intellectual property

Congress Moves to Criminalize P2P

Looks like Richard Stallman might be right. If these bills and others in the future that are equally punitive are passed, we may become a society with such heavy protectionist measures that any sharing of texts will be viewed as wrong, or, at least, so dangerous that everyone will be scared to share the wrong file. From Wired:

A draft bill recently circulated among members of the House judiciary committee would make it much easier for the Justice Department to pursue criminal prosecutions against file sharers by lowering the burden of proof. The bill, obtained Thursday by Wired News, also would seek penalties of fines and prison time of up to ten years for file sharing.

In addition, on Thursday, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) introduced a bill that would allow the Justice Department to pursue civil cases against file sharers, again making it easier for law enforcement to punish people trading copyright music over peer-to-peer networks. They dubbed the bill "Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation Act of 2004," or the Pirate Act.

Free Culture for Our Ears

In case you haven't heard, Lawrence Lessig has published his new book, Free Culture, under a Creative Commons license. And until today, while I always knew that CC licenses would increase accessibility in terms of distribution of texts, I had not considered changing it to alterntative formats, such as audio, and the way that might make them more accessible for those with sight impairment. From Lessig Blog:

This has amazed even me. AKMA asked whether a free audio version of Free Culture can be built. Joi seconded the idea, and one day later, ten chapters are claimed. Doug Kaye of ITConversations has already recorded chapter one — Creators. Noncommercial derivative works, and maybe even a competition in versions (I want to record a chapter!). Very cool.

CCCC-IP Caucus 2004

On Wednesday, 24 March 2004, I attended the CCCC Caucus on Intellectual Property.
The program began with presentations from previous chairs of the IP Caucus and
moved to discussion for action. A few highlights of the meeting include:

  • Andrea Lunsford mentioned the problem with authors and surviving children
    of authors blocking access to manuscripts and other texts. She also called
    for for detailed case studies of student writers and how they are working
    with or stepping around copyright laws. “Students are on the frontlines
    of working with sources in new and different ways.”
  • Jim Porter, in highlighting his work as CCCC-IP Co-Chair, noted the caucus's
    concern about the Clinton white paper and their action against the 1995 Copyright Act. ”It
    was an interesting place where intellectual work and political activism merged.”
    To end his presentation, he called for more “organizational action”
    such as that which defeated the 1995 Copyright Act.
  • Laura Gurak commented that lack of defeat of the CTEA led to a larger awareness
    of copyright issues from those outside of IP studies.
  • Johndan Johson-Eilola opened with some discussion of the database act now
    in Congress.
  • TyAnna Herrington stated that "the tension between who we are gonna
    be and who corporations want us to be” is demonstrated by the growth
    of student file sharing.
  • The group decided that they would propose a special panel for CCCC 2005
    in San Francisco, to be composed of invited local IP activists.
  • Johndan and John Logie encouraged stronger participation in the CCCC-IP weblog (which is currently offline).
  • And I was excited by the response from the group to mentions of Creative
    Commons and its applications.

Creative Commons Sampling Licenses: An Important Expansion of Licensing Opportunities

I was glad that datacloud
linked to Synthopia's
of the new Creative Commons Sampling Licenses which enable artists
to make and redistribute derivative works of a copyrighted item, but not to
redistribute the original. I hadn't had a chance to think about them yet, and now it seems to me that this license adds some important
diversity to the CC license range of rights. As I see it, there are three main
ways in which a CC license can work for the public commons:

  1. By expanding access to texts through allowing others to copy and redistribute.
  2. Providing opportunities for creative development by allowing derivative
  3. Guaranteeing that a work will benefit the public commons in perpetuity by
    requiring that others share alike in all derivative works.

Previously, CC licenses allowed users to choose either 1 or 1, 2 & 3 together
(copyleft), but not 2. Adding the sampling licenses thus recognizes the importance
of derivative works alone as an option; indeed, 2 alone is as of equal importance
to combatting the enclosure of the public commons as is 1 by itself.

Still, copyleft is best :)

Update 29 March 2004: Correction. Options 1 & 2 together are previously available. It's merely 2 alone that has not been an option in the previous CC licensing structure.

Don't Fence Me In

In doing some dissertation research, I found an interesting article that gives an economic perspective on the evolution of copyright and suggests some new directions for its reconception. Neil Kleinman's 1995 "Don't Fence Me In: Copyright, Property, and Technology
in Readerly/Writerly Texts 3.1 (1995) traces some history of property
in order to explain how copyright evolved as an instrument of control in the commodification of intellectual property:

Lessig: Open-Source Industry Must Lobby for Political Backing

eWeek reports of Lawrence Lessig's presentation at the Open Source Business Conference which focused on the need for open source advocates to change the image of open source in Washington:

Open-source advocates should be telling Congress that a copyright policy that promotes competition between proprietary software and open-source software is good business because it promotes innovation, and innovation promotes business growth, Lessig said.

The open-source industry, Lessig said, isn't delivering a clear message to policymakers that they support copyright protection for their original work as strongly as proprietary software producers. The industry has to reframe the debate about open-source and intellectual property rights so it doesn't become cast in the simplistic "American idea of capitalism and communism," said Lessig.

Link courtesy of Ars Technica.