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osOpinion: They're Coming For Your Brain Next

Aug 29, 2000, 11:15 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tom Nadeau)

[ Thanks to Kelly McNeill for this link. ]

"Back in the bad old days -- the Dark Ages -- it was common for authorities to restrict the spread of information. The powers in control of the society of that time were typically based on religious belief and the claim of God-given authority. Certainly this was nothing new, since empires had long kept the majority of their citizens in illiterate darkness, doomed to a life of serfdom or soldiering. The use of reading and writing instruments was often limited to a class of religious "scribes" and a tiny group of political rulers with whom they associated."

"Well, progress being what it is, it was only a matter of millennia before the religiously-inspired limitations on information transfer faded away. The political leaders began determining who could and who could not move information around. Duplication of information began to become cheaper and easier, so that ideas began to spread -- dangerous ideas such as alternative religions, new forms of government, and even universal literacy. Governments decided to use something called "copyright" to benefit their newfound paramours in the growing class of craftsmen, traders, and industrialists. Information was no longer limited to those who knew the dark secrets of the cloister, but to any who possessed the money to buy a piece of the action."

"For a brief moment during the early 21st century, it appeared that information might become utterly free. As a critical mass of information providers, inventors, innovators, and freedom-loving people came to have money and free time, they began to apply their talents to a universal system of free, unfettered communication called the Internet. Since access to this information-distribution network was considered a vital pathway to economic progress and political activism, it was assumed to be essential that every member of society have unlimited, free access to the thoughts, the discoveries, and the opinions of others. Copyright began to look like a decrepit, obsolete barrier to progress."

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