A Digital Ownership Tug-of-War
How much control can a corporation claim over a digitally generated product for which it has the license? It’s a debated question, but the digital rights movement—a burgeoning worldwide critical mass of hackers, digital activists, and creative professionals who seek broader rights for media consumers—is trying its best to make sure that the answer favors the consumer public, according to Hector Postigo, Temple University mass media and communications professor. In The Digital Rights Movement, he profiles the issues and actors behind the movement and the huge ramifications that it may hold for media consumers everywhere.
Privacy, free speech, technological innovation, first sale—digital-rights activists are involved in these and many other issues relevant to media users, Postigo explains. Globally, they resist what they deem to be overly exclusive media-copyright protections on software programs, ebooks, digitally generated art and music, and other creative digital content. They strive for new participatory rights that grant consumers not only more access to the products, but also the freedom to become active co-creators of them.
Postigo details the movement’s historical development, seminal technological applications such as iTunes hacking programs and BitTorrents, and the landmark legal cases that won international attention and popular support for the cause. He also describes numerous groups and individuals involved in advancing digital rights, such as the consumer-rights nonprofit Electronic Freedom Foundation; Web entrepreneur Dmitri Sklyarov, who was arrested by the U.S. government for patenting and selling a program that circumvented access-protection measures on ebooks; and “hacker” Eric Corley, operator of the Web site The Hacker Quarterly.
Digital ownership is a subject with room for many points of view. Postigo comes across as highly sympathetic to the digital-rights activists and hackers’ point of view. His account, however, is thoroughly factual and detailed, and is worthy reading for students and experts of software law and technology alike.—Rick Docksai
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October 2, 2015 - This last week has proven to be tougher than both my wife and I thought. Moving at our age leads to lots of aches and pains. There is only so much that these old bones and muscles can endure before they protest seeking acetaminophen or something stronger to stop the ache.
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September 21, 2015 - One of the most interesting 21st century phenomenon is the rise of an entirely new type of business built on the infrastructure of the Internet and designed not just to make money but to provide a public benefit as well. In the past public benefit was something delivered by government. Think libraries and hospitals.
September 20, 2015 - Star Trek IV The Voyage Home featured humpback whales and a scene in which Scotty and Dr. McCoy offered a company in San Francisco the secret to transparent aluminum, a material not yet invented at the time. Dr. McCoy questioned whether the disclosure would alter the future.
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September 16, 2015 - If you think of industries that are insulated from technological progress you might say insurance. And yet there are a number of technological innovations that are altering even this staid group of companies. Some of these technologies are industry bred. But the real disruptions are those that are unforeseen.