By , November 02, 2012.

Why Cory Doctorow’s “Pirate Cinema” Makes Me Root for Big Content — A fabulous read from a self-ascribed fan of remix culture who finds Doctorow’s latest anti-copyright screed so over-the-top that it turns him off. “That’s the gaping black hole at the center of this book: any sort of acknowledgement that copyright law is IMPORTANT. What he dismisses as ‘greed,’ the entertainment industry would certainly defend as “basic fairness.”

Google News wars are here again: Schmidt vs France on ‘news tax’ — In response to a French proposal to copy a recent German law requiring a license to excerpt material online, Google has stated that such a levy would “threaten its very existence.” Hyperbole?

Have EU orphans found a caring home? — IPKat reports on the recent Orphan Works Directive from the EU. Some good preliminary analysis from the Directive, which is directed at certain permitted uses of orphan works.

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. — Sandra Aistars of the Copyright Alliance shares some thoughts on the first sale case which the Supreme Court heard this week. “If you are concerned that as a result of a copyright case the Supreme Court is hearing tomorrow, Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, you will be frisked at the border for foreign newspapers and magazines when you return from your next trip abroad, that libraries will stop lending books, and that discounted overstock items will no longer be available from big box stores, read on.”

On Letting Foxes Mind Chicken Coops — David Newhoff continues to post thought-provoking articles on his new site, Illusion of More. “So far, it looks a lot like there isn’t a piece of legislation, a trade agreement, a civil action, or any other policy initiative that is not going to be labeled a ‘threat to freedom’ by [internet] companies, their lobbyists, and their PR groups. The first sane question anyone should ask when any industry makes such a claim is, ‘Do you mean a threat to my freedom or your cash flow?'”

CCI Recommits to Independent Evaluation of Content Methodology — The Center for Copyright Information, responsible for implementing the Copyright Alert System, was in the news this week because of the expert they retained for evaluating their system. “Recent reports that a former employee of Stroz Friedberg lobbied several years ago on behalf of RIAA on matters unrelated to CCI have raised questions about the impartiality of Stroz Friedberg,” says the CCI, and in response, the organization will be retaining a second, independent expert to evaluate the system’s methodology.

Future of Music Coalition Summit 2012 — FOMC’s annual conference is November 13th and features an interesting lineup of panels and speakers, including friends of the blog David Lowery and Chris Ruen. Check out the site for links to a livestream of the event.

NYC Conference: Earlybird Extended Until Next Monday — Another upcoming event that looks interesting, the Copyright and Technology NYC 2012 conference in December, is still open for registration. Because of this weeks weather, the deadline has been extended to November 5th.


  1. Will you be attending and reporting from either the FOMC or the Copyright and Technology NYC Conference?

  2. I found the review of Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema quite interesting. A couple of details really stick out for me.

    First, just what sort of near-future world Doctorow needs to postulate in order to make piracy seem valid. We’re told that when the family of the lead character (Trent) has their internet access cut off because of his compulsive downloading of pirated content (after he’s ignored two previous warnings), the consequences are:
    Has [sic] father can’t find work. His sister falls behind in her classes because she doesn’t have the internet. His mom can’t find any remedy for her chronic leg pain.

    From this we can conclude that it’s a world in which there are: (i) No employment agencies, professional associations, businesses don’t place “Help Wanted. Inquire Within” signs on their windows and that people don’t have friends and colleagues who will pass on word of any job vacancies they become aware of. (ii) That schools no longer have teachers, textbooks or libraries that students can use; perhaps there are no more schools. (iii) That are no doctors, medical clinics, practitioners of alternative medicine, National Health Service (all the currency references in the review are to pounds, so I’m assuming the story is set in the UK) or friends and family who will routinely offer unsolicited medical advice.

    These changes from the here-and-now seem a lot more interesting and worthy of attention than anything to do with copyright and piracy. Alternately, it may just be an indication of how heavily Doctorow has to lean on the scales to make piracy seem reasonable.

    The other thing is that when Trent is on trial for his compulsive downloading — and it is clearly portrayed as compulsive — it is presented as a triumph when the court sets damages at a very low nominal amount. This does not match my experience of the British court system.

    When a compulsive shoplifter is on trial — and by compulsive, I mean someone who, like Trent, can’t keep themselves from shoplifting even for the duration of the trial despite being specifically asked to by their lawyer — the courts don’t impose a light fine, but they don’t impose a heavy fine, either. Instead they generally call for a psychiatric evaluation and remand the shoplifter to mandatory counseling and treatment. When an individual displays that sort of compulsive, even addictive behaviour, the courts recognize that the best response is not punishment, but treatment.

    The fact that Doctorow ignores (or is completely unaware) of this sort of outcome seems to me to be a product of tech thinking. Tech people seem to think of the law like a bit of software that automatically execute when certain conditions are satisfied. They don’t seem to realise that one of the reasons why the legal system has judges and juries and opposing council and appeals and reviews is because those who helped create and refine that system realised that general rules need a degree of consideration of circumstances and judgment when applied to specific situations. That courts have the discretion to commit people t[o treatment rather than punishment if that seems likely to produce a better outcome for all concerned. Things like the insanity defense exist for a reason (and, I must say, I’m surprised Trent’s lawyer didn’t go with that, since it seems tailor-made for Trent’s behaviour).

  3. Registration for Copyright and Technology NYC 2012 on December 5 is still open and will be until the day of the conference. We just extended the “earlybird discount” by a week because of Hurricane Sandy’s disruptive effect on the NYC area and beyond. The link to register is The conference agenda is up at Keynote speakers include David Lowery of The Trichordist (not to mention Camper van Beethoven and Cracker) and Rob Levine, author of the book Free Ride.