Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.
Lawrence lessig
the extremists in power

According to the Post, Lois Boland, director of international relations for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said "that open-source software runs counter to the mission of WIPO, which is to promote intellectual-property rights." As she is quoted as saying, "To hold a meeting which has as its purpose to disclaim or waive such rights seems to us to be contrary to the goals of WIPO."

If Lois Boland said this, then she should be asked to resign. The level of ignorance built into that statement is astonishing, and the idea that a government official of her level would be so ignorant is an embarrassment. First, and most obviously, open-source software is based in intellectual-property rights. It can't exist (and free software can't have its effect) without it.

People think that creative commons and free software are "anti-copyright". It's amazingly stupid. You can't have free software or "some rights reserved" without copyright. I wonder if people are truly stupid or whether there is some FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) machine running a "stupidity about copyright" process in the background...


one thought. our current democracy has mechanisms that designed to prevent "military taking over government (civilian control)" and "religious cult taking over the government (separation of church and state)". (in theory, of course)
but we don't even have a mechanism to prevent profit hungry large business industry taking over the government, and that forces are multipul entities and always seeking themselves into many field including WIPO, WTO, etc. like devils in every details.

I suspect that that force is driven by deep intention of "exploit everything" and that often changes human personality. they don't care if something isn't looked like "usual trade mechanisms". so that force also try to bend everything: law, market, architecture and even norm.
maybe one way to change this is "user buy out of industry" type of action. I think you mentioned this kind several years ago.
(have I gone too far?)

People just do not understand and talk when they do not know or understand it fully.

You make a good point, but I still think Larry is a bit over the top.

Open source is about sharing source code. This means that it supports the idea that less protection can be better sometimes than more protection (secrecy in this case). So, some people will catch this drift and react to it negatively.

What I think is that the argument for anything like this must be framed in terms of legal theory and doctrine to appeal to the people who make the decisions. I'm just beginning to learn about the whole intellectual architecture of the law, but it's amazing how much thought has already gone into these things.

I feel now that I was truly ignorant to think I could hold substantive discussion of these issues before going through law school. This is not to say that the sentiments of those without legal education aren't sometimes equally valid, or equally important to consider, just that when it comes down to deciding what you want to do about all these things, you need to think incredibly hard about not just the economic benefits and detriments, but the moral justifications, the implications for our whole national and world order, &c., and you need to be able to frame those thoughts in a way that is justified by the principles already well established in law.

It's also clear that to ignore the interests of big money and big corporations is silly. To try to change them is extremely difficult, and it's not always clear who would benefit from such a change or whether we'd all be better off. Let's say for instance that reducing copyright protections allowed more innovation using previously copyrighted works, but also thereby reduced the value of intellectual property assets of 1st world nations. If this change, effectively a willful giving up of value by 1st world countries, resulted in so much increased innovation that the value was made up, it could be great. It could also basically become a wealth transfer to 2nd world nations. I certainly don't feel confident anymore in saying something conclusively on the subject, except that it's very very difficult. ;)

Cui bono fuisset?

I agree with Lawrence L's indented comment completely. This kind of zero sum thinking (a la Lois Boland) is the kind of hypocritical and politically cynical thought and goals of the Bush Administration and the Beasts of Bellevue. To think that this democratic world must give in to negative Zero Sum thinking is discouraging to me as a Canadian, neighbour of that beastly regime of Bush or Shrub & Co.

Negative corporatist thinking must be confronted and stopped. Stop the Bellevue Beasts!!!!

I think it depends on who the person is. If the person has an agenda to push then it probably is FUD. But there exist several recipients of the FUD who take it for granted. For example, there was someone intelligent I know who had heard of Lessig and thought he wanted to "do away with copyrights"--simply because of impressions he received from other sources of information. I clarified Lessig's positions as wanting "balance" in copyright and throwing in some examples and he found them very reasonable.

A lot of it probably is some type of misguided groupthink or people who are uninformed on the topic.

The other problem is that Lessig's groupies portray his position as more anti-establishment than it probably is.

I would conjecture that they also push him to become more anti-establishment than he is, as students in an academic setting who probably don't really know too much first-hand about IP law practice.

Basically, it seems like Lessig surrounds himself with people who don't always want the balance he purports to want. Maybe it's a California thing... ;)

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