Clinton and the freedom to connect

In her second major speech on internet freedom, I’m delighted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood for the freedom to connect and recognizes the internet as a public space (as I will argue it is in Public Parts). The right to connect is first on my list of principles for our net society. I’m also delighted that she is calling for a discussion about those principles. But I will say that discussion should not come from her or from any government. The internet is not theirs. It is ours. The discussion must come from us, the citizens of the net.

She said:

To maintain an Internet that delivers the greatest possible benefits to the world, we need to have a serious conversation about the principles that guide us. What rules exist‚ and should not exist‚ and why; what behaviors should be encouraged and discouraged, and how.

The goal is not to tell people how to use the Internet, any more than we ought to tell people how to use any public space, whether it is Tahrir Square or Times Square. The value of these spaces derives from the variety of activities people can pursue in them, from holding a rally to selling their wares to having a private conversation. These spaces provide an open platform‚ and so does the internet. It does not serve any particular agenda, and it never should. But if people around the world are going to come together every day online and have a safe and productive experience, we need a shared vision to guide us.

One year ago, I offered a starting point for that vision, by calling for a global commitment to Internet freedom to protect human rights online as we do offline. The rights of individuals to express their views freely, petition their leaders, worship according to their beliefs‚ these rights are universal, whether they are exercised in a public square or on an individual blog.

The freedoms to assemble and associate also apply in cyberspace; in our time, people are as likely to come together to pursue common interests online as in a church or union hall. Together, the freedoms of expression, assembly, and association online comprise what I have called the freedom to connect. The United States supports this freedom for people everywhere, and we have called on other nations to do the same.

Because we want people to have the chance to exercise this freedom, we also support expanding the number of people who have access to the Internet.

Amen to all that. I’m disappointed that she used this speech to once more attack Wikileaks (even as she praised other nations’ citizens’ efforts to use the net to bring transparency to their governments) and that the Administration has not taken the opportunity of Wikileaks to examine its own level of classification and opacity. They could still disapprove of Wikileaks while also learning a lesson about being more open. By not doing that, some of the high-minded words in a speech such as this come off as at least inconsistent if not hypocritical.

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  • http://ShaverAssociates.net Robert Shaver

    The government is supposed to be ours too. But is it? Doesn’t feel like it to me. Being neither a Republican nor a Democrat I feel totally unrepresented in “my” government.

    “The goal is not to tell people how to use the Internet” but if we don’t like what your doing we will take your domain names with no warning and little recourse.

    Just as large corporations pulled the supporting infrastructure out from under Wikileaks, the Internet infrastructure is “owned”. Maybe the Internet it ours but the infrastructure is rented.

    Peace,

    Rob:-]

  • Nanker Phelge

    >>>The internet is not theirs. It is ours. The discussion must come from us, the citizens of the net.

    What does this mean? I understand that this rallies the troops. But it’s not consistent with any legal theory I’m aware of. If you have any legal basis for these remarks, please share it.

    The physical structure of the Internet belongs to the companies that installed and maintain it; they’re obviously subject to government regulation, but the cables and wired belong to them. The content on the Internet belongs to whomever created it or controls it – people or companies.

    There are no citizens of the Net. U.S. law applies in the U.S., and I’m quite happy about that. Other countries apply their own laws.

    Lastly, there is no “us” here. The way you talk, “us” must mean the other net moguls, consultants and open systems advocates you meet at Davos and the Googleplex. That is not “us.” That is “you.” And “you” do not speak for me. Or, I suspect, many other people.

  • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

    I agree. As a Mom, I learned very early that saying one thing and doing another didn’t fly. Too bad Madame Clinton doesn’t seem able to understand that.

    @Rob – it may well get worse, what with the government push for “back doors” the EFF is fighting in court tomorrow.

    Sorry @Nanker Phelge, you are wrong.

    Because the Internet does belong to *me*, and all the other self styled *citizens of the net*. Corporations may own bits of wire and pieces of equipment, but that isn’t the Internet any more than a handful of soil scooped up from the nearest garden is your country. Those are fractional pieces of your country, or atoms of the Internet, but they are neither the sum of your country nor the entity we call The Internet.

    Please note: there is but one Internet, which is the sum of a whole mess of interconnection. Networks. Computers. Cell phones. The Internet is one thing that exists in many countries spread all over the world. It is the very connectivity which confers value.

    Those of us who contribute to it, use it, work with it, learn from it and share it do have rights. Because the Internet would not exist without us. All of us.

    Not just the brilliant folks like Tim Berners Lee who wrote the IP protocol that makes it function, but all the users, whether they can create a website or barely manage to reply to an email. It wouldn’t BE The Internet if we all pulled up stakes and moved on.

    Then it would simply revert to being a mess of wire and hunks of equipment.

  • Nanker Phelge

    >>>Those of us who contribute to it, use it, work with it, learn from it and share it do have rights. Because the Internet would not exist without us. All of us.

    In point of fact, the Internet _would_ exist without you. If you logged on in the last decade, it existed before you. It will probably exist after you. You have certainly added to it, possibly improved it, maybe even changed it. But unless you played a key role in DARPA, saying it wouldn’t exist without you is quite simply false.

    Do you have rights anyway? Yes, of course! But the rights you have online are the same rights you have offline. That’s a good thing.

  • erm..facism?

    At Clinton Speech: Military and CIA Veteran Bloodied, Bruised and Arrested for Standing Silently
    http://redactednews.blogspot.com/2011/02/at-clinton-speech-veteran-bloodied.html
    check out this link!
    was this at the same speech?

    “The rights of individuals to express their views freely, petition their leaders, worship according to their beliefs‚ these rights are universal, whether they are exercised in a public square or on an individual blog.”

    “The freedoms to assemble and associate also apply in cyberspace”

    yep and i have developed a way to prevent frogs bumping their asses when they jump!
    i cant believe that educated people even credit her words with any weight or truth…
    seriously people…
    wake up!

  • erm..facism?

    http://www.henrymakow.com/social_networking_dupes_the_ma.html

    or try this one for size?

    hmmm what if my motives were spying on my own people and directly being able to monitor their everyday activities,
    funny how the CEOs of facebook all used to work in the bush ad ministration- what a strange “coincidence” that would be hmmm?
    THEN YOU GET A BLOG RELEASING ARTICLES DETAILING A SEEMINGLY NOBLE SPEECH ABOUT FREEDOM WHEN IN REALITY THE STORY CONNECTED TO THIS SPEECH DEMONSTRATES PERFECTLY HOW UNTRUE EVERY WORD OF IT IS WHEN ESPOUSED BY SARAH PALIN MK2-

    i wonder who might benefit on the publicity side if we take an abhorrent action by clintons security when faced with peaceful noncooperation in protest to her precious war machine nd omit what actually transpired at that speech?

    seriously- judging by the comments here you all took in what she was saying intently as though it was a free country you were living in, bonkers, deluded and frankly idiotic- you believe the words of your politicians , therefore i see no hope.

  • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

    @Nanker Phelge wrote that: “In point of fact, the Internet _would_ exist without you. If you logged on in the last decade, it existed before you. It will probably exist after you. You have certainly added to it, possibly improved it, maybe even changed it. But unless you played a key role in DARPA, saying it wouldn’t exist without you is quite simply false.”

    Sorry, you’ve missed the point, Nanker. Although an earlier incarnation of the Internet existed before it was open to the public, that Internet was a very different beastie. What you fail to see is the evolution of The Internet.

    The Internet of today has evolved enormously precisely because of the interconnection of humans. It is this international assembly that has so attracted marketers and governments, all of whom seek to co-opt and control the Internet, in order to profit and govern the citizens of the Internet.

    And no, I didn’t play a key role in DARPA. In fact, I had to google DARPA and read about it on Wikipedia to understand your point. Because I’m nobody, I’m just a mom. I’m not even an American. But the Internet is mine just the same.

    Because the Internet is no longer the creature of DARPA. That may be a key part of the reason the American government is so testy. Should the United States choose to gather up its marbles and go home, the rest of us will still be online.

    Because the Internet belongs to the whole world — to everyone who connects to it. If all of the Citizens of The Internet were to log off, the hollow shell remaining in DARPA’s grasp would hardly be recognizable as anything but a memory of the entity we today recognize as The Internet.

    • Nanker Phelge

      >>>If all of the Citizens of The Internet were to log off, the hollow shell remaining in DARPA’s grasp would hardly be recognizable as anything but a memory of the entity we today recognize as The Internet.

      DARPA hasn’t been involved for some time – the Internet was privatized more than a decade ago. What _would_ be left is millions of dollars worth of broadband infrastructure that doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to private companies.

      As I said, what you’re saying is emotionally compelling, but it’s legal nonsense. If the Internet belongs to everyone who connects to it, does a road belong to everyone who drives on it; does a park belong to everyone who picnics in it? In a soft, emotional sense, perhaps. In a legal sense, not at all.

      What is a Citizen of The Internet? What legal structure underlies this? What aspects of a government – monopoly on force, power to raise taxes, etc. – does the Internet have? Have other states recognized the Citizens of The Internet? Do they have passports?

      The only thing Citizens of The Internet seem to have is a Propensity to Use Capital Letters and a Sense of Collective Ownership. The first is harmless, the second not so much.

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  • J.J. Jalopy

    Who are these “citizens of the net,” exactly? Are you talking about all of us (which, I suppose, would also cover Hillary Clinton and everyone in government) or, more specifically, you, your circle, and everyone who agrees with you?

  • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

    @J.J. Jalopy

    All the people who contribute, use, work with, and learn from to The Internet, along with those who share knowledge and explore ideas on The Internet are “Citizens of the Internet.” Sometimes called “Netizens,” it is more a global community than a government. There are Netizens all over the world, doing great things in countries as diverse as Egypt and Iceland. If you’re reading this online, you qualify.

    @Nanker Phelge

    Hmm. The only capitalization I used was DARPA.

    I am not laying claim to Internet Infrastructure, just The Internet.

    Clearly you’ve never heard of Natural Law. Or “The Commons.” There’s lots to read on these subjects in Wikipedia. While you’re at it, you might want to Google Civis Mundi to learn a little about world citizenship. It might be good for you to look into the Creative Commons as well.

    Artificial constructs like ownership, governments, countries and current legal systems (which, by the way are also, like the Internet, evolving) are overlaid on our natural rights, and in fact infringe on them. Natural Law was in fact taken into account by the framers of your constitution.

    “Public Property” — that is to say the roads and parks that are held in common for the good of all the citizens — are in fact legally the property of all citizens under the very laws you espouse. That is why they call it “public property.” So yes, those things *do* belong to me. And you. And all of us in common.

    Clearly you are bound up in patriarchal notions of citizenship and government. It’s a little sad that the best government you can envision requites coercion and monopoly.

    The world, long run under such systems, is currently in disarray. Communism imploded and Capitalism seems to be following suit. (The need for Bailouts is an indicator.)

    Open minds are needed badly as we move into the future.

  • Montgomery Powell

    Much of what you’re saying is true. However, you’d have to concede that what you’re talking about is an intangible abstract concept. It reminds me of the examination of the distinction between “house” and “home.” They are different in many ways, yet they are never mutually distinct.

    It seems you’re trying to separate “users of the internet” from “the internet (infrastructure)” itself. That would be like telling your creditors, “My home is made up of me and my cat and you have nothing to do with it.”

    To commemorate your ideas and for your entertainment pleasure, I present you with the lyrics for Burt Bacharach’s “A House Is Not A Home.”

    (may the force be with you…)

    A chair is still a chair
    Even when there’s no one sitting there
    But a chair is not a house
    And a house is not a home
    When there’s no one there to hold you tight,
    And no one there you can kiss good night.

    A room is still a room
    Even when there’s nothing there but gloom;
    But a room is not a house,
    And a house is not a home
    When the two of us are far apart
    And one of us has a broken heart.

    Now and then I call your name
    And suddenly your face appears
    But it’s just a crazy game
    When it ends it ends in tears.

    Darling, have a heart,
    Don’t let one mistake keep us apart.
    I’m not meant to live alone. Turn this house into a home.
    When I climb the stair and turn the key,
    Oh, please be there still in love with me.

  • Montgomery Powell

    that was @ Laurel…

  • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

    @Montgomery

    Thanks for sharing the song, but you need to be careful about reproducing the Intellectual Property of others, even, and most especially, works created by those like Mr. Bacharach. We are prohibited from sharing creative work like his that has been accepted into, and become part of, our common culture, due to particularly odious changes in Copyright Law, recently imposed by our supposedly democratic nations without public consultation, at the behest of large self-interested corporations.

    Intangible concepts are often the ones that matter most.

    What is the Internet? It is not analogous to a house. But you folks want tangibles, so lets talk tangibles.

    A house occupies a finite amount of space. A house anywhere in our world is most likely to fall under the specific jurisdiction and laws of the nation in which it stands. Under the laws of the land, it is usually straightforward to determine who holds title to the house. In most cases only the owner has the rights to alter or amend the structure of the house.

    The Internet, on the other hand, spans the globe. This means that there are bits of infrastructure residing in many nations and under many different legal systems. And if Fred in Topeka sends an email to Mary in London, the email it is broken down into multiple packets which are sent independently — part of Fred’s email might go in a relatively straight line from sender to destination but part of it may be rerouted via Sri Lanka and another through Iceland.

    The “infrastructure” is neither finite nor static, and many different people in many different places control many different bits of that infrastructure. There are Internet backbone peers, and Internet Service Providers and the satellites, wires, cables and routers connecting everything together in a multitude of different ways.

    At the ends of the Internet are the users and content providers, who connect to the internet via their own bits of infrastructure. People connect and both upload and download content via devices that are only sometimes connected to The Internet, sometimes by wire and sometimes by WiFi. When my cell phone is turned on, I can connect to the Internet with it. When I turn it off, that’s no longer possible. Private individuals and companies can host their websites on their own computers– and they own that piece of Infrastructure. These network connections that make up the Internet fluctuate moment by moment.

    You’ll have noticed that people have been referring to “information highways” and “pipes” for as long as we’ve been trying to understand the Internet, because, although the infrastructure is part of the Internet, it is not The Internet.

    The Internet is a peer network that exists to share content. Unlike traditional television broadcasting networks, only rarely is Internet content provided by Internet Service Providers (with the exception of some jurisdictions that allow anti-competitive corporate conduct). An enormous amount of the content available on the Internet is not the property of the ISPs who own the Infrastructure, but is instead is freely put there by users. People and organizations are releasing extraordinary quantities of photographs and artwork and music and movies under creative commons licenses, and blogs, microblogging, self publishing and citizen journalism are on the rise. It would clearly be a tangible and grievous error to award ownership of this great human outpouring of creativity to those who own segments of Internet infrastructure.

    If an analogy is necessary, instead of a house, try using a community.

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  • Nanker Phelge

    >>>We are prohibited from sharing creative work like his that has been accepted into, and become part of, our common culture, due to particularly odious changes in Copyright Law, recently imposed by our supposedly democratic nations without public consultation, at the behest of large self-interested corporations.

    This is absolutely, 100% wrong. First, copyright is a matter of common law, as well as a human right. Has copyright been changed in foolish ways? Yes! But the reprinting of lyrics has nothing to do with this – it has _always_ been fair use to quote, infringement to take wholly for commercial reasons, and a matter of fair use to decide the difference. Fair use is _codified_ in law, but it’s not decided by law – it’s decided by courts. The changes to copyright law you’re talking about – however objectionable they might be – have no bearing on this.

    The Internet is not like a private home or a public park; it’s more like a mall – a place _for_ the public but owned _by_ a private entity. You may think this is wrong, and perhaps it is – that’s another conversation. But those are the facts. No legal theory or court decision says otherwise.

    • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

      Common law?

      Say what? The American Publishing Industry was built on British copyright infringement because the United States didn’t *have* or recognize copyright. Charles Dickons was particularly annoyed with your publishers who published his work in what would today be called bootleg or pirated editions.

      Sorry, “copyright” has *never* been a ‘human right’, it’s a straight up state granted monopoly, first introduced in 1709 with “the Statute of Anne”.

      “Fair Use” is an exemption to the copyright monopoly under American law. Hate to burst your bubble, but other countries make their own laws. In Canada we don’t have ‘fair use’ but ‘Fair Dealing’ which is similar but not the same.

      And your mall analogy simply doesn’t fly. Who owns this mall?

      If the Internet were a mall someone would have clear title to it, but no one does. Entities and Individuals have title to elements of it.

      In Canada, Bell Canada Enterprises holds title to some of the Infrastructure, but are compelled by the government to share this infrastructure with other ISPs for the public good. I hold legal title to The Russwurm Family Website which lives on a server located in my home. Protesters on the streets of Egypt hold title to the cell phones on which they Tweeted ‘The Revolution’. Your computer or whatever tech you use to access the Internet is owned by you. We all of us own bits of the Internet.

      That is the point.

      • Nanker Phelge

        First, read this:

        >>>“Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”

        Article 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

        The U.S. *always* had copyright – we just didn’t recognize UK copyrights

        Now, I hate to burst YOUR bubble but copyright is only a state-granted monopoly in the Anglo-American world. It’s nothing like that in Continental Europe. And Madison recognized copyright law as common law. In the Constitution, Congress “secures” copyright – it doesn’t grant it. The implication is that it’s protecting what’s mine – not giving me something.

        The idea that copyright dates the the Statute of Ann is not quite the whole story. Exclusive printing rights were granted to protect authors long before that – in China, in Venice, in parts of Germany and France. Point is, every country recognizes an authors right to his work.

        As for a mall, I didn’t mean it had one owner – I meant that it was space _for_ the public but owned _by_ a private company.

        When you say “we all of us own bits of the Internet,” what part do you own? A web site is not the internet – it’s intellectual property. If you put it on a hard drive and disconnect it, it’s not on the internet any more.

  • EB

    Wasn’t Hillary’s beef against Wilikeaks the fact they published STOLEN material?

    • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

      WikiLeaks has not stolen documents. That is misinformation.

      WikiLeaks have published documents that were allegedly stolen. The same way that The Washington Post published stolen material that unseated President Nixon. This is a time honored way that the news media has provided a public service. It’s even currently protected by law, although Madame Clinton is looking into changing that.

      At this point no one has been convicted of stealing any of the WikiLeaks documents. It used to be that American citizens enjoyed a presumption of innocence.

  • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

    @Nanker Phelge

    human rights

    “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”

    Article 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

    It is often understood (erroneously) to be the justification for copyright, but it is not copyright.

    Moral rights pertain to intellectual work and its use; a perpetual right to identify themselves as the author of their original work (that involves no copy, just the original). The author has natural dominion over the original work; and is free to lock it away, or share it, or sell it; but even if sold, the creator is forever the creator. The only offense against the author’s moral right is plagiarism. This inalienable right is what is recognized in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    A right is a right no matter the locality and it lasts forever; a privilege like copyright only exists for the period of time set by the law of the land. Copyright is a state granted monopoly wherever it exists, but of course sovereign nations have different laws. That doesn’t change the fact that it exists only because it is imposed by statute.

    American Copyright History
    You are right, I was mistaken about American copyright history; I never imagined that your country would so brazenly bootleg the works of other nations if they had their own copyright law. So I’ve looked into it, and you are almost right.

    The framers of your Constitution did in fact recognize the natural human rights of creators, and secured these rights. But the 1787 Constitution certainly didn’t recognize the US Copyright privilege. The copyright monopoly was based upon the Constitution but not enacted until two years later in 1790.

    monopoly
    Published works lie outside of an author’s human rights, so the state grants exclusive reproduction privilege — a monopoly — over the reproduction of published works. That is copyright.

    The printing monopolies predating the Statute of Anne in England were privileges granted printers, which is why they were even less beneficial to creators than copyright, and so not the same thing at all.

    The Internet is not a Mall
    The Internet is difficult to understand, but your mall analogy doesn’t help. The Internet is not static like a mall, but fluid like a community.

    No one person, private company or entity holds title to the entire Internet. The different portions owned by different entities that are networked together. The Internet is a network. You might even say the mother of all networks.

    Your suggestion that websites are not part of the Internet because they can be removed indicates the depth of your misapprehension. You seem inclined to believe that the framework, the wires and routers &tc. are the sum of the Internet, and the content is not.

    That’s wrong: The Internet is both. Connected together. It has both material components and intellectual components.

    @Nanker Phelge wrote:

    “When you say “we all of us own bits of the Internet,” what part do you own? A web site is not the internet – it’s intellectual property. If you put it on a hard drive and disconnect it, it’s not on the internet any more.

    In answer to that I’d have to say I own a webserver, and a domain name, and all the content I put on my website.

    Every bit of the Internet is replaceable. The infrastructure is fluid too. Wires and cables and routers and supercomputers are replaced as needed. Bits come and go but it doesn’t matter to The Internet.

    Because The Internet isn’t just one part or another, The Internet IS the sum of its parts.

    I hope that helps.

    • Intern’t

      @Laurel L. Russwurm says:
      February 24, 2011 at 4:09 am

      you seem to be going around in circles…

  • Pingback: Copyright Isn’t a Human Right « Laurel L. Russwurm

  • Nanker Phelge

    >>>A right is a right no matter the locality and it lasts forever; a privilege like copyright only exists for the period of time set by the law of the land. Copyright is a state granted monopoly wherever it exists, but of course sovereign nations have different laws. That doesn’t change the fact that it exists only because it is imposed by statute.

    That’s like saying free speech only exists because it’s imposed by statute. Under Continental law, both are natural, fundamental rights. (Not under U.S. law or Anglo-American law.)

    First, the UDHR says moral *and material* interests. This has its roots in common law. Authors had rights to their work long before the Statute of Ann.

    Second, moral rights are to “paternity and integrity,” Not only do you have the right to be identified as the author of a work, you have the right to present it as you wish – the right NOT to be remixed, if you prefer. The U.S. had reconciled that with international norms with the Lanham act, which is under trademark law. Nevertheless, moral rights are much broader than you think.

    Lastly, the idea that copyright has its origins in British printing monopolies is emphasized by the copyleft to identify it with a censorship regime. The right of an author to his work dates from before that and goes beyond it. Look at France, Italy, Germany, China – very civilized society has recognized the right of an author to his work. Canada is welcome to recognized international norms any day now.

    >>>You seem inclined to believe that the framework, the wires and routers &tc. are the sum of the Internet, and the content is not.

    Yes. The content is different because it’s not intrinsic to the net. If I have a CD, I have two things – music and a disc. Different laws cover each of them. Same with the net. You “own” intellectual property rights to your Web site, but that’s not really the internet – it’s content accessible *through* the Internet that resides on a particular server. I suppose your router is part of the Internet in the way that a driveway is part of the U.S. highway system, but it’s such a small part that I’m not sure it’s relevant. In any case, walk into court and say you own the Internet – see what happens.

  • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

    @Nanker Phelge

    Inalienable Rights and Statutory Rights
    Free Speech is in fact a human right which has also been recognized by statute under many legal systems.

    The American First Amendment of the Constitution says:

    “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech…”

    There has been a longstanding debate about the constitutionality of American Copyright Law since it limits free speech, thus conflicting with the Constitution’s First Amendment. Of you’re interested in learning more you can read Against Monopoly: First (free speech) amendment trumps copyright

    inalienable
    Free Speech is a natural inalienable human right. Inalienable rights come first, and the artificial constructs we call law are imposed on the nation with the intention of allowing human society and industry to function. Statutes are not permanent, as society evolves and changes, laws can always be rewritten. This is not true of human rights, which are inalienable.

    Cherry picking bits and pieces of different systems of law doesn’t add strength to your argument, or change the fact that statutes are man made and variable. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about Continental Law or Sharia Law, inalienable rights are inalienable.

    control of original work
    Of course authors have always had rights to their original work. No one can force a creator to share their work. A creator can keep their original work secure and private by not publishing it. The creator has a natural exclusivity to prevent remixing by not publishing.

    public is not private
    You are right that a creator has the right to publish as they wish, but once published, they no longer have any natural right to exclusivity because publication presents the creation into the public.

    Once a creator publishes a work, the only way to retain an exclusive right to copy is to infringe on the natural rights of others (free speech). Legislatures often make laws that suspend the rights of individuals to grant monopoly privileges like copyright and patent.

    copyright is *not* a human right
    The easiest way to show that copyright cannot possibly be a human right is to point out that human rights are inalienable, defined as:

    “incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred”

    – Merriam Webster Dictionary

    Since copyright has most often been employed to transfer the monopoly on copying the Intellectual Property to a publisher, most often a corporation, clearly copyright cannot possibly be considered a human right.

    The saddest injustice in the whole copyright debacle is when creators are themselves denied the right to copy their own work by the publisher.

    copyright history
    Systems of law are built upon what came before. The Statute of Anne granting the copyright monopoly in 1709 is the foundation of copyright in Anglo-American common law. Censorship has nothing to do with it, other than the fact that censorship is invariably a byproduct of copyright.

    sovereign nations get to make their own laws
    Just to clear up a bit of misinformation you seem to have bought into, in spite of specious claims made by the USTR in an attempt to bully the Canadian legislature into passing a Canadian DMCA, Canadian copyright law is already much ‘stronger’ than American law.

    As a sovereign state the United States declined to sign the 1886 Berne Convention, the first International copyright treaty, until 1988, so casting aspersions on the sovereignty of other nations is simply a petty form of peer pressure.

    The Internet
    Internet content is arguably more intrinsic than any of the infrastructure. Canadians in Nunavut connect to the Internet via satellite, while in other parts of Canada we connect via cell phone or wired connections.

    Without the content, the Internet as we know it simply would not exist.

    Trying to separate the content from the infrastructure of the Internet makes as much sense as separating the electricty from the hydro grid. Why would we string cables across countries, and drill holes through perfectly good walls and then mar their smooth surfaces with outlets and switches if there was no electricity running though the wires? There would be no point.

    In exactly the same way, no one would pay to connect to an internet without content. And the reason people connect to the Internet is to connect to the content.

    The public has rights to public spaces, be it highways or parkland. In my time I’ve seen expansion of roadways and planned destruction of natural environment halted by public protest.

    Certainly the physical equipment I own and connect to the Internet with is only a tiny fragment of the Internet Infrastructure.

    So?

    I still own it. I own my tangible bits of the Internet as well as my intangibles: the ability to host, post and access content on the Internet.

    The reason the Internet is changing the world is because of all of us little people who connect together.

    Because the Internet is the sum of its parts.

    • Intern’t

      Really?!

      I don’t see what’s so hard about this. The qualities you describe rely on there actually being a physical infrastructure. So what? Sure the internet we’ve come to know and love is amazing, but let’s not get carried away. You can love the the culture of the internet, and own a server, but it doesn’t mean you own part of the internet infrastructure that the internet you love depends on.

      I think everybody can appreciate the point you’re getting at about the internet being greater than the sum of its parts.

      • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

        But I do own part of the Internet Infrastructure under the laws of the land. Everyone who hosts a web page on their own server owns part of the Internet infrastructure.

        But so does everyone who connects to the Internet to get email or surf the web. Bits of the Internet come and bits go, and whatever is connected *is* the Internet.

        If you scoop a cup of water out of the ocean it’s just a cup of water. Pour it back in, it’s part of the ocean. What’s so hard about that?

  • Nanker Phelge

    >>>There has been a longstanding debate about the constitutionality of American Copyright Law since it limits free speech, thus conflicting with the Constitution’s First Amendment.

    [Sigh] This is a common misconception on the part of Internet idealists. There really isn’t a longstanding debate. (Maybe there should be, but there isn’t.) This alleged conflict only really comes up in the late sixties, and it only really gathered steam once Google started throwing money at Stanford and Harvard law schools.

    Second, courts have held that copyright law has equal “status” – not sure of the right word – with the First Amendment; the idea is that since those concepts were created in U.S. law by the same people at the same time, they have o balance.

    Third, to the extent that these rights need to be balanced, we have fair use and the idea-expression distinction.

    Fourth, U.S. courts have rarely if ever accepted the idea that copyright limits free speech. In a 1985 Supreme Court decision, Justice O’Connor found *the exact opposite* – that copyright *fuels* free speech. “The Framers intended copyright itself to be the engine of free expression,” she wrote. “By establishing a marketable right to the use of one’s expression, copyright supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate.” (see Harper & Row v Nation Enterprises if you’re interested.)

    In recent years, more lawyers have argued that copyright limits free speech, but U.S. courts still don’t buy it. When Lawrence Lessig argued this in front of the Supreme Court, in a case about term extension, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “The First Amendment securely protects the freedom to make — or decline to make — one’s own speech. It bears less heavily when speakers assert the right to make other people’s speeches.” The court did not think term extension was a good idea, nor so I, but they did not see the conflict you see. (This from Eldred v Ashcroft)

    This is a debate on blogs, not in courtrooms.

    Lastly, when you say copyright is,
    ““incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred”
    most deals don’t do any of those. In legal terms, they usually *assign* or *license* copyright. (And there are plenty of cases where contract law suspends rights with the agreement of both parties – an NDA, for example.) In the case of publishing and recoding contracts in the U.S., there’s a reversion. Under Continental law, the rights that are transferred are “neighboring rights,” not “moral rights,” which are, indeed, inalienable. The technical distinction is hard to explain, but a French or German lawyer would tell you that the conflict you see doesn’t exist.

    Have you been reading Michael Geist too much? Tut, tut.

    • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

      Lastly, when you say copyright is,
      ““incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred”
      most deals don’t do any of those. In legal terms, they usually *assign* or *license* copyright.

      To ‘assign’ or ‘license’ surrenders or transfers the monopoly of copyright away from the creator to someone else. It would be easier for you to grasp the issues if you understand the terminology.

  • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

    Any debate lasting over half a century certainly falls into the ‘longstanding’ category for me.

    Likewise the American Constitution was framed and written years before the First Amendment, and I understand they were written by different people.

    Courts can do all sorts of foolish things. Ruling that two conflicting things are true does not make it so. Personally, I’m of the opinion that inalienable rights trump man made privileges every time. Stupid laws may be made and coercion can be attempted but it isn’t likely to be any more successful than Prohibition was.

    Funny, I never thought I was in a courtroom. Courts, like legislatures, are conducted by people, and are therefore fallible. This fallibility seems to increase proportionally in the face of strong political pressure and/or lobbyists with deep pockets.

    What I said was that copyright is NOT inalienable, and therefore copyright is not a human right.

    The fact that copyright can be surrendered or transfered is precisely what disqualifies copyright absolutely from being an inalienable right. Inalienable rights can NOT be transferred.

    Copyright is merely a statutory ‘right, in fact a monopoly to make copies.

    I realize that it is a complicated issue, so I’ll try to explain it for you once more. The creator has inalienable rights to their creation. The right to claim authorship, for instance. Attributing the work to someone else is an offense against this inalienable right called plagiarism. It doesn’t matter if the creation was made hundreds of years ago, or if the work is in the public domain. Factually the creator is the author of the creation.

    The creator also has the inalienable right to keep the work private or to publish it. Which version, to whom to sell it, or whether to sell it at all. As natural rights, these are universal human rights, and are sometimes called ‘moral rights.’

    Since the invention of technology known as the printing press, special interest groups lobbied to have legislation known as copyright enacted. This legislation grants the privilege of an exclusive monopoly to the creator over the process of making copies.

    The statutes known as copyright are applied in addition to the creator’s natural and inalienable rights – those rights copyright reduces to “moral rights.” In this way the human rights of creators appear to be mere statutory privilege when in fact they are not.

    One of the things about statutory rights is that they are not universal. Copyright law is different in Germany than it is in India or China or the United States.

    Even within the framework of the same laws in the same country it is possible to have lawyers like Barry Sookman lobbying to change copyright law in ways beneficial to his clients with no regard for negative societal effects and lawyers and legal scholars like Michael Geist, employed by universities to both research and educate for the good of society.

    Which is why laws are merely statutes they are open to interpretation and reversal.

  • Nanker Phelge

    You said
    >>>There has been a longstanding debate about the constitutionality of American Copyright Law since it limits free speech, thus conflicting with the Constitution’s First Amendment.

    Then:

    >>>Any debate lasting over half a century certainly falls into the ‘longstanding’ category for me.
    This has not been a longstanding debate. There _has_ been a longstanding debate about the usefulness of copyright, its justice as a monopoly, and other things. But there has not been a longstanding debate that it conflicts with free speech. It’s just not true. If you think otherwise, cite a court case before 1960 in which the issue came up. Or a scholarly paper. Even a newspaper article.

    About the rest of it, you’re looking at Continental law from an Anglo-American perspective. That’s a common perspective, but a limited one. If you want to know the rest of the story, read some of the law journal articles by Jane Ginsburg, a professor at Columbia University law School. She’s done some fascinating research about the common origins or UK, US, and French copyright law.

    However, I cannot let this pass

    >>>Even within the framework of the same laws in the same country it is possible to have lawyers like Barry Sookman lobbying to change copyright law in ways beneficial to his clients with no regard for negative societal effects and lawyers and legal scholars like Michael Geist, employed by universities to both research and educate for the good of society.

    Yes, but Sookman is open about who he represents – Geist isn’t. He’s employed as a consultant by Industry Canada, under the name of a loan-out corporation, and I haven’t seen him disclose this (although he might in a way I haven’t seen). He gets financing from U.S. technology lobbyists. And he’s tried to game the request for feedback on the law – I don’t remember the formal name of either – by encouraging non-Canadians to write letters against the act in question. He and Sookman are both pushing the interests of people paying them – that’s what they get paid to do – but Geist is way shadier about it.

    I don’t know much about Canadian law. In the U.S., however, there have been plenty of objections to the kind of “non-circumvention” provisions Geist opposes. The most prominent was dismissed by the court as an “extravagant claim.” (“Universal City Studios Inc. v. Corley.” U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. ) Other courts have taken such claims even _less_ seriously. Obviously, these decisions have no official status in Canada, but I imagine courts there would _generally_ reach the same decisions, since fair dealing is usually more restrictive than fair use. Geist is taken seriously on the Internet, but so is the idea that vaccines cause autism.

    If you want to convince me you’re right, cite a court decision or a scholarly paper – not a blog or an academic who moonlights as a lobbyist.

    • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

      But there has not been a longstanding debate that it conflicts with free speech. It’s just not true. If you think otherwise, cite a court case before 1960 in which the issue came up. Or a scholarly paper. Even a newspaper article.

      Nineteen Sixty was fifty one years ago. That may seem a short time period for an immortal corporation but it’s long in human terms.

      Laws are different in different countries. Sovereign states are within their rights making their own laws. You keep bringing up different jurisdictional references which have nothing to do with anything. If you have a point, make it.

      You’ve spent a great deal of this discussion making ignorant statements in regard to copyright but now you’re quoting legal precedents from different jurisdictions like a legal scholar? You need to make up your mind who you’re going to be, or which of you is going to speak.

      The long and the short of it is that Copyright is merely a statutory ‘right, in fact a government granted monopoly allowing an artificial privilege to make copies.

      • Nanker Phelge

        >>>The long and the short of it is that Copyright is merely a statutory ‘right, in fact a government granted monopoly allowing an artificial privilege to make copies.

        In many countries, that’s not true. That’s what I keep saying.

        Only on the Internet can you get mocked for citing court decisions in a legal argument. Would you rather I act like a petulant child, like you do?

        >>>Michael Geist has the luxury of representing the public good.

        No, he doesn’t. He represents the people who pay him – the greedy parasites who are stealing artists rights.

        How dare you ask me to make a cogent argument. I know the law. You just know what Geist and Jarvis tell you to believe. Now run along like a good little sheep. Of course you own the Internet. There, there.

  • Nanker Phelge

    For more information on Geist’s funding, check out:
    http://www.cippic.ca/about-us-2

    This is only one of many projects, but most of the money comes from technology companies. So does the funding for Stanford’s Law School, the Berkman Center at Harvard, and so on. This isn’t shocking – every company donates money to institutions that direct public opinion in ways that help them. But to suggest that Geist is a scholar and Sookman is a lobbyist is a bunch of nonsense. Truth is, they’re doing the same thing – but Sookman is honest about it. If you’re one of those Canadians who objects to U.S. influence over your legal process, you might want to note that much of Geist’s funding comes from south of the 49th parallel. How’s that for irony, eh?

    • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

      Human beings are seldom all ‘good’ or all ‘bad.’ We’re complicated. Guilty consciences and a desire to rehabilitate reputations can be as great a force for public good as a genuine desire to ‘go out and do some good’. The Nobel Peace Prize was after all wrought by an armament manufacturer.

      Do I think Barry Sookman is evil? No. He’s doing what he’s doing because that is the way an adversarial legal system crumbles.

      Do I think Michael Geist is perfect? No. He too is operating within the system that he found in the world in which he lives.

      Yes, they both have an agenda. And employers. Corporate needs are oft served with increasing skill by professional lobbyists. Public education has been compromised and eroded such that corporate investments sometimes achieve unfair advantage within our educational system. This is true from the university level down to the elementary level, where children are trained to use donated Microsoft products. Corporate infusions of cash and kind into areas that should be funded without prejudice by government is not a good thing. Still,
      it does not yet preclude independent thought or honorable behavior.

      The difference is that Mr. Sookman represents a special interest group, while Michael Geist has the luxury of representing the public good. That is one of the perks of academia. No doubt corporate lawyers can affords a better class of automobile.

      The thing to remember is that underlaying beliefs and agendas very often come out in the course of an argument. What’s amusing is that someone arguing under the shield of anonymity would attempt to make ad hominem attacks on those who don’t.

      The Internet belongs to me, and everyone who uses it because it is a network. All the various bits have various owners all over the world, and what comprises the Internet changes moment by moment. Copyright is an artificial monopoly granted by the various governments of the world to authors, who were pretty much forced to relinquish (assign, transfer) this right to distributors until recent technical developments. Although creators possess natural inalienable human rights, copyright is not one of them, because human rights cannot be transferred to a corporation.

      After all this discussion, you have have failed to disprove a single one of these premises. If you can manage a cogent argument, I’m willing to listen, but the smoke and mirrors displayed so far doesn’t quite cut it.

      • Nanker Phelge

        >>>The Internet belongs to me, and everyone who uses it because it is a network. All the various bits have various owners all over the world, and what comprises the Internet changes moment by moment.

        The telephone system belongs to me and everyone who uses it because it is a network. That’s idiotic. All the phone have owners all over the world and they change all the time. If you said this, people would laugh at you – and rightly so.

        >>>Although creators possess natural inalienable human rights, copyright is not one of them, because human rights cannot be transferred to a corporation.

        First, this is the case in some countries, but not all of them. Second, rights are not transferred – they’re licensed or assigned, and there’s a difference. Third, in countries where copyright is inalienable, the rights that are transferred are not the inalienable rights – they’re the neighboring rights. Fourth, human rights can be suspended contractually. You can choose to sign an NDA that suspends your freedom of speech about a given subject. For the same reason, creators can assign away rights to their work. But in the U.S., as of 1976, the rights you’re talking about all revert to the creators anyway – _there is no permanent transfer anymore for newly created works_.

        Look, read some law books and come back when you understand some basic principles. Until then, it’s not worth the time it takes me to type.

  • http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ Laurel L. Russwurm

    @Nanker Phelge

    Sorry for not using enough adjectives. Naturally, as a human, when I speak of networks I think of human networks. That’s one of those things that human beings have swirling around them. Human networks are as fluid as the Internet, and in fact, the human component of the Internet is the one that requires freedom.

    Your continual attempt to muddy the waters with babble about different sets of law is totally off point.

    The fact that most copyright is held by non humans is an indication that copyright is a statutory monopoly rather than a human right. The fact that there are different laws in different jurisdictions is part of my point. Everyone would have the SAME laws were they universal.

    Clearly you do not understand the difference between human rights and statutory rights. Human rights are immutable. Only real humans can hold them. Statutory rights are artificial rights that exist only because they have been written in statutes and are sometimes enforced by the government in back of the lawmakers. Just because the American government legislates that corporations are persons, does not mean they are human. In the same way, the fact that laws have been made, in some cases to support human rights, and in others to suborn them, does not alter the underlying human rights.

  • Nanker Phelge

    >>>Human networks are as fluid as the Internet, and in fact, the human component of the Internet is the one that requires freedom.

    Could you translate this from hippie into English?

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