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Archive for the 'Copyright' category

A Better Commons Builds A Better Society

Working in the parallel universe of the Internet, a loosely coordinated, global federation of digital tribes built a new kind of democratic culture. This culture is embodied in free and open source software, the blogosphere and hundreds of wikis on specialized topics. It can be seen in remix music and amateur videos, the flourishing social networking sites, and new types of “open business” models.

These innovations are not primarily creatures of government or the marketplace. They represent a new “commons sector” — a realm of collective wealth generated by ordinary people through their own resourcefulness and sharing, largely outside of the money economy.


How sharing works: The Amen Break

Note:  I pulled this up from the archives today when I read this.

Can I Get An Amen?, 2004
recording on acetate, turntable, PA system, paper documents
dimensions variable
total run time 17 minutes, 46 seconds

By Nate Harrison

Can I Get An Amen? is an audio installation that unfolds a critical perspective of perhaps the most sampled drum beat in the history of recorded music, the Amen Break. It begins with the pop track Amen Brother by 60′s soul band The Winstons, and traces the transformation of their drum solo from its original context as part of a ‘B’ side vinyl single into its use as a key aural ingredient in contemporary cultural expression. The work attempts to bring into scrutiny the techno-utopian notion that ‘information wants to be free’- it questions its effectiveness as a democratizing agent. This as well as other issues are foregrounded through a history of the Amen Break and its peculiar relationship to current copyright law.

This is why this blog talks about music, DRM and copyright control. If you have 20 minutes, check it out. Especially the Judge Alex Kozinski quote at the end.

“Overprotecting intellectual property is as harmful as underprotecting it. Culture is impossible without a rich public domain. Nothing today, likely nothing since we tamed fire, is genuinely new: Culture, like science and technology, grows by accretion, each new creator building on the works of those who came before. Overprotection stifles the very creative forces it’s supposed to nurture.”

* Dissenting in the White v. Samsung Elec. Am., Inc., 989 F.2d 1512 (9th Cir. 1993) ruling.


Lessig schools Colbert on remixing

Lawrence Lessig recently appeared on The Colbert Report to explain the ideas in his new book, Remix.

Update: Ha!  Viacom took down the YouTube link.

I should have linked directly to Comedy Central, I guess.


The Future of Copyright

Cato Unbound » Blog Archive » The Future of Copyright

A very condensed version of copyright history could look like this: texts (1800), works (1900), tools (2000). Originally the law was designed to regulate the use of one machine only: the printing press. It concerned the reproduction of texts, printed matter, without interfering with their subsequent uses. Roughly around 1900, however, copyright law was drastically extended to cover works, independent of any specific medium. This opened up the field for collective rights management organizations, which since have been setting fixed prices on performance and broadcasting licenses. Under their direction, very specific copyright customs developed for each new medium: cinema, gramophone, radio, and so forth. This differentiation was undermined by the emergence of the Internet, and since about the year 2000 copyright law has been pushed in a new direction, regulating access to tools in a way much more arbitrary than anyone in the pre-digital age could have imagined.


Lawyering Up

Red Hat Puts More Muscle On Its Legal Staff — Linux — InformationWeek

Red Hat is beefing up its legal staff with two appointments to strengthen its hand in patent disputes and open source licensing issues.

Company spokesman on Wednesday declined to comment on whether Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT)’s claims in early and mid-2007 that its patents cover parts of Linux had anything to do with the expansion.

“We are helping pave the way for open standards and changes in the IP regime needed for the future,” responded Robert Tiller, VP and assistant general counsel for IP, one of the new hires at Red Hat’s legal department. “We feel a responsibility to lead these efforts and to encourage projects that support open, multi-vendor standards,” he wrote in an email response.

Red Hat announced Wednesday that it was adding Tiller and Richard Fontana, a former associate of Eben Moglen at the Software Freedom Law Center, to its legal staff. Fontana will be Red Hat’s open source licensing and patent counsel.


Strike One Against Microsoft

Red Hat News | Strike One Against Microsoft

by Michael Cunningham, Executive Vice President & General Counsel

Strike One!

In our last blog posted on February 21, I proposed three test pitches for Microsoft to help judge the meaningfulness of its latest efforts to turn over a new leaf on interoperability. The first of these was to embrace the extant, multi-vendor ISO standard, ODF (Open Document Format) in lieu of its single vendor dominated efforts to create a new standard, OOXML (Office Open XML).

The first pitch was thrown in Geneva last week at the ISO ballot resolution meetings on OOXML. And we can safely say: strike one! There was no renouncement of the OOXML standard by Microsoft. Instead, every indication was business as usual.

By the way, you have to seriously wonder about those Geneva meetings. According to reports I’ve received about the meetings (which were closed but reportedly audio recorded), only a disturbing 25 or so of the approximately 1,000 substantive comments that were scheduled to be acted upon were actually discussed. As for the remainder of the comments, it appears that, in order to complete the agenda, a decision was made to vote on all of the remaining, undiscussed comments in a single vote.

Read the rest.


Counsel Cunningham Criticizes Patent System

From the Raleigh News and Observer:

Boosting our innovation system

Michael Cunningham

RALEIGH – Red Hat has been based in North Carolina for over a decade. As a leading provider of open-source software solutions, we’ve been able to witness and contribute to the state’s recent growth in high-technology jobs. While it is our hope that North Carolina’s future continues to be filled with this kind of development, companies must be given the tools they need to add to the state’s rich history and to create jobs for North Carolina’s future.

We, along with many other local and global companies, believe that our ability to create is being compromised by an outdated and imbalanced U.S. patent system. This issue affects all businesses, from smaller companies like us to large multi-national corporations.

The current system has not been significantly updated in more than 55 years. America’s abilities and needs have changed greatly since that time, and it’s important to have a system in place that not only adapts to these transformations, but encourages them.


And they thought pirates were bad…

You just don’t mess with Hobbits. You don’t take their rings, and you definitely don’t trifle with their IP.

CNW Group | THE TOLKIEN TRUST | Tolkien Charity Files Suit Against New Line Cinema for Failure to pay Share of Film Revenues

The trustees of The Tolkien Trust, a British charity, have filed an action against New Line Cinema for its failure to pay a contractually required gross profit participation in the three films based on the world-famous Lord of the Rings trilogy. The trustees of the estate of JRR Tolkien and HarperCollins Publishers are co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The suit was filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The Lord of the Rings films produced by New Line are among the most financially successful films ever created by Hollywood and were released in 2001, 2002 and 2003 respectively. The cumulative worldwide gross receipts to date total nearly $6 billion. Notwithstanding the overwhelming financial success of the films, and the fact that the plaintiffs have a gross participation in each of the films, New Line has failed to pay the plaintiffs any portion of the gross profit participation at all.


Bird Song: The Raw Materials

Now you can help us elaborate on “Bird Song: A cartoon requiem for DRM,” our Lighthearted Cartoon Funeral March for Digital Rights Management.

Below you’ll find links to all of the raw audio, video, and image files you need to proceed with your mashup. Let us know if there are any other formats that might be helpful. All of it is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license, the terms of which you can find here translated into a jillion languages.

Now it’s your turn to add to the story. Here are the raw music and video files:

As for how it was made, we’ll let the designers speak.

Islam Elsedoudi, art direction and design:
We mainly used Adobe After Effects and Adobe Illustrator for the animation and GarageBand for the music.

All the illustrations were drawn in Illustrator using the pen tool for the sleek drawings and the pencil tool for the sketchy drawings. We then brought them into After Effects and built “sets” in a 3D environment with a camera. We put a light source on the background to maintain realism and texture. The solid components of the piece (bird, globe, leaves, chandelier) were treated to look as if they were painted on the background.

The background texture remained consistent and unmoving, while everything else moved as it would in real space. Some of the more crude animations, such as the line rolling into the record and the bird cage falling were conventionally animated, frame by frame, using Illustrator and and a lot of screenshots.

» Read more


Don’t even think about it.

If a new bill becomes law, it may soon be illegal to attempt (even if you fail) to share copyrighted material.

“Attempted infringment” appears in new House intellectual property bill

One of the bill’s controversial features is the fact that people can be charged with criminal copyright infringement even if such infringement has not actually taken place. “Any person who attempts to commit an offense under paragraph (1) shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the attempt,” says the bill.

Read the gory details here. (pdf)


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