Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Right to Read

Just in case you haven't read The Right to Read by Richard Stallman, it's well worth it. It's a short-story about a dystopian future where copyright laws have run amok. The scary - and worthwhile aspect - of this article is that every provision is either already in affect or has been proposed.

For Dan Halbert, the road to Tycho began in college—when Lissa Lenz asked to borrow his computer. Hers had broken down, and unless she could borrow another, she would fail her midterm project. There was no one she dared ask, except Dan.

This put Dan in a dilemma. He had to help her—but if he lent her his computer, she might read his books. Aside from the fact that you could go to prison for many years for letting someone else read your books, the very idea shocked him at first. Like everyone, he had been taught since elementary school that sharing books was nasty and wrong—something that only pirates would do.

And there wasn't much chance that the SPA—the Software Protection Authority—would fail to catch him. In his software class, Dan had learned that each book had a copyright monitor that reported when and where it was read, and by whom, to Central Licensing. (They used this information to catch reading pirates, but also to sell personal interest profiles to retailers.) The next time his computer was networked, Central Licensing would find out. He, as computer owner, would receive the harshest punishment—for not taking pains to prevent the crime. Continue Reading >>

Richard Stallman is the godfather of the privacy movement. While I disagree with him on many issues the world is a better place as a result of his work.

No comments:

Post a Comment