mfioretti: intellectual property*

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  1. The central issue, which is also hidden in plain sight, is – after all – the moral rights of authors (“Lockean natural rights”) as established in the Enlightenment and as enshrined in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886)

    5/ Both the EC and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have shown no interest in addressing this set of rights, given the inherent abstract nature of such rights and given that both are operating on behalf of industry in a global IP campaign that resembles the “weaponizing” of IP rights

    6/ Given that economic data (or any empirical proof) confirming that free copying of works or appropriation by platform cultures benefits the author is impossible to produce, whether justified through the murky term “transformative use” or “discoverability”, all such arguments, as used on both sides of the debate (by publishers to e-license copyrighted works and by advocates of Open Access to justify authors giving their works away for nothing) devolve to mere speculation based on the bias of the beneficiaries
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  2. Beyond how vomit-inducing the video is generally, one wonders just how closely the message in the video overlaps with actual UK law. While UK law is more stringent on free speech when it comes to so-called "insulting" speech, it seems far too simple an explanation to state that any parody that is found insulting would be illegal. Let's say, for instance, that Ed Sheeran considers this parody depiction of him, complete with an anti-piracy message that comes off as the opposite of his own, is insulting. Is the UK's IPO really saying that its own video suddenly becomes illegal?

    Now, while the videos generally tread upon long-debunked ground...

    After the Meerkats found out that people were downloading their tracks from pirate sites and became outraged, their manager Big Joe explained that file-sharing is just the same as stealing a CD from a physical store.

    “In a way, all those people who downloaded free copies are doing the same thing as walking out of the shop with a CD and forgetting to go the till,” he says.

    “What these sites are doing is sometimes called piracy. It not only affects music but also videos, books, and movies.If someone owns the copyright to something, well, it is stealing. Simple as that,” Big Joe adds.

    ...there is also some almost hilarious over-statements on the importance of this messaging and intellectual property as a whole. For instance, were you aware that the reason it's so important to teach 7 year olds about copyright and trademark is because navigating intellectual property is a full-blown "life skill?"
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  3. Another fear they may have is that of an unfinished model. Sometimes vendors decide to display publicly a demonstrator, prototype or beta version of some equipment. The idea is that they may somehow change the appearance or features of the actual production version later, and don’t want to mislead anyone. However, responsible publications - and readers - would publish and recognize that unofficial equipment is just that: subject to change.

    I don’t feel these reasons are legitimate. If a company decides to publicly exhibit a device, it should be fair game for photography. If people viewing in person can see it, then it is known by the public. If a device is exhibited, isn’t the point that it is to be seen? And publications such as this one can vastly amplify the number of people “seeing” a device.

    If there are legitimate concerns about a key portion of a device, perhaps it should not be shown, or even covered up or obscured in some way. But often this is not the case in such situations.
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  4. Si tratta di uno studio, costato 360.000 euro e completato nel 2015, sugli effetti della pirateria sui contenuti vincolati dal diritto d’autore. Si intitola Estimating displacement rates of copyrighted content in the EU, è lungo oltre 300 pagine e oggi è scaricabile qui, ma non era mai stato reso pubblico.

    Sappiamo di questo studio non grazie alle indagini dei complottisti, ma alla tenacia di una parlamentare europea, la tedesca Julia Reda, che ha scoperto che esisteva questo rapporto grazie alla Regola dell’Informazione Laterale che cito spesso nelle tecniche d’indagine giornalistica digitale: per sapere se un dato è vero o falso conviene sempre cercare le informazioni di contorno a quel dato. Se un documento è stato omesso o segretato, può darsi che altrove ci siano informazioni amministrative che ne tengono traccia.

    In questo caso, per esempio, la parlamentare si è accorta dell’esistenza di questo studio perché ha scoperto la relativa gara d’appalto, risalente al 2013, e a quel punto ha richiesto accesso al documento. La Commissione, racconta la Reda, non ha risposto in tempo alla richiesta ben due volte.

    Come mai tanta riluttanza nel pubblicare uno studio costato fior di quattrini? Può darsi che sia colpa dei suoi risultati, che “non mostrano prove statistiche dello spostamento delle vendite da parte delle violazioni del coypright online” con l’eccezione dei film più popolari e recenti. Risultati che stridono con i vari provvedimenti governativi che mirano a sorvegliare il traffico dei file caricati su Internet di tutti gli utenti, indistintamente, con la giustificazione della tutela del diritto d’autore.

    Sia come sia, è indubbio che servono prove robuste per legittimare un intervento del genere e che, come dice la parlamentare, “dati preziosi sia finanziariamente, sia in termini di applicabilità dovrebbero essere disponibili a tutti se sono finanziati dall’Unione Europea: non dovrebbero raccogliere polvere su uno scaffale fino a quando qualcuno li richiede attivamente”.
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  5. The underlying problem is ownership

    One key reason we don’t control our devices is that the companies that make them seem to think – and definitely act like – they still own them, even after we’ve bought them. A person may purchase a nice-looking box full of electronics that can function as a smartphone, the corporate argument goes, but they buy a license only to use the software inside. The companies say they still own the software, and because they own it, they can control it. It’s as if a car dealer sold a car, but claimed ownership of the motor.

    This sort of arrangement is destroying the concept of basic property ownership. John Deere has already told farmers that they don’t really own their tractors but just license the software – so they can’t fix their own farm equipment or even take it to an independent repair shop. The farmers are objecting, but maybe some people are willing to let things slide when it comes to smartphones, which are often bought on a payment installment plan and traded in as soon as possible.

    How long will it be before we realize they’re trying to apply the same rules to our smart homes, smart televisions in our living rooms and bedrooms, smart toilets and internet-enabled cars?
    A return to feudalism?

    The issue of who gets to control property has a long history. In the feudal system of medieval Europe, the king owned almost everything, and everyone else’s property rights depended on their relationship with the king. Peasants lived on land granted by the king to a local lord, and workers didn’t always even own the tools they used for farming or other trades like carpentry and blacksmithing.

    Over the centuries, Western economies and legal systems evolved into our modern commercial arrangement: People and private companies often buy and sell items themselves and own land, tools and other objects outright. Apart from a few basic government rules like environmental protection and public health, ownership comes with no trailing strings attached.

    This system means that a car company can’t stop me from painting my car a shocking shade of pink or from getting the oil changed at whatever repair shop I choose. I can even try to modify or fix my car myself. The same is true for my television, my farm equipment and my refrigerator.

    Yet the expansion of the internet of things seems to be bringing us back to something like that old feudal model, where people didn’t own the items they used every day. In this 21st-century version, companies are using intellectual property law – intended to protect ideas – to control physical objects consumers think they own.
    Intellectual property control

    My phone is a Samsung Galaxy. Google controls the operating system and the Google Apps that make an Android smartphone work well. Google licenses them to Samsung, which makes its own modification to the Android interface, and sublicenses the right to use my own phone to me – or at least that is the argument that Google and Samsung make. Samsung cuts deals with lots of software providers which want to take my data for their own use.

    But this model is flawed, in my view. We need the right to fix our own property. We need the right to kick invasive advertisers out of our devices. We need the ability to shut down the information back-channels to advertisers, not merely because we don’t love being spied on, but because those back doors are security risks, as the stories of Superfish and the hacked fish tank show. If we don’t have the right to control our own property, we don’t really own it. We are just digital peasants, using the things that we have bought and paid for at the whim of our digital lord.

    Even though things look grim right now, there is hope. These problems quickly become public relations nightmares for the companies involved. And there is serious bipartisan support for right-to-repair bills that restore some powers of ownership to consumers.

    Recent years have seen progress in reclaiming ownership from would-be digital barons. What is important is that we recognize and reject what these companies are trying to do, buy accordingly, vigorously exercise our rights to use, repair and modify our smart property, and support efforts to strengthen those rights. The idea of property is still powerful in our cultural imagination, and it won’t die easily. That gives us a window of opportunity. I hope we will take it.
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  6. The primary purpose of copyright is to benefit the public, a fact that has been reiterated by Congress and the Supreme Court, repeatedly:
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  7. you sense this getting a little more complicated in the digital era, though, where you don’t “own” things like movies, music, or even the software on your phone; rather, it’s being licensed, which means companies can go to all kinds of lengths to keep controlling how, when, and where you use the things you’ve bought long after you’ve bought them.

    Where some kind of digital rights management (DRM) was once standard only for video games and movies, you now find it on everything from coffee to cars and a whole lot of in-between — including printer cartridges.

    The question before the Supreme Court, then, isn’t one of “can Lexmark patent this?” Because Lexmark can, and has. The question is, rather: Can patent exhaustion still be a thing, or does the original manufacturer get to keep having the final say in what you and others can do with the product?
    What Happened in Court?

    A Supreme Court ruling is still likely months away, but the transcript PDF » of this week’s oral arguments can tell us quite a bit about the way the justices may be leaning.

    The attorneys for both sides — Impression and Lexmark — each pointed to several previous rulings on patent law to support their own perspective on why the law does or does not support patent rights’ exhaustion.

    The problem faced by either side is that the most recent case dealing with exhaustion applies it to copyright law, not patent law. To the lay consumer, that may seem like a minor distinction, but copyright and patent are two very different beasts, legally speaking.

    the Court is now dealing with 2017 technology and a 1952 law whose authors couldn’t have guessed that patent rights would be used to restrict what a customer can do with a product after it’s been purchased.

    Meanwhile Chief Justice Roberts, along with Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito, kept wanting to probe the question of why patent law was even necessary for this sort of thing, as SCOTUSblog explains. Each of the three asked some kind of question, or raised some argument, wondering why Lexmark couldn’t just restrict use of its items with ordinary contract agreements instead of patents.

    In the end, though, the Justices didn’t say very much that indicated a particularly strong position one way or the other. As SCOTUSblog’s analyst put it: “the justices are well aware of the major implications here and don’t see any obvious way to avoid doing something that will have real economic consequences… Rather, it seems, they are going to have to decide if these kinds of restrictions will, or will not, remain a product of 21st-century innovation policy.”
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  8. There is perhaps a good reason why US software and telco giants have been rather quiet over global piracy issues in recent years. Tightening the global IP regime may entail greater native scrutiny and legal obligations on the part of the software provider — and crippling lawsuits if the real goods ultimately worked against the interests of the user.

    China's recent initiative to promote cyber sovereignty within the international community, particularly the BRICS bloc, will be stillborn unless it can bring a greater degree of integrity, discipline and order to its expansive telecommunications industry. The core RIC (Russia, India and China) nations in the emerging Greater Eurasia bloc are software powerhouses in their own right, and there is no reason why these nations should not pool their resources to create the nuts, bolts and algorithmic scripts of a secure Eurasia.Net
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  9. Shiva Ayyadurai says he invented email and will sue the pants off anyone who says he didn’t. He’s already picked up a fat $750,000 settlement check from Gawker, which decided to settle because another lawsuit by Hulk Hogan had already put the site out of business. There is currently a suit pending against Techdirt, a site that mainly reports on threats to free speech. Now he’s going after social media, by sending a demand to a node of Diaspora to remove three posts by Roy Schestowitz, publisher of the popular FOSS site Tux Machines and the iconoclastic blog Techrights.

    Beverly Hills based Charles Harder, who represented Hulk Hogan in the sex tape case that cost Gawker $31 million and put it out of business, is Ayyadurai’s lawyer.

    Ayyadurai bases his claim on the fact that in 1978, as an a 14-year-old boy wonder, he designed a message delivery system at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which he details on his website “The Inventor of Email.” He even copyrighted his program, which makes reference to use of the term “EMAIL,” and received some accolades from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he entered as a freshman. It wasn’t until 30 years his invention, according to most reports, that he began publicly declaring himself to be “the inventer of email.”

    According to just about everyone who knows anything about the history of networked computers, ARPANET and the modern Internet — he didn’t. An accurate claim, and one that would have garnered him respect if he hadn’t damaged his credibility with his email ownership claim, is that he played an important role in the development of email, a fact of Internet history that remains true, but with an asterisk to point to this controversy. Too bad.
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  10. ‘It is good that authors should be remunerated, and at least exceptionable way of remunerating them is by a monopoly. Yet monopoly is evil. For the sake of the good we must submit to the evil: but the evil ought not to last a day longer than is necessary for the purpose of securing the good’


    ‘Dr Johnson died 56 years ago. If the law were what my honourable and learned friend wishes to make it, somebody would now have the monopoly of Dr Johnson’s works. Who that somebody would be, it is impossible to say: but we may venture to guess. I guess, then, that it would have been some bookseller, who was the assignee of antoher bookseller, who was the grandson son a third bookseller, who had bought the copyright from Black Frank, the Doctor’s servant and residuary legatee in 1785 and 1786. Now, would the knowledge that this copyright would exist in 1841 have been a source of grtification to Johnson? Would it have stimulated his exertions? Woudl it have once drawn him out of his bed before noon? Would it have cheered him in a fit of spleen? Would it have induced hime to give us one more allegory, one more life of a poet, one more imitation of Juvenal? I firmly believe not.’
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