This site is devoted to copyright and issues of 'intellectual property,' particularly the issue's analytical aspects. It also concerns itself with the gap between public perception and the true facts, and with the significant lag time between the coverage on more technical sites and the mainstream press. For site feed, see: To see the list of sites monitored to create this site, see:

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Virgin launches yet another music service.

A curious story of the man who messed up FM saving XM.

House votes to criminalize P2P.

EFF's guide to ensure P2P services don't lose in courts.

Major SNIU. A spam-free, P2P e-mail service.

New PAC for IP issues.


Post-modernism and

Tara explained a layman's view of post-modern literary theory to me today (as opposed to the more philosophical version which has been claimed to assert that 'truth is dead'), and it occurred to me that the post-modernists' ideas on authorship can shed some light on the borders of an ideal intellectual property regime. Post-modernists assert that there are no new stories--everything written today is merely rearrangement of old plotline concepts, coupled with new words. As such, authorship as it is currently defined becomes an absurd concept--under this framework, the "author" is less like a brilliant composer than a day-wage arranger. This perfectly parallels patent law, where ideas are sacred but the expression of those ideas is eligeable for legal protection. Copyright is similar, but less pure in its separation of ideas and the expression of those ideas (Plato's terminology becomes useful here, so I shall refer to 'forms' and 'shadows' respectively herein).
Recently, however, as intellectual property rights have expanded, protection has been afforded increasingly to ideas themselves. Given the parallel to post-modernism's authorship problem, the dangers of overextending IP rights becomes clear. If all literature is based off a limited set of forms, then protecting the virtually unlimited set of shadows makes sense. Broadening the scope of copyrights, however, means that the forms themselves, and all shadows (or 'derivative works') become off-limits. This, combined with copyright-holders' resistance to compulsory licensing schemes whereby those wishing to create shadows of copywritten forms were guaranteed the right to do so at standard rates, means that whole categories of shadows are simply never created, and society loses. While it was an (admittedly brilliant) parody, the press release of Metallica suing all those who used the chords E and F in order allows a glimpse of what a further expansion of copyright might do in an age where protection is afforded to forms themselves.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Yet another shady RIAA business practice example.

CDs are going to be here for awhile yet.

DRM mojo.


New INDUCE no better than the last.

Slashdot post on the characteristics of an ideal music store.

Addressing Canada's 'Information Deficit' through sensible IP policy.


Monday, September 27, 2004

Two chapters of Fisher's book online.

Broadcast flag-free period quickly expiring.

Movie download market still paltry. I'd imagine it has something to do with BitTorrent often being faster.

NYT on the sorry state of our patent system.


Sunday, September 26, 2004

StarWars parody shot down by Lucas. SNIU battles, old style.


Elizabeth Townsend's spectacular blog on Academic Copyright.

Smoking, but not inhaling. (A.k.a. selling but not recording).


Saturday, September 25, 2004


Sony finally gives up on proprietary players. A nice illustration of the costs of listening to the music industry.

Legal ruling: Copyright terms must have limits.

Extraordinary speech to music execs.


More substantial, noninfringing use....


Thursday, September 23, 2004

eDonkey now most popular P2P program. Significant because eMule (eDonkey client) is GPLed. Does this mark a shift away from proprietary software to open source clients that lack spyware and cannot be shut down?

P2P still increasing.

iTMS reaches 100 million.

Substantial noninfringing use.

Interesting use.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Two points I've been making for awhile now:
* The RIAA members clearly benefit from iTMS et. al. iTMS et. not.
* Sales from electronics related to content expected to outstrip sales of content itself by ~4x. Why does Congress keep trying to restrict the much larger industry then?

Fair Use under siege up north.

Mixed up protest.

Patented genes spread. Add it to the Miller's INDUCE Act hit list!

Netflix and WB do vid-on-demand. Tentatively.

CA passes another law. So if it's already a problem to trade files, why the additional law? Perhaps it's an end-run around the PR disaster that comes from making file-sharing a criminal offense.

New online music store opens. $0.25/track, DRM-free.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Outfoxed up for remix. The guerilla marketing wars begin.

Free content still sells. Nevertheless, Lucas loses sleep over "the profits [...] being eaten up" because of piracy. Could the problem be his decision to not release the original versions that his fans love? And speaking of anti-consumer tactics backfiring....

DRM, the broadcast flag's loopholes, and competitive practices.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Substantial noninfringing use.

Nokia exits ringtone market. Music industry happy.

Internet Archive lobbys for better legislation.

Indie iTMS-clone opens.

The perils of the HTPC. Others have commented on the lack of sales of HTPC's pointing to a fundamental difference in consumer electronics and PCs, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm of content control.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Save Betamax campaign.

Substantial noninfringing use.

Why DRM usually fails.

Excerpts from the /. Rob Glaser interview:
"While wholesale prices vary depending on the label, today most labels charge approximately 65-70 cents per song. Publishing costs a fixed rate of about 9 cents per song. And the other costs average a few pennies per song. Thus, as we have made clear, selling every song in our store for 49 cents a song is not sustainable unless/until the labels change their pricing philosophy.
Based on the data we've seen, we think, long-term, the pricing that will result in the biggest overall market for music will involve some kind of tiered pricing new mainstream songs for 99 cents retail, and up-and-coming artists and back catalog artists at a lower price. "

Sony will acquire MGM soon.

Yahoo! buys MusicMatch.

Cell-phone P2P. Images and text only so far. Not long before someone finds a way to make it share MP3's.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Big substantial noninfringing uses today: 1 2 3 4 .

A for-pay PVR.

Anti-INDUCE campaign.

Big settlement likely in Apple v Apple.

Yet another DRM attempt.

A nice summary of the evidence against software patents.

FTA used as stick to get Australia to pass DMCA-like law.


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Wentworth is on fire.

Substantial noninfringing use.

Copyright Office's version of IICA isn't great either.

Substantial noninfringing use. A P2P backup network.


Friday, September 10, 2004

Jail time for P2P. Lovely.

Legal music. Certainly substantial noninfringing use if distributed over P2P networks, as makes sense given the expense of bandwidth for serving many such files.

IP as property. Maybe we should call it PI (Products of Intellect)?

Lessig on the sampling decision.

On the mercurial nature of 'authorship.'


Thursday, September 09, 2004

AltNet sues RIAA for IP violations. Irony.

Wi-Fi Alliance reveals Wireless MultiMedia spec. No word on DRM or no DRM yet.

Japan's music industry still stuck 5-years-back.

TiVo/Netflix partner for movie downloads. Article makes it seem like they're not doing this with the blessing of the MPAA.

Appeals court rules sampling illegal, even for the tiniest of samples.

Rockbox project fixes what Archos and iRiver won't. The wonders of open source firmware. And it's totally un-DRMable, I'd imagine.

Interview with Glaser.

P2P and consumer choice.

Substantial noninfringing use...registering voters?!

Analysis of TiVo viewing habits.

More on record recording co profits.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

My arm aches with every word I type. It aches because a few hours ago, three rather bulky employees of the Thriftway at 43rd and Walnut in Philadelphia handcuffed me and dragged me to the back room while onlookers ignored my...we'll call them impassioned call the police. It aches because I resisted; it aches because I resisted being escorted to a back room with $8K of photo equipment; it aches because I resisted letting three large men delete my photos. It aches because I fought a rather visceral battle with those who wish to control content, and, well, it aches because I lost. The pictures were deleted in the end, in that very back room. My struggles bought me enough time to call the paper to tell them what was going on, which certainly would have helped had my assailants had even less honorable intentions, but they could not save my photographs.
They weren't great photographs, just some pictures of clearance signs and empty shelves. That's not the point. They were *my* photographs. And the law was on my side.
It's a complicated tale, this story. Not really one of copyright. It would be easy to draw an analogy to the collective ??AA's, to proclaim the three bullies to be RIAA, the MPAA, and the BSA. Yet that's not exactly right, for the law was on my side. Perhaps the law in this scenario could represent moral right, as one generally assumes it does, and brute force which prevailed in the end could stand in for the DMCA, SBCPA, et. al. But perchance that's not right either. For there's nothing morally right about downloading copywritten works, it's just economically wrong for copyright holders (N.B. different from 'content creators') to be granted such an iron-fisted grip on content.
The real story doesn't have any less confusing an ending. After dragging me off to the shady back room and deleting the photographs, I proceeded to explain to them exactly why what they had just done was wrong. How they had every right to ask me to stop shooting, but they could not control the pictures taken before they asked. How a story would be written about Thriftway's closure, whether or not they refused to talk to the police. How I had just bought some candy for the office from them. And they proceeded to explain to me the 75 jobs being lost, the constant stream of photographers sulking about (N.B. I *never* sneak around on assignment, so I'm not sure I buy this one), the customers and employees supposedly freaking out about the photographers. After ten minutes of conversation, we shook each others' hands, I gave them the number of the paper to call and talk to a reporter about the story, and asked them if I could take more pictures to replace the deleted ones. They reluctantly consented. After a few frames, one of them even offered to move around some signs to make the pictures better, and was a little surprised when I told him that any picture I took of that would be a manipulation of the truth and thus highly unethical to publish.
My arm still aches, but I can't be mad. Ten minutes of dialogue ensured that. I won't be pressing charges. Those three men have enough misery in their lives ahead of them, enough of an uncertain future, without my adding to it, and they were scared. After all, as any Industry exec knows, fear can be a powerful force, can cause you to demonize customers, can cause you to handcuff the very people who can help your cause.



Substantial noninfringing use from NYU.


Monday, September 06, 2004

Major need for substantial, noninfringing use of a P2P network: next-generation RSS.

The debate over statistics on filesharing.

The democratization of the media industries, thanks to the Internet. Just remember, P2P was there first.

Microsoft patents using your keyboard to navigate a webpage. Isn't there *someone* checking for prior art before granting these things?!


Sunday, September 05, 2004

Copyright office modifies INDUCE.

MSN Music Service preview.

BMI rakes in the profits, despite increases in 'piracy.'

DMCA take-down notices all wrong.

RIAA's lobbyist.

ALA to bring 'fair & balanced' perspective to copyright issues.


Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Digital Library of the Commons. Good stuff.

MPAA concentrates efforts on real pirates for once.

Analysis of Skylinc case.

P2P users increase dramatically. Too dramatically, I think...probably data just as bad as the ??AA's.
Still, P2P use is definitely moving along just swimmingly.

Highlights of an interview with Dan Glickman, new head of the MPAA.

DRM inhibits substantial noninfringing uses. Similar problem in HDTV spec.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

How will the RIAA seek to regulate open-source MP3 players, when plug-ins/patches to allow them to break DRM schemes are possible? And how will they regulate a world where cities have free wireless?

Cell phone film festival opens.

New program causes huge demand spike for your product. Your response? Discontinue it. Goes to my longstanding point that there's ultimately more money to be made in technology and in concerts (e.g. making consumer's lives better) than in record sales.

Valenti's final, laughable, farewell interview.

Wonderful substantial, noninfringing use.

Federal court adds rule of reason to DMCA. It's about time.

I call it 'legal hacking,' in the sense that progams like this hack the legal system. A similar thing happened between Napster and it's predecessors, which explains the differences between the the original case and Grokster v MGM.

Wentworth on cultural damage.