May 25, 2004

Two Hot Copyright Articles [6:15 pm]

Freedom to Tinker: Must-Read Copyright Articles — on Copyright’s Communications Policy and Ex Ante Versus Ex Post Justifications for Intellectual Property.

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Broadcast Flag Fallout in Japan [5:31 pm]

Viewers upset over digital TV taping restrictions — Slashdot discussion: Japanese Digital TV Viewers Complain About DRM Restrictions. Note that the article not only discusses the DRM features, but also raises some privacy questions…….

Measures implemented by NHK and private TV broadcasting companies to control the copying of digital television programs have drawn a flood of complaints from TV users, with some saying they have been deprived of certain editing freedoms.

On April 5, NHK and the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan began airing their programs with a special transmission signal that allows only a single copy of the program to be made.

Because programs that have been copied once cannot be duplicated or edited digitally, editing the programs via a personal computer has become impossible.

In addition, the broadcasters’ move has made it necessary for viewers to insert a special user identification card, known as a B-CAS card, into their digital TV sets to watch programs.

[...] In the week after the measure was implemented, NHK and the grouping of private broadcasters received more than 15,000 inquiries and complaints about the scheme.

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Private Distribution Over Electronic? [10:10 am]

There’s something weird going on here: 9/11 Panel Chooses Publisher for Report

The panel’s plan to designate an “authorized” private publisher was announced last week. The choice of Norton has created consternation among publishing executives whose companies were turned down for the prestigious and potentially lucrative assignment.

Those executives said they could not recall a similar arrangement in which a high-profile federal commission turned over the work of its investigators to an outside publisher before public release. Under the agreement, Norton will make no payment to the commission and will be allowed to keep any profits.

The 10-member bipartisan commission said the agreement was designed to make the report more readily available to the public by allowing Norton to stock bookstores with a private soft-cover version on the same day it is made public in Washington and released on the Internet, probably July 26, the Congressionally mandated deadline for completion.

A letter to the editor, contrasting Bantam’s past efforts with this on: Publishing History

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Salon on Christian Music File-sharing [8:08 am]

Thou shalt not steal

[UCDavis computer science student Jonathan] McPherson, whose musical taste runs from electronic ambient to Celtic music and piano ballads, argues that even if Christians don’t agree with current copyright laws, they still have an obligation to follow them, because they’re the law of the land. With a nod to Romans 13, he writes, “Our government has been established by God, and we ought to obey its rules unless they conflict with God’s rules … Is the pleasure of entertainment worth the moral price of lawbreaking? I don’t think so.”

The record companies would undoubtably love it if today’s music-pirating teens switched gears and came around to McPherson’s viewpoint. But their problem is that McPherson’s tough line on the morality of zapping around fave Enya tunes puts him firmly in the minority, even among devout believers. Because it doesn’t make any difference if you prefer gospel or death metal; you’re still just as likely to file-swap.

Plus, we get this peculiar analysis, conflating pure copyright infringement with the more complex problem of fair use copying:

“What you have to understand about teenagers is there is this hierarchy of moral decision making,” says Kinnaman, who specializes in Christian research, and has done projects in the past for the Campus Crusade for Christ, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Focus on the Family. “What’s more important, my friends or the record companies? It’s a simple choice for them.”

To the teens in the Barna study, “hooking up” a friend with a copy of your new CD is like giving a pal a free Coke if you work at McDonald’s — no big deal, and an accepted, even expected sign of friendship.

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