The Law Is an Ass

by on May 5, 2007 · 50 comments

Mark Blafkin has an puzzling take on this week’s Digg/AACS business:

The real story here is about the ephemeral nature of Web2.0 companies. When your value is based on the people you attract more than the value of any product or service you provide, your grasp on success is tenuous at best. You will always be at the mercy of 5-10 percent of your users that are most active and usually most crazy. Web2.0 has a lot of promise, but it also has some potential pitfalls. We’ve just seen one of them. When you’re relying on “mobs,” well, you’re relying on MOBS.

I’m at a loss what point Blafkin’s trying to make here. Let’s keep in mind that a “Web 2.0 business” is just a website whose contents are controlled by users rather than the site administrator. Or in other words, it’s a website that gives users the freedom to exchange information without having to first seek the permission of the authorities. As a libertarian, that seems to me as an almost unalloyed good.

If the DMCA effectively says that Digg had to choose between breaking the law or shutting down, that seems to me like evidence that there’s something wrong with the DMCA. Digg is not profiting from piracy the way Napster and Grokster were. They’re a legitimate news site whose users happen to have strong anti-censorship views.

Blafkin seems to have the opposite reaction: that if user-generated content is incompatible with the DMCA, then so much the worse for user-generated content. But libertarianism is not about slavishly obeying the law, regardless of the consequences. If copyright law starts effectively outlawing legitimate websites, then copyright law has gone too far.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: