Won’t Anyone Think of the Children?

When I’m murdered in my bed by a gang of bored teenagers, I’ll try to remember to blame the RIAA as I expire.

Some issues are too big to arrive at any useful perspective until you have thought and experienced a great many ideas relating to them. For a long while now, I have tried to fathom what it is about my concern, not to say alarm, about the increasingly draconian imposition of copyright law and the erosion of fair use that has come with it.

It is easy, when faced with a threat, to fight fire with fire. Recall my ancient war cry in this regard – born out of a desire to break free of the stultifying media, the Murdochs, the Ballamers and other monopolists. This led me towards the extremists – the abolitionists and zealots. But it didn’t feel right – even from there to more sophisticated territory, I was still unclear about what was bugging me.

Having just watched Lessig’s new talk on TED (using Miro I might add), his closing point showed me the itch I couldn’t scratch. We exist, he says, in a strange age awash with easy prohibitions even more easily broken. Ordinary people live day-do-day in the knowledge that they are acting outside the law, perhaps daily (the MP3s, videos, the mash-ups, the p2p…).

It’s not just that the law is an ass and that the justifications are easy (and hardly anyone gets caught) – it’s the fact that we are now in a position where we have no choice but to shake laws through some kind of moral sieve before we decide which to obey. How has this happened and where will it end?