by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 11:14pm
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 7:29pm
from the is-that-still-counterfeiting? dept
Still, it's a bit of a surprise to find out that, as part of an effort by French law enforcement to break up a ring that was counterfeiting Hermes bags, they discovered the whole thing may have been run by Hermes employees -- at least two of whom have been arrested (and fired). Of course, perhaps it's not so strange. When it comes to copyright infringement, it's pretty common to find out that early leaks are "inside jobs." Still, it does raise questions about whether those "knockoffs" were really of lesser quality... It reminds me of the story of a firm that created its own "counterfeit" line to compete, but that was "authorized." This just sounds like some rogue employees, trying to cash in.
by Michael Ho
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- CERN has cautiously announced the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle with a mass-energy of about 125-126 GeV. There's a lot of verification that still needs to be done, but it looks like they've found the "God particle" that explains how all matter has mass. CERN also said there's about a 0.000057% statistical chance of this measurement being wrong. [url]
- The faster-than-light neutrino that was seen in 2011... isn't actually faster than light. The cause of the measurement error was determined to be a loose cable. So no time traveling for you! [url]
- Some astrophysicists say they've discovered a filament of dark matter between two galaxy clusters about 2.7 billion light years away. This filament of dark matter appears to be around 58 million light years long, and the astronomers were lucky to find two galaxies oriented in a way that allowed them to measure the effects of this dark matter trail. [url]
by Leigh Beadon
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 4:00pm
from the i-suppose-it's-progress dept
Earlier this week, we wrote about the revelation (via a leaked text) that the Canada-EU Trade Agreement, which is nearing completion, contains provisions in the IP chapter that are extremely similar to ACTA. It's a pretty clear attempt to reboot the ACTA process via a back door, and Michael Geist's coverage drew a lot of attention to the issue in Europe. Now, it looks like damage control is already underway: Geist reports that the European Commission has made a weak attempt to assuage concerns by announcing that two of the ACTA-like provisions in CETA have been dropped. Unfortunately, those provisions only represent a small fraction of CETA's similarities to ACTA:
The European Commission, which initially indicated that it would not respond to the posting of the leaked CETA IP chapter, has now responded by saying that the two ACTA provisions involving Internet providers have been dropped from CETA. When asked whether those were the only changes, EU Trade spokesperson John Clancy said there may be other changes but that this was the biggest one.
While the removal of the Internet provider provisions is a good step, the European Parliament's overwhelming rejection of ACTA was the result of far more than just the Internet provider provisions. Indeed, there has been concern about digital locks, damages, criminal provisions, and border measures. All of those provisions also appeared in the February 2012 CETA draft and Clancy's response suggest that most, if not all, remain there.
So... some of the bad stuff has been removed from the leaked draft that we weren't supposed to see in the first place. Also there may be other changes—who knows? Certainly not the public, and apparently not the EU Trade spokesperson either. You probably see the real issue here: even if they removed all of the controversial provisions from CETA, there would still be the little matter of how they were trying to quietly push through all the exact same stuff that citizens and politicians across Europe rose up and rejected mere weeks ago. The public still had to learn about it via a leaked document. New information comes in the form of vague descriptions, not new public drafts. This is not how you negotiate an international agreement in the 21st century, and that's what people are reacting to.
I suspect the people behind CETA are really, really annoyed: they were so close to slipping this one through, and now they might have another ACTA on their hands. How many times does this have to happen before politicians, diplomats, and the special interest groups that drive these agreements realize they no longer get to operate without public scrutiny?
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 2:55pm
from the just-wondering... dept
Among the studios with WikiLeaks movies in development are Time Warner Inc.'s HBO Films, DreamWorks Studios, Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures and Annapurna Pictures, the company run by Megan Ellison, daughter of Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison.Most of the article talks about the difficulty of creating a movie based on a true story that's still very much in progress. However, they just barely touch on the question of paying for the story. After all, the story of Assange is based on "his work," right? There had been one project that sought to buy an option on Assange's own memoirs, which were due to be published by Random House, but apparently Assange failed to deliver and the deal fell through. Other projects did option different versions of the Assange story -- but not from Assange himself. One optioned the book from former WikiLeaks spokesman, turned Wikileaks critic, Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Another optioned a profile of Assange that was done in the New Yorker.
However, all of the actual stories focus on Assange and his work in building up Wikileaks. If Hollywood really believes so strongly in not "profiting off the works of others" without fairly compensating them, why aren't they lining up to pay Assange?
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 1:54pm
from the why-pay-more? dept
A few years back, Techdirt noted that India had 16,000 licensed drug manufacturers in the 1990s, and became a net exporter of pharmaceutical products. Things changed somewhat when India joined the WTO, which forced it to recognize pharmaceutical patents, but more recently it has started moving back towards generics, notably with the compulsory licensing of a kidney and liver cancer drug that was being sold by Bayer in the country for around $70,000 a year.
Now India has made another bold move in the field of healthcare:
From city hospitals to tiny rural clinics, India's public doctors will soon be able to prescribe free generic drugs to all comers, vastly expanding access to medicine in a country where public spending on health was just $4.50 per person last year.
That's clearly going to have an immense effect on a country where 40% of the population live on $1.25 or less, meaning that paying for drugs is out of the question. The article quoted above estimates that 600 million people could take advantage of the scheme over the next five years.
The plan was quietly adopted last year but not publicized. Initial funding has been allocated in recent weeks, officials said.
Under the plan, doctors will be limited to a generics-only drug list and face punishment for prescribing branded medicines, a major disadvantage for pharmaceutical giants in one of the world's fastest-growing drug markets.
But it will also have a major impact on the Western pharma companies, since it will effectively lock their products out of one of the two most important markets for the future. Combined with the compulsory licensing of more modern drugs, the latest move by India is deeply troubling for the world's main drug companies. That's reflected in both Bayer's attempt to contest the compulsory licensing order, and USPTO deputy director Teresa Stanek Rea's extraordinary claim that the move was in violation of TRIPS, clearly not the case.
India's decision to adopt generics across its entire healthcare system also stands in stark contrast to provisions in TPP that will make it much harder for local manufacturers in signatory countries to produce generics legally. As a result, TPP looks more and more like an attempt to lock emerging countries into old and one-sided business models that are stacked against them.
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 12:51pm
from the working-for-the-readers dept
Enter Penny Arcade, home to one of the most popular web comics on the entire internet. Early in its life, it operated solely on the donations of its readers. As it grew, it transitioned to a more traditional ad-based model. Now, the creators want to return to that idyllic era of a user funded site via Kickstarter. And they're doing it with a hilarious video, showing off their personality (which is always a good way to connect with fans).
Would scouring ads from Penny Arcade, with everything that entails, be something you'd be willing to reach into your pocket for? The more we considered it, the more we agreed it might just be. Not only would you no longer have to look at advertising when browsing Penny Arcade, but not having ads would create a chain reaction that would lead to a bunch of other interesting stuff. Without the almighty "pageview" to consider, why not populate the RSS with full comics and posts? Why not enable and even encourage apps, first and third party, for people to read it however they damn well please?Basically, it frees them up to do a lot of things that advertising has hindered in the past. Think about this. Currently, they believe they cannot offer full comics or articles in their RSS feeds because doing so cuts into ad revenue. They cannot allow the use of 3rd party comic readers because doing so may eat into ad revenue. They cannot offer their fans the experience they deserve because they fear that doing so eats into ad revenue. But if ad revenue is no longer a consideration, all these features (and more) are back on the table. If this Kickstarter succeeds, they will no longer need to worry about making advertisers happy and can focus on making their fans happy.
The campaign is not without its critics, though. In fact, there are already several arguments against what Penny Arcade is doing here. The first argument is the idea that the Penny Arcade crew doesn't really need the money because they are already successful. We have seen this argument made before. But just like that situation, crowdfunding is not just about raising money: it's a way to connect with your fans and let them get invested in you and your work.
Another common argument is that this Kickstarter campaign violates Kickstarter's own rules. Specifically, critics claim that it violates the rules against using Kickstarter to fund ongoing projects, or projects without an end. This might seem like a good argument against it, but if it truly did violate Kickstarter's guidelines, it wouldn't have been approved. Additionally, Penny Arcade is producing a product with these funds. They are producing a year's worth of content that would not have been created without it. So, there is a product goal here.
Something else that isn't quite a complaint about the Kickstarter campaign but more of a sustainability question is that of non-paying readers. This campaign is not just a benefit for backers. All changes made to the site and its operations will be available to all readers. Some claim that because of this free-rider problem, the ability operate under this model is not sustainable in the long run. However, we have seen many areas where this is not the case. On Twitter, Gabe compared this campaign to that of NPR fund-raising drives. We know that the vast majority of public radio listeners do not pay at pledge time, but the stations are still able to raise the majority of their funds from those who do. Another great example comes from free-to-play video games, in which the majority of players will never spend money. Many of these games are still able to make a profit operating this way.
Regardless of the complaints, this is a really bold move for any major brand to make. If they succeed in raising all the money needed to run ad-free for a full year, we will be able to return in a year's time and gauge its success. If they don't succeed, then it will be business as usual and we will have to watch for further funding experiments. Hopefully, we will see the former and that success will spark a new wave of advertising-free content publishing.
At the very least, this is a reminder that we're seeing new business models pop up all the time. Some people claim that advertising is "the only" business model online, but clearly that's not true. That doesn't mean that this or any particular Kickstarter campaign will always succeed -- but that's true of any business model. What Kickstarter allows, however, is the rapid prototyping of a business model like this, and that's really disruptive.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 11:45am
from the which-one-works-better dept
But there is still a culture gap here. Specifically, there are two ways of thinking about how business meets law: the permission model and the innovation model. In one, there's some gatekeeper that has set out a list of things you can do and things you can't. If you want to do something different that nobody has done, you can get permission from that gatekeeper to allow it, if it has enough merit and/or you have enough influence. In the other, you can do what you want, unless it's so harmful that someone takes action to stop you...We've seen (and made) similar arguments in the past about the difference between gatekeeping and innovation, but Alpert's writeup lays it out quite nicely and is a worthwhile read. Check it out.
[...] Patents turn an innovation system into a permission system by carving up the space of possible things you could do but haven't yet, and giving them to anyone who comes along and pays a fee to grab that piece of idea land. Patents don't stop someone from building a product, but they do force them to check with everyone who has patents in the area first and get their permission.
That impedes someone from building a better website that effectively competes with an existing one. It even stops organizations like transit agencies from doing the mostly-obvious, like letting riders track trains and buses in real time, because a "patent troll" has the patent and wants to extract money from anyone stepping nearby.
A number of technology/
policy/ economics writers, like Tim Lee, have been talking about the destructive effects of patents for some time, but running into resistance from an interesting quarter: lawyers. It seems that most lawyers, accustomed to the world of law where everything is set up with a rule, find the permission system of patents more familiar and comfortable than the innovation model. The problem is, familiar doesn't mean good; patents are slowing down Silicon Valley and favoring large, established companies.
It certainly explains the general clash between entrepreneurs and innovators and any regulatory body they seem to come up against. It's not just a disagreement about the best way to handle things, it's a conflict of totally different paradigms. That can make for much louder clashes and much more confusion. But not much actual innovation.
Part of this really may just be a hammer/nail problem. Politicians have a single real tool: regulation. So that's the tool they always use, in the belief that it will lead to innovation. But, innovation doesn't work by following rules, but by ripping apart the rulebook, and showing that the rules don't make sense. It goes beyond just a clash of cultures to a fundamentally different view of how innovation works.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 10:30am
from the down-goes-another-one dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 9:25am
NSA Chief Says NSA Doesn't Need Access To Your Info... As Whistleblowers Say They're Already Getting It
from the cyber-security? dept
In fact, in a story that has received almost no attention, the EFF was able to get three whistleblowers to speak out on the NSA's massive spying infrastructure:
In a motion filed today, the three former intelligence analysts confirm that the NSA has, or is in the process of obtaining, the capability to seize and store most electronic communications passing through its U.S. intercept centers, such as the "secret room" at the AT&T facility in San Francisco first disclosed by retired AT&T technician Mark Klein in early 2006.So it's interesting to pay attention to what Alexander has to say in pushing for cybersecurity legislation. You can watch the full video below, if you'd like:
He does insist that worse attacks are coming, but provides no basis for that (or, again, why the NSA needs your info). In fact, according to a much more believable study, the real risks are not outside threats and hackers, but internal security screwups and disgruntled inside employees. None of that requires NSA help. At all.
But it sure makes for a convenient bogeyman to get new laws that take away privacy rights.
Alexander, recognizing the civil liberties audience he was talking to, admits that the NSA neither needs nor wants most personal info, such as emails, and repeatedly states that they need to protect civil liberties (though, in the section quoted below, you can also interpret his words to actually mean they don't care about civil liberties -- but that's almost certainly a misstatement on his part):
One of the things that we have to have then [in cybersecurity legislation], is if the critical infrastructure community is being attacked by something, we need them to tell us... at network speed. It doesn't require the government to read their mail -- or your mail -- to do that. It requires them -- the internet service provider or that company -- to tell us that that type of event is going on at this time. And it has to be at network speed if you're going to stop it.Now all that's interesting, because if that's true, then why is he supporting legislation that would override any privacy rules that protect such info? If he really only needs limited information sharing, then why isn't he in favor of more limited legislation that includes specific privacy protections for that kind of information? He goes back to insisting they don't care about this info later on in the talk, but never explains why he doesn't support legislation that continues to protect the privacy of such things:
It's like a missile, coming in to the United States.... there are two things you can do. We can take the "snail mail" approach and say "I saw a missile going overhead, looks like it's headed your way" and put a letter in the mail and say, "how'd that turn out?" Now, cyber is at the speed of light. I'm just saying that perhaps we ought to go a little faster. We probably don't want to use snail mail. Maybe we could do this in real time. And come up with a construct that you and the American people know that we're not looking at civil liberties and privacy, but we're actually trying to figure out when the nation is under attack and what we need to do about it.
Nice thing about cyber is that everything you do in cyber, you can audit. With 100% reliability. Seems to be there's a great approach there.
The key thing in information sharing that gets, I think, misunderstood, is that when we talk about information sharing, we're not talking about taking our personal emails and giving those to the government.So make that explicit. Rather than supporting cybersecurity legislation that wipes out all privacy protections why not highlight what kind of information sharing is blocked right now and why it's blocked? Is it because of ECPA regulations? Something else? What's the specific problem? Talking about bogeymen hackers and malicious actors makes for a good Hollywood script, but there's little evidence to support the idea that it's a real threat here -- and in response, Alexander is asking us all to basically wipe out all such privacy protections... because he insists that the NSA doesn't want that kind of info. And, oh yeah, this comes at the same time that three separate whistleblowers -- former NSA employees -- claim that the NSA is getting exactly that info already.
So, this speech is difficult to square up with that reality. If he really believes what he's saying, then why not (1) clearly identify the current regulatory hurdles to information sharing, (2) support legislation that merely amends those regulations and is limited to just those regulations and (3) support much broader privacy protections for the personal info that he insists isn't needed? It seems like a pretty straightforward question... though one I doubt we'll get an answer to. Ever. At least not before cybersecurity legislation gets passed.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 8:14am
from the there-goes-that-one dept
The right that Liberty seeks to vindicate by its state law negligence claim – the imposition of liability on one who knowingly contributes to a direct infringement by another – already is protected by the Copyright Act under the doctrine of contributory infringement.The court dismissed the entire complaint, but more on a technicality (the work named does not match the registered copyright). But it certainly appears from this ruling that the negligence claim (and others like it) are dead issues. Someone could, conceivably be sued for contributory infringement for how they run the network (if they actively participate), but negligence? Nope.
Liberty nevertheless argues that its negligence claim asserted here is not preempted because, as the Court understands the argument, the negligence claim rests on infringement by others whereas the Copyright Act provides a remedy only against a direct infringer. In light of the preceding discussion and the doctrine of contributory infringement – which Liberty’s memorandum ignores entirely – that position is untenable.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 6:59am
from the government-failures dept
We're still not convinced it’s an agreement adequate for 21st century society--especially in an environment where the public, Congress, and civil rights organizations are denied access to the treaty’s official text, while corporate representatives have full access to it. In a world where you can access the complete state code of Utah in Github to engage citizens in legislative drafting, secrecy and backroom deals are not exactly a 21st century way to build the 21st century society.It's still never been adequately explained why the USTR feels the need for such secrecy and backroom deals. At best, the answer has been "this is how we always negotiate trade agreements." That's not an answer, that's an excuse. If the USTR is serious about building a trade agreement for the 21st century, it would recognize that it needs to be open and transparent.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 5:09am
from the do-these-people-think? dept
The headline defines the kind of malarkey we're in for, stating: Throwing out Acta will not bring a free internet, but cultural disaster.
Really? So blocking an agreement that ratchets up copyright enforcement marginally, and which might criminalize a few things that are widely accepted in the public, means we're headed for cultural disaster? How so? Morrison never bothers to tell us. He makes no reference, whatsoever, to anything that's actually in ACTA, but seems to merely assume that ACTA would have magically made piracy go away and sent people back to buying CDs and DVDs... and even paying for news again. Clearly he has never read ACTA. Many of our concerns about ACTA weren't in what it would directly do, but in how it would set new floors that meant today's problems in copyright law couldn't be fixed going forward. There were also issues of vague definitions that we were afraid would be used overly broadly ("commercial scale" for example), but that wouldn't have changed the basic issues Morrison seems concerned with.
History is strewn with moments when politicians made swift decisions that led to disastrous consequences. One such moment has just occurred. In throwing out the Acta (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) bill on Wednesday, MEPs in the European parliament have unwittingly signed their countries up for a future in which internet piracy will lead to the decline of film, the novel, journalism and music on an industrial scale.This is pretty funny, in that this was actually quite the opposite of a "swift decision." Copyright expansion, on the other hand, has a long history of government officials pushing for "swift decisions" that expand copyright law, without giving anyone any actual economic evidence that it's needed, or explaining any logical rationale. This is an issue that goes back centuries. Copyright expansion is always rushed through. We almost never see thoughtful debate on the issue. Instead, the rejection of ACTA was quite the opposite. It was a case where the public spoke up, and many MEPs actually took the time to inform themselves of the details and realized that ACTA is not a path forward. In fact, many MEPs changed their minds on the issue over the last six months as more data and evidence was presented to them. That's the exact opposite of what Morrison claims happened.
This is not scaremongering. One need only look at the stats from the US, where during the Clinton administration the internet companies were given free rein to pillage copyright material via the rushed-through Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).I have to assume that Morrison was not paying much attention during the battle over the DMCA, because it was anything but "rushed through." In fact, if Morrison actually knew anything about the history of the DMCA, and the long and hard-fought battle that went into it, he would know that it was championed by the legacy entertainment industry as the savior for their business (just as they demanded SOPA and ACTA) and it was the other side -- those who believed it would lock up culture -- who were protesting against it, and worked for years to have it repealed. For the "copyleft," the DMCA was considered a huge failure. For Hollywood it was considered a long-fought win. Pretending it was quick and a victory for the other side, is an attempt to either rewrite history, or is history written by someone who is ignorant of what really happened.
This revisionist history of the DMCA is really amusing for those of us who lived through the original battle. However, due to some misinformation, a few new copyright maximalists today pretend that the DMCA was a bad law for them, even though it was what they fought for. Of course, their real complaint is with just one aspect of the DMCA: the section 512 safe harbors, which the ISPs fought to have included in the law, because without it, folks like the RIAA and MPAA (and, apparently, Ewan Morrison) would try to sue the ISPs if they didn't wave a magic wand and stop their users from infringing. If you actually take the time to understand the safe harbors, they make perfect sense: they say that you blame the party actually infringing, not the tools they use. To people like Morrison, apparently, it's better to blame the tools. For what it's worth, the DMCA only applies in the US. If Morrison -- who appears to not live in the US -- is really so troubled by it, I'd imagine he'd have proof of services in other countries that succeed in stopping piracy because they can be sued out of existence based on their users' actions. Oh, he doesn't?
According to Robert Levine, in his book Free Ride, the music industry in the US has declined by over 55% in the last decade. Film is following with its first decline in recorded history. Journalism is heading towards "free". All because people now assume that "ripping" is the norm. If "aggregation" is OK, as the Huffington Post do it, then why should we pay for journalism? Why should we be branded pirates? This is what the European parliament has just ruled. Everything on the net, from now on, will be free.Almost everything stated here is wrong. First of all, the music industry in the US has not declined by over 55%. The recording industry has. But the recording industry is not the music industry. The music industry continues to grow (and that's based on the IFPI's numbers -- yes, the industry's own numbers).
As for "film," more and more films are being produced every year, and all sorts of new business models are popping up. 10% of the movies at Sundance this year were financed by Kickstarter -- a site that was less than 3 years old at the time. Imagine how many films will be financed by new business models and services going forward?
As for journalism, that's not heading towards "free" because "ripping" is the norm, but because of the basic economics of the internet and the fact that there's a lot more competition. The attack on HuffPo is just totally misinformed, since HuffPo/AOL actually employs a ton of journalists, contrary to Morrison's claim. Besides, if "aggregation" is beating your reporting, you're doing it wrong.
And, as for that final line: "This is what the European parliament has just ruled. Everything on the net, from now on, will be free." I'm curious if Morrison can point out (1) where it says that everything online will be free and (2) where ACTA would have stopped that? Does he think that ACTA would have magically stopped fundamental economics of competition? That ACTA would have magically wiped out free content online? The failure of ACTA doesn't make content free. Morrison seems to think ACTA is something that it is not. And ACTA supporters claim that those who fought ACTA ran a misinformation campaign -- where are they denouncing Morrison's crazy claims? ACTA would not have had any impact on the online services that Morrison seems to think are the root of all of the problems in the world. It didn't address that issue at all.
As a journalist, novelist and a friend of many who "used to be" musicians, I see the wrong in this."This" being the strawman that Morrison just set up -- that without ACTA, everything is free. You see the wrong in a claim that you totally made up out of thin air that has no basis in reality. Kudos to you.
I defend copyright because it is the lifeblood of the creative industries and of democracy.And yet... somehow, magically, as copyright has become less and less respected, content production has increased by orders of magnitude and creative industries have grown as well. If it's the lifeblood of creative industries, then that wouldn't be true. In other words, this claim is flat out wrong.
And, uh, copyright is the lifeblood of democracy? How so? Morrison provides no other explanation and there is none, because that's a ridiculous claim that has no basis in, well, anything. Hell, here in the US, the first major democracy, we came quite close to not having copyright law at all. No one -- on any side of this issue -- thinks that it is necessary in a democracy. You might argue that it's a good thing, or a bad thing, but no one thinks it's the lifeblood of democracy.
Other unexpected voices have joined the cause of copyright protection – Dr Dre claims there will be no future generations of rappers because of piracy and the expectation that recording artists will put their work out for free.Hello, totally random non-sequitur. Why is Dr. Dre an "unexpected voice" in all of this? I could just as easily list off tons of musicians who claim otherwise. If we're looking at the rap world, why not talk to Chuck D or Hank Shocklee or 50 Cent -- all of whom have stated the exact opposite. I actually tried to look up the details of this claim by Dre, and couldn't find it anywhere. The only thing I found was that he followed Lars Ulrich's original lawsuit against Napster with his own such lawsuit. That was more than a dozen years ago. The market for rappers has not disappeared at all. In fact, it's grown. Why? In large part because of the mixtape world, in which artists put their work out for free -- which has resulted in many of the top rappers today getting discovered, and making a ton of money down the road. So, forgive me for not buying the claim from Dr. Dre when reality has shown the exact opposite.
Modern consumers don't think of the next year – they are hooked on the short-term quick fix. They don't understand the negative impact of piracy.Of course, we're still waiting for the actual economic evidence of the "negative impact of piracy." Most studies don't seem to show that. They do show that it has caused some difficulty for some record labels, and shifted around where some of the money goes, but that's about it.
Over the last year, I've conducted surveys of the students I've lectured and 90-98% of them, between the ages of 18 and 32, are involved in daily acts of piracy.Not quite sure where he lectures, but there is absolutely no reasonable study that supports this claim. None. Zilch. Zippo. Music Ally, who's really good on these things, did a survey a few years back, and found that the rate of infringement among younger people was actually decreasing -- and they were looking at those who did it at least once a month (not daily, as Morrison says is the case of the young people he talks to). In 2009, they found that the percentage of teens who file shared once a month was 26% (down from 42% two years earlier). And yet Morrison claims that it's 90 to 98% infringing daily? Meanwhile, a study done at Columbia University last year found that 70% of those 18 to 29 had acquired some infringing content, but that "large scale" piracy was exceptionally rare. Of those in the 18 to 29 year age bracket (closely corresponding to Morrison's 18 to 32) a mere 7% had large digital music collections -- which you would expect if they were sharing every day.
So forgive me for putting on my skeptic's hat, but that 90 to 98% claim doesn't pass even the simplest laugh test.
Oh, and let's not even start discussing the fact that every single study on the subject has shown that "regular" infringers spend more on content than those who don't infringe at all. In other words, if Morrison's number was actually accurate, there likely would be a lot more spending on content.
They no longer pay for music or films or journalism.Again, the actual evidence has shown that those who infringe actually spend more than those who don't bother. But why let facts get in the way of good rant?
They have a vague idea that what they do is left wing, that it has somehow to do with freedom of speech. And I say to them, but don't you want to make films, be journalists, make music? Where will the money come from if you don't pay? This is a blind generation. And there is no point trying to convince them person-to-person that what they are doing is damaging their own future.Which of course ignores the fact that many of these kids are likely aware of all sorts of new business models that have been popping up all over the place. They know that the live music market has grown tremendously. They know that there are platforms like PledgeMusic and Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. They know that services like Spotify are now paying larger and larger sums and many users are switching to them away from infringement out of convenience. They know, then, that there's still plenty of money to be made.
The only solution is governmental.Er, except that we've already seen that the actual solution is not governmental, but is coming from all sorts of amazing innovations and new services that help artists create, distribute, promote and monetize already.
And the problem started with legislation: the DMCA, with Clinton, who was bullied into it by the tech companies in Silicone Valley.Again, this is an astounding rewriting of history in that it flips the story completely on its head. First of all, it's Silicon Valley, not Silicone. Second, the DMCA was pushed almost exclusively by the entertainment industry, and its passing was celebrated by them, and decried by the tech industry in Silicon Valley who, for years, sought to have it repealed. It's difficult to take Morrison seriously when his key talking point appears to be the opposite of what really happened.
The ruling makes it impossible to sue internet providers for copyright infringement on their own sites. So for example, if I am a band, it will be my responsibility, or that of my record company, to trawl the tens of thousands of rips of my songs and send out writs and sue individuals. Meanwhile, the internet companies who profit from piracy are left scot-free, legally.First of all, the DMCA is a law, not a "ruling." Second, it is not impossible to sue internet providers for copyright infringement if they're responsible for the infringement. It only says that if they are the tool provider, you don't blame them for how people use the tool -- but you can use the DMCA to have them take down infringing content. And I wonder: how "scot-free" did Veoh get off? That company was sued by Universal Music for copyright infringement and had to shut down because of the legal costs... even though the judge eventually ruled Veoh legal. YouTube has been fighting a massive infringement lawsuit from Viacom. Scot-free? Meanwhile, lots of other companies have been shut down in a post-DMCA era, including Napster, Grokster, Aimster, Kazaa, Morpheus, Zediva, etc. Scot-free? Even if you believe many of these companies should have been found legal, it's clearly 100% false that any company can use the DMCA to avoid legal impact.
And, these days, nearly every major user-generated content site offers a copyright filter, anyway, that lets copyright holders "register" their works and have them blocked.
According to Robert Levine, 75% of all material on YouTube is in breach of copyright. That's a $36bn company, with 75% of its content based on piracy. And don't forget that Google owns YouTube. Also, Google Adsense places advertisements on YouTube pages, and makes money from them, without any proper legal procedure to test whether such pages have been ripped. Google and YouTube also sell ads on pirated pages. And 99% of their income is based on selling ads.First of all, I'm not sure where the "$36 billion company" part comes from. Google is valued at closer to $200 billion. Perhaps he means just the YouTube part of it, which perhaps is valued at $36 billion, but as a subsidiary of Google I'm not sure that number is accurate. Either way, even if we accept the claim that 75% of the material on YouTube is infringing -- a claim that seems dubious -- that doesn't mean squat. Where is YouTube actually making its money? Videos on YouTube are not all equal.
And, here's the big thing that Morrison leaves out: YouTube long ago instituted ContentID -- a system that lets anyone designate all of the content they hold copyright on, and prevent any of it from being uploaded to YouTube. It also has this amazing thing that lets copyright holders monetize the videos by putting ads on them and having Google give most of that money to the copyright holder. In other words, for many, many copyright holders, YouTube has become a massive profit center. And Morrison doesn't even mention that, bizarrely suggesting that only Google makes money on those ads. Also, while some Google ads have made their way onto sites that offer infringing works, Google is pretty good at policing that. In fact, part of the evidence against Megaupload was the fact that Google cut off their ads on the site. That seems to disprove the basic claims Morrison makes.
The internet is a vast succubus that preys on the content made by the creative industries. Ask yourself why it is that recent culture has ground to a halt.Er, culture hasn't ground to a halt. More music is being released today than ever before in history. More movies are being released today than ever before in history. More books are being released today than ever before in history. More sources are reporting the news today than ever before in history.
There is nothing radical or hip about being a pirate. Those who think they are being counter-cultural by ripping content off the web are fools, and this includes those who fought against Acta in the name of "freedom of expression". They want the internet to be some kind of 60s utopia where everything and everyone is free. But we still live in capitalism, and if you make culture free, you make it a ghetto.I have no words to respond to this paragraph, because it makes no sense and has no basis in reality. In all the years that I've been involved in these discussions I have never, not once, heard anyone claim that they're looking for some sort of hippie/utopian vision where "everyone is free." In fact, many of us believe strongly in true free market capitalism, where we try to minimize things like government granted monopolies on abundant goods. And, again, this idea that if culture is "free" it's a ghetto is again proven wrong by reality. Shakespeare wrote in a time without copyright, and seemed to create some pretty compelling cultural artifacts. Oh, and if you look at the data, it sure looks like public domain works sell pretty damn well. The copyright-free world is not a cultural ghetto, and we have empirical evidence to show that.
The internet is not free. It is about as free as the free market. And the companies that run the internet are all massive US corporations. When you rip material on the net, there is a cost. You are handing over you own country's cultural content to US corporations, who will never pay a penny in return.Really, now? Of course, paying the RIAA/MPAA labels and studios -- who both have a long and very detailed history of failing to pay royalties -- is somehow better? Whereas, when you actually look at the companies that Morrison is slamming, you discover a very different story. We've already discussed Google's ContentID program, which returns a hell of a lot more than "pennies" to content creators. And then you look at things like Kickstarter, in which more than 90% of the revenue goes directly to the artist -- completely flipping the traditional label structure on its head (where standard royalty rates are 10% to 15% and only if you recoup).
After Acta has died, we must go back to US legislation and overturn the DMCA. Sites like YouTube would then be deprived of 75% of their illegal content. It won't be much fun – 75% less fun, but then maybe we will start to understand that we have to pay for culture.As if ACTA would have changed the DMCA? It would not have. At all. Morrison clearly has not read it. Second: if, in this mythical version of the world, we did in fact "overturn the DMCA" (or, rather the only part he really dislikes -- the safe harbors -- because I imagine he'd throw a complete shit-fit if the rest of the DMCA were overturned), there wouldn't be 75% less content on YouTube. YouTube would basically cease to exist. There would be 100% less content. And you know what? For all of those who want to distribute and share their content, they would no longer get to use YouTube's storage, bandwidth and software for free.
You see, these services he's slamming as somehow profiting unfairly, also happen to provide tremendously useful services for content creators. Before YouTube, if you wanted to post video online, you had to install a complex and expensive video server that had serious compatibility issues, and you had to pay for all that bandwidth at crazy high prices. But YouTube provided all that stuff for free... and made it easy. If he's so concerned about "free," then I assume that he doesn't use any of these free services online.
Over the years, we've seen all sorts of ignorance spouted in support of copyright maximalist positions, but I have to admit that this piece takes all of that to new and never-before-seen levels. As far as I can tell, there is not a single accurate or sensible sentence in the entire piece. Kudos, Ewan Morrison, for setting a new bar in ridiculous articles. All others shall, in the future, be measured on the scale you set in this entirely fact-free piece.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 3:03am
You Can't Introduce Any Decently Cool Product These Days Without Some Sore Loser Claiming Patent Infringement
from the nokia-edition dept
Here's the thing: if Nokia invented a device like this, then sell the damn device. If it's better than the Nexus 7 then it will sell better than the Nexus 7. Whining about patent infringement when you can't compete just makes you look like a sore loser. If what Nokia "invented" and patented was so important, bring the product to market and let the market decide. Bitching about how someone made a better product than you and demanding that they pay you money is just pure sour grapes. It may be legal, based on the idiocy of today's patent system, but it sure makes it clear to me why I'd never buy another Nokia product.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 11th 2012 12:28am
from the tweet-and-found dept
Oddly, it does seem worth noting that just days before, Deirdre had tweeted at the Irish Rail to find out about extra trains for an event. That appears to be the only time she tweeted at the Irish Rail since her account first appeared about a year ago. I'm guessing that's just a weird coincidence, though in this day of faux viral stories, it's at least worth noting...
Either way, assuming the story is accurate, it once again shows some of the unique power of modern communication technology -- even as some still continue to decry things like Twitter as useless. Prior to that, people could have posted a "lost dog!" message online, but the chances of it ever actually connecting with the owner were much more slim. But a service like Twitter, that makes it so easy to spread and share such info, creates the perfect conditions to make something like this happen.