Services

Internet's no Garden of Eden

In response to the September 4 Perspectives column by Doug Isenberg, "Is this the way to fight copyright infringement?":

I enjoyed your article today, and you make some good points. But your statement that a lawsuit such as the one filed and withdrawn this week "could jeopardize the stability and freedom of cyberspace" is misguided.

There is no such place as "cyberspace." There is certainly no justification for an imaginary place that should be treated any differently than other communications media (telephone, radio, television, newspapers, fax machines, U.S. mail, etc.). Hasn't the myth of cyberspace as a special place popped with the dot-com stock market bubble in the past year? I guess not.

Well, first the financial markets finally saw the Internet for what it really is. Now it is time for the political and legal professions to see it for what it really is--just another medium. Don't get me wrong: I love the Internet. But just because it is really cool, and gives the appearance of "virtual reality," doesn't mean it should be completely unregulated.

Clearly, the Internet has become a favorite medium for criminals and get-rich-quick artists. It is not the Garden of Eden. From a purely economic point of view, there are still just suppliers and demanders. For suppliers of intellectual property, it is impossible to compete with someone who steals your product and then offers it for free.

Unless we want to throw away Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, where it says that "The Congress shall have the 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," we need to use all reasonable means to enforce copyright laws. It is not unreasonable to request or require an Internet Service Provider to cut off access to a particular domain, Web server or block of IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. This is a simple update to a routing table. It would only be granted by a judge, and only under the proper circumstances (like when the perpetrator is hiding and the conduct is undeniably illegal).

Anyhow, I agree that the music industry needs to change its approach. They need to offer more songs, at more reasonable prices, for both jukeboxes and burning--both individual purchases and subscriptions. If they offered a good alternative (not free, but friendly) to Napster, Kazaa, Morpheus, LimeWire, etc., they would probably make a lot more money than they do today.

Tom Vaughan
Medford, N.J.