Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where is the ACLU on Intellectual Property?

For a long time I have wonder about the apparent silence of the ACLU on so-called intellectual property.  Recently, TechDirt noted that the ACLU joined in on a lawsuit: "ACLU Suing Homeland Security Over Laptop Searches... Even Though Other Cases Have All Failed".  Once again my interest was aroused, since it would seem that the deprivation of civil liberties by the content industry would be a no-brainier for an ACLU lawsuit. A quick look at the ACLU's Technology and Liberty issue webpage didn't disclose much.  Based on a casual review of their website it would seem that the ACLU is focused more on social justice for segments of society rather than the protection of civil liberties for every member of society.  Fortunately we have the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Nevertheless, it would be good if the ACLU were to recognize how patent/copyright law are being increasingly used as vehicles to deprive people of their civil liberties.


Crosbie Fitch said...

Patent and copyright aren't so much vehicles that deprive people of their civil liberties, as legislated derogations of their liberty.

Thanks to copyright I have no liberty to make copies of this comment. My liberty has been suspended (along with everyone else's). In its place I am currently the holder of a privilege to make copies of it, which I can sell (thus completing the alienation of my residual liberty from me). And these days I also end up unwittingly signing it away via an EULA or 'Terms of use'.

Perhaps the ACLU has bought into the Randian corruption of libertarianism? Protect individual liberty except where it should be suspended for the benefit of our cherished publishing corporations and manufacturing industries?

Steve R. said...

Ayn Rand's concept of "Objectivism" has been very destructive to fee-market principles. Stripped down of superfluous high sounding rhetoric objectivism holds that "the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness". While the preceding text may seem very positive, the evolutionary extension of this logic (from the corporate/economic realm) is that corporations feel entitled to do whatever they want without any regard to an individuals natural rights.

With regards to the ACLU they are an "old" organization born out of the social stresses of the early 2Oth century. I know very little of the ACLU. But the very little I do know would seem to imply that they would be one of the first organizations to stand up for everyone's civil liberties.

The apparent fact that they have not, I would surmise is that the rapid technological advances over the past forty years, which have enabled corporate assaults on civil liberties may be foreign and incomprehensible them.

As a quick example, wiretapping (an old technology) requires a search warrant to be implemented. New technology that would be equivalent to wiretapping is the ISP inspection of your data stream, which does not require a search warrant. Not only that, but efforts are being made to require that ISPs should be legally required to wiretap!! The ACLU appears not to be cognizant of how the misapplication of evolving technology is resulting in civil liberties abuse.