Ima Fish's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the favoriting dept

This week’s favorites post come from Ima Fish, who, when not using an assumed name, is an IP lawyer…

I’m sure most people read Techdirt for the insightful posts concerning the fast-changing world of IP. That’s why I started reading it. But recently I discovered a new use. Cubical Exercising. Nearly every day there’s a story that makes me shake my head in utter disbelief. My neck muscles have been getting a great workout.

Let me walk you though last week’s workout routine. On Monday there was a post in which Universal Music Group Distribution President Jim Urie claimed we need stronger IP laws because the “online theft of music is killing artists” as well as “destroying jobs, dreams and careers.”

I’ll ignore the “killing” comment as nonsensical hyperbole. But the complaint against jobs being destroyed is dangerously ignorant. Every time there’s a disruptive change in the marketplace, jobs will be lost. Just as new jobs will be created.

When CDs replaced LPs and put LP manufacturers mostly out of business, was it the government’s job to step in and pass laws against the production of CDs? I certainly don’t think so. When the market for giant SUVs finally crashed in the US, was it the government’s job to pass laws making the production and sale of small and efficient vehicles illegal? I sure hope not.

The music industry is changing from an ownership culture to a consumer culture. Publishers sell sheet music. Labels sell LPs, CDs, and singles. Even in the days of illegal Napster, you’d share music with friends by giving them a copy, either burned to a CD or copied to a flash drive. However, nowadays if you want to share a song with a friend, you simply post the YouTube video onto his or her Facebook wall. We no longer need physical copies or digital representations of physical copies to enjoy music. Those days have passed.

Unfortunately for us, all those old “ownership culture” middlemen, who don’t have a clue how to run a business or earn money without the government’s help, are now being forced to actually work for a living. And they don’t like it.

Nothing was done to help displaced buggy-whip factory workers. But the music industry middlemen are very wealthy and connected. So, unfortunately, when they complain to the government, the government listens and takes action. No matter how completely unreasonable the complaint may be.

My favorite head-shaking post from Tuesday concerned the UK judge who issued a super injunction to prohibit any public discussion of Ryan Giggs’ alleged affair. Of course the internet community ignored the super injunction, rendering it pointless. However, despite that fact, the judge determined that it was actually evidence for the need for a stronger super injunction. (May I suggest calling it a super mega injunction? Thanks. No problem.)

Let’s go through the judge’s tortured logic. He first says,

It is obvious that if the purpose of this injunction were to preserve a secret, it would have failed in its purpose.

That seems logical. Griggs wanted to keep people from publicly talking about his alleged affair, but the injunction utterly failed. But the judge does not stop there.

But in so far as its purpose is to prevent intrusion or harassment, it has not failed.

What the flagnard?! The judge continues in his attempt to destroy the foundations of logic and reason…

The fact that tens of thousands of people have named the claimant on the internet confirms that the claimant and his family need protection from intrusion into their private and family life.

Sorry judge, but the fact that everyone is ignoring your super injunction does not mean you need a super mega injunction. It means that the underlying premise that Griggs needed an injunction in the first place was flawed. It means that people want to talk publicly about Griggs and nothing you do will stop them. (Unless you are the type of person who thinks High Chancellor Adam Sutler was the hero in the film V for Vendetta.)

There were two great head-shakers last Wednesday. First was Senator Harry Reid’s bizarre assertion that passing the Patriot Act without any modification was “an excellent compromise.” Wow.

The other great head-shaker from last Wednesday was the ex-boyfriend who wants royalties for inspiring songs his ex-girlfriend wrote about their breakup. In the past, I’ve written about the absurdities of our new ownership culture. Newspaper writers claimed that other media outlets were stealing stories, which they “stole” themselves from the original sources. Aretha Franklin claimed she was owed money merely because she wore a hat. And the producers of Britain’s Got Talent claimed that Google owed them money for providing free bandwidth and for bringing free attention and exposure to Susan Boyle’s amazing talents.

Let’s get this straight people, merely because someone else is making money does not mean you’re owed money.

Thursday’s head-shaking post comes from everybody’s favorite company, Sony. It was revealed that Sony’s theatrical film projectors are so riddled with DRM that 2D movies shown on those projectors lose as much as 85% of their brightness.

That may seem insane, but it is all a part of Sony’s business plan. What is Sony’s business plan? Treating its customers with utter contempt.

Ever since Sony became both a technology and content company, all it cares about is protecting its precious content. So it puts rootkits on its music CDs. It releases portable music players, but used the asinine ATRAC format. And it removes the “other OS” option in its Playstation 3, but leaves customer information completely open and unencrypted on its servers.

So in Sony’s bizarro collective-mind, it’s perfectly reasonable to destroy the movie theater experience in order to protect the movie theater experience.

Friday’s head-shaking post comes from the New York Stock Exchange. The NYSE has proclaimed that any drawing, photograph, or representation of the NYSE trading floor violates its trademark.

I’m just glad this perversion of trademark law was not around back in the 80s. Otherwise, the film Trading Places would have had a truly sucky ending.

Well, I’m done with my neck exercises for this week. Let’s keep our neck muscles in shape by checking back each and every weekday.


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Comments on “Ima Fish's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week”

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72 Comments
DannyB (profile) says:

Let me fix that for you

That may seem insane, but it is all a part of Sony’s business plan. What is Sony’s business plan? Treating its customers with utter contempt.

Ever since Sony became both a technology and content company, all it cares about is protecting its precious content.

Ever since Sony became both a technology and contempt company, all it cares about is protecting its precious content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Let me fix that for you

Of course if you weren’t addicted to their content, you wouldn’t feel the need to bitch about them.

You’d just shrug and walk away. It wouldn’t affect you.

But apparently they’ve made your poor little addict ass *their* bitch.

“Damn businesses, making money and stuff…”

Anonymous Coward says:

The lens matter with Sony’s theater projectors has nothing to do with DRM. The projector requires a trained technician to change lenses, something that can be done without opening the projector’s cabinet. Apparently, some movie theaters prefer to save money by not having such a technician on hand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Secondly, the complicated lens removal process is questioned with Sony stating a ?trained technician? can change the lens in under 20 minutes. What we don?t know is whether the term !trained technician! extends to projectionists. We assume that it does,…

They assume that it does when it apparently doesn’t. Sounds to me like Sony had some “words” with them about their original story.

… as it would make little sense requiring a technician to visit every time a lens needs changing.

That it was yet another case of DRM not making much sense was kind of the point of the story.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The projector requires a trained technician to change lenses, something that can be done without opening the projector’s cabinet. Apparently, some movie theaters prefer to save money by not having such a technician on hand.

Flying in a specially trained technician every time you want to switch between 2D and 3D probably isn’t cheap.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“How much training should it take to change a projector lens? Seriously? I know IP maximists are dumb and it could take them a year to learn how to do something so simple, but for the rest of us …”

How much training should it take to change the fuel injectors in a car? Yet, it is something that most automobile operators probably don’t know how to do.

There can be a big difference between knowing how to work something and knowing how to work *on* it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Yet, it is something that most automobile operators probably don’t know how to do.”

But there is a difference between most automobile operators, whose job (what they get paid for) is not to maintain or personally repair their automobile themselves on a daily basis (or at all) (and so it’s not an important aspect of their lives or their jobs, they can just pay someone else to do it), and a theater, whose very job it is to provide its customers with enjoyable movies.

Given the importance of the later, it’s not that difficult for a theater to train their projector operators to change a lens. I hardly see it as a huge obstacle, it’s an important aspect of their job and an important aspect of the theaters business. Fixing a car is not an important aspect of most peoples lives and what they do, just hire someone else to do it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

But there is a difference between most automobile operators, whose job (what they get paid for) is not to maintain or personally repair their automobile themselves…

Projectionist get paid to operate projectors, not work on them any more than bus drivers are expected to “maintain or personally repair” their buses. Other people get paid to do those things, like projector technicians and mechanics.

Given the importance of the later, it’s not that difficult for a theater to train their projector operators to change a lens.

You think is isn’t also important to a bus company for the buses to be in running condition? Still, bus companies aren’t training their drivers to work on them (although they could). And neither are theaters training their projector “drivers” to work on the projectors (although they could). That’s what mechanics and technicians are for.

You keep talking about changing the lenses as if any idiot could do it. Does that mean you’ve done it yourself?

abc gum says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Bad analogy is bad.

Changing fuel injectors in an internal combustion engine is no where near the same thing as changing a lens on a projector. Engine compartment layout plays its part in how complex the procedure is but mostly the procedure is complex due to the fact that the injectors are by necessity an integral part of the engine as opposed to a muffler which is simply attached at one end. Fuel injector replacement complexity is for the most part not due to some whimsical and unnecessary desire to make life difficult, whereas the projector lens replacement described in this thread is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Changing fuel injectors in an internal combustion engine is no where near the same thing as changing a lens on a projector. Engine compartment layout plays its part in how complex the procedure is but mostly the procedure is complex due to… blah blah blah

I’ve changed the fuel injectors on my car and it wasn’t “complex” at all. I understand that it might be too complex for you, but it’s not something that most people of normal intelligence couldn’t learn to do.

abc gum says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“I’ve changed the fuel injectors on my car and it wasn’t “complex” at all”

Well, good for you.

“I understand that it might be too complex for you”

You misunderstood.

“it’s not something that most people of normal intelligence couldn’t learn to do”

and your point is?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“I understand that it might be too complex for you”

You misunderstood.

Hmm, does “…the procedure is complex…” look familiar?

and your point is?

I thing the point was basically that you didn’t have a valid one yourself. Or is that too “complicated” for you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m not sure what you’re responding to, but given your complete lack of effort to specify, I will assume that you are an IP maximist and that you’re somehow trying to make a pro-IP argument.

Typical IP maximist, too lazy to expend any effort. How is anyone supposed to take you seriously when you aren’t even willing to expend the effort necessary to reasonably make sure that people know what you are responding to. You want everyone else to do all of your work for you. and this constant lack of effort from IP supporters (to even speak clearly) reflects what IP is truly about, it’s about allowing IP maximists to make money while getting everyone else to do all the work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The original quote from the story is:

When CDs replaced LPs and put LP manufacturers mostly out of business, was it the government’s job to step in and pass laws against the production of CDs?

It is a strawman, attempts to act like there was a game change in place when there really wasn’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There was a game change, though a slight one. Deciding to stay with the old way of LP’s would have meant the death of the company who made that dumb move. Thankfully none were that dense.

But big media is currently a LP idustry in the CD age, and they want the goverment to protect them from their own stupidity. They were foolish enough to base their business on goods that cn be reproduced infinatly and they should pay the price of their folly.

DoggyDork (profile) says:

When buggy whip makers were losing business and going broke, no one cried piracy. How does one pirate a buggy whip, exactly? Yet the industry survived the threat of extinction from innovation, with some manufacturers even thriving, in spite of a dramatic technology shift.

Instead, some of their employees honed their skills and became masters of their craft. They learned to create a better product that was more appealing to the remaining potential customers.

In turn, because of the added value (rawhide handles covered in fine plaited calfskin or deerskin, dyed in new and exciting colors, silver decorations added, scrimshaw worked into the handle, etc.) people bought from the new artisans. And some of them got together and started to create not just the buggy whips, but hunting whips. And crops.

Some even branched into other goods, so you could buy gloves made from the same leather as your whip! Or reins! Or boots!

PIRACY IS NOT “killing” MUSIC. Music companies refusing to reinvent, innovate and refine their product are what is killing the music industry. Allegedly. Sales are down, but the economy sucks. It makes sense if people don’t have money, they won’t have discretionary income and food trumps music.

Guess what? As other buggy whip manufacturers went down in flames, a few whip manufacturers have stuck around and still exist today. Yes, today, in a world with electric cars, where horses have gone from vital to survival to favored pets or leisure providers.

Provide value for money and people will pay you. Otherwise they’ll move on to the next big thing, the next tech goodie.

I can buy a fiberglass core, nylon covered crop for about…3.00 US these days. I can buy a cheaply made, inferior product for a cheap price.

Instead, I chose to spend 30.00 US, ten times the price (!) for a yew core, deerskin handled, hand plaited leather crop that was made by hand.

So please.. how is “piracy” killing anything when this is obviously about a lack of innovation?

darryl says:

Buggy whips ?? !!!!

“When buggy whip makers were losing business and going broke, no one cried piracy. How does one pirate a buggy whip, exactly? Yet the industry survived the threat of extinction from innovation, with some manufacturers even thriving, in spite of a dramatic technology shift.

buggy whip makers were never losing business and going broke, they all moved to the new and quickly expanding car industry, and created leather seats and interiors, probably making far more money than they every made selling buggy whips.

When LCD screens came onto the market, did all the picture tube manufactures go broke ?

No, they just adaped to the new conditions.

trying to say just because no one (or not many people) make buggy whips does not mean that the leather, or manufacturing industry has failed, far from it.

I bet more buggy whips (and buggies) are made today than there were when that was the only form of transport.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Buggy whips ?? !!!!

buggy whip makers were never losing business and going broke, they all moved to the new and quickly expanding car industry, and created leather seats and interiors, probably making far more money than they every made selling buggy whips.

Actually, I would imaging that it was a loss of business that prompted them to move into new businesses, something the record companies could learn form but are refusing to do. But, then again, why should they if they can just get the gov’t to prop them up instead? I’m sure that’s much easier.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re:

” How is that analogous to the music industry who is still creating something that everyone wants–music? “

The music industry isn’t creating anything.

The artists are. Huge difference.

The music industry are the CEOs such as Doug Morrison, the talent scouts who look for new artists, the RIAA “representing” them, among the other background workers that may work on a record.

While it makes sense the support that they did before the internet, it doesn’t make sense now. You don’t need a huge band to work with you for an album at high prices. You don’t need a huge recording studio, rented out at $5000 a day, to make a CD. The problem with the entertainment industry is in what they want: a turn back to the 1980s when the internet didn’t exist and they (MPAA/RIAA/ etc) were the gatekeepers.

By all means, they are the Luddites in this battle. The internet has proven them wrong in various ways.

1) Copyright enforcement := more sales by destroying the competition

2) Piracy is not hurting artists in a considerable measure.

3) Music industry does not represent the interests of artists.

There’s more but just clarifying that the music industry is more about being the “man in the middle” than it is about art being created and enjoyed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“While it makes sense the support that they did before the internet, it doesn’t make sense now.”

It didn’t even make sense back then. That ‘support’ was only artificially needed, thanks to laws that prevent people from distributing and advertising their content without going through a monopolist gatekeeper. These laws are oppressive in nature, they’re part of an oppressive system that grants a government imposed monopoly on everything, and they need to be abolished.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You said: The music industry isn’t creating anything. The artists are. Huge difference.

Now there is a misleading statement. Walmart doesn’t create anything, but without them, a good number of producers would have no market to work in. Record labels are market makers, the are aggregators of ears, they are financing the artists and allow them to put their time into music instead of working a 9 to 5 job.

So for your other points:

1) Without copyright enforcement, there would no longer be a music industry at all, no Itunes, and so on. If there was no risk and no punishment for breaking the law, legal alternatives would not ecist.

2) Without step 1, artists would be greatly hurt by no longer having a functional marketplace for their music, and with no way to control it’s use or distribution.

3) It’s a symbiotic relationship. The record labels don’t make money selling music people will not buy, and the artists cannot easily get access to so many potential fans and buys without them.

Your arguments are weak. The problem is that you do not understand the economic implications of a lack of copyright and lack of a marketplace, and how that would hurt artists in the long run.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The point is that by the poster’s logic, anyone who doesn’t actually create something should get out of the system. Walmart doesn’t create anything except as you noted, which means they are a drain on the system, at least as the poster defines.

It isn’t the case, however. WalMart isn’t a drain on the market, they are market makers.

However, if there were large distribution points giving away the same stuff WalMart is selling, it is likely that WalMart would be gone. They wouldn’t be victims of a better business model, just someone ignoring the basics of economics.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You seem to believe in a central distribution idea. I haven’t professed that at all. I’d much prefer the ways of more efficient distribution that’s currently been made available.

In fact, I would love if the smarter labels used those and found better models.

It’s almost like you’re saying we should take away the internet because anonymous is on 4chan.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Now there is a misleading statement. Walmart doesn’t create anything, but without them, a good number of producers would have no market to work in.

Huh? Source?

1) Without copyright enforcement, there would no longer be a music industry at all…

Says you. History says otherwise.

Without step 1, artists would be greatly hurt by no longer having a functional marketplace for their music…

Oh, I see, you’re just making crap up. I’m not even going to bother with the rest or your post.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Now there is a misleading statement.”

It’s not misleading. At all. When you look into Doug Morrison and he absolutely says he knows nothing about digital technology, it’s time for a new CEO.

“1) Without copyright enforcement, there would no longer be a music industry at all, no Itunes, and so on. If there was no risk and no punishment for breaking the law, legal alternatives would not ecist.”

False. iTunes was created despite the industry doing its best to kill all startups on the internet. The industry could bully startups far easier than it can bully Apple. It’s why most of the innovation is coming from Google, Apple, and Microsoft. The music industry is very weak to larger companies, but still use litigation as leverage. There is more destruction from the music industry than alternatives. Grooveshark, iMeem, mp3tunes all want to be legal, but that requires a crapton of money when compared to the European model of Spotify. Think about that. Copyright enforcement that people don’t even see on a day to day business is costing higher prices and time sinks for regular people, by destroying alternatives.

2) Jonathan Couture, the success of Amanda Palmer, and the success of Jamendo.com, Dmusic.com and live.fm disagree with you.

3) It’s parasitic if you have smaller labels branching away from the RIAA. It’s also pretty telling that there are musicians using Kickstarter to fund projects, not requiring labels. The symbiosis of being attached to a label is coming out in frustration on even the big boys. Lady Gaga JUST found out she’s bankrupt. Joss Stone has plenty of stories about how her label is angry she made an album without permission. It’s only going to get worse as labels push for more.

“The problem is that you do not understand the economic implications of a lack of copyright and lack of a marketplace, and how that would hurt artists in the long run.”

Sounds like you need to read up on the world market, not me. Despite stronger copyright law in the UK, there were more artists. There’s no economic data, ANYWHERE that states that more copyright law has been needed. And I have at least four extensive research papers that prove otherwise.

The marketplace idea you’re proposing is stretching. And again, more artists are being created despite copyright laws. They’re going to smaller and smarter labels and trying new things. They’re also self publishing and finding success. The alternative is the old gatekeeper model. I’m not inclined to believe you, unless you can explain each of your points without FUD.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

How is that analogous to the music industry who is still creating something that everyone wants–music? Can someone explain it to me?

Simple: The record industry *isn’t* the music industry, despite continuous attempts by their shills to claim otherwise.

Thanks.

How is that analogous to the music industry who is still creating something that everyone wants–music? Can someone explain it to me?

Simple: The record industry *isn’t* the music industry, despite continuous attempts by record company shills to claim otherwise.

Thanks.

You’re welcome.

JMT says:

Re: Re:

“I honestly don’t get the buggy whip analogy at all.”

Buggy whips are analagous to shiny plastic discs. Just like buggy whips, demand for them is rapidly dwindling due to advances in technology.

People still (and will always) want music, but they now want it in a different, better form that should allow costs to be much cheaper than they are.

Unfortunately for everyone the shiny disc peddlers are fighting against this technology, and while they are losing the war, the battles they win help nobody but the lawyers.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I honestly don’t get the buggy whip analogy at all.

Really? It’s not that complicated.

The buggy whip manufacturers were building something that nobody wanted–buggy whips. How is that analogous to the music industry who is still creating something that everyone wants–music? Can someone explain it to me? Thanks.

Just as the buggy whip manufacturers were making an obsolete product, so too are the labels (not the “music” industry, but the “recording” industry). They’re trying to sell recordings. People don’t want to buy recordings any more.

Of course, just as people still wanted *transportation* (what the buggy whip makers were enabling) so too do they want musical entertainment. They’re just seeing it from alternative sources.

The analogy is pretty straightforward. Sorta surprised you don’t see it.

FUDbuster (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Just as the buggy whip manufacturers were making an obsolete product, so too are the labels (not the “music” industry, but the “recording” industry). They’re trying to sell recordings. People don’t want to buy recordings any more.

Huh? I just bought a CD yesterday at Whole Foods. On my way there I was listening to XM Radio in my car. Later in the day I listened to some tunes on Mog, and then I put on some mp3s I bought on iTunes. They’re selling it and I’m buying it. They’re not just selling recordings (which I’m buying), they’re selling access to these recordings (which I’m also buying). They aren’t selling buggy whips or anything analogous to a buggy whip.

Of course, just as people still wanted *transportation* (what the buggy whip makers were enabling) so too do they want musical entertainment. They’re just seeing it from alternative sources.

But the buggy whip manufacturers were selling buggy whips, not transportation. And nobody wanted the buggy whips anymore. The labels are selling recordings and access to recordings. I have all the recordings and access to recordings I want, and all at a very reasonable price. People want what the labels are selling. They’re not like the buggy whip manufacturers at all.

The analogy is pretty straightforward. Sorta surprised you don’t see it.

I was thinking the same thing.

aikiwolfie (profile) says:

All of the comments here are dumb because they’ve lost sight of the actual effect of DRM. DRM does not protect against piracy. It simply makes life harder for law abiding people. Hackers by their nature love the challenge of breaking the next best DRM system. It’s a cat and mouse game for them and they’re winning by my score card.

Buggy Whips? WTF Who cares. Move on.

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