Grrr…I knew going to read the full text of Dan Glickman’s letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee would get my blood boiling. The Wired article describing it made me mad enough, highlighting the money quote:

“Opponents of ACTA are either indifferent to this situation [Internet piracy], or actively hostile toward efforts to improve copyright enforcement worldwide,” Glickman wrote.

Them’s fightin’ words, Dan. You don’t get to tell me what I think. I am VERY against ACTA, not only because secret treaties are bad government policy, but also on the merits. That does *not* mean that I hate kittens, or do not believe in copyright enforcement at all. So stop saying what I think, how about it?

This isn’t a 10 word, “you’re with us or against us” situation. It’s a complicated issue in which you are, in my opinion, mostly in the wrong. (note: I’m not putting words in your mouth there…I’m judging your words and actions. Different thing. You’re free to do the same with me.)

I agree that you work in, and are paid very handsomely by, an industry that is being transformed and hugely affected by the impact of the Internet, cheap computing, the remix culture, and ubiquituous communication. Your business model is in trouble. But that does NOT mean that you’re automatically right for defending the status quo. You have no magic moral high ground, Mr. Glickman.

These technologies that you are trying to fight are the grandchildren of the transforming tools of 100 years ago; tools that CREATED your industry. As Cory Doctorow likes to say, “technology giveth, and technology taketh away”. You have no natural right to allowing certain technologies (example: encryption for DRM; good, you say) while outlawing others (example:, encryption [hey, same thing!] for DarkNet distribution; oooh, bad, you say). Your way of doing business has been hugely profitable while it lasted…but that time is nearly over. You must innvoate, you must change…or you will fail. Simple as that.

And even today, without ACTA, you are the beneficiary of decades of copyright legislation that has seriously unbalanced the nature of the bargain that copyright represents. Even today, media companies are able to sue families for hundreds of thousands of dollars for sharing a directory of songs, or threaten students who write the wrong software tools…only failing in that attempt through shame brought down on them via that very Internet you find so threatening.

With the ACTA treaty, it would be even worse. The treaty provides for criminal prosecution of commerical scale copyright infringement (whatever that means), even if it it does not involve financial gain. What does that mean for, say, a P2P system? The users ARE the distributors; conceivably everyone logged into the system is culpable. Add the 3 strikes [via assertion, no less, not even a requirement of legal proof!] and your Internet can be cut off provisions, and the consequences of this treaty look pretty disastrous. I’d negotiate it in secret too, if it was my idea!

Making secret wishlist treaties in back rooms (and yes, that’s what you’re doing…it doesn’t make it not so just because you happen to be in the back room) isn’t the way to reform copyright policy in a democracy. Letting giant corporations who’ve already twisted copyright law into something it was never intended to be dictate the terms of ANY treaty, open or not, is not in the interests of our society.

Let’s get things out in the open, stop calling each other enemies of apple pie and such, and accept the nuance. I’ll admit, that will harder for the media companies that for people like me, because that’s VERY different than the way they’ve handled things for a long time. But it’s the right way.

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