A classic case of the tension between rights holders and technology companies. On one hand the technology companies (in many cases) enable greater uptake of the content. On the other, rights holders often see technology companies monetizing their content without and direct benefit to the rights holder. (Pinterest and Google are two of the big battlegrounds in this fight.) There is merit on both sides of this fight, and it is clear that not only do copyright laws need to evolve to logically deal with this tension, but so do the business models on both sides. There is not a clear new paradigm that works for both sides yet, but if one doesn’t arrive soon, there will be an awful lot of unnecessary casualties on both sides of this battle.
Google (s GOOG) has launched a broadside against a proposed law in Germany that would see search engines forced to pay license fees for linking people to news stories.
Well, actually that’s slightly inaccurate: the draft law would make search engines pay for reproducing newspapers’ headlines and first paragraphs. So, take those away and the links are fine. Even if nobody will have the faintest idea what they’re linking to.
Google’s North Europe communications chief, Kay Oberbeck, sounded off about the issue this morning in a guest post for a German press agency. That was in German, of course, so I got him to vent in English as well:
“Nobody sees a real reason why this should be implemented,” he said. “It’s really harmful, not just for users who wouldn’t find as much information as they find now, but such a law is also not justified for economic reasons or…
Gizmodo (via Pamela Jones from Groklaw) has run an interesting summary piece on some of the apparent bases that may exist for Samsung to appeal is recent $1B+ pasting by Apple for patent infringement.
Concerns first began to arise from how quickly the jury came back with a verdict. This was compounded when it turns out that the jury made a clear error in calculations in the initial verdict and had to go back in and reform the verdict to correct its error. Then, post-trial some of the jurors began to give information about the deliberation process and more questions began to arise.
The Groklaw article cited by Gizmodo gives a fairly detailed account of some of the issues which could give Samsung an avenue to have the verdict overturned. It will be interesting to see what other potential issues arise and whether Samsung grabs on to them to avoid Apple’s hefty judgment.
Oh Boy! Yet another patent slug-fest in the making. This time Google’s recently acquired Motorola Mobility unit is suing Apple for infringing upon a number of its patents, including locations reminders, e-mail reminders, and even “Siri”.
I am hoping that at some point soon, someone is going to realized that the current rounds of patent-based mutually assured destruction are a huge detriment to innovation (and the economy) and that some form or rational cross licensing of technology will take place, before the mobile ecosystem becomes a blighted wasteland.
This piece offers a profile on start-up called ReDigi which applies a novel system to allow its customers to “resell” digital music. Using digital fingerprinting technology, ReDigi’s user download software which verifies (a) that the music the user is seeking to sell is a legitimately purchased track and (b) that the file is erased not only form the user’s computer but also from all synced devices.
This approach, not surprisingly, is still drawing the ire of RIAA and similar groups. It will be interesting to see whether ReDigi’s model survives legal scrutiny.
Stanford has just wrapped up a conference on Intellectual Property that seems to have had some very interesting and notable highlights. Head over to the GigaOm article for a bit more detail (and here for the full agenda), but here are a few of the highlights of interest:
University of Colorado Professor Paul Ohm is headed off to join the FTC, but he stopped by the conference and gave a presentation that made it clear that he intends to do more than a but of arm-twisting in Washington to get companies to live up to their privacy promises.
Another presentation discussed unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content though the lens of the porn industries current frustrations. It looks like maybe Big Porn is starting to realize that the litigation tactic is a loosing battle, as they begin to experiment with shifts towards making “experience goods” like live chats and other engagement oriented products.
Collen Chien of U.C. Santa Clara presented on the current patent mess in the mobile device industry and hos the historic patent epidemics over farmer’s tools and railroad technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries may portend much needed reform in our current patent morass.
Professor Howard Abrams discusses the U.S. Supreme Court of Golan v. Holder from earlier this year in which the Court upheld Congress’ rights to retroactively extend copyright terms. The case when on to indicate that congress can extend copyright protection to previously public domain works and to state that First Amendment is not implicated by these actions, as these works were available in the marketplace and thus represented commercial speech.
While the rulings by Canada’s Supreme Court will not have a direct impact on IP laws in the US, the rulings can be viewed, at least in part, as growing recognition among jurists of the need to rationally balance the the protections of content owners with those of consumers, and the need to view the internet a neutral deliver mechanism.
A thought-provoking article by David Lowery (one of my music heroes) about the impact of piracy on musicians and other artists. While I have many issues with how our intellectual property laws have failed to adequately and meaningfully keep up with technological changes, David very correctly (and persuasively) calls out those who seem to feel that creative content should be available for free.
Creative content is neither free to produce nor is is without value. If we are not willing to pay those who create and distribute content, then there will be no incentive to create and distribute this content. With no incentive, the availability of content will wither. This is neither moral nor economically (let alone aesthetically) desirable.
While I continue to believe that we need to find ways to update our intellectual property laws to make them more flexible and able to deal with the changes that technology is bringing to our economy. (Not only can we not put the genie of technology back into the bottle, we should not wish to.) That does not mean, however, that we can or should want to sacrifice our morals or the economic necessity of incentivizing artists and other creators of content we want to consume on the alter of disruptive change.
Technology has already brought many changes to our economy and it will continue to do so. This evolution of the information economy does not change the fundamental fact that intellectual property has real and tangible value and that those who create and distribute it should be able to enjoy the benefits of this value.
Recently Emily White, an intern at NPR All Songs Considered and GM of what appears to be her college radio station, wrote a post on the NPR blog in which she acknowledged that while she had 11,000 songs in her music library, she’s only paid for 15 CDs in her life. Our intention is not to embarrass or shame her. We believe young people like Emily White who are fully engaged in the music scene are the artist’s biggest allies. We also believe–for reasons we’ll get into–that she has been been badly misinformed by the Free Culture movement. We only ask the opportunity to present a countervailing viewpoint.
My intention here is not to shame you or embarrass you. I believe you are already on the side of musicians and artists and you are just grappling with how to do the right thing. I applaud your courage in admitting…