Copyright Gone Too Far…

Copyright Gone Too Far...

With the SOPA Black Out behind us, it amazed me how much I rely on Wikipedia as it just never dawned upon me, however my point is that with any luck people got the message, so the people who are elected to represent us, “us” the people of the Unites States of America and not the liberal Media Companies which bank rolled their campaign war chests.

As my point here is we’ve gone too far with copyright and patent laws as while we require both, things are out of hand now.  The idea of both was to protect unique ideas and innovations to foster the willingness of people and companies to invest in creating them.  This “protection” was initially intended for a limited scope and defined a “reasonable” amount of time before entering the “public domain” to be owned as well as enjoyed without financial impediment or limit.

Now let me say this, cut me and I will bleed capitalism, so this isn’t a socialist thing as by the nature of “capitalism” it should be open as competition is key to capitalistic success.  When we limit the availability to open access of knowledge, then we are limiting competition.  Remember that in the days of old (pre-Internet) is when these [laws] were crafted meaning they are a bit long in the tooth.

It’s also worth noting we can’t do away all together with the protection of intellectual Property where everyone and their brother can set up a “Pirate Bay” site.  However the economic and distribution models need to change as we are now operating in a global economy and the rules of the road in these faraway lands are different than our and our elected officials are that silly to think they are change this with a simple rote swipe of the pen, if this where the case, then they should pass a bill which bans world hunger as they would have more success in that.

As the only thing SOPA will do is form an Oligarchy here, where the few will control what the many have access to as we are headed to a slippery place in the new world where while information wants to be free, it in fact costs a lot and someone has to pay the piper.  As in the old days, yesterday’s news was still worth something as a day old paper still had value; magazines were handed down, etc.  However in today’s world where electrons comprise the manifestation of our information instead of pigmented inks.  They are however are shackled at the ankles by pay-walls which  much like the scenario of Logan’s Run gives it all information only a limited time to live…

Dallas Redux…

Dallas Redux
Dallas Redux

We once used film cameras, drove manual transmission cars and read paper books. Ah the old days...

For those old enough to remember the Dallas TV series and the year the writers could not figure out how to end the season so they just made a “dream” sequence washing away the meaning of the entire season and pissing off the entire series viewership because it was if they wasted their time. This alone was interesting as this in the end as, hey Dallas was fictional.  So why where so many people upset when they were hood winked by the writers as isn’t this what fiction is about [make believe]?  However that isn’t what we are here to wax about  as it’s about what happened in 2007 around  Google’s legal dispute with a coalition of authors and publishers over Google Books which was put on the shelf while the parties hashed out a settlement agreement which was later announced in 2008.  However the settlement seemed to be anything but settled as  it attracted  a massive backlash which convinced Judge Denny Chin to reject the settlement earlier this year.

So here we sit after three years of pretending to work together to try and get the settlement approved, all parties are now back in courts and guess what?  Yes you won’t be surprised to know at each others’ throats as that’s why we pay lawyers right? However yet again, we aren’t here today to wax Family Feud style over this basic nonsense which this represents, however to discuss what it means to create “intellectual property” and release it into the wilds of the world if you will.

As at the heart of this is the fact Google scanned books (which they believed where copyright orphaned) and made the contents available on the internet.  As the one thing you will note that I’ve stayed away from is the commercially of this as Google didn’t place a price on this by asking for money, however they are in the advertizing business and need content to drive visitors and one could see how this could be win/win as there is a problem out there that people are refusing to see.

This problem is that the printed book is dead done and over and the generations coming up will not know how to use them.  Laugh will you, feel free to however set your 16 year old behind the wheel of a manual gearshift car [if you live in the US] and bet dollars to donuts you get an interesting stare.  Second is hand them a roll of film and ask them to do something with it.  Least I also need to point you to the viral you-tube video of the young girl frustrated with the printed magazine as she tried to swipe its page to no avail.

It’s here in a world of unlimited search now powered by things such as Siri which knows better than me, that my two-year old grandson will never know what that funny section [index] in the back of what was those wasteful single use devices which cost the life of many life-giving trees just to end up in a landfill.  So the question begets us as do we allow many lifetimes of information to simply lay waste because of our jurisprudence, or is information really free…

Thanksgiving in Europe…

The gavel comes down on the side of common sense...

Over the Thanksgiving holiday here in the States found internet service providers (ISPs) along with their users across the pond in Europe with reason to also give thanks. As the highest court in the European Union (EU) decided to overturn a ruling that would have forced the Belgian ISPs to preemptively filter Internet traffic to prevent ah what, well let’s see the unauthorized sharing of music files. Ok, disclaimer, here that piracy is wrong, however we are going to put the brakes on the information super highway over this! Folk let’s get real, here as we have world hunger, AIDS, cancer and so on to solve and we are still talking about music sharing?

As here is where I credit the European Court of Justice for overturning a basically rogue ruling by a Belgian court in a suit brought by the Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers (SABAM). As it seems that SABAM had filed suit against Scarlet Extended over its alleged illegal peer-to-peer file sharing capabilities which were being used by Scarlet’s customers.  From that case there was a  2007 ruling which required Scarlet to filter traffic on its network, so that it could seek out and block illegal peer to peer file sharing traffic. As the lower court’s ruling was based on an interpretation of Belgian copyright laws which appeared to place the burden of enforcement on ISPs rather then the folks committing ill deed.

To this travesty, the ISP had appealed by focusing on European data privacy laws, saying in essence that the ruling would in effect force the company to monitor all Internet traffic (i.e. be Big Brother) passing through its network as this would clearly be technically unfeasible as well as violate the privacy of its customers.

Contained in its ruling, The High Court did uphold the right of copyright holders to file injunctions against intermediaries over action of illegal file sharing. Yet it struck down the provisions from the prior Belgian court ruling that required filtering, as it pointed out that the filtering provisions violated European Union e-commerce laws, as well as infringed on the rights of both the ISP and its customers. As it furthered its position by saying that broad monitoring required to filter file-sharing would “infringe the fundamental rights of [Scarlet’s] customers, namely their right to protection of their personal data and their right to receive or impart information, which are rights safeguarded by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU,” so said the judge(s). One step for an ISP, yet a giant leap for mankind in the protection of the Internet as if you lose an inch it might as well be a mile because that’s next…

Let’s See Virgins, Gangs and a Lawyer in Virginia…

Its been said "I know Art When I See it" as well as "Stupid is as Stupid Does"...

In Richmond, Virginia  you might find D. Wayne O’Bryan walking the streets with his dog, he might even be your neighbor, or that guy sitting next to you in church on Sunday morning.  However what you may not know is Wayne happens to be a member of the world’s second oldest profession, as yes he is a lawyer.   If you look at his website he says his offerings are, “a small law firm designed for personalized and professional legal services for dog attack injury and negligence claims.”.  Which makes O’Bryan look a lot like one of those ambulances chasing lawyer who advertises during the day time soaps to catch the attention of the unemployed who wish to make a fast buck for nothing more than faking a fall in the local super market.

Yet,   it makes perfect sense for him to take up the rightful protection of virgins who wish to gang bang by filing a federal copyright lawsuit on their behalf this summer.  However  luckily O’Bryan met another prominent Irish man by the name Murphy as his cases went [terribly]  wrong as a federal judge demanded that O’Bryan “show cause” for why he should not be sanctioned [read as kicked in the ass] by the court for running a “shake down” on the anonymous defendants.

As O’Bryan filed the cases on behalf of the defenseless virgins at K-Beech, Inc the makers of this ground breaking documentary film which is in question.  To do this he sued a few dozen IP addresses for allegedly sharing the film on BitTorrent networks.  To help his cause he even tried to cover his bases a bit by using some of that new fangled geolocation technology to ensure that the anonymous defendants actually lived in Virginia.

However how can you sue an “anonymous” defendant?  As isn’t this just the abuse of the offices of the Court as an inexpensive means to gain the “anonymous” defendants’ personal information and extort payment from them under duress.  As O’Bryan in fact also has no interest in actually litigating the cases, but simply using the Court along with its subpoena powers to obtain sufficient information to firmly sake down the virgin loving John Does.”

However Judge John Gibney, Jr. severed all of O’Bryan’s cases to a single defendant yesterday, saying that the Doe defendants were improperly joined in the case then went on to say that “the plaintiffs’ conduct in these cases indicates an improper purpose for the suits.” As in most “mass-copyright lawsuits” of this kind, the plaintiffs file lawsuits using only IP addresses, get permission to subpoena Internet providers for the real names and addresses of those users, and then attempt to settle with defendants for a few thousand dollars.

As what’s refreshing to see here is that the judicial wing is finally pushing back on this non-sense as while pirating is a bad thing, it’s a bad thing in a way in most people miss.  While this is a long discussion, the point is if there is a high level of piracy [as there will always be some level] this is a sign of a flawed business model and not a court case.   As to make the field equal, say you where to sue each and every person which pirated something, the system would implode and this mental proof, proves out the concept that the issue is miss laid with the court system.  It’s further worth noting that one too many (one plaintiff to many defendant)  is far different then class action where there are “many” plaintiff’s and only one defendant.

In the end the message is clear, as the record industry discovered you can sue some of the people some of the time, however you can’t sue all of the people all of the time.

IP by Any Other Name is a Copyright…

While the best mouse trap may win, the losers cry copyright/patent infringement.

An interesting quote from Californian Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren caught my attention as she retorted to those who argue copyright laws must be further strengthened by saying: “I think if we were to do nothing on copyright law, we would be getting it just about right.

As Lofgren, represents  Silicon Valley, and spoke this week at a Breakfast Club in Washington, DC. meeting  on the topic of Intellectual Property,  Her  the Representative shared her typically blunt assessments of digital copyright making the argument that “the focus on copyright has almost been an impediment for content owners to really embrace streaming and to really understand how to make money utilizing the Internet.” Her view is that “copyright” is partially responsible for a mindset that focuses too much on “control” just as the Internet is offering a “new” distribution model to the masses.

Lofgren goes on to say; “I can remember arguing with people from the RIAA in the 1990s,” when she attempts to points out “Is Napster your enemy or your friend? Are you going to worry about controlling content or getting paid for content?” As in her view which for a capitalistic economy is correct , “getting paid is what it’s about, and the content industry should have embraced the creative chaos of the ‘Net by finding innovative ways to get paid for things like file-sharing”.

Yet instead of heeding the sound advice, the industry is still lobbying hard for stronger rights in bills like the PRO IP Act as well as pushed colleges to implement anti-file-swapping programs or risk losing federal money. However despite their efforts to ratchet up the copyright laws, which it says can always be made stronger we stand to witness this year’s introduction of the PROTECT IP Act and S. 978, which would make unauthorized streaming a felony! Talk about a pot of gold for the lawyers and major backlog for our already busy court system.

Here Lofgren hit back at both, calling them examples of the unhelpful “control” mindset as regarding S. 978, Lofgren say she sees “no need to turn most of the cases it would cover from civil disputes into criminal matters”.  As she goes on to point out that the bill “could be used by dueling giants in the tech world who are really having commercial disputes,“, if that isn’t enough she further points out; “ or in the worst case might end up targeting lip syncers and sites that stream video game footage”.

In reference to PROTECT IP Act, its impact on DNS site-blocking per Lofgren will be “a mess” and “a disaster” that will “do actual damage to the Internet itself.”

While we can all agree as Lofgren does that the support of copyright enforcement is important; it must be done effectively and in a way that doesn’t damage the Internet or general civil liberties. Yet the support for  PROTECT IP’s bill continues to grow. While the House is expected to introduce its own version of the legislation soon, though the Senate version continues to sit under a legislative hold by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Here it’s time to take back the internet for what it was meant for, the sharing of information and not the hand ringing of content owners over the potential theft of their IP as its time for new economic models to be developed as this is a capitalistic economy so therefore the best mouse trap wins and the inferior ones cry copyright /patent infringement.

As a good example of this is iTunes with 0.99 cent songs, and now their music match service is taking the wind out of the reason to pirate so why can’t the rest of the world learn from this…

The Beetles Forever Locked Up…

While money can't buy you love, it sure can buy you a longer copyright....

Well folks, while It took them three years of doing, and undoubtedly a ton of money the music industry has finally won its European battle to lock up in-copyright sound recordings for another 20 years. Hmmm what does this mean, oh you were looking forward to The Beatles’ music entering the public domain as the 50-year copyright term expires?  Guess what not anymore and not going to happen so back to paying for it as how many times have you repurchased it in your life?

Well let’s see, there was that vinyl thing called a record, then 4 tracks (yea they didn’t last long, however I had one) then came 8 Tracks!  Oh, then we dumped those for the cassette which yielded their iconic hiss noise for the CD, then played with the Sony ™ MiniDisc before HD Audio DVD and then made the jump to the digital realm with MP3 and now off to ACC!  Whew what a roller coaster ride for media and people have nerve to complain “hard media” is dead?

Yet the bad news here is the public domain is an important place for things to go and the greed in changing this means not only the Beetle’s will stay locked up, however everything else too for another 20 years, which means the people lost out to greed and someone needs to look at the system over there (in the EU).

As the Council of the European Union is where the various member state governments [of the EU] all have their say, voted on the 12th “without discussion” to increase the copyright term in sound recordings from 50 to 70 years.  Hmmm no discussions you say, what’s that all about?  Yet the smaller countries like Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden voted against the extension, yet it passed anyway.  Can you say something smells funny in Denmark…

Trade Marking Gone Too Far…

To much of a good thing?

Seems as the world has gone corpora crazy by saying let’s Trademark every word in the English language so no one can use it or better yet, lets do it so we can start a secondary market for words much like a stock exchange.  What’s driving all of this is the battle for the right to the name “App Store” as Apple™ has slapped a trademark on this and the venerable giant of Redmond Washington is crying foul as it’s too generic they say.  To support their case, the once famed makers of the Windows operating systems says the term is to “generic” and combining it with the word “store” is a kin to trade marking a name such as “apple pie” to take a bite out of the Americana dialect.

What’s at risk you ask, a lot as when you give the system an inch its sure to take a mile as there a lot of people like myself out there which are paid to look for loop holes or weaknesses in the systems and exploit the daylights out of them.  While many will say this is capitalism at its best, one would be cautioned to not draw their six shooters so quickly as the goal of this economic model is to provide a competitive base for the consumer to get the best product at the most competitive price possible and to me locking up “generic” names doesn’t add to this equation.  In fact, it takes away from this by tying up opportunities for business which if one plays their tick-tac-toe game out further than enough  they end owning most of the game board and that isn’t a win/win for the market as a whole.

While bureaucratic systems such as patents, copyrights and trademarking do have their place to protect ingenuity, it also runs the risk of running into “protectionist” waters if left unchecked and the fear is these now are the waters we sail.  As in the day Coke-a-Cola ™ made sense as the combination was unique when held in reference to its competitor Pepsi Cola™ where each shared the common word “cola” yet their prefix made them wholly different.  However we are talking about the word “App” which really isn’t even a word as it’s an abbreviated form of “Application” so in effect we are talking about the “Application Store” here which took me as far to generic.

However what would make sense is the “Apple App Store” and Microsoft can have the “Microsoft App Store” and even Amazon can get in on the fun with the “Amazon App Store” so the world can be a better place for all.  Here the rule should be as with the Coke™ and Pepsi™ example, that there must be one unique modifier in a trademarked name for it to be validly considered.  Additionally there needs to be substantive reason to acquire a trademark to maintain the value within the system as its simply a short hand means of referencing something larger or more detailed.  Much as Formica ™ has come to replace the term of “high pressure laminate surfacing material”.

However with the later said, what happens when the trademark enters the general lexicon of the public jus as with Formica™, Xerox™, and Kleenex™?  Where then does the ownership lay…