Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why can't we all just get along? (copyright edition)

I just watched this lecture by Lawrence Lessig.* It inspires me to do good out in the world. Maybe I should have gone to law school? I like to write and I'm killer at logic puzzles; being a lawyer might really agree with me. And I care about all the enormously, outrageously bad things that are happening in the way that we -- a society, a species -- treat ideas.

Why can't we all just get along? Why do court cases take so long? (And how dramatically different would the entire world be if the US had a time-limit on court cases?) Why is it so hard to get people to do the right thing?**

I have trouble believing that there is some Recording Industry Executive sitting up in his mountain retreat, stroking a cat in his lap, and ordering his minions to go forth, and shower the fuel of money upon their army of lawyers. Why is this the way things work? Perhaps it's a gradual accumulation of small negative decisions which leads to this massively evil, broken system. The RIE needs to make a payment on his yacht, so he has an underling sign a new artist, so... and the lawyer can charge $100 more per hour if he works for the RIE's company, and... so on and so forth.

How can I help? Perhaps I can help devise a more realistic model of this profit-corporation-courts-makers model, and then a game-theoretic strategy where it is in the interests of all parties to be nice. Then the next step is to change the entire political/social system to conform to the rules of my game.***

So I can't really help, or at least I feel that I can't really help, and this feeling will cause me to fail to help. sigh

*Via *Emergent Chaos*, who has some interesting thoughts on the term "non-commercial." More on Creative Commons' research project into "non-commercial" via Boingboing.
** I know that it is more complicated than just "do the right thing," because people have different opinions of what "the right thing" is. That just makes me more frustrated.
***Oh, algorithmic mechanism design, how I love you.

This post's theme word: quodlibet, "a subtle argument, especially on a theological or philosophical issue" or "a musical medley: a whimsical combination of popular tunes." As in, "we had a quodlibet about whether the quodlibet was legal."


Andrea said...

good ideas, but also remember - you will be surprised by life's ability to bring you moments and chances to intervene or interact in both terrifically small and crucially large ways, most of them very ordinary but also shockingly meaningful. Kindness, kindness, kindness.

Lila is a complex system. said...

Surprised indeed. Yesterday [early] morning I was perusing a fruit stand and the owner said, "can you watch this for a minute?" and went out to get coffee. So I picked out my fruit and when she came back, she wouldn't take my money. I exchanged kindness for fruit! Yay!