Monday, July 14, 2003

I was reading through the EFF website. I like reading different people's opinion on issues, but hate when their opinions really are clouded by logical fallacies. The EFF has a letter to Congress asking for hearings on the P2P and the musical industry's current move to start prosecuting people for having P2P servers that share unauthorized copies of music. The first paragraph in the letter has this plea:

As a constituent, I urge you to call for Congressional hearings on how to compensate artists without breaking the Internet or turning millions of American citizens into criminals.

The logical fallacy of this statement is that it implies the RIAA and the music industry is the group that is "turning people into criminals." The truth of the matter is that the people who put up their little KaZaA servers to exchange music have turned themselves into criminals. Installing a server and sharing music is an act of volition.

The fact that a large number of people engage in behavior X does not change whether or not behavior X is currently illegal. It does, however, indicate that there needs to be a dramatic effort to look at and adjust existing laws. The fact that millions of Americans are posed against a rather corrupt music industry in what will be a very loud and angry fight should be a concern for Congress. The fact that, in reaction to this illicit copying of works, both the computer industry and music industry are created extremely intrusive new technologies should be a matter of concern.

My fear is that by making logically incorrect statements, organizations like the EFF are really not helping the cause of creating a better copyright law, but are simply adding to tensions.

P2P is a situation like the speed limit where a large number of people believe that behavior-x should be allowed.

We are also in an area where there is not a set of easily enforceable rules. With the development of modern computers, we've gone from a state where it was difficult to copy material to a point where it is a breeze; so the real logical argument is of the EFF is that copying and sharing music is no longer a difficult chore and is a difficult behavior to control.

We have a serious problem. What should we do? Should we depend on the system of laws and individual restraint? Should we legalize unlimited copying of music? Should we demand that the music industry create better mechanisms to assure easier, less expensive access to the large music libraries? Should we have more intrusive systems that control how and when people can listen to music?

The disconnected, flawed arguments like the one above are only adding fuel to the flame and are not getting the world closer to a better system of law.

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