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The state of the network : beta-testing a new governance for intellectual property Hurwitz, Darrin


Before entering the mainstream market, programs in their beta form are tested, retested, designed and re-designed; eventually, the software is released to the public where it is incorporated into the existing network infrastructure. And that is precisely what is being done by the current powers that be - the corporations - with regard to the new 'legal' norms that must be established for the realization of a commercial Internet. Corporations are today testing different implementations of code and protocols that will soon leave beta form and become the means by which the commercially viable, Ecommerce friendly Internet is governed. Buttressed by secure protocols and a corporate friendly infrastructure, the state of the global digital network as an authoritative force in the legislative and social lives of the international commons of citizens will be strong. Today the primary Internet focus of media, governments, and corporations is on intellectual property: how to regain control over digital audio, how to curb software piracy, how to develop protocols that stream high quality video over the Internet but at the same time prevent that same infrastructure from promulgating digital piracy. This paper concludes that corporations can no longer rely on the traditional state-government model to legislate and enforce digital law. Innovative, efficient, and intrusive corporate tactics designed to regain control over intellectual will form the framework for a revolutionary model of social and political governance. Vulnerable digital intellectual property will thus be the reason - perhaps excuse - corporations will use to entrench potentially oppressive rules into the next-generation worldwide network infrastructure. Protocols and codes are tremendously powerful legal enforcement mechanisms. It is far more effective to wholly eliminate the recording function from an operating system than to implement anti-piracy legislation threatening legal action in the event individuals stray. There is but one certainty in the new governance of international law: states will find a renewed sense of purpose as protectors of their citizens. Actors that protect us from information hoarding, potentially rights-infringing, protocol rich, 'big-brother' Net- Powers must emerge. Ousted from making and enforcing digital laws, states must reposition themselves to safeguard our privacy, monitor and break-up rising Net-Power monopolies.

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