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The Standard: Cyberspace Prosecutor

Feb 21, 2000, 18:29 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Lawrence Lessig)

"Before the courts race to join the content control freaks' chorus, they should pause to consider our national tradition."

"Jack Valenti, the Motion Picture Association of America's lobbyist to the stars, is quickly becoming the Internet's Kenneth Starr. High from victory in jailing a 16-year-old Norwegian for offering a way to run DVD movies on Linux, Valenti has been singing victory again in the recent battle over iCraveTV.com, a company of 'cyberthieves' that was rebroadcasting television programs over the Net."

"The battle over iCraveTV is just one in a series that together will define the future of the Internet. In every context that it can, the entertainment industry is trying to force the Internet into its own business model – the perfect control of content. From music (fighting MP3) and film (fighting the portability of DVD) to television, the industry is resisting the Net's original design. It was about the free flow of content; Hollywood wants perfect control instead.

No doubt 'thieves' should be punished and content should not be 'stolen.' But 'theft' is defined relative to the law and the First Amendment, not to an ideal of perfect control. And when the law grants a right to speech, that right is ordinarily defended even if control over that speech is not perfect. But according to the MPAA, until iCraveTV can 'guarantee' that no hacker can crack its security system, iCraveTV should be enjoined from giving Canadians access to desktop TV."

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