Sharman Australian Offices Raided

Music industry raids Kazaa’s Australia HQ

Australian music industry investigators yesterday raided the premises of Kazaa’s parent company, Sharman Networks, and four other Internet businesses, including the offices of Telstra, the nation’s chief telco.

Music Industry Privacy Investigations (MIPI) also targeted the University of Queensland, the University of New South Wales and Monash University.

The raids came after MIPI was granted a court order permitting it to search for evidence that KaZaA is complicit in the illegal trade of unauthorised copies of songs. The organisation plans to use documents seized in the raids in court proceedings

Slashdot: Kazaa Offices Raided includes this entertaining post: Goodie, goodie, goodie!

‘Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom…of the press;…’

[…] I argue that the freedom of the press includes the right of any citizen, or group of citizens to own a press. At the time that the US Constitution was written the only means (i.e. technology) for communicating with a truly mass audience was the printing press.

Historically, only the Crown had the *right* to own a press. The Crown might *permit* others to operate a press subject to prior restraint, but the Crown controlled the uses of all presses.

In order to have freedom of the press individuals, or groups of individuals must necessarily be able to own, and/or have access to the technology that physically, and infrastructurely allows he/she/them to communicate with a mass audience.

Thus, it must logically follow that the freedom of the press must include the right to own the means of communicating with a mass audience. […]

Sorry About The Absence…..

My apologies for the dearth of postings. Between the start of the term here at MIT, the initial meetings of the TPP admissions committee and the fact that I’ll be inaccessibly out of town next week, I really haven’t had time to do some of the fun parts of my job! I have a backlog of messages and postings to try to handle before I leave today, and then you won’t hear from me again here (unless I get really lucky!) until Feb 17th (a milestone birthday of sorts for me).

Anyway, you know all the places to go (as I’m sure you’ve already been in the face of my poor performance these past few days) — Donna, Ernest, Derek … basically, the list of weblogs to the right.

Thanks, and I’ll be back in a week!

Grokster to the 9th Circuit

On Tuesday, lawyers for the entertainment industry will face off against attorneys for peer-to-peer operators Grokster and StreamCast Networks in front of a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California.

The plaintiffs, including more than 20 movie studios, music labels represented by the Recording Industry Association of America, and song writers and publishers from the National Music Publishers’ Association, hope to convince the court that the peer-to-peer services should be liable for copyright infringement occurring on their networks.

In April 2003, a U.S. district court in Los Angeles decided that Grokster and StreamCast Networks’ Morpheus were not liable. Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that, unlike the now-defunct Napster (which has re-emerged as a legal, paid music service), the peer-to-peer operators do not have direct control over the files swapped on their networks.

Without evidence of their active and substantial contribution to copyright infringement, Wilson wrote, the file-trading services — which also serve legally permitted purposes — cannot be held liable.

Slashdot: Court to Hear Landmark P2P Case

Mossoff Throughts

Well, I’ve read Prof. Mossoff’s paper, and I have to say that I’m surprised that someone who is so clearly itching for a fight is as sensitive as he appears to be upon reading his comment to Aaron.

The paper is actually far less controversial that he tries to make it seem, but it *is* confrontational. His use of phrases like "Internet exceptionalists" is clearly designed to get a rise out of Larry and Siva; not to mention Doc Searls.

All Prof. Mossoff appears to be saying is that, in the end, either all property is a social construction, or it all isn’t. If the former is true, then copyright is as much a property concept as any other. If the latter, then you have to decide what makes property "real."

Since he is in the latter camp (after putting Lessig, Viadhyanathan and others into a counter-copyright, pseudo-communist camp), he proposes Locke — if you put the effort into making it, you own it — the natural rights argument. (Since the paper asserts that it should not be quoted, you’ll have to find it yourself – see p6-7). Sadly, in his view, current legal thinking has eschewed this sort of absolutist description for one that suggests that property rights are just a specific bundle of carefully constructed rights, and that the difficulty is that "excludability" is one that is hard to accomplish in the digital realm — but it should be. And, someday soon, we’ll all realize that and move on. In a nutshell, that’s the argument.

Now, the first issue I have with the paper is that there are some real problems with the simplistic description of natural rights when you speak of intellectual property — I cannot resist quoting this single line from page 12: "Property is the right to acquire, use and dispose of the things that one has created through one’s labor."

If what you own is what you have created, what’s the role of the common foundation upon which your work is based? If it were easy to separate each individual’s actual contribution from the rest of the constituents of the work, and the law were constructed so that one could only claim ownership to that, Locke might be just fine.

But it doesn’t appear to work that way today. For all intents and purposes, "Snow White" now belongs to Disney — only someone with substantial means would be willing to gamble that a court would decide against a Disney claim in that arena. Disney built upon something and, under the current copyright regime, now has presumptive ownership not only of their work, but all the work that they built upon. ("Second Enclosure Movement")

And, although Prof. Mossoff might prefer to ignore it, the law of copyright as currently constructed makes such blanket awards, largely through arguments stemming from the technologies of digitization — Barlow’s digital bottles.

Prof. Mossoff tries to paint opponents of the current construction of copyright as opponents of copyright itself — and few of those he calls to task in the paper would take that position. Rather, it’s their opposition to the "land grab" that’s going on in the guise of digitization that has everyone so concerned.

It’s definitely a paper to get one worked up — and the cite over at Legal Theory Blog shows why.

(I might come back to this: the idea that monopoly is at the heart of property is another terribly ugly point in this paper, IMHO)

Aaron on Mossoff

In spite of my declaration (Something to read tomorrow), I’ve been too swamped to get around to reading Mossoff’s paper. but Aaron Swartz has let me know by e-mail that he has some strong opinions posted: Shorter Adom Mossoff — note that Prof. Mossoff appears to have started to discuss Aaron’s post with him.

With luck, I’ll get to Prof. Mossoff’s paper during the SuperBowl, assuming I finish my grading first.