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February 12, 2007

Try, Try Again [2:42 pm]

Copyright collective wants iPod levy - pdf - via Slashdot

The collective had argued the memory inside a digital audio device such as an iPod is an audio recording medium primarily used to store music, and therefore should be subject to the Canadian Copyright Act.

The act states an audio recording medium is “a medium regardless of its material form on which a recording can be reproduced.”

The court, however, found the memory can’t be defined as an audio recording medium.

Now, the group is going after the devices themselves. It says devices such as the iPod can be classified as a “recording medium” and should be subject to taxation.

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A “Collagetext” With Something to Think About: “usemonopoly” [2:37 pm]

From Harper’s, via Slashdot: The Ecstasy of Influence - pdf

The idea that culture can be property—intellectual property—is used to justify everything from attempts to force the Girl Scouts to pay royalties for singing songs around campfires to the infringement suit brought by the estate of Margaret Mitchell against the publishers of Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone. Corporations like Celera Genomics have filed for patents for human genes, while the Recording Industry Association of America has sued music downloaders for copyright infringement, reaching out-of-court settlements for thousands of dollars with defendants as young as twelve. ASCAP bleeds fees from shop owners who play background music in their stores; students and scholars are shamed from placing texts facedown on photocopy machines. At the same time, copyright is revered by most established writers and artists as a birthright and bulwark, the source of nurture for their infinitely fragile practices in a rapacious world. Plagiarism and piracy, after all, are the monsters we working artists are taught to dread, as they roam the woods surrounding our tiny preserves of regard and remuneration.

A time is marked not so much by ideas that are argued about as by ideas that are taken for granted. The character of an era hangs upon what needs no defense. In this regard, few of us question the contemporary construction of copyright. It is taken as a law, both in the sense of a universally recognizable moral absolute, like the law against murder, and as naturally inherent in our world, like the law of gravity. In fact, it is neither. Rather, copyright is an ongoing social negotiation, tenuously forged, endlessly revised, and imperfect in its every incarnation.

[...] Jefferson’s vision has not fared well, has in fact been steadily eroded by those who view the culture as a market in which everything of value should be owned by someone or other. The distinctive feature of modern American copyright law is its almost limitless bloating—its expansion in both scope and duration. With no registration requirement, every creative act in a tangible medium is now subject to copyright protection: your email to your child or your child’s finger painting, both are automatically protected. The first Congress to grant copyright gave authors an initial term of fourteen years, which could be renewed for another fourteen if the author still lived. The current term is the life of the author plus seventy years. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that each time Mickey Mouse is about to fall into the public domain, the mouse’s copyright term is extended.

Even as the law becomes more restrictive, technology is exposing those restrictions as bizarre and arbitrary. [...]

[...] Thinking clearly sometimes requires unbraiding our language. The word “copyright” may eventually seem as dubious in its embedded purposes as “family values,” “globalization,” and, sure, “intellectual property.” Copyright is a “right” in no absolute sense; it is a government-granted monopoly on the use of creative results. So let’s try calling it that—not a right but a monopoly on use, a “usemonopoly”—and then consider how the rapacious expansion of monopoly rights has always been counter to the public interest, no matter if it is Andrew Carnegie controlling the price of steel or Walt Disney managing the fate of his mouse. Whether the monopolizing beneficiary is a living artist or some artist’s heirs or some corporation’s shareholders, the loser is the community, including living artists who might make splendid use of a healthy public domain.

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This Should Be Exciting; © Leverage [2:11 pm]

A field test for Audible Magic’s technology — and, I am sure, a legal test for the first failure of the filter: MySpace erasing disputed content - pdf

Internet social networking giant MySpace.com plans to announce today that it has introduced a video-filtering program that should automatically remove copyrighted material from its website.

[...] Until now, such websites as MySpace and YouTube took the position that they could legally allow content to stay on their sites unless they received a formal notice to remove the material.

[...] With the new program, MySpace said it now is the largest Internet video site to offer free video-filtering to copyright holders. It is using a digital fingerprinting technology licensed from a company called Audible Magic.

Note that there are wheels within wheels here: see this announcement — MTV videos to be available to all Internet users - pdf

In the next few months, Web users will be able to grab videos from nearly all MTV-owned sites and post them on their own blogs or Web sites, lessening the need to go to YouTube (http://www.youtube.com), the top online video service that Google Inc. acquired last year.

Viacom, owner of MTV Networks and the Paramount movie studio, had been planning for this move months before it demanded earlier this month that YouTube remove more than 100,000 unauthorized Viacom video clips from its site, after failing to reach a distribution deal.

“We need to open up our Web sites and content both for consumers and for other companies,” Mika Salmi, MTV Networks president of global digital media, said in an interview last Friday.

The move is part of a strategy to bring Viacom’s Web sites up to “Web 2.0″ standards, Salmi said. “Part of that is allowing people to take our content and embed it and make your own things out of it, whatever they want,” he said.

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Fighting Over The Next DVD Format [2:00 pm]

In all the usual places: Porn studios quietly courted - pdf

As the opposing camps pushing the next generation of DVDs try to win audiences, they are furtively pursuing the affections of the multibillion-dollar porn industry.

Since the advent of home video, adult entertainment has played a key role in the adoption of new consumer technology. Porn companies, for instance, helped VHS trump Betamax in the ’70s. More recently, they began streaming online video long before television networks.

So backers of the rival — and incompatible — HD DVD and Blu-ray formats are trying to entice porn producers to adopt their respective technologies. Even if they’re not proud of it.

[...] Plus, anyone wondering who would most appreciate pictures that appear crisper than real life had only to witness a briefing at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month by LG Electronics, maker of the expensive players for either format. None of the presenter’s points gripped the audience like the slow-motion HD DVD video of a model emerging from a swimming pool, every drop glistening as it fell from her white bikini.

Most U.S. porn producers are getting their feet wet with HD DVD.

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WSJ Reports Allegations that Google Fosters Piracy [1:44 pm]

Of course, given that they do search, what would you expect? Are we finally going to get some clarity via litigation? Don’t hold your breath — instead, it looks like we’re going to see a big player settle, and chilling effects for upstarts. Studios say Google benefits from piracy: report - pdf

The media companies, which the paper said include News Corp., Viacom Inc., Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news)., General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal, Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co., allege that Google deliberately directed traffic to Web sites that were engaged in fostering piracy, the paper said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Google told the studios on Friday it would implement new procedures to prevent recurrences, the Journal said.

[...] The paper said the claims against Google were based on sworn statements made late last year as part of a civil lawsuit brought by Hollywood studios against two men accused of operating Web sites that allegedly helped users illegally access copyrighted material.

Slashdot discussion

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