International IP

March 25, 2004
China's Digital Future Conference at the JSchool Ap 30 and May 1

Info here.

From the invite:

You are invited to a conference on "China's Digital Future" at the UC
Berkeley campus on Friday & Saturday, April 30 & May 1, 2004, sponsored by
the Graduate School of Journalism.

The conference features a keynote address by Stanford University Law Prof.
Lawrence Lessig and presentations by many scholars, technologists, business
people and journalists who are experts on China. (Ed. Note: Jonathan Zittrain will be there too.)

Check the conference website for the schedule and a partial list of
speakers. The conference is free, but you need to register online at:

Please feel free to forward this invitation to anyone else who might be
interested in attending.

We look forward to seeing you April 30 & May 1 in Berkeley for a stimulating
two days of discussions.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
January 13, 2004
Italian DMCA Won't Be Used to Prevent Competition or Innovation or Consumer Uses

Derek Slater points to the Sony Playstation case, where an Italian judge said (as paraphrased by Derek):

    Sony's protections were not about preventing piracy, but about preventing competition, innovation, and consumer uses. He makes a distinction between "machine sellers" and copyright holders under the Italian DMCA, affirming implicitly that copyright law wasn't meant to protect the former in this way.

Nice to know that there is some reason being applied to the new European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD - see the Italian version here).

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
April 28, 2003
Apple Throws Down the Gauntlet

Apple has created an iTunes store with 200,000 songs for downloading. Using the site includes 30 free previews and cd cover art which quotes Steve Jobs as saying, "AND it's not stealing -- it's good karma." So 5% of the market is covered, but what about the rest? I wonder if it will put a dent in Kazaa users sharing 1 billion files. But something viable for the PC needs to be offered, too, so this might be the Pepsi challenge for the RIAA....

Other IP thoughts: Matt Morse pointing out that Saturday was World Intellectual Property Day. They even have a cartoon explaining their ideas about IP (pdf) which he cannot quite believe. Among other things, they point out that animals cannot make intellectual property. Check it out.

Meanwhile Harry Shearer has been talking about overall music industry strategy: Sue Your Customers! (htm). He suggests instead that the industry target older customers for sales because they have more money than time, are less likely to pirate music and more likely to purchase....

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)
April 01, 2003
The Honest Thief: April Fools

The Honest Thief, previously mentioned, turns out to be a promo for a book, not a new company as the WSJ (IP reprint) and CNet reported in February.

"Well, guess what April Fools! The Honest Thief file-sharing venture was no more than a publicity stunt.

Our goal was first and foremost to get some attention for our book: The Honest Thief. Secondly we wanted to confront the public with the practice of honest stealing: the tools that everybody uses to have success. Very few people will openly admit that they use these tools. In this respect our campaign was an attempt to create success to get our message across: everybody, in one way or another, is an "honest" thief.

Whether we have failed or succeeded, we hope that people won't forget the honest part of honest stealing."

Update 04/03/03: Wired reports on this, including this: "Paul Grabowicz, director of the New Media program at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, said that this hoax joins a long list of schemes perpetrated on the Net. 'It's common human behavior that's suddenly distributed over a global network. Instead of a couple of suckers, you could potentially get millions. I don't care how good a reporter you are or how reputable a media organization, you can get snookered by one of these things. Reporters really need to be on their guard.'"

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
March 04, 2003
DVD Jon Back in Court

IT world reports today from Norway that Jon Lech Johansen, also known as dvd Jon, is scheduled to return to court for the appeal of the case filed against him by, among others, the Motion Picture Association of America. Johansen was sued, then aquitted, for creating DeCSS, which makes it possible to decrypt movies in DVD format.

Posted by Valentina Pasquali at 11:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
February 02, 2003
European Commissions Proposal Allows P2P for Personal Use

The EC allows music downloading in antipiracy proposal, where downloading for personal use is okay, but anything commerical would be illegal. It's only a draft, but the entertainment industry is up in arms.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
January 24, 2003
Life and Death by Copyright: The Strange Story of Annlee

Two artists, Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno, bought the exclusive rights to an animated character named Annlee from a Japanese agency selling stock manga characters. They paid a little over $400 for Annlee's copyright and then let their friends use her character in their artworks. Then, they "killed" her off, forbidding future uses of her likeness by transferring Annlee's copyright to Annlee herself! Mickey must be jealous. He has to do the bidding of the Disney corporation, constantly appearing on their mugs and t-shirts. But Annlee, the first cartoon character to hold her own copyright, has been liberated from the grind of commerce and mass-production.

An exhibition of artworks starring Annlee is on view at SFMOMA until March 13, 2003. Artforum also features Annlee in their January 2003 issue.

Posted by Lisa Wang at 12:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
January 08, 2003
Blank CD Levy in Canada Grows With No Distribution to Musicians

Wired has a piece about the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) which collects CN$.21 per blank CD (pdf), to compensate musicians for the copying, both legal and illegal, of music, though less than half the blank CD's sold in Canada are used for music. Last year the CPCC collected CN$.05 per CD, but are proposing CN$.59 per CD for 2003, plus new fees for other devices like compact flash cards and recordable DVDs. Protests are being waged, especially because the CPCC has yet to distribute to musicians any of the CN$28 million they have collected over the past couple of years. The CPCC says this is a very complicated process requiring payments to as many as 12 entities per song.

The Canadian Coalition for Fair Digital Access, a 16-member group that includes Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sony and Apple, as well as Wal-Mart Canada, Costco, Staples, Radio Shack and the Retail Council of Canada has made one of the formal protests to the Copyright Board of Canada because they don't believe consumers should subsidize the music industry, when half the blank CD's aren't used for music. "It's not about fairness at all," said David Basskin of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency. "If it was about fairness, these large U.S. multinational companies wouldn't be trying to deprive Canadian musicians of royalties they are legally entitled to."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
January 03, 2003
Jurisdiction Goes Global
Or, How to Make Things More Complicated

From the US Justice Department losing Elcomsoft, where jurors in San Jose, CA considered a Russian Company's awareness and intent in selling software the USDOJ believed was in violation of the DMCA, to the Kazaa case where five countries are involved, jurisdiction often emerges as the most critical factor in skirmishes over internet issues. However, the more recent conflicts over jurisdiction have involved distinctions between countries scattered around the globe, and questions of responsibility in locations where often the defendants have no relationships or business.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 03:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wrestling Match Over Drug Patents in Latest WTO Talks

A round of World Trade Organization talks on how to implement an agreement on getting cheaper pharmaceutical drugs for poor nations ended in failure in December, with the United States rejecting a last-minute compromise accepted by the other 143 member states.

Posted by Feiwen Rong at 03:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Elvis in the Public Domain? Oui!

Copyright protection for many recording artists from the 1950s is about to fall off in Europe, allowing their works to enter the public domain in the EU. This brings up all sorts of issues, like what to do about European import CDs sold at many US record stores, advertising uses of the music and American companies being forced to work with smaller bootleg companies. This particular era of music represents a time when the recording industry went through rapid technological innovation producing recordings far more sophisticated than in the past, both in content and style, and so the resulting 1950s music is far more marketable now.

For more info, see Dennis Karjala's chart comparing copyright protection in the US and the EU for various kinds of works.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 20, 2002
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

Intellectual Property is fundamental to western notions of creativity and prosperity, and few would argue with its importance in the economics of the developed world. For some industries like pharmaceuticals, for example, IP protection is essential. But hotly debated is how well the IP system works in poor countries, where millions of people are dying of life-threatening diseases such as AIDS because they cannot afford the latest patented drugs.

Posted by Ting Shi at 12:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
December 10, 2002
Dow Jones Can Be Sued in Australia for Internet Publishing

The BBC reports Australia's high court ruled (decision) that Dow Jones, publisher of Barrons in the U.S., can be sued in Victoria by mining magnate Joseph Gutnick for defamation of character. "It is thought to be the first such decision in the high court of any country to consider the question of jurisdiction and the internet."

Specifically, the Australian decision allows for publishers from any location to be sued in Australia, if the publication is available there, even if the plaintiff is not a resident of Australia. Although the court said that, "In all except the most unusual of cases, identifying the person about whom material is to be published will readily identify the defamation law to which that person resorts." That seems to mean Internet publishing will include investigating local law, wherever story subjects reside or do business, just because there is Internet access there. and Australian IT, as well as LawMeme comment on the story.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
December 07, 2002
Viagra Patent Challenged In China

Maybe this case shows how China is making progress in acknowledging intellectual property rights. Twelve Chinese drug companies are asking the government to nullify Pfizer Inc.'s exclusive rights to the little blue pill of Viagra. They claim that the anti-impotence drug patent is invalid because it doesn't meet the Chinese legal requirements of being a truly new invention. The drug, which is widely known as "Wei Ge", or "mighty brother", is very popular in the Chinese market. Some have argued that China is the worst nightmare for patent-holders worldwide. However, for the first time, the Chinese copycats are trying to revoke a patent of a popular drug through the legal process instead of jumping right in and producing imitation medicines. The outcome of this case will be significant, not only because of the millions of dollars of sales involved, but also because it'll indicate China's reaction towards this type of dispute as a new World Trade Organization member.

Posted by Feiwen Rong at 12:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
December 04, 2002
...Yes, It's You!

In what is becoming a growing trend in which copyright holders go after individual users directly, the AntiPiratGruppen, a Copenhagen-based anti-piracy organization funded by Danish entertainment companies, sent bills and a settlement offer to alleged copyright offenders whose names the organization got by court order.

This is similar to the RIAA vs Verizon case here in the United States, in which the RIAA is seeking a court order to make an ISP reveal information about a pirate subscriber.

Posted by Ting Shi at 05:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 25, 2002
IP in China Takes a Chill Pill

How strong would IP impact the domestic industries in better-off developing countries? Here's a good example: China's pharmaceutical industry faces a major structural shake-up after the State Drug Administration (SDA) adopted strong IP rules over the last two months.

The new rules, providing better IP protection for domestic and foreign drug makers, would stimulate the consolidation of the industry. Major mergers and acquisitions should be anticipated in the near future.

Posted by Ting Shi at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 16, 2002
Sydney Summit A Success?

It seems that a broad agreement has been struck at the world trade talks in Sydney that ensures cheap generic copies of patent-protected drugs can reach poor countries. Mark Vaile, Australia's Minister for Trade who hosted the meeting, hailed it as an outstanding success.

But non-governmental health and aid groups like Oxfam International and Medecins Sans Frontieres immediately criticized the plan. They said the arrangement would make poor countries "unacceptably dependent on the political will" of rich nations.

Posted by Ting Shi at 06:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 15, 2002
Web Browsing as Criminal Behavior?

A Swedish technology company, Intentia, filed a complaint against Reuters for hacking into their website and obtaining the company's financial report. The catch is that Reuters did not bypass any security measures. They simply typed in a URL and viewed the financial report from one of Intentia's publicly available web pages. Intentia argued that this web page was "private" because there was no explicit link to it. Reuters countered that anything accessible on a public website, whether or not it's linked to, is undoubtedly public. Why all the confusion? One computer science professor, Edward Felten, suggests that website owners clarify the difference between public and private information by protecting private information with a password.

Posted by Lisa Wang at 01:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 13, 2002
Filtering Google

Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School are studying filtering, done voluntarily by Google and others. So far they have a list of 113 censored sites that don't show up on searches, mostly in Germany and France. There is a lot of the expected facist stuff, but also The Chinese Consultation Network, filtered from GR and FR versions of Google. Zittrain and Edleman are taking submissions.

CNET, the Crimson and the NY Times have all mentioned the study. Here is the Chilling Effects list of cease and desist letters to Google.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
This Week in Sydney: TRIPS Revisited

Affordable access to life-saving medicines for poor countries will sit high on the global economic agenda for the next two days (Nov. 14-15) as trade ministers from 25 WTO member countries are having a high-level meeting in Sydney, Australia.

At the heart of the issue is how to relax the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) rules to allow developing countries without drug-making industries to get cheap generic imports from other countries. The U.S., headquarters for much of the world's pharmaceutical industry, has floated a proposal to do this, but it comes with strict criteria.

Posted by Ting Shi at 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 11, 2002
Media Encryption Across the Atlantic

Both BMG and EMI are apparently planning not only on protecting all their music with encryption, they don't care if you can't play it on your player. BMG even developed a website to promote copy protection (at least its pretty). This doesn't seem like a very good way to do business, but when you have such a large share of the media market, I guess it doesn't matter. Just ask Microsoft.

Posted by Stephanie Hornung at 12:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
November 06, 2002
What will be the next DVD format?

When China's export of DVD players to the U.S. and Europe markets totaled more than 10 million in 2001, a group of different DVD (Digital Video Disc) technology holders fumed, collectively starting a battle to force Chinese manufacturers to pay royalties. As they argued, Chinese manufacturers have been ducking the fee of proprietary technologies and therefore would be able to drive a DVD player's price to as low as $70 at retail. Though the consumers benefit from cheap goods, multinationals like Sony, Philips and AOL Time Warner (who hold patents on DVD format), and laboratories like Dolby Laboratory and MPEG-LA (who hold patents on Dolby Digital Audio and MPEG-2 Video) claim to be the victims.

Posted by Feiwen Rong at 07:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
November 04, 2002
Harry Potter Wins an Easy Battle Against Chinese Pirates

The Times of London reported that J.K.Rowling won an easy copyright case against a Chinese publishing house that churned out several fake Harry Potter books (with the goofy names of Harry Potter and Leopard Walk up to Dragon, Harry Potter and the Golden Turtle, and Harry Potter and the Crystal Vase). The Chengdu-based publishing house didn't put up with any fight at all, I guess because they felt the fate was already sealed...

Posted by Ting Shi at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)