Should the US write the laws controlling world culture?

“If Hollywood could order intellectual property laws for Christmas, what would they look like? This is pretty close.”

ACTA is short for Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and, “that’s how David Fewer, staff counsel at the University of Ottawa’s Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), summed it up,” said p2pnet.

In another article, “America isn’t becoming a police state,” we said. “It’s turning into a massive entertainment division run by a handful of corporate dinosaurs fronted by groups of corrupt executive politicians.”

Text of the full article.

Continue reading “Should the US write the laws controlling world culture?”

Canadians continue to fight passage of DMCA-like laws

The DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) was sold to the American people as a compromise: give media companies stronger powers to prevent people from copying their content, for longer periods of time, and in return they will make much more of their precious content much more available to many more people via the internet.  Passed nearly 10 years ago (October 12th, 1998), the DMCA has been nothing but trouble, allowing large media concerns to operate with powers unimagined when most of the subject content had been created, and to this date, they make precious little that will run with any of the kinds of freedoms we enjoy elsewhere in cyberspace.

The Canadians therefore enjoy 10 years of legal hindsight as their government attempts to “harmonize” its copyright legislation with the US.  And they seem to know that what has largely failed to increase content availability, access, and certainly profits (when it comes to music) for the US population doesn’t promise very much in the way of goodness for the much smaller Canadian population presently contemplating the legislation.  Michael Geist is one Canadian who surely must be singing “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” as he launches a cyber campaign to stop the maddness.  According to the article:

“We’re talking about more than just copyright here. We’re talking about the digital environment,” he said. “This legislation represents a real threat to the vibrancy of that online environment.”

Industry Minister Jim Prentice introduced the bill in June, calling it a “made-in-Canada” solution to online piracy. But critics responded that the bill was a carbon copy of the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

If passed, Bill C-61 would make it illegal to circumvent “digital locks” on CDs and DVDs and impose a $500 fine on anyone caught downloading illegal copies of music or movies.

Geist also launched a video contest on YouTube inviting Canadians to give their thoughts on Bill C-61 in 61 seconds. A panel of five judges, including Ontario Privacy Commissioner Anne Cavoukian, will announce the winner on Sept. 15 — the day MPs return to the House of Commons.

It’s late at night, so I don’t want to start a tirade about just how angry it makes me to see a perfectly decent government contemplating something so stupid, not to mention harmful.  And it makes me wonder whether the Canadian government really can be up to something like this solely because some lobbyist got ahold of some MP, or whether there is some behind-the-scenes deal cooking with the US.  Whatever the case, citizens in both countries should protest, Americans for the rights we have lost and Canadians for the rights they could lose if C-61 passes.

Michael, keep up the good fight!

Yahoo! Music Store closes…taking the keys with it

As reported in Ars Technica, customers who bought digitally restricted media (DRM) from Yahoo! Music Store will lose the technical ability to play the music they lawfully acquired.

As Corey Doctorow has been teaching for years:

1. That DRM systems don’t work

2. That DRM systems are bad for society

3. That DRM systems are bad for business

4. That DRM systems are bad for artists

5. That DRM is a bad business-move for [in this case, MSFT]

But his lecture applied equally to AAPL, and YHOO.  But as Upton Sinclair said many years ago “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it,” and all these technology companies seem to believe that their paychecks depend DRM, whether practical, whether beneficial, whether profitable, whether fair, either in the general or in the particular.

But maybe this is a failure we can all learn from.  As long as the consuming public is ignorant as to the consequences of their actions, what cause have they to behave any differently?  Perhaps now that insult has become injury, more people will think twice about whether they really want to spend money on a right that can vanish with a shift of the economic winds. Perhaps they will reconsider the logic of a system which, after a finite time makes things less accessible to them instead of what the US Constitution promises, which is to shift the rights to the public after a limited time.

Creating value when copies are free

Kevin Kelly is a technology, brand, and design maven, not to mention Senior Maverick at WIRED magazine. He is in the process of writing a new book, and he’s collecting his ideas online in an area he calls The Technium. I just read his latest installment, and it reads like a manifesto for The Miraverse. To wit, he asks the question

If reproductions of our best efforts are free, how can we keep going? To put it simply, how does one make money selling free copies?

Continue reading “Creating value when copies are free”

What is music worth?

I’m very behind on my blog postings, so don’t worry—you’re not reading my postings out of order. In October of this year, Radiohead put their album In Rainbows up for sale at whatever price you’re willing to pay. There was quite a flurry in the blogosphere, particularly from, which argued that the pricing trend of commercial music is headed inevitably to absolute zero.

I had two thoughts about this. Continue reading “What is music worth?”