[FoRK] Re: Kindle first impressions

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Mon May 5 19:11:00 PDT 2008

On May 5, 2008, at 7:01 PM, Luis Villa wrote:

> Mind you, I'm not saying there is a moral obligation (which might be
> what you're getting at?) I'm saying there are real power relations
> that you can deny all you want but exist nonetheless.

And every one of those power relations frequently fails to prevent  
somebody who is sufficiently determined from violating the law or  
obligation or social norm or power relation in question.  (Cf. 9/11.)   
That's generally called "crime" and all of those things (law, social  
norm, threat of coercive enforcement) are usually aligned to codify  
and discourage behaviors that most people agree are "crime", and when  
they aren't that's generally transient, something gives eventually.

I'm not saying that crime doesn't exist, I'm just saying that the idea  
that law can *prevent* crime other than in some statistical sort of  
way is an illusion.  It can punish, it can threaten to punish, and it  
can hope that this threat by itself discourages the crime enough.   
When discussing something as ephemeral as intellectual property, it's  
no surprise that the law is equally ephemeral and often ignored.

What I'm really objecting to, here, is the mystification of law.  It  
all comes down to simple (hypothetical) economics.  Law, after all, is  
the endeavor to control other people by writing on paper, a practice  
of sympathetic magic;  to the extent it succeeds or fails, it succeeds  
because people want it to, and fails when they don't.  Faith in the  
law is just that.  (Hence my objection.)  Economics, on the other  
hand, purports to be a study of human behavior, and it succeeds when  
that behavior can be captured in large statistical strokes or fails  
when the models can't capture all the variables.


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