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Current Topic: Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property Evolutionists Are Wrong!
Topic: Intellectual Property 12:23 am EST, Nov 10, 2005

In the United States, intellectual property, or IP, law ensures that creators and inventors will get paid for their work, while doctrines like fair use and time-limited rights leave enough breathing room for the next innovator to use existing creations to comment, critique or make something new. But we have increasingly seen owners leverage their IP rights to get control rather than to get paid.

Jennifer Granick has an article on Wired about how the National Academy of Sciences and others are using the "copyright misuse" doctrine in a strategy to wrangle Kansas into not teaching intelligent design.

I fully agree with her that using this type of tactic is very bad. Fighting a bad problem by using bad law creates an even worse problem.

For those unfamiliar with the "copyright misuse" doctrine Jennifer talks about, there is a page on Tech Law Journal which explains it.

The defense of copyright misuse was raised in this case because Disney licensed its movie trailers subject to license terms that prohibit the licensees from using the movie trailers in a way that is "derogatory to or critical of the entertainment industry or of" Disney. That is, Disney uses the exclusive rights conferred upon it by the Copyright Act, not only to obtain a return for its creative efforts (which is consistent with the purposes of copyright protection), but also to suppress criticism (which is contrary to the purposes of copyright protection).

It's always Disney... Several decades from now, when history pages are written about intellectual property in the early days of the information age, Disney is going to be cast in the role of the great villain.

This is a great example of using copyright law as a method to obtain prior restraint. The only goal I see here is to get people to shut-up and not make any negative commentary under the threat of lawsuit. In short, it's a convoluted way for a transnational media corporation to achieve censorship in it's interests. Disney laid ground here that others can use.

And the evolution crew thinks this is a good idea?? [rattle rubs his temples] I'm seeing something.. I'm seeing a lawyer sitting behind a table... He's excited.. He's saying something... "But it's brilliant! The church can't use it! All their IP is in the public domain!" [rattle slams his head into the table] IMAGE BEGONE!

I'm confident that this type of thing will either get struck right down if it comes before the Supreme Court, or it will be allowed to happen freely and lead to a future that looks like a William Gibson novel. Be ready for it either way..

Intellectual Property Evolutionists Are Wrong!

Keeper of Expired Web Pages Is Sued Because Archive Was Used in Another Suit - New York Times
Topic: Intellectual Property 4:58 pm EDT, Jul 13, 2005

Last week Healthcare Advocates sued both the Harding Earley firm and the Internet Archive, saying the access to its old Web pages, stored in the Internet Archive's database, was unauthorized and illegal.

Keeper of Expired Web Pages Is Sued Because Archive Was Used in Another Suit - New York Times

Negativland: No Business Video [torrent] (200M)
Topic: Intellectual Property 3:53 am EDT, Jul  7, 2005

On June 27th, 2005, the Supreme Court issued a long awaited decision in MGM vs. Grokster that states that P2P software manufacturers can be held liable for the infringing activities of people who use their software.

On July 4th, 2005, Negativland, in collaboration with film maker James Gladman,  issues a P2P video reply directly into P2P networks, using P2P as a distribution mechanism for new work of topical content. This new video, called NO BUSINESS, is made almost entirely out of other people's previous cultural creations.

With this holiday gesture, Negativland urges an increased concern for cultural philosophy in the Supreme Court, and more skepticism towards the presumptions of the cultural law makers of commerce.

Download this torrent right now. Watch it immediately after the torrent completes.

Negativland: No Business Video [torrent] (200M)

Slashdot | We Don't Need the GPL Anymore
Topic: Intellectual Property 11:09 am EDT, Jul  1, 2005

"Open source would be succeeding faster if the GPL didn't make lots of people nervous about adopting it." From the article: "I don't think the GPL is the principal reason for Linux's success. Rather, I believe it's because in 1991 Linus was the first person to find the right social architecture for distributed software development."

In fact, it's political considerations that kept me quiet for a while. For a long time, I judged that any harm the GPL might be doing was outweighed by the good. For some time after I stopped believing that, I didn't see quite enough reason to fight with the GPL zealots. I'm speaking up now because a couple of curves have intersected. It has become more apparent how much of an economic advantage open source development has, and my judgment of the utility of the GPL has fallen.

ESR argues that the social model surrounding Open Source Software has proven powerful enough to enforce good practices even without some of the stronger elements of the GPL.

I tend to agree with him, but I don't expect any paradigm shift in licensing strategies. Five more years, we may be using much more liberal licensing, but I don't think its going to happen fast. People are going to be very conservative about this. The "walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk" style of logic ESR uses here can be bent both ways.

Do we need the GPL to keep companies honest when it comes to giving back to open source projects?

Slashdot | We Don't Need the GPL Anymore

Court Opinion: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd.
Topic: Intellectual Property 8:12 pm EDT, Jun 27, 2005

"0-9, but it looks like a win to me." - rattle

I read over the justices opinions this afternoon. This was a good ruling.

In short, the warez interface is illegal. If you pin one onto a file distribution protocol, you will be liable for contributory infringement. Everything important about the Sony Betamax case was upheld.

You can can't market your product as an infringement tool without being liable for third-party infringement using your tool. That's reasonable.

[gavel sound]

Court Opinion: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd.

Pitchfork: Daily Music News - Kim's Raided by RIAA
Topic: Intellectual Property 9:04 pm EDT, Jun 10, 2005

The rumors are true: Mondo Kim's, one of New York's best and highest regarded independent music and video stores, was raided by New York police Wednesday at approximately 1:00 p.m. EST for allegedly selling unsanctioned hip-hop DJ mixes featuring bootlegged tracks by RIAA artists.

This is very lame. Kim's is legendary. In this case, its over hip-hop DJ mixes, but Kim's real fame as an outlet for bootlegs comes from videos. Browsing through Kim's you will find many things you did not know exist. Everything from concert bootlegs to obscure foreign movies. Things that are out of print that you will not find anywhere else.

BoingBoing is also following this.

Pitchfork: Daily Music News - Kim's Raided by RIAA - Snap judgments
Topic: Intellectual Property 10:31 am EDT, Jun  7, 2005

The trade group sent a wake-up call to the photofinishing industry when, in 1999, it sued Kmart Corp., alleging that the discount store violated federal copyright law by copying images without the permission of the copyright owners.

In 2000, Kmart settled the case by paying $100,000 and agreeing to implement procedures to guard against the unlawful copying of professional photos.


Watson said the manager of the photo department "felt" that three of the photos were possibly taken professionally. "I offered to sign anything, but there was just no way around it for them," Watson said. "They were not going to print them.

Decius Writes:
Man, I hate this crap. People that work behind the counter at Kinkos and Walmart do not understand copyright law and they are not well equiped to make spot judgements about what is and is not illegal. The result is that copyright enforcement consists of "I think you look like a punk kid so I'm not going to copy this." As a rule, I don't use Kinkos anymore because everytime I go in there I have some busybody trying to prevent me from doing business with them.

The absolute most annoying case was when I was required (by law) to make color photocopies of a government ID and the idiot at Kinkos insisted that I was commiting a crime and threatened to call the police.

There is a fundamental policy flaw in this, but I'm not sure where to pin it. The government has never required cash register clerks at these outlets to act as judge, jury, and executioner for copyright law. These companies have gotten sued by copyright owners who were not satisfied with actually suing the person who violated their copyright, but wanted to go after someone with big pockets (very honorable, indeed). The companies settled, partially because its cheaper then a suit, and partially because they didn't have the forsight to go through with a suit.

There ought to be a law which limits the liability of printing services. - Snap judgments

Schneier on Security: DHS Enforces Copyright
Topic: Intellectual Property 7:20 am EDT, Jun  2, 2005

Why is the Department of Homeland Security involved in copyright issues?

Schneier on Security: DHS Enforces Copyright

Creative Commons kills people with AIDS
Topic: Intellectual Property 5:12 pm EDT, May 23, 2005

I'm quoting the story but I'm linking to Lessig's response to the story, which which links to the story.

] While Fraser has written more than 150 songs, continuing
] royalties from radio and TV use of two compositions --
] "All Right Now" and "Every Kinda People" (first recorded
] by Robert Palmer) -- generate most of his income. Had he
] given up his rights to those early hits, he would not
] have the resources to cover his treatment for AIDS.

] Such a decision might have been tragic...
] "No one should let artists give up their rights," he
] says.

Creative Commons kills people with AIDS

Microsoft Thought Thieves
Topic: Intellectual Property 8:40 pm EDT, May 14, 2005

] Thought Thieves is about people stealing and profiting
] from your creation or innovation. Think about it: how
] would you feel if you saw your hard work being passed off
] as the property of someone else? What would you do?
] We want to know!
] Send us your short film on intellectual property theft by
] 1st July 2005 for your chance to win £2,000 worth of film
] and video equipment vouchers. And finalists will be invited
] to attend a special screening of their films and presentation
] ceremony in London.

Coming soon, Thought Crime.

Microsoft Thought Thieves

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