Can We Kill Off This Myth That The Internet Is A Wild West That Needs To Be Tamed?

from the it's-not dept

We recently wrote about Nicolas Sarkozy’s push to convince the tech world and the “digerati” that it’s time to clamp down on internet freedoms. While he was more blatant and direct about it, we’re seeing a similar theme elsewhere, and frequently see such claims in our comments as well. It’s all based on this idea that the internet is some sort of “wild west” that is a haven for all sorts of illegality, and that needs to come to an end.

The problem is that this is a myth. It makes for a compelling narrative, but it’s a myth nonetheless.

The latest version of this, is a horrible, dangerous and ridiculous editorial from Martin Kettle, at The Guardian, who insists that it’s time to bring the internet “under control.”

Yet whatever one’s qualms about Sarkozy and his plan, he is surely on to something that should not be so sweepingly dismissed. Looking at British politics this week, it is hard to make an intellectually serious case that internet regulation issues should not be raised. Not only has the balance between parliament, the courts and the media been made to look irrelevant over superinjunctions by the twitterati, but almost the first act of the new Scottish government on Thursday was to promise a clampdown on internet sectarian hate postings. The fact that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg also popped up this week with the casual suggestion that children under 13 should be able to use social networking sites dramatically underlines the argument that there are issues of importance to discuss here.

Let’s take these things one by one. First, on the issue of the superinjunction, it suggests the exact opposite of what Kettle is arguing. It’s pointing out the ridiculousness of analog-era regulations in a digital age. That’s not a case for controls. It’s a case for removing controls. The issue of hate speech is another one where people overreact emotionally. The best way to counter hate speech (which is almost always ignorance) is with more speech. “Clamping down” only convinces those who hate that they’re “onto something” and that they’re being persecuted. Finally, Zuckerberg’s claim — which he’s already pointed out involved taking his words out of context — was just that there could be socially useful reasons why younger people might be helped if they could have accounts, but over aggressive internet controls prevent that. Again, that seems to argue against control, not for it.

The internet cannot exist in some undiscussable and untouchable dimension of human activity. It is a human creation. It affects human lives in all sorts of increasing ways. Morality and the rule of law should apply on the internet as elsewhere in human conduct. As such, it is an absolutely proper subject for governments to consider, though naturally with sensitivity.

And here’s the myth at work. The internet does not exist as untouchable. Morality and the rule of law do apply to the actions people do there. The question is whether those laws are appropriate. In many cases, it appears they’re not.

We have got to get past the fallacy that rules that existed in the pre-internet era are obsolete because the internet makes it so difficult to enforce them. To obey the injunctions of the courts over privacy, for example, is in principle right, not wrong. The fact that the internet makes it possible to circumvent those injunctions does not negate their worth or seriousness. It merely makes it imperative to consider the ways in which such constraints can be fairly enforced in the new media. That may not be as difficult as it may seem.

No, the fallacy is not that these laws are obsolete because they’re difficult to enforce. It’s that they’re obsolete because many of them don’t make any sense, such as these injunctions that seek to merely protect the rich and famous from having their own embarrassing actions discussed. Furthermore, some of these laws aren’t “difficult” to enforce, they’re impossible to enforce. And it’s not because the internet is some “wild west,” but because it’s a very different platform of communication — a many to many platform, which the world has not had before. We’ve had one-to-one and one-to-many forms of communication, but a many-to-many platform really does change some important fundamentals when it comes to speech.

Far more important are the questions of internet access to unsuitable material, especially but not solely by children, as well as the danger to children from inadequately policed social media. Merely to write such a sentence is to invite outrage in some quarters, but these issues are all too easy for a society to ignore until they return to haunt us.

And the proper response, if there is “unsuitable” (unsuitable to whom, by the way?) content is to go after those who produced and distributed it. Not to seek to block access and sweep it under the rug. That’s denial. Let’s live in reality.

It is beyond serious dispute that the internet has placed much greater amounts of pornography within far easier reach of many more people, including children, than at any other time in human history. And it is inconceivable that this is a development without destructive consequences.

“Destructive”? That certainly seems like hyperbole. Do you have any evidence to support destructive? I agree it may be inappropriate, but there are ways to deal with this that don’t involve regulations. It’s called educating children as to what’s appropriate, and how to deal with content that is inappropriate should they come across it.

To argue for controls over the internet may not be cool. But the internet was surely not meant to be this way. The geniuses who created the modern web and made it so exciting did not do so in order to create the largest pornography bombardment in human history, to have a global email system weighed down by spam, to encourage hostile hacking into national security secrets, to embolden sectarian bigots to violent threats or mere gossipers to say ill-considered things under the protection of pseudonymity.

No, they meant to create a platform for communication in a many-to-many fashion and they knew that, as with any platform for communication, it can be used for both good and bad purposes. The response shouldn’t be to automatically reach for the regulation button, with all its unintended consequences and heavy handed results, but to understand what it means to live in a world of much freer communication.

The problems can be solved by staying out the way. Kettle talks about spam and pornography. Yet, I almost never see spam any more. Why? Because technologists came in and built filters. I never see pornography either. And not because of any laws or filters, but because the websites I surf don’t display any, and contrary to the myth makers, it’s pretty difficult to “accidentally” run into porn. I do a lot of surfing and can’t recall ever accidentally coming across any.

The internet isn’t some wild west that needs taming. It’s a new and different system that is sometimes used for bad purposes, but much more frequently used for very, very good purposes. And, because so many people have natural incentives to minimize the bad, they tend to take care of themselves naturally, by those who actually understand the system, and not by those who seek to implement laws and controls that don’t fit the system.

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Comments on “Can We Kill Off This Myth That The Internet Is A Wild West That Needs To Be Tamed?”

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201 Comments
RadialSkid (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Ever faithful, I see.

As one who largely eschews industry media in favor of self-published (CC or otherwise) work, I’d like to think it doesn’t effect me one way or another…but if you and your ilk succeed in what I suspect is your true ultimate goal (changing the internet from a communications medium to a broadcast medium), you are going to learn the hard way what the definition of “backlash” means.

Laws don’t mean anything if the public decides not to follow them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Once the net is tamed as these governments, politicians, and entertainment groups seek, it will sink to the level tv is today. At that point they best give it away for access because it won’t be worth having by the time it is regulated down to their satisfaction.

None of these politicians as a whole seem to understand the net and it appears either too much trouble to try to understand it or the pay is too good to turn away from.

None of them seems to have considered the net extends beyond their national borders. Once it leaves their borders, their law no longer applies. That’s good and bad but doesn’t change the basic reality.

I purposely named he who should not be named for the very reason above. I don’t live in the country that has those laws. The national laws of my country allow such expression. Here we have a very direct conflict with those that would seek to control the net.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Same ol thing

… because, of course, warlords are so much better πŸ˜›

seriously, look at history. every time government breaks down you end up with warlords. eventually one of them gets it togeather and forms a new government which, once it sorts itself out, is usually an improvement… for a while… or at least better than the intermediate state.

the problem is not government, as such, it’s people with power and authority who are not answerable to anyone who has the power to actually keep them in line.

an inevitable consiquence of empire, that. (and seriously, the USA is functionally an empire, the EU is an empire. both of the pen rather than the sword these days, but empires none the less. for that matter, china and russia still are as well, even if they’re not monarchies anymore.)

Christopher2 says:

Re: Re: Same ol thing

Which is why in the United States the Founding Fathers were intelligent enough to add a little thing to the Constitution called the Second Amendment and DIRECTLY condoned the overthrow of our government if the politicians and other government officials started overstepping their bounds.

The problem today is that the people have been gulled into thinking that raising arms against the Federal government is ‘wrong’ and ‘that the Founding Fathers didn’t want that’.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’d say it is kind of a wild west, now. We have all these native internet people who have been hear for generations, having a grand old time, living off the land, using it peacefully. Then all these established-in-another-land media cowboys come riding in and laying claim to the place. Once they laid there claim, they start accusing the native people of “stealing” there content. Now there are doing there best to make us forget about our culture of sharing that made this place what it is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“More like living off someone else’s land.”

Copying and living off of ‘someone else’s’ land are two entirely different things.

“There is no place on the planet with more illegal activity occurring than the internet.”

[citation needed]

and you also make the assumption that the laws in place are good laws.

“Suggesting that it should never be stopped and regulated is ridiculous.”

What’s ridiculous is the notion that copy protection lengths should be what they are. Claiming that the government shouldn’t regulate IP isn’t ridiculous because the position that IP should be abolished is not a ridiculous position. Copying is not a moral transgression.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ummm the analogy was that we were on the internet before the content industry arrived. No one was crying foul when there canton Kerk jokes were copied and forwarded to everyone on a mailing list. The problem started when legacy content industry decided to join the internet community. Now they are making a ruckus when the internet community keeps doing what they do best, and redistribute the best of what is on the internet to every one else. The culture is different here. We don’t recognize idea ownership, in a similar way that the native Americans didn’t recognize land ownership.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There is no place on the planet with more illegal activity occurring than the internet.

I think you are missing something here. The internet IS the planet. It’s the first truly global society. It’s a reflection of world population as a whole because it was designed as a many-to-many platform. What you consider illegal may not be the consensus of the planet.

Suggesting that it should never be stopped and regulated is ridiculous.

You are under the assumption that such things are possible at this point. Technology has enabled a true “freedom of the press” for the common man and such things are hard to put back into the genie’s bottle.

David says:

something's not clear in your writeup

‘No, the fallacy is not that these laws are obsolete because they’re difficult to enforce. It’s that they’re obsolete because many of them don’t make any sense, such as these injunctions that seek to merely protect the rich and famous from having their own embarrassing actions discussed.’

I think you mean the opposite, Mike… you’re implying it’s a fallacy to think they’re obsolete because they don’t make sense anymore. If you really mean the laws don’t make sense, then technically it *is* a fallacy to believe the laws are obsolete because they’re difficult to enforce.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: something's not clear in your writeup

well, yes, but the use of ‘obsolete’ implies that they no longer serve the purpose for which they were intended antiquately, so ‘anymore’ is valid there for the point David is making.

i also noticed this particular bit of weird sentence structure. i think the second sentence should probably read ‘the fallacy is that they’re not obsolete despite making no sense’ or something like that.

darryl says:

Re: something's not clear in your writeup

wow,,, give me a minute !!!!

Im interested to know what laws have been made obsolete because they are too hard to do ?

If they are difficult to enforce, I can agree they therefore cannot be obsolete though.

one really has no bearing on the other, ie being difficult or being obsolete.

Laws are revised because they are obsolete, but no laws are revised because they are ‘just too hard’.

you will never stop murder, so by definition laws against murder are difficult (impossible), but that does not mean the law against murder is obsolete.

Mike also states, at first “they are not difficult to enforce”, but later says “they are impossible to enforce”, in the same para.

LRP says:

"Taming the internet" isn't about lawlessness

As I see it, talk about “civilizing the internet” has more to do with protecting entrenched political and economic power than anything else. Note that the talk really ramped up after Wikileaks emabarrased the U.S. State Department and then went nearly viral, to use a cliche, when the Egyptians managed to overthrow Hosni Mubarak with the help of Facebook and Twitter.

A “civilized Internet” also benefits the movie and record folks who’ve lobbied copyright law beyond it’s original intent — which was to bring more cultural works into the public domain by providing relatively short-term copyright protection to creative innovators.

That said, we do have to recognize and somehow contend with the kind of lawlessness on the web that could hit any one of us — server intrusions, theft of credit card numbers, invasion of privacy, etc., etc.

But, as Internet innovators and consumers, we need to be intimately involved in whatever rule-making occurs, rather than victims of laws cooked up behind closed doors by political and economic elites or special-interest beholden legislators.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: "Taming the internet" isn't about lawlessness

I hope the movie and record folks overreach with copyright so severely that the whole copyright system gets thrown out.

Why? Because it seems there can be no real balance.

When copyright is used to suppress speech, ideas, other people’s creativity (even though your creativity must be infinitely profitable) and all our communications must be monitored, and we cannot be safe from random searches based on gut feelings, then it is time for those laws to be bulldozed.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: "Taming the internet" isn't about lawlessness

“I hope the movie and record folks overreach with copyright so severely that the whole copyright system gets thrown out.”

That is why I am half hoping that ACTA and protect IP get passed-signed. Right now there are very few people being affected. When 50% of the worlds internet using population is criminalized people will take note. If we learned anything from Tunsia, egypt, and the rest of the revolts going on around the world its this, once the tipping point is reached there is no stopping the backlash.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

If real property is like intellectual property and intellectual property can be stolen than a better question would be: How many virtual murders, digital rapes, bitnappings, and imaginary assaults have happened on the internet?

OMG!!! The internet is like a lawless super-criminal enterprise!!!

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

pretty sure the issue being taken is with the notion that ‘the internet’ is both a place and a subset of ‘the world’

depending on how you look at it, it’s either a place, and outside of the usual definition of ‘the world’, being on a different functional plane, or it’s a subset of ‘the world’ and is effectively everywhere, and thus cannot be compaired to any one place, as that place would include part of it, unless you only compaire the part within the place to the place, at which point …

basically the statement had major issues with subsets and supersets not working.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’re making the internet out to be more than it is.

It’s a modern amalgamation of communication tools that all existed in some form prior to its existence. All of which were already regulated, and all of which had to be regulated because people took advantage of the technology to engage in nefarious behavior.

This isn’t complicated.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You’re making the internet out to be more than it is.

It’s a modern amalgamation of communication tools that all existed in some form prior to its existence.

If that’s what you think the internet is, no wonder you have such trouble figuring out how to embrace it.

It’s people who understand the internet who are succeeding. And now we know why you’re failing.

people took advantage of the technology to engage in nefarious behavior.

Disrupting the gatekeepers, and opening up the greatest system ever for creation, distribution and promotion of creative content is not “nefarious.”

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I might point out that anything can be used for “nefarious behavior”. Water can be used to drown someone; should we deny people to freely access water?

Thomas Jefferson (I think it was him) said, in effect: “A free and enlightened populace is a requirement for democracy” (something like that).

The Internet allows enlightenment like no other medium (so, in today’s world of “welfare for the wealthy” and control by a minority, the Internet is the “greatest enemy”).

Beta (profile) says:

shooting fish

“We have got to get past the fallacy that rules that existed in the pre-internet era are obsolete because the internet makes it so difficult to enforce them. To obey the injunctions of the courts over privacy, for example, is in principle right, not wrong.

Let’s not confuse right/wrong with legal/illegal. I am not in British territory, so I can do many things legally which would not be legal in Britain; in particular I can talk about adulterous footballers regardless of the injunction (not that I care). Is it fundamentally wrong to talk about celebrities’ hanky-panky? Well, it’s a waste of precious time, but otherwise I don’t think so. Is it fundamentally wrong to violate a court’s injunction? I think that that’s a matter of personal conscience, but that’s just my personal conscience talking. If a British court forbids people in Britain to do something, is it therefore fundamentally wrong to do it elsewhere? Hell, no. I’ll also read the works of Salman Rushdie if I feel like it– Adolph Hitler too.

“The fact that the internet makes it possible to circumvent those injunctions does not negate their worth…”

Well… yes it does. (Inasmuch as they had worth in the first place.)

“…It merely makes it imperative to consider the ways in which such constraints can be fairly enforced in the new media.”

I think we should first consider whether these constraints should be enforced in the new media — and the burden is on those who say it should, and “because we have it in the old” is not a good reason. And if we should not, then it is not at all imperative that we consider how. While calling for “discussion”, Mr. Kettle is trying to skip over some vitally important first steps.

“Far more important are the questions of internet access to unsuitable material, especially but not solely by children…

Children should not be given unsupervised access to the internet, until and unless they are ready for what they may find there. This our-children-must-have-the-whole-internet-but-it-must-be-clean-and-safe routine is just idiotic. It reminds me of those people who say that sharks and jellyfish should be exterminated so that it will be safe to swim in the ocean.

…The internet was surely not meant to be this way.

Who cares? I could talk about DARPANet and academic research sites and the printing of German bibles and early telephony, but seriously, who cares what was intended? And if it does matter, then Mr. Kettle must concede that since the major components of the internet were American inventions, not British, it is for Americans to say how things should be done; I dare him to put that in his column.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: shooting fish

I’m going to basically repeat much of what you said, but I’m going to re-word some of it a bit to address the questions more generally.

“But the internet was surely not meant to be this way.”

Our current copy protection laws are oppressive, but they surely aren’t meant to be this way. Is the government lifting a finger to correct that? No, because they’re part of the problem, they’re the reason these absurd laws are oppressive. They want them to be. These laws were not meant to be oppressive, but now they are meant to be.

“To obey the injunctions of the courts over privacy, for example, is in principle right, not wrong.”

Says who? The court? and what makes it the ultimate arbitrator of morality? Or you for that matter?

“The fact that the internet makes it possible to circumvent those injunctions does not negate their worth…”

You’re assuming that those injunctions had any social worth to begin with.

“”…It merely makes it imperative to consider the ways in which such constraints can be fairly enforced in the new media.””

We first need to ask if these constraints should be (or should have been) enforced to begin with.

Been There says:

We can kill it as soon we stop having literally hundreds of hack attempts a night on arbitrary sites put up. These attacks come from all over the world and most of you probably are oblivious to them unless you are very log vigilent. It is a playground, there are NO COPS at all. This is the wild west in more ways than most of you know.

headcheese says:

It will be the wild west

If these idiots continue to pursue these actions the internet will become the wild west or at least a completely ungovernable version of it will. By forcing these ignorant governance policies they are laying the ground work for programmers to bring to fruition a global network that cannot be governed as there will be no central authority.

darryl says:

Many to many ??? (what like a world war ?)

such as these injunctions that seek to merely protect the rich and famous from having their own embarrassing actions discussed. Furthermore, some of these laws aren’t “difficult” to enforce, they’re impossible to enforce. And it’s not because the internet is some “wild west,” but because it’s a very different platform of communication — a many to many platform, which the world has not had before. We’ve had one-to-one and one-to-many forms of communication, but a many-to-many platform really does change some important fundamentals when it comes to speech.

“a many to many platform”

Yes, right Mike, and again you show how you really do not have much of a clue at all about what you are talking about.

The internet is not really “many to many”, when you visit a web site, its “ONE (web site) to MANY (users)”

Like TV and Radio is its one station that you ‘tune into’ that talks to many people.

Or like you local 7/11 shop, one shop many customers.

When you go out shopping you are a client (customer), it is not many to many, it is many (customers) to a few (shops).

When you explore or use the internet you are many customers, and a few shops (sites).

NOT everyone has their own shop, or has their own web site, its not many to many.

It’s many customers to less services, just like the real world.

Wars are “many to many” but the internet is NOT.

When you go to war, you are a part of a group of “many” and you fight another group of many people.

What you trying to say is the internet should not be treated like anything else on earth, because you think it cannot be effectively regulated.

and for some reason if you get a group of “many’ people doing something, it is therefore impossible to regulate that, and a ‘wild west’ is the only option..

Again Mike, all you are really doing is showing us clearly that you do not have a clue about how the real world, or much else actually works.

You make clear statements that are clearly stupid and untrue, but you make those statements anyway, hoping you can convince the weak minded on your ‘group of a few” into drinking your cool-aid.

Any Mouse (profile) says:

Re: Many to many ??? (what like a world war ?)

Clueless as ever, darryl? The internet truly is ‘many to many.’ Look at this site. MANY people post, and MANY people read, and reply. It is an ever-expanding discussion among an ever-growing group of people.

Now stop spiking the cool-aid so much, you’re eradicating your few remaining brain cells.

Darryl says:

Re: Re: Many to many ??? (what like a world war ?)

look at “THIS” ONE, LONE, SINGLE, individual, unique, web site, that has MANY people on it, its ONE to many.

ONE Techdirt, MANY ‘visitors’.

ONE TV station, MANY viewers.

ONE telephone system, MANY subscribers.

ONE Government, MANY citizens.

ONE leader, many followers.

ONE Google, many USERS.

ONE INTERNET, MANY users.

One God, many religions.

Just because Mike says the internet is “many to many” and therefore it is unique, is both wrong and mis informed.

it shows an ignorance from mike about the internet, or about everything else apart from the internet, one or the other.

Because the internet is no more “many to many” than TV is, or your own personal existance. You are not “many” you are ONE, you intereact with many.

when you are on the internet you are ONE interacting with many. EveryONE is..

Just as right here, you are ONE person (or mouse) interacting on ONE WEB site, with many people, those people are also ONE person interacting with many people.

But when was the last time you were a “many people” interacting with many other people ??

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Many to many ??? (what like a world war ?)

> ONE Techdirt, MANY ‘visitors’.

There are numerous other websites with interests that overlap to a degree. I could name some, but those would be my particular favorites. Others here probably have their own RSS feeds set up.

> ONE TV station, MANY viewers.

Ooops. That’s not the Internet. I know it is how you WANT the Internet to be.

> ONE telephone system, MANY subscribers.

Uh, that’s many to many.

> ONE Government, MANY citizens.

Again, that’s how you’d like it. In the US, the government is supposed to be made up of the citizens.

> ONE leader, many followers.

Consider this: one follower, many leaders. The follower might not perfectly agree with all of the leaders he follows. In fact one person might be a follower in some areas and a leader in others. Example a senior Linux kernel coder might be a leader in one respect, but as a music student a follower.

I know, the leader/follower thing is just so confusing. Of course to make it simple let’s have just one leader, one man, and he dictates what everyone else can think, say, read or speak.

> ONE Google, many USERS.

One Yahoo. One Bing. And there are numerous other search engines. You can Google for other search engines.

> ONE INTERNET, MANY users.

Uh, that’s sort of like the telephone system. See above. That’s many to many.

> One God, many religions.

Although I may personally agree with you that there is one God. There are plenty of people who would debate you on that. I doubt you can prove it. So that argument has a much weight as if I assert that there is only ONE unicorn and many observers of it.

I know you want the Internet to be a dumb broadcast medium like TV. It is not. It will not be “tamed” into such.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Many to many ??? (what like a world war ?)

Wow. Your post is a perfect example of how the internet is a many to many world. If it was a one to many, Mike would not let your pose be seen by the ‘many’ people. Or do you really think you post was the same as shouting at your TV and expecting your neighbors to here you? I don’t think you would have spent the time to write it up if you assumed that none of the ‘many’ would here you. Or do you think for some reason you are the ‘one’ we are all hear to listen to?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Many to many ??? (what like a world war ?)

“You make clear statements that are clearly stupid and untrue, but you make those statements anyway, hoping you can convince the weak minded on your ‘group of a few” into drinking your cool-aid.”

You make statements that are not clear and comprehensible and their truth is in question since no one can be sure what you’re trying to say, yet you continue to talk ambiguously, hoping that you can convince the confused that somewhere amidst your text is a valid point.

Darryl says:

Re: Re: Many to many ??? (what like a world war ?)

A ‘computer engineer’ wow, Am I supposed to be impressed ??

So where did you pick up your degree in CS ? (computer science if you did not know !).

or are you a hardware (electronics) engineer, or a software engineer, or a ‘systems engineer’?

Not that it matters, not that having a qualification means you somehow are able to say I have no idea what I am talking about.

Or if you are a ‘computer engineer’ you somehow gain a knowledge of what everyone on the planet is talking about, and that NO ONE but you (or other, suitabile qualified “computer engineers” have the deep world knowledge as you do !!!..

Im sorry I am not a qualified ‘computer engineer’ I am a fully qualified electronics engineer, a qualified software engineer, a qualified systems engineer, and a qualified mechatronics engineer.

as well I have multiple trade qualification, primarily in crypography and communications engineering, as well as metal work, machine work, welding, wood work, (I have an artisifer’s certificate).

Apart from all that, I do not need to trumpet my experience and abilities, and have not done so in the past.

But if you want to play “ill show you mine, if you show me yours” you will probably lose.

Iv’e employed alot of engineers in my time, (I own my own engineering business), and I have never had someone claim they were a ‘computer engineer’. Nor have I ever asked for a ‘computer engineer’.

May be you are just refering to yourself as a ‘computer engineer’ the same way train drivers call themselves ‘engineers’.

(because they operate an engine), so you ‘operate a computer’ so you can call yourself a ‘computer engineer’.

would you be able to deliver a talk on the differences between harvard and princton archetures ? or write a paper on VLIW techniques ?

So you would be all over quantization theory ? and Nyquist ?

does not matter anyway, having a ‘qualification’ does not make you an expert, as you have shown..

As an ‘engineer’ rubberpants, do you think that you have ever created something that was not a derivative of something else ?

Or are you the ‘other’ kind of engineer ?

if someone comes to you and asks you to engineer a system to perform a specific function what do you do ?

go searching for an example of someone else who has allready done that and copy what they have done ?

Or do you sit down and ENGINEER your own solution ?

If you do the former you are not an engineer, and if you do the later you are proving that “not all work is derivative”.

If every engineer had to find examples of that problem that they are tasked to solve from another source, then nothing would ever be developed.

SOMEONE, has to (in your world) develop it FOR YOU, so you can ‘derive’ that from them.

So if you are comfronted with a problem (engineering problem) that you can find no solution for, (why you were given the problem in the first place) you have to create your own solution to that particular problem.

Then in the future someone can derive off your work, but your work was not derived from someone elses work.

That is what engineering is.

As you should well know, if you are as you say a “computer engineer” and therefore qualified to comment out of field.

Jeni (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Many to many ??? (what like a world war ?)

Would you please write all my common council members darryl? Every time they want to do something in the city they run around the state looking at examples in other cities and I’m quite tired of my taxes paying for all this copy-cat behavior and the road trips.

You see, they can’t understand logic like yours in that by using others experiences and work for examples to learn what works and what doesn’t, and/or for inspiration, they are COPYING therefore STEALING. For crying all night, they just cannot be original!!!

Really ticks me off because they’re using my tax dollars to pull stunts like this! Of all the unmitigated gall, huh? (Ahem)

bratwurzt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Many to many ??? (what like a world war ?)

Wow. Again wow. How old is this Darryl, twelve? Is it just me or anybody else noticed he kills his own arguments – it’s like those batshit crazy republican candidates for presidency: even republicans don’t want anything to do with them.

This is fun – every issue here is apparently black&white. You are either for it or you’re against it. And if you’re against it you probably have to bash Mike and his freetard you’re-stealing-my-ideas cool-aid kind of thinking. Hehe, it’s like you’re just getting a dose of potassium cyanide into your bloodstream and bitching about those cowardly suiciders…

Togashi (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Many to many ??? (what like a world war ?)

if someone comes to you and asks you to engineer a system to perform a specific function what do you do ?

go searching for an example of someone else who has allready done that and copy what they have done ?

Or do you sit down and ENGINEER your own solution ?

Or do you take existing works, let’s call them for our purposes the “NAND gate”, the “power supply”, the “gated D-latch”, et al., and create a new, original system that can do something no previous system could do? Or are improved computer components completely valueless because they build on past technologies?

If I’m not allowed to use a single derivative solution, cooking my dinner tonight got a hell of a lot more complicated. I can’t build on the technologies of the baking pan, the casserole dish, and the convection oven to make my (new!) dish of hand-slaughtered squirrel (since I had no knives, I had to choke it to death but wait… has someone done that before? Do I have to come up with a brand new way to kill a squirrel?) cooked in oak sap.

See, sometimes making new things ends with things like sticky squirrel for dinner instead of a delicious pizza.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Pen on paper is a great start to try an regulate a company. The internet is not a company, it is the communication between people. It is going to take a bit more then ink to stop people from communicating with each other. Its not impossible, just ask China, but there it will take a bit more then a stroke to make it happen.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Even when POWs were in horrible prisons, all communication was regulated. (eg, forbidden)

Yet people’s drive to communicate overrides this regulation. POWs still managed to develop codes of taps and clicks and managed to communicate despite regulation.

Try all you want to regulate the Internet with the stroke of a pen. Communication between people may have to move underground. But it will continue.

I’m sure some governments recently are surprised that people just don’t want to be sheep. Imagine that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Reminds me of a Seinfeld scene in a car rental office, when he finds out they don’t have the car he reserved:

‘Oh, sure, you’re great at *taking* the reservation, just no good at actually *holding* the reservation. Anyone can *take* a reservation…’

Use all the pens you want, won’t make anything actually happen, or change, or become magically effective.

darryl says:

Classic - We dont want rules because we will break them !

No, the fallacy is not that these laws are obsolete because they’re difficult to enforce. It’s that they’re obsolete because many of them don’t make any sense, such as these injunctions that seek to merely protect the rich and famous from having their own embarrassing actions discussed.

Mike, are you sure you cannot be any more vague, or wrong or biased ?

Tell us why the injusnctions that seek to protect ‘people’ is an ‘obsolete’ law ?

(I do like how you specifically put in “rich and famous” because you know that is far more emotive, and we all know the rich and famous are not entitled to the same rule of law as everyone else,,, right Mike ??? )

The internet isn’t some wild west that needs taming. It’s a new and different system that is sometimes used for bad purposes, but much more frequently used for very, very good purposes.

So where have you been for the past 20+ years Mike ?

The internet might be ‘new and different’ to you, but its not new and different to the rest of the planet.

Then again, you might of just found out about it!!!!!

It’s a new and different system that is sometimes used for bad purposes, but much more frequently used for very, very good purposes.

What a classic misdirection, GOOD Vs BAD, of course what your definition of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is, is directly related to your own morality.

So for you mike, being able to pirate all the music you want would go into the ‘good’ list.

And not being able to steal DRM music would fall into your ‘bad’ catagory.

I notice you avoid “legal and illegal’ or ‘moral or immoral’
, or ethical or unethical.

No you would rather use the “good and bad”, that is to allow you to define what you think is good and what you think is bad, and of course we all know your mindset of that !

Mike do you not murder people because there is a law against murder, or do you not murder people because you feel it is not the right thing to do ?

Do you not steal things because there is a law against theft, or do you not steal because you have some moral fibre and know that theft is not only against the law but morally wrong ?

Do you only ever ‘work to law’ Mike ? Do you have no personal ethics or morals ? can you not by yourself decide, regardless of the law what is right and wrong, or what is ‘good or bad’ ? or what is legal or illegal ?

It appears Mike, that you are the classic reason why there is a push to regulate and to introduce specific laws to the internet.

Because there is a large group of people (Mike included) who appear to have no moral or ethical compass, who clearly are not capable of defining what is ‘good or bad’, legal or illegal, but are willing to ‘make it up as they go’.

The internet is very much like the ‘wild west’ or some ghetto somewhere, there are many many places that you would NEVER go on your own, the equivalent to the dark street with shadowie figures lurking.

You said that yourself, you choose not to go there, allthough you know they exist, and you are very well aware (or should) be of what happens in the dark alleys of the net.

The only people who want laws changed are the people who want to take advantage of not having that law.

I do not murder people because there is a law against murder, I do not murder because it is wrong to do it, if there was no laws against murder, I STILL would not do it.

Same with theft, I know theft is wrong (most do), its not because there is a law against theft that stops me stealing, its because I do not steal off people, and again it would not matter a shit if there were no laws stopping me from taking something that is not mine.

I dont need a law to tell me how to be a ‘normal’ person, and an honest citizen.

But that does not apply to everyone, such as Mike, it appears Mike will do anything that he can do to ‘get around’ ethics and the rule of law.

I feel if there was no laws against Murder, Mike would be very happy because he could go and murder anyone he wants.

Same with theft, Mike would just love it if there were no laws against theft, so mike could steal whatever he wanted, and feel he is right to do so.

No laws would be necessary if there were no criminals, or no people doing bad things, but that is not the case in the real world, bad people do bad things, and again must do not need a law to be honest and ethical.

Some do, and its those small few (like Mike) who want so much to do their illegal thing, that they want to law, and society to change to suit them.

Sorry Mike, its just not going to happen.

You have just as much moral and ethical obligation to abide by the societies rules, regardless of whether you are on the internet, or you are walking out the shoot the postman for delivering a bill to you.

If you cannot work out the difference between ‘right and wrong’ or ‘good and bad’ or ‘legal and illegal’ then you lose the right to act on your own behalf, you therefore are ‘out of control’ and that is why there are laws, for morons who cannot themselves conduct their lives in an honest and ethical, and socially acceptable manner.

Jeni (profile) says:

Re: Classic - We dont want rules because we will break them !

@darryl – how cow, are you a dark-minded, angry “tool”!

Overall there’s good in everyone but I fear one would have to dig awfully deep to find it in you …

You spent some serious time and effort there to insult, degrade and demoralize another human being (slander?) – how about putting some of that time and energy into something positive, like solutions to these difficult problems we as a society face?

What I get from the writings on techdirt.com is a basic understanding of human nature and what does and could drive commerce, the human free spirit and enterprise. All good things if we could just do it “right” – something we need to figure out. Insulting someone isn’t going to solve squat.

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people…” – Eleanor Roosevelt

rubberpants says:

Re: Classic - We dont want rules because we will break them !

If you’re an example of the caliber of individual that’s advocating for extreme copyright measures then I believe that, indeed we may not have as much to worry about as I thought.

You’re wall of text “rebuttal” of this post makes not one cogent point. It’s nothing but silly rhetorical questions, childish insults, logical fallacies, and straw men.

Please spend more time working on rational arguments and getting your thoughts together before posting.

Persephone (profile) says:

Re: Classic - We dont want rules because we will break them !

“If you cannot work out the difference between ‘right and wrong’ or ‘good and bad’ or ‘legal and illegal’ then you lose the right to act on your own behalf, you therefore are ‘out of control’ and that is why there are laws, for morons who cannot themselves conduct their lives in an honest and ethical, and socially acceptable manner.”

Exactly.

Those who blindly tout the unregulated internet have a very naive idea that it can regulate itself.

The proof that is it NOT doing this, is staring them right in the face, yet they refuse to recognize it.

A very good question is WHY?

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Re: Re: Classic - We dont want rules because we will break them !

I tend to have a (very lonely) middle-of-the-road approach to almost everything; that’s why I am an (underpaid) small entity IP attorney; it is the right thing to do IMO.

Now, as to the internet: as Mike has pointed out, it is a communication medium; one that greatly enables commerce and social interaction. Regulating it would be an affront to free speech, not an attack on the people who offend.

Michael Abehsera (profile) says:

We cant let this happen

I think the last hope to humanity is the web. It’s the last free place on earth, free from government and a proof the capitalism does work. The internet regulates it self very well and has spread so much good to the world, like: helped spark revolutions, helped people by giving them more tools to free speech, and of course helped sparked a communication boom all over the world. I really hope that NO regulations, I don’t care weather small or big should be added.

Fucking government and their quest for more power needs to stop.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: We cant let this happen

Maybe the last great hope to humanity is copyright?

Patents?

Trademarks?

Ever lengthening copyright extensions?

Random searches at the border with no probable cause?

Random searches of Internet storage lockers with no probable cause?

Maybe copyright owners should get random searches of our homes because there might be pirated material there?

It’s not just the Internet — we need to tame society!

People should act like sheep and do what they are told. Watch some more advertisements already.

Prisoner 201 says:

Re: We cant let this happen

I agree, there is nothing more bothersome to dictatorships than when its citizens can find out how things work in other countries.

The internet will probably be remembered as the greatest tool for democracy in human history. That is, if it survives until the generation currently in power is replaced by a younger generation with a better understanding of the internets potential.

Persephone (profile) says:

Re: We cant let this happen

Micheal:

“The internet regulates it self very well”

No it does not.

“has spread so much good to the world”

It has also spread so much bad in the world. Hate speech is out of control and violence of the tongue is VERY real. Real violence is happening thanks to this unregulated Wild Wild West, people are being harmed.

The lawlessness of it and near-to-impossibility of applying the laws that do exist has enabled organized crime – not called that of course since there aren’t laws in place – to exist like never before.

“I really hope that NO regulations”

That is suicide. That ignores the fact that Corporate America can and is taking advantage of this. That is another Wall Street in the making and has equal potential to harm our Country.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Re: Re: We cant let this happen

Again, attacking the messenger, not the sender of the message.
Any communication means can be abused, but if we want to do anything meaningful, we need to go after the perpetrators, not the tools they use.
Ignorance is bliss, but not compelling.

As to Mike Masnick, he provides a valuable service, primarily educational, which a free society requires.

Jeni (profile) says:

Re: Re: We cant let this happen

Law-less internet? ? ?

Gee. I’ve been watching protesters in my state trash our beloved capitol IN THE FLESH. They smoked dope, drank and got sick all over it for a month, they had children under the age of 15 involved in all of this – and none of that occurred on the Internet. I could go on and on but the point is, the way you’re talking you’d think no crime exists outside the Internet.

I’ve read and seen copies of the death threats hand delivered to my state Senators (all by dems, I might add just for brevity).

I have watched union thugs bully and riot small businesses on city streets all across my state – none of that involved the internet.

I feel much safer online than I do walking or driving our illegal/gang/union thug-infested streets these days.

I wish we’d put more of this time, money and effort into fighting REAL crime, not little kiddies who make a COPY of a song…just sayin’.

darryl says:

Cerberus ---- Mike

No, the fallacy is not that these laws are obsolete because they’re difficult to enforce. It’s that they’re obsolete because many of them don’t make any sense, such as these injunctions that seek to merely protect the rich and famous from having their own embarrassing actions discussed. Furthermore, some of these laws aren’t “difficult” to enforce, they’re impossible to enforce.

So which is it Mike ?????????

BTW: since when has a law been cancelled because its “difficult to enforce”.

Murder, drugs, terror are all against the law, and all are to say the least difficult to enforce, if not impossible.

Does that mean we should just not have those laws ?

Or is that your argument Mike “if it is too hard, just dont bother”?

It is quite clear it is basically impossible to enforce drug laws, no matter how many people you catch and arrest drugs are still being used, and purchased.

So does the government just make cocane and herowin legal, and give up on any drug laws?

is that what you would expect of your Government ? “if its too hard, we just wont bother !” ?

It appears for you mike being creative is difficult, therefore you believe there should be no laws allowing you to use the creativity from someone else.

I guess if you were a druggie, you would be fighting for no drug laws so you could more easily get your hit!

or if you wanted to murder people, you would fight to have no murder laws, so you could do what you like.

It would be a shame if someone wanted that law changed so they could do you in !!!

You might want to look at it from a different perspective other than a totally egotistical and self centered, ‘mike is the center of the universe’ perspective. πŸ™‚

but thats ain’t going to happen…

“was just that there could be socially useful reasons why younger people might be helped if they could have accounts, “

(and make some more billions for zukenburg, who calls his ‘clients’ “SUCKERS”)

not to mention that there COULD be socially very harming reasons why younger people MIGHT he harmed if they could have ‘unsupervised’ accounts.

Really Mike, and you would happily let your 11 year old daughter on facebook unsupervised and unchecked ?

rubberpants says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’ve just criticized another poster for “personal” attacks. Being, attacks focused not on the arguments of the person, but that them directly.

Here’s a list of the personal attacks that you have posted in this thread:

Yes, right Mike, and again you show how you really do not have much of a clue at all about what you are talking about.

You’re suggesting that Mike doesn’t know what he’s talking about. His successful website that consists primarily of Mike talking about stuff, and which many intelligent people read and agree says you’re wrong.

So for you mike, being able to pirate all the music you want would go into the ‘good’ list.

You’re accusing Mike of being a criminal. That’s a pretty serious charge. Do you have any evidence of that?

I feel if there was no laws against Murder, Mike would be very happy because he could go and murder anyone he wants.

Mike wants to kill people? You’ve just lost anyone who may have had a sliver of interest in your opinion.

Same with theft, Mike would just love it if there were no laws against theft, so mike could steal whatever he wanted, and feel he is right to do so.

There, you did it again.

Darryl says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

i (correctly) suggest Mike does not know what he is talking about, or does know, but chooses to apply his own bias.

I make those statements based on comments and statements Mike has made..

I make those statements in direct responce to specific statements from Mike.

I do not attack Mike for no reason, or because I do not agree with him in general.

I make sure I specifically, address his ‘claims’ and attack those.

I chase the ball not the player…

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Hate Speech

“The best way to counter hate speech (which is almost always ignorance) is with more speech.”

This. I’m probably amongst the most ‘politically correct’ of Techdirt regulars, but there is a hell of a line between objecting to something and banning it. I’ll tell someone if they’re being offensive, which I wouldn’t be able to do if they weren’t able to express themselves.

darryl says:

Re: Hate Speech

“The best way to counter hate speech (which is almost always ignorance) is with more speech.”

Nice idea, but really does not work in practice, so Al Quada use ‘hate speech’ against the US, and does the US respond with “more speech” ??

Hell no,

the US had this group called the KKK (still has), what is the response to that ? “we’ll just talk to them nicely !”

Martin Luthur King, tried it, so they shot him !!

I dont understand why you state “(which is almost always ignorance)”

Ignorance on which side ? so is any negative speech borne from ignorance ?

Like when you rile against copyright, and laws ? or when you express hatred for MIAA or some other authority you dont agree with on that day ?

Or when you post the names of politicians to ‘shame’ them ? is that borne from ignorance as well Mike ??

Or do you have some sort of total understanding of the universe that us mere humans do not have ?

Prisoner 201 says:

Re: Re: Hate Speech

The laws about free speech is not supposed to protect the things that we all agree on. There is no need for a law to protect that.

What needs protection is the things that annoy, irritate or even offend. Just because you dont agree to something, does not mean it should be forbidden to say.

Mr. Kings murder was just that – a murder – and as such is already illegal. So your example is flawed.

Al Quada did not fly words into the world trade center. They hijacked planes and committed mass murder. Which is illegal. Their opinion of america and the west in general did not cost a single life. Actions did. So your example is flawed.

Now, those people were probably affected by “hate speech” to commit these horrible acts. But what Mike is trying to say is that if they also had been affected by the more reasonable opinions (wich are by far greater in number) it is quite possible that they would not have aquired the fanatical mindset to do these things.

Listening to only one signal gives you no ability to judge its worth, you must have multiple signals to compare in order to do that.

Respect for other peoples is based on understanding, and understanding is facilitated by communication of experiences, thougts and ideas – i.e. “more speech”.

Jeni (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Hate Speech

“Al Quada did not fly words into the world trade center. They hijacked planes and committed mass murder. Which is illegal. Their opinion of america and the west in general did not cost a single life. Actions did. So your example is flawed.

Exactly. And not a one of those horrendous actions were – or could be – committed “on the internet”.

So how can the Internet be a “wild wild west”? It just can’t. It’s physically impossible.

@Darryl – I can’t believe you’re still at all this “hating” on Mike. You sound like a crazed, irate, jealous female who fits that expression, “hell hath no fury…” – sure you’re a male “darryl”?

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hate Speech

‘You sound like a crazed, irate, jealous female who fits that expression, “hell hath no fury…” – sure you’re a male “darryl”?’

That’s an odd angle to take. Are you really so fond of the gender divide as to perpetuate such chauvinism? Or are you projecting your own fear of being different into an insult against darryl’s presumed sense of masculinity?

If I may suggest a comeback for him: ‘How appropriate. You fight like a guy.’ (funnier if you’ve played Monkey Island).

Jeni (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Hate Speech

Well. Let’s see. First, my observation was based on the simple fact that the shrill and hysterical rantings of Darryl remind me of women going off the deep end – or PMS’ing or something. (Well, you asked.)

It wasn’t an “angle” I took, it was a simple observation.

“Or are you projecting your own fear of being different into an insult against darryl’s presumed sense of masculinity? “

HUH? *scratches head*

I never heard of “Monkey Island” so you lost me on that one, sorry.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Hate Speech

“First, my observation was based on the simple fact that the shrill and hysterical rantings of Darryl remind me of women going off the deep end – or PMS’ing or something. (Well, you asked.)”

I’m not questioning your observation. I’m just wondering why you’re questioning someone’s gender based on their temperament. Should he be concerned that he may not appear to conform to some masculine stereotype? Your comment seemed rather pointed for random observation.

“HUH? *scratches head*”

A helpful gesture. I was speculating that because you may not like the idea of losing your own sense of gender identity then you might have presumed the same of darryl and used that to try and belittle him.

The monkey island joke (which should still make some sense having not played the game), was a suggestion that he could use that as a basis of a comeback by attacking your own gender identity.

It’s not a big deal; just, as you would say, a (less?) simple observation.

darryl says:

If it is difficult or impossible why worry.

Mike if you think it is so difficult to enforce laws on the internet, why are you so worried that they will try ?

If it is as difficult as you claim, you have nothing to worry about right ?

It is only if you honestly believe it is not difficult, but in fact easy to enforce the law, that has got you so worried! right ?

But it does appear what is difficult or impossible for you to grasp Mike, is not difficult or impossible for people who actually know what they are doing.

But if you are right and they are wrong, you have nothing to worry about. They can introduce all the laws they like and it will be impossible to enforce them. (except that they can and DO enforce them now, so not difficult or impossible). Except for you Mike it appears.

thankfully that is not your responsibility, your responsibility to to abide by the laws as they are, like everyone else.

You dont have to agree with them, you dont have to like them, you dont even have to know them, but you have to obey them, just like we all do.

Jeni (profile) says:

Tyrants

IMHO, at the crux of this is one thing: They do not like the openness of the Internet in regards to information because all too often it exposes their tyranny and abuse of power.

They want secrecy, spying, databases filled with our personal info at their disposal. They want (and do) to track us, read our texts, listen to our phone conversations, know what we use our credit cards for and access our (what should be) private bank accounts.

I think the table needs to be turned. The “wild wild west” is taking place in D.C. with our liberties and freedoms. They think technology is the way to tread on our privacy rights and our freedoms, trampling them so completely we’ve none left.

And how about killing humankind’s free spirit? I’d say one could start the argument that that falls under a form of “murder”, darryl… Their guns are nodes…

NullOp says:

Power Grab

The thought that the internet should be brought under control is simply another grab for power and control. Look at real world. We have layer-after-layer of police forces and is the world under control? No! People are robbed, raped and murdered every day. “Red Light” districts exist in almost every city on Earth. The internet doesn’t need control as they wish it existed.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m not. If it’s not streamed, I have no problems finding a copy.

Oh look, I’m costing a producer money when it’s not available! I’m hurting the profits of some unknown person, who decided that copyright is the only way they can get paid!

I guess Sarkozy was right. The internet and the people that use it must be controlled for the greater good of society.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Controlling the Internet

Excellent article!
The only thing I can add is that in more permissive societies, such as Polynesia, sex crimes are almost unknown (and when they do occur, are by people foreign to the culture, so far as I know). At the same time, I have known a lot of Polynesians (and people from other permissive societies, and they don’t show many of the problems we have (shootings, etc.).
In fact, the more uptight the society, the more “Jack the Rippers”, violence, savagery (though that is not entirely a cause and effect matter; sometimes less savagery leads to a more permissive society, not the other way around).

revwillie56 says:

wild west internet

The fact that the myth exists is proof some people who cant stand or understand creativity are doomed by their fear of the unknown. Instead of being stupid, the fear mongers should find ways to capitalize the creativity and move on to the next project. For instance, record companies are fear mongering Internet piracy instead of capitalizing on the creativity and harness each copy in the same manner apple has tried to do. $.99 cents a rental is not bad. Record companies would do better to require a rental fee for copywritten material instead of legislating it into obscurity. As Ron White states in his comedy routine; you can’t fix stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m starting to think that capitalist society will not even allow free internet to exist since it’s apparently incompatible with the system (a system entirely based on selfishness at the expense of others).

I guess if you people want the internet to remain free (and also other mediums like radio, television, etc), then you going to have to abolish capitalism and move on to a system which is truly democratic for the workers (well the entirety of humanity actually since it will be a classless society unlike ours currently) which also known as socialism and finally communism like Marx said, it’s the only way.

A well educated political scientist would understand this to see what’s truly wrong with the system much like there’s something wrong with a car engine but unfortunately 60 years of brainwashing of “communism is bad” and “communism goes against human nature” makes it less likely and more of a obstacle to overcome first.

Andy Martin (profile) says:

Internet now; cameras a century before

I’m not really as good a student of history as many, but I’m pretty sure I have heard tell that the camera, on its rise to popularity a hundred or more years ago, was considered an ultimate evil because if made pornography easy for anyone to do. Think of that next time you take a picture! We didn’t crack down on that technology and somehow managed to survive, yes? Those who want to restrict the ‘net should go back to their houses, lock the doors, and wait for the end…

abc gum says:

Re: take a hit, you need it.

Imaginary property is imaginary,
anyone can imagine it,
imagine that.

I doubt imaginary property will become the currency of a world market, you need to wake up and smell the real coffee.

Your point about stopping governmental stupidity is valid, however that in its self does not substantiate the need for a draconian crackdown upon the internet or anything like it.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Re: take a hit, you need it.

I believe Mike Masnick’s contention is (almost) the same as mine, though being an IP attorney, I am obviously a little more on the side of IP.
Mike, I believe, sees that IP has, or may have, a place in our world, but we join in believing that, as it is presently
(mis)applied it is bad.
Think actual reform, not band-aids on a failed system.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: take a hit, you need it.

Whoa, down Tom… Let’s remember that some lawyers should have a chance to explain what they believe in.

I’m also guilty of coming to a snap decision on seeing someone practicing copyright law. But Gene, I’d like to know, how can the copyright system be reformed?

The problems I see are the length, the methods of copyright enforcement (government handled, always bad) and going against the Copyright Clause.

What do you suggest might make the law on copyright more respected?

darryl says:

Re: not prohibition - learn history - and facts pls...

prohibition was not cancelled because it was hard to enforce, enforcement was quite easy, (read history), prohibition was cancelled because it was an obsolete and inconsistant law.

prohibition is no harder to enforce than drugs, but they have not cancelled the law against drugs.

They just took grog off that list..

Is prohibition the best you can come up with ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: not prohibition - learn history - and facts pls...

Did you know that the price of cocaine has gone down in the last 20 years?

So if enforcement is so easy and the War on Drugs is about eradicating supply then why has the price of cocaine gone down?

Why are drugs still easily available to anyone who knows where to look, if enforcement is so easy?

mermaldad (profile) says:

Ah yes, the wild west...

A dark stranger entered the saloon. The murmur in the room subsided as all in the room paused to study him as he walked to the bar.

“Whiskey,” he growled at the bartender.

The bartenders hands shook a little as he pulled out a printed paper and a pen. “Sign this,” he said to the stranger.

“What is it?”

“It’s a registration form. If you want a drink, you’re going to have to sign it. It says that you will abide by our Terms of Service and agree to our Privacy Policy, which are in these here documents.” The bartender slid two thick piles of papers toward the man.

The stranger’s registered anger, then resignation. “All right, I’ll sign,” he said as he scrawled an X on the page. “Just give me my whiskey.”

“Not so fast, partner. You didn’t check the box that says you have read and agree to the terms of the TOS and Privacy Policy.” The bartender pushed the stacks of paper a little closer to the stranger.

“Bah,” he said, pushing the piles aside, “I never read those.” He made the check mark and slid the paper back toward the bartender.

“Thank you,” said the bartender as he poured a shot and set it down in front of the stranger.

Shahar says:

What a ridiculous claim of hate speech

“Clamping down” only convinces those who hate that they’re “onto something” and that they’re being persecuted? Really?

It’s like saying that “killing terrorists” only convinces other terrorists that they’re “onto something” and that they’re being persecuted.

Ignoring hate speech is lethal, as history has shown.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What a ridiculous claim of hate speech

“Ignoring hate speech is lethal, as history has shown.”

I think there is a difference between “clamping down” on it and “ignoring” it.

Yes, if someone makes speech that indicates that this person might hurt someone, the government should investigate to some extent. But banning such speech will only make these peoples future actions less detectable because now they will deliver fewer signs that could foreshadow their future crimes, signs that cops can use to further investigate. Prior restraint to their speech is dangerous because then it prevents others (and cops) from seeing early warning signs before anything happens.

JMT says:

Re: What a ridiculous claim of hate speech

“Ignoring hate speech is lethal, as history has shown.”

Nobody said it should be ignored. Mike has repeatedly said that hate speech should be responded to with more speech to counter it. If one person is saying hateful things, ten people responding with counter-arguments is far more beneficial for society than trying to silence that person.

Anonymous Coward says:

—Darryl—
prohibition was not cancelled because it was hard to enforce, enforcement was quite easy, (read history), prohibition was cancelled because it was an obsolete and inconsistant law
—-

Citation please.

“Ultimately it was recognized with its repeal that the means by which the law was to be enforced was not pragmatic, and that in many cases the legislature did not match the general public opinion.”

Report on the Enforcement of the Prohibition Laws of the United States. National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement. Dated January 7th 1931 “Bad Features of the Present Situation and Difficulties in the Way of Enforcement

Difficult to enforce… Public opinion…
Didn’t find any reference of repeal due to obsolescence.

Frost (profile) says:

All laws are an admission of failure

If you need laws to determine how people behave, you’ve already failed in designing the core system properly. Laws against theft aren’t necessary if you design society in such a way that theft itself becomes nonsensical and idiotic. Laws against violence aren’t really necessary either in a properly designed society; doing away with the need to commit violence for gain will leave you with nothing but sick people who commit violence for kicks – and those people need treatment, not laws. Laws against speech… well the very notion is idiotic and damaging. What we need is a society where openness is cherished and rationality rules, not one where any jackass can clamp a shut-down-order on anybody they feel like because they were out boinking someone they weren’t married to at the time.

Tom Landry (profile) says:

Can someone please point out a clear example of where either “bad language” or accidental exposure to porn on the internet or elsewhere has harmed any child?

I am absolutely NOT condoning kids watching porn but the kind of mentality where people like the author claim that kids will somehow be permanently damaged/altered by a quick glimpse of hardcore/softcore porn has never been shown to do any lasting harm.

At 10 years of age I stumbled upon some hardcore porn magazines that belonged to one of my brothers. The result? nothing., other than maybe starting masturbating at a slightly earlier age. I never developed any disrespect for women, never had a single sexual hang-up, no obsessive behavior sexual or otherwise….nada.

The “children” excuse is becoming a tad specious in my mind.

Togashi (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But don’t you see? By seeing that pornography and not developing obsessive sexual behavior, you severely altered the timeline! Now we will never see the day when you, the all-powerful sex dictator of the world, overstep your bounds and cause all the people of the world to unite finally and overthrow you! Thanks to your perceptions of sex being subtly altered at such a young age, we will never know true unity as a species.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Easy now!

First, I am an IP attorney (not the one dissed in the above, but ….). There is always someone to hate; black people, red people, yellow people, doctors (when I was a kid), auto mechanics, Jews, Nazis, “Communists (where the meaning is actually “dictators”)”, attorneys, ????
We don’t gain anything by that – if someone does evil, then we disapprove (for some, “hate”), if not, we sound somewhat demented by mindlessly attacking “them”, whoever that is.

Second, while some people are trying to work out their own problems by blaming others, at least be fair about it. I “burn” Mike Masnick a lot (and some of my attorney friends), but overall, Mike, and some of the attorneys I know, are doing a great job, and while I will continue to point out where I feel they are wrong, I respect what they do and are.

Michael says:

I don't know about the rest of you

I don’t know about the rest of you but I would rather have the fraudsters, illegal downloads, illegal porn and so on, if it means that I can go on the internet without having to worry about being falsely accused of some illegal action by an incompetant government/police person, who can’t keep their noses out of my buisiness. Look at sites like the torrent sites, loads of people are falsely accused all the time because it is so heavily monitored.

What do you think will happen if that extends to the rest of the internet? I would be to afraid to even click on the google homepage button. The obsession of governments around the world that want to control how people use the internet has to be stopped before the internet becomes a metaphorical police state. That they use the reason of illegal activity is stupid. Illegal activity happens EVERYWHERE in the world and putting blanket bans or strictly controling people or there actions has proved not to work in the past.

Think what usually happens if a government gets too power hungry: revolution. I know that is a strong word for something like the internet but it will happen in its own way if all these governments keep up this power game with the rest of the people. They need to be told that they don’t speak for the people anymore and that they are in for a rude awakening if they continue.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Copyright

Glad you asked. Copyright is so completely out of control that I once suggested in a post that perhaps it should be discontinued.
If it is possible to reform it, make it for, say, ten years, like trademark law, but not renewable, and stop this nonsense of automatic copyright.
But it has spun completely out of control, and I despair of doing anything to fix it.
BTW I do not do copyright; I will, if convinced it will not be abused, tell people (no charge) how to register one.

Jeni (profile) says:

Myth to Myth

vevaelamor, I didn’t “attack” anyone’s gender or masculinity. But if you really want to pick this apart it’s a compliment to males.

You see, I generally find men are more likely to use logic and reason over emotion and/or hysteria. Women, on the other hand, do the opposite, often responding out of emotion, which is the way darryl sounded in that post – emotional.

It’s truly that simple. One post, one observation on that one post. That’s all.

And now haven’t we gotten off topic quite enough? Quite frankly, the whole thing seems silly.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Mike and the Internet

I like being in the middle (it’s lonely there, but at least there is some semblance of truth there):

Mike Masnick (a journalist, though he feels he isn’t qualified for that title) and the internet, news media, etc. are MESSENGERS!

If you don’t like the message, you have an issue with the person generating the message (Mike in his editorials, but only rarely) and NOT the MESSENGER!

The internet in particular is a (valuable) messenger.

Persephone (profile) says:

Mike is lost in La La Land

Mike Masnick: “The internet isn’t some wild west that needs taming. It’s a new and different system that is sometimes used for bad purposes, but much more frequently used for very, very good purposes.”

Yes it does need taming and your naive assumption that it is regulating itself is contrary to the proof that it is not staring you right in the face.

A very good question is why you are blind to this.

Persephone (profile) says:

here is your Wild Wild West Mike

Check out this FB group.

It is LOADED with violent threats to kill liberals and even posts training videos of how to shoot. The President is getting many death threats here, as are all liberals:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=222921641069130&id=1773145219#!/pages/DEAR-LORD-THIS-YEAR-YOU-TOOK-MY-FAVORITE-ACTOR-PATRICK-SWAYZIE-YOU-TOOK-MY-FAVORITE-ACTRESS-FARAH-FAWCETT-YOU-TOOK-MY-FAVORITE-SINGER-MICHAEL-JACKSON-I-JUST-WANTED-TO-LET-YOU-KNOW-MY-FAVORITE-PRESIDENT-IS-BARACK-OBAMA-AMEN/111712585523370

Does FB delete this group? Nope. Do they ban the violent trolls? Nope.

Oh yeah, the internet can regulate itself. Not.

Persephone (profile) says:

Re: Re: here is your Wild Wild West Mike

A FB group dedicated to deleting racist profiles, had its page hacked, the profile of its moderator hacked. Bots were made with stolen userpics of members which began posting as them.

A troll-buster on Sarah Palin’s FB page had his computer hacked and FB deleted his profile, he lost all of his content. The Palinites then arrived at his home, asking for him.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: here is your Wild Wild West Mike

Does FB delete this group? Nope. Do they ban the violent trolls? Nope.

Just a quick aside:

I voted for Obama, would do so again, and I would raise a shit-storm if the government tried to shut this FB page down.

I don’t care if the people who are on this page are xenophobic, racist assholes. They have a right to speak their (tiny) mind as much as anyone else, including me.

Persephone (profile) says:

Re: Re: here is your Wild Wild West Mike

Karl: “I don’t care if the people who are on this page are xenophobic, racist assholes. They have a right to speak their (tiny) mind as much as anyone else, including me.”

They do not have the right to threaten the life of the President of the United States and his wife. There are dozens of death threats to the President on the thread.

Where is the Secret Service or the FBI? MIA.

And if you really, really, really supported free speech totally, you would get on the page and troll-bust to counter the violence and racism, instead of letting it flourish.

Then and only then, can it be said that free speech balances out morally.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: here is your Wild Wild West Mike

They do not have the right to threaten the life of the President of the United States and his wife.

Vague statements like “the President deserves to be shot” should not be taken as literal death threats. This sort of rhetoric has been going on since there was political discourse.

It is not censored in political pamphlets, it is not censored in newspapers, it is not censored on the radio, and it should not be censored on the internet either.

And if you really, really, really supported free speech totally, you would get on the page and troll-bust to counter the violence and racism, instead of letting it flourish.

If these people gave even a single indication that they could be reasoned with, perhaps I would.

And, by the way, “supporting free speech” has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with “countering violence and racism.” Supporting free speech means supporting free speech, even if it is violent and/or racist. If free speech allows bad ideas to flourish – well, tough shit, then bad ideas flourish.

Persephone (profile) says:

here is also your Wild Wild West Mike

Perhaps Mike has the same conception of death threats on the internet as the Topix moderators do. Anything can be white-washed, even death threats.

Topix Moderator: “these “death threats” that you have brought to our attention were people saying that you would be better off if you killed yourself. Now it wasn’t a nice thing to say by any means but unless you are actually afraid of yourself then it can’t really be considered a death threat.”

Mike supports Topix here on TechDirt.

Persephone (profile) says:

Re: Re: here is also your Wild Wild West Mike

ummm, no I am not.

Sure, you can turn off the computer, but that doesn’t mean that the content on it is not something that is wrong.

Let me give you an analogy here.

Thats like saying let them distribute weapons freely, so long as I don’t know about it, its ok because I don’t have to think about it.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: here is also your Wild Wild West Mike

Persephone, why in the hell are you talking about death threats? What does that have to do with anything in regards to free speech needing to be culled?

Ok, you can see the speech and decipher it’s not worth your time checking out. At least it’s out in the open rather than some BS where it’s hidden in the corner and given a cult following.

Persephone (profile) says:

Re: Re: here is also your Wild Wild West Mike

“Persephone, why in the hell are you talking about death threats? What does that have to do with anything in regards to free speech needing to be culled?”

Allow me to adjust your hearing aid jay: Death Threats, a threat to human life. Mortal violence.

Wrong and criminal.

“Ok, you can see the speech and decipher it’s not worth your time checking out. At least it’s out in the open rather than some BS where it’s hidden in the corner and given a cult following.”

^ Yikes!

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: here is also your Wild Wild West Mike

“Allow me to adjust your hearing aid jay: Death Threats, a threat to human life. Mortal violence.

Wrong and criminal.”

*facepalm*

Let me get this straight, you want them all locked up just because they’re making idle death threats? Meanwhile, the FBI can actually look at everything they’re posting build a case and later indict and prosecute because it’s out in the open. Not to mention that in a free society, so long as none of them post “I’m getting a gun and shooting the president”, it’s still protected speech.

Please, please, PLEASE… Grow the hell up and stop worrying about what someone says on facebook. Worry about your self and your own issues.

Persephone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 here is also your Wild Wild West Mike

Mike: “Let me get this straight, you want them all locked up just because they’re making idle death threats? Meanwhile, the FBI can actually look at everything they’re posting build a case and later indict and prosecute because it’s out in the open.”

Ha ha ha. The FBI has such poor surveillance of the internet its not funny.

Your point is ridiculous because its like saying: Let death threats be posted which threaten the life of the President and other Americans. The FBI will take care of them. Not.

Meanwhile, those threats of violence stand.

“Not to mention that in a free society, so long as none of them post “I’m getting a gun and shooting the president”, it’s still protected speech.”

They do post that and close to it, all the time. To say that this is freedom just proves how dense you are, either that or that you support American Terrorism.

Freedom for what? Violence? yeah, the rats like that a whole lot also.

It is you who needs to grow up Jay.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 here is also your Wild Wild West Mike

Persephone, this is just plain stupid. It’s like the KKK protesting the Westboro Baptist Church. Oh wait, that actually happened

Personally, both of them are groups that have pretty asinine views. I don’t agree with either one of them. But so long as it doesn’t amount to violence, they can say whatever the hell they want. That’s the consequence of the First Amendment in this country. “I don’t like what you say, but I’ll protect your right to say it”.

I do a pretty good job of ignoring inane BS that doesn’t affect my well being. Some nutjob on the internet saying that they want the chance to kill the president? Think REALLY hard about how they plan to accomplish that with a Facebook page. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s there to pull the gullible people in that may want to harm the president. Dunno, not my business, because it’s pretty damn tough to get through Secret Service.

I’m arguing they don’t have the means to get near the President. So other than giving them credibility by acknowledging the existence of a fringe group on the outskirts of the internet (when compared to the President’s network) the chances of ANY people on that site being able to accomplish that feat are slim to none.

Again, so I can make this clear… Until someone says “I got a new FGM-148 Javelin, to take on the President’s car” or “I got 5 tons of fertilizer for a Sunday Special!”, then I’m not taking a damn Facebook page seriously. That’s exactly what the Secret Service *should* be doing. It’s all talk. People want to say that and pull you in, that’s your choice.

Meanwhile, those threats of violence stand.
That is a really thin argument. We’ve had people throw out death threats. They get arrested. There’s plenty of them. Link. There are not enough resources to arrest people based on how they feel politically. This is why it’s beyond dumb to continue on this.

“To say that this is freedom just proves how dense you are, either that or that you support American Terrorism.”

Don’t get me started on your fallacious argument here. This is a false dilemma. Get a better argument.

“Freedom for what? Violence?”

Expression. They can say whatever the hell they want. Unless you’re going to arrest each and every one of them, you would do better to just ignore them.

Honestly, this is just like the Casey Hearns video, where people got mad at Casey for standing up to a bully.

“The bully could have been killed because of a piledriver!”
Well, don’t pick on someone twice your size for a few years.

Don’t people have better things to do than tell others how to live their lives?

Persephone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 here is also your Wild Wild West Mike

Persephone, this is just plain stupid. It’s like the KKK protesting the Westboro Baptist Church.

Nope. You’ve got it backwards Jay. The fanatics and the ones empowered in this Wild Wild West.

I do a pretty good job of ignoring inane BS that doesn’t affect my well being.

Oh goody, goody, goody for you.

the chances of ANY people on that site being able to accomplish that feat are slim to none.

Nope. The more assassination threats are put out, including training videos, the higher the chance it will happen.

They get arrested. There’s plenty of them.

Nope, hardly any.

Expression. They can say whatever the hell they want.

Nope, they cannot. People cannot be endangered. Even the Wild Wild West had sheriffs, the world you are supporting lacks even that.

And THAT is why we cannot ignore it.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Comments

I am in a difficult position: since I don’t “peg” on either extreme, I generally find things I can agree/disagree with in ANY comment.
I do wish that people would get off attacking Mike. He is human, therefore error-prone, but mindless attacks on someone who is providing a public good are unwelcome.
Not that I won’t make sharp comments for a REASON; but he deserves to have people wait for a reason rather than simply venting at him.

iBelieve says:

I know that I remember thinking that once the government knew what they had sitting in front of them, having turned this internet loose on the public and anyone who had even minimal html skills back in the mid 90s, that it was going to become a playground for lawyers, legislators and heavily progressive corporate commercialism. Gee, I wasn’t too far off..

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