Michael Eisner has a piece in the Financial Times about Abe Lincoln and the internet pirates.

These sorts of pieces are predictable enough to be trite, but one bit needs correction:

My internet guru, Abe Lincoln, was also instrumental in setting the standard gauge for American railroads in the Pacific Railway Act of 1864, which established the gauge for the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. However, it took 22 years of governmental cajoling before all the railroad companies adopted this standard. Just as we needed interstate transport standards then, we need international content protection standards now. Let us hope it will not take 22 years to achieve them.

The government was heavily involved in the first 20 years or so of the internet. During this time, they effectivly helped “established a gauge” so that seperate parties accross the world could communicate without prior arrangements. Then, in the early 1991, the government gave up its heavy involvement in the Internet. They lifted the restriction on commercial uses of the Internet and now, ten years later, the population and use of the Internet has exploded.

To be clear, when the government stepped out of its regulatory role, the Internet exploded.

Now, Eisner and others who are very interested in restricting the free flow of information over the Internet (because they see no other way that they can continue to grow their markets) want the government to step back into its regulatory role and set standards for the Internet.

The “Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act” is the SSSCA reincarnate with a friendlier title. It still attempts to force computer manufacturers to sell you computers that don’t work the way you expect your computer to work. It is probably DOA, but, rumor has it that this is an attempt to be outrageous so that a compromise bill can pass. Something that will restrict you, but not quite as much as this bill.

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