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Current Topic: Intellectual Property

Make Way for Copyright Chaos - New York Times
Topic: Intellectual Property 2:33 am EDT, Mar 19, 2007

The Viacom v Youtube lawsuit could be one of the key legal battles that will define the future of the Interet. Lessig wrote an editorial today in NYT critical of moves made at the Supreme Court that set the stage for this showdown, making the now popular accusation that they have legislated from the bench.

The Grokster case thus sent a clear message to lawyers everywhere: You get two bites at the copyright policy-making apple, one in Congress and one in the courts. But in Congress, you need hundreds of votes. In the courts, you need just five. Viacom has now accepted this invitation from the Supreme Court....

Congress, of course, is perfectly capable of changing or removing the safe harbor provision to meet Viacom’s liking. But Viacom recognizes there’s no political support for the change it wants. It thus turns to a policy maker that doesn’t need political support — the Supreme Court.

Some interesting discussion in the thread here. Of course, these basic legal questions may never see the light of day, as it is entirely possible that this case is merely a negotiating stick that Viacom is using to get more out of Google in some sort of backroom deal over content distribution.

This article over at Advertising Age provides some additional perspective.

"If the L.A. Times doesn't generate news from places like Iraq, how will Yahoo, which doesn't operate its own bureaus, maintain a reliable stream of professional-quality reporting? In a very real way, the internet risks killing off the goose that keeps laying its golden eggs..."

There is something ironic about writing a blog entry that quotes something quoted in a news article about the damage the blogosphere is doing to the business models of traditional reporting.

"Recommendation is the new marketing."

"Will Viacom acquire a social framework for video assets or is YouTube going to acquire a library of content? That's the question."

No one source of video content will ever be THE social framework for video assets. Social frameworks exist independently of particular sets of video assets. Attempting to establish that sort of control is self defeating.

However, if the social frameworks were king, you'd think MemeStreams would be the focus of attention and not YouTube. Ultimately, content is not king, and filters are not king. Bandwidth, and the money that funds it, is king. There will be as many social frameworks as there are societies. There will be many content producers, a small number of which will make money. But the market will only sustain a few free video hosting systems. Its not about production cost or end user value. Its about marginal cost. You can copy a floppy but you can't copy a server.

A lot of people learned the wrong lessons from the cold war. They beleive very strongly that the problem with socialism is that fairness destroys incentives. This is merely political rhetoric. The economies in western Europe are fair, and libertarians are fond of pointing out that freer economies are more efficient. But, western Europe is not on the verge of collapse. Focusing on this issue is to ignore the mountain for the molehill.

The problem with socialism is that it isn't a natural state. It has to be engineered into existance through authoritarianism. Intellectual Property has exactly the same problem, and the efficiencies afforded by its "free" market nature are minor when held next to the major structural weaknesses that exist in forced economic fantasies.

Our society is completely unprepared to face this reality because we're too steeped in the political rhetoric of yesterday's arguement.

Make Way for Copyright Chaos - New York Times

RAIN: Radio And Internet Newsletter
Topic: Intellectual Property 9:06 am EST, Mar  4, 2007

That math suggests that the royalty rate decision — for the performance alone, not even including composers' royalties! — is in the in the ballpark of 100% or more of total revenues. —KH

RIAA acts to kill Internet Radio AGAIN! Per listener royalty rates to more than double by 2009.

RAIN: Radio And Internet Newsletter

Which Videos Are Protected? Lawmakers Get a Lesson - New York Times
Topic: Intellectual Property 6:48 pm EST, Feb 26, 2007

C-Span did contact the speaker’s office to have it take down a clip from her blog — one shot by C-Span’s cameras at a House Science and Technology Committee hearing on global warming where Ms. Pelosi testified.

C-Span, a private nonprofit company financed by the cable and satellite affiliates that carry its programming, says that over more than 25 years of operating it has consistently asserted its copyright to any material it shoots with its own cameras.

You don't own the videos of government testimony. Carl Malamud has been working on changing that. He has started posting hearings into the public domain. Download them. Quote them in your podcast. Sample them in your music. Use this or it will go away.

Which Videos Are Protected? Lawmakers Get a Lesson - New York Times

NetzpolitikTV: John Perry Barlow uber zivilen Ungehorsam
Topic: Intellectual Property 4:28 am EST, Jan  7, 2007

Uber Civil Disobediance!

In this Netzpolitik-Interview EFF-Founder John Perry Barlow talks about massive civil disobedience in the copyright debate. The Interview was done at the 23. Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.

I've you've seen Lessig's Talk from 23C3, and you absolutely should, then you'll note the debate at the end between Barlow and Lessig, and you'll want to round things out by watching this short clip. If anyone knows where I can find video of Barlows full talk at 23C3 please post!

NetzpolitikTV: John Perry Barlow uber zivilen Ungehorsam

Letter concerning patents from Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson
Topic: Intellectual Property 12:57 am EST, Dec  5, 2006

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of
exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an
idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps
it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into
the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess
himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses
the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who
receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without
lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light
without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to
another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man,
and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and
benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire,
expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any
point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our
physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.

Blogged for future reference.

Letter concerning patents from Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson

ICANN Confirms: Tiered Pricing Not Forbidden in New .BIZ, .INFO and .ORG Contracts
Topic: Intellectual Property 10:37 am EDT, Aug 25, 2006

Looks like they've found a new way to squeeze money out of artificial domain name scarcity.

I finally got the “official” word from Vint Cerf of ICANN, “on the record”, who confirmed that my interpretation is correct, that differential/tiered pricing on a domain-by-domain basis would not be forbidden under the .biz/info/org proposed contracts. This means that the registries could charge $100,000/yr for, $25,000/yr for, etc.

As there is no competition for registries, if your domain fees go up neither you nor your registrar can do anything about it. This means that domains will go up until the registry finds the equilibrium point between revenue generated per domain and the reduction in the total number of registered domains.

Vint said it would be “suicide” for a registry to do it, because there’d be the 6-month notice period to raise prices and the ability for registrants to renew for up to 10 years at “old prices”, that supposedly “protects” registrants.

Most businesses are looking at a longer timeframe then 10 years and most individuals can't afford 10 years of registration, so this helps who?

This will cause broad reorganization of DNS.

ICANN Confirms: Tiered Pricing Not Forbidden in New .BIZ, .INFO and .ORG Contracts

Xooglers: Never Say don't be evil
Topic: Intellectual Property 10:47 am EDT, Aug 14, 2006

With Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto hanging on its back like a “kick me” sign, the company got cut very little slack.

I seriously doubt the company would be cut additional slack if they had never said "don't be evil." However, I do think its interesting to see certain quaters start to refer to Google's "Don't be evil" motto as a burden or a mistake.

Xooglers: Never Say don't be evil

©opyBites: Copyright Law Blog: Orphan Works Legislation
Topic: Intellectual Property 10:10 am EDT, May 24, 2006

Lamar Smith has a nack for writing bills that I hate, but this rule change is baddly needed and I support it.

Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21) today introduced the “Orphan Works Act of 2006” (H.R. 5439), which creates new guidelines for use of copyrighted material when the original owner cannot be located.

©opyBites: Copyright Law Blog: Orphan Works Legislation

Justices Set Aside Patent Ruling Against eBay - New York Times
Topic: Intellectual Property 2:00 am EDT, May 19, 2006

The Supreme Court overturned a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a specialized court that hears appeals in patent cases, which had ruled earlier this year that injunctions should be granted as a "general rule."

A patent holder, the Supreme Court ruled, must prove four facts: that it has suffered an "irreparable injury"; that there are no other adequate legal remedies; that taking into account the balance of harm to both parties, an injunction is warranted; and that the public interest would not be hurt by an injunction.

This is a good ruling. The public interest in access to the technology should not be hurt by an injunction. The law, optimally, should enable only reasonable license fees to be obtained. A patent is a legal privledge intended to serve the public interest, its not a private property right as argued by this jackass.

Robust economic performance depends on strong protection of property rights from invasion without and the enforcement of voluntary contracts between parties.

I could not disagree more. This isn't even well put (without?!). Keeping important technologies off the market place or making them prohibitively expensive to employ prevents technological evolution that has a far greater impact on overall economic performance then these free contractual relationships. This is where I have a bone to pick with people who are so libertarian that they have no problem with monopolies. Technological development, and not the market, creates the efficiencies that contribute to your standard of living. The market is useful in so far as it creates an environment that incents creative innovation and ensures that those innovations are actually used and can be built upon. The problem with centrally controlled economies is that they inhibit innovation. If free markets are not kept competitive and someone ends up holding all of the cards, they become just like centrally controlled economies in that you have to get permission from the card holder in order to change things, and the card holder has a disincentive to change. The result is technological and, ultimately, economic stagnation.

Justices Set Aside Patent Ruling Against eBay - New York Times

Some sanity in the IP debate.
Topic: Intellectual Property 3:10 am EDT, Apr 27, 2006

The Consumer Electronics Association created this terrific new ad, which will run in two Capitol Hill publications today.

In response to a bill which among other things would ban MP3 streaming for webcasters playing commercial music.

Some sanity in the IP debate.

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