of any
    of these sources of information. it made me think of two
    mailing lists i maintain in which i have forwarded many
    news articles, under the premise of fair-use, but which
    are semi-permanently archived online as a resource, and
    also the recent issue regarding the nettime archives,
    and the publishing of ideas from the archive. what seems
    likely, given copyright, is that, if the worst case does
    happen, that mailing list archives would need to be swept
    clean of all copyright infringing materials, even if first
    sent under fair-use, because an archive is a permanent
    collection of a work or works. routine, the teacher said,
    for companies to keyword-search the internet for their
    names, images, and branding, as to find violators and
    fetch the lawyers on them with a form letter.

    what made me especially concerned, having never considered
    it before, was libel and slander in this regard. while
    free speech is a right, defending against misrepresentation
    or 'damaging free speech' (yelling 'fire' in a crowded movie
    theater) can be grounds for lawsuits and compensation.

    never having thought of it this way before, i now believe
    that a possible tactic of information warfare in the
    cultural/social sphere will be challenges of the control
    of certain kinds of information. not for monetary reasons
    as much as for political reasons, with copyright as the
    protector. (nothing new- but...)  for example, back to
    the idea of large businesses which may have commercial
    interests which could/are damaging the public interest,
    and statements to that affect are stated online in a
    public forum such as nettime- and then the lawyers for
    the company come sniffing at websites and probing for
    details, watching it unfold, until they send the big
    legalese document stating that 'on such and such dates
    you have committed libel (text-based badness) against
    so-and-so company' and demand monetary compensation
    for the damage of the company's reputation, et cetera.

    i don't think this is an unrealistic future, given the
    way the web as privatized and copyrighted realm is now
    playing out in the niches of industry. what is a person
    going to do when a billion dollar company sues for
    libel on a mailing list, and, for damages for each
    offense, based on the size of subscriptions and the
    impossibility to retract the statement, as it will
    always be in the public domain (since e-mails and
    mailing-list archives cannot stop the flow of the
    info from getting out and about)...

    copyright, at least in terms of the battle of ideas
    and the redefinition of reality from the privatized
    marketplace to more free, public, and democratic
    discourse, will be one area where the forces of
    opposing sides will face each other face to face,
    ultimately in an offline, courtroom, context.

    for example, what if someone gets 'picked off' a
    mailing-list and their words become hot enough in
    terms of offense and danger to a corporation's or
    institution's interests, and these nearly real-
    time discourses become highly-charged, hyper-
    reviewed/surveilled forums for mischaracterization
    and whatnot, to the effect that saying anything at
    all, with respect to copyright (of identity of a
    copyright holder) crosses over into libel, from
    their perspective? to me this is a different
    scenario than posting songs or information on
    a website, but the very act of speaking/saying/
    writing in text, ideas, and having these ideas
    become the focus of enforcement. not sure about
    others, but words flow out of my fingers, the
    fuse of nerves degaussing brainspace as symbols
    and signs break their way from intangible blips
    to rhythmic letters, one another another, possibly
    the only real freedom between inner and outer
    worlds, as if there were such a differentiation,
    as if it were not metaphysically so.

    copyright in the print world explains a few things
    to me regarding my logfiles. most of my written works
    contain a lot of fair-use of copyrights, and at times
    the mention of lots of different players in industry.
    the fact that representatives for these players show
    up in webstatistics is not unusual, most of the time.
    but i never figured that major publishing houses were
    reviewing my written works for copyright infringement.
    but when lots law firms keep showing up, at the same
    time as other players, say, major pharmaceutical
    companies after posting about the corruption of the
    mental health industry as a mechanism of intellectual
    oppression, it has me wondering if, someday hence, a
    battle will be played out within the words (and ideas)
    that are being typed daily, and in the archives that
    pre-exist awareness of the traditional rules of the
    game. for myself, i see this is as a great Opportunity
    for discourse between battling sides, and, oh cliche,
    in a `win-win' kind-of-way- as it may be the only
    Public Discourse between players that can occur,
    given the traditional control over information, its
    presentation, and interpretation by institutions
    that legitimize a certain way of seeing/understanding
    a shared/public reality, per se.

    thus, libel (written badness) & slander (spoken badness)
    may become the tactic for strategic discourse. strategic
    in the Cold War sense, being able to lob an idea into
    the opposing camp and make it hurt enough for massive
    retaliation in the MAD sense (Mutually Assured Destruction)
    and even the NUTs sense (Nuclear Usability Tactics) for
    lower-yield ideas ready for intellectual property battles.
    Getting lawyers and groups into a courtroom, from an
    internet public forum, could be quite exciting and a
    way to make change in such a place as is the hyperabsurd
    online realm today.

    scariest, would be beyond libel or slander, but into
    sedition, which my Webster's Dictionary (TM) defines as
    "the inciting of hostility against the government, likely
    to cause rebellion or insurrection, but not amounting to
    treason." what is the limit to the critique and dissent
    of government, vis-a-vis free speech/expression, and at
    what point will people online, saying their piece, be
    held responsible for seditious acts against established
    governmental powers, when those governments no longer
    represent public, democratic interests, but only mimic,
    like a marionette, the act? while government information
    that is in the public domain, and is thus copyright free
    (at least it seems that is the case), what happens when
    that information because so opposite to the reality of
    the world outside of the bureaucracies, that it becomes
    'hostile information' and a danger to the workings of
    the state, democratic or not? free speech is an ideology,
    as long as it is 'good' or 'true' free speech, fuzzy-
    logic-like. what if, given copyright, and the rights
    of governments to protect the masses from things that
    will both hurt the government and the status quo that
    believes in the current system (as the best of all
    possible worlds)... seems like a showdown waiting to
    happen in many regards, if only on a sublime level.

    the teacher for my class has an interesting premise-
    that everything is e-commerce. that is, that everything
    online is selling something, whether for money or not.
    i tend to agree, in the sense of exchange. but myself
    would dissociate the monetary aspects pre-ordained to
    e-commerce from the ideas that are being sold, for no
    money, and call these instead I-COMMERCE: the selling
    and-or exchange of ideas. crass as it may sound, it
    seems that the only way to 'compete' on a cultural
    slash social level is to use the techniques that do
    work in a capitalistic society, and use these for
    non-monetary ends. but everyone smells snake-oil
    in any effort to do anything- why trust anyone in
    this day-and-age? it is the D.I.Y. culture. which,
    in `my (public) book,' can be equated with the same
    anti-productive aspects of copyright law- that is,
    that Yourself always precedes Ourselves, and that
    the Individual is still the "King|Queen" of this
    shit-mound we call Earth. wondering, why can't we
    work together on projects bigger than our private
    works, so that we can have a larger voice? because
    of the logic underlying DIY cult/ure... those who
    can do it themselves are often have better oddds,
    by birthright or whatnot, to make a niche-market
    for their ideas, be it in academia, industry, and-
    or `The Cultural Enterprise', that corporate, cum
    art, institution that is art in its e-commercial
    way. [no judgement call, just a reality check].

    thus, copyright and DIY culture enforces the status
    quo by being of a fragmented and privately-based/
    biased organizational structure wherein the value
    is in differentiation and outsider/insider status.
    most everything in this realm is privatized, in an
    end-run kind-of-way, if only for ideological reasons
    of historical and hysterical interpretation. this
    is the base camp of the logic of either you or me.

    the idea of an idea-commerce of the public we, the
    human beings (not as absolute, but as vanguard of
    issues that affect the greatest definable public
    sphere on the globe, or on a mailing list) can go
    where DIY cultural political-economy cannot, and
    that is, extro- and intro- commercial, that great
    grey area and-or colored spectrum of the paradox
    and contradictory confusion of the real world as
    it exists, not as it is simply dreamed to be, so
    as to not have to deal with the messy complexity
    of Big Ideas. the corporate and-or commercial is
    not inherently anti-this or anti-public, we make
    it so. human beings do. wo|men do. public and the
    private of individuals and groups PREDICATE the
    situation we face. for example, went to get food
    at a grocery store. locking up recumbent bicycle
    as old man confronts me. Starts querying me on
    my beliefs on guns. old soldier, charleton heston
    (movie star, National Gun Association poster-GOD)
    believer, etc. beyond the discourse, which was
    in total opposition, although we have the same
    ends, our means to an end do not meet in the
    DIY culture, as meaning and purpose and belief
    and agreement are in contest, not cooperation.
    in the end, i may be staring at my enemy, some-
    one whom fought for the U.S. in wartime, and
    probably has many a tragedy and sorrow to
    carry on to his death, but ultimately if the
    2nd Amendment to the US Constitution becomes
    a person's only issue, and, say, a cultural
    slash social 'uprising' (as in non-violent,
    but culturally and institutionally disruptive
    events) do/es happen, then, if people are
    people, and react, this type of person could
    end up shooting the people whom are trying
    to make the DIY change, as it is person-vs-
    person, or spy-vs-spy in this MAD/NUTs world.

    what about D.I.O., do-it-ourselves, in the
    sense of public, or mini-publics, which the
    DIY seems to be about, but is not constituted
    on a both-and basis for common human initiatives.
    while people may like Greenpeace or the Sierra
    Club or whatnot, they might not wholly agree
    with their political-economic functions. and
    ideologically, it is idea-commerce in a copy-
    right kind-of-way, when private aspects also
    mingle with public aspects (inevitable) but
    also when 'politics as usual' affects the
    bureaucracy, not matter how well intentioned.

    defining a shared public sphere, between
    industry and individuals, based on a common
    human constitution, would/could enable a way
    to reprogram existing entities, and change
    the rules of the game enough so, that these
    same groups in opposition could transmute
    themselves into groups in cooperation for
    shared public goals. Amazon Forest and the
    Human tactic are a great example of when
    such an idea is only a facade, like a front-
    company for a clandestine organization and
    its agenda. that is exactly what is going on
    today, within every discourse and every action
    which is trying to breach the established order
    of things. it is not going to happen within a
    culture of business as usual, but only within
    a culture of business as unusual, as changed,
    as reinterpreted, as reconstituted, and as
    reevaluated with regard to leveling the playing
    field, not by affirmation of beliefs, but by
    structural change of the System of Operation.

    the Operating Situation that d-evolves will
    reframe ideas like "fair-use" from its present
    place in the danger-zone of ideas, and into one
    that has substantial grounding. there is a war,
    a cultur/al war going on now, and it is every-
    one against everyone else. we're all going to
    end up with no-rights, if only because of the
    stubborn need to sustain the egotistical id's
    and the effluent (pouring out of ideas and)
    ideologies based upon a pre-ordained and pre-
    supposed meaning in private individualistic
    acts, with basis in the inherent worth/value
    of individual Copyright of (Public) Reality,
    and pre-supposed, competitive worth in the
    realm-of-ideas, where dime-a-dozen goes into
    micropayment-schemes online. how libertarian.

    Fair-Use may be a vital battleground for this
    war, as idea-commerce wars with e-commercialism
    for the right for public and free expressions,
    for educational reasons and for `the advancement
    of human knowledge', which copyright is said to
    exist to protect, not to extinguish.
    "And the Internet Said: Let the Games Begin!"

    [from: Arpanet, A Doctrine of Cold War Logic]

human being #2,344,928,002

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