Finding a copyright middle ground

Go read this post at Seth Finkelstein’s Infothought weblog.

Yes, I know that’s two traditional/metablog entries in a row–but both are deserved. Jenny (see previous post) offers a fascinating situation with troubling implications. Seth offers a thoughtful essay on an aspect of copyright that I, for one, find enormously troubling: The tendency of both “sides” to deny the possibility of a balanced middle ground.

EFF says it’s for balanced copyright but behaves as though it’s for people doing anything they can get away with, with no consequences. Big Media says it’s for respecting rights, but really wants to lock down all media-related technology and maintain absolute control over the stuff that it owns (not “created,” since apart from movies, Big Media creates very little of what it controls). Larry Lessig–whose stance is, I think, quite different from mine but still within the great middle–gets assailed as some kind of commie anti-property radical.

Finkelstein also reminds us of something I’ve known for a long time, certainly since Berkeley days, something that Phil Ochs spelled out in his song “Love me, I’m a liberal”:

As a rule, liberals and radicals hate each other. They’re often more destructive to each other than the nominal common enemy, in a way ordinarily misattributed to “personal” or “ego” (which means stop thinking about it). Rather, they’re competing for the same resources, and attacking a competitor is viewed as a good strategic move.

I would promise that the next post won’t be metablogging–but I think it’s going to continue a conversation in a previous post’s comments, so that’s a faulty promise.

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