by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 1st 2012 3:14pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 20th 2012 2:27pm
from the economic-reality dept
That seems like a rather simplistic analysis. Patel is right that many companies are "designing around" these overly broad and somewhat silly patents, and so it doesn't mean that Android phones aren't available. But that doesn't mean that there's no real impact on consumers. While it can't be quantified directly, there are numerous ways in which these patents are likely impacting the results. First, there's a matter of cost. The legal fights over patents are quite expensive, and that's almost certainly keeping prices on these devices somewhat higher than they might otherwise be. Second, the money and time it takes to do that "designing around" potentially slows the development of these phones. Third, those same resources could have been put elsewhere, working on additional innovations that would make the phones better and more valuable. Instead, they're forced to reinvent the wheel without doing the same scrollback or slide to unlock. Finally, while some will claim that forcing these companies to invent around the patents can lead to new innovations, there's little evidence to support this claim. Certainly it might happen accidentally, but letting developers come up with new innovations based on their own experiments and what the market tells them is always going to be more efficient than stumbling on some innovation because you're trying to avoid the artificial monopoly of a patent.
Of course, this is one of the difficult things in discussing the problems of the patent system. People insist they can't be that bad because these devices are still on the market. It's difficult to see or even explain the innovations that we don't have because of this, or even to show how the pace of innovation is almost certainly slower because of this, but that's exactly what plenty of research has shown for years. No one says that innovation stops completely because of patents, but we have significant concerns about how they impact the overall pace of innovation, as well as the specific direction of innovation. While it might not seem to have a "day-to-day impact on the consumer," chances are it's having quite a large one. We just can't see how big.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 8th 2012 12:10pm
from the look,-a-mole!-wac!-wac! dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 27th 2011 7:30pm
from the not-so-simple dept
What is SOPA? This act allows content owners - movie companies, music labels, etc. - to obtain court orders requiring search providers such as Google to filter their search results to exclude websites that host allegedly infringing material, and requiring the net registrars to block DNS servers from providing the correct IP address for such sites. The act also makes site owners civilly liable for the availability of copyright material on their sites. In addition, it makes the posting of a link to a third party website that has copyright material on it the same as hosting the material on your own site.They also include a link to the American Censorship site. That's all cool, and it's certainly reassuring that their encryption keeps things secret... but in saying that you don't have to worry about it, it seems like SpiderOak actually just put a huge target on themselves. After all, SOPA has a big fat anti-circumvention clause, which specifically includes calling out products that are "marketed for the circumvention or bypassing of measures" in the bill. SpiderOak may have run afoul of that by "marketing" its product as immune to SOPA because of encryption (a circumvention tool).
What does this mean for SpiderOak users if this act passes? You don't have to worry. Our level of encryption means not even your filenames, file sizes or file types are readable.
This is, obviously, not to question SpiderOak at all, but rather to point out just how ridiculous the anti-circumvention clause is. Obviously there are tremendously good reasons why we all should want services like SpiderOak, with their high levels of encryption. But just the fact that it advertises that shouldn't be cause to get it in trouble under the law.
And the larger point is that even companies who think they're immune to SOPA may discover otherwise, thanks to the way the bill actually works.
by Glyn Moody
Mon, Dec 12th 2011 5:28am
from the better-late-than-never dept
One of the most important aspects of the UK's Hargreaves Report was that it called for copyright policy to be based on evidence. It also noted that so far that simply hadn't been the case, and that practically all of the so-called "studies" used to justify laws in this area came from the copyright industries, with missing or dubious methodologies.
The French three-strikes scheme known as HADOPI (actually the name of the government agency that oversees its implementation) is a perfect example of such dogma-based legislation: no research was done into how files were being shared or even whether they did any harm (there's a fair amount of evidence that file sharing increases sales).
So it's interesting to see HADOPI putting out a call for some research into streaming sites (original in French):
The commissioned study focuses on an economic analysis of streaming sites and direct download where illegal practices are the most common, offering cultural property in the areas of music and video.
This new interest in streaming sites is presumably a consequence of Nicolas Sarkozy's announcement at the recent Forum d'Avignon that "we have to tackle the streaming web sites." It's certainly welcome that HADOPI is doing some research before it draws up its proposals in this area; but shouldn't it have done the same with the original three-strikes scheme?
There's an interesting parallel with SOPA here. In the section with the splendid title "Denying U.S. Capital To Notorious Foreign Infringers", we read the following:
Report to Congress- The Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator shall, not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, submit to the Committees on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives and the Senate a report that includes the following:
Again, it's good that some research into that "significant harm" will be carried out, but shouldn't that come before the legislation is drawn up and enacted, not after it?
(1) An analysis of notorious foreign infringers and a discussion of how these infringers violate industry norms regarding the protection of intellectual property.
(2) An analysis of the significant harm inflicted by notorious foreign infringers on consumers, businesses, and intellectual property industries in the United States and abroad.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 16th 2011 9:53am
from the that's-not-research dept
Digging into what little details there are suggests that this study just gets worse and worse and worse. It takes bad assumptions, then piles on more bad assumptions and then extrapolates out to get totally unsubstantiated conclusions. For example, it assumes that the volume of online infringement grows at the same rate as IP traffic and assumes the rate at which the industry will grow. That last one is particularly silly. Since it's making up a number for what the total jobs "should" be, it can just create whatever justification that it wants.. and can claim any job loss number it wants to name. The whole thing is a house of cards built on nothing.
Of course, it's worth pointing out that there was another report, this time from AFACT (the Australian anti-piracy group) just a few weeks before that some have confused this report with. The AFACT report can be seen here (pdf). It's even worse than the other study in some cases. Check out some of the assumptions in that report: including the laughable claim that "just under half of all pirate consumers would have paid." There have been various attempts to quantify that number, and I've never seen any unbiased source come anywhere close to 50%. At best, I've seen 10% claims. The only concession the report makes is that maybe some people use unauthorized copies to "sample," and make a legit purchase later. But they only count this if the person says they would pay for that legit product, not if it resulted in them buying other authorized products or services.
It also does a laughable job with "ripple effects." It's pretty sad. We've debunked "ripple effects" reports over and over and over again. They all seem to make the same mistakes. First, it ignores that ripple effects are really ways to count the same dollar over and over and over again. Second, they only count the ripple effects in one direction. So, for example, they say movie industry people lose their jobs, and that means less taxes. But what they don't say is that any money not being spent on the movies doesn't disappear from the economy, but is spent on something else -- and that something else might actually be even more productive or value generating. In fact, looking at this report, it appears they don't even consider this point, and assume that all the money "not" spent on movies disappears from the economy.
So there you have it. Two separate reports released within weeks of each other in Australia by the entertainment industry. Each one seems to be trying to outdo the other one in questionable assumptions and extrapolations.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 4th 2009 9:03am
from the guess-who-paid-for-the-terrorism-one? dept
The short-term net welfare effects of file sharing are strongly positive given that it is practised by consumers whose demand is driven by a lack of purchasing power. To the extent that file sharing results in a decline in sales, we see a transfer of welfare from operators/producers to consumers, with no net welfare effect.In other words, pretty much everything that plenty of folks around here have been saying for a better part of a decade is pretty much true. File sharing isn't damaging -- and, in fact, can represent a net economic improvement, and the business troubles faced by a few small parts of the industry are really business model challenges, rather than legal ones. The report makes it clear that focusing on legal solutions to dealing with file sharing is a big mistake that tends to only backfire and seems to be totally misdirected.
The market for CDs and the market for DVD/VHS rentals are the only sectors of the entertainment industry that are suffering from a slump in sales. Whereas this may be attributed in part to file-sharing activity, file sharing is not solely to blame for the decline. The markets for DVDs and console games continued grow impressively after P2P services were introduced, and the cinema market showed sustained growth between 1999 and 2007. The total entertainment market has remained more or less constant, suggesting budget competition among the various products.
As long as the markets for games and films are on the rise or remain stable, there is little reason for concern that the diversity and accessibility of content is at stake. File sharing has significantly enhanced access to a wide and diverse range of products, albeit that access tends not to have the approval of the copyright holders.
So, what's the other study? It's also quite long, but is full of fear mongering about piracy. It just so happens to be funded by the movie studios claiming that piracy is helping to promote terrorism -- and because of that, the US government needs to devote stunning levels of new resources to stopping piracy at all costs. So what does this report recommend?
- Fully funding and implementing the PRO-IP Act (PL 110-403), which toughens civil and criminal laws against counterfeiting and piracy, provides enhanced IP enforcement and prosecutorial resources, and improves IP coordination within the executive branch.
- Supporting the introduction, passage and enactment of a Customs and Border Protection Reauthorization bill to better address trafficking in illicit goods.
- Supporting the Baucus-Hatch legislative improvements to the USTR's Special 301 process to help deal with other countries that fail to live up to their international IP obligations.
- Concluding negotiations for a substantive and enforceable Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) with major trading partners.
- Pursuing trade agreements with strong global IP protections.
- Expanding U.S. leadership on IP protection within the G8, the Security and Prosperity Partnership for North America, and other bilateral and multilateral frameworks.
- Building coalitions in favor of strong IP protections at international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization, and U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
- Engaging Beijing to improve China's IP legal and regulatory regimes through the implementation of new patent, trademark and copyright laws.
- Pursuing reforms on data exclusivity, incremental innovation and optical discs legislation in India.
- Working towards improved retail and copyright enforcement in Russia, as well as the successful implementation of IP reform through Part IV of its Civil Code.
Tue, Jan 13th 2009 2:22pm
from the on-hold dept
The reason for the digital switchover is to free up the 700MHz spectrum that's used by analog broadcasts. The spectrum's low frequency gives it great propagation characteristics for mobile broadband, while the sheer quantity of it the TV broadcasts occupy translates into a lot of capacity for next-generation mobile networks. Also, keep in mind that the government has already auctioned off the licenses to this spectrum, so companies like Qualcomm and Verizon Wireless, which have already shelled out billions of dollars to set up shop in it, will have to push back their investments and rollouts. This could have a carry-on effect on consumers. For instance, Cox Communications bought 700MHz licenses in many of the markets in which it offers cable TV service with the intention of setting up its own mobile networks, introducing new competition for incumbents. One other group that stands to lose out if the transition is delayed: public safety agencies, which were allocated 700MHz spectrum in order to build interoperable, unified communications systems. This transition has been pushed back for years; it's important now that the hard deadline stands, and that the vast amount of spectrum used by the analog broadcasts -- broadcasts that relatively few people rely on -- can be refarmed and put to a more valuable use.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Mar 27th 2008 8:20am
from the depends-on-your-definition-of-reliable dept
However, reading through the actual report, it does little to vindicate the piracy numbers that the industry reports always trumpet. That's because the report actually focuses on the rate of unauthorized use, rather than the cost or impact of that unauthorized use -- which is the key point to come out of these reports. The rate of unauthorized use is fairly meaningless, so it doesn't matter that much who is the most accurate. It's the impact that matters. While reports used to do silly things like count every unauthorized copy as a lost sale, most have stopped that, and now use a multiplier. Some have started using a questionable ripple effect that counts the same loss multiple times and ignores the "ripple effects" in the other direction that benefit the industry. So, yes, perhaps the BSA is the best of a bad bunch, but even if the rate of unauthorized use is somewhat accurate, that has little bearing on the actual impact of those unauthorized copies.