09 July 2003

As you may have noted, the righthand column includes a segment for other journals and blogs (and blawgs) with this caption:

These may be of interest; I do not necessarily agree with opinions expressed in them!

So why do I put up links to material, such as that found today at CopyFight? Three reasons:

(1) Intellectual honesty. Even though I am a lawyer who practices in this area, and thus I have a considerably more than negligible ego, I am not arrogant enough to think that my views are the only views. At the same time, I am confident enough in my positions that I invite readers to look at the other side. Referring again to CopyFight, I think the logical, moral, and intellectual bankruptcy of positions like these is so apparent that I need not specifically defend mine. This in no way is intended to imply that everything at CopyFight is logically, morally, and/or intellectually bankrupt; just that positions with those characteristics are quoted, or sometimes stated, with disquieting frequency.

Well, just this time, I will: If the P2P proponents quoted really are both concerned with the artistic freedom implicit in their "free speech" position and intent on reducing the cost of art to themselves, they would concentrate on attacking the source of the problem—that is, they would learn about antitrust law, unfair competition law, and personal services contracts, and create or assist in a coordinated attack on the "evil corporate masters" through means that do not immediately and directly harm artists. What they really are concerned with because they have instead chosen theft is for another time. Regarding Mr. Clarke's point (that it is moral to manufacture guns, therefore it is moral to create P2P networks used almost exclusively for theft of copyrighted material), note that accepting this position requires accepting that all guns have equal moral bases behind them with no additional responsibility brought on by their individual natures. Manufacturing a small-gauge shotgun does not have moral justification similar to that for manufacturing an Uzi. The former has legitimate and realistic purposes—at least if you think squirrels are tasty—other than the military or unlawful killing of human beings; the latter does not.

(2) More intellectual honesty. Sometimes I learn something from my opponents, and we even discover that in reality we're on the same side but have been separated by language. I would like to think the same goes the other way, too, but it's a bit early in the life of this blawg to say that! Similarly, people who actually bother to read or use a blawg of this nature need to understand that the solution to "bad" or "harmful" speech (as opposed to theft) is not suppression, but more speech and more consideration of the consequences.

(3) One does not enhance communication and understanding by suppressing communication. That is not just consistent with the First Amendment (even when the First Amendment does not apply, such as deceptive communications) or with the general concept of creating, studying, and disseminating art. A significant proportion of art is dangerous to somebody or other in power; if it was not, censorship would not have its thousands of years of tradition. Even when that danger is "unjustified" in an individual piece, that is the price that we pay for the rest of the arts.