Derek on Skylink

A Little More on Skylink (“little?” <G>)

I think boiling down the DMCA to its aim at impeding infringement makes some sense. It reduces the ways in which the DMCA can be used as anti-competitive weapon and against non-infringing applications. Does it solve all of the problems? No. Does it necessarily have broader applicability? Ernest argues that this could easily be limited to very narrow circumstances could be. I don’t know how far this protection from the DMCA can be pushed. Still, it’s important that the door to protection was propped open, and, unlike the district court’s decision, this decision was done with some intelligent reasoning and an eye to future circumstances. Not perfect reasoning, not clearly and easily applicable, but decent on both accounts.

China, Property and Culture

Pirated Goods Swamp China [pdf]

Meanwhile, in a scene familiar in every Chinese city, sidewalk merchants at one of Shanghai’s most prominent intersections openly hawked CDs from artists such as Norah Jones and Bob Dylan for less than $1. A block away, a music and movie shop overflowed with an eclectic collection of pirated goods, including Spider-Man 2, Annie Hall and Winnie the Pooh DVDs and Britney Spears CDs.

The disconnect between the official word from the capital and the actuality of the street highlights the entrenched nature of one of the most nettlesome trade conflicts between Washington and Beijing. Though China is in the midst of one of a series of periodic crackdowns, experts said the continued blatant sales illustrate that the government is more interested in managing the politics of the problem than curbing the reality.

The authorities may be overmatched. In this still nominally Communist country of 1.3 billion people, the concept of private property is neither fully understood nor valued, let alone the abstract notion of intellectual property. Penalties for violations are weak and enforcement is spotty, experts said. Authorities often shield factories from raids, choosing to protect jobs over trademarks.

Wave of the Future?

DrinkorDie suspect to be ‘extradited to US’

Unemployed [Raymond] Griffiths is not accused of profiting financially from his alleged piracy, despite estimates that DrinkOrDie’s copyright infringement cost publishers an estimated $50m. The case is the first time that extradition from Australia has been sought for copyright offences.

Slashdot: Warez Suspect To Be Extradited, After All; see also ShockedNews’ US Government Overstepping Its Bounds – “Warez” Suspect to be Extradited

Back Again: Micropayments

More analysts promising that it’s “just around the corner” as well as arguing that, well, $0.99 is a kind of micropayment: Digital content spurs micropayments resurgence

Micropayments are typified by the 99 cents that iTunes charges to download a song or the $2.99 users might see on their Cingular Wireless phone bills after buying custom ringtones.

According to recent research published by TowerGroup, the total market for Internet and wireless micropayments, led by demand for digital content, will increase by 23 percent annually over the next five years to reach $11.5 billion by 2009. TowerGroup, based in Needham, Mass., charted the micropayments market at just over $2 billion in 2003.

[…] Future growth of the digital content market seems almost a certainty, based on the projected expansion of segments including music services, Internet publishing, and applications for mobile devices, such as custom ring tones or games. Cambridge, Mass., analyst firm Forrester Research has predicted that music downloads alone will become a $1.4 billion business by 2006, accounting for nearly 10 percent of annual music sales in the United States.

John Palfrey in the Boston Globe

The digital copyright crisis [pdf] (the online layout is missing a few paragraph breaks)

Copyright law is out of date.

Most users embrace KaZaA and the like to access free music, mostly illegally. But these networks are used for legal purposes, too. The musician Wilco gathered a grassroots fan base by distributing some of his songs over P2P networks. P2P Congress recently distributed video footage of Senate Judiciary Hearings via these networks. The fact that programs like Grokster can be used for virtually limitless legal, creative, beneficial purposes helped prove their legitimacy to the court.

This decision underscores a larger point: Rather than fight the emerging technologies, we’d be better served to find new ways to embrace them.

The success of Apple’s iTunes-iPod combination demonstrates that, when given the choice of going legit or continuing to cheat, many people will go legit — particularly if the option is easy and cool enough.

Later — From John: More on Boston Globe op-ed on digital copyright crisis