In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my May Locus column: Steering with the Windshield Wipers. It makes the argument that much of the dysfunction of tech regulation -- from botched anti-sex-trafficking laws to the EU's plan to impose mass surveillance and censorship to root out copyright infringement -- are the result of trying to jury-rig tools to fix the problems of monopolies, without using anti-monopoly laws, because they have been systematically gutted for 40 years.
A lack of competition rewards bullies, and bullies have insatiable appetites. If your kid is starving because they keep getting beaten up for their lunch money, you can’t solve the problem by giving them more lunch money – the bullies will take that money too. Likewise: in the wildly unequal Borkean inferno we all inhabit, giving artists more copyright will just enrich the companies that control the markets we sell our works into – the media companies, who will demand that we sign over those rights as a condition of their patronage. Of course, these companies will be subsequently menaced and expropriated by the internet distribution companies. And while the media companies are reluctant to share their bounties with us artists, they reliably expect us to share their pain – a bad quarter often means canceled projects, late payments, and lower advances.
And yet, when a lack of competition creates inequities, we do not, by and large, reach for pro-competitive answers. We are the fallen descendants of a lost civilization, destroyed by Robert Bork in the 1970s, and we have forgotten that once we had a mighty tool for correcting our problems in the form of pro-competitive, antitrust enforcement: the power to block mergers, to break up conglomerates, to regulate anticompetitive conduct in the marketplace.
But just because we know where to find the copyright lever, it doesn’t follow that yanking on it hard enough will make it do the work of antitrust law.
From Nature.com (emphasis added): Here, we describe easily deployable hardware and software for the long-term analysis of a user’s excreta through data collection and models of human health. The ‘smart’ toilet, which is self-contained and operates autonomously by leveraging pressure and motion sensors, analyses the user’s urine using a standard-of-care colorimetric assay that traces red–green–blue […]
It brings me, and my future sheltered-in-place mail art projects, a lot of joy that Ruth Asawa postage stamps have been announced. Sadly, USPS hasn’t revealed the release date just yet. So, instead, I’ll just be over here clicking “refresh.” Showcasing Asawa’s wire sculptures, the pane includes 20 stamps, with two each of 10 designs, […]
In a live broadcast Sunday, Queen Elizabeth II spoke about the coronavirus situation. It was a serious and reassuring speech. But, she wore a green dress, a green-screen-green dress. The internet, starting with Peter Chiykowski, took it from there. A few of you said my queenscreen photoshops are disrespectful, and you're right. The Queen is […]
Yoga studios are closed nationwide. The irony is that between the anxieties of the outside world and those popping up inside your very own home with everyone trapped indoors, there’s probably never been a time where yoga’s calming zen was more vital and needed. Rather than just throwing in the yoga mat and subjecting family […]
The workers aren’t inside their physical business space anymore. So why should business technology still be under that roof either? In fact, more and more businesses have been making this migration for a while now, moving all their digital infrastructure to the world’s two largest cloud services platforms, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure. […]
Gather round, young and old — and hear tales of bygone days. Back in olden times, citizens would mass at a house of coffee, wherein skilled java alchemists would concoct special blends and apply artisanal wizardry to make each steaming chalice an appointment for the taste buds. Granted, said wizards, once known as baristas, were […]