Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Subjectright (S), a reciprocal to Copyright (C)

Steve Mann has proposed a reciprocal to copyright.

"While Copyright is intended to protect the deliberate creation and transmission of information, Subjectright is intended to protect the primarily involuntary disclosure of information (e.g. physical facsimile, spoken word, molted detritus, etc.), as well as the often involuntary receipt of information (e.g. marketing and advertising, music, video, etc.) as mental engrams...

In view of the often involuntary nature of this exchange with regard to the recipient (eg. subject), it has been argued that Subjectright deserves stronger protection than Copyright. See, for example, First Monday, volume 5, number 7 (July 2000), URL: http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_7/mann/index.html...

Legal development is sometimes said to be significantly more dilatory than technological development (notwithstanding our desire to state that “The trouble with law is that so many new laws are created so quickly that technology is having a hard time catching up.”). As society evolves, the original intent of old laws is often lost and they begin to be misapplied as a result. In some cases, after a significant amount of subtle, social evolution, the results can be egregious. It is therefore not very surprising that many Intellectual Property laws are now in conflict with the reasonable freedoms of scientific, scholarly, or academic pursuit."

He and co-authors James Fung and Kyle Amon go on to outline the Felten DMCA and 2600 DeCSS cases and compare intellectual property to privacy. Basically he believes IP is out of control but that creating an equivalent property right in our own personal information and solitude could be a route towards protecting personal privacy in a digital age.

They conclude:

"The effects of copyright, left, and center, tend to focus on protecting the interests of creators, producers, and distributors of information. We presented a reciprocal concept, namely that of Subjectright, that considers the rights of those who are exposed to informatic content, whether by choice, by accident, or against their will.

We believe that especially when people are subject to informatic content against their will, that they have every right to “rip, mix, burn” or do what they like with it. Moreover, we also believe that any discussion of copyright is inherently unbalanced if it does not also consider subjectright."

It's a bit difficult to get your head around at first but looking at something like this from a completely different perspective is often a good way to shed a light on the issues.

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