This site is devoted to copyright and issues of 'intellectual property,' particularly the issue's analytical aspects. It also concerns itself with the gap between public perception and the true facts, and with the significant lag time between the coverage on more technical sites and the mainstream press. For site feed, see: To see the list of sites monitored to create this site, see:

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Digg users rebel. It's an ongoing question in my mind whether the network architecture matters more or the social architecture. Digg is not peer-to-peer; it's a centrally-hosted website, albeit one that allows its users to control the content in an automated fashion. Nevertheless, the central point makes a juicy target for legal action.
For countries with strong social and legal norms of free speech, it probably doesn't matter (in some sense it's Lessig's code vs. law dichotomy) for most things. Yet even here, you eventually you run across an issue like copyright or trade secrets, where censorship emerges.
Just as when speed limits are set arbitrarily low, causing otherwise law-abiding citizens to speed and eroding respect for the law, outlawing a form of speech that most of the population supports (or in the case of this particular, rather obscure issue, would support if they knew and/or cared) erodes respect for the law in general. But this is different, as well, because of the network architecture issue above. When these users are threatened, they build a better system. Unfortunately, as with FreeNet, once you build a system truly immune from any responsibility, you've now helped the people that basically everyone agrees should be censored.*
So even if ordinary citizens aren't terribly moved by those auguring for a more sane copyright policy, they should be by the unintended consequences.


* I should say that I think FreeNet is great for what it has done in China and the potential it has in many locations of the world to break censorious regimes. I just don't think it should welcome the kind of material that it does onto its major gateways.


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