Is the Internet Eden or Armageddon? (1,887 words)
Go to Dogpile and enter "term AND papers"; you'll discover powerful online ads for tens of thousands of pre-written term papers—complete with footnotes and bibliographies—for as little as $19.95, thus turning our young people into a nation of cheaters.
Add to the mix myriad scams—such as the scandal of "shill bidding" on eBay where rings of conspirators work to artificially hype the value of objects up for sale and similar covens do likewise in the financial markets—and you have a nation of crooks.
In Paris, the French government sued the American company Yahoo! for featuring some 1,000 Nazi souvenirs with offensive emblems; the sale of such items is flatly against French law. Yahoo's lawyer's argument to the court: "But there is no France on the Internet."
The Battle for Copyright
The lethal combination of four kinds of technology—MP3, Napster, Gnutella and Freenet—means music and movies can be freely and anonymously stolen and traded around the world—with no royalties to the artists, the songwriters or the recording companies. Freenet's creator, Ian Clarke, calls it "near-perfect anarchy."
In the words of a New York City high school student who downloads music while he sleeps and thinks nothing of his thieving ways, "Napster is the best thing that's ever been created. I don't have to spend any money."
As Holman W. Jenkins Jr. wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "Napster leaves it up to users to worry about copyright laws, which is to say no one worries about copyright laws. We have disorganized crime on a massive scale. This is wrong, terribly wrong, and yet it's hard to think of anything to say but tough luck, buster. A quirk of technology giveth and a quirk of technology taketh away."
Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig suggests that code—the underlying DNA of software—is weak and that high-tech companies will come up with better code to solve the theft problem. To which Freenet inventor Ian Clarke counters: "I have two words for those companies: give up. There is no way they are going to stop those technologies. They are trying to plug holes in a dam that is about to burst."