Why Solving Copyright Matters

It’s the abusive extension that’s a problem. As this article shows, it serves an important purpose: All the Right Moves — Dance Notation Bureau

The dance world was shocked when, at the end of October 2005, the Dance Notation Bureau suddenly laid off five of its six staff members and announced that it had run out of money. The bureau, the repository of hundreds of dance scores that use a system of symbols called Labanotation to document a vast range of choreographic oeuvres, had been quietly going about its work since 1940, most recently in its cramped offices and archives on West 30th Street in Manhattan. Despite its perpetual need for money, it always seemed to be one of the many struggling arts organizations that somehow manage to survive.

Since those dark days at the end of 2005 the bureau has staged a remarkable renaissance. It has raised more than $1 million from foundations, government and private donors and has expanded its staff to nine. A $500,000 endowment has been established to safeguard its future. The creation of a database and the digitization of the entire collection — including scores, films, videotapes, photographs, programs and posters — have begun, thanks to grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. In addition an ambitious project to notate seven works by Martha Graham is under way, alongside the business-as-usual aspects of checking scores, teaching future notators, and licensing and staging works all over the world.

Amping Up The Rhetoric

How long before we get told “You’re either with us on supporting copyrights for fashion, or you’re with the terrorists?” (Note: This NYTimes OpEd contributor does *not* make that connection, asking us to rely on the “Culture” leg of Larry’s New Chicago School map of control. But I am confident that copyright maximalists are going to make the connection.) Terror’s Purse Strings

At least 11 percent of the world’s clothing is fake, according to 2000 figures from the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group in Paris. Fashion is easy to copy: counterfeiters buy the real items, take them apart, scan the pieces to make patterns and produce almost-perfect fakes.

Most people think that buying an imitation handbag or wallet is harmless, a victimless crime. But the counterfeiting rackets are run by crime syndicates that also deal in narcotics, weapons, child prostitution, human trafficking and terrorism. Ronald K. Noble, the secretary general of Interpol, told the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations that profits from the sale of counterfeit goods have gone to groups associated with Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group, paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland and FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Sales of counterfeit T-shirts may have helped finance the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, according to the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. “Profits from counterfeiting are one of the three main sources of income supporting international terrorism,” said Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland.

The article goes on to recount all sorts of crimes that are committed by those who make fakes; that’s where the enforcement belongs, not on criminalizing the creation of fakes. All that’s going to do is add the buying of fakes to the downloading of music, breaking the speed limit, etc. — further degrading the status and the role of the law in modern society.

The DMCA and the iPhone Hacker

Why Apple Can’t Stop iPhone Hackerspdf

So will Apple and AT&T’s legal action deter hackers? Hardly. Individual users are already allowed to unlock their own phones under an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that the U.S. Copyright Office issued last November. The exemption, in force for three years, applies to “computer programs…that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.”

What’s less clear is whether companies and hackers can legally unlock the phones and then sell them to others, or sell unlocking software. “The law here is unclear,” says Jonathan Kramer, founder of Kramer Telecom Law Firm in Los Angeles. “There just isn’t any case law in this area for us to figure out how it plays out.”

Experts believe that AT&T and Apple will point to the DMCA’s section 1201, stating that “no person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.” They will claim that a phone lock is just such a technological measure that protects copyrighted work: namely, cell-phone software.

Problem is, it could be argued that, in reality, the lock only protects access to a carrier’s communications network—and communications services aren’t copyrightable under the Act, explains Jane Ginsburg, professor of literary and artistic property law at Columbia Law School. “This law was written for DVDs and video games,” she explains. “What’s going on here is using the Copyright Act to achieve another objective.”

Indeed, this time, hackers may have the law on their side. Remember, decades ago, automakers built their instrument panels so that only authorized radios of their own manufacture would fit in. Eventually, U.S. courts ended that practice.

Also Unlocking iPhones for profit could draw lawyers’ attentionpdf

Later (Sept 4 — Australians move forward — Code crack opens the iPhone floodgatespdf

Pot, Meet Kettle

Court rules against TorrentSpy in hacking case | Tech News on ZDNet

A lawsuit filed last year by TorrentSpy–a BitTorrent search engine–that accused the movie studios trade group of intercepting the companys private e-mails, was tossed out of court last week.

But while a U.S. District judge found that the Motion Picture Association of America had not violated the federal Wiretap Act, as TorrentSpys attorneys had argued, the MPAA acknowledged in court records that it paid $15,000 to obtain private e-mails belonging to TorrentSpy executives.

The MPAAs acknowledgement is significant because it comes at a time when the group is trying to limit illegal file sharing by imploring movie fans to act ethically and resist the temptation to download pirated movies. To critics, the revelation by the MPAA is a possible sign that the organization is itself not above adopting unethical practices in its fight against file sharing.

“Ethically, its pretty clear that reading other peoples e-mail is wrong,” said Lorrie Cranor, an associate research professor and Internet privacy expert at Carnegie Mellon University. “Being offered someone elses e-mails by a third party should have been a red flag.”

But seriously, there are some troubling things here: Legal woes mount for TorrentSpy:

“Essentially, one can do ongoing surveillance of another party’s e-mails without their consent and not violate the law,” [EFF’s Kevin] Bankston said. “Not only does this open the door to privacy abuses in civil cases but it also could lead to abuses by the government…It’s an incredibly dangerous decision.”

Making Friends, and Exporting Ideologies

Although it’s been going on for years, this article in today’s Boston Globe really smacks you in the face. Not just because we are working to insult one of our closest neighbors because their copyright policies are different than our own, but also because we are managing to force them to adopt not just our policies, but also our ideologies of copyright. Note that the cited change in Canadian law introduces the notion that there are things that one is not supposed to be able to do with a tool, and also that employing the tool in this fashion is a proof of guilt, removing any question of intent: Pirates of Canada’s movie theaters snare booty off Hollywood bootlegspdf

One in six movie copies made by illegally recording from the screen originates in Montreal, according to the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association. Bootlegs made in Montreal have turned up for sale as DVDs in 45 countries, said Serge Corriveau, an investigator for the group.

Canada is paying a price for tolerating pirates. The International Intellectual Property Alliance, which represents 1,900 US companies that produce films, books, software, and other goods protected by copyright, placed Canada alongside China and Russia on its list of worst offenders.

Bowing to the pressure, the federal government changed the criminal code in June. Cammers now face as long as two years in jail for recording in a theater. Police previously had to prove intent to distribute in order to bring charges.

Does this mean that camcorder manufacturs will have to include, alongside consumer warnings like “Not to be used in the shower,” a warning that use inside a movie theater may open the owner to criminal penalties?

What an Expansive Intepretation of “Property” Gets You

“Biopiracy,” among other things, including a policy run amok: As Brazil Defends Its Bounty, Rules Ensnare Scientists

Fears of biopiracy, loosely defined as any unauthorized acquisition or transport of genetic material or live flora and fauna, are deep and longstanding in Brazil. Nearly a century ago, for example, the Amazon rubber boom collapsed after Sir Henry Wickham, a British botanist and explorer, spirited rubber seeds out of Brazil and sent them to colonies in Ceylon and Malaya (now Sri Lanka and Malaysia), which quickly dominated the international market.

In the 1970s, the Squibb pharmaceutical company used venom from the Brazilian arrowhead viper to help develop captopril, used to treat hypertension and congestive heart failure, without payment of the royalties Brazilians think are due them. And more recently, Brazilian Indian tribes have complained that samples of their blood, taken under circumstances they say were unethical, were being used in genetic research around the world.

Brazil has in recent years passed legislation to curb such practices. National sentiment favors the laws, but scientists complain that they go too far, are too vague, confer too much power on authorities who have no scientific knowledge and have created a presumption that every researcher is engaged in biopiracy.

Hey, if you wanna live by the sword, you gotta expect you’ll die by the sword.

A “Counter-Gould” Goldberg Recording

And some notes on Glenn Gould’s expectations for music: Simone Dinnerstein plays the Goldberg Variations

We hear a lot about meteoric careers, but Gould’s—his concert career—really was. In 1964, at the height and breadth of his fame, he renounced the stage to devote himself to making records. Two years later he set forth the method to his madness in an essay in High Fidelity titled “The Prospects of Recording [Ed: sorry about the hideous HTML].” In prose of a puckish fustiness as distinctive as his playing, he made three predictions: One: that recording would supplant live performance. Two: that much of the real action, musically speaking, would take place in the studio. Three: that, as technologies of sound manipulation got better and cheaper, the line between artist and audience would be smudged and maybe even—in a distant, Gouldtopian future—erased.

At last count Gould is two for three, which beats the hell out of Nostradamus, Ezekiel, and St. John the Divine, despite their far greater fudge factors and grace periods. Sampling, mashups, remixes, the laptop studio; the recognition, at long last, of the art I’ve called “phonography”—prophecies Two and Three have come true in spades, most strikingly in the realm of popular music (about which Gould had relatively little to say). Prophecy One, though, looks dead wrong.

Over the past eight years, concert ticket sales have doubled. For the average musician, recording has never replaced live performance as a way of paying the rent, and in the post-Napster age—unless you’re a superstar or a studio regular—making a living from records is harder than ever.

All of this goes double for a classical player. […]

See also this earlier post; the New Yorker article; Alex Ross’ blog entry

The Line Between Promotion and Infringement

Depends on what you get out of it: Digital DJspdf

[T]he hip-hop and gossip blogs have a forebear in mixtapes: the R&B and hip-hop music compilations that the record industry has used for decades to create early excitement for music. But mixtapes have faced perennial legal hardships because of crackdowns by the Recording In dustry Association of America. As mixtapes’ popularity wanes, fans have turned to black gossip and hip-hop blogs to find songs by artists such as Kanye West, Beyoncé, Common, and Ne-Yo. The music often arrives on the Web weeks before the official CD is released.

[…] Like the DJs who make mixtapes, bloggers have received a mixed reception in the record industry. Many executives recognize that Internet exposure can create a following for the artists that can translate into record sales. The Game’s CD “Doctor’s Advocate” leaked last year yet still debuted in the No. 1 spot of the Billboard album charts, selling 358,000 copies. A recent Capitol Records press release about J. Holiday’s R&B single “Bed” featured a quote from Concrete Loop’s music editor Brian Davis, as a sign of the single’s growing popularity.

[…] [T]here’s a limit to how much exposure the record companies want to give. Capitol, for instance, prefers handing out streaming audio, because free downloads can curtail single and album sales. Relationships can grow tense when material by a major artist or a potential blockbuster song leaks. The day after Rawlins posted “She Wants It,” from 50’s highly anticipated CD, “Curtis,” he received an e-mail from an executive at 50 Cent’s label, Interscope, asking Rawlins to remove the song from his blog. Bloggers have been sent cease-and-desist letters from the legal departments of record labels or received calls from record executives asking them to remove songs. One recent Concrete Loop post featured five downloads from M.I.A.’s new CD, “Kala”; the next day the links to the downloadable songs were dead. Nah Right featured a yet-to-be-released video for Talib Kweli’s new song “Hot Thing/In the Mood.” Within hours the video window simply read “removed by copyright holder.”

Interscope Records, which represents M.I.A. and 50 Cent, declined to be interviewed for this story. But there’s an increasing realization in the music industry that it needs to adapt to the digital music age. As the number of new media departments at record companies increases, executives are trying to change the way they do business.

“We need business models of our own out there in an offensive way to get people to work with us so we can get paid for our music,” says Christian Jorg, a recently hired senior vice president of new media and commerce at Island Def Jam. “We can’t go back to selling as many CDs as we did five years ago — that’s just unrealistic.”

Responding to an Online Campaign

Taste of Victory: Online Outcry Revives a Chocolate Bar

Companies everywhere are monitoring blogs and other online discussions for feedback on their brands and providing them with information about coming products, as well as placing so-called viral advertisements on video-sharing sites. But the company insisted that the expressions of affection for Wispa on the Internet were genuine.

The campaign for Wispa, and the decision by Cadbury to revive it, shows what can happen when nostalgia about lost brands converges with user-generated content and social networking sites.

“This is the first time that the power of the Internet played such an intrinsic role in the return of a Cadbury brand,” the company said.

[…] Still, was it wise for Cadbury to give in to the consumer campaign? After all, Wispa was pulled off store shelves for what seemed like solid reasons in 2003. Sales were flagging, and the company said at the time that a majority of consumers preferred a candy bar that was introduced to replace it, called Dairy Milk Bubbly.

“Clearly you want to listen to consumers,” said Karl Heiselman, chief executive of Wolff Olins, a brand consulting firm. “But I think we have to be careful about relying on them to do our jobs.”