Wednesday, March 16, 2005

CC rewrites copyright -Washington Post

The Washington Post has an article suggesting that Creative Commons Is Rewriting Rules of Copyright. Whereas I think we're a long way from that, the project has certainly had a much bigger impact in its short life than I would have originally predicted.

"When Chuck D and the Fine Arts Militia released their latest single, "No Meaning No," several months ago, they didn't try to stop people from circulating free copies on the Internet. They encouraged it.

They posted the entire 3-minute, 12-second song and its various vocal, drum and guitar components online and invited everyone to view, copy, mix, remix, sample, imitate, parody and even criticize it.

The result has been the creation of a flood of derivative work ranging from classical twists on the hip-hop piece to video interpretations of the song. The musicians reveled in the instant fan base. They were so pleased that they recently decided to publish their next entire album, due later this spring, the same way, becoming the first major artists to do so...

So far, more than 10 million other creations -- ranging from the movie "Outfoxed" and songs by the Beastie Boys to the British Broadcasting Corp.'s news footage and the tech support books published under the O'Reilly label -- have been distributed using these licenses. The idea has even won the support of Hilary Rosen, formerly of the Recording Industry Association of America, and Jack Valenti, the past head of the Motion Picture Association of America, who became known for their aggressive pursuit of people who share free, unauthorized copies via the Internet."

The French domain name and the US chocolate co

This is a story I'd like to know a lot more about. On the surface it seems as if a small business woman in France has been ordered by a court to sign over her internet domain name to a US food company, Kraft. The lady's first name, Milka, happens to be the same as a type of chocolate manufactured by Kraft. According to the report the court said Milka Budimir "made unjustified use of the registered trademark Milka that is owned by Kraft Foods."

Puts me in mind of the Bill Wyman case, where music journalist Bill Wyman, got a letter insisting he "cease and desist" from using his own name on his pop music reports because this infringed on the intellectual property rights of the letter writing lawyer's client, Bill Wyman, of ex Rolling Stones fame.

This name game is just one example of what makes intellectual property watching a bit of a surreal experience. As I say in my Open University course, soon to be released under a creative commons licence, now that the UK-England&Wales version of the licences are getting launched this evening, within the confines of the complex world of intellectual property law, this lawyer – this expert – could be considered, by fellow intellectual property specialists, to be acting reasonably in the interests of his client. It seems strange, however, that someone could be threatened with a lawsuit for using their own name. And worse still not only have to stump up the legal fees to defend such a lawsuit but in the end get ordered by a court to sign over their own name.

BTW, Good luck to Christian Ahlert, William Heath and all those involved in the production and launch of the CC licences (and in the ironing out of the last minute details - crucial to get the detail right, as Jonathan Mitchell and Hector MacQueen have consistently pointed out).

EU Court allows new entrants in Microsoft case

The EU court of first instance in Luxembourg, to which Microsoft is appealing in relation to their antitrust sanctions dished out by the European Commission, have given another 9 organisations permission to intervene in the case. Five of these are on Microsoft's side, four on the Commission's.

Aussie actors group ban creative commons

This is very odd if it's true - the Australian Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Australian equivalent of the UK Equity actors union, have banned a film company from using their actors in a film to be released under a creative commons licence.

"MOD Films had sought a dispensation, since early January, to allow professional Australian actors to participate in the short (15 minute) film and had worked with actors agents to communicate the extent of the project before auditions. The cast chosen for Sanctuary had been offered 110% on top of the MEAA award rate to take part in the experiment...

Michela Ledwidge, the director of Sanctuary, and the recipient of the Inventions award that is primarily funding the film, said "Having worked for years to fund this project and bring it back home to Australia to showcase local talent, I'm both dismayed and rather embarrassed by the MEAA position. It is no small irony that the actors and talent agents, who supported our little pilot and our submission to the MEAA, have the most to lose from this decision. We will still make the film but plans for an Australian shoot will have to be revised."

MOD Films is yet to receive a written response to its formal submission to the MEAA."

ID cards to be delayed until after election

The UK government look like they are going to have delay the progression of the ID card bill until after the general election, according to the Guardian. So, if Labour gets voted out there may well be no ID cards.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Blunkett comeback speech

David Blunkett, former Home Secreatary, is giving a comeback speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research on A new England? Identity, citizenship and belonging.

Apple v Real

This CIO story is a little behind the times, since Real launched the "Harmony" service last summer. Apple have since "upgraded" the iPod software so that iPod owners can no longer play Real-purchased songs on their expensive little music players.

PFI information to be available online

The FT says "An online database spelling out who owns what and where in public-private partnerships and private finance initiative projects is about to go live."

Gene patents and extraditing copyright infringers

A study by Illinois Institute of Technology researchers has concluded that the US Patent Office has been approving gene patents when the application don't meet the basic requirements for securing a patent - that it must be useful, not obvious and involve an inventive step.

Meanwhile, Aussie Hew Raymond Griffiths has lost his case against extradition to the US for conspiring to engage in and engaing in " Internet software piracy in the United States in violation of federal criminal copyright laws of that country." Kim Weatherall says "I have no view on the particular acts that Griffiths has engaged in, but extradition to the US for copyright infringement is a truly frightening prospect - particularly given that their penalties are higher. We can only hope that it doesn't become a habit for the US to seek such removal. Surely Australians can be prosecuted here if there is strong evidence of criminal copyright infringement."

Negativeland v Apple

David Bollier wonders "Who Should Control “U” and “2”? The Plot Thickens"

"First came the legendary legal battle over who should be able to control the letter “U” and the numeral “2” – the rock group U2 or anyone (including the mischievous band Negativland)? Now we have a hilarious sequel that asks, If Apple can sell a “special edition” iPod in honor of U2, can anyone buy an iPod and create their own “special edition” (celebrating Negativland, for example), and sell it on eBay? Apple – the computer company that urges us to “Rip, Mix, Burn,” the company that presents itself as the height of cool and groovy – has bared its stony corporate face and declared: No. You may not make fun of U2, the Apple iPod or its marketing campaign."

Apple will ultimately lose out in the marketplace with this protectionism and bundling, just as they did in the personal computer business when Microsoft came along selling licences for software to generic PC makers.

Buy an EU law

Somebody is sufficiently irritated with the Luxebourg presidency's railroading through of the software patents directive to insult the entire country.