(entry last updated: 2003-05-07 17:26:59)
Ernie cuts through the legalese (in Who owns the copyright to the lovely rap song ‘Back That Azz Up’?) to explain and amplify upon this BillBoard article: Jury Sides With Juvenile In Song-Theft Case
From Billboard news: Dr. Dre Nailed For $1.5M In Sample Suit
Spokespersons for Interscope and UMVD declined comment. Dre’s lawyer, Howard King, says the infringement was not willful and plans to appeal. “We’re not done,” says King. “We’re only in the 7th inning.”
By submitting content to public areas of AOL (such as message boards and chat rooms) you represent that you have permission to do so. And in doing so, you grant AOL Group Companies a licence to use, reproduce, modify, distribute, show in public and create derivative works from that content in any form, anywhere, and waive all moral rights (namely, the right to be identified as the author, and the right to integrity, of the content) and undertake that all such moral rights have been waived in respect of the content. You also grant other users the right to use such content for personal, non-commercial purposes.
The article says AOL asserts that this just gives them a license to use – but somehow the phrase "waive all moral rights" sounds a little ominous. Granted, an illegal contract is not enforceable, but that means you have to invest in litigation to get that finding.
The article ultimately asserts that this is just a tempest in a teapot, but I wonder if we’ve really heard the last of this.
Today’s Globe alluded to this, but Wired News has the most info that I could find on Microsoft’s unveiling of the "Next Generation Secure Computing Base" (nee Palladium) at WinHEC in the Trusted Computing sessions. (A little more on Palladium: The Register’s summary of the Newsweek piece of last summer)
Oddly, there’s a Slashdot story (Gates on Digital Restrictions Technologies) citing an APWire story [pdf] that claims that NGSCB can be turned off. But, as the article goes on to say, so what? You can also protect your computer from viruses by never turning it on, too; just like you can prevent copyright infringement by never publishing your work – the threat is still quite ominous:
Gates said the format of digital content is up to their creators, and Microsoft is only providing a platform on which record labels and movie studios — as well as others — can build. He said it’s in the content provider’s interest to use simple copy protection schemes.
“What you are seeing now is recognition they need to provide their content in easily accessible forms or else it ends up encouraging piracy,” Gates told the AP.
… Users can opt to “turn off” the system when it becomes available, most likely in the next generation of Windows expected in 2004 or 2005. But doing so might well severely hamper consumers’ access to digital information that’s important to them — and which may indeed be necessary in their work environment.
Clearly, Matt got into a discussion with someone who (or read yet another article where the author) conflates copyright infringement and theft. His frustration is expressed here with some simple real-world examples that he parallels with online tech, and he closes with this statement:
Steve Jobs repeatedly referred to file sharing as stealing when he announced the iTunes Music Store and I’ve realized that I am not alone in picking up that usage. I’m saying right here and now, stop it. Refuse to use this language yourself, and call others on it when they get it wrong. I intend to make sure I get it right going forward, and I encourage others to tell me if I blow it.
He’s right, of course, but there are many interests out there who are purposely disseminating these confusing memes because it makes it easier to make the arguments that they want to make. Getting angry about it is good within the community that understands, but convincing outsiders is going to require a different strategy, I think.
Matt is absolutely right that being careful about words matters, but we need something else. As Donna has been telling us for some time, the rhetorical high ground has already been seized by the copyright industries, and we still haven’t got a solution.
From Declan at CNet: U.S.-Singapore trade pact echoes DMCA
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act has become America’s newest export.
On Tuesday, the United States and Singapore signed a trade agreement that affirms both nations’ commitment to punishing people who bypass copy-protection technologies–such as those used in most DVDs, a small number of CDs and some computer software.
See Chapter 16 for details. IANAL, but while Declan is correct that the text appears to be "DMCA for Treaties," it’s not that surprising given that coordination of IP legislation across jurisdictions is always a key piece of free trade agreements.
Update: Donna has a very extensive and comprehensive writeup of this topic over at Copyfight, with particular emphasis on the use of coordination across jurisdictions as a strategy to "back-door" policy changes that fail in the domestic legislature. Don’t miss it! Note in particular the parallels between what she cites of Larry Lessig’s talk in Rio and Matt’s discussion above.