2003 June 28

(entry last updated: 2003-06-28 21:57:33)

Made it to Palo Alto for ILaw next week (though it took me far too long to get my rental car – strike Budget from the list – and finding the Hotel California was harder for me than I expected – too long since I’ve been to Stanford) Saw Jonathan on the plane; he clearly had better traveling arrangements and was long gone <G>

  • Slashdot documents the hazards of changing media formats in midstream: EMI and Sony Lose Lawsuit Over Crippled Music Disks. The suit in question was in Brazil, and a comment suggests there has been a similar outcome for a recent French suit.

  • Matt discusses the analog hole in books (among many other things), exposed by the scanning and posting of the latest Harry Potter in MS Reader format.

    Is this really the analogue of the "analog hole?" I would argue that this is merely a demonstration that the value of e-books (and the rights to make and distribute them) is possibly overvalued. Just as I have been arguing that a key to the music copying problem is the fact that the industry has failed to deliver something distinguishable from a ripped MP3, this action may merely demonstrate that eBooks don’t deliver anything more than an electronic Xerox. And, since there are some things (like read aloud, indexing, searches, etc.) that could be distinguishable, this suggests that the digitizing of content has to deliver more value than just what comes with a repackaging – and DRM is not a value add!

  • Slashdot picks up a significantly more interesting Harry Potter issue: Harry Potter and the International Order of Copyright: Should Tanya Grotter and the Magic Double Bass be banned? Slashdot: Tanya Grotter and the Magic Double Bass

    You might think it a good thing that Rowling can stop the Potter cloning industry, whether it is in Brighton, Bangalore, or Bratislava. Who wants to see Harry turned into a hairy troll or forced to gallivant with foreign literary figures? But on closer examination the argument for letting Potter crush his international competition is quite weak.

    The case for preventing literal copying—in which a foreign publisher simply reprints a work without permission—is strong. But Potter follow-ons are different from the American Dickens piracy of the 19th century and DVD piracy of today. Literal copies are what come out when you use a photocopier. Potter’s takeoffs are different: They either borrow characters and put them in a new, foreign context (Potter in Calcutta) or just use the themes and ideas of Potter (as in Tanya Grotter’s case) as inspiration for a different kind of story. They aren’t a direct replacement for a Potter book, the way a literal copy is, but rather a supplement or an adaptation.

    […] Potter’s publishers, in defense of strong global copyright, would say that works like Tanya Grotter are theft, and such theft destroys the incentive to write in the first place. But the incentives argument is surprisingly unpersuasive in the international setting. To say Rowling will stop writing for fear of international parody is a difficult case to make. Only the most famous and lucrative works are parodied overseas. If an international adaptation is a sign you’ve made it rich, how can it be a serious financial deterrent for new writers?

    The truer complaint is that Potter’s overseas competitors may mean slightly less profit for Rowling and her publishers.

    A great article making an important point.

  • Cory Doctorow points out a couple of interesting things:

  • Nice analogy from The Register on the pending RIAA lawsuit threats (as well as the implicit DRM threat lying at its core): The RIAA Plays Whack-a-Mole. Its aptness will depend, of course, upon the next cycle in P2P, which clearly is going to get into encryption and anonomyzing strategies to work around the traffic analysis – after all, you didn’t want to waste those excess CPU cycles on SETI or cancer research, did you?

    Note that the community of file sharers aren’t waiting around: StreamCast vows peer-to-peer protest

  • Sounds like Larry had a good day in DC – it’ll be interesting to see if he retains his Cassandra posture this week.