Someone working for a P2P company wrote up a “Digital Technology Users’ Declaration of Rights.” You can see a slightly edited version of it here.
The title is a misnomer. This is no “declaration of rights.” It is a declaration of independence.
Above The Law
While relatively reasonable people could find points here and there in isolation with which one might agree, as a whole, the document essentially demands, “Opt us out of your society’s laws.”
If all the rights demanded were actually granted, society would have no rights left, no means through which it could enforce any of its laws.
To cite but one tiny example, if this nonsense ever were passed, all al-Queda or anyone like them would have to do to plan operations freely in the U.S. is to communicate solely by computer. The FBI couldn’t monitor them, and certainly couldn’t seize them according to this.
This makes the disclaimer that “This document is not intended to suggest in any way that users should be free to evade paying for software which they are using” fatuous window-dressing. A law that cannot be enforced is no law at all.
You have to have your head light years into nether regions to think something like this would fly.
An Independent Parasite?
But there’s something even more fundamentally wrong with this. To declare oneself independent of a society or government requires that one be capable of being independent and be able to stand on one’s own two feet. This is far from being the case here.
The reality is cyberspace is a child and dependent of the real world and always will be. The core technologies were developed largely due to government. It is completely dependent upon very real-world entities to supply the equipment and technologies required for it to exist. Its functioning depends upon a society which relies upon the rule of law in a million different ways.
The Magic Kingdom would crumple quickly if there weren’t real kingdoms providing the nurturing environment without which it cannot exist.
Cyberspace has no independent air supply, no water, no food, no money, no material goods, for that matter, no ANYTHING concrete. If the real world just cut off all the power, how long would it last on its own?
Cyberspace is a parasite upon the real world, absolutely dependent on it for its existence. Parasites aren’t necessarily bad, many are actually useful and render valuable services for the resources it consumes. Cyberspace is certainly that kind of parasite.
But no matter how useful a parasite may be, it still needs a host. If a leech declares independence from its host and falls off, it doesn’t do better in freedom. It just dies.
Indeed, those wishing independence are even more parasitical than that because it wants, no, demands, the right to leech anything and everything those outside the Magic Kingdom might creates that strikes its fancy. Not trade, not buy. Share: The new euphemism for Steal.
I can understand, if not agree with, “I’m ripping them off because they’re ripping me off.” I cannot respect those who pervert language to hide their actions and motives.
This leaves you with the bizarre exhibition of libertarian welfare recipients. Free us from everything except the checks.
Or maybe a better analogy is “Free me from everything except Mommy’s milk.”
There’s Something Very Childish About All This
All societies function upon core principles which need to be generally accepted by the population for the society to function.
One of them is that you don’t have the right to choose what laws apply to you and which ones don’t.
Another is that other people have certain core rights, too, not just you. Very often, those rights clash against each other, and that’s a big role of government and politics: to judge and decide what should prevail under what terms.
One of those core rights, at least in Western societies, is the right to the enjoyment of one’s property so long as one legally possesses it. This includes intellectual property.
One may reasonably dispute the degree to which such property is protected by government, much as one can reasonably dispute the level of police protection of your house and neighborhood, but only a thief, a fool, or someone with nothing to lose would argue that there should be none.
There’s no sense that the author (and many like him) comprehends that others have rights, too, and that a balance needs to be struck between contending rights. There’s something very childish and self-centered about any doctrine which says, “Only I (we) have rights.”
Virtual Nursery or Womb?
You don’t expect an infant to have much of a notion of what does and does not belong to him, nor what the rights of others are. You do expect it from adults, though.
The Internet is no longer a child. Grownups live here now, doing grown-up things, expecting grown-up rules.
Grown-ups don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes they can do very bad things. I agree to a large degree that that’s happening, and that it should be contested.
But the answer to that is to make the adults behave correctly, and you don’t do that by jumping back into the nursery or playpen or crib and demand to go back to those carefree irresponsible days again.
You can’t go back again, and that is just what many people deep down seem to want. The freedom they really want is the freedom from responsibility.
There are many criticisms of what the grown-ups are doing and want to do that are very valid. But the answer to those problems is to confront the adults, and force them to act better, not demand the right to go back to the crib and shit all over the place whenever you feel like it, with adults mandated to say, “Oh, how cute.”
It’s this attitude which really infuriates me on the subject. We’re in this predicament because babies have been shitting all over the property rights of adults, it’s starting to hurt, and they have had enough.
I then watch in amazement as what look to be adults not only refuse to acknowledge the mess all this shitting has already caused, or that something needs to be done about it, but rather insist that this shitting is a high holy right, and to hell with the consequences of that upon others.
They are demanding the right to be irresponsible without consequences, the right to be children, the right to be infantilely self-centered.
What is very important to note is that one could easily come up with alternative provisions that could handle legitimate concerns like replacement of CDs, or having the right to get purchased music in a different format than the one purchased or letting the blind hear books. There hasn’t even been an attempt made to explore those avenues, though, which ought to tell you that pragmatic difficulties is not what is driving the
No, instead we have adults in diapers leading the charge against the RIAA. I see the Doo-Doo Dudes demanding the right to shit whenever and wherever going against corporate lawyers lobbying for mandatory toilet-training (if not butt plugs).
Then I see people certain that Congress will side with shitting.
And you wonder why this freaks me out?
There are certainly those who find themselves allies of the Protectors of PooPooing for much different reasons, and if that’s the case, then I’m not talking about you (though you ought to ask yourself how much the Defenders of Dumping appeal to your inner child).
Think about it.