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Friday, December 4, 2009

The Great Western Imperial Firewall

Paul Marks writes at New Scientist:

"THIS is the kind of snooping you'd expect in China, not a modern western democracy. It raises huge questions over privacy invasion and freedom of expression." So says Andrew Heaney - who is not, as you might imagine, a civil liberties campaigner, but a senior executive at TalkTalk, one of the UK's largest internet service providers. Along with other ISPs, his company faces the prospect of being forced to spy on its customers' downloads for signs of potential copyright infringement.

>> Read more.

We supposedly enjoy the right to use our property the way we want, we supposedly enjoy the right not to be spied by the authorities without justified judicial intervention... but that does not apply to the Internet. While my phone or snail-mail conversations are protected by the right to privacy, whatever I do in the Internet is considered unprotected and open to be scrutinized by the police without any judicial supervision.

And if I happen to breach their corporativist laws, I won't even have a trial: I will be severely sentenced without any kind of guarantees.

And worst of all is that all their efforts to control intellectual property are futile. People will keep downloading and sharing one way or another, and they won't buy more because they just can't. Some will be punished but essentially piracy will just change its forms without any reduction. If anything people may feel even more justified to infringe copyright at any occasion because the mafioso style of this thought police is so annoying that you can't but choose to punish them whenever you can.

The whole project is going to fail (again). Their attempts to capitalize into even the most marginal sectors is essentially doomed. However it may have a good facet: that it will unavoidably open the debate on one of the central tenets of the late Toyotist capitalism: extremist intellectual property and how it makes impossible to do anything. And this kind of virtual property is the last hold of Capitalism: when we are done with it, this age will be over.

It is a fact that the labyrinth of patents and copyrights is hindering research, that fair use should be standard not any exception - even if just for the sake of science.

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