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Friday, May 2, 2008

the farce of digital copyright

John Tehranian, a law professor at the University of Utah, recently calculated that a typical American, in the course of a single day and without any use of file-sharing programs, could easily expose himself to over twelve million dollars in statutory damages should every copyright holder who’s rights he violated decide to sue. He did this by looking to a hypothetical law professor, checking and responding to email, forwarding digital pictures of a vacation, and many other innocuous activities every one of us with a digital lifestyle engages in nearly every day. While some have disputed the specifics of his accounting, the simple fact remains that “such an outcome flies in the face of our basic sense of justice.” This digital lifestyle, which allows us to connect and share in ways unimaginable only a generation ago, should not be at odds with our system of laws. The latter ought to embrace the former, not hold it forth as prey for litigious businesses and special interests, and outmoded conceptions of property. [essay]
I'm not sure this is the best treatment of this issue, Larry Lessig has dealt with it at length but it is an issue worth understanding.

When any part of everyday living is technically illegal, the only difference between a good citizen and a criminal is who is willing and able to prosecute. The legal system becomes a very ugly tool (not that it wasn't already a bit ugly).

Our president is no longer subject to the rule of law (or any sort of check), how many more abuses can our legal system handle?

I know, I know, the superheros will save us.

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