A Debate with the MPAA

by Devanshu Mehta

The “#2 thesis on of my 95”:http://www.scienceaddiction.com/2006/07/23/95-theses-of-geek-activism/ was that Violating a license agreement is not theft.

I got a lot of feedback about that one- many people made the point that it could be theft if it involved either loss of property or loss of potential income.

I grant both of those points- and I am not even close to being a lawyer- but my point still holds: Violating a license agreement could also be theft, but in my opinion, is not theft on its own.

The “BBC has a video debate”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/5263208.stm between the MPAA President Dan Glickman and the EFF co-founder John Barlow on the subject, and while much of it treads familiar ground for those who follow this issue, it is especially interesting because the two opposing viewpoints have been presented together.

To get a better idea about “John Perry Barlow”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Perry_Barlow here are a few bits about him:
* Founded the “EFF”:http://www.eff.org in 1990.
* Was a lyricist for the “Grateful Dead”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grateful_Dead
* His article on “The Economy of Ideas”:http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.03/economy.ideas.html where he says

Intellectual property law cannot be patched, retrofitted, or expanded to contain digitized expression any more than real estate law might be revised to cover the allocation of broadcasting spectrum (which, in fact, rather resembles what is being attempted here). We will need to develop an entirely new set of methods as befits this entirely new set of circumstances.

* His “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”:http://homes.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html where he writes:

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

* And “more recently, more pointed”:http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004886.php remarks from him.