[free-sklyarov] Attempting to show the other side

Huaiyu Zhu huaiyu_zhu at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 29 01:08:15 PDT 2001

> If you follow tech news, you've read a lot in the past few weeks about
> Dmitri Skylarov.
> Here's the other side of the story.
> http://lumthemad.net/story.php?story=2252
                    The other sides

This article claims to be showing the other side of the story.  

It ceremoniously acknowledges that the DMCA is a bad law, saying nothing
about why it is bad and how it could be improved.  Then it spends most
of its volume giving examples of intellectual theft.  It concludes by
talking generalities like there are two sides to any story and nothing
is black and white, and so on.

It missed the point entirely, probably intentionally.

It is well known that most human conflicts, in any form and on any
scale, involve conflict of interests.  This is true from family feuds to
world wars.  The fact that there is always another side of the story is
in itself nothing new.

Many of the problems cited concern either the society (if it discourages
authors from creation) or distributors (if it reduces their profits).
The latter in turn may also concern the society if the distributors make
useful contributions to the dissemination of the work.

However, the real issue here is not that the other side exists, but the
fact that DMCA allows one side to assert its rights in absolute terms,
taking actions without compensating collateral damage to any other side.

This is exactly _why_ DMCA is a bad law.

Any dictator can cite the examples of crime victims to justify Draconian
laws.  What they don't show is how such laws also deprives the real
rights from real people many times more.  

The devil is in the details.  Here the details are in _how_ the laws
balance the conflicting interests of various groups.

On "this side" of the story, many people on this list have genuine
interests in equitable schemes for compensation of "intellectual
properties".  In fact, most of programmers and researchers live on
"intellectual properties", by definition.

On the "other side" of the story, those powerful entities have
single-minded concerns about any perceived loss of profit from "IP
theft".  The measures they take and the laws they sponsor show little
concern about how they infringe, erodes and deprive any number of
legitimate users of their historically held rights.

It should be reminded time and again that there are more than two sides
of the story.  A law that allows side A to win over side B by infringing
everybody's rights, including that of side C, is bad.  It is bad because
it is unbalanced.  It is bad because it ignores the rights of other
sides.  DMCA is bad precisely because it is such a law.

Saying everything is a shade of gray gives a very simplistic one
dimensional view of the world.  Saying everything is gray without
specifying its value gives a zero dimensional world.  This kind of
tactic is often used by people on the losing side of argument not
wanting to admit.

To really solve the problem we have to recognize the multidimensional
nature of the problem.  The solution must take into account _all_ sides
of the problem.  It is high time for "the other side" to recognize this
fact and realistically address such concerns.

Huaiyu Zhu

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