A Defense of Freedom?

Mary points us to an article from today’s NYTimes: Where Nobody Knows You’re a Music Thief [pdf]. As she points out, it’s not exactly clear why privacy is something that ought to be sacrificed in order to protect copyright holders. Mary’s comments in this regard are right on, and there’s no reason for me to reiterate them.

But, this quote reminds us that there’s another issue here:

The absurd Robin Hood narrative that has sprung up around music sharing only obscures what is happening: that a large group of mainly middle-class individuals are not just breaking the law, but also attacking the legal concept that is essential to freedom and prosperity in the information age.

As Mary suggests, this kind of simplification certainly makes for provocative commentary, but does little to advance the debate. The fevered language ("essential to freedom and prosperity in the information age") allows the author to call black white, and vice versa. If the solution to defending copyright is the sacrifice of privacy, it’s going to take more than this kind of writing to convince me that eliminating online privacy is striking a blow for freedom.

Postscript: And, let’s not forget the slam on those pointy-headed troublemakers who ask the troubling questions in the first place:

Many academic intellectuals, who do not seem to like business much anyway, derive relatively little income directly from their writings. Instead, they hope to profit from their intellectual output by attaining tenure and renown. If you live on an academic paycheck – instead of royalties – then the free electronic distribution of your scholarly works is probably preferable to having a university press print 500 copies bound directly for the deepest library stacks.

Who is this guy?

Sorry about the outage….

Seems that the gateway server for this building (E40) lost power yesterday afternoon — I’m not sure when it came back up, but it’s clear that my service didn’t go down. But, without the gateway, so what. I have lots of catching up to do today, so there won’t be much. I did have a good time at BloggerCon yesterday and I hope to get my thoughts posted in the next day or so.