((My comments in double parentheses - Homer))
 
                              GROUND ZERO
 
                                ACT - 85
                            19 January 1995
 
                 Copyright (C) 1994 Homer Wilson Smith
       Redistribution rights granted for non commercial purposes.
 
 
    Helena Kobrin wrote:
 
 >     We are not committed to pursuing the "remove group" message to
 >deal with the problem if it is not the appropriate method.  If anyone
 >has other viable solutions for eliminating the violations of property
 >rights, we'd be interested to know what they are.
 
     A most reasonable letter.  And here indeed is the crux of the
matter.
 
     Before the invention of the printing press, there wasn't a lot of
publishing except by hand.  Once the printing press came into existence
wide spread publishing came into being, and publishers of course vied
with each other for author's works and exclusivity.
 
     It was in this atmosphere of early Royal Britain that copyrights
were first created, not by the authors but by the publishers.  The
purpose of the copyright was not to protect the author's rights, but to
protect the publishers rights!  And secondarily to give the Sovereign
King total censorship control over what people wrote, because if you
didn't have a publisher you couldn't print, and the King kept a tight
rein on the publishers.
 
     The author's of course didn't mind the protection that copyrights
afforded them too, they were already owned and operated by their
publishers, and so what was good for the publisher was good for the
author.
 
     Now the point is that during the time that copyrights were first
conceived until recently, publishing was a hard business.  It was almost
impossible to print a book without lots of capital, and then getting it
distributed was even harder.  This whole process took enormous amounts
of time and energy and money, and so the publishers continued to own the
day and control the authors.
 
     Then one day the internet comes along, and suddenly everyone is a
publisher.  Suddenly the printing and distribution of written works
became easier than just about any other activity in life except maybe
breathing, by a factor of 10.
 
     One can still encode one's works and 'sell' them only to those who
pay for them, giving them a secret key to decode the work on their
computer, but once they have it, what's to stop them from uploading it
to the internet and disseminating it to the Free Winds?
 
     If you are a publisher, or even an author, this is one's worst
nightmare come true.  And if one takes a look at the internet from the
publisher's point of view, certainly the internet was not designed
correctly.  An ideal internet FOR A PUBLISHER is one where everyone is
traceable AND NO ONE CAN POST WITHOUT PERMISSION.  At least everyone
should be traceable, that way you can prosecute people after the fact of
a violation.
 
     But frankly traceability after the fact is not really sufficient.
In the real world world of books and trucks and tons of paper and slow
moving cycles of action, it takes time to make and distribute copies,
and almost always money of some sort is involved, so when you catch the
guy and put him out of business after the fact of his first copy,
chances are only a limited number of copies have gone out, and you stop
any more from being made.
 
     But in the virtual world of cyberspace, catching someone after
they have made a few copies on the internet does not stop all the rest
of the copies from being made.  Once something is on the internet, all
the copies are already out there, IN LESS THAN 15 MINUTES ALL OVER THE
WORLD, so who's going to buy your book?
 
     Worse each person who gets such an illegal copy can do the whole
cycle all over again, so getting rid of these illegal copies is
impossible.
 
     Thus really the only answer for the publisher's nightmare, is not
only that all posters are traceable, which gets violators after the
fact, and acts as something of a deterrent, but also that people just
can't post without permission and full moderation, which prevents
people from posting copyright violations before the fact.  Imagine an
internet where ALL newsgroups and e-mail was moderated?  That's a
publishers ideal scene.
 
     But publishers are not a representative slice of the population,
they are in fact a very small portion of what life is about, and in
any case the internet was not created for publishers, nor for the
purpose of furthering publisher's interests.  The internet was created
for a completely different reason.
 
     The internet was not created to be just another business tool, no
matter how much some business interests would like it to be.
 
     To put it in embarrassing New Age Crystal Gazer terms, the
internet is a physical manifestation of a move to a new stage of
consciousness amongst all the people of the world, a process that is
much bigger than mere business interests and will in fact merely flow
around all such interests.
 
     This new consciousness allows instant communication on any
subject with anyone and that agenda will eventually swamp the
publishers and their business interests like the ice age swamped the
dinosaurs.
 
     Most people have a sort of ego centric point of view of the
world, things happen TO THEM, and FOR THEM and some how the world has
them in mind when it does anything big.
 
     Thus when they find their own survival being threatened they
claim "There must be something wrong around here, these changes are
not good for ME!" But the world moves as it will, regardless of the
plaintive cries of those who are about to be phased out.  No doubt the
dinosaurs had a valid point when they claimed that the ice age was no
good for them, but the ice age didn't come FOR THEM, nor BECAUSE of
THEM.  The dinosaurs were merely in the way.
 
     And so it is with the new age of consciousness and its physical
manifestations like the internet.  There will be many plaintive cries,
and one's faith in an all knowing, all loving, all powerful PERSONAL
GOD who is looking after you, will be no doubt be tested right up
until your bones are pushed into the abyss.  But the universe of
evolution moves on, and whether or not publishers or even authors
survive the coming of the new age is very open to question.
 
     Terrible thing that, no?
 
     This might at first seem ironic because this is the Information
Age after all that is killing them.  Authors and publishers are
certainly the source of much of the information in the information age
and surely they deserve to survive, right?
 
     But there is a problem in paradigms here, specifically the desire
to own IDEAS, commonly called intellectual property.  Probably someone
ought to tell these people now so that they can make peace with their
Maker, that although the information age is about information, it is NOT
about OWNERSHIP of information.  It's about the free exchange of
information, and if a few owners of information get swept away in the
process, that's just the way it is.
 
     THE INFORMATION AGE DID NOT COME FOR NOR BECAUSE OF THE OWNERS OF
INFORMATION.  It came for and because of the EXCHANGERS OF INFORMATION.
It was built by and for people who give freely of their information and
who receive freely.  The fair exchange remains in, but the ownership is
out.
 
     This is the evolution towards a group mind, a group consciousness,
and a group way of thinking about our survival on planet earth and in
fact the whole universe, because the internet is in fact a good model
for what consciousness is really like to awakened souls.
 
     The pushers of books, and cartons, and trucks and tons of paper and
mass in order to trade in information, are going to go the way of the
brontosaurous who simply became too massy to do anything.  When his
lakes froze up that supported his weight, he was lost, as he could not
live on land.
 
     So the point is that this little war here between the internet and
the Church of SCientology is not just a little war.  It is the opening
volley between the new age of information exchangers and the old age of
information owners.  The information owners thought the new age of
information was for and about them, but they are going to find perhaps
that their mass graves are already being dug way in advance of their
awareness.
 
     In the meanwhile of course the information owners will certainly
put up quite a struggle as they try to change the course of the new age
of information into one suitable for life by information owners.  They
don't see that the paradigm has changed from ownership to free exchange,
and in fact many of them can't even conceive of it, as they are too
materialistic to understand speed of light free communication.  They
will probably go to their graves without ever fully understanding why
they failed, "This just can't be right, I just KNOW this was meant for
me..."
 
     The war between the owners of information and the exchangers of
information is going to be THE war of the 21st century, it is going to
change EVERYTHING, how we survive, what we trade, what we do with what
we trade, and how we make our livings.
 
     "How then WILL we make our livings" you cry?  Well, don't ask the
dinosaur.
 
     You know, in general, its a bad idea to make and pass laws that
absolutely can not be enforced, right?  Well consider what would have
happened if the world had been born thousands of years ago with the
internet already in place and fully functional.  Copyrights and
ownership of information would have been absurd, right?
 
     So once the new information age comes in, it may be that things
will evolve to the point where copyrights once again become absurd.  The
only way you can have copyrights living side by side with an internet is
through the use of an absolute police state with no freedom of
expression or thought at all.  Traceability and total moderation of all
communication is the logical outcome of the desire to own and sell
information.
 
     The body politic will not tolerate anything less than robust
anonymity, unmoderatability, untracability and privacy, or no one will
be free to talk with each other or the world to design the markets in
the first place.  When the *MARKETS* own the communication lines, rather
than the body politic for whom the police work, then all is lost.

     When the markets own the police, you have a police state by
definition owned and run by the highest bidder.

     The forces that are building the internet ON THE WORLD, will fight
this tooth and nail, and who wins will probably be one of the most
interesting stories of Earth history a few hundred years down the line.
 
     And when all is said and done, you can tell your grand children,
and great grand children that you were at ground zero.

     And so we were.
 
     Homer