Archive talk:2007-08-05

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Discussion of Section II: Purposes and Goals

During last Sunday's meeting, several changes were proposed for Section II: Purposes and Goals, such as:

4. Advocate for reform in the realm of copyright, patent and trademark law.

or "defend the public interest in information and communications policy"

and other issues like network neutrality, technology policy, broadcasters' rights, and database rights were brought up.

I see a couple problems with this: one, that the terminology is subject to incompatible interpretation, and two, that we are enumerating a few things whereas the problems of the future will come not only from those, but from things nobody has thought of yet.

For example: copyright reform--what is it? You get radically different answers depending upon whom you ask, and whether it is traditional copyright or DMCA that is being discussed.

Network neutrality? It is my belief that the telecomm industry deliberately purloined this term to mean something quite different from its original meaning so they could muddy the debate. Traditionally it meant that the Internet was supposed to carry the bits equitably between endpoints without regard to the purpose of the connection. But the telecomm industry uses it to mean that their operations should be free of regulation so that their marketing departments can decide what service they are offering their customers, whom they regard as a commodity to offer to big players like Google or the movie industry so they can make Google their customer as well by controlling access to this market.

This segues nicely into point two, about the enumeration of our concerns; since it's necessarily incomplete, and potentially ill-defined, I advocate explaining our goals by saying "why" rather than "what". Let's list some reasons to advocate our positions.

We believe in:

 individual creative freedom
 free exchange of ideas
 freedom to tinker
 access to knowledge
 defense of fair use from technical means of suppression
 expansion of culture by building upon existing culture
 preservation of our cultural heritage (as by rescuing orphan works)
 defense of culture from pervasive claims of ownership
 defense of the individual from cultural conformity

I don't think the enumeration of things like patent reform yields an understanding of these precepts, but understanding the precepts does yield an obvious explanation about what specifically we get involved with.

-- peter