Taken w/o permission from TechKnow
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: IS THE TIDE FINALLY TURNING?
(Or, is that a tidal wave on the horizon?)
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, it never ceases to amaze us
how hoaxes can travel around the Internet at the speed of light, while
things that constitute a real threat to the ‘net seem to sail right on by
most Internet users.
For a long time, nowhere has this been more true than with issues
surrounding copyright and so-called “intellectual property.” But it seems
that at long last, the greed of certain corporate entities has become so
overbearing that these issues are being forced to the forefront of
consciousness. Personally, we don’t feel it’s a smart business move to
treat the demographic that comprises the majority of your customer base as
common criminals. But then, nobody ever accused anyone in the
entertainment industry of actually caring what their customers think. As
long as we buy their product, they couldn’t care less if we hate their guts.
But maybe things are starting to change. For starters, PC World asked the
question, “Could making an MP3 mix of your favorite songs and recording Sex
in the City on your PC or VCR turn you into a criminal? That’s exactly what
consumer advocates are warning, as Washington and Hollywood gang up on the
issue of digital copyright and piracy.”
But here’s the significant part: The PC World article also noted that a
hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 14 “was a coming-out
party for DigitalConsumer.org, a consumer group that aims to protect fair
use rights to save, copy, and move movies and music you own. Cofounder Joe
Kraus testified alongside representatives of entertainment firms and
technology companies [and] warned the committee of the dangers of the
overbroad and overbearing copy protection being advocated by some
lawmakers, as well as by the movie and music industry.”
PC World article: Battle Intensifies Over Right to Copy
As it turns out, DigitalConsumer.org isn’t the only new organization that
has a bone to pick with the copyright office. Save Internet Radio! is an
organization that is attempting to save streaming audio on the Internet
from its impending death. Many folks use Internet radio and audio streams
to get them through their work day, and are understandably upset with the
notion that the greed of a few copyright holders could cause virtually all
audio streams to disappear from the Internet forever.
The Save Internet Radio! web site explains itself this way:
America’s fledgling Internet radio industry continues to react in shock to
the recent Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (“CARP”) decision that
Webcasters should pay “performance rights” fees to record labels that are
so high that they are currently more than 100% of most Webcasters’ gross
The royalty rates are perceived by most observers as so high that they will
effectively kill Internet radio as an industry if they’re accepted by the
U.S. Copyright Office. (The Copyright Office will decide whether to accept,
reject or modify the rates and terms set forth in the report within the
next 60 days.)
The purpose of this website is to help concerned individuals have a voice
in trying to encourage the U.S. Copyright Office to reject the CARP
recommendation — or Congress to amend the Digital Millenium Copyright Act
(DMCA) — in time to prevent the industry from being effectively shut down.
Save Internet Radio!
Finally, there is this odd item from the Village Voice: It seems that a
New York Post entertainment reporter was given an assignment to write about
a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against the Walt Disney Company in 1991
by Stephen Slesinger Inc. The latter is a company that owns merchandising
rights to Winnie the Pooh, and claims it has been cheated out of millions
in royalty payments.
The Village Voice article alleges that Disney executives were so upset with
the article (which talked about court documents that revealed “that a judge
fined Disney $90,000 last year for destroying documents that might or might
not have been relevant to the case”) that they used their influence with
the newspaper’s management to have the reporter fired. So much for freedom
of the press!
When Disney Complains, Sack the Reporter
Who’s Afraid of Mickey Mouse?
Now here’s the point: The last we heard, the United States government was
still supposed to be a government “of the people, by the people, and for
the people.” Yet it seems that when the subject shifts to matters of
so-called “intellectual property”, the people (and what we think about all
this) are totally ignored. Only what the big corporations think seems to
matter. Well, it’s about time that “we the people” let our members of
Congress know what we think about all this copyright nonsense (we’d use a
stronger word, but kids might be reading this). Check out the above
mentioned web sites and do what you can, or before long they’ll be trying
to collect royalties from us for our very thoughts!
DOWN WITH THE DMCA!
By Michael Swaine
The shameful legacy of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act:
* Compact discs that can’t be played in computers or even some CD players
* A visiting Russian programmer put in prison for giving a technical talk
* A magazine sued successfully for publishing a link to a Web site
* A US professor threatened when he tried to publish the results of his
* E-book licenses prohibiting the reader from reading the book out loud
* Click-on licenses making it a violation even to criticize the contents of
* Undermining public respect for the law
Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA-9th District) has called for Congress to
rewrite this seriously flawed law. I suggest that we all let our
representatives know that we want the DMCA rewritten or repealed before it
further erodes our rights.
[From “Swaine’s Frames” at WebReview:]