Over-reaching

I have a recurring feeling that the MPAA and the RIAA may just have over-reached this past week.  The lawsuit against college students by the RIAA is, definitely, a change in strategy: going after customers, and young, tech-savvy ones at that, rather than at technologists who were in the role of middle-persons.  The state-level super-DMCAs — preposterous ideas, completely unnecessary and gratutitous at best — suggest that the MPAA has been blinded by similar ambition, though perhaps less egregious from a rhetorical perspective.  Both of these actions seem to strain the ability of the MPAA and the RIAA to maintain credibility with the mainstream. 

The frustration I feel is that those opposed to such policy and such tactics, including myself to be sure, may not be able to take advantage of this over-reach.  We are poorly organized, overall, despite our effective use of technologies, like this one.  Professor Lessig is right in the pessimism of his last book and recent speeches, much as I don’t like to admit it.  We are out-gunned, mostly because the legislative process is rigged in favor of those with money.  Attention is elsewhere, on the war and other things that people indeed should be paying attention to.  But this is important, too, and those of us who don’t like it aren’t getting through.

There are smart people among us, good leaders, and we are committed, passionately, to keeping the Net from coming under (yet further) excessive proprietary control.  We need to find our way, perhaps looking to political campaigners for help.  We need to put those who would lock down the Net on the defensive for once, and stop fighting *only* defensive battles (viz., Eldred, these super-DMCA things, etc.).  We need to figure out how to get out in front and start the pendulum swinging the other way, back toward a true balance between open and proprietary.

I just fear that we may not be able to take advantage of this over-reach.  Which would mean it’s just a reach, and one they might make.  Over and over again, until balance is somehow restored.