CopyCense Clippings v. 0.6
CopyCense Clppings: Week of September 11, 2006
After a bit of a hiatus, we’re back in the saddle with a classic Quote of the Week, and several interesting items and papers.
Article of the Week
Center for Democracy & Technology. Evaluating DRM: Building A Marketplace for the Convergent World (Version 1.0). (.pdf) September 2006. Perhaps the best outcome from last fall’s Sony BMG rootkit scandal is that consumers — finally — began to take DRM security threats (not to mention impaired economic value) seriously. While this paper from CDT continues to use Big Content’s frame — the mere mention of “digital rights management” suggests that content companies have an innate right to stealthily load virus-inducing software onto your computer in order to protect its revenue stream — it is a good start toward simplifying what can be a complex conversation. We’d like to see the DRM debate simplified even further, through questions such as: “If we pay full price for it, why are we getting less than full access?”
Quote of the Week
Couterfeit Chic. The President’s War on Copying. Sept. 8, 2006. This week’s QoTW is a classic — worth two paragraphs of commentary — and almost as ridiculous as former MPAA president Jack Valenti analogizing the competitive challenge of file sharing as his industry’s “terrorist war.” This year, it has become apparent that the fashion industry — not wanting to be left out of the copyright contretemps — is mobilizing itself in an what may become a full-fledged legislative attempt to gain copyright protection for designs. (See our Fashion & Ornaments archive for background on this issue.)
So, it is within this context that Council of Fashion Designers of America’s new president, Diane von Furstenberg, said the following last week to The Wall Street Journal when asked why the fashion industry was seeking copyright protection: “At first, my attitude was, ‘Oh well, my clothes are copied everywhere. There’s nothing you can do.’ And then I started to see how they pull it from fashion shows and copy it. You can see it on eBay. I started to say you have got to have some rules. … Laws are created to intimidate people [with the threat of litigation], to tell them no, you don’t do that. The more I talked about it, the more I realized this is good for everybody.” We always appreciate when public figures with absolutely NO understanding of copyright issue utterly asinine statements like this one. Valenti’s comment was in poor taste; von Furstenberg’s is worth a hearty chuckle. Bravo, Diane, bravo.
- BusinessWeek Online. YouTube: Waiting For The Payoff. Sept. 18, 2006. It’s interesting to see how the press continues to report on businesses that usher in or popularize new business models. After the hue and cry comes the inevitable dismissal “it has yet to make any money.” The point many reporters seem to miss is that companies that are doing new things in new ways don’t always fit neatly into preconceived notions of success, such as profitability. (After all, this country still has accounting and tax systems that still are geared toward a manufacturing, physical asset economy, rather than the intangible, intellectual property economy that reflects today’s reality.) For a slightly broader view, consider Bambi Francisco’s recent article about the price escalation for video-sharing sites, and another article about how YouTube has helped create a market for Internet soap operas. YouTube may or may not turn out to be a “real company” with “real profits,” but it is undeniable that it reflects the derivative work-based “clip culture” and sharing ethos that is central to the future of creating and distributing content.
- Wired News. Amazon’s Online Video Gambit. Sept. 8, 2006. Amazon beats Apple to the video download game, and joins the party. Oh, but we (and Congress, and the federal courts) were told dowloading = piracy. I guess that equation applies only until you figure out a way to make money from downloading.
- Sarah Lacey. Facebook Learns from Its Fumble. BusinessWeek Online. Sept. 8, 2006. Privacy matters after all … even to the youngsters.
- Timothy J. Mullaney. Real Estate Ads Move to the Internet. BusinessWeek Online. Sept. 8, 2006. America’s real estate industry has yet to be crushed by Web-based technologies. Sure, Craigslist has created a new way to list rentals (as have mashups like ), but that has hurt newspaper classified profits more than the real estate industry, which deals more with single-family homes and commercial buildings. The industry’s crown jewel — the Multistate Listing Service (MLS) — largely has gone untouched. It is about to be touched in a rather rude way.
- Bruce Schneier. Quickest Patch Ever. Wired News. Sept. 7, 2006. The opening line says it all: “If you really want to see Microsoft scramble to patch a hole in its software, don’t look to vulnerabilities that impact countless Internet Explorer users or give intruders control of thousands of Windows machines. Just crack Redmond’s DRM.”
- Erica Ogg. Credit Card Companies Form Security Council. News.com. Sept 7, 2006. We’re not sure about you, but we really don’t want the credit card industry having anything to do with security, especially when it likely will involve sharing information. Aren’t these the same folks that (a) have their websites hacked, or (b) get slippery-fingered with financial data? Chris Sherman. Google Debuts 200 Year News Archive Search. Search Engine Watch. Sept. 6, 2006. First the Web reduced newspaper readership, then it crushed lucrative classifieds revenue. But if newspapers are savvy, they can make money from these sorts of deals.
- AppleInsider. Apple Cell Phone Is Real and Ready for Production — Analyst. Sept. 5, 2006. We never quite figured out what Apple was thinking when it tried to quiet select Web sites from publishing rumors and speculation about future products and innovations. That rumor mill is the best viral marketing Apple has. As for the prospects of a so-called iPhone coming to market, when the buzz gets this loud, the rumor likely is true.
- Eric Steuer. The Infinite Album. Wired. September 2006. This is one of the more interesting articles in Wired‘s “Music Reborn” issue. Just go to the newsstand and buy a print copy. It’s that good.
- Antone Gonsalves. MySpace To Let Musicians Sell Tunes Directly To Members. InformationWeek. Sept. 5, 2006. Distribution control represents Big Music’s final death grip over the industry. It will take a lot more than this deal to shake things up seriously, but the erosion already has begun. And in irony of ironies, Shawn Fanning’s new company, Snocap, is providing the technology behind MySpace’s service.
- BBC News. SanDisk Faces MP3 License Dispute. Sept. 4, 2005. Has anyone noticed the frequency with which allegedly open source or open standard technologies are the subject of legal wrangling between private parties? In the past year, we’ve already seen disputes over JPEG propriety and the new version of the GPL. Perhaps these technologies, too, are swirling down into the intellectual property litigation stew.
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