Supreme Court Issues [10:28 pm]
An entertaining “What if?” discussion - with both Larry & Ed - with key discussion of the notions behind Ed’s blog’s name!!: Roberts v. the Future
As books, music and movies are increasingly distributed by large corporations in digital form, entertainment and publishing corporations are clamping down on the ability to access copyrighted material — sometimes by persuading Congress to extend copyright protections and sometimes by devising ingenious technological ways to block users from making copies of the product. Many digital activists fear that free expression won’t be able to thrive if people are deprived of the right to sample, remix and tinker in a world where every copyright infringement can be recorded, punished or technologically impeded.
The guru of digital activism is the Stanford law professor and cyberspace visionary Lawrence Lessig, whom I recently reached by telephone in Spain. “As life moves increasingly onto the Net and the capacity to control every aspect of our cultural capital increases almost to perfection, the question will be whether there is an affirmative right of access, to use and remix,” Lessig said. [...]
[...] Edward Felten, a professor of computer science at Princeton University, told me that he hopes in 20 years that Americans might be able to assert a newly recognized constitutional right — rooted in the First Amendment — to circumvent the obstacles posed by digital-rights-management technology. He calls it “the constitutional right to tinker.” [...]
[...] Chastened by the experience, Felten decided to articulate what, exactly, is threatened when researchers aren’t permitted to experiment without first consulting their lawyers; he hit upon the concept of tinkering. “The process of experimentation, not always with a direct goal, is captured by the term tinkering,” he said. Whether the Supreme Court ever recognizes tinkering as a constitutional right, the ability to tinker may be threatened not only in computer science but also in the life sciences as well. [...]