Evan Noynaert's Favorite Techdirt Posts of the Week
from the favorites-favorites-and-more-favorites dept
This week’s favorites post comes from Evan Noynaert, Assistant Professor
This was a great week to be posting my favorites because it started off with Nina Paley’s When Copyright And Contracts Can Get In The Way Of Art.
That was a wonderful piece on several levels. First, of course, is the marvelous art work. It is under a free license, so I expect to see at least bits and pieces of the art work showing up in a variety of media. The discussion of her relationship with the museum was also interesting. It was a perfect illustration of the principle that “managers like to manage.” In many cases, like this one, they tend to over manage. Someone decided that proper management required a contract. The contract they produced was silly because it included an absurd non-compete clause and completely ignored the first use rights that should have been important to the museum. One of the commenters followed up with a criticism that the problems were caused by lack of a contract, but what the situation really showed was that a signed contract is meaningless if it is poorly drawn up.
Then later in the week we were treated to more of Nina’s work when Mike wrote about her Kickstarter Project. I was amused when Mike said that he wanted several copies to hand out. That sounds a lot like handing out religious tracts, and, I guess for some of us, bringing some sanity to the IP system does amount to a religious mission.
One thing has changed since I started reading Techdirt years ago. It seemed like most articles back then were about what is wrong with the IP system. At every turn, it seemed like the IP holders were expanding their rights at the expense of the public interest. Things are different now as we see more and more common sense being introduced into IP issues and various judges and even legislatures realizing that the public interest is not always best served by extending trademark, copyright, and patent protection at every opportunity. Yes, we still have bad things like the PROTECT IP Act proposal hanging over our heads, but there is a lot of good news.
At the risk of being a Pollyana, I would like to highlight some of the positive events this week. We saw good news from Europe, where one European court found that Freedom of expression about Darfur is more important than Louis Vuitton’s trademark. We also saw the European Court of Human Rights say that newspapers don’t need to pre-inform celebrities of coverage. In Ireland, it looks like they are at least considering stronger support for fair use. In the US, we saw Koch Brothers Can’t Abuse Trademark & Hacking Laws To Sue Satirical Critics. The Koch case seems like a pretty straightforward freedom of speech issue, but I am not sure the ruling would have been the same a few years ago. We also saw Patent Hawk’s wings get clipped with a ruling that his editable toolbar patent is invalid. On the more academic side, we saw an important statement about The Anachronism Of Today’s Patent And Copyright Laws. And we had a group of legal scholars stand up and explain why ACTA requires congressional approval. In the business arena, we saw Google follow Amazon’s lead and just say “NO” to RIAA demands for licenses for their cloud music locker. Now I would like to see Google create a music home page that has links to sites and musicians that provide free and Community Commons music that can be easily transferred to your music locker. Google could probably make a fair amount of money by providing searches that included both paid and unpaid advertisements. It would be interesting to see how long it takes for RIAA companies to start buying those advertisements and giving away promotional music.
Finally, one issue that Mike raised this week was in the article about Google’s internal collision course of Chrome versus Android. I agree that there does not seem to be much coordination going on between Android and Chrome at the moment, and that it is a huge burden for any company to maintain two different operating systems. However, this is Google, and Google has proven to be extremely flexible in the past. They have a corporate culture of trying lots of different things and learning from their failures as well as their successes. I would not describe Chrome and Android as being on a collision course. I think it would be more accurate to say that they are on parallel courses. For example, Google TV didn’t work out well under Chrome, so they are going to try Android on the next iteration. I’m not sure that the real problems of Google TV have much to do with the operating system, but the situation does illustrate potential advantages of having two different operating systems in place. Eventually the two will probably merge, or, if the Chrome laptops are not successful, perhaps Chrome will just Wave and fade away. I think that even if the Chrome OS is a failure, it isn’t an indictment of Google but rather an example of how Google is willing to take chances, accept some failures, and move on.