HBO wants its business to be off-limits for customers

Via Ars Technica, “HBO wants its programming to be off-limits for DVRs“:

HBO has joined the fray with a recent FCC filing in which it argues that its programming—and all “Subscription Video On Demand” services—should fall into the category of “Copy Never.” In a broadcast-flagged world, that translate into consumers not being able to record content broadcast by HBO. No TiVo, no VCR, no video capturing on your PC, no nada.

For me this connects with the network neutrality issue through an essential pattern of economic control. This then is further connected to the overall debates over copyright, intellectual property, and the public sphere.

When the content of our discussions are owned then our conversations are owned and there is no longer a public sphere in which culture can occur, develop or survive.

Okay, that’s a long chain of links, but that’s how far we’ve gone down the path. When the government mandates that the spectrum for analog television is returned, and digital content is mandated; then and there we find ourselves collectively moved into a technology which is being bound and gagged as we speak so that we cannot speak and cannot share and cannot think without paying someone for the use of their copyrighted material.

It’s not just about money. This is a fight over a pattern of economic behaviour that has the result of privatizing all collective and public culture.

Copyright is a consession by the public that grants a period of economic exclusivity to the author. It is not an inalienable right. Quite the opposite. Copyright is an easement on the inalienable rights of the public to the public sphere. It is in fact a consession of the right of the public domain in an attempt to compensate authors for their work. It is the inalienable right of the public that is being legislated away.

The eviscerated corpse of the public domain has left the cemetary and is knocking on the door, yelling, “I want my commons back!”

Don’t forget to privatize the works that work

Via Crooks and Liars, “Video of Random Shootings in Iraq“:

“The video has sparked concern that private security companies, which are not subject to any form of regulation either in Britain or in Iraq, could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis.”

I didn’t think to add privatization as the next step after militarization, a slide from public agency through militarization to privatization. When the conversation is about public agencies competing against private companies what is meant is that there’s no profit for private entities. The tricky part is that one of the advantages of a public agency is that it does not have, or should not anyway, a profit motivation. The public agency has the luxury of being able to offer services that do not become profitable and even run in the red. So, when a public agency is condemned for not being economically efficient, that is exactly the reason that the service should stay in the public. When this service is privatized, the profit motive means that the service will have a doubly decreased budget – first the red must be absorbed and then the black must be appropriated for profit.

So, where an agency cannot be privatized, it is restructured to operate like a corporation. When that fails, the straw man of intrinsic failure is raised as a motivation to militarize or privatize the services. Reminds me of the strategy that I’ve identified previously in the way that Microsoft implements standards.