2003 March 19

(entry last updated: 2003-03-19 18:25:12)

  • A brief notice, FWIW: time to add some hard disk capacity to this machine; and since it’s not hot swappable, that means there’s going to be some downtime the next day or so while I shoehorn that activity into the rest of my day.

  • Via Boing-Boing – According to Larry Lessig, looks like the MIT Press has taken on a fight that Siva Viadhynathan said (at the JOLT Fair Use Conference) that many publishers won’t do – assert fair use rights in the face of copyright owner intransigence. Hope to learn more about this, since they’re just around the corner…

  • While you’re at Larry’s site, you probably should read his entry about software patents, as well as the FT pieces that got him going. The project that he proposes sounds like a great place to start on bridging this chasms.

  • Ed Felten’s got better sources than I; first his mother and now this – he’s pointing to the latest salvo in the Verizon v. RIAA subscriber subpoena battle.

  • Derek Slater points to a Tech Law Advisor posting, citing a decision by Judge Posner that appears to claim that copyright restricts fair use copying to a single copy.

    IANAL, but after reading the entire decision, I actually found the concurring opinion from Ripple more entertaining. (I’m not sure whether Posner’s statements were meant to be definitive or illustrative, but that’s why IANAL <G> Since Derek is more closely connected with the folks up at Berkman, I’m sure he’s got the more accurate representation).

    Ripple’s concurrence is particularly interesting because it centers on the interesting problem of just how difficult it can be to sell a copyright (and why Creative Commons is such an important activity). Not only does he allude to specific statutory requirements which exist to protect creators (e.g. see slip op. p. 17, 19 or 21), but he also points out that, since copyright is about exclusive rights, it cannot be owned by more than one party at a time. This argument is used to draw several conclusions about who owned what at the close of the bankruptcy at the center of this case in the face of certain ambiguities, and it is quite instructive to read the words of the opinion:

    The bankruptcy s order makes clear that Amerifreight was not granted the copyright. Nor was it granted an exclusive license. The order could not grant either a copy-right or an exclusive license to Amerifreight because it granted to both Southern Pacific and Amerifreight ex-actly the same rights. There is only one copyright and only one owner of each piece of an exclusive right. Goldstein, Copyright ยง 4.4.1. Therefore, the bankruptcy order could not have given both Southern Pacific and Amerifreight the same exclusive rights. Thus, whatever was transferred had to be a nonexclusive license.

  • Aimee Deep posts (from her increasingly racy weblog – ah, to be 17 again) on the latest stage in the Aimster/Madster copyright/bankruptcy suit.

  • Like I said, an occasional warblog item – I’m just back from lunch, where I had a chance to read Thomas Friedman’s opinion piece in the NYTimes today. I think Friedman’s got it exactly right – while I agree with Jack Balkin’s thoughts, they’re beside the point now – at least as a guide to action (although I hope they return to everyone’s mind by the next election). These are the cards that we’ve been dealt. So we have to play them as intelligently as we can, building upon the moral and political ideals upon which this republic is founded.

    But, once we’ve finished this hand, let’s all remember that we really ought to consider a new dealer next time around.

  • Speaking of needlepoint, I see that Ed Felten has contacted his inside source on the subject. (Siva Viadhynathan’s added his thoughts from this part of JOLT)

    Update: Looks like Ed’s been Slashdotted over his posting on DRM threat analysis – is DRM supposed to stop casual copying or any copying?

  • Something that came to mind yesterday as I was working through the needlepoint discussion (I’m still working on it): it’s interesting to note just how many of the firms cited in the materials currently have a web presence – and seem to be making sales through their sites. Linn Skinner describes the industry as still facing huge problems, yet it would be interesting to test whether there are any offsetting benefits to these firms accompanying their embrace of WWW distribution – and if so, how do these benefits compare with the losses due to piracy? An interesting potential research angle……..

  • Derek asks about the effectiveness of education programs to combat copyright infringement – here’s one that’s been floated recently (from Wired):

    College students, listen up: Don’t mess with Texas.

    Texas Rep. John Carter, that is.

    During a recent hearing of the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, the Republican congressman said jailing college students who download copyrighted music would help stop piracy.

    “What these kids don’t realize is that every time they pull up music and movies and make a copy, they are committing a felony under the United States code,” Carter said in an interview. “If you were to prosecute someone and give them three years, I think this would act as a deterrent.”

  • A TCS column raises some excellent issues: Hollywood Stasists vs. Valley Dynamists – a look at the reactions of entertainment industries to new technologies.

    Postrel once told me that she describes the dynamists as a group of individuals who want to allow for more individual exploration and experimentation; a group “looking for improvements in their own lives, in their businesses, in technologies they work with. And doing this in a very decentralized way.”

    On the other side of the equation, Postrel says, “There are a lot of people who are very uncomfortable with that choice or with that process”; uncomfortable with individuals having too much control. “And this group wants stability or control at the level of the whole society. They want some form of stasis. Some form of holding the future still.” And says Postrel, they typically want the government to do this on a national level.

    The dynamic computer industry of Northern California’s Silicon Valley is busy creating technology that lets people make their own music, burn their own CDs and DVDs, create their own movies, and go as far as their brains, and talent will let them. But those Hollywood stasists are having none of it.

  • On a related topic, my pre-ordered copy of The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction arrived yesterday. I’ve only had a chance to read the introduction. From the introductory chapter:

    If sound-reproduction technologies changed the way we hear, where did they come from? Many of the practices, ideas and constructs associated with sound-reproduction technologies predated the machines themselves. The basic technology to make phonographs (and, by extension, telephones) existed for some time prior to their actual invention. So why did sound-reproduction technologies emerge when they did and not at some other time? What preceded them that made them possible, desirable, effective and meaningful? In what milieu did they dwell? How and why did sound-reproduction technologies take on the particular technological and cultural forms and functions that they did? To answer these questions, we move from considering simple mechanical possibility out into the social and cultural worlds from which the technologies emerged.

    If this book can only show some of the answers to these questions, it should be great!

  • Billboard reports on the declining (but not disappearing) reaction to the Dixie Chicks’ political commentary. Siva Viadhyanathan has some related thoughts (note the renaming ofr his weblog to Sivacracy.) Also, Salon has published reader’s letters to the editor on the subject.

  • More on the RIAA push to stop P2P at work from John Borland at CNet.