Lucas Gonze pinged me with a good mental framework for our current moral crises over file sharing, DRM and all that other stuff that makes me tired from being so angry. I’m answering my email in my blog.
Four researchers at Microsoft coined the term “Darknet” in their 2002 paper The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution. Put briefly (and largely incorrectly), people copy things privately on Darknets, whether over IRC or IM or trading DVD-Rs.
He cites as examples of the Darknet WinMX, Kazaa, Napster and iTunes. All of which are closed systems that you can’t go on national TV and say “here, have this.” The first two because most users are infringing on someone’s copyright, the last two because the music is locked up in DRM.
The current state of copyright infringement reminds me of prohibition-era drinking: a lot of people doing it but there’s no constructive conversation.
Lucas also identifies lightnet systems: Creative Commons, Magnatune, Our Media, etc. This is lightnet media, something you link to, use, shuffle around and share. Not necessarily something that is under a CC license, but something that I can post a link on my blog and say OMG PUNK RAWK!
The free software community has built a viable ecology on lightnet software. Lucas is consuming lightnet media. I think that’s pretty cool.