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the moving contract schelling point (Re: Security by Not Peeking)
> At 05:56 PM 1/9/00 -0800, Eric Cordian wrote:
> >It's much like a book held shut with a small strip of masking tape, upon
> >which is printed "By Removing This Tape And Opening This Book, Reader
> >Agrees Not to Read Page 36."
> But if you buy the book knowing the terms of the
> contract/license first, where's the coercion?
> And if no coercion, you *must* not interfere, no?
> Sure, the contract may have foolish things in it,
> but who forces you to sign the contract?
I think the point is that contract writers are free to put anything
they like in the contract including inane utterly unenforceable and
Yet the balancing point is that most people feel no compunctin
violating inane unenforceable restrictions even if they may be argued
to have agreed to them by some means (varying between opening
packaging, implied by purchase, and signed contract).
The schelling point is that if something is unenforceable, and the
user gets some advantage or avoids some minor disadvantage by breaking
the contract, or even if it has no noticeable effect and he can't be
bothered to read the contract or remember it's inane stipulations,
well then the contract will tend to be broken by most users on a daily
So let's give an example: consider book store X sells a book with
Eric's tape over it saying "you must not use this book on sundays",
and "by opening this book you agree to this contract", and book store
Y sells the same book without the restriction.
Lets say book store X is a lot cheaper than book store Y: most people
buy from book store X, not caring if they break the stupid license.
If X and Y charge the same price people who even notice may buy from Y
to boycott such stupid licenses.
If X and Y charge the same price but shop Y is in an inconvenient
location, poeple will tend to buy from X as though they think the
license is stupid, they can't be bothered to travel to store Y.
So, no, personally I wouldn't feel bound to not read the book on
sundays, even if the licenses said so. The reason for this is that I
don't have any incentive to bother wasting mental energy on the
license. Who reads licenses?
I also tend to react negatively to stupid stipulations, so perhaps
might be even more likely to try to "hack the system".
Such is the reality licenses and contracts must work within.
Where one has widespread anonymity, psuedonymity, steganographic
filesystems; even perhaps in the future pseudonymous software
corporations, even more contracts become unenforceable.
Patents, licences, copyright are the status quo, though widely
violated (software, music, recording video from TV). That doesn't
mean they have to stay that way. I tend to view them as government
subsidies, and generally negatives.
Open source, unpatented is the way things are moving.
Roll on eternity, more pseudonym, ecash, and anonymous systems.