Hacking the Law
Ok, nearly everybody has chimed in to say what a stupid idea the "Berman/Coble
Bill" is. I think it's a great idea. The way I read the
bill (which doesn't mean much), any "copyright holder" can
interfere with file-swapping in his copyrighted files.
This presents three opportunities. The first is rather obvious: the
development and deployment of secure file sharing networks. To have
these used for file-sharing may not be a big deal, but the technology
and innovation created in this development may prove to be useful in
other applications. Internet-based transactions or enterprise
knowledge management, for example.
The second opportunity might seem a little scary to some. I'm
thinking about the US government here. Consider that there are many
small copyright holders in the world who might have an axe to grind
against the US government for any number of reasons. Take me, for
example. Okay, so I don't really have any specific reason to want to
disrupt the operation of the government. But I do hold a
copyright on a number of various small pieces of software. The notification
requirement and restrictions on damaging non-owned data might make it
tricky, but I can see damage being done to government agencies without any legal
recourse. Even if that "damage" is simply disabling a popular, useful piece of software. (Think Apache.) If CSS can be easily cracked, I'm sure that the Berman/Coble Bill could be cracked.
The third opportunity partly derives from that last bit. The
community involved in creating software on the Internet stands to gain
a fair amount of knowledge in hacking the law. Such knowledge seems to have been growing over the past few years, as new laws interfere in various ways with Internet usage.
From all appearances, it looks like the Berman/Coble Bill was
written by Hollywood lawyers and given to Rep. Berman with a hefty
Bill Introduction Fee. There's a lot of us on the Internet. Perhaps we
should shift some of our not-inconsequential resources from creating
software to influencing politicians? Maybe we can get them to
pass stupid new laws create other
"opportunities" for us to make the Internet a better place.
© Copyright 2003 Brian St. Pierre.
Last update: 1/8/2003; 11:17:52 PM.