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Re: <nettime> Return to feudalism
analoguehorizon on Mon, 18 Sep 2017 00:53:04 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Return to feudalism

Excuse the tangential thinking

Protection of property rights and ability to extract rents depend on the capacity of regulatory apparatus, state or private, to perceive infringement and enforce those protections. At the same time its important to make such a spectacle in prosecuting the few that are caught copying and sharing that it scares enough people into paying. The continued practice of internet piracy can be considered as one measure of that current regulatory capacity as it applies to informational goods. Every university pushes their graduates into the logics of intellectual property. Protection is the default and piracy is expected, the goal is to make as much cash as possible before the novelty wears off. Bureaucracy is an essential element in certifying who can afford to create and enforce protections. If you can afford to jump through all the hoops then you can probably afford legal protection. Even when knowledge commons are created, there is no guarantee that commoners ability to contribute will be sustained through time. Most licenses are liberal in the sense that they do not distinguish between types of commercial use. The military industrial complex benefits from FLOSS just as much as the student developer or entrepreneur. Do Corporations have greater staying power in their capacity to leverage the value of open collaboration over time compared to distributed networks of collaborators? The peer production license is one attempt at redrawing those boundary lines of who can make commercial use of knowledge commons but when it comes to property and this goes for copyleft and the commons too, protection depends on capacity to enforce compliance. I suspect Digital Commons are far more about avoiding bureaucracy than they are about protection of property rights. How many technical innovations in FLOSS code are copied verbatim by proprietary developers and commercialised? How often are the microsofts of this world held to account for stealing from the knowledge commons? Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think it happens very often. Who wants to deal with all the hassle of bureaucracy? Who can afford to take a case against microsoft or google?

It comes back to the capacity of the regulatory apparatus. I used to be more involved with free culture activism. I remember a time not so long ago when people thought the big threat to a free and open internet were the record and movie industries. Wikileaks and Snowden pulled away the curtain and revealed a reality far more terrifying. I think this took a lot of people back. Peoples worst nightmares of the surveillance state are real and already here. 1984 is already here it's just not evenly distributed. They just haven't come for you yet. Maybe that is a measure of their regulatory capacity. Maybe they have a threat model that doesn't see pirate or hacker transgressions as a threat to established power. Maybe the powerful are just buying time till AI does the regulation and enforcement for them. He who pays the piper calls the tune.  

My wishful thinking is that the world is big enough that the absurdity and extremism of this particularly western obsession with property will run itself into the ground. The tech business model is already such a big pump and dump hype machine. If inequality keeps going as it is soon enough 1 person will own everything and we'll all be serfs again but remember what happened to feudal kings. Unless of course the king or whoever it is puts some kind of drm, malware on everything and threatens to lock up the planets personal devices, no more memes and cat pics if king Zuckerberg is in any way threatened.

I'm reminded of De Niro as the terrorist plumber in the movie Brazil 


On 17 September 2017 at 19:39, Morlock Elloi <morlockelloi {AT} gmail.com> wrote:
This meme cannot be repeated often enough (even if one starts to resemble RMS).

While esoteric discourses about consequences can be amusing, we really need to get back to the root causes. They are not novel, just often forgotten.

>From https://theconversation.com/the-internet-of-things-is-sending-us-back-to-the-middle-ages-81435 :

The underlying problem is ownership

One key reason we don’t control our devices is that the companies that
make them seem to think – and definitely act like – they still own them,
even after we’ve bought them. A person may purchase a nice-looking box
full of electronics that can function as a smartphone, the corporate
argument goes, but they buy a license only to use the software inside.
The companies say they still own the software, and because they own it,
they can control it. It’s as if a car dealer sold a car, but claimed
ownership of the motor.

This sort of arrangement is destroying the concept of basic property
ownership. John Deere has already told farmers that they don’t really
own their tractors but just license the software – so they can’t fix
their own farm equipment or even take it to an independent repair shop.
The farmers are objecting, but maybe some people are willing to let
things slide when it comes to smartphones, which are often bought on a
payment installment plan and traded in as soon as possible.

How long will it be before we realize they’re trying to apply the same
rules to our smart homes, smart televisions in our living rooms and
bedrooms, smart toilets and internet-enabled cars?

A return to feudalism?

The issue of who gets to control property has a long history. In the
feudal system of medieval Europe, the king owned almost everything, and
everyone else’s property rights depended on their relationship with the
king. Peasants lived on land granted by the king to a local lord, and
workers didn’t always even own the tools they used for farming or other
trades like carpentry and blacksmithing.

Over the centuries, Western economies and legal systems evolved into our
modern commercial arrangement: People and private companies often buy
and sell items themselves and own land, tools and other objects
outright. Apart from a few basic government rules like environmental
protection and public health, ownership comes with no trailing strings

This system means that a car company can’t stop me from painting my car
a shocking shade of pink or from getting the oil changed at whatever
repair shop I choose. I can even try to modify or fix my car myself. The
same is true for my television, my farm equipment and my refrigerator.

Yet the expansion of the internet of things seems to be bringing us back
to something like that old feudal model, where people didn’t own the
items they used every day. In this 21st-century version, companies are
using intellectual property law – intended to protect ideas – to control
physical objects consumers think they own.

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