Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

IP in the News

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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Want your skype? better steer clear of Canada

Another interesting link from Jeffrey Racine...first an email response he received

From: Mihkel S. - Skype support To: racinej@mcmaster.ca Subject: Re: MA002: Skype on ipod touch in Canada??? <<#2340203-3458322#>> Date: Wed, 01 Apr 2009 16:14:29 GMT (12:14 EDT)

Hello Jeff,

Thank you for contacting Skype Support.

We apologize for the inconvenience you've experienced while trying to download Skype for iPhone. Unfortunately, the Skype for iPhone application is not available for use in Canada at this time. There is an ambiguous restriction in one of the standards-based technology licenses, and we are looking into it. The issue is not related to Apple, nor is it specific to Skype.

Once again, we apologize for this inconvenience and would like to assure you that we are working with the regulators to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

Thank you for your understanding and we hope you enjoy using Skype on your iPhone in the nearest future.

Best regards,

Mihkel S. Skype support

More details here

Catching up...

Just a quick link...an article on SHRM on our book with some additional comments by Michele and me. As you can plainly see we are now business leaders.

Hadoop: "Just say no to IP"

IP is granted under the constitution to encourage innovation. Stories about non-IP protected innovations are rare. Here is one that turns out to be big in the field of computer software. "Hadoop, a free software program named after a toy elephant, has taken over some of the world's biggest Web sites. It controls the top search engines and determines the ads displayed next to the results. It decides what people see on Yahoo's homepage and finds long-lost friends on Facebook link here. It has achieved this by making it easier and cheaper than ever to analyze and access the unprecedented volumes of data churned out by the Internet. By mapping information spread across thousands of cheap computers and by creating an easier means for writing analytical queries, engineers no longer have to solve a grand computer science challenge every time they want to dig into data. Instead, they simply ask a question."

The software remains open-source, open to anyone to use or modify. The business model for developers is to give away the software but to make money from selling support and consulting services.

The Times story contains a lot more detail on the spread of the software, but the bottom line is that this innovation does not come from patents and copyright, but from unrestricted and open use.

Against Monopoly: The Movie

Thanks to Glenn Kerbein of the Pirate Party for pointing this one out:

DC bar association: reproducing our public info violates our copyright

In the category of "can you believe it," the District of Columbia Bar "wants an online directory (avvo.com) that compiles profiles of lawyers -- from the bar's own Web site, no less -- to cease and desist, arguing that posting information about Washington lawyers for commercial purposes violates copyright laws and privacy rights. It's not too fond of the feature that allows consumers to rate a lawyer, either" link here. "This has nothing to do with obstructing access to information," said the bar's spokeswoman,

The story has more detail, but adds little to alter the thrust. Need one say more?

IP enforcement comes to Korea

Developments abroad on intellectual property don't get a lot of attention in the US. South Korea, one of the most wired nations, has been the object of a good deal of official attention, but not much otherwise. While I was economic counselor in our embassy in the 70s, enforcing copyrights and patents was an uphill battle. Most of the offenders were small mom-and-pop operations and the policemen on the beat were reluctant to prosecute small sellers of software or knockoffs of branded clothing, etc. I argued that the Koreans would enforce IP when they had developed it and wanted to protect their property. Unfortunately in hindsight--I was charged with pushing for enforcement--I seem to have been right, as they are doing so now according to this story link here.

Under the headline, "Crackdown nabs 39 uploaders for digital theft"; the Korea Herald tells us that "digital theft is blamed for an annual loss of more than 2 trillion won ($1.34 billion) in South Korea, the world's most wired country, with nearly 20,000 files of copyrighted content circulating illegally last year alone;" that "the individuals charged last month were described as "heavy uploaders" who received money from internet service providers in return for posting more than 1,000 files on local peer-to-peer sites; that "twelve had been previously convicted of breaking copyright and computer program protection laws"; and that "last month, a court sentenced the chiefs of the country's four top internet service providers to one year in prison and a 30 million won fine for facilitating illegal distribution of copyrighted content.... the first time criminal charges had ever been brought."

Thirty years ago, I would have been happy to read this result of development, but now, only with regret. The opponents of monopoly are losing abroad as well as here.

200 Dead

From Glenn Thorpe a true copyright horror story. Under U.S. law government documents cannot be copyright. Under British law they are automatically copyright, and that is true in places such as Australia which use the British system. Here the true nature of copyright is more clear: of course government agencies have no greater incentive to "create" new works because the get a monopoly. Rather copyright is used to control the flow of information. This turns out is true of maps in Australia. The details can be found in this ZD article. The gist is that Google Maps was extremely helpful to people who needed to escape the fire...except for the Government maps which Google was not allowed to access - access was allowed only through the government website, which needless to say got overwhelmed by people fleeing the fire. If someone did illegally copy those government maps? Glenn suggests "Maybe they [the government] should get the RIAA lawyers involved to sue anyone left alive that obtained information on the fires from any source other than their website!"

Obama artist countersues AP

Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the iconic Obama poster and was threatened with a suit by AP which claimed the art violated the copyright on its photo, has now sued the AP back link here. "The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan said Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairey did not violate the copyright of the April 2006 photograph because he dramatically changed the nature of the image."

Get that! Someone who was sued by a big corporation is willing to sue back. Derivative is not copying by any reasonable definition.

Director Baz Luhrmann Wastes His Money By Unnecessarily Acquiring Film Rights To

Baz Luhrmann has reportedly spent money acquiring the film rights to F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel "The Great Gatsby".

The question I have is: Why???

Gatsby is already in the public domain in his home country of Australia, Canada and other territories that use a "life, plus 50 years" copyright term.

For most other countries (including the U.S. and most of Europe), Gatsby becomes public domain in just over a year from now. Fitzgerald died in 1940. Applying the (insanely long) term of "life, plus 70 years", "Gatsby" should fall into public domain sometime in 2010.

[Am I wrong on this? I've double-checked my math and the current state of copyright law, so I don't think I am.]

Since it usually takes over a year to develop and produce a major Hollywood film, Luhrmann's adaptation of Gatsby wouldn't be released until after the original literary work falls into the public domain worldwide. Clearly it doesn't violate copyright laws to merely begin production on an adaptive work that won't actually be completed until after the public domain date. Any unpublished drafts of potential scripts and other developmental materials would certainly fall under fair use in this instance.

Luhrmann wasted his money. But then, Hollywood culture has always been overlawyered when it comes to IP rights.

For anyone who wants to make their own "Gatsby" adaptations to compete with Luhrmann and release it around the same time - have at it! May the best quality work garner the most attention. Hopefully, the competition will raise the quality of all works involved.

[UPDATE: As Gilda Radner used to say: "Never mind. As someone who follows copyright law, I'm admittedly embarrassed in that I forgot that the "life, plus 70 rule" in the U.S. only applies to works published after 1977. Gatsby was published between 1923 and 1963, so it remains under copyright in this country for 95 years (since the copyright was presumably renewed). So Gatsby won't become public domain in the U.S. until around 2020. But the anomaly still stands that it is public domain in countries such as Canada and Australia.

Economic distress yields IP suits

This is only the opening gun but US producers, under pressure from imports, are suing the Korean firms for patent infringement in both the International Trade Commission and the courts link here. Silicon Valley flash memory maker Spansion is suing Samsung as well as a long list of companies like Apple using the chips. After announcing that it would be reducing its employees by half or 5000, a Spansion share rose 20 cents to $0.50.

In a similar case, Kodak is suing Korean companies Samsung and LG for violating its digital camera patents.

To read more about these cases, Google spansion+samsung.

I guess we can expect more such suits, given the recession and the drop in consumer demand. The great advantage of pursuing these cases before the ITC is that it usually acts much more rapidly than the courts.

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An analysis of patent trolls by a trademark lawyer

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Let's See: Pallas, Pan, Patents, Persephone, Perses, Poseidon, Prometheus... Seems like a kinda bizarre proposal to me. We just need to abolish the patent system, not replace

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Do we need a law? @ Alexander Baker: So basically, if I copy parts of 'Titus Andronicus' to a webpage without

Do we need a law? The issue is whether the crime is punished not who punishes it. If somebody robs our house we do

Do we need a law? 1. Plagiarism most certainly is illegal, it is called "copyright infringement". One very famous

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WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece Hopefully some very good news. Shout! Factory is releasing the entire series of WKRP in Cincinnati,

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Rights Violations Aren't the Only Bads I hear that nonsense from pro-IP people all the