Hang With You, Or Just Hang You?

I’ve commented in the past about how everyone seems to want to act out being someone else.

Well, the EFF seems to want to act out being Founding Fathers. Or at least channel them.

“If America’s founding fathers had anticipated the digital frontier, there would be a clause in the Constitution protecting your rights online, as well.”

Oh, really? Next time I’ll ask a real expert to do the channeling, like Shirley MacLaine. 🙂

There’s one big problem with this. The same guys in the first Congress who came up with the Bill of Rights also came up with the Copyright Act.

The Founding Fathers universally felt that property rights were the basis of a stable civilized society. They understood that intellectual property was a kind of property, too, and if they wanted it to flourish in America, they couldn’t let people steal it left and right as soon as it came out. They had to let the originators get something out of their creation, for at least a while.

Most of them (with a couple exceptions) would have been horrified at the notion that their words and thoughts would have been warped to justify and provide shelter for people stealing the latest stuff.

If they had actually felt that all information should be free, they never would have passed a Copyright Act.

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean they would have loved all these extensions to copyright terms, either (and it did take the U.S. a long time to properly respect foreign intellectual property.

However, most copying today is copying made-in-the-USA material that is closer to 75 minutes than 75 years old. When was the last time you downloaded an Al Jolson or Caruso tune, hmmm?

Hiding The New With The Old

Right after that nonsense, these folks continue:

“Instead, a modern group of freedom fighters was necessary to extend the original vision into the digital world.”

Wow, what modesty! Talk about pushing geek buttons.

This is a little more like it, but what a Freudian slip!

The reality is when folks like EFF talk like this, they’re just using a tried-and-true method of BSing.

These folks aren’t trying to preserve rights. They just ain’t there.

If they were really there, the courts would certainly know that. That’s their job. If they were really there, if these were really hallowed, established rights, when folks like EFF makes these kinds of arguments, the courts should be saying, “You’re right.” Instead, they’re generally saying, “Yeah, right.”

No, the EFF and those like them are trying to create new rights.

Throughout history, those who want to break with the old often try to hide that, and they do it by saying, “We aren’t doing anything new; we’re going back to the really good old days, before all this evil new stuff.”

If you look at the buildup to the American Revolution, you don’t find people saying, “To hell with being your colony.” Instead, you get, “We want to go back to the good old days, so stop with all this new-fangled stuff like taxes on stamps and tea. We didn’t screw things up with something new, you did.”

Look at the Declaration of Independence. What does a large part of it do? It puts the blame on the British for all these bad new things they’ve been doing to their loyal colonial subjects, so bad that, dragging-and-screaming, they just had no choice but to get away from all this new stuff.

Back then, some of those saying these things were quite sincere, but others sure weren’t.

It’s the same thing today. Anybody with half a brain on the legal staffs of these places has to know that they’re not trying to preserve hallowed traditions, but trying to make new ones.

Now trying to make new ones isn’t necessarily bad. In some instances, new technologies do raise new questions that may need new answers, and there’s certainly some aspects of intellectual property law that certainly could use some revision given the nature of cyberspace. But let’s not pretend this is old when it’s new.

For the ones that matter in this situation, though, the Founding Fathers need no upgrade. They had no problems understanding theft. They knew what it was, and they knew what to do about it. Actually, at that time, if you stole the equivalent of what an MP3er does, and you were a repeat offender, that usually meant hanging.

Do you still want to go back to those “good old days?” 🙂

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