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.
Our friends at the Future of Music Coalition (FOMC) sent out a reminder that their annual Summit is happening next month (November 13th). This will be their 11th annual conference and this year it's free to attend. In addition it'll be streamed live online for free.
I will be speaking at two events in the near future.
October 15th I'll be part of the New England Library Association's annual conference, a three-day affair that will be in Sturbridge MA this year. I've been invited to talk on the topic of e-books and libraries and I've tentatively titled my spiel "Why E-Books Suck (unless your name is Amazon)".
Arisia will once again be MLK weekend in January (18-21) and there will be a couple of panels on intellectual property. Topics and panelists aren't final yet - I'll update once I know for sure. I know that a couple of my co-panelists from previous years are planning to return this year and we're hoping to have some discussions focused on IP and creative folk (e.g. authors and artists).
Once again I'll be doing a couple of intellectual property panels at the annual Arisia science fiction convention in Boston next month. At least one of them will also feature Richard Stallman. The con is January 13 - 16, 2012 at the Westin Boston Waterfront. Plus we have Phil and Kaja Foglio as Guests of Honor this year, so that should be pretty awesome right there.
I still don't have a final schedule for when the Copyfight-relevant panels are taking place. I'll post that once it comes out.
I haven't investigated completely but it appears that all the offered downloads are in PDF format without any DRM or other electronic encumbrances. (One can argue that PDF isn't as good as text, for any number of reasons, but that's a separate issue.)
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.
I just got my panel schedule for Arisia 2009, one of the big local science-fiction cons. As in past years there will be panels on things of interest to fans, including intellectual property. At the moment it looks like I'll be on a panel Friday night on the "Future of Intellectual Property" that will also have Richard Stallman as a participant.
That should be interesting. The last time Stallman saw me he had some unkind words to say, but it's not entirely clear he remembers who I am.
Sorry for the last-minute-ness of this. I just got a mail saying the event has moved to a larger venue to handle the bigger than expected crowd:
Creative Commons' Birthday and Salon NYC
Come celebrate CC's 6th Birthday and our December Salon
Host: For Your Imagination / CC
Date: Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Time: 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: For Your Imagination Loft
Street: 22 W. 27th St., 6th Floor (between Broadway & 6th Ave.)
City/Town: New York, NY
Contact: Fred Benenson
Given that the guests include Cory (boingboing) Doctorow and Randall (xkcd) Munroe I doubt most anyone will notice I'm there. On the other hand, I can't imagine putting Cory and myself in the same place and NOT having discussions of intellectual property arise. As I've noted before, Cory has been putting some effort into educating SF writers on the status and realities of modern copyright practices. As Guest of Honor at the con he'll have lots of chances to air his views and talk about his different projects
The Harvard Film Archive is showing two historical "edgy" films this Friday. Both were made before the first production code was enforced on movie content. Back in the pre-MPAA days filmmakers explored the racy and seamy undersides of Depression-era America. The results led to outrage, outcries, and the start of enforcement of the Production Code in 1934. That lasted until 1967, when the censorship system we know today was first put in place.
The Archive will show the films all weekend - see their posted schedule for details. On Friday the films will be preceded by a talk by Thomas Doherty, author of Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration.
(Thanks to srl for the initial pointer and for corrections to this posting.)
I'll be on a panel at the 2008 Arisia Science Fiction Convention on Sunday night the 20th at 8PM, talking about science, IP law, and creativity. I'm certainly no Cory Doctorow but I'll do my best. I'm not yet sure who the other panelists will be, probably local science fiction/comics writers and other creative types.
So far a number of big participants have signed up, including Live365, AccuRadio, and RadioParadise.
Most interesting to me is the broad spectrum of participants, ranging from the Christian-rock conservative Born Again Radio to the aggressively liberal Head-On Radio Network. This really is a case of the big corporate purse-holders crushing the small and independent, across the political spectrum.
Kristin Thomson of the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) sent me a copy of their announcement for this fall's 6th Annual Policy Summit which will be held this coming October in Montreal in conjunction with the local Pop Montreal festival..
The FMC summit will be October 5-7 at McGill University's Schulich School of Music, Montreal, Canada. At this point there's not much information up, but we'll update you as the program (or is that 'programme'?) takes shape.
Down and Out at MIT: An Evening with Cory Doctorow
February 13, 5-7pm, Bartos Theater (E15).
Lecture/booksigning by noted copyfighter Cory Doctorow, writer, public speaker, co-editor and blogger for BoingBoing, and European Affairs Coordinator for the EFF. Sponsored by MIT Office of the Arts Student and Artist-in-Residence Programs and Comparative Media Studies. Reception follows in E15 lobby. Free and open to the public.
Stanford's Center for Internet and Society has just announced Cultural Environmentalism at 10, a conference to gauge the progress of the "cultural environmentalist movement," as defined ten years ago by uber-copyfighter Professor James Boyle. It brings together a remarkable brain trust of leading thinkers on the digital commons to consider whether, as Boyle proposed, using lessons from the environmentalist movement has helped us to valorize the public domain and expose the social, cultural, and economic harms caused by its increasing enclosure. Given what's happening right now on Capitol Hill -- that is, IP maximalists arguing before Congress that fair use has outlived its usefulness -- the conference could not possibly be more timely.
On March 11-12, 2006, Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society will host a symposium to explore the development and expansion of the metaphor of "cultural environmentalism" over the course of ten busy years for intellectual property law. We've invited four scholars to present original papers on the topic, and a dozen intellectual property experts to comment and expand on their works.
Molly Van Houweling explores voluntary manipulation of intellectual property rights as a tool for cultural environmentalism. Susan Crawford extends Boyle's analysis to the age of networks. Rebecca Tushnet looks at the ways in which the law's impulse to generalize complicates the project of cultural environmentalism, and Madhavi Sunder looks at how the metaphor affects traditional knowledge. Professor Boyle will also offer some remarks, as will Stanford Law School's Professor Lawrence Lessig.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
32-155 (Stata Center) (see http://whereis.mit.edu for how to find places at MIT)
Nancy Kranish, former President, American Library Assn
Ann Wolpert, Director, MIT Libraries
Respondent: Steven Pinker, Harvard University
Arguments and legal confrontations over the control of music, writing and visual materials have become a permanent feature of contemporary life and will almost certainly enlarge and intensify in future years. As corporate producers and distributors - including some universities and private libraries - move aggressively to claim ownership of digital content of all kinds and as some industries lobby for building surveillance principles into the operating systems of computers, others defend an alternative vision. This alternative embraces ideals of sharing and civic community and warns that recent extensions of copyright threaten creativity and the free exchange of ideas. Is there a future for this idea of a digital commons? Is the American tradition of free public libraries a valuable precedent for the digital age? Is the commercialization of cyberspace already a problem for those seeking reliable information? Are there features or tendencies inherent in digital technology that will always challenge and even undermine efforts to control information or charge a fee for accessing it?
Many have boasted of the community-building aspects of P2P and the independent value of the sharing that goes on there. But those aspects shouldn't be exaggerated - I would be surprised if most of what happens on P2P is more than simply dumping music into a shared folder and then searching and downloading what one seeks. Perhaps I am wrong. In any case, if I am right, part of the reason P2P never evolved into a richer experience is because we sterilized it.
My hope is that these burgeoning taste-sharing tools can help restart a conversation about how technology can unleash a richer musical culture. We should be celebrating what technology can do for music. Who could object to consumers enjoying music more, enjoying a greater diversity of music, being more creative, engaging music more deeply, and coming together with each other because of music? That's the positive vision I'd like to explore in relation to these tools.
Kristin Thomson from Future of Music Coalition wrote to let us know about the FMC's upcoming Summit event. There's an impressive list of attendees (Senator Maria Cantwell, Michael Geist, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein) and the sponsors include ASCAP, BMI and the EFF. They've even got a nice discount attendee rate for students.
First it was a weblog (and shortly afterward, a bona fide meme), then a documentary -- and now "Copyfight" is a Barcelona conference, featuring copyfighters Cory Doctorow, Larry Lessig, John Perry Barlow, and the folks from Illegal Art, Wikipedia, and Downhill Battle, among many others. Tagline in the flash advert: "Happy Birthday. $2 million each year in royalties. Who knew?"
Here's a snippet from the description:
Digital technologies for distribution such as p2p networks, projects rewriting copyright and author's rights such as Creative Commons, or movements such as the one behind free software are turning this cultural period into a moment that demands a revision of the system regulating culture for the last three hundred years. COPYFIGHT is a series of activities about the unstoppable crisis of the contemporary model for intellectual property, and the emergence of free culture.
Fascinating. And it's look like there's even more from the "COPYFIGHT Project" to come. Very cool.
Speaking of anonymity on the Net, there's an upcoming EFF event you may be interested in. On May 10th, the guys from Tor will be at 111 Minna Gallery in downtown San Francisco to answer any and all questions you may have about Tor -- including how you can help protect privacy and freedom on the Internet by setting up your own Tor node.
My EFF colleague and fellow copyfighter Ren Bucholz sends details about this month's CopyNight (hyperlinks, mine):
April's CopyNight is upon us, and we'll be celebrating alongside WIPO's "World Intellectual Property Day" on Tuesday, April 26th. CopyNight is a monthly social gathering for fans of free culture, and conversations range from filesharing to IP reform to whatever else is on your community's radar. This month we've got events scheduled in:
San Francisco, CA
New York, NY
Don't see your community on the list? Volunteer to host a future CopyNight by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org! You can also read more about last month's CopyNight in this article from InfoWorld and the Industry Standard.
That's what Siva Vaidhyanathan promised he'd ask RIAA President Cary Sherman at "The Download Debate Strikes Back," a Cornell University debate that due to sheer enthusiasm clocked in at nearly 3 1/2 hours. Did our fearless leader follow through? Find out by watching the freshly posted video here.
Update: I'm now watching; as one audience member says, it's "deeply entertaining" -- in large part because of the sheer magnitude of disingenuousness on display. The audience often giggles and sometimes openly laughs in response to the assertions being made by the industry representatives. Alec French, whose expression throughout is a disturbing, dead-eyed near-sneer, argues with a straight face that DRM benefits consumers because it gives them more choice.
Does Siva indeed address the issue of the potentially infringing music files allegedly transferred onto the First iPod? Yep. Mr. Sherman's answer: "We're only suing uploaders, not downloaders."
Today, I'll be at Harvard's Signal or Noise?, joined, I expect, by a cohort of bloggers. The first installment helped kick off the study of music and the law five years ago. Join us to see what we've learned (and not yet learned) since.
Switch coasts in a few weeks for the Stanford Center for Internet & Society's Cyberlaw in the Supreme Court, to hear how the Supreme Court might change the debate with its ruling in MGM v. Grokster.
It was back in February 2000 when Jenny and Kristin took the overnight train to Boston to attend the first Signal or Noise conference. When they arrived they wrote "I know Ben Morgan" on their nametags, which they hoped would assist them in meeting two people they only knew from their postings on Ben's Musictech email list: Brian Zisk and Walter McDonough.
Brian was easy to find. In attendance with his father, he cheerfully introduced himself and we had a lively discussion about his webcasting company Green Witch. But it wasn't until the end of the first round of panelist presentations that we figured out who Walter was. After what sounded like informed statements from various record industry folks, moderator Charles Nesson looked around the room for questions from the audience. A tall redhead asked for the microphone, who then delivered a blistering critique. Then, instead of dismissing his argument, Professor Nesson invited this provocateur to JOIN the panel, where he then proceeded to shred the other panelists to pieces with his legal knowledge. It was none other than Walter McDonough.
The driving force behind the conference was Glenn Otis Brown, who went on to drive another force.
Registration is still open; if you're in the Boston area, check it out. Who knows what will come of it?
CopyNight isn't only a wholeheartedly endorsed dilution of the "Copyfight" trademark ;-), it's a fun, non-pressureful way to meet other copyfighters in person and talk about how we can work together to defend and protect copyright's original function -- spurring innovation. Via fellow copyfighter/EFF activist Ren Bucholz, who is hosting the San Francisco gathering, the following details:
* CopyNight Reminder: Mashups & Martinis, March 29
This is a reminder that there will be CopyNight parties on Tuesday, March 29 - the night of the Supreme Court arguments in MGM v. Grokster. Join us in a toast to innovation in these six lovely cities (or add your own at the bottom):
* Club De Ville
* 900 Red River (between 9th & 10th)
* 6:30 p.m. onward
* Hosted by Clay Bridges, austin(at)copynight.org
New York, NY
* Bar Nine
* 807 9th Ave (between 53rd and 54th Sts), in the
* 7:00 p.m. onward
* Hosted by David Alpert, nyc(at)copynight.org
* Mo Joe's Bar and Grill
* 166 Broadway
* 5:30 p.m. onward
* Hosted by Joshua Backer, pvd(at)copynight.org
San Francisco, CA
* 21st Amendment Brewery & Cafe
* 563 2nd St (between Bryant and Brannan)
* 7:00 p.m. onward
* Hosted by Ren Bucholz, sf(at)copynight.org
Santa Monica, CA
* The Mor
* 2941 Main Street
* 7:00 p.m. onward
* Hosted by Michael Hart, santamonica(at)copynight.org
* 1726 Connecticut Ave NW
* Metro: Dupont Circle
* 6:00-9:00 p.m.
* Hosted by Cory Smith, dc(at)copynight.org
For more information and to sign up for email updates,
check out the website.
Followed by a Q&A with DJ Spooky, aka Paul D. Miller, moderated by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Chair of Harvard's Dept. of African and African American Studies and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard.
MARCH 11, 2005
$10 Harvard undergrads (2 per ID)
$20 general public
Tickets available at the Harvard box office: 617-496-2222
Here are photos from the HDTV Build-in Wendy announced below, plus the unfortunately titled Steal This Show, an NYT article that reports on how people are racing the clock to create their own fully enabled, 100 per cent legal Me2Me TV before the FCC can stop them:
The build-your-own-TV advocates say they're not looking to steal content; they're just looking for a reasonable amount of flexibility to watch the same recorded program in different rooms, or on the train to work; to lend friends a TV recording the way they used to lend videotapes; to bring the same set of recordings from their city home to their vacation house.
We're using MythTV, a remarkably full-featured platform that can manage not only live and recorded television, but also music, movies, photos, weather, even VoIP phone calls. Because it's all Free Software, if you don't see a feature you want, you can code it yourself or find a friend who will.
While the broadcast flag mandate threatens to make TV back into a one-way, watch-only medium, open PVRs like MythTV give control back to us. Cut the commercials and watch only the show; or cut out the game and watch only the commercials, as some I know do for the Super Bowl. Re-mix television to make a point. Build your own Google video.
Watch for photos from throughout the day, and let us know the unexpected ways you use your PVR.
"[In] the language of current copyright debate, libraries are bastions of organized piracy -- an organized conspiracy to share a book, rather than buy one; note that this [concept] runs up against yesterdays Google search announcement in libraries."
"[We have] two copyright regimes - title 17 and reality - collision between these two regimes continues to shape everything that goes on in this."
I'm at PFIR's "Preventing the Internet Meltdown", where today kicked off with a discussion of intellectual property (the other IP). It was a happy surprise to share the stage with Thane Tierney, of Universal Music Group, who shared our horror at the Induce Act and joined a genuine dialogue about the collision between the Internet and the recording industry. He was willing to think about a world in which the record industry shifts its role from controller and distributor to that of filter. I hope we'll be able to continue that conversation with Thane and others in his business, to move toward a solution that leaves the Internet open to innovation and pays artists and copyright holders.
Also on the panel, Ed Felten commented on the one-way ratchet of copyright legislation; Michael Froomkin called on technologists to spec and build speech-enabling technologies (like Tor); and Carrie Lowe of the ALA called our attention to the copyright-driven inaccessibility of material to libraries and the public they serve. I talked about reclaiming the Internet from amid the copyright-dominated debate in Washington.
Indiana University Press's withdrawal of a scholarly reader on the Anglo-American composer Rebecca Clarke is just the latest example of scholarship bowing to the assertion of copyright claims. The case law on fair use is decidedly murky, but increasingly aggressive assertions of copyright are affecting the willingness of publishers to include any material that asserts a right to "fair use" of copyrighted materials. So just what use are "fair use" provisions in copyright law if presses lack the wherewithal to challenge copyright claimants? Do such cases create a "chilling effect" on scholarship and in academic publishing? What steps can be taken by scholars and other groups interested in copyright law to protect the shrinking arena for fair use? When, indeed, can such claims be asserted?
Later: A few personal observations from Cory @ BoingBoing: "There's no transparency into this process for most of the world. The doors are locked, the minutes are sealed, and you need to be accredited just to sit in the room."
This just in: the California Institute of Technology and Loyola Law School are presenting a mock trial this Friday, May 21st, to play out a scenario in which a student creates a distributed computing application to crack DRM systems, leading to the criminal prosecution of everyone involved under the DMCA.
The trial will have many realistic touches: a real federal judge will hear the case, the prosecution will be advised by real federal prosecutors, and the defense by EFF 's Fred von Lohmann. Brad Hunt of the MPAA will provide expert testimony for the prosecution, while EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen will provide testimony for the defense.
Even cooler: the event is free and open to the public. If you're in the Los Angeles area and can get away from work or study mid-day, stop by and check it out.
An especially intriguing exchange, from the Q&A session with Charlie Nesson as moderator:
Nesson: You recognize that Terry's solution [compulsory licensing] depends on trust of the government. The same people who have bloated copyright almost beyond repair. In effect you conclude that's not the solution. Let's say an alternative compensation solution won't work. What's your solution now?
Larry: We're in the middle of a transition in the way people get access to content. The natural way now is to hoard. If the FCC doesn't screw it up, we could imagine that people in the future are persisently, ubiquitously connected. People would no longer need to be database managers. In that world the incentive to hoard goes away. Structure of access changes dramatically.
For political reasons I suggest a modification of Terry's proposal. Slightly higher chance the recording industry would be willing to take a step if they think it's part of a transition period. Here's the formula: set up an economic counsel to calculate loss. Write them a check, in exchange for giving up B-flag and DRM. We pay them off for ten years. Then see what's changed.
Nesson: But we're here, we're now. You have a series of critiques. If you had the opportunity, which of the threads should we pull back on to deal w/preserving the rule of law?
Larry: Small changes w/significant effect. Bill we proposed after Eldred case, for example: the Public Domain Enhancement Act. [...]
We also need to show Congress more people who are engaging in positive uses of work. Go out to schools and encourage extraordinarily creative work. Have a show for parents and ask the lawyers to give a critique.
Nesson: That's not funny. [Big laugh.]
Larry: Parents will look at this creativity and be amazed. Then have the lawyers go through and list the violations. By the end people would revolt.
Our problem is that when people think about copyright, they think about ripping off Britney Spears. They don't think about this. That's the challenge.
"Music wasn't born with the phonograph, nor will it die with peer-to-peer. The record companies might, though.
Both of these presentations [Terry Fisher's and Charlie Nesson's] are conservative with regard to the current record industries. The pushback is definitely about the question of why shouldn't the record companies just die? ...[Artists] have existed without record companies. Why should we be attracted to sustaining them with these conservative proposals?"
Nesson's response: "So you would favor eliminating the copyright clause altogether?"
An unexpected moment of alchemy occured during an ILAW session yesterday: a discussion about domain name conflicts suddenly became about something larger than squabbles over who owns what.
Jonathan Zittrain began the talk with a peculiar proposition: despite all the fuss over ICANN, Zittrain argued, it may be that domain names don't really matter that much. "Cyberlaw" itself is hard enough to defend as a topic; fellow legal scholars once told Larry Lessig that a legal subfield focusing on the "law of cyberspace" was about as silly one focusing on "the law of the horse."
"That was before the field self-identified," said Zittrain, "yet the puzzle remains, and nowhere is it better demonstrated than when discussing the domain name system. The thing is, it's hard to know why we should care."
Zittrain went on to explain step-by-step how the domain name system was created and originally "governed" by one man (Jon Postel); then one man and a government contractor (NSI); then by the new "private"-yet-government-annointed organization/corporation (ICANN) forged through unhappy/hostile compromise between the two.
A lot of people got very involved in ICANN, said Zittrain, because it seemed to represent something called "Internet governance." But does it? "The 'story of ICANN' gets harder and harder to tell," he said. "Is it about shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic -- or just a canoe?"
Greetings from the Internet Law Program #6. Below are my rough notes for the opening session -- an introduction to what things regulate the Internet, using efforts to control speech (pornography) as a case study. The back-and-forth between Larry and JZ is, as usual, in equal parts amusing and illuminating.
Frank, Clancy and I will also be leading dinner discussions on Friday night, so if you're a Copyfight reader planning to attend, you'll have your choice of Copyfight-related themes. Check them out below -- we hope to see you there!
My dinner: What's the Next Step? Mapping Out Battle Strategy in the Fight for Semiotic Democracy
I posted some very rough notes on two panels yesterday @ CFP -- so rough, in fact, that they were nearly unintelligible.
Here's the corrected version of my running notes on "Tapping the Net Revisited: VoIP and Law Enforcement" (be sure to hit "reload"); notes on "Gatekeepers of the Web: The Hidden Power of Search Engine Technology" to follow.
A quote to start off the day, via a blogger @ yesterday's Network Surveillance HOW-TO: "It might shock users to realize that there are no functional barriers to third-party monitoring on all network activity. It is only the programmed good behavior of systems to ignore data packets addressed to others and only view those addressed to them. Palmer put it simply, quoting a 19th century statesman, who, in response to a proposal to construct an NSA-like agency, said, 'Gentlemen do not read each other's mail.'"
The good news for those who may not be able to attend: both conferences will be well blogged.
CFP, which takes place T-F of next week, is providing blogspace for attendees who wish to blog sessions at the conference. Yep, I'll be there to blog a number of Copyfight-pertinent panels, as will fellow Copyfighters Wendy Seltzer and Jason Schultz (who are also panelists). We'll keep you posted on details.
The RIAA, MPAA and other copyright organizations frequently talk about how there needs to be more education about copyright in the schools. Unsurprisingly, their idea of "education" doesn't really include much about fair use and other limitations on copyright. Creative Commons shows how copyright education at schools should be done (School of Rock).