News: November, 2004 More than 52000 members

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Nov 29, 2004

Nice euphemism:

The term being used by the executive is"transitional fair use,” and the scenerio laid out goes roughly along these lines: Viewers would be able to record an episode with their DVR, but there would be a time limit on how long it would be available for viewing. The executive was pushing for an expiration date that coincided with the premiere of the next episode. The consensus of the cable executived was that it needed to be between 2-4 weeks.

Nov 28, 2004

Great article in the Financial Times:

Imagine a process of reviewing prescription drugs which goes like this: representatives from the drug company come to the regulators and argue that their drug works well and should be approved. They have no evidence of this beyond a few anecdotes about people who want to take it and perhaps some very simple models of how the drug might affect the human body. The drug is approved. No trials, no empirical evidence of any kind, no follow-up. Or imagine a process of making environmental regulations in which there were no data, and no attempts to gather data, about the effects of the particular pollutants being studied. Even the harshest critics of drug regulation or environmental regulation would admit we generally do better than this. But this is often the way we make intellectual property policy.

So how do we decide the ground-rules of the information age? Representatives of interested industries come to regulators and ask for another heaping slice of monopoly rent in the form of an intellectual property right. They have doom-laden predictions, they have anecdotes, carefully selected to pluck the heartstrings of legislators, they have celebrities who testify - often incoherently, but with palpable charisma - and they have very, very simple economic models. The basic economic model here is “If you give me a larger right, I will have a larger incentive to innovate. Thus the bigger the rights, the more innovation we will get. Right?” Well, not exactly. Even without data, the models are obviously flawed - copyrighting the alphabet will not produce more books, patenting E=MC2 will not yield more scientific innovation. Intellectual property creates barriers to, as well as incentives towards, innovation.

Nov 28, 2004

Me & Radiohead & The (Necessary?) Evils Of Copyright:

I was not required to fork over a single dime to quote from The Simpsons itself, nor to quote at length from Tony Hendra’s excellent book Going Too Far, nor to quote from Foucault or Mark Twain or David Foster Wallace. But to use 87 words from the collected lyrics of Radiohead? Three hundred and fifty simoleons. Roughly $4.02 per word. (Which, incidentally, is more than double the highest amount I’ve ever been paid per word to write for a magazine or newspaper.)

Nov 28, 2004

Happily, they cut out some of the bad stuff:

Left out were several more controversial measures that would criminalize the actions of millions of Internet users who copy music and movies for free over “peer to peer” networks like Kazaa.

Nov 27, 2004

On banners and Macrovision:

But the company’s plans for pop-up ads and restrictions on copying have sparked worries that the service may be eroding consumer control in favor of Hollywood and advertiser interests.

Nov 17, 2004

New ridiculous copyright bill:

Several lobbying camps from different industries and ideologies are joining forces to fight an overhaul of copyright law, which they say would radically shift in favor of Hollywood and the record companies and which Congress might try to push through during a lame-duck session that begins this week. […] The bill would also permit people to use technology to skip objectionable content – like a gory or sexually explicit scene – in films, a right that consumers already have. However, under the proposed language, viewers would not be allowed to use software or devices to skip commericals or promotional announcements “that would otherwise be performed or displayed before, during or after the performance of the motion picture,” like the previews on a DVD.

And according to this story, TiVo Will No Longer Skip Past Advertisers. Although the reality doesn’t seem quite as bad as the headline:

By March, TiVo viewers will see “billboards,” or small logos, popping up over TV commercials as they fast-forward through them, offering contest entries, giveaways or links to other ads.

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