Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Manifesto for Inertia in a Web 2.0 World

After three days of running conferences, firstly the SCL/Herbert Smith sponsored "Law 2.0" event, and then the glorious GikII, I am currently too braindead to do much other than stare into space, vaguely respond to my stacked up email, and make virtual glub glub goldfish noises (coming soon, no doubt, to a Facebook app near you.)

Many thanks to all involved in speaking, participating, watching ,asking questions and administering ; you were all magnificent. More thoughts may follow.

In the meantime however, I have been deputised by the ever-wonderful Chris Reed of Queen Mary to publish the below on his behalf, as he has no blawg of his own. (During the course of a discussion on Tuesday, Chris opined that he does not blog, not as any normal person might have expected, because he is too busy, but because he thinks he can influence policy better by fully formed argument in articles and books, than by hasty scribbles on a blog. Probably right. I personally blog as I said, both to organise the legal information deluge to my own advantage (instant tagging, summary and first critical thoughts, to be come back to later) - and because it's a great way to get in touch with interesting people, have fun, and incidentally build a reputation :)

Take it away, Chris.

"A MANIFESTO FOR RADICAL INACTION

To: All those concerned with the regulation of Web 2.0 who know enough
to know that they know nothing.

1. When, as they will, politicians take up the cry of commentators that "This is awful. Something must be done!" we must resist them to our last breath. Laws about the internet made this way have consistently failed to achieve their aims and produced unintended, unfavourable consequences. It always ends in tears.

2. For the time being we must preserve the liberties of online intermediaries so that Web 2.0 can continue to evolve. One day we will understand what responsibilities they can fairly be asked to shoulder. Meanwhile we must muddle along, extending and adapting our current laws to new problems as best we can. If something really must be done, we should question and question again until satisfied that it will not do more harm than good.

3. So far as we are able, we must divert lawmakers into fixing problems that we at least vaguely understand. The most pressing of these are online privacy and intellectual property rights in the new Web 2.0 creations. Fortunately both these require years of international negotiation, which will give us time to identify the best solutions.

We owe it to the future to prevent the mistakes of the past. Aux armes
Netoyens!"

Comments, questions? :-)

EDIT: Rowena Rodrigues has created a neat back-of-a-credit-card version of Reed's Rules here.

"1. LEGISLATE NOT IN HASTE, NOR GET CARRIED AWAY BY THOSE THAT KNOW NOT WHAT TO DO (BUT LIKE TO PRETEND THEY DO!)

2. LET WEB 2.0 BLOSSOM

3. WHAT (LAW THERE) IS, MUST BE EXTENDED AND APPLIED.

4. AND WHILE WE FIGURE OUT THE BEST SOLUTION, IP AND PRIVACY MUST TAKE CENTRESTAGE!"


Ps other comments on legal blogging from the participants of the SCL Law 2.0 blogging debate :

- "Just say no."
- "Choose life."
- "I can't believe how obsessed you guys are with your Technorati ratings. I don't even know what mine is." - me
- "..Oh, you're about, maybe, no 40..?" (Technollama)
- "Since I started blogging my sex life has ended". (Anon , but see above.)
- "I don't know what you guys are complaining about, I got laid by blogging!" (GeekLawyer - naturellement).

Don't let this put you off , guys and gals..!

6 comments:

R Rodrigues said...

I've posted a user friendly version on my blog. http://eidentityrealm.blogspot.com/

I'm all for it.

Graham Smith said...

Well said Chris.

May I be immodest enough to add a couple of quotes of my own? From the Preface to the 1st edition of Internet Law and Regulation (1996): "It is sometimes suggested that the Internet should be regulated. I hope this book shows that the Internet does not exist in a legal vacuum. Unless and
until the existing law is found wanting there should be a presumption against further legislation. As to the form of any legislation that may be required, let there be a presumption against regulation of a discretionary nature, in favour of known, certain laws capable of general application."

And from Ch 12 of the current edition: "It may well be thought that the causes of freedom of speech and unimpeded cross-border flow of information and services on the internet are better served by continuing chaos, imperfect as it may be, than by any currently achievable form of international framework."

Simon Deane-Johns said...

A standing ovation.

Geeklawyer said...

SCL and Gikii were thoroughly 'triffic thanks Lilian

Chris Marsden said...

I do recommend Pam Samuelson's 5 rules for legislators in the final chapte in the Marsden tome 'Regulating the Global Info Soc'.

And for an example of where copyright can and may be reformed, see the brilliant but wonderfully grounded Mark Lemley's latest:
http://web.si.umich.edu/tprc/papers/2007/660/RationalizingInternetSafeHarbors.pdf

Next year will be called Web3.0...but the subtitle is up for grabs!

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