Piracy, yet again
The past couple of days have seen some interesting discussion on the ever-popular subject of piracy (no, not the kind where armed men kill civilians on boats and rob all their money and sail to sunset shouting "Yarr!", but the other kind, where nobody dies and even the money robbing is under debate, so I don't think it's quite correct to use this vile word to portray the downloaders). See these at Uusi Suomi, Tietoja koneesta and Piraattiliitto, though unfortunately they are in Finnish only. Especially the last article is very useful to show that the current copyright does not always help the artists in the way it is supposed to help.
By one count, there are 120,000 of these "pirates" in Finland alone - i.e. about 2.5% of the nation's population. (My guess is that this number is too low, anyway.) My educated guess is that these are the smart and the bright of the population. Much is said about the relative simplicity of downloading stuff from the Internet, but it's not really that easy - unless you already know what you are doing. It's still a lot simpler to go to your neighbourhood supermarket and buy the DVD box than it is to play around with codecs and subtitle files, and whatnot.
So, these "pirates" are the people who will in ten-twenty years be in the positions of wealth and power.
Considering that the police in this country has at most maybe a few dozen people who are trained for this kind of job, how exactly could this thing be stopped? To me it sounds like a 1000:1 advantage in numbers to the media sharers - where the among the crooks are the brightest and smartest people, who live and breathe the Internet, and can do international collaboration much better and faster than any official. Where a thousand bright people create a DRM solution, a million equally bright people will crack it.
Just by looking at this thing by numbers and not thinking at all about what is legal and what is morally right, it's really hard to see how the end result could be anything else but the complete transformation of how we think about intellectual property rights. It'll take twenty years or so, but it will happen once the bright minds of today will have their first sips of real power in the society. It will be too hard to outlaw stuff they have lived for the past thirty years with.
Update: Larry Lessig's speech at TED. Good talk - he's right that there must be a middle ground. Extermism gets extremism.
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