|Dugald Stewart McDougall, 1916-2007|
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!