7.28.1 Self-assessment Questions

1. Why are commercial enterprises protecting their property described as ‘dinosaurs’?

Answer

Primarily as a tactic to paint them as old and candidates for extinction because Lessig sees them as killing the potential of the internet to continue to act as a source of innovation.

2. Did Napster have any real value other than as a tool for stealing music?

Answer

Some uses for Napster other than stealing music:

  • listening to music freely released on the Net;

  • listening to music in the public domain not subject to copyright restrictions;

  • listening to other kinds of authorised works, e.g. recordings of lectures (recall, the network administrators at Stanford locked Lessig out of the university's network when they discovered he was using peer-to-peer file sharing; ironically he was using it to distribute notes to his students);

  • sampling – whereby people check out music to see whether they like it before buying;

  • space shifting – in the US – downloading MP3 files of music that you already own on CD onto your computer for personal use (note: making extra copies for personal use is not allowed in the UK);

  • potentially the celestial jukebox described in Chapter 8 of The Future of Ideas.

3. How can laws regulating architecture control behaviour?

Answer

A law on disability discrimination mandating that buildings be accessible to people in wheelchairs is one example. Another is the UK Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, under which internet service providers can be forced to install equipment to facilitate surveillance by law enforcement authorities.

4. What are the consequences of control described in The Future of Ideas?

Answer

As the internet comes under the control of large organisations through law and architecture, Lessig sees its potential as an innovation commons diminishing. The result he predicts is that technological progress will slow down and potentially beneficial disruptive innovation will be greatly reduced.

5. How can the internet code layer affect privacy?

Answer

Commerce needs a code layer (or architecture) which is business friendly. This means it must facilitate identification, authentication, authorisation, integrity of transmission and non repudiation. This in turn leads to increasing amounts of personal information getting transmitted, processed, manipulated and stored, which has implications for personal privacy. Campaigning organisations like the Electronic Privacy Information Center provide access to lots of resources indicating that this should concern us. Organisations like the Direct Marketing Association defend the benefits of better informed businesses being much better able to meet individual consumer needs.

"The right to be left alone – the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by a free people."

(Justice Louis Brandeis, defining privacy in the Olmstead v US Supreme Court case in 1928)

How many of you have broken no laws this month? That's the kind of society I want to build. I want a guarantee – with physics and mathematics, not with laws – that we can give ourselves real privacy of personal communications.

(John Gilmore)

Make sure you can answer this question relating to Section 7 before you continue:

  • How have established industries responded to the innovation enabled by the Net?

Record your thoughts on this in your Learning Journal.

7.28 Summary and SAQs

7.29 Study guide