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June 6, 2005
Because Giving the Customers What They Want Always Gets You Sued
This time it's atoms, not bits, but it's the same story. Reuters reports that Sony is trying to stop distribution in the UK of its PSP (PlayStation Portable). Sony chose to omit European consumers in first shipments due to supply shortages. However, retailers (both online and offline) have responded to consumer demand and established so-called "parallel import sales."
Sony is attempting to use trademark infringement claims to halt the practice. Frankly, it's a crock. This is the same crock as region-encoded DVDs; it's the same crock as nation-limited online archives. The message is "we want to control you." Intellectual property law is just a tool used to exercise that control. I think this is one reason that the fight between the Cartel and its opponents is so nasty. Although it's cloaked by both sides in rhetoric about artistic compensation and business models, it's really a fight about control, and even people who don't openly acknowledge that sense it and get edgy.
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