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September 13, 2004

Something To Think About [10:03 pm]

Dan Hunter’s Culture War [via CoCo] — not quite the discussion of alienation that I would have hoped for, but indications that I’m not the only one who sees that there’s a little bit of Marx in the discussion of IP these days:

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ Communist Manifesto foretold the end of private property and the inevitable rise of a workers’ paradise. Though this failed as a political movement, there are extraordinary parallels between Communist ideology and the current war over the creation of cultural content. In fact I will argue that the various battles of the culture war can best be understood as elements of a Marxist class struggle. One hundred and fifty years ago Marx began writing his fundamental works, and in doing so re-wrote history. His philosophy reacted against the concentration of power in the hands of capital that came about as a consequence of the industrial age. Now, as the information age progresses, we see the same concentration of power through the dominant property form of our era, that is, intellectual property. The laissez-faire capitalists of the gilded age have their direct descendants in intellectual property-based industries like media, software, pharmaceuticals, and the like. And so we shouldn’t be surprised if we see a Marxist response to these developments. Equally we shouldn’t be surprised if Capital, that is the owners of intellectual property, rightly see this as a profound challenge to their position. We can expect to see, and in fact do see, significant resistance on their part.

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Apple Comp. vs Apple Corps. [6:34 pm]

Forbes on the latest rumors in the Apple Computer/Apple Corp. trademark infringement suit: Beatles’ suit could upset the Apple cart [pdf]

The litigation is seen as one of the main reasons behind Apple Corps. preventing the Beatles catalog of songs being made available on the computer company’s iTunes song store.

Some speculation suggests the settlement could see Apple Corps. becoming a major shareholder in the computer company, with Paul McCartney maybe even becoming a board member.

Slashdot: Beatles vs Apple

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CRIA Calls On Canada To Implement WIPO [6:10 pm]

Free lunch unsustainable, maintains music industry [pdf]

Widespread internet piracy has destroyed the carefully crafted balance of copyright law in the important digital realm, and Canada’s cultural industries have borne the brunt of this imbalance. The music industry has taken the hardest hit to date. In Canada, retail sale losses have now reached upwards of $465 million, with the resulting spiral of huge staff layoffs, lost career opportunities for artists, and, from the public’s point of view, less music to enjoy. The livelihoods of the more than 45,000 Canadians who depend directly or indirectly upon the health of the recording industry in Canada — including artists, songwriters, musicians and those in recording studios, manufacturing, distribution, retailing, broadcasting, music publishing, concert promotion, management and myriad other primary and support services — hang in the balance.

But as we peer down the tunnel, that may indeed be a shaft of light we see and not the train. In May, in a report representing a rare, unanimous consensus of all four major parties, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage urged the Government of Canada to take prompt steps to bring Canadian copyright laws into the digital age, including the immediate ratification of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). The Committee stipulated that legislation to ratify the WIPO treaties be introduced in the House of Commons by November 15th, 2004.

[..] The urge to create is as old as humanity. We know that the creative process in all intellectual property fields will continue, but in order for it to flourish and be sustainable in this country, it has to be reasonably protected from theft and underpinned by a fair and equitable level of compensation for all rights owners. Only then will our cultural heritage remain vital and vibrant.

Hmmm - “balance,” eh? If the CRIA is actually going to use that word, maybe there’s some hope. But, so far anyway, what the CRIA has called balance might be called something less friendly-sounding — sort of like my reaction these days to “compassionate conservatism.”

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Cute Joke [6:05 pm]

From BBSpot (jokes seem to be bout all I have time for today): Movie Industry Tries New Naming Conventions to Reduce Piracy

Some movie studios will begin naming all films using generic words and use sexual connotations if applicable, to make searching for illegal movie downloads more difficult for online pirates.

” The idea for this first came when Sony released the movie Triple X,” said producer Albert Fisher. “I mean, can you imagine searching Google or file sharing networks for XXX? You’d never find it!”

Other major studios are following suit by changing titles of their upcoming movies. Some of the more notable entries are “Wicker Park” being renamed to “Woman and Man Make Love” by MGM, “Paper Clips” being renamed to “Middle School Girls” by Miramax, and “Stamp Swindlers” being renamed to “Criminal” by Warner Bros. Pictures Inc.

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