Saturday, September 20, 2008

Leg-Iron on The Tories

There really isn't anything in this post that I could possibly disagree with.
The modern Conservative Party is in fact Blair’s party resurrected. They are exactly the same. They will pose and posture and do nothing to alleviate the restrictions and controls imposed on us all by the Brown Gorgon, and the Tiny Blur before him. Things will not stay the same when the Tories take over. They will get worse. The Left know this, which is why their opposition to the Tories is nothing more than a few vague insults. The Left are happy to let the New Blair come back.

There is no longer a Conservative party in this country. There are no longer any discernible differences between the three main parties at all. They all want to add more laws, more control, more power to their unelected thugs.

I was going to end this with ‘No, I won’t vote Tory’ but there’s no need.

There is no Conservative party. Not any more.

All we have at the next election is a choice of which EU commissioner is going to run this island. Our only choice is the face of the man who implements the EU state laws.

The only way out is NO VOTES for any of these parties. Vote for a minor party. Any one, you choose. You must vote, and you must vote for anyone on that ticket other than these three.

If any of them get back in, the jackboots will be marching down your street before Election Night Special is over.

Get them out. All of them. There is no other hope for the UK now.

Obviously I have an interest in encouraging you to back small parties, since I helped found one, but Leg-Iron is completely correct: the Big 3 are all precisely the same.

The next election will be a straight Tory versus Labour fight: small parties will be squeezed. However, after that five-year period, when the Tories prove that they are no better than NuLabour, I hope that you will all remember this advice and vote for the small party of your choice.

If you are a libertarian, then you know which small party to support—and we need your support. We rely on the donations of individuals because we have pledged not to take donations from businesses—we have no more wish to be tools of corporations than we do anyone else.

On that note, by the way, there is a small announcement about the leadership over at the Libertarian Party blog. We have also set a provisional date (probably at the beginning of December) for the first LPUK AGM (it seems presumptuous to call it "a conference") and are working on a venue (somewhere near the middle of the country, to accommodate our widely-spread membership). I shall post more details when we have firmed them up.

Join LPUK link
We reckon on a swiftish afternoon meeting wherein we shall discuss strategies for the future (including elections and the setting up of official branches) and then, in the evening, a general piss-up. Obviously, we hope to see as many of the three hundred or so members as possible...

15 comments:

cabalamat said...

So, where does the Libertarian Party stand on digital rights issues? In particular:

Should it be a crime to circumvent DRM?

Should people be allowed to use encryption and other technical measures to be anonymous on the Internet?

Are you for or against network neutrality? Does the Internet need to end network neutrality to enable streaming media services?

Should people who run an open wifi hotspot be liable for any illegal actions that their users do on it?

Should ISPs be obliged to cut off the Internet access of those accused of illegal firesharing?

Should it be illegal to link to illegally copied material? (e.g. BitTorrent trackers) What about linking to somewhere that links to illegal material?

Are you for or against software patents? If you're for them, how do stop obvious patents (e.g. Amazon's 1-click) from getting passed?

Should companies be able to use patent or copyright law to prevent others from writing software that reads or writes their file formats?

I had a look at the UKLP's manifesto, but it doesn't AFAICT answer these questions, or indeed say much at all about the Internet.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Good luck with the conference. I am on the verge of joining the Libbies myself. Just have to get off my arse.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Calabamat,

A good point. However, here is the general rule of thumb for any part of the LPUK manifesto:

Q: Will [insert hobby-horse here] increase state intrusion into people's lives?

If the answer is "yes", then we are against it.

Actually, the subject of IP is still under discussion.

Personally, I don't see why the state should stop music companies (for instance) protecting their product however they like. You know it has DRM: you can choose to buy it or not.

On the other hand, their is absolutely no way whatsoever that the state should get involved in what is, essentially, a private contract.

On the other hand, if you break the contract that accompanies the product, i.e. you share the file with others, then the company is, in my opinion, perfectly within its right to take you to court for breach of contract.

DK

cabalamat said...

DK: Q: Will [insert hobby-horse here] increase state intrusion into people's lives? If the answer is "yes", then we are against it.

If you take that literally, you'd have to be against copyright and patent laws completely.

Actually, the subject of IP is still under discussion.

That's what I thought.

Personally, I don't see why the state should stop music companies (for instance) protecting their product however they like. You know it has DRM: you can choose to buy it or not.

You only know it has DRM if they tell you -- I think all DRM'd products should have to come with a notice on them in big letters saying so.

But that's not the question I asked. I've no objection to people adding DRM, as long as it's legal for me to remove it. If I write a Linux driver for DRM-restricted DVDs, and ditribute that driver to others, should I go to prison?

On the other hand, their is absolutely no way whatsoever that the state should get involved in what is, essentially, a private contract.

I'm not asking for it to do so. And nor should the state get involved in a private contract between those who supply software that reads DVDs and those who use such software.

People who write DRM-cracking software are producers of intellectual property as much as people who make movies, and their intellectual property deserves to be equally respected: not more so, but not less so either.

On the other hand, if you break the contract that accompanies the product, i.e. you share the file with others, then the company is, in my opinion, perfectly within its right to take you to court for breach of contract.

That's a civil suit. Do you think that filesharing should also be actionable under criminal law?

Furthermore, if I find a DVD in the street, I haven't agreed a contract with anyone regarding that DVD, so should I be able to do what I like with it?

Whoops said...

Some interesting points cabalamat, would joining the party give us a voice in setting policy on these issues?

Whoops said...

Incidentally, a drm removing tool has been bundled with windows since at least win95, it's called "sound recorder."

Devil's Kitchen said...

Calabamat,

First, the central stay of the LPUK is that the initiation of force or fraud against life, liberty or property is wrong and should be a criminal offence.

The concept of IP exists because people seem to think, for some reason, that the stealing of certain things -- such as ideas or non-physical products, e.g. software -- is not really stealing.

As someone who produces artwork and works for a software company, you must remember that I have a certain bias in this matter.

Having said that, however, I should also point out that I am not an IP law specialist.

Last, I speak as DK, not for LPUK, here.

"If you take that literally, you'd have to be against copyright and patent laws completely."

Patent laws, possibly. I don't think that you should be able to protect a concept, as such. However, you should be able to protect such a concept if you have made it work. Would you not agree?

"You only know it has DRM if they tell you -- I think all DRM'd products should have to come with a notice on them in big letters saying so."

Agreed. As it happens, the music companies, at least, are starting to see sense on this front anyway. Now we just have to deal with the TV companies...

"But that's not the question I asked. I've no objection to people adding DRM, as long as it's legal for me to remove it. If I write a Linux driver for DRM-restricted DVDs, and distribute that driver to others, should I go to prison?"

No. But, if your contract with the music company stipulates that you cannot remove the DRM, then they should be able to take you to court for breach of contract, etc.

(Yes, I understand the difference between a civil and criminal suit. This is what I mean about the state not interfering in such matters.)

"People who write DRM-cracking software are producers of intellectual property as much as people who make movies, and their intellectual property deserves to be equally respected: not more so, but not less so either."

Sure. They should not be prosecuted for making such software. If someone uses it, however, they can be taken to civil court, etc. as per the above.

Except... Some EULAs forbid reverse engineering or tampering in any way with the software code. Do you think that this is an unreasonable request?

"That's a civil suit. Do you think that filesharing should also be actionable under criminal law?"

An interesting question. In general, I would say not: the problem in that case is a breach of contract, not theft, and is, as such, a civil offence.

"Furthermore, if I find a DVD in the street, I haven't agreed a contract with anyone regarding that DVD, so should I be able to do what I like with it?"

That, I am afraid, is not the case, as is made quite clear on the EULA that pops up on the DVD when you play it. Once you have read the EULA, you are perfectly entitled to throw that DVD away (or put it back in the street).

If you keep it, you are still bound by the EULA (as you would be if someone gave it to you as a present).

DK


P.S. Whoops,

Yes, if you join LPUK, you do absolutely have a say in policy: that is what our members only forums are for. The leadership are active on there, and we do consult our members on issues.

LPUK came about through blogs and, as such, we recognise that many people have rather more expertise in their fields than we ourselves do.

DK

whoops said...

Dk, good... That's what i was hoping to hear. As you have probably realised i am quite new here, and i must confess i was didn't even know there WAS a libertarian party in the uk until this week! I've had a bit of a political epiphany of late and this is definitely the way i'm leaning, I'm going to give serious thought to joining the party.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Whoops,

That's good to hear!

We only launched the party on New Year's Day this year, so getting the message out has been tricky. We are getting there, slowly slowly...

DK

cabalamat said...

DK: As someone who produces artwork and works for a software company, you must remember that I have a certain bias in this matter.

I'm a programmer, so I guess I also have the same bias. I've no desire to make it difficult for creative people to produce and be rewarded for work they do.

Having said that, however, I should also point out that I am not an IP law specialist.

Me neither, though I've been reading up on it for the last decade, ever since large companies started trying to destroy my freedom to wirte and run code.

Patent laws, possibly. I don't think that you should be able to protect a concept, as such. However, you should be able to protect such a concept if you have made it work. Would you not agree?

The original bargain of the patent system was to encourage people to disclose new technology (a public good), by allowing them a limited-time monopoly (public bad) if they do so. I'm against the patent system as it now stands, since most patents are of useless quality (they don't teach any new technology) and the system has been thouroughly gamed, e.g. by patent trolls.

If I thought the patent system was reformable, I might be in favour of it, or at least wouldn't strongly object to it. But I doubt if it can be reformed.

"You only know it has DRM if they tell you -- I think all DRM'd products should have to come with a notice on them in big letters saying so." Agreed. As it happens, the music companies, at least, are starting to see sense on this front anyway. Now we just have to deal with the TV companies...

You're right that some industries are moving away from DRM, due to consumer resistance/hostility to it.

"If I write a Linux driver for DRM-restricted DVDs, and distribute that driver to others, should I go to prison?" No.

Then we are basically agreed on that issue.

But, if your contract with the music company stipulates that you cannot remove the DRM, then they should be able to take you to court for breach of contract, etc.

But if I'm only writing the software, and only usuing the DVD as far as I need to to test the code, should that be against the law?

Except... Some EULAs forbid reverse engineering or tampering in any way with the software code. Do you think that this is an unreasonable request?

Yes, because it allows a company to enforce an effective monopoly; monopolies are bad because they decrease aggregate wealth. Consider if I write a word processor that reads and writes the same file formats as Microsoft Word -- the EULA may make it difficult or impossible for me to do so.

If Microsoft (or any other company) can succeed by having a better product, then good luck to them. But if they can only succeed by bullying competitiors, then allowing them to continue doing so is inefficient and immoral.

Furthermore all knowledge workers use the knowledge in their own heads, so any law that prevents them from doing so both harms them personally, and harms the total economy. (Incidently, that's also why all clauses in employmrent contracts that limit what an employee can do when they leave their current job should be invalid).

"That's a civil suit. Do you think that filesharing should also be actionable under criminal law?" An interesting question. In general, I would say not: the problem in that case is a breach of contract, not theft, and is, as such, a civil offence.

We're more or less in agreement there, then.

"Furthermore, if I find a DVD in the street, I haven't agreed a contract with anyone regarding that DVD, so should I be able to do what I like with it?" That, I am afraid, is not the case, as is made quite clear on the EULA that pops up on the DVD when you play it.

Er, contract law doesn't work like that -- merely reading a contract doesn't obligate you to follow it; if you disagree, then by reading this sentence you agree to pay me £1,000.

And if any case if i played the DVD using a Linux DVD driver, maybe the boring license agreement or other frontal text wouldn't come up at all.

LPUK came about through blogs and, as such, we recognise that many people have rather more expertise in their fields than we ourselves do.

Fair enough.

Not Quite Hayek said...

IPJ is the new leader? What was the thinking behind that?

Devil's Kitchen said...

His energy and dedication.

I should have pointed out, by the way, that Ian was appointed interim leader for the next few months only and that all of the NCC positions are up for election (I would say re-election, but it will be the first time!) at the AGM.

Those are:
Party Leader
Party Treasurer
Campaigns Director
Head of Policy
Head of Communications

There has traditionally been one floating NCC position too, but this has tended to be a flexible appointment, decided by the NCC.

DK

Anonymous said...

The problem with a lot of EULAs (Microsoft's in particular), is that there is a lot of stuff in them that should not be enforceable even if agreed to. I think I read on Groklaw once there have been cases in America where it was ruled that a read/click through contract, contracts where you have to open the box to read them, etc are not binding because of the weak method of entering into them. But that is America, and probably not a ruling that most judges would go with, particularly not in corporation friendly states.


I fancy joining LPUK but having been unemployed for a few years (but not mooching off state, mooching off parents. No benefits at the expense of the tax payer for me) I would feel like a hypocrite. So maybe when I manage to get employment.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Anon,

"I fancy joining LPUK but having been unemployed for a few years (but not mooching off state, mooching off parents. No benefits at the expense of the tax payer for me) I would feel like a hypocrite."

Being supported by the willing charity of others is not a problem. Indeed, that is how it should work.

It is mooching about being supported by money extorted from others, whether they wish to support you or not, that is the problem.

DK

Mac the Knife said...

"Obviously, we hope to see as many of the three hundred or so members as possible..."

On to Thermopylae!