t byfield on 25 Jul 2000 17:16:43 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Terror in Tune Town

mwark@laurel.ocs.mq.edu.au (Wed 07/26/00 at 02:17 AM +1000):

> The pipe guys will be king. 


with the proviso that 'the pipe guys' are a very heterogeneous lot 
with explicitly conflicting interests.

this was less so under a PSTN (public switched telephone network)
regime, because they were 'smart' networks, in the sense that the
devices at the core determined what went where, when, and how. as
a result, there are certain common 'class' interests in the PSTN
world, which is why the ITU is such a force to be reckoned with.
but the net is a 'dumb' network: its primary design goal is to en-
sure that packets are delivered point to point, so 'intelligence'
is pushed to devices on the periphery. thus there are the backbone 
providers, the routing registries, the naming registries, the cach-
ing providers, ISPs of various shapes and sizes, decentralized ser-
vices, redundant services, and so on and so forth. these forces 
don't see eye to eye *at all*.

that's why ICANN is so bloody important: its goal is to transform
this mass into an orderly regime by enmeshing the component forces
in a rigid contractual framework. ICANN's justification is that it
seeks to guarantee the 'stability' of the net; but that 'stability'
disguises the possibility of the power to force divergent interests
to cooperate in, for example, the suppression of certain kinds of
traffic. if they were farther along in this program, napster would
be a candidate for such suppression; but more advances services 
like freenet, which will take longer to mature and implement, will
very likely confront a more homogeneous and organized regime.

in that regard, you should think very carefully about the *generic*
implications of opposition to something like napster, on whatever
basis. if 'artists' rights' are invoked to suppress napster now, 
that will serve as a precedent for suppressing other services later 
on, on the basis of some other purported violation. and it's quite
clear how 'intellectual property' could come to serve as a termin-
ally generic justification for suppressing various kinds of traffic:
as we have already seen in the domain-name fights under ICANN's
UDRP, all it takes is a single complainant to torpedo *everything*
transacted or made available under a domain. we've seen this happen
in other ways, with ECN servers being confiscated in italy, with
thing.net's webserver being knocked off the net by etoys, with 
altern.org in france just now, with steve jackson games years ago--
the list goes on and on.

under the circumstances, shaky arguments about how artists aren't
getting paid because of napster (they weren't getting paid anyway)
or photocopies handouts playing an instrumental role in perpetuat-
ing the marginalization of intellectual labor...they don't convince.


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