February 14, 2003

2003 February 14 [7:50 am]

(entry last updated: 2003-02-14 17:15:42)

  • JoHo points to an article in Business Week that points out that there are plenty of reasons for the decline in CD sales without resorting to P2P filesharing as an explanation. Based on a web article by George Ziemann that I mentioned last December

    Still, it seems irresponsible for music-industry officials to present these sales statistics as proof that piracy is overwhelmingly responsible for the industry’s woes while conveniently ignoring the economic and technological context that puts those numbers in perspective. “The policy decisions being made today are based on the assumption that [file trading] is killing the music business. But no one is looking deeply enough at the facts,” says Jim Burger, an attorney who represents the computer industry at Washington (D.C.) law firm Dow, Lohnes & Albertson.

  • Acacia Technologies is going to court to protect their streaming patent.

  • Slashdot has finally posted a discussion on the prosecution of satellite TV hackers, some of whom are being charged with DMCA violations. As I mentioned when this first came out, the Department of Justice now has found a defendant whose general alleged venality gets them out of the problems they had with ElcomSoft and Sklyarov. There are some interesting and some naive posts, but the most interesting issues relate to questions of the legality of interpreting information broadcast on the public airwaves and, more importantly IMHO, do you really need the DMCA to prosecute this sort of crime? Some posters say, “I am generally opposed to the DMCA, but this is the sort of crime it was designed to penalize” - but was the DMCA the only reason these defendents were prosecuted? I think not, but will a defense attorney find this a useful question at trial? During appeal?

  • Another article telling us just how much was "lost" to IP infringement, based on someone’s report. A look at the methodology (a scant 5 pages) employed shows that nothing particularly new has been done to consider how to estimate these "losses" - not to mention the benefits through network effects, promotion, etc.

  • David Stutz is leaving Microsoft, and he’s written a going-away letter that discusses what the company needs to do in the face of the transition from the PC to the network - and the open source elements of that effort. An interesting read, closing with good advice for almost everyone: "Stop looking over your shoulder and invent something!

    "

  • Hoot! Lessig fan fiction! (via JoHo)

  • Marci Hamilton suggests that the pro-Eldred forces aim higher, rather than lower.

    With some constitutional provisions, we tinker at our peril. Fortunately, the Copyright Clause is not one of them.

    The Framers did not debate the Copyright Clause. It was introduced; it passed. That was it. Compare that to the hours and hours of debate spent on shaping the Congress and the presidency. The Copyright Clause is not the kind of well-considered provision that we should hesitate to amend.

    Moreover, if they were alive today, the Framers might well have supported an amendment to the Copyright Clause. The very philosophy of the Constitution is to expect, oppose, and correct the inevitable abuses of power. And over the years, the Copyright Clause has become a flashpoint for just such abuse. While it is corporate, not government, power that is being abused, it is an abuse of a power granted under the Constitution nonetheless.

  • The RIAA, IFPI and the MPAA offer up an early Valentine to companies: A Copyright Use and Security Guide for Companies and Governments (from the IFPI site - press release - I assume this will join the MPAA press area eventually - surprisingly, the RIAA.org server is not responding today…..). APNewsWire via the NYTimes; Billboard; CNet News reports:

    “When your employees put music, movies, videogames or other software on your computer systems without a license or other permission from the copyright owner, it is not ’sharing’ or ‘fair use.’ It is theft,” the brochure reads. “When these works are made available to others in your organization, or to the public over the Internet, it is no different than running an illegal distribution business.”

    The brochure exhorts companies to audit their own networks for pirated material, delete any copyrighted works found, and designate a copyright-compliance officer.

    It also turns the spotlight on the drain on corporate resources and on the security problems raised by employees trading copyrighted files. Corporate security companies say these concerns in particular have been resonating among businesses in recent months.

  • Not necessarily in response, Sharman releases a new KaZaa

  • The LATimes reports that Listen.com is going to “sell songs below cost: 49 cents per download” to attract cutomers - what kind of overhead structure makes $0.49 below cost?? What else are they charging for, exactly?

  • And, in the midst of all this, Business 2.0 makes some suggestions:

    They’re all dramatic, and they all go against everything the labels have tried lately, but a quick look at a graph of CD sales quarter-by-quarter (think Grand Canyon) suggests that only bold moves will save the industry from an otherwise inexorable slide. What to do?

    • Reduce CD prices….

    • Abandon copy protection and invest in consumer-friendly technologies….

    • Abandon current online efforts and buy Kazaa….

  • Jenny Levine talked about the effort to preserve digital materials at the LoC yesterday - I didn’t get a chance to read it until today.

  • Some interesting questions raised about why Lexis and Nexis won’t sell their online services to public libraries. Slashdot discussion. How to reconcile what these publishers do for profit and what governments/courts require of citizen’s to understand about the law? What does access mean? An interesting thing to think about in this context, and a provocative article whether you agree with the conclusions or not.

  • I missed Jack Balkin’s op-ed on the Patriot Act II in the LATimes yesterday.

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