2003 May 16

(entry last updated: 2003-05-16 18:40:53)

  • Cory Doctorow points to Aaron Swartz’s first hand report from the Copyright Office hearings on DMCA exemptions. This paragraph puts the Hilary Rosen comments from Business 2.0 into their correct perspective (IMHO):

    Responding to IP Justice’s comment that consumers should be able to play a CD in any device of their choosing by virtue of the fact that they own the CD, the RIAA argued that consumers do not have this right and that it is instead a luxury that consumers to date have incidentally enjoyed. Mark Belinsky then stated that as multiple formats of CD and DVD (blue laser, etc.) develop, the 5 1/2 inch disc will embody ubiquitous formats, and this will prevent playback of any given disc across various platforms even though each platform may read content from some form of 5 1/2″ media. Overall, Steven Marks did a bang up job for the RIAA, making well-crafted arguments and maintaining a steady, calm and collected tone despite a few heated questions from one Copyright Office attorney who almost seemed to have it out for the RIAA. Overall, the RIAA took the position that present and future technological devices are not intended to deny consumers of their expectations, and Mark Belinsky chimed in by saying that future CDs (to be released as soon as November I think he said) would contain “two sessions” of data — one for playback in traditional audio devices (stereos), and one for playback in computers running Windows XP, which should meet consumer’s expectations while addressing the RIAA’s concerns about piracy.

  • Matt mentioned this article from the Chronicla of Higher Education, but his URL is defective. Here’s one that works: A President Tries to Settle the Controversy Over File Sharing

    Right now Mr. Spanier is pursuing two very different tacks. One is a policy of tough enforcement: Penn State has already started monitoring its network for file-sharing activity and shuts down any it finds.

    The other tack — little more than a suggestion at this point — is more radical and may reshape the debate on file sharing. Why not pay a record-industry-approved music service a yearly, blanket fee, Mr. Spanier wonders, and let students download songs as they please? Record-industry officials are skeptical, but say the idea is worth talking about.

    The article goes on to discuss the differences in universities’ approaches to the problem, ranging from hands-off to something like Penn State’s monitoring of as much network traffic as they can manage.

    More distressingly, it also claims that the universities and the recording industry should be making common cause, since they both rely upon the value of their intellectual property to maintain their existence.

    This argument is troubling on two levels. First, the value of traditional academic creations stems from the fact that it is widely cited and copied, not in spite of that copying. This is a nasty little rhetorical trick that ought to be snipped easily.

    On the second level, however, we are confronted with the trend wherein universities are entering into lucrative shared research and intellectual property relationships with companies, with the drug companies being the most notable form (there’s also the Harvard/DuPont cancer mouse). These are situations where the boundary between academic and industrial research blur, with the associated confusion about the role of traditional academic openess.

    Although this has been largely restricted to the patent area, it is the case that such efforts also have meant delays in publication.

    Thus, the confusion that we see in the Chronicle article is a reflection of the fact that the academy is increasingly slipping into a proprietary mode of thinking about intellectual advancement. This is not a good trend, IMHO, but it’s definitely one that can be seen in every institution, and it may well be that this little contretemps with the music industry will force academia to decide what its role is supposed to be.

  • Derek and Matt are having an ongoing discussion about filesharing and copyright:

    1. Matt: Crisis!

    2. Matt: I have developed what I believe is a novel line of reasoning on copyright law and the Internet.

    3. Derek: Oh The Tangled Web We Weave

  • From CNet and Digital Media NewsWire: Studios broaden DVD-copying fight

    In the latest development, lawyers for Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox Film filed for an injunction in U.S. District Court in New York to bar five companies from selling DVD copying software.

    The suit names Internet Enterprises, RDestiny, HowtocopyDVDs.com, DVDBackupbuddy.com and DVDSqueeze.com as defendants. None could immediately be reached for comment.

  • Is this really possible: F.C.C. Studies Market Power of Radio Giant [pdf]

    The Federal Communications Commission is trying to devise rules aimed at breaking the hold Clear Channel Communications has on radio markets in some rural areas, a commissioner, Kathleen Abernathy, said today.

    The five commissioners, led by the chairman, Michael K. Powell, are trying to redefine radio markets as part of their June 2 vote on new media-ownership rules, Ms. Abernathy said at a news conference. Clear Channel, which is based in San Antonio, is the largest owner of radio stations in the nation. It is the focus of bipartisan concern on the commission, said Ms. Abernathy, a Republican.

    “Because of the way our markets are defined, in certain markets they’ve clearly acquired more power than we would have wanted,” she said. “Everyone agrees this is something we have to fix.”

  • Yesterday’s article [pdf] has a followup today: Microsoft Official Tells of Use of Special Fund [pdf]

  • Here’s something to think about from Business 2.0 by Hilary Rosen: Why the Recording Industry Loves Tech

    In fact, record companies and tech firms have long had a symbiotic relationship. Every new music format of the last half-century has come as the result of collaboration between our industries. And in January we announced a set of joint policy principles with two leading tech-industry groups, the Business Software Alliance and the Computer Systems Policy Project, which collectively represent virtually all the big players: Apple (AAPL), Cisco (CSCO), Dell (DELL), IBM (IBM), Intel (INTC), and Microsoft (MSFT).

    One of the key planks of these joint principles calls for “private and governmental enforcement against infringers.” This is critical to fostering innovation — after all, recording artists and software developers alike do what they do at least in part for financial gain. And it bears repeating that this is the view not just of the RIAA but of the technology companies as well. They support appropriate enforcement against copyright pirates every bit as much as we do.

    Here’s something else that may surprise you though: Another important plank in this agreement is a firm commitment to opposing government-imposed technological mandates. The RIAA believes in innovation. And we believe that consumers in the marketplace, not the government, should decide which technological innovations will thrive.

    Is she serious (and this represents a continuation of the split from the MPAA on copy controls), or is this a cynical ploy to keep the customer off balance while music moves to DVD and other protected formats?

    See Mary Hodder’s comments: Hilary Rosen Embraces Technology

  • Slashdot points out that NewsHour Online is sponsoring an online discussion of copyright in the digital age

  • Catching up on the 321 Studios lawsuit:

  • I’ve been staying on the outside of the media concentration discussion that been rising over at Larry Lessig’s and others, but there’s a nice summary of the discussion over at The Register that’s worth a read: Internet is dying – Prof. Lessig.