May 20, 2007

An “Anti-Lessig” Speaks (updated) [3:33 pm]

Channeling Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens and Sonny Bono, Mark Helprin asserts that IP *is* property, and should be treated accordingly — no matter what the price: A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn’t Its Copyright?

Deconstructing his argument will occupy many minds, but I’ll offer up one simple one — he speaks movingly about the features and composition of art without any sort of appreciation of the realities from which it springs — specifically, what injecting perpetual ownership (and consequential litigation) into it will do:

The flow and proportion of the elements of a work of art, its subtle engineering, even its surface glosses, combine substance and style indistinguishably in a creation for which the right of property is natural and becoming.

Ummm - no, not really. At least, not “property” as he appears to be classifying it.

For some less dogmatic comments from some of Mr. Helprin’s colleagues, see Writers Take Out Their Knives; you may also want to read Spider Robinson’s classic short story, Melancholy Elephants; also the Slashdot reaction — The Case For Perpetual Copyright

This will cheer you up: Disney Video Used to Explain Copyright

Also, an interview with chef Marco Pierre White: The man who made Gordon Ramsay cry

I don’t know if you’ve heard about this, but there’s been a little controversy recently involving chef Wylie Dufresne, of WD-50 here in New York, and Marcel Vigneron, who was one of the chefs on “Top Chef,” an American reality show. Basically, Wired magazine asked Vigneron to demonstrate a recipe for a feature, and he closely re-created one of Dufresne’s signature dishes — a “cyber egg” made from carrot-cardamom puree and coconut milk — without any attribution or credit. Do you think a chef’s recipes should be protected as intellectual property?

You can’t reinvent the wheel. Everyone takes from everybody. How many people are serving foie gras on their menu? How many? How many people do a soupe de poisson? Go to France — a pigeon en croute de sel, a loup de mer en croute de sel. We live in a world of refinement, not invention. It’s the greatest compliment he can be given, this guy. If someone takes one of your dishes and does it, it’s flattery. For you to get pissed off because he didn’t acknowledge you is ego. It’s all too political really, isn’t it? I mean, we’re fucking chefs.

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When Your Digital Identity Is For Sale [2:43 pm]

Bilking the Elderly, With a Corporate Assist

Mr. Guthrie, who lives in Iowa, had entered a few sweepstakes that caused his name to appear in a database advertised by infoUSA, one of the largest compilers of consumer information. InfoUSA sold his name, and data on scores of other elderly Americans, to known lawbreakers, regulators say.

InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.”

As Mr. Guthrie sat home alone — surrounded by his Purple Heart medal, photos of eight children and mementos of a wife who was buried nine years earlier — the telephone rang day and night. After criminals tricked him into revealing his banking information, they went to Wachovia, the nation’s fourth-largest bank, and raided his account, according to banking records.

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Architectures of Control: Car Keys [2:21 pm]

Replacing car keys is no longer quick or cheappdf

[Clarence] Ditlow said some car manufacturers have created a limited monopoly for their keys by not sharing the codes with independent shops. He petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to investigate fees charged by dealerships last year, but said he has received no response from the agency. The FTC declined to comment.

California last year passed a law requiring most car manufacturers to provide their key codes to licensed locksmiths. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2008. It was sponsored by the American Automobile Association and opposed by many luxury car makers, who said it could compromise vehicle security. The law exempts a handful of manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Jaguar, until 2013.

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