Justice Dept. takes P2P with ‘grain of salt’
Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general for antitrust, expressed skepticism toward a bill called the Pirate Act that the Senate overwhelmingly approved in June. It’s designed to curb peer-to-peer piracy by threatening individual infringers with civil lawsuits brought by the government.
That idea is “something that people should take with a grain of salt,” Pate said at a conference held by the Progress & Freedom Foundation. While “the Justice Department is there to enforce the law, there’s something to be said for those who help themselves.”
Maybe he read this letter?
As Donna points out in Call Me Dick (and Ernest in Posner Blogs on Fair Use and Copyright), today seems to be about copyright, fair use and transactions costs.
Singles boost as UK music grows
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) recorded a 6.4% rise in singles sales and 3.7% rise in album sales.
Sales across all music formats had a total value of £230m from April to June in the UK, compared to total sales of £221m in the same period last year.
[…] The introduction of £1.99 two-track CD singles has helped produce the first increase in the UK singles market for five years, the BPI said.
Thirteen of the top 20 selling singles between April and June were released on this format.
Macrovision: iPod support for lock-in CDs in Q4
Copy protection provider Macrovision is sufficiently confident that it will be able to incorporate FairPlay support into its CDS-300 copy control that is has begun telling customers that it will add iTunes and iPod support to its software in Q4.
According to mailings sent out with the company’s CDS-300 version 7 beta release, “support for iPod and iTunes… will be made available in a Q4 update”.
From Michael Geist’s BNA Highlights: Record companies, schmecord companies say the Pixies
“Record companies, schmecord companies – who needs ‘em? That’s not where the money is. The business is with the real customers – the fans. That’s who we’re trying to connect with,” band member Frank Black, AKA Black Francis, told the Associated Press this week.
[…] Apparently, the band doesn”t feel it needs a record label any more and, while their plans are still unformed at the moment, the idea generally is to combine selling live CDs made and then sold at concerts, producing music for movies and commercials and distributing singles via the internet.
“It”s a revenue stream. I”m not saying we could sell lots of records if we sold them out of our garage or the Internet, but you know what? We might,” said Black, “It”s a crazy time.”
GrokLaw points to this article, Software patents in Europe: debunking the myths, as an important example of the tenor of the EU software patent proponents’ rhetoric. The GrokLaw article dissects the article, but I found this paragraph to be so transparent a sophistry as to merit citing here, too. Otherwise, go to GrokLaw for a more thorough discussion
The patent system promotes disclosure of techniques that would otherwise have been kept secret, by offering the best ideas a limited form of monopoly. Also the person who discloses ideas publicly, whether by a patent or any other way, prevents others from monopolizing the same thing and routine developments. While patens have long been used in other fields of technology, the software industry historically has relied more on secrecy, and allowed itself in the early years to be talked out of patent protection. Only recently has it begun to think of publishing and sharing its source code for the greater good (the Open Source movement). This is the reason why patent offices do not yet have the knowledge base to tackle the sudden burst of software patent applications.
Oral Arguments in Grokster & Ch. 4, 5 of “Free Culture” (discussing the oral arguments in Grokster)
The following exchange will give you a feel for the event. One attorney argues to the court that “the Internet is not a license to steal,” and that “there’s nothing different from what they’re doing from organizing and instructing the participants in a trafficking network that is trading in counterfeit materials”.
One of the judges interrupts him and says: “Let me say what your problem is. You can use these harsh terms, but you are dealing with something new. And the question is, Does the statutory monopoly that Congress has given you reach out to that somthing new, and that’s a very debatable question. You don’t solve it by calling it theft. You have to show why this court should extend a statutory monopoly to cover the new thing. That’s your problem. So address that, if you would, rather than use abusive language.” You don’t want to miss listening to the attorney’s reaction to that rebuke.
What the judge told him matches so exactly what Larry Lessig writes in “Free Culture”, especially chapter 4 and 5 on Pirates and Piracy, that I’ve made a quick mp3 of those chapters, which you can listen to, if you’d enjoy to.
Who Swallowed the Clock flags a rather stunning fact about the UK copyright to Peter Pan, as well as a not unfamiliar strategy, cited in Hospital challenges writers to make Peter Pan fly again:
The three leading storytellers in Britain’s current golden age of children’s fiction are expected to balk at a challenge made to them today – to embark on the “awfully big adventure” of writing a sequel to Peter Pan which proves as long-lived as the original.
The invitation comes from Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London, to which JM Barrie left the lucrative copyright of his stage play.
To mark its centenary in December – and to help it continue to buy state of the art technology to treat its acutely ill children – the hospital trustees are launching a search for “a magical sequel to JM Barrie’s timeless masterpiece”.
The trustees aim to commission a new story which will “share the same enchanting characters as the original, the same longevity, and be just as valid in a hundred years as the original is today”. They are eager for one or more of today’s leading children’s writers to enter for the project.
[…] The hospital would hold copyright, including crucial film rights, in the sequel, but would split publisher’s royalties with the author. Its lawyers said the author “could reasonably expect to participate in the exploitation of film rights”.
[…] In 1988, parliament gave Great Ormond Street what amounts to perpetual copyright in UK revenues from the stage play first performed in 1904. But the hospital is planning ahead to the expiry in 2023 of the US copyright, which generates its film revenue
These Scrivener’s Error posts on the Grokster decision, [Expletive Deleted] Headline Writers! and The Spin Cycle, get considerable discussion from Derek and Denise.