Spending too much time on other planets lately to update this Tumblr, but what I do see on this planet, when I get round to looking, is a steady raking back of democratic rights previously held inviolable, by commercially redistributive means. Corporations are increasingly doing precisely what fascist governments used to do, and are not accountable at all to the done-unto.
Think of this in the context of free speech. Political free speech obviously needs to be timely and operate above board, to be heard in the public square. And that means political speakers have no choice but to obey takedown notices, or any other form of legally-dictated action. The pirates though, for whom these takedown notices are intended, don’t need to obey shit. They’re just using that channel because it’s there; if it isn’t they’ll use another, and they’ll basically never need to obey shit. Count on it.
No, it doesn’t matter about DRM. No, it doesn’t matter about three strikes laws. Not to the pirates, because they don’t need to be public. There was loads of piracy before there was an even really an internet. I was there. And unlike then; we now have USB keys. And giant-portable-hard-drives-that-suck-down-any-one-person’s-entire-collection-of-Everything-in-less-than-an-hour. The pirates are not only winning the war; they have won every single battle, except the battles of what marks to set down on pieces of paper in lawbooks.
Nobody should be under the illusion that anything the government can do with the internet will earn any artists or giant media corporations an extra dollar. What it is guaranteed to do, however, is chill speech. More and more, with each iteration, as more tools are put in the hands of copyright holders to force extended takedowns of speech without any judicial review — how do you think they’re going to use that power of judge, jury, and executioner on other people’s speech? It is absolutely inevitable that more political speech will be silenced every day that barons are allowed to roam the land gagging people with impunity.
There is a mechanical, observable one-to-one relationship between those two things: automatic takedowns and political censorship. And there is no oversight — copyright holders just accuse whoever they want without penalty, and down it goes.
Is free speech really that cheap to America and the world that we’ll sell it to DRM snake-oil salesmen and internet fascists, on the off chance of maybe — who knows? — it could turn out different this time than every single other time in the history of digital piracy, and we’ll just pray that the pirates WON’T win?
This is a stupid plan. I’m just saying, but your freedom should be much, much more difficult to purchase than this, if at all. I mean, selling it is one thing, but this planet is in the course of selling huge swaths of its digital freedom right now in exchange for, essentially, some magic beans.
“People said, ‘Oh well! But you know, you’re complaining about copyright, but copyright is what protects you.’ … and that made me look at what copyright was doing for me. I’d never really looked at it before. And I did, and I read, and I also thought about Annette Hanshaw’s songs and how obscure they are, and wondered why, and realised the reason they’re obscure is that nobody can share her work legally. And then I thought about my own work, and I thought, ‘Do I want to be obscure? Do I want nobody to see my work a hundred years from now?’”—Nina Paley, The Revolution Will Be Animated
“The Altairan Dollar has recently collapsed, the Flaninian Pobble Bead is only exchangeable for other Flaninian Pobble Beads, and the Triganic Pu has its own very special problems. Its exchange rate of eight Ningis to one Pu is simple enough, but since a Ningi is a triangular rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles across each side, no one has ever collected enough to own one Pu. Ningis are not negotiable currency because the Galactibanks refuse to deal in fiddling small change. From this basic premise it is very simple to prove that the Galactibanks are also the product of a deranged imagination.”—Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
“When done right, comics are a cognitive whetstone, providing two or three or more different but entangled streams of information in a single panel. Processing what you’re being shown, along with what’s being said, along with what you’re being told, in conjunction with the shifting multiple velocities of imaginary time, and the action of the space between panels… Comics require a little more of your brain than other visual media.”—Warren Ellis » Comics And Time: Dundee, 28 June 2009