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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Son of a ------ ------?

Dugald Stewart McDougall, 1916-2007
Before you read further today, please Google Dugald S. McDougall and check out the Barnes & Noble page that appears.  Dugald (Mac) was my Dad.

Done it?

That's right, Mac was a patent lawyer.  I owe my education and at least half my brain to a man who argued intellectual property law cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.  So, to honor Mac's life and  memory, I now must state that I understand the need to curb the counterfeiting and theft of American artists' works, of American companies' trademarks, and of intellectual property protected by patents, trademarks and copyrights, globally.    I do not know if all of the provisions of ACTA are wise and fair, but clearly, something must be done.

And, dear Romanian friends, you know damned well that you are in that piracy game up to your eyeballs.  So, while I loved the RObotzi diatribe against ACTA, I do not on principle oppose the treaty's intent.

The answer to the dilemma of Internet freedom and legitimate monopoly rights of authors, artists, publishers and producers may lie in an I-Tunes approach.  Make the cost of legal access so trivial to the individuals wishing to access a movie or song that they are ashamed to pirate it in order to save so little money.  In our six-to-seven billion-person globe, the revenues to the producers of a film would be handsome, indeed, if people paid even a dollar each to view it.  But clearly, their ability to steal it and disseminate it to untold numbers of their Internet acquaintences without paying anything to those who spent millions producing it is unfair, and has the potential to dampen the enthusiasm of the artists and producers, and thus to stifle creative progress.

Should governments have a right to search secretly the contents of all computers that pass through airports, and to destroy or to confiscate those found to contain pirated files?  No.  That is an invasion of privacy.  Should those who sell for profit pirated or counterfeit trademarked or patented goods and/or pirated art or computer files be prosecuted, and their businesses fined heavily?  Absolutely.

I will take my steer on this from Mac, himself.  Back in DOS days, he and I used to share 3-1/2 inch floppy disks of such programs as Winchester Basic, or PCTools.  Mac's view was that while doing so was technically a violation of the copyrights, "Don't lose sleep over it, son.  Since we are not using these to make money, no one will come after us for it." 

Somewhere there is a rule of reason in these matters.  I hope that it can be found and applied, without destroying the free (and freeing) power of the Internet.

Dear Daddy Mac, our Pater familias, you who made us all take Latin, Requiescat in Pace!


  1. "dear Romanian friends, you know damned well that you are in that piracy game up to your eyeballs" - true, fair and square! ;-) Why people oppose ACTA is not because we won't be able to download books, movies and music for free ( really think we'll stop?) - but because this treaty leaves room for other, very scary situations - you think you can now say anything and everything about your political opinion. Well..enjoy it while you can because if this ACTA gets approved, this is one of the things you will not be able to do anymore.
    And if this whole thing is so good...why was it done in secrecy ?

    There is no question that a piracy law/treaty/thing, whatever you wanna call it, can and should be created - however, let it not be ACTA. Some provisions are plain scary and by that they will try and control the public.

    I do not want my Internet provider to "watch" what we are Google-ing or to report whatever we damn well please to post on our blogs. If something we post is considered offensive by can say goodbye to your internet connection for at least 6 months, say hello to a sky-high fine and up to 5 years of prison...and to think you didn't ever download an illegal movie. Still gonna pay the fine..

    Copyrights are one thing. ACTA is a cover under a nice, sweet name for government control.

  2. Not to mention..You will have to pay for YouTube, Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, all phone apps....everything! Everything that was free will now be forced to ask you for money...yeah I get it with the copyright but if I own Facebook or any other website and I wanna keep it free, I should be able to, don't you think?


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