David Kirkpatrick

October 17, 2008

With the PRO-IP Anti-Piracy Law …

… not only did Bush sign a bad piece of legislation, he added to government bloat with yet another “czar.” Nice.

From the link:

U.S. President George W. Bush Monday signed into law a bill designed to increase protection of intellectual property (IP) such as software, films and music by raising penalties for infringement and creating a national “IP czar.”

The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007, or PRO-IP Act, creates a high-ranking IP protection overseer, appointed by the Senate and reporting directly to the president. The position’s first appointee will likely come from the next U.S. administration. The U.S. Department of Justice will also form a new division dedicated to enforcing intellectual property protection.

Some public advocacy groups had opposed the bill, stating that its penalties were far too harsh and that it didn’t balance users’ rights and concerns over those of major software, media and pharmaceutical companies. “The bill only adds more imbalance to a copyright law that favors large media companies. At a time when the entire digital world is going to less restrictive distribution models, and when the courts are aghast at the outlandish damages being inflicted on consumers in copyright cases, this bill goes entirely in the wrong direction,” said Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, a Washington, D.C.-based digital rights group, after the passage of the Senate version of PRO-IP in late September.

October 11, 2008

If you have an interest in online copyright …

… piracy and what can be considered fair use, go read this essay by Lawrence Lessig at the Wall Street Journal.

I’ve blogged on the idiotic crackdown by both the RIAA and the MPAA on online file trading. There are arguments on both sides — there is some real piracy out there and there’s lot of fair use, with a bit of actual piracy thrown in that actually increases sales by giving consumers a taste of the product.

The fact is the recording and motion picture industries have already lost this war, even as they occasionally win one of their one-sided-legally battles. You could think of pre-digital files as the age of the dinosaur and this new era of data storage and selling/trading/sending as the dawn of the age of the mammal. We know how the original end of that metaphor turned out.

From the link, but do go read the entire piece:

In early February 2007, Stephanie Lenz’s 13-month-old son started dancing. Pushing a walker across her kitchen floor, Holden Lenz started moving to the distinctive beat of a song by Prince, “Let’s Go Crazy.” He had heard the song before. The beat had obviously stuck. So when Holden heard the song again, he did what any sensible 13-month-old would do — he accepted Prince’s invitation and went “crazy” to the beat. Holden’s mom grabbed her camcorder and, for 29 seconds, captured the priceless image of Holden dancing, with the barely discernible Prince playing on a CD player somewhere in the background.

Ms. Lenz wanted her mother to see the film. But you can’t easily email a movie. So she did what any citizen of the 21st century would do: She uploaded the file to YouTube and sent her relatives and friends the link. They watched the video scores of times. It was a perfect YouTube moment: a community of laughs around a homemade video, readily shared with anyone who wanted to watch.

Sometime over the next four months, however, someone from Universal Music Group also watched Holden dance. Universal manages the copyrights of Prince. It fired off a letter to YouTube demanding that it remove the unauthorized “performance” of Prince’s music. YouTube, to avoid liability itself, complied. A spokeswoman for YouTube declined to comment.