Why Rick Falkvinge Just Doesn’t Get It
Recently, Rick Falkvinge posted up another rather laughable article over at torrent freak, which is one of the few sites that seems to let him post with fairly free reign. Anyway, the piece, called “WHY THE COPYRIGHT INDUSTRY IS DOOMED, IN ONE SINGLE SENTENCE”, is pretty much par for the course. Rick is very good at combining non-relevant facts and making what appears to be very subtle changes to things to completely distort reality. He cites a line from one of the regular posters over there:
“The very concept of a business around the copyright monopoly revolves around the ability to prevent people from telling each other interesting things.” — Scary Devil Monastery (as part of a larger comment to this article)
And that, in a nutshell, is why the copyright industry is dead as a doornail. It’s just zombieing around for a bit first.
It sounds perfectly reasonable, until you understand what he is saying. For some reason, the anti=copyright zealots seem to think that people are trying to stop them talking about things. The implication is that we cannot stand at the watercooler at work (or the foozball table if you work somewhere so hip) and talk about what we saw on TV last night, or that we somehow cannot have a discussion about a movie we saw because it’s copyright. That by itself is a total lie, you and I could have a full discussion about anything and everything and never be stopped by anyone. Quite simply, there is nothing blocking people from sharing ideas, opinions, and yes, what they know about a topic (or movie).
What they are really trying to do is suggest that talking about what they saw on TV last night should mean that they can give you a copy of what was on TV last night without permission, or that they could duplicate the movie they watched and hand it out, or even to give you a free copy of the hot new computer game they just played. What Rick is trying to push is that the sharing is “part of the discussion”. In other words, he wants to entirely usurp the rights of copyright so that he can be lazy when he talks to other people. He wants to replace the copyright holder as the person who gets to choose the distribution of a work, and of course, he doesn’t want to compensate the rights holder for doing it – all in the name of “discussion”.
If he wasn’t so serious, you would think it’s a column from the Onion.
His basis is pretty amusing too, and requires that you ignore some basic facts. It goes like this: “Any digital, private communications channel can be used for private protected correspondence, or to transfer works that are under copyright monopoly. n order to prevent copyright monopoly violations from happening in such channels, the only means possible is to wiretap all private digital communications to discover when copyrighted works are being communicated. As a side effect, you would eliminate private communications as a concept. There is no way to sort communications into legal and illegal without breaching the postal secret – the activity of sorting requires observation.”
You have to ignore the very basic facts that the same logic would make investigating almost any other crime equally impossible. It is why we have laws that allow law enforcement to get warrants to tap telephone lines and (more recently) to examine things like text messages and emails. Criminal activity, done in private or done in public is still a criminal activity. Copyright violations, while mostly a civil issue (unless there is a commercial aspect to them), is still something that could be acted on.
What Rick forgets is that the real issue isn’t Bob sharing a single copy of a song with Fred, it’s Bob running a seed box and sharing the song with the world. The real issue is the scale and scope of piracy right now, where a single person can share a file and fulfill the needs to thousands of people they don’t know. If it was limited to personal exchanges, like in the old mixtape days, few would really care. The volume would be too low, the amount of effort required to share too high, and the process too slow to be significant factors in the marketplace.
Rick tries to downplay things as if piracy is a small thing, just people having a discussion. I don’t know about you, but I don’t talk in two hour, 100 million dollar movies. Do you?