2019 Jan 9, 8:55am
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The metastasis of terms of service into sprawling novellas of impenetrable legalese has created a world where anything you do to frustrate the commercial ambitions of digital monopolists is a potential criminal offense. ...Together, the CFAA and DMCA have given digital businesses access to a shadowy legal doctrine that was never written by Congress but is nevertheless routinely enforced by the courts: Felony Contempt of Business-Model. ...Uber and Lyft can use DMCA 1201 to stop you from figuring out how to use them to locate co-op drivers, and they can use the CFAA to stop you from flipping your booking from Uber to Meta-Uber.There are a hundred other Metas we can imagine: a Meta-Amazon that places your order with the nearest indy bookstore instead; a Meta-OpenTable that redirects your booking to a co-op booking tool.Every single one of these co-ops would disrupt a digital monopolist who came to power preaching the gospel of disruption. Every single one of those digital monopolists would switch to the aggrieved bleats of a bewildered incumbent apex predator snarling and twisted impotently as its flesh was rent by a thousand tiny bites from swarms of fast-moving, highly evolved successors.But we never get to bring those lumbering relics down, not so long as felony contempt-of-business-model is still in play in America. Until then, disruption will always be for thee and never for me.