Law in the Internet Society

Lecture Notes for Sept 4, 2008


• Moglen will give a program for the future of politics.

• For much of human history, human brains were denied the function that they were evolutionarily designed to achieve: to gain knowledge. Knowledge was considered property. We eventually made cultural ignorance preventable. We have the power and resources and technology to make knowledge free and infinitely consumable by everyone. But those in power are keeping that from happening.

• If power must be explained, then that power is unjustified. Power is only safe, if there is no idea of disputing it--the condition of hegemony--the making of real political questions into impossible thoughts.

• The changes associated with digital technology are undermining intellectual hegemony. I'm not doing this as a rhetorical/academic exercise--Moglen believes it is right: human freedom depends on sundering this hegemony.

• In history, the state and the law is a weak alternative to, but when it comes to material, non-zero-marginal-cost goods, the state works pretty well. But in digital world, these rules are ridiculous--infinite free duplication of these goods. Property rights over digital goods are a failure.

• Should the state know your conversation? What about Google?

• Our politics is based on something that already works.

• Freedom is breaking the order and consuming , creating, and sharing anything in the realm of ideas. There is a "Family" of handcuffs.

Gramsci on Hegemony

• In 21st century, the unfree man is one who Google knows more about what he will do tomorrow than he does. People are surveillied, controlled, and fed stimuli at an intimately detailed level.

• The Stazi had an enormous surveillance operation. See The Lives of Others.

• In this country, the top 5% of population has more wealth than bottom 60%.

• In 21sty century, anarchism is a superior organizational strategy. It outcompetes command-and-control strategy.

The Future

○ Hollowing out and eventual dissolution of intellectual property

○ Public sharing of resources is a superior strategy in some forms of digital production

○ Story of global software industry--Anarchy wins.

○ The world is beginning to be ruled by software--when iTunes doesn't let you play a song.

○ We have implanted inside capitalism a commensal organism. Capitalism feeds the internet, but the internet is eating out the capitalist establishment.

○ Music, which had been a communal , it became a product, but now it is shared once again, since it is now zero-marginal-cost.

○ The most power-concentrating medium in the human race, television, is about to go extinct.

○ Power structures that lock up intellectual property

○ Taboo -- some things are criminal to say or possess -- I could draw something on the chalk board that would send you to jail. See TabooTopics.

○ Data-mining in politics. By November, we will get a front row seat on how politics can be manipulated in the digital age.

Bad Metaphors

Let's start by trying to get rid of a couple of ideas.

• Metaphors control thinking. You use metaphors to step to a higher level of analysis. But the metaphor that you choose influences the higher analysis. So old habits control new thoughts.

"Cyberspace" Lawyers tend to make spaces out of things. Law is territorial. Space-ifying, reifying the metaphor of geography is a lawyerly habit. "Cyberspace" is a way of making a lawyer-friendly idea of the internet. The web can be "the wild west" or "a safe place with walls and locks." There are no contracts made in "telephone space"; there are no contracts made in "cyberspace." It is a bad metaphor.

"The Internet" is another bad metaphor--it makes "the internet" into an entity. There is no "the internet." It used to mean that it was a network of smaller computer networks. This made sense in the 1970s, when different brands of computers couldn't communicate with each other. At the beginning of the cold war, the US govt decided that IBM and AT&T computers should be able to talk, so that nuclear war could work effectively. The rules that developed allowed any two computers to send information to each other without knowing how the data were processed or stored--this rule set was called Internet Protocal (IP). The IP is about cooperation, about sharing between computers. Organization emerges under conditions of atomization. Network neutrality is a bullshit concept. IP cannot be destroyed.



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r2 - 07 Sep 2011 - 00:54:23 - IanSullivan
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