Philosophical Musings

January 9, 2008

America, Corporations and the Police State

Filed under: capitalism,Democracy,Freedom,police state — Elad Kehat @ 9:20 am

There’s growing talk about how America is becoming a police state. Here’s just one little example that I ran into today.

The questions is: whatever happened to the American spirit? Why are Americans willing to take this?

The answer might be in corporate culture. With most people working for large corporations today, they get trained to accept orders from above, without questioning, and with a threat to be terminated (from work) if they go against company policy. If you spend most of your waking hours in that kind of culture, there’s no wonder that an authoritarian regime seems like the norm.

Check out this hilarious video, and notice how no Starbucks employee stops to questions why it’s really wrong for DaVido to do his thing in their shop. Nobody gets hurt. Everybody has fun. And what’s that about not filming – why not? Isn’t America supposed to be a free country? But the worse is 4:32 minutes into the video – Starbucks Police ???!!! Corporations have their own police forces now?

December 24, 2007

Morals, Law and Belief

Filed under: Copyrights,Democracy,Freedom,religion — Elad Kehat @ 11:36 am

Two seemingly unrelated posts I read this morning combined in a beautiful way.

Seth Godin is insightful as always, saying:
* Most people want to believe.
* And we’re most comfortable believing what everyone else believes.

Add to that the fact that “everyone else” isn’t really everyone else, it’s just your peer group. That’s why we mostly hold the same religious views as the community we grew up in.

The related post is from TorrentFreak: Piracy, Morals and The Need for Change
Ernesto discusses a NY Times article that tells of the generational divide in the moral perception of copyrights – today’s college students just don’t see anything wrong with copying digital files.
This is only surprising if like most people you (wrongly) assume that morals should be based on the law, and not the other way around. Morals aren’t a constant, they’re just the sum of what we believe to be right and wrong. They exist because we want to believe that there are such things as right or wrong, but their content is usually whatever our peers happen to believe in in that time and place.

So, asks Ernesto, should sharing copyrighted material be leglized?
Wrong question. The right question is “should there be such a thing as copyright?”. Well, the future generation has voted, and their answer is “definitely not”!

August 10, 2007

Strike Back for Freedom

Filed under: business,capitalism,Copyrights,Democracy,Freedom — Elad Kehat @ 2:01 pm

Finally, someone is trying to use the media industry’s own weapons against them.

TechCrunch reports that Veoh, an online video website, is suing Universal Music, after being continually threatened by them.  While their chances in court are probably not very high, its heartening to see that some entrepreneurs aren’t easily intimidated.

Incidentally, I ran into this quote of a judge today:

“There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back, for their private benefit.”

Unfortunately, the speaker isn’t a real judge, he’s a fictional one, in Robert Heinlein’s classic short story Life-line, written in 1939! (I’ve been reading some classic scifi lately). Too bad that this paragraph, written 68 years ago by a true libertarian to criticize corrupt business, is still relevant today. Even worse, no real life court today would say the same.

July 17, 2006

Copyrights first, Democracy second

Filed under: capitalism,Copyrights,Democracy,Freedom,society — Elad Kehat @ 8:52 am

Today I stumbled upon the website of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), where I found something that made me explode with anger.

The quote the U.S. Constitution’s Patent and Copyright Clause:

“The Congress shall have Power . . . To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries . . .”

And then land the bomb:

“Before free speech, before freedom of assembly, before freedom of religion, there was copyright protection in our Constitution. The founding fathers knew copyright protection could improve society by preserving the economic incentive for people to come up with brilliant ideas and inventions.


That as far as the RIAA is concerned, copyright protection is more important than our freedoms is nothing new. But that they’re willing to hijack the Constitution and the founding fathers to support that claim goes beyond fair.

Consider this: the RIA of America is a body that thinks America is first and foremost all about the protection of their economic interests. Forget freedom of speech – that comes later. Forget freedom of assembly – democracy is secondary. First pay the music industry, then we’ll give you some rights.

Silly me: I always thought that America was about freedom first. Thanks to the RIAA I now know that it’s about narrow economic interests and outdated business models first, freedom second.

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