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mmasnick77 karma

Let me echo Daniel's point about "investor-state dispute resolution" mechanisms. It SOUNDS boring on purpose. It's designed to make people think it's boring so they don't recognize what it is. What it really is is corporate sovereignty. It's an attempt to give companies extra-special rights to go above and beyond the laws of other countries.

An incredible example of this in current practice (under NAFTA) is Eli Lilly suing Canada for rejecting one of its patents. Eli Lilly is claiming that Canada rejecting one of its patents is a form of taking Eli Lilly's expected profits. Think about that for a second and you realize that this effectively eliminates the ability of countries to set their own laws -- so long as a foreign company can argue that any adverse law (not just IP, but health, safety, environmental, etc.) somehow takes away expected profits.

edit: correcting stupid typo.

mmasnick72 karma

What will it take to get politicians in DC to recognize that copyright is not a mere business issue for some companies, but something that actually impacts everyone, every single day?

mmasnick51 karma

Other commenters may (likely will) disagree with this, but I think that putting privacy on a "sliding scale" is a little misleading. When privacy is done right it's about tradeoffs that you get to make.

Here's an extreme example: when you leave your house to go to the store, you are giving up a tiny bit of your privacy (someone can see you walking down the street, they might see where you live, or what store you shopped in and what you bought). But you consider that tradeoff to be worth it to get some food/take a walk/get some fresh air/whatever. But, at least in that case, you understand the basic tradeoffs and are making a conscious decision of "this is worth it for the little privacy I'm losing."

So I have trouble with the idea of "total privacy" because basically no one really wants total privacy. But what people do tend to want is both a knowledgeable understanding of what the tradeoffs they're facing are, and to be able to make the decisions themselves if they're worth it.

The problem we're seeing with things like ECPA and the NSA stuff is that we aren't given the information, we have no way to make the choice, and the "tradeoff" we're being given is a terrible deal. So rather than trying to get to "total privacy" I think we need to be getting towards greater knowledge, transparency, oversight and the ability for individuals to make reasonable decisions about their own privacy.

And, while I'm not a huge fan of Christmas music generally (sorry!), to keep the theme going, I think it's gotta be "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" for this particular AMA. "They know when you are sleeping. They know when you're awake. They know if you've been bad or good... so encrypt for goodness sake."

mmasnick45 karma

I think it's important to recognize that "piracy" almost always is a symptom of the real problem, rather than the problem itself -- but too often people focus on fighting the symptom, rather than solving the underlying problem. We have enough historical research to see this over and over and over again. Adrian John's book "Piracy" and Matt Mason's book "The Pirate's Dilemma" both drive home this point with tremendous clarity on a historical basis -- each and every time we see a rise in "piracy" it tends to be because the technology enables something new that the public wants, and the powers that be haven't figured out how to make use of the technology, so they fail to deliver what people want in a reasonable way. More recently, the massive (and incredibly thorough) "Media Piracy in Emerging Economies" report put together by Joe Karaganis has shown how this applies to plenty of today's piracy as well.

So, in the end, it's not about whether or not piracy is a "legitimate action." It's simply a fact of nature. It's happening -- and historically no amount of "increased enforcement" has ever been shown to be long term effective in fighting it, though it often has been shown to have tremendous negative side effects. What has worked, is figuring out how to make use of the technology in positive ways to provide what people want. In other words: treat the problem, not the symptom, and amazing things happen.

Of course, in the interim, all you hear is how the piracy itself is evil. But that's an old story. We heard it when the printing press came out. When the player piano came along. When radio was invented. When TV showed up. When cable TV entered the market. When the photocopier was invented. When the VCR was introduced. When the DVR became popular. When the first MP3 players hit the market. And, of course, when online streaming became popular. And yet, historically, we see the same thing every time. The "piracy" was really a result of people seeing this new enabling technology and thinking "wow, that lets me do something new and wonderful, so I'm going to do that." And those that it disrupt cry "piracy!"

But in the long run, as people learn and adapt, we see each of those new technologies (with the possible exception of the player piano...) opening up tremendous and amazing new markets, often leading to significantly more growth than what existed in the old market. So it's not about whether or not it's a "legitimate action." It's a signal from the market that they want something more, and historically, it's been shown that it's quite productive to figure out how to serve what the market is asking for.

My favorite example of this, by the way, remains the VCR, which famously was described by the MPAA's Jack Valenti as "the Boston strangler" to the movie industry. 5 years after he said that at a Congressional hearing, the home video market was worth more than the box office market for the movie studios. So there's that.

mmasnick45 karma

I think it's a little dangerous to automatically assume that there's a "balance" between the two. You don't need to give up privacy to protect security. In fact, giving up privacy seems to rarely protect security, and in some cases can actively harm it (such as when backdoors are put into software you thought was secure).

At the very least though, it is difficult to see how anyone can argue with the basic concept of requiring a warrant for searches through private information. This is the thread that runs through both the ECPA issue and the NSA stuff. The government seems to go out of its way to avoid a warrant. If there is a truly serious issue and law enforcement can make a credible claim, it's not difficult for them to get a warrant. So why are they so resistant to it? Seems likely because they know they're overreaching in grabbing all sorts of unnecessary information just because they can.