Outreach Volunteers Needed - Content Control is a Dead End

Paul Crowley paul at cluefactory.org.uk
Thu Aug 30 12:59:42 EDT 2001

Dan Geer <geer at world.std.com> writes:
> You only get an even number of {privacy, copyright} -- either the
> owner of information controls how it is used or he does not.  Either
> you embrace copyright-and-privacy, or you embrace neither.

A tempting but false proposition, on two grounds.

First, privacy is the protection of information where all those who
have it are cooperating in its protection.  Copy control enforcement
is a much harder challenge because it is intended to prevent some who
have the information from dispersing it further.  I can send you a
message encrypted with PGP; this delivers privacy, but does not stop
you broadcasting the message to the world if you so choose.

And secondly, it matters not a whit what you personally embrace or do
not embrace.  Whether effective copy control enforcement is possible
is not a matter of preference but of fact.  I can't resist quoting
Bruce Schneier's excellent paragraph in the recent Crypto Gram making
this point:

    Every time I write about the impossibility of effectively
    protecting digital files on a general-purpose computer, I get
    responses from people decrying the death of copyright. "How will
    authors and artists get paid for their work?" they ask me. Truth
    be told, I don't know. I feel rather like the physicist who just
    explained relativity to a group of would-be interstellar
    travelers, only to be asked: "How do you expect us to get to the
    stars, then?"  I'm sorry, but I don't know that, either.

  __  Paul Crowley
\/ o\ sig at paul.cluefactory.org.uk
/\__/ http://www.cluefactory.org.uk/paul/
"Conservation of angular momentum makes the world go around" - John Clark

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