However, I'm not sure if one of those parties, Mr. Huh, was speaking for everyone in the tech lobby when he answered some of the questions posed to him. And in a way his failure to answer some questions is the cause of my concern. The Tech lobby is right to bring its issues about SOPA forward, however when asked point blank on his view of the nation's laws and constitutional protections Huh answered with a classic, and deeply-troubling, politician's dodge.
RAY SUAREZ: When you say curb First Amendment rights, is there a First Amendment right to traffic in intellectual property that you didn't create?
BEN HUH: There isn't a one that steals -- quote, unquote -- "copyrighted material," but there is certainly a very clear case to be made for fair use, which I think that the MPAA and the RIAA has abused their powers on.
And we think that bills like this will only make that worse, where people cannot use material in a fair use kind of way because they're too afraid of being -- following the copyright infringement.
Frankly I'm concerned when anybody dodges a direct question. Why dodge such a simple questions like this? The lack of answer to this basic question speaks to the concerns of the other interested party, and speaks to my own concerns with some of the people who seem to exist in the exclusively in the online ether. What type of philosophy does the tech community have on the first amendment that doesn't allow the answer No to this question? Is this just a polite way of expressing the communty's desire to resist any and all efforts to curb blatent infrigment. Fair use is another debate!
This wasn't Huh's only non-answer, he didn't fully address a question asked him directly by the other interested party, but that wasn't the largest dodge. That came towards the end of the debate when Ray Suarez once again asked point blank,
RAY SUAREZ: And, Ben Huh, quickly, before we go, can changes be made that get you at a legal regime that you can live with, that you and other people like you can live with?
BEN HUH: Unfortunately, the bills currently cannot have any -- the provisions in the bill need to go away. And we need to start over. We need to start over with a transparent process.
And instead of using lobbyists to try to do this over the holidays, we need the transparent process to start over and include the community. There's a fundamental difference between people who want to see the Internet and say let's lobotomize and censor parts of it because we need to control it, and those like us who see the Internet as a method of growing the economy and innovating in front of the world.
And we have to actually reconcile those two positions. And we believe that it is much better to protect this crown jewel of civilization, which is the ability for us to communicate and express our ideas freely, than try to lobotomize it.
First of the fact huh doesn't recognize his own position as one of lobby is troubling. Rather then seeing himself as just an interested party (via his operation of websites) we see something all-together more extraordinary. Huh sees himself, as do so many others in the twitterati as the only moral and righteous party. Huh, and the rest of "the community," in short are swift to de-humanize their opposition, as morally bankrupt. Huh leverages this righteous anger throughout the debate. As a dispassionate third party I found this offsetting.
Huh, seemed to view this debate as mostly on fair use, and his legitment complaints address that concern; however, his failure to answer more fundamental questions is what is troubling. Huh dodged this real question that nags me about both the "hacker" community, and the larger community of wholesale that is the internet. "...can changes be made that get you at a legal regime that you can live with..." How are we to view this silence? Open rejection of any and all legality is a serious concern. Yet it has already happened, in some camps (RE: #OWS) but that too is another issue.
It seems that those at the bleeding edge of technology have not fully reflected on their underlying philosophy. This is surprising given the age of the internet. Surly in this amount of time they should have answered the fundamental question as to how they relate, or how they should relate, to that which they consume?
Should all the movies and TV shows made be pro bono? Should we just give these people unlimited consumption free of charge? Never mind the fact that innovations have been made that do offer some compensation for the work involved.
The biggest question after a debate, with technological heralds like Huh, is what should we make of their insistence (or forced ignorance in this case) that people who produce intangible products should receive no compensation for their work? It seems to be a questions that both Huh and his community have no interest in answering, and that by far was the largest disappointment of last nights debate.
A World Without Wikipedia: For SOPA, Websites Threaten a Midnight Blackout: