December 30, 2003

Oh, Yeah — That RIAA Strategy Is Working Well [9:36 pm]

From the BBC: Music sharing tops net searches

More people looked for information about the file-swapping program Kazaa than anything else on the net in 2003, according to search site Yahoo.

It beat Harry Potter, Britney Spears and Eminem to top the list of the year’s most popular searched-for terms.

It shows that despite legal moves by the recording industry to clamp down on illegal music swapping, surfers are still interested in such software.

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A Wrinkle on the Amazon Scan System [4:14 pm]

Via beSpacificAmazon page search alarms writers of cookbooks, references [pdf]

On Oct. 23, Amazon.com initiated a new function called “Search Inside the Book.” Launched in conjunction with publishers, the program allows customers to search every word of every page of about 120,000 books - including dozens of cookbooks. It has been called “the Google of books.”

Or, for cooks, a sort of Google meets Epicurious, the Web site that provides free recipes from Bon Appetit and Gourmet, among other food publications.

Though visitors to the Amazon site are limited to reading only 20 percent of any book included in “Search Inside the Book” (a restriction that would prohibit a reader from finishing a best-selling novel, for example), they could easily pull out a recipe from a cookbook.

[...] Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, an advocacy group for authors, has opposed the search function since its inception, describing it as a possible copyright infringement. Of particular relevance, Aiken explains, are reference-style books that contain a compact unit of marketable information on an individual page, such as cookbooks and travel books.

As those who’ve read Lessig’s Code know, you can’t copyright recipes, but you can copyright a book containing recipes. Similarly, you cannot copyright the data in an almanac, but you can copyright the almanac. And, depending on how you interpret the EU’s copyrighting of databases, it may well be that you can copyright data there, too.

Speaking as someone who’s gone to a bookstore to peruse cookbooks for ideas, was I really breaking the law? What about writing down a recipe from a library book? It seems to me that, once again, the seductive power of monopoly (awarded under copyright) is leading to nonsensical claims. Time to get back to that article on metaphor, methinks….

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Dave Barry’s 2003 Wrapup [3:38 pm]

From the Washington Post (Between Iraq and a Hard Place [pdf]) includes this July highlight:

In entertainment news, CNN, concerned about flagging viewer interest in the Laci Peterson format, switches to “All Kobe, All the Time.” The music industry, in what is seen as a last-ditch effort to halt the sharing of music files on the Internet, asks a federal judge to issue an injunction against “the possession or use of electricity.”

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A Provocative Question [1:32 pm]

How well do metaphors help us understand the Internet? Gore, Gibson, and Goldsmith: The Evolution of Internet Metaphors in Law and Commentary [via Legal Theory Blog (note there's something wrong with his clock, or else he's crossed the International Date Line without telling us <G>]

This paper seeks to explore the evolution of metaphorical inferences as applied to the Internet within legal commentary and judicial opinion. Three metaphors in particular will be examined (though this is not an exhaustive analysis by any means): the information superhighway, cyberspace, and the Internet as "real" space. Given the Internet’s ongoing evolution as an unstable and ever-changing technology, courts and commentators have faced perpetual difficulty in mapping metaphors to it. Changing social constructions of the Internet as necessitated by its evolving underlying technological architecture have supported, or conversely eroded, a particular metaphor’s literal congruence with reality. The purpose of this paper is not to normatively assess what metaphor (if any) ought to be applied to the Internet in legal analysis, rather it is to make transparent the different conceptions of the Internet courts and commentators are sub silentio employing, and the various sociological, technological, and ideological conceptions of the world that support them.

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Benny Evangelista’s Year in Review [1:16 pm]

Online music finally starts to rock ‘n’ roll: Industry punishes downloaders while getting into the act itself

In 2003, the struggling record industry found two ways to get consumers to pay for online music — by enticing them with new, licensed Web services or scaring a chosen few to settle potentially expensive lawsuits.

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US Bicycles Invade Europe [11:14 am]

Sorry — this is terribly off-topic, but of particular interest to me as I start to think about getting back into cycling shape: U.S. Bike Makers Seek Dominance in Europe

Faced with rapidly declining sales and shrinking margins on mountain bikes, American bicycle makers are looking to generate growth in Europe, where road cycling remains a popular spectator sports. Trade figures do not distinguish between sales of road bikes, which have thinner tires and light frames and are meant for use on pavement, and mountain bikes, which are heavier and equipped for off-road use. However, Lou Mazzante, the managing editor of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, a trade publication, said he thinks that three American companies - Trek, Cannondale and Specialized - sell about 50,000 complete, high-end road bicycles a year in Europe at the moment, up from virtually none a decade ago.

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