Title 17 Amendments for China

Apparently terrorized by the article in this weekend’s NYTimes Magazine, the Secretary of Commerce comes up with a policy proposal: Commerce Chief Focuses on Piracy in China [pdf]

China has “got to start putting people in jail” to show it is serious about cracking down on widespread counterfeiting and piracy that costs U.S. companies billions of dollars in lost sales every year, a top Bush administration official said.

In an interview before his fourth and final official trip to China, outgoing U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans said he would press Chinese leaders to make sure intellectual property theft of goods ranging from music and films to birth control pills and brake pads is treated as a serious crime.

“They have made good progress on this front, but there’s more work to be done,” Evans said. “That means criminalizing the laws as opposed to (having) just civil laws that slap some simple little fine on companies and they go on down the road. You’ve got to start putting people in jail.”

Slashdot: US To Push Criminalisation of IP Violations

Uses for Piped Music

Don’t miss the comments: Music to deter yobs by

The experience of standing at a bus stop or railway station and feeling intimidated, perhaps by a group of teenagers hanging around, is not uncommon.

Dealing with it has led to a variety of expensive attempted solutions, including the installation of CCTV. But the idea of using piped classical music, for some years spoken of as a joke, is gradually being adopted as a widespread and low-cost solution.

For the cost of some speakers, and the necessary licence to play piped music, problem areas can apparently be painlessly resolved. […]

[…] Passengers complained and the company felt compelled to respond.

They introduced classical music at Tynemouth, Whitley Bay and Cullercoats stations.

“It has completely eliminated the problem,” says Mr Yeoman. “The young people seem to loathe it. It’s pretty uncool to be seen hanging around somewhere when Mozart is playing.”

Physical Singles v. Digital Downloads

Downloads overtake single sales

Sales of song downloads overtook those for physical singles for the first time at the end of 2004.

The last week in December saw download sales of 312,000 compared with 282,000 physical singles, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

The download total beats the previous weekly record by more than 20%.

WashPost on Politics In Science Appointments

Accepting Politics In Science [pdf]

But in fact politics is unavoidable in the empaneling process. The real question is whether we want to openly confront this reality or allow it to play out in the proverbial backrooms of political decision making.

In nearly every other area of politics, advice is proffered with political and policy perspectives at the fore: the Supreme Court, congressional hearing witness lists, the Sept. 11 commission, to name just a few. In no other area where advice is given to the government is it even plausibly considered that politics can or should be ignored. And while science is the practice of developing systematic knowledge, scientists are both human beings and citizens, with values and views, which they often express in public forums.

[….] Rather than eliminating considerations of politics in the composition of science advisory panels, a policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” just makes it more difficult to see the role played by politics, which will be ever present.

More important than the composition of scientific advisory panels is the charge that they are given and the processes they employ to provide useful information to decision makers. The current debate over these panels reinforces the old myth that we can somehow cleanly separate science from politics and then ensure that the science is somehow untainted by the “impurities” of the rest of society. Yet paradoxically, we also want science to be relevant to policy. A better approach would be to focus our attention on developing transparent, accountable and effective processes to manage politics in science — not to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

Upsetting the Doctrine of IP in China


[…] China’s failure to police industry and to protect intellectual-property acts, in effect, like one of the greatest industrial subsidies in the world. Chinese manufacturers and industries freely exploit foreign ideas and technologies. “China helps distribute technology that has already been paid for by the developed world, often by companies, but also by taxpayers who support the government labs where much of the most important industrial technology begins,” says Oded Shenkar, a professor of business at Ohio State University and the author of the recent book “The Chinese Century.” “And, seen as a subsidy, this one is a particularly good deal for the Chinese government because it doesn’t have to pay for it.”

For the most part, China fears no repercussions from its actions because the size and potential of its markets give China an undiminished (for now) power to lure the world’s most advanced technology to its shores.[…]

[…] Unless it comes up with a remedy that forces China to change, the United States will have to find its own solutions. Ken DeWoskin, a professor emeritus of Chinese studies at the University of Michigan and a consultant who advises PricewaterhouseCoopers on China, argues that China, as in the Viagra case, will increasingly take on the veneer of an American-style intellectual-property regime while finding ways at every step to assert its interests within that system. “American pharmaceutical companies will be very seriously attacked by China’s approach to I.P.,” DeWoskin says. “You can already see how China is changing the rules of the game.” Americans, he notes, pay higher drug prices than consumers in other economies can sustain, all for products made here at home. A result is that we underwrite both our companies and the rest of the world’s consumption. How much American consumers will tolerate other kinds of similarly expensive economic nationalism is hard to predict, but DeWoskin says he can envision the U.S. economy slowly but surely adopting such measures, much as Japan has to protect its domestic markets and companies. Japan’s economy is structured to support national industries over foreign rivals. Japanese consumers, for instance, typically pay more at home for goods manufactured in their own country than consumers outside pay for Japan’s products. Without realizing it, Americans have already tilted toward the Japanese arrangement in pharmaceuticals.

OT: This Month’s Atlantic Monthly

Richard Clarke’s Ten Years Later is a sobering review of what may come of the US’s current policies. Sadly, it’s accessible only to subscribers — or those who buy one at the newsstand. If you get a chance, give it a read.

This is a transcript of the Tenth Anniversary 9/11 Lecture

Sunday, September 11, 2011

John F. Kennedy School of Government

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Professor Roger McBride

Dean, Honored Guests,

It is a great honor to be chosen to give this tenth-anniversary lecture. This year, more than at any other time since the beginning of the war on terror, I think we can see clearly how that war has changed our country. Now that the terror seems finally to have receded somewhat, perhaps we can begin to consider the steps necessary to return the United States to what it was before 9/11. To do so, however, we must be clear about what has happened over the past ten years. Thus tonight I will dwell on the history of the war on terror.

[…] As early as 2004 our nation’s leaders were admitting that the war on terror would probably last a generation or more, even as they continued to argue among themselves about whether it could ever truly be won. If they had acted differently–sooner, smarter–we might have been able to contain what were at one time just a few radical jihadis, and to raise our defenses more effectively. Instead our leaders made the clash of cultures a self-fulfilling prophecy, turning the first part of the twenty-first century into an ongoing low-grade war between religions that made America less wealthy, less confident, and certainly less free.

Downhill Battle Get Globe Ink

Downhill Battle wages uphill fight vs. music industry [pdf]

This month, Downhill Battle is sending a belated Christmas present to the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, two Washington-based industry lobbying groups. The gift: stockings filled with coal.

Downhill Battle opposes the lawsuits that the two groups have filed against technologies like BitTorrent and Napster, as well as more than 7,000 individual users of file-sharing software. So in December, Downhill Battle decided to launch its own fund-raiser for three digital rights defense groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation: For every $100 donated to the groups, Downhill Battle would send one lump of coal each to the RIAA and the MPAA.