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.
There was a video (now sadly removed by a copyright violation notice from the BBC) that showed Dizzee Rascal joined by Florence of Florence and the Machine live on stage at the Glastonbury Festival that just concluded. Musicians join each other on stage all the time - nothing new here, just going to cover one of their songs with the other artist guesting in, right?
No, sorry. That's not remix culture. Instead what they did was perform a live version of "You Got The Dirty Love" - a remix. I hope that the fan video of the event stays available. It's terrible quality, but as it's from the audience point of view you can clearly tell a few things. For one thing, the audience goes absolutely bananas once they hear what's going on. For another, a large chunk of the audience are singing along, which means they've heard the remix. Certainly you can find enough copies of it posted on YouTube and elsewhere if you want to check.
Let's trace the loop here - two popular artists release tracks, separately. A remix artist takes those tracks and mashes them together. The mash is released and gets popular with fans. The original artists know about the mix and know its hooks, beats, and lyric exchanges well enough to be able to perform it live. The fans are ecstatic to see performers they love playing together and being knowledgeable enough, and hip enough to perform a mash-up for them.
That, ladies and gentlemen? That's remix culture, right there live on the big stage in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans. And you know what else? Fuck copyright. The remix is probably a copyright violation. Posting it all over the Web is probably violating more copyrights. The artists performing it are probably violating the remixer's copyrights, if he has any. It doesn't matter, though. The question is irrelevant.
Now, to be fair, this didn't happen by random chance and it's not just any artists who are doing this sort of thing. Dizzee in particular has been out on tour for several months with The Young Punx backing him up. The Punx have not only spun for Dizzee but they've done live mashes within his performances, playing backing instruments doing such songs as Nirvana's famous "Smells Like Teen Spirit" while Dizzee does his raps a capella over the backing band.
You can read the post yourself for details, but the gist is that they found two useless apps that were masquerading as something else. The developers then agreed to remove the apps from the Marketplace and Android exercised what it called a "remote application removal feature" to de-install any remaining copies of the apps from users' phones.
In this case the applications were free, so the people who had them removed were not out any money. I assume that Android would refund money spent for a pay app it removed in this way; regardless, though, the message is still clear: Android owns this environment.
Well now comes today's entry by Michael Geist in his blog, reporting on an apparent attempt to cover up those remarks. Moore denies making them and (as of now) the official version of the video doesn't show him making them. Am I the one hallucinating here?
Well, maybe not. According to Geist, "IT World Canada reporter Brian Jackson compiled his own video of the event" and that video shows the remarks. Here, go watch the video and judge for yourself: http://video.itworldcanada.com/?bcpid=7044989001&bctid=101481423001
You won't have to watch for long. At 0:38 into the video, Minister Moore starts in on "radical extremists." So, Minister, what do you call people who lie and suppress the truth about their own past remarks? (If you're American, you call them "our former president" but that's beside the point.)
Cory reminds us that he is a well-published Canadian author, one of those whose life and livelihood ought to be improved by these copyright reforms. Instead, going point by point, Doctorow dissects Moore's pro-industry position and shows how the only ones who are going to get richer from these so-called reforms are the corporate purveyors of certain technologies. Authors will get poorer and and readers will get less useful experiences.
Now, who exactly is Moore working for? If it's not authors, and it's not readers the Minister has some explaining to do and, as Cory points out, he owes more than a few people an apology.
It's really not clear what his problem is, except that he seems to think that these "radical extremists" oppose any change in copyright law. Well, um, maybe that's because the changes are bad? You know, just maybe. And really, Minister Moore, we're not talking about people leaving bombs in SUVs in Times Square here. We're talking about academics (like Geist) who have spent a lot of time and effort researching the issues. They may be wrong. You can certainly disagree on the issues and their merits - after all, that's what academic debate is supposed to be about.
But it seems pretty seriously out of bounds for a government minister to be giving speeches painting academics and scholars with the broad brush of "radical extremism". In addition, as Geist points out in his blog entry, the Minister's position is that one should oppose and attack these "extremists" which also seems contrary to how a government ought to act in regard to citizens with differing opinions. We've had too much of the Cartel making war on ordinary people in the past decade; there's absolutely no call for governments to act like that.
(Having just watched the US beat Algeria in the World Cup I was tempted to title this post "James Moore Gets a Red Card" but really the refereeing in that game was so bad I didn't want to be associated with it.)
For those new to this story, Groklaw - and Pamela Jones - have been dogging SCO for years, laying out in fairly painstaking terms all the weaknesses in the case and arguing that judgment should go the way it has now gone - in favor of Novell. PJ, as she's commonly called, has some paralegal training and has called bullshit on more than a few statements, filings, and other fully legally certified at the bar issuances in this case. So if she's feeling a wee bit justified this month, I can't say I blame her.
I, personally, would like to see SCO die in a fire for all the expense, FUD and general heartache they brought to the free and open source community, but there's probably not enough left of the company to burn.
India's statement (called an "intervention" at the WTO) shows that it has broad-reaching concerns, not least of which is that even though it was excluded from the treaty, it (and other non-party nations) could be expected to enforce ACTA provisions. This would imperil legitimate Indian businesses and the rights of people in that country. India's opposition is no small thing - it is a major growing economy with political and economic influence of its own. In addition, Geist hypothesizes that India is not just speaking for itself here, but also front-running for a coalition of countries that have been excluded from the ACTA process and are feeling threatened by it.
As I've noted before, this is the generational change we've come to. The kids in Glee's high school reproduce, co-opt, adapt, remix, and produce derivative works. In their fantasy world they get to upload stuff to YouTube and become viral heroes. If they put this stuff out on P2P networks in the real world they'd get sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars in statutory damages. But since it's on a network show the whole issue is glossed over.
And you know what? It should be. The urge to share may or may not underlie what has happened but it's inarguable that the generational change has happened.
I don't particularly like Glee-the-show (musicals give me hives, what can I say) but to the extent that they're accurately representing the way today's high schoolers view remix and appropriation my hat is off to them.
Most of the article is about the effort to fight botters and scalpers but the key Copyfight issue here turns around whether or not you have the legal right to resell your ticket. In the era of physical tickets you could usually sell a ticket for what you paid for it even in the states that had anti-scalping laws. However, taking a cue from airlines who have effectively prevented the resale of plane tickets, venue ticket sellers now require identity papers with admission via paperless ticket, which pretty effectively prevents even legal transfers of the ticket.
This is a pretty standard story in the Copyright Wars - attempts to prevent illegal activity lead to restrictions on legal activity and the consumers end up screwed.
I have what I consider to be a very loose policy on what I'll accept for comments. Opinions are not censored and I certainly have no problem with people telling me I'm wrong. If you want to advertise your event or publication, please send me a mail and I'll look at it.
That said, if you are going to leave a comment it should be related to the subject matter of the post, or the issues raised by the post or of concern to the blog and its readers. I interpret intellectual property pretty liberally, and I'm often concerned with the related areas such as business policy and social implications.
Please don't use the comments area to promote your product, service, book, blog, all-singing, all-dancing whatever. Thank you.
According to Geist, India is seeking allies to help it block at least the portions of ACTA that could allow seizures of shipments in transit. This would impact India, a major producer of generic medicines, as it tries to ship those medicines to third-world countries. The recipient countries, in many cases, depend on these generics to keep their people alive.
From all I've read about ACTA it's a bad deal for pretty much everyone except the big intellectual property monopolies and should probably be scrapped. Any time a treaty negotiation has to depend on secrecy and subterfuge you can pretty much bet it's a bad deal for the average person. However, scrapping ACTA still won't address the underlying problems. Copyright, patent, and other IP regimes around the world remain inconsistent, massively outdated, and increasingly lopsidedly tilted against the people who actually make and use the items that are supposed to be protected.