The Internet has exponentially increased people’s ability to interact, and to create and exchange value all around the world, and yet the full value of this ability is far from realized. An information and resource imbalance in the current online market is at the root of this issue. Overly restrictive, unfair legal practice is rife in online agreements, policies, and other legal constructs. Agreements that put one side at a disadvantage stifle innovation, and they burden and complicate the productive activities of both organizations and individuals. The extent of this imbalance and its consequences remains unrecognized by most digital citizens.
Creative Commons and Free/Open Source Software licenses represent early responses to these inequities. Arising in reaction to constraints in specific creative domains, they have unleashed a culture and economy of innovative online collaboration. The Electronic Frontier Foundation challenges public policy. Now we must focus on changing legal practice.
People don’t have lawyers in their living rooms.
In today’s climate, people need them.
It’s time to create new agreements, and to do this we need to go to first sources: people, commons and relationships. The solution begins by relating to a wide variety of people and ensuring their equal access to resources and information.
Contracts are by their very nature collaborative. They should exist to bolster the exchange of value within ongoing trust-based relationships. To build long-term relationships, symmetry between context and contract is necessary. The contract needs to be responsive to each unique situation. Relationships are not static templates, nor should legal agreements be.
We propose a not-for-profit organization for the creation and sustainment of a website and service that addresses these issues. In our vision, this collaborative venture will be critical and constructive, impartial and independent. It will take an active role in envisioning and implementing new, more balanced agreements. We’ve given it a working title of ThoseSneakyBastards.org. We believe this site will be the beginning of something much larger; we hope you will join us to build it.
With a unique brand of audacious humor Those Sneaky Bastards challenges the absurdity in online agreements, policies and other legal constructs that make us queasy when we click “I Accept”.
ThoseSneakyBastards.org will mercilessly roast the legal excesses of internet agreements and celebrate transparency and neutrality. It will employ punchy visuals to help people identify the risks in signing an agreement, and provide the ability to explore these risks in further detail. Think Rotten Tomatoes.
ThoseSneakyBastards.org is a place for members to explore new kinds of agreements: nimble, light, understandable legal instruments for peer-to-peer economic activity. We are promoting respect-based commerce with tools for entrepreneurial ‘customer rights-focused’ small businesses and individuals.