CDT Policy Post on (c)

Some reading to do, I see: Policy post for this paper: Protecting Copyright and Internet Values [via CoCo]

This paper seeks to outline a general framework for addressing the problem of copyright infringement on the Internet in a balanced fashion. In CDT’s view, a combination of robust enforcement of copyright law to make infringement unattractive and technical protections for online content offers the best possibility of fostering vibrant new markets for content delivery, consistent with innovation and the open architecture of the Internet.

Ernest’s thoughts: CDT’s ‘Balanced Framework’ for Copyright Completely Unbalanced

A Problem Yet To Be Faced

I had to read the opening paragraph more than once before I got what was being reported: Chinese gamer sentenced to life

A Shanghai online gamer has been given a suspended death sentence for killing a fellow gamer.

Qui Chengwei stabbed Zhu Caoyuan in the chest when he found out he had sold his virtual sword for 7,200 Yuan (£473).

The sword, which Mr Qui had lent to Mr Zhu, was won in the popular online game Legend of Mir 3.

Attempts to take the dispute to the police failed because there is currently no law in China to protect virtual property.

[…] While China has no laws to deal with the theft of virtual property, South Korea has a section of its police force that investigates in-game crime.

According to the Chinese press, more and more gamers are seeking justice through the courts over stolen weapons and credits accumulated in games.

[…] Following the case, associate law professor at Beijing’s Renmin University of China said that such weapons should be deemed as private property because players “have to spend time and money for them”.

But a lawyer for one Shanghai-based internet game company told a Chinese newspaper that the weapons were in fact just data created by games providers and therefore not the property of gamers.

WWW Restrictions in China

In some ways, this is not that striking a headline, China Tightens Restrictions on Bloggers and Web Owners, but what lies behind the action is notable.

Signs of the Internet’s growing power in China came this spring during a wave of popular demonstrations against Japan in which organizers relied heavily on private Web pages, blogs and mass cellphone messages to mobilize protesters. In the space of a few weeks, as many as 40 million signatures were collected online to demand that Japan be barred from obtaining a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The Chinese authorities may have tacitly approved of the anti-Japanese demonstrations, but in a system built around tight state control over political expression and association, the idea of millions of citizens using the Internet to rally around political issues is anathema.

Growing concern among China’s leaders about the destabilizing potential of the Internet comes during a campaign of increasingly harsh measures against political dissent, arrests of journalists and other restrictions on expression. The tone has been set by President Hu Jintao himself, who, quoting Mao, has warned against insurrection, saying, “A spark from heaven can light up an entire plain.”

From CoCo: Chinese Internet Registration Flow Chart

Sounds Like Someone Had A Bad Day

BPI won’t let up on downloaders — a surprisingly coarse view of things:

The BPI’s director of communications and development, Steve Redmond, showed no softening of the organisation’s legal strategy in a debate with Factory Records founder Tony Wilson at the In the City Interactive conference in London on Tuesday.

“Noone comes into this industry to sue people,” Redmond said when challenged by Wilson on the BPI’s legal campaign.

But, he continued, “The only campaign in the world that appears to have an effect on downloading is the American litigation.”

[…] Wilson, for his part, goaded Redmond over the record industry’s approach to technology, but demonstrated his neutrality by also dissing record retailers, the makers of 24 Hour Party People, and Steve Jobs.

He also turned his ire on musicians themselves. “The perception is musicians like music, the record industry guys like money,” he said. “The reality is the exact opposite… musicians are penny pinching f..kers.”

Lies, Damned Lies and … Patent Applications?

A measure of the stakes, I guess: Court Says OxyContin Patent Is Invalid (opinion)

A federal appeals court found yesterday that Purdue Pharma had deliberately misled the government to win patent protection for its powerful painkiller OxyContin. The ruling, which makes patents on the drug not enforceable, opens the door to increased generic competition, as well as potentially huge legal awards against Purdue.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington is a victory for Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings, which is seeking to market a generic form of OxyContin.

[…] Yesterday’s appellate decision surprised some analysts and lawyers because it upheld the most critical and damaging portion of a trial court ruling against Purdue Pharma last year.

The ruling last year, by Judge Sidney H. Stein of United States District Court in Manhattan, found that Purdue Pharma had intentionally deceived patent officials to secure OxyContin’s patent by implying that the company had clinical evidence to show that OxyContin was easier for doctors to use to control pain, when in fact such data did not exist.

That finding of “inequitable conduct” invalidated Purdue’s patent. The three-judge appeals panel also found, in reviewing the facts of the case, that Purdue had “failed to disclose material information that was inconsistent with its arguments for patentability.”

Earlier NYTimes coverage: Judge Says Maker of OxyContin Misled Officials to Win Patents

Piracy: It’s Not Just About Digital Distribution

The Potter Files

Just in case the world didn’t know that a new Harry Potter novel was scheduled for release on July 16, two men were arrested in Britain over the weekend and accused of trying to sell a copy of J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” to a reporter for $90,800. On this side of the Atlantic, Barbara Marcus, the president of children’s publishing at Scholastic, the American publisher, said 10.8 million copies had been printed, Reuters reported. She said that security was tight and that Scholastic was relying on booksellers to make sure there were no leaks or early sales. “They really know what their responsibility is,” she said, adding that the threat of being cut off from future shipments helped to deter rule breaking.

Music Ubiquity, Obsession and Manipulation

Go-Go-Go Beat [pdf] — sorry about the length of this excerpt, but this is a very clever article that tells a beautifully circular tale about music and modern life. You really want to read the whole thing.

Music addict [Roberto] Cabrera, however, listens to 14 hours of music a day. He needs two iPods — so that one can be charging at all times.

A junior international business and studio art major at the University of Maryland, the amiable Cabrera says that music is a mega-massive part of his life. “I’ve always been influenced by music,” he says. Now he needs it “all around me, all the time.”

[…] It’s everywhere. There’s no escaping it. Via broadcast and satellite radio and TV, an ever-expanding array of recording technologies — such as CDs and MiniDiscs — and the Internet, music has invaded the tiniest, quietest corners of our lives. […]

[…] We consume music and music consumes us. We are caught in the middle of a musical war. Whole industries are built on dumping music upon us, while others allow us to choose the music we want to listen to. The armies can be divided into those that overpower and those that empower. It’s a battle royal for our ears, our brains, our bank accounts. As a result, never before has there been so much music — good, bad, harmonic, atonal — available.

As composer Libby Larsen puts it, “Recording technology has made us all digital democrats.” Music today is free-flowing, intoxicating, addictive, and it’s no wonder that some people, like Cabrera, just can’t get enough of it.

[…] One of the new-school companies on the edge of manipulation-by-music is also one of the old-school originators of the idea.

[…] Audio Architecture is emotion by design, says Muzak’s director of corporate communications Sumter Cox. “We are all about the future,” says Cox, “and really what our product does is create an experience. We are a branding company.”

Nearly every retail shop, he explains, has a logo and a certain look. Muzak wants to put a musical face on the place. Muzak consultants sit down with companies like Applebee’s and LensCrafters and listen to their ideas of what they want to communicate about their brand image. Do they want to be perceived as macho or feminine, young or old, country or urban? Muzak then selects a specialized music program that helps “tell” the company’s “story” and, as a result, enhance the consumer experience.

[…] There is far too much music in the world, the late composer Virgil Thomson wrote in London Magazine. “I do not feel this because I get tired of musical sound itself. Musical sounds are always a pleasure. It is unmusical sounds masquerading as musical ones that wear you down, and the commercializing of musical distribution has given us a great many of these as a cross to bear. It has also given such currency to our classics that even these the mind grows weary of. Because though musical sound is ever a delight, musical meaning, like any other meaning, grows stale from being repeated.”

He wrote that in 1962. Imagine how he would feel today in the halls of the Pentagon City mall.

[…] Music is fire. It can be warm and comforting. Or it can spread fast and move dangerously through the landscape. The musicholics have learned to fight fire with fire.

[…] [W]hen [Roberto Cabrera] goes to a mall and shops at Abercrombie & Fitch or Urban Outfitters, where music can be bursting through giant speakers, shaking the room and pressing on the chest as the stores and the corporations and the philosophies infiltrate his ears and seek out the tiniest, quietest corners of his life — he likes to wear his iPod.

That way he gets to listen to the music he wants to, while walking at the pace he wants to, while choosing the polo shirts and jeans he wants to buy. And, he says, there is added value: Salespeople leave him alone.

NAL — And It Shows

An article on the RAW files brouhaha introduces a little light, but then goes nuts with an interpretation of copyright law that is almost certainly nonsense: Camera raw files–the good, the bad, and the ugly

The good – little insight into why camera makers are so protective of their RAW formats:

Because the raw data and the types of voodoo the camera manufacturer performs on it reveals important information about the inner workings of the camera (which used to be called trade secrets but now travel with lawyers as intellectual property), raw-file formats have traditionally been proprietary. As a result, you generally had to use whatever utility the vendor supplied, no matter how agonizingly slow or obtuse, to work with your images. More recently, manufacturers have begun to supply software developers with an API (application programming interface) that allows them to use the camera manufacturers’ algorithms without ever seeing what’s going on in the raw black box but providing the user with a standard interface for working with all the different formats.

Then, the nonsense:

Second, I find many of the arguments [about the importance of open RAW formats] specious. The most commonly voiced of these is the property rights argument: “I own the photograph, and I should be able to do whatever I want with it. I can’t do that if I can’t use the software I want.” Now, I’m no lawyer, but from what I know about technology and what I’ve gleaned about copyright law as a writer and an editor, they’ve just shot themselves in the ass. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, “Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression…” are not copyrightable. Though you’ve seen the picture in your head and saved the photo to a flash card, a raw file is not fixed–ironically, that’s the reason we love it–until you’ve opened it and the software has applied all parameters specified by the metadata.

Sorry — as Title 17 § 102 acutally says:

Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. [emphasis added]

Unless the camera is a functionally useless one (in that takes pictures, but makes them inaccessible to ALL), there’s no question that the digitized image information stored in a digital camera’s memory is a “fixed” work.

related: A RAW repository, The Internet Archive and OpenRAW

Persistence of P2P

One reason: Consumers frustrated by online catalogs

Considering also the increasing availability of music online through legitimate avenues such as Yahoo Music Unlimited, labels seem to be sending a message to consumers: Pay a subscription fee in return for music files that work with only certain software and hardware, and you can have all the music you want.

There’s just one problem. They don’t have all the music you want, unless your taste happens to line up exactly with the arbitrary availability of certain songs and artists on the services. Even when a label or an artist decides to release an album digitally, it often includes only a few songs so that real fans will still have to buy the CD.

The most famous example of this is the Beatles. Although tiny shards of the early Beatles catalog have leaked onto online music stores, buying CDs is still the only way to get the vast majority of the band’s tunes. The same goes for the labels’ massive out-of-print back catalogs, as well as thousands of current artists and bands who are underrepresented on digital music services. Even if you pay monthly subscription fees to every online music service that offers a subscription, you’ll still be missing out on a massive percentage of the world’s officially released music–possibly more than 50 percent of what could be available.

An alternative view: iTunes More Popular Than Most P2P Sites