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

May 29, 2009

Not Satisfied with Copying Policy, Canadian Think-Tank Copies Verbatim

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

This kind of thing is too good not to snark about, so excuse me for a moment. According to Matt Hartley's story in Toronto's Globe And Mail online site, the Conference Board of Canada got caught plagiarizing.

Why is this funny? Well, the reports (plural, three of them) that had to be withdrawn were supposed to be giving the Ottawa government advice on how to update Canadian copyright laws. So, yes, the Board copied its copyright reports. But wait, it gets better. Who did they copy from? Apparently, they copied from a Cartel lobby group, the International Intellectual Property Alliance.

It's entirely possible that Canada's laws could use an update. And it's further possible that the Conference Board has some good ideas for updates. But this kind of intellectual black eye isn't helping anything other than my schadenfreude quotient. Maybe this will serve as an object lesson for them.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse

May 28, 2009

EFF Launches "Teach Copyright" (free)

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

children and technology
And by "free" we mean both "Creative Commons licensed for free use" and "free of Cartel propaganda." Nice combo. Here are some excerpts from the press release they sent:
Last week, the Copyright Alliance Education Foundation -- a nonprofit mouthpiece for the entertainment and software industries -- unveiled plans to spread its protectionist ideas to the nation's schools and libraries through the distribution of a curriculum titled "Think First, Copy Later." "Think First, Copy Later" and other intimidating educational materials were produced by the MPAA, RIAA, Business Software Alliance, and other content holders to scare students into believing that making copies is wrong.

Apparently "Just Say No" is still taken. Bummer.

[C]reators and innovators of tomorrow don't need more intimidation. What they need is solid, accurate information that will help them make smart choices about how to use new technologies. That's why EFF is launching the free, Creative Commons-licensed "Teaching Copyright" curriculum and website to help educators explore copyright issues in their classrooms. These materials encourage students to discover their legal rights and responsibilities — including how to make full and fair use of technology that is revolutionizing learning and the exchange of information.

Back when I wrote about teaching new design/art forms such as mash-ups, a teacher named Melanie McBride replied, outlining some of the problems educators face today in conveying these rapidly changing ideas in a classroom setting, with all of its external constraints. I hope she and other educators will find and make use of these materials.
The debates over copyright and technology -- whether they take place in classrooms, pressrooms or courtrooms -- should be based on facts, not fear.

What a concept.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Announcements

May 19, 2009

More Fun Free Things

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

"Feed Your Soul: the free art project" - free, downloadable art. Cardstock it, frame it. Just don't resell it.

The Hype Machine - an aggregator for blog discussions about music. Mostly it's a "play in browser" type experience but they link back to the original blog entries, which often have download links. In addition there are sometimes links for purchasing things you hear from iTunes or Amazon. I've been feeding my mash-up head seriously today. I'm on there as drwex.

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

May 14, 2009

Pay to Play May Come to Broadcast At Last

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

No, I'm not talking about modern payola practices in radio again. I haven't bothered to keep up with it in the past few years but I'm convinced that it still goes on.

Instead I've had it called to my attention that the US House of Representatives has taken a step forward in passing legislation that would force traditional radio broadcast stations to pay the Cartel for playing songs on the air. If you've been reading along for the last couple of years you know that cable and Internet radio stations have been required to pay (often very high) royalties for playing tunes. But, historically, AM and FM broadcasters have not had to pay, since on-air play was regarded as free advertising.

The National Association of Broadcasters is out in force against this, calling it a "performance tax." They're in a tight spot already, given that radio advertising has taken a nosedive comparable to advertising in newspapers. It's not helping the Cartel's case that at least 50% of the new fees will go to improving their corporate bottom lines and not to artists at all. The NAB hasn't hesitated to point out how the labels have screwed artists in the past, either.

Expect a major floor fight and heavy lobbying by both sides on this one. Given the current state of the US economy I don't see how the broadcasters can afford to lose this one.

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

Real DVD Monopolies (or so says RealNetworks)

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Last year I made a passing note of a product called RealDVD that was supposed to let you burn a DVD onto a PC drive, with copy prevention software intact. I was sort of dubious that the product would amount to anything.

Well, it appears to have amounted to (another) antitrust claim against the Cartel. This time, Real Networks is claiming that the MPAA and the studios - as well as the DVD Copy Control Association - have conspired to shut out Real and its product from any hope of copying DVDs. This is just the latest claim in what appears to have been a low gauge skirmish between the two parties for several months.

I suppose it would be interesting to hear the Cartel explain why, exactly, a program that maintains the DVD's inherent anti-copy features is a bad thing, other than "we didn't design it." But beyond abstract fancy I doubt this will amount to much of anything.

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

Interstitial Arts Foundation Event

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

After my post about new art forms I got a pointer to this event: Interstitial Salon, June 11th in New York City.

I don't know anything other than what I've read on the Web about this Interstitial Arts Foundation - anyone have any contact or experience with them?

My first response is that, no, interstitial doesn't really describe what I was after - I'm looking for something that is more broad-brush and definitive of new forms, not something trying to fit itself into the spaces between existing forms. Still, this might be an interesting event. If you go, please send me a trip report.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events