Monthly Archives: December 2006

Eben inspiration

People are often very kind (at least to me) about my speeches. But the truly inspired rhetorician of our age is Eben Moglen. Here’s a video of his keynote at the Plone conference in Seattle. The speech is transcribed here.

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Think globally, party locally (or virtually)

Creative Commons is turning 4 on December 16. To celebrate, there are a host of parties springing up around the world. You can read about it on this blog entry. I’ll be in Portugal to launch CC Portugal, but will be getting up early to make a Second Life appearance at the San Francisco event. If you can’t make it to a physical party, come virtually. I’ll be making a pretty significant announcement (for me at least) at the party. Continue reading

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Ok, so I’m wrong

For almost 10 years now, I’ve been waging a war against retrospective term extension. My simple argument has been that copyright is about creative incentives, and you can’t create incentives retrospectively.

I now see I am apparently wrong.

As reported yesterday, there was an ad in the FT listing 4,000 musicians who supported retrospective term extension. If you read the list, you’ll see that at least some of these artists are apparently dead (e.g. Lonnie Donegan, died 4th November 2002; Freddie Garrity, died 20th May 2006). I take it the ability of these dead authors to sign a petition asking for their copyright terms to be extended can only mean that even after death, term extension continues to inspire.

I’m not yet sure how. But I guess I should be a good sport about it, and just confess I was wrong. For if artists can sign petitions after they’ve died, then why can’t they produce new recordings fifty years ago? Continue reading

Posted in Against Term Extension | 71 Comments

CC Labs

My CC fundraising letter this week describes the launch of CC Labs — a test bed for new CC technologies. There’s a new licensing engine that emphasizes more clearly the freedoms you’re enabling. Toggling through the options gives you a very clear sense of the contours of the CC licenses.

The most important experiment, however, is also the hardest to describe. We’ve begun testing an architecture that will enable people to specify (in the metadata attached to the license) where to go for rights, or stuff, beyond those specified in the license. Thus, for example, if you’re a Flickr snapper, and license your photos under a noncommercial license, you can specify in the metadata who or where someone should go to clear commercial rights. (See, e.g., Scoopt)

So here’s an example. Gary New Vision‘s got a mySpace page. On that page, you can download some of his music. That music is licensed under a CC BY-NonCommercial license. But if you click on the CC icon, the Commons Deed now tells you where you can go to license the music commercially.

As I explain in the extended entry, this “rights beyond” link need not be to commercial rights. It could be a tip jar, or t-shirts, or even another CC license. Thus, anyone offering content under a CC-NC license should, in my view, offer an alternative licenses as well — CC-BY-SA — which would mean the content could also be included within copyleft projects. But more on that soon …

The tech here has been tricky, no doubt. But the hardest part will be to begin to make clear the potential this added capacity adds. Read below, and if you’ve got any great ideas, I’d be eager to hear them.

(continued) Continue reading

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good days and then bad

December 7th. A date which will live in infamy.

So the day after the Gowers Review issued perhaps the most sensible document about IP produced by a government related entity in the 20th or 21st century — the report, remember, that after a careful review of the evidence, concluded that as a matter of principle, the copyright term of existing works should never be extended — 4,000 artists signed an advertisement in the FT calling for “fair play for musicians” by extending the copyright term for recordings from 50 to 95 years. As CNN reports,

Without a change in the law, the catalogue of McCartney’s Beatles could be up for grabs from 2012 and 2013, including early hits like “Love Me Do” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand”.

Oh jeez. Poor Paul, you may think. Robbed in his old age. Except of course, as popculture maven Jon Zittrain reports, and popstar-blinded CNN omits, McCartney doesn’t own his “catalogue” and anyway, the only right at issue is the recording. The underlying composition right will be “McCartney’s” for at least 70 years more.

But I get the fairness argument: Congress cheated the American people by violating the Gowers principle against extending existing terms, so it is only fair that Parliament cheat the British people too. How else will Sir Cliff afford the upkeep on the house in Barbados that Tony Blair likes to visit unless he gets another 45 years monopoly on his 1956 recordings?

What’s needed here is some good user-generated guerrilla content — remember Napster_Bad — so that the other side of this story might pierce the press-relation’s wall of these cultural elites, and they can begin to explain just why 90+% of our past should be buried for another two generations so that they can profit even more.

Or I’d be happy if they could just answer my question: Why would they oppose a system in which to get the benefit of an almost doubling of their copyright term, they had to ask? Continue reading

Posted in Against Term Extension | 7 Comments

Carr on DRM

Nick Carr on DRM:

No, DRM is about controlling the business model for selling online music. And if it looks like there won’t be much additional sales growth through iTunes, then music companies are going to start selling unprotected MP3s. In an iPod world, they have little choice.

Unless, of course, Apple starts allowing other kinds of DRM-protected song files to play on iPods. But even that unlikely event might not matter much. It would seem that the best business strategy for record companies at this point is to open the floodgates for online music retailing, which would almost certainly bring a burst of innovation in packaging and pricing.

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Gowers Review Recommendation #4

From the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property:

Recommendation 4:Policy makers should adopt the principle that the term and scope of protection for IP rights should not be altered retrospectively.

Bravo. Now if only the British (and every) government could muster the courage to follow this advice. Continue reading

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UK Term Extension — latest

The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property has been released. It is here.

Meanwhile, you can read two reports the Review commissioned. One is a fantastic report about the economics of term extension. You can download it here.

The second is a report about Orphan Works (I’ve not read this yet). You can get it here.

My piece in the Financial Times today about the report is here. The punch line:

There are some who believe that copyright terms should be perpetual. Britain did the world a great service when it resolved that debate almost 300 years ago, by establishing one of the earliest copyright regimes to limit copyright to a fixed term. It could now teach the world a second important lesson: any gift of term extension should only go to those who ask.

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Judge Posner, virtually


Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals will visit Second Life on December 7th, from 6-8pm Second Life Time (PST). Read all about it here.

I was a law clerk for Judge Posner. It was the best job a lawyer could imagine. Unlike must judges, Posner writes his own opinions. That meant the job of a clerk was simply to argue — and he invited, indeed insisted upon, strong and vigorous argument. (Once I sent him a letter very strongly criticizing a draft of a book he was writing. The next morning I had second thoughts about the tone of the letter. I wrote a letter to apologize. He wrote back immediately: Never apologize for strongly stating your case. “I’m surrounded by sycophants. I don’t need that from you.”

He is the most prolific person I know. He is the most influential lawyer of his time. His work in law and economics revolutionized the legal academy. His opinions as a judge are easily among the most influential in the federal judiciary. You may not agree with his politics (as I don’t on many things). But don’t let political correctness block the chance to “see” this extraordinary figure.

Most won’t like the conclusions of the book he’ll be discussing. But there are always many more interesting Posner channels. He’s a big fan of The Matrix. And cats.

Were it not 3am my time when he is in Second Life, I’d be there too. Let me know how it goes. Continue reading

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Is there a simple way to make a pdf call home?

Let’s say you release a draft of a paper using PDF. But when people open the paper to read it, you’d like the PDF to check whether there’s a more recent version available. If there is, you’d like it to indicate as much — somewhere. Obviously, you could always include a link that says “For the most current version, go here.” But is there a way to say, “A more recent version of this document is available here.”? Continue reading

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