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#548#549#550#551 Episode #552 - Defective By Design & The War on Sharing
(Copyright or Community in the Age of Networks?)


Sat 21 May 2011  Richard Stallman
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2This week's entire show is devoted to a recent speech by the pioneer of the free software movement, Richard Stallman. He gives a history of copyright law, and how it has become a tool of corporations to maximize profit by creating scarcity. He explains the technical and legal sides of some recent battles about DRM, and the moral and pragmatic reasons why people should refuse to use proprietary software.
Speaking in Sheffield, UK, earlier this year, Richard Stallman tells of the connection between copying technologies and copyright law, including the hidden history of copyright as a form of censorship. Modern corporations "are extending copyright power as never before", both the length (how long materials remain under copyright) and the breadth (which materials are copyrightable). He explains that with the length of copyright at 75 years, by the time material enters the public domain, its author will almost always have deceased.

Hence the efforts to extend copyright to 95 years are clearly unlikely to motivate greater efforts of creativity, hinting at ulterior motives such as profiteering by promoting artificial scarcity.

Echoing episode 534 on built-in obsolescence, he details some of the recent developments in the battle between corporations and individuals in the area of DRM (Digital Rights Management), looking at Ebooks, DVDs, BluRay disks. Stallman sees DRM as an instance of the larger problem of 'digital handcuffs', which are deliberate restrictions generally found in proprietary software. He explains the Sony Rootkit controversy, and that although Sony was guilty of committing a felony, few observers were surprised that legal action against them has been unsuccessful.

We start a second hour with some music on the subject of Hollywood profiteering, then we pick up where we left off, with Stallman's recommendations for a sweeping reform of the copyright system so that it would work in the interests of society in general, making the case that copyright and incentives are mistaken in their assumption that unless motivated by money, people will not produce creative works. Most artists, he shows, are interested in recognition and in knowing that other people appreciate their work - only a few become corrupted by money to the extent that it becomes a major motivation. He insists that sharing is not a bad thing and must be legalized. We conclude with highlights of the ensuing Q & A section.
Thanks to Chris for making the Richard Stallman recording and passing it my way.
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