A Conservative on Gay Marriage

The Power of Marriage

Still, even in this time of crisis, every human being in the United States has the chance to move from the path of contingency to the path of marital fidelity — except homosexuals. Gays and lesbians are banned from marriage and forbidden to enter into this powerful and ennobling institution. A gay or lesbian couple may love each other as deeply as any two people, but when you meet a member of such a couple at a party, he or she then introduces you to a “partner,” a word that reeks of contingency.

You would think that faced with this marriage crisis, we conservatives would do everything in our power to move as many people as possible from the path of contingency to the path of fidelity. But instead, many argue that gays must be banished from matrimony because gay marriage would weaken all marriage. A marriage is between a man and a woman, they say. It is women who domesticate men and make marriage work.

Well, if women really domesticated men, heterosexual marriage wouldn’t be in crisis. In truth, it’s moral commitment, renewed every day through faithfulness, that “domesticates” all people.

NYTimes Op-Ed Today

Nicholas Kristof on drug patents and international trade agreements in the era of AIDS makes an assertion that’s going to have to change in Death By Dividend

The public drafts of the F.T.A.A. clearly place the priority on patents over public health, and the word is that the (still secret) draft text of a Central American Free Trade Agreement should also embarrass us.

“An F.T.A.A. agreement with strong I.P. [intellectual property] provisions threatens to have a catastrophic impact on the lives of millions of people living with H.I.V./ AIDS and other diseases,” warns Doctors Without Borders, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning aid group.

I know, I know. Mention “intellectual property” and eyes glaze over. But meet the people whose lives are at stake.

Ed Foster’s Gripe Column On Copyright

Into the DMCA Groove — Personally, I’m surprised the Ed would expect anything more from eBay. They’ve been overwilling to cave in to copyright complaints in the past — something that Chilling Effects was set up to try to address

Of course, we mustn’t stick with the fiction that this is really about “respecting the requests” of the recording artists. It’s not Madonna or Missy Elliott who issued the DMCA takedown order for these auctions. Time Warner’s legal eagles – “under penalty of perjury” — made that decision. And it’s the Gap that is letting its paying customers be treated like criminals when they have broken no laws. And it’s eBay, which should be the greatest champion of the First Sale doctrine and secondary markets in general, that won’t lift a finger to defend them against the DMCA’s continuing assaults.

A BigChampagne Competitor

And another demonstration of the promotional merits of P2P: Nielsen Entertainment To Incorporate WebSpins P2P File Sharing And Downloading Data

Nielsen Entertainment and Uncommon Media have announced that WebSpins P2P file sharing and download data will be included in integrated client offerings with other Nielsen Entertainment and VNU research tools including Nielsen SoundScan, Nielsen BDS, and Nielsen//NetRatings. The agreement provides Nielsen Entertainment with exclusive rights to utilize WebSpins’ statistical data of music files traded among peer-to-peer networks for its music industry clients. WebSpins, the P2P music file sharing and real time downloading tracking and analysis database network, has been operating since 2001.

“After an extensive review of peer to peer tracking data providers, we found that the WebSpins information is the most reliable and useful data available. We believe that it will bring valuable perspective to our music industry clients,” says Rob Sisco, president Nielsen Music, and COO Nielsen Entertainment East Coast Operations.

A Google search shows that Uncommon Media has has a checkered past.

Loca Records’ Strategy Differs From Mr. Lehman’s

Record Label Sings New Tune

Loca Records wants to foster experimentation and freedom in music by building a stable of free music which can be shared, remixed and manipulated by anyone. Songs are not locked by digital rights management technology.

The music is available for free in MP3 format, but the company sells its CDs and vinyl in retail stores throughout Europe. Artists earn a percentage of any record sales; Loca Records makes its money through record sales, gigs it promotes and merchandise.

“You’re free to copy it, give it to your friends and you can play it. If you’re really interested, you can sample it and then re-release it,” said David Berry, managing director of Loca Records and an artist himself, known as Meme. “Because at the end of the day, if you sample the work and create a fantastic remix, we think you’re entitled to try and make some money from it.”

Something to Make One Nervous

From WIPO.org — WIPO Policy Advisory Commission Endorses Use Of Intellectual Property As A Tool For Development.

Why does this press release leave me with a bad feeling?

Discussions focused on two papers presented by PAC members. Mr. Bruce Lehman presented a paper on the management of cultural assets and Mr. Hisamitsu Arai introduced a study on the steps that Japan has taken to develop innovative strategies for the creation, protection and exploitation of intellectual property.

Mr. Lehman underlined the importance of the creative industries as a source of national wealth in today’s information-based global economy. He explained that provided an effective legislative and administrative environment existed, such industries could lead to international competitive advantage. In this regard, Mr. Lehman referred to the experience of the United States of America where in 2001, core copyright industries contributed an estimated $535.1 billion to the economy, accounting for approximately 5.24% of GDP. Copyright-based industries contributed more to the U.S. economy and employed more workers than any other single industrial sector, he pointed out.

Mr. Lehman said that copyright-based industries are flourishing not just in the United States of America, but also around the world. He noted that to capture the full economic value of these industries for local development, developing countries and countries in transition need to establish appropriate intellectual property infrastructures and enforcement mechanisms. Such measures would ensure that a country’s cultural assets realize their full economic potential. In this regard, Mr. Lehman underlined that a major task for national authorities in the future is to educate the public, particularly children and students, about the relationship between authors’ rights and a robust culture and healthy economy.

Apparently, this is not the first time Mr. Lehman has put forward this thesis.

Glenn Reynolds’ MP3.com Eulogy

Death of a Friend

It’s true, of course, that MP3.com has been sick for a long time. They foolishly bet the company on a music “storage” system called “Beam-it” that was really a filesharing system, were nearly put out of business by the resulting lawsuit, then rescued by Vivendi, a company that’s in pretty bad shape itself. But the original idea was a great one: Easy to use, easy to upload music and art, lots of networking and music-finding capabilities, and a real sense of community. That lived on, to a degree, even after the takeover. Now it’s soon to be gone, and it’s not at all clear that the replacement will be similar.

I can’t help but notice that this change seems to be working to the advantage of big record companies. It’s not just that they’re cracking down, with mixed success, on file-sharers. It’s that the environment for independent music on the Web seems to have grown more inhospitable, too. And I’ve always had a suspicion that shutting down these independent channels for music distribution, more than cracking down on piracy, has been the real goal of big record labels. The technology for making music, after all, has gotten steadily cheaper. Where once their control of big studios gave them an economic advantage, now record companies’ chief asset is their control of distribution and marketing channels. The Internet threatened an end-run around that process. It still does, but the end of MP3.com bodes poorly for the future. Its replacement is likely to be something that ought to be named DRM.com., based on Digital Rights Management, and aimed not at facilitating the spread of music, but at limiting it.

See also Digital Museum Burns To The Ground

Brazil and Open Source

Open source: Brazil shies away from Redmond

Brazil recently signed a letter of intent with IBM to help boost government use of such platforms as Linux. Mr [Segio] Amadeu [of Brazil’s IT Institute] faces the uphill task of bridging a very wide technology gap: just 10% of Brazil’s 170 million population own personal computers. He believes that open source Linux is the cheapest way forward.

So far, only two small government agencies in Brazil – Mr Amadeu’s own department and the government-run news agency – have made the jump away from Microsoft operating systems. Mr Amadeu is also eyeing the country’s half million Windows-variant electronic voting machines as a target for switching to open source software.

Some Slashdot background: IBM, Brazilian Government Launch Linux Effort and Brazil Moves Away From Microsoft .

Australian P2P Trials

Aussie students escape jail for online music piracy

Australia’s first criminal trial for online music piracy has ended with two students each receiving suspended 18-month jail sentences.

Charles Kok Hau Ng, 20, and Peter Tran, 19, ran a music-swapping site called MPW3/WMA Land. Available for download were 390 CDs, some 1,800 tracks. The pair charged no money for their service, but were responsible for big losses to the record companies. According to the Prosecution, the losses to piracy attributable to the site was AUS$60m. According to the Australian music industry the loss was somewhat higher – AUS$200m. Hmm. Not very scientific, is it?

The assumption is, of course, that each illegal music download is a sale lost. […]

A third defendant, Tommy Le, 21 was sentenced to 200 community service. His crime was to upload four compilations in which he showed off his DJing skills.

A Question for Gov. Mitt Romney

If you are constitutionally opposed to the Supreme Judicial Court’s introduction of a civil definition of marriage, what do you have to say about the current ability of civil authority to dissolve marriage, which is declared “until death us do part” or even beyond in some sects? Or is that the next step in the program to covert the US into a medieval theocracy? I am baffled by those who seem to need civil authority to back (legitimate?) what I was taught were a part of one’s personal faith.

Derrick Jackson, who usually is more aggravating than elightening, really skewers this perception in today’s op-ed: Mass. court cuts through the homophobia

If politicians really wanted to strengthen American families, they’d be better off funding after-school programs and creating jobs. If the Catholic Church is serious about families, it should make sure its new procedures against child abuse are working. Railing about gay marriage in a society where half of straight marriages end in divorce is gutter politics that exploits one of our deepest remaining strains of bigotry.

Update: And this Salon run through of the right-leaning blogs comes up with further points to ponder: Right Hook

But “Jim Noble” tells “Always Right” why a Constitutional amendment may not make a difference.

“Traditional marriage has 3 elements:

1) It is permanent (no divorce)

2) It is sexually exclusive (adultery is a felony)

3) It is between a man and at least one woman.

Which of these does your amendment restore?”