• Flattr FoI: 
Falkvinge &Co. on Infopolicy
BEFORE-FALKVINGE-IF-ANY FALKVINGE &CO. ON
INFOPOLICY
Falkvinge on Infopolicy - Home
»
Pen, ink, and letter

The Analog Letter: It’s Entirely Reasonable To Demand That Our Children Inherit The Rights Of Our Parents

26

Copyright Monopoly

Copyright Monopoly

Whenever pirates demand the right to send anything to anybody without being tracked, we are somehow accused of wanting things for free. That’s not true. What we demand is simpler: we demand the laws to apply equally online and offline; we demand that our children inherit the civil liberties that our parents fought, bled and often died to give to us. It’s an entirely reasonable demand.

Let’s look at the classic letter to illustrate this. The physical letter, consisting of an envelope, a folded paper with writing on it inside the envelope, and a stamp. This was what personal communication looked like in our parents’ offline world, and it was enshrined with certain civil liberties. I’m going to focus on four of them.

First, the letter was anonymous. You, and you alone, determined whether you identified yourself as sender on the outside of the envelope for the world to know, on the inside of the letter for only the recipient to know, or didn’t identify yourself at all when sending a letter. This was your prerogative.

Second, the letter was secret in transit. Nobody had the right to open all letters just to make sure they didn’t contain something illegal or immoral – or something copied, for that matter. If you were under prior suspicion of a very serious crime, your mail could be secretly opened to find evidence of that crime – but no letter would ever be opened routinely to check for new crimes.

Third, the letter was untracked. Nobody had the right – nor, indeed, the capability – to record who was communicating with whom. Nobody was able to monitor all mailboxes to see when somebody dropped a letter in it, much less the ability to identify that person and connect them to the address on the letter dropped in the mailbox. It was a fundamental right to keep your connections to yourself.

Fourth, the mailman was never responsible for the contents in the sealed letter. How could they? They were not aware of its contents, nor were they allowed to make themselves aware of its contents. Their responsibility and accountability started and ended with delivery of the packages to the address on the envelope.

This is a set of civil liberties that our parents and grandparents literally fought, bled, and sometimes even died to give us. It is entirely reasonable that they carry over to our children in the environment they communicate in, just as the rights applied to the offline world of our parents.

But when you point this out, some will protest loudly. The copyright industry, in particular. “If you allow anybody to send anything to anybody else, even anonymously, we can’t make any money!”

To this, I respond, so what?

It is the job of every entrepreneur to make money given the current constraints of society and technology. Nobody gets to dismantle civil liberties just because they can’t make money otherwise – and perhaps especially if they can’t make money otherwise.

If a particular industry can’t continue to make money the same way in the face of sustained civil liberties, they get to go out of business or start selling something else. We don’t determine what civil liberties our children get based on who can make money and who can’t; we base them on what our parents fought and bled for.

This is the heart of the file-sharing debate. I don’t care a millisecond if an obsolete distribution industry goes out of business, but I do care about the civil liberties that our children deserve to inherit.

This article has previously been published on TorrentFreak.

You've read the whole article. Why not subscribe to the RSS flow using your favorite reader, or even have articles delivered by mail?

About The Author: Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

Liked This?

TRANSLATIONS AVAILABLE
This article is also available in other languages: French, Russian, Spanish, Hungarian.

By participating in the discussion and posting here, you are placing your contribution in the public domain (CC0). If you are quoting somebody else, credit them.

Contributors take own responsibility for their comments.

26

  1. 1
    jimbo

    ‘ I don’t care a millisecond if an obsolete distribution industry goes out of business, but I do care about the civil liberties that our children deserve to inherit.’

    the problem is Rik, that governments and the entertainment industries dont care a millisecond if we all lose every one of our civil liberties and freedoms, fought so hard for by our forefathers, as long as those industries continue as they have for decades and the governments can increase surveillance on whomsoever they please. i hate to say it but i think the battle is being lost by the people because we do not and will not line the pockets of politicians in the way the industries do. no one in politics seems to be in the least bit interested in anything or anyone other than what they can get out of it personally (financially), with the citizens they are supposedly representing being at the bottom of the pile. waiting until election time is useless, simply because it is too late by then to do anything to stem the industries flow of getting what they want.

    • 1.1
      Per "wertigon" Ekström

      I hear you. Unfortunately, at this point, the only thing we can do is a full-out boycott of everything the media industries are producing. And by full-out, I really mean full-out – no movies except the ones produced outside of the industries. No music that isn’t CC-licensed, no PS3, Wii, XBox, only independent PC titles.

      But most important of all… No filesharing. If we keep on filesharing these products, we condone the products and therefore their behavior. However, this action will take many millions of people to help, not just a few thousand activists, but millions, so no idea how viable it is in reality…

      • 1.1.1

        Combined with a drive to convince artists to embrace the new model and watch the obsolete die by the process of natural selection.

      • 1.1.2
        Anon

        “the only thing we can do is a full-out boycott…”
        That’s not the only thing. There are good organizations building up steam to change the problem underlying this and so many other issues corrupting influence of money in politics. To get to a solution, we all need to get involved. See http://www.rootstrikers.org, http://www.represent.us, http://www.unPAC.org, … and there are several others. Pick one whose message and methods resonates with you and find a way to help – at least spread the word!

      • 1.1.3
        Vitalik Buterin

        > If we keep on filesharing these products, we condone the products and therefore their behavior.

        That’s the one statement that I think is rather debatable. For example, I condone the Unabomber Manifesto (http://cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt). I think it’s a profound and thought-provoking work that raises a compelling argument our society can benefit from. But that doesn’t mean that I condone the other, criminal, actions of its author.

  2. 2
    printersMate

    In my opinion, the legacy media industries are not interested in new internet business models as these lead to the creators largely bypassing their services. This particularly applies to music and video wher production capablities are available to anybody with a computer. If they are to survive they have to virtually destroy the free Internet so that they remain the route to customers and fans.
    It also an unfortunate fact that many politicians are scared of the Internet as it allow people to communicate and organize and discuss politics and remain outside of the political parties. The threat of terrorism is a convenient excuse to to monitor the Internet, and chill political discussion. The logic behind the threat of foreign terrorists requiring domestic surveillance seems more like an excuse to spy on the electorate and gain the intelligence required to head off threats to the incumbent parties.
    Both the traditional publishers and media industries and the Politicians have an interest in gaining control over the Internet, with piracy and terrorism being convenient excuses for doing this. The legacy publishers require Internet monitoring and take down powers which would be useful to the incumbent politicians to protect their power.
    I see the problem as the Internet threatening two power groups, traditional media, and Established political parties, and it will take replacement of the existing political parties to fix, or scaring th existing politicians into doing the rifght thing by threatening their re-election.

  3. 3
    Ano Nymous

    Well written, but I must add: It is not only the civil liberties of our children that is in danger, but also our own and those of the parents who are still alive. This is faster than you describe.

    Most of us already communicate mostly via electronic media, and most of those are already under heavy, automatic surveillance. It wouldn’t suprise me the least if the old good letters soon are, too. Only one of two things need to happen, plus the reqired legislation which is as always claimed to be based on fighting terrorism or child porn.

    One: Someone invents a machine that automatically opens, scans, and re-seals letters, or scans them through the envelope with some special kind of light. The images can then be OCR-ed.

    Two: The authorities, kindly reminded by lobbyists, feels threatened enough to order every letter to be opened and read manually, and the workers are paid either with tax money or heavily increased postage stamp prices.

    I can bet you a thousand euros that it is going to happen within fifteen years, unless the Pirate Parties get big numbers in the elections before it happens.

  4. [...] the right to share. But to enforce this monopoly, much more vital ideas in society – such as the postal secret – must be sacrificed, not to mention our cultural heritage. That is neither just nor reasonable, [...]

  5. [...] speaking up, but a whole generation of citizens – voters – that demand something as basic as their civil liberties to apply just as much online as they do [...]

  6. [...] speaking up, but a whole generation of citizens – voters – that demand something as basic as their civil liberties to apply just as much online as they do [...]

  7. [...] speaking up, but a whole generation of citizens – voters – that demand something as basic as their civil liberties to apply just as much online as they do [...]

  8. [...] speaking up, but a whole generation of citizens – voters – that demand something as basic as their civil liberties to apply just as much online as they do [...]

  9. [...] Internet” speaking up, but a whole generation of citizens – voters – that demand something as basic as their civil liberties to apply just as much online as they do [...]

  10. [...] speaking up, but a whole generation of citizens – voters – that demand something as basic as their civil liberties to apply just as much online as they do [...]

  11. [...] par les différentes révolutions : ceux qui protègent les citoyens des abus de pouvoir. Un bon exemple est expliqué par Rick Falkvinge sur son blog : nos parents pouvaient envoyer ce qu’ils voulaient à qui ils voulaient sans se [...]

  12. [...] return to the idea of the analog letter. It embodies much of what we cherish about freedoms of speech and expression. [...]

  13. [...] return to the idea of the analog letter. It embodies much of what we cherish about freedoms of speech and expression. [...]

  14. [...] return to the idea of the analog letter. It embodies much of what we cherish about freedoms of speech and expression. [...]

  15. [...] The Analog Letter explains why the copyright monopoly at today’s level cannot coexist with the concept of a private letter, and how it’s absolutely reasonable that our children have the same civil liberties that our parents had, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the copyright monopoly must be scaled back, and copyright industry profits are irrelevant to the discussion. [...]

  16. [...] The Analog Letter explains why the copyright monopoly at today’s level cannot coexist with the concept of a private letter, and how it’s absolutely reasonable that our children have the same civil liberties that our parents had, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the copyright monopoly must be scaled back, and copyright industry profits are irrelevant to the discussion. [...]

  17. [...] The Analog Letter explains why the copyright monopoly at today’s level cannot coexist with the concept of a private letter, and how it’s absolutely reasonable that our children have the same civil liberties that our parents had, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the copyright monopoly must be scaled back, and copyright industry profits are irrelevant to the discussion. [...]

  18. [...] return to the idea of the analog letter. It embodies much of what we cherish about freedoms of speech and expression. [...]

  19. [...] The Analog Letter explains why the copyright monopoly at today’s level cannot coexist with the concept of a private letter, and how it’s absolutely reasonable that our children have the same civil liberties that our parents had, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the copyright monopoly must be scaled back, and copyright industry profits are irrelevant to the discussion. [...]

  20. [...] right to share. But to enforce this monopoly, much more vital ideas in society – such as the postal secret – must be sacrificed, not to mention our cultural heritage. That is neither just nor [...]

  21. [...] fast. This was never a war over the copyright monopoly; it was a war over the concept of the letter as such, over the right to communicate in private, over the right to publish and broadcast ideas that [...]

Add a Comment

6 − = 2  

On Facebook

Popular Articles

Screenshot from Librep-2014-08-10-take1.mp4
6

Civil Liberties

Civil Liberties

More in Copyright Monopoly

Bottles of Snake Oil - Photo by Jagrap on Flickr
29

Copyright Monopoly – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Copyright Monopoly – Zacqary Adam Xeper

photo_10071_20090418-646x363
71

Copyright Monopoly – David Collier-Brown

Copyright Monopoly – David Collier-Brown

le_tresor_rackham_le_rouge_1280x1024
11

Copyright Monopoly – Lionel Dricot

Copyright Monopoly – Lionel Dricot

Books before copyright
99

Copyright Monopoly – Johnny Olsson

Copyright Monopoly – Johnny Olsson

Other Recent Headlines

Librep July 12 frame
32

Civil Liberties

Civil Liberties

Money cut into pieces - Photo by Flickr user Tax Credits
77

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

colorblindflag
22

United States – Zacqary Adam Xeper

United States – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Adobe the leech - original photo by OakleyOriginals on Flickr
168

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

peter_sunde_0237
13

Swarm Economy – Lionel Dricot

Swarm Economy – Lionel Dricot

solarroad
15

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

European Parliament
70

Pirate Parties

Pirate Parties

Burned book
35

Civil Liberties – Henrik Alexandersson

Civil Liberties – Henrik Alexandersson

About The Author

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

More On Infopolicy

NSA Seal Holding the Heartbleed Logo
40

Infrastructure – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Infrastructure – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Bitcoin concept by Antanacoins. CC-By-SA, Flickr.
42

Cryptocurrency – Charlie Shrem

Cryptocurrency – Charlie Shrem

facebook
12

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

523377_63619557
4

Infopolicy – Henrik Brändén

Infopolicy – Henrik Brändén

National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland_public_domain_image
150

Infopolicy – Christian Engström

Infopolicy – Christian Engström

"God Hates Signs" next to "God Hates Fags" protesters
8

Freedom of Speech – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Freedom of Speech – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Many different currencies - CC photo by epSos.de
45

Diversity – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Diversity – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Valve mechanism
92

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech

Collaborative whiteboard at OuiShare 2012, full of wonderful ideas for venture capitalists to ruin - photo by Natalie Ortiz
15

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Border Patrol In Montana
25

Activism – Travis McCrea

Activism – Travis McCrea

Spices - Marrakech 09 Souks
58

Swarm Economy

Swarm Economy

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 7.23.12 PM
33

Copyright Monopoly – Travis McCrea

Copyright Monopoly – Travis McCrea

An Ouya console and controller
15

Infopolicy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Infopolicy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Smári McCarthy
36

Privacy – Christian Engström

Privacy – Christian Engström

1984-ish poster from London's Public Transport
8

Privacy – Loz Kaye

Privacy – Loz Kaye

Man slamming his head on a desk in frustration - CC photo by Flickr user mbshane
36

Privacy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Privacy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

This publication is protected under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Sweden. Any problem you have with this publication remains exclusively yours. Accountable publisher: Rick Falkvinge.
All text on this site is Public Domain / CC0 unless specifically noted and credited otherwise. Copy, remix, and inspire. (Troll policy.)
Log in | Original theme design by Gabfire themes (heavily modified)