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.
You can follow the Boingboing post and its link to the ALA site for the latest sand-throwing childishness. I thought it was ironic to read this Boingboing post right after I read a comment here from reader Dan T on yesterday's item, where he points out that putting bits on one's own disk can have significant advantages over cloud-based music systems. Sadly, even if you do buy electronic products in download form, if those bits on your disk are wrapped in someone else's DRM you're still at their mercy.
I've been somewhat deliberately avoiding writing about online music of late because it's all still depressing me. Still, I wanted to note in passing two stories that aren't yet formally connected but soon may be.
Kantor's guide focuses on issues such as format, chiding Apple for still selling AAC, and on what mobile device you use, with distinctions for nerds and non-nerds. Still, the core message is: buy something to stream, not to drop on your hard disk.
In addition, the streaming services like Spotify are seen as cutting into the outright purchases you are being advised to make on the other cloud services. Spotify, in its response statement, claims (sole) responsibility for getting people to stop illegal downloading. Epic achievement there, guys. Can you convince the Cartel to stop suing people for downloading now that, you know, you've stopped all illegal downloading?
Smith notes that open access has more than proved its worth, both anecdotally and in repeated tests. The value of publication is not just in reaching those for whom the publication was intended; the value is in being read by a wider and wider audience, many of whom are unexpected readers who can make unexpected connections and derive surprising results and new value from openness.
A bit ago I poked at the issues surrounding the copyrightability of tattoos. One possibility is that a tattoo is a purely expressive design element, which might appropriately be covered by something like a design patent or a copyright; though, as I blogged last time, there are a raft of unanswered questions as to how that IP protection would be read. In addition to artistic design, tattoos can do much more : they can contain messages as words, and they can convey messages by their choices of symbols, images, or even colors. The question then naturally follows: is a tattoo a form of speech?
According to the decision in Coleman v City of Mesa, yes. However, as Eugene Volokh notes, this decision follows Ninth Circuit precedent, which SCOTUS loves to overturn, and disagrees with decisions in other states/circuits. Should someone decide the case is important enough I could see one of these arguments going all the way to the Supreme Court.
The discrepancy is interesting. You can go to Amazon and think you're paying eight dollars for a book that its author feels he is essentially giving away, not to mention all of the work he has to do in promotion and marketing, since he has no major publishing house to handle that. Barol talks of the book as a "loss leader" - shades of Megan Lisa Jones - but unlike Ms Jones he doesn't seem to have a plan for follow-on work. His goal is just to get noticed. It is, as he admits, a pretty crazy plan but in an era when traditional business models are collapsing, one worth trying.
(Edit: Barol noted in a comment response that he does have a follow-on plan, which I failed to parse correctly from the Boingboing piece. Mea culpa.)
The second story appeared on NPR this morning, and describes a program at Arena Stage to foster new playwrights. The Copyfight-interesting thing about this program is that it's using a grant for new plays in a wholly different way. Instead of making one-off work-for-hire items that would then be owned by Arena Stage, the facility is instead using the grant money to pay playwrights like employees. They get a salary of about USD 40,000/year, housing assistance, benefits (including all-important medical insurance), and some money to do research for their new works.
In return the playwrights produce plays that are performed at Arena Stage, but can also be produced at any other theater around the country. The story doesn't describe the precise rights arrangement, but the director of the program, called American Voices New Play Institute, is quite clear about it being a different ownership model:
Normally, you commission a writer, you own that writer's play to a certain degree. And we're trying really a very different model.
In a way, this is still a patronage model, since the program uses money from a large grant. And I still think that patronage is not a scalable model. But it's interesting to me to see this mash-up of patronage and employee models, with a more liberal set of ownership and use permissions on top. The long-term goal of the project is to nurture new playwrights, a creative type we haven't talked much about on this blog. I will try to keep track and see how their model-bending works out.