Archive for January, 2012

Coffee & Copyright Law…

I saw both of these videos last August and meant to post them.   Both were produced by C.G.P. Grey (Grey’s Blog) and they are OUTSTANDING!

Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, I think you’ll enjoy the Coffee video (coffee drinkers will love it!).  Caffeine is one of the most studied drugs ever and there are essentially no health problems for normal people ingesting normal amounts of the stuff.  In less than 4 minutes you’ll know more about coffee & caffeine than you thought possible.

The Copyright video analyzes the copyright laws in the U.S. from the 1700’s up until the modern day (and in less than 6 minutes!). Viewers will quickly realize from this short video the idiocy of such long copyright terms.


3 “MUST-SEE” videos concerning copyright & what’s yet to come…

Yes… last week millions from the Internet opened the door, powerfully if briefly, on the powers that dominate policymaking in Washington, and effectively stopped Hollywood’s latest outrage to address “piracy”—a k a the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).  This isn’t the end, nor is it even “the beginning of the end.”  The copyright war has been going on for over 300 years and it’s not about to end now.  I strongly recommend you watch the following three videos, all by ‘movers & shakers’ in internet technology, for insights into what this “battle” is really about.

The FIRST video (14 minutes) is by Clay ShirkyDefend our Freedom to Share (or why SOPA is a bad idea).  Here’s an excerpt:

So what PIPA and SOPA risk doing is taking a centuries-old legal concept, innocent until proven guilty, and reversing it — guilty until proven innocent. You can’t share until you show us that you’re not sharing something we don’t like. Suddenly, the burden of proof for legal versus illegal falls affirmatively on us and on the services that might be offering us any new capabilities. And if it costs even a dime to police a user, that will crush a service with a hundred million users.

Transcript for video is here (click on “Interactive Transcript”); MP3 audio version is here.

The SECOND video (55 minutes) is a speech given by Cory Doctorow at the 28th Chaos Communication Congress (28C3) titled “The Coming War on General Computation.”  Mike Masnick @ Techdirt has a great writeup on the talk here with video embedded.  Cory Doctorow’s talk is about something much bigger than copyright.  It’s that the copyright fight is merely the canary in the coalmine to this kind of attack on general purpose computing in all sorts of other arenas as well.  And those fights may be much bigger and more difficult than the current copyright fight.

Don’t let the length (55 min) scare you. Cory is a very entertaining speaker.  Transcripts of this talk can be found here.  MP3 audio is here.

The THIRD & last video (20 minutes) is an interview with Lawrence Lessig by Charlie Rose.  Larry Lessig has been intimately involved with intellectual property (IP) & copyright issues for over a decade.  He is the author of many books involving IP, including The Future of Ideas and Free Culture.  His latest book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It, is topic of the interview.  Unlike his previous books, the book outlines what Lessig considers to be the systemic corrupting influence of special-interest money on American politics (e.g., SOPA and PROTECT-IP), and only mentions copyright and other free culture topics briefly, as examples.

MP3 audio file is here.

Enjoy (and learn something, too!)


World War I? Anyone remember? Anyone? Anyone?

Know anything about “The Great War”?  How it started?  Who were the players & current alliances?  Remember the Ottoman Empire?

I’ve been meaning to read the history of WWI for many years but just haven’t gotten around to it.  With the recent movie “War Horse” and a couple of series on PBS that revolve around WWI, my curiosity finally got the best of me.

The book I started reading is “The First World War” by Hew Strachan.  I would have preferred to read “The First World War” by John Keegan, but it is not available in Kindle (or any ebook) format plus it is over a hundred pages longer.  If you search hard enough, you can find a scanned pdf version of John Keegan’s book on the Internet.  Hew Strachan’s WWI book is available in a Kindle version, but I didn’t purchase it from Amazon as their price is 50% greater ($14.99) than their paperback price.  I flat out refuse to pay more for an ebook than it’s cheapest hardcover/paperback price.  Period.  Again… if you search the Internet, you can find a “cheaper” version as I did.

I’m only about 75 pages into Hew Strachan’s WWI history, but so far it’s OK.  Since I remember absolutely nothing from my high school WWI history, it’s all new to me, but I’m not sure I’ll last for 384 pages.

On I also found “The First World War: A Very Short Introduction” by Michael Howard.  The Kindle edition is only $4.98 and this book is only 184 pages in length.  Since Hew Strachan’s book seems to require that the reader have at least a little WWI knowledge (which I don’t), I may switch to reading this short intro first & then go back to Strachan’s WWI overview.

Don’t forget… history always seems to repeat itself.  The more we know about our history, the better we are for it.  (Seriously!)

UPDATE:  I just tried the pdf version of John Keegan’s “The First World War” on my Kindle Keyboard & to my surprise, it’s VERY readable!  I so much prefer Keegan’s writing style & analyses that I’m going to abandon Hew Strachan’s book for now & read this one instead.

RE: SOPA & PIPA — It’s not over, by a long shot!

Just in case you’re feelin’ pretty cocky right now with respect to the protests against these ridiculous copyright bills, along with members of both Congress & Senate pulling their support — DON’T!!!  This isn’t going to go away.  In fact, it’s probably just the tip of the iceberg before even more restrictive legislation is proposed over the coming years.  Remember — the content industry has been fighting for this kind of control for over 300 years, starting with the printers guild in England in the 1700’s.  And over this 300+ year period, absolutely nothing has changed.  Thank goodness both Britain’s parliamentarians (Thomas Babington Macaulay) & our own founding fathers (Thomas Jefferson) realized copyright for what it is — a monopoly, and as always the case — monopolies get abused.

Please realize that the people/corporations pushing the hardest for draconian restrictions on the Internet with respect to copyright infringement ARE THE MIDDLEMEN!!!  They have religiously fought ALL new technologies & innovations, only adapting (and profiting from them) when forced to do so, i.e., radio, TV, cassette tapes, VCRs, MP3 Players, and TIVO to name just the most recent “technologies” that were “forced” upon the content industry.  Had copyright law been as stringent as it is today, we likely would have none of these or even the Internet as we know it!

When the US passed it’s first copyright law in 1790, it was for a duration of 14 years, renewable only once for an additional 14 yr term (28 years total).  Content not only had to be registered for copyright protection, but the content owner also had to register for the one-time 14 yr extension.  During these years, over 85% of registered copyrights WERE NOT renewed for the extension!  Where are we now?  No registration is required, and the copyright term is over 95 yrs in length!  And it includes not only books, music,  movies & much more, but SOFTWARE, too!  Copyright law has been continuously expanded, in both scope and length, over the past hundred years.  That’s right — it’s just another monopoly, with all the stink & corruption that goes hand-in-hand with monopolies.

And guess what?  This still isn’t enough for the content industry.  In fact, it will NEVER be enough.

Remember — piracy is the result of UNMET CONSUMER DEMAND.   As long as the content industry refuses to provide consumers with what they desire, then consumers will find a way to fill that void.

The following two articles posted this week discuss different reasons why this isn’t the end of the battle against piracy:

– “5 reasons why SOPA, PROTECT-IP and other legislative idiocy will never die” (ZDNet)

– “SOPA Defeat Is Not the End Of Hollywood’s Ramped-Up Fight Against Piracy (Analysis)” (The Hollywood Reporter)

I still stand by a previous post I made over a year ago — that copyright law has been distorted beyond any perceivable recognition.  It is broken & beyond repair.  In it’s current form, it has no place in our digital world.