Donna Wentworth
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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

What Does "Copyfight" Mean?

Copyfight, the Solo Years: April 2002-March 2004

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Monthly Archives

August 23, 2006

Copyright vs Scholarship

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

In this case it's feminist scholarship. In August of 2004, the New York Times published an op-ed by Sarah Glazer, reporting on the disgraceful state of translation of the feminist classic The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. Glazer covers in detail how the translator's ignorance of philosophy, particularly the Existential and Phenomenological philosophical traditions, led to a work that - in English - has virtually the opposite meaning of the original French.

According to a December 2005 entry in the blog Alas, there are translators and publishers who would love to re-do the translation and, presumably, correct these and other errors. However, the current publisher (Knopf) has the exclusive English-language rights locked up until the book goes into the public domain - in 2056. They are also supposedly refusing both to do an updated transation themselves, and to allow anyone else to publish one.

Don't ask me why it took me this long to hear about this. Just riddle me this: is there any scholarship or educational exception in copyright law that would let someone create a new translation from the original French? I realize one couldn't do a corrected edition of the current copyright book, but wouldn't a proper translation be sufficiently different to qualify as a new work?

Comments (11) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Markets and Monopolies

August 10, 2006

PLOS Growing Plans

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

PLOS, the Public Library of Science is by many measures a great success. Contrary to naysayers its online journals are well-respected and often cited (which is the real measure of currency in academic research).

Their latest announced project is PLOS One, a "forum" for publication in science and medicine. The nearest I can do to summing up the proposal is that it looks like a peer-reviewed collaboratively authored science blog. Obvious competitors are general purpose high-quality online science publications such as Scientific American, but these have heavy editorial control and limits. It will be interesting to see if the author-driven model can succeed as well as PLOS's more traditional journals have.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Use

August 7, 2006

Equivalent, High-Quality, Legal Alternatives

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

What's a good legal alternative to taping/DVRing the latest episodes of your favorite TV series and sharing them with friends? Well, um, mostly nothing. Eventually the shows will come out on DVD and can be rented. But what if they were availabel for rental at the same time, or maybe even before, they hit the air or cable?

There's no technological reason this can't be done, or couldn't have been done any time in the last five years. Only now it seems like the networks might be twigging to the commercial possibilities inherent in this line of business. As a form of toe in the water, NBC has done a deal with Netflix to make episodes of two of its series available through the online/mail rental company well before they premiere on TV.

Netflix's benefits are obvous - it gets rental monies from people who can't wait to see the new episodes. People who don't much rent movies may be crazed about certain TV shows and sign up for a service if it gives them a six-week jump on everyone else. In addition, this particular deal gives Netflix promo time in prime time.

The real question is what's in it for the Cartel? As with so many of these things, the reasons are shrouded. We might guess that the Cartel have a larger faith in the DRM wrapped on these disks - they're DVDs but may contain additional anti-copying software. Or they may simply be waking up to the reality that they're losing out on revenue.

I've been saying for years that what downloadable music services do is fundamentally like selling bottled water - take a product that people can get effectively for free (water) and package/market it as a high quality experience. ITunes has flattened the competition by doing precisely this.

If this deal moves from another promotional stunt to an operating business model we may find ourselves with an actual competitive marketplace in digital television episodes. Wouldn't that be nice.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Markets and Monopolies

August 4, 2006

Apparently There Are No More Terrorists

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

How do I know this? Well, I don't. I can only infer it from the fact that the Department of Homeland Security is picking up people at the border for apparently nation-threatening involvement in T shirt copyright infringement. No, seriously.

Courtesy of Bruce Schneier's CRYPTO-GRAM, I was pointed to this gem, titled "Terrorist in a bootleg T-shirt". According to the piece's author, he was detained and questioned on entry into the US not on account of his time in the middle east, nor on account of his extensive phoning back and forth while in Pakistan. Instead, he apparently upset someone by selling Boston Celtics' sportswear without a license in Boston in 2003.

My fellow Americans, this is our tax dollars at work. The author has some pretty nasty words for Homeland Security, too.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations