Thursday, October 14, 2010

Peer-to-Peer Networking, Copyright, and Civil Disobedience

Presentation and discussion after the break...

A couple of the major points:
  • Peer-to-peer networking is attractive from a technical standpoint because it provides self-scalability -- new clients add capacity as well as load
  • Peer-peer-networking is attractive to users because it enables them to avoid copyright restrictions to more freely share songs, videos, and software
  • U.S. copyright law includes not just direct infringement, but also vicarious liability and contributory infringement
  • U.S. copyright law also includes a fair use provision that enables copying under certain conditions
  • Activists are unhappy with U.S. copyright law because of excessive penalties for infringement, the excessive length of copyright protection, and laws such as the DMCA that criminalize fair use and legitimate research in order to protect digital copy protection schemes
Questions to ponder:
  • Does current copyright law meet the purposes provided in the U.S. constitution -- "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" -- or has it become overly restrictive?
  • What are valid forms of civil disobedience with respect to U.S. copyright law?  Remember, civil disobedience includes making explicit your intentions, and a willingness to be arrested in order to publicize your cause.
  • If you are unhappy with U.S. copyright law, what level of civic involvement (e.g. petitions, letters, campaigning) are you willing to engage in so that copyright laws are more amenable to innovation and fair use?