(edited & corrected as I learn more)
According to MacObserver, the French legislation opening DRM (like that on apple’s ipod) has now passed into law. Presumably, this was supposed to open up Apple’s scheme to competitors so music purchased at iTunes store will play on other devices. According to consumer groups this portion was quite weakened; however, Forbes still seems critical so presumably there must be some consumer-friendly benefit left?
A few months ago, amendments had been introduced that would have made this the the first national law, so far as I’m aware, to aggressively target the anti-competitive / anti-consumer aspects of DRM. Unfortunately those were significantly watered down from the original proposal. The *rest* of the bill is pretty bad, largely anti-P2P and anti-circumvention provisions. The “fair use” pieces are interesting: France added in recognition of educational uses, disability, web caching, etc.; but then weakened all these, plus preexisting “fair use” type exceptions by importing the Berne three step test which says exceptions “cannot hamper the normal exploitation of the work … [nor] cause an undue loss to the legitimate interests of the author.”
In the meantime, Wikipedia has the most current info (Eng). Also see commentary on the bill at Ars Technica (Eng), BoingBoing (Eng), Stop DRM (Fr). I’m laboriously reading thru it the bill at http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/12/ta/ta0596.asp (PDF) (Fr, of course).
I just got back from ALA for a panel on RFID (“Tiny Trackers”). As usual, ALA was chock-full of stimulating folks and ideas. A few notes follow, but first a report about New Orleans.
New Orleanians were grateful for ALA’s presence. ALA was the first large conference to keep its commitment to New Orleans since Katrina. The tourist and business sections of the city feel — well, a little empty, a little recessional. More closed & out of business signs than usual. In the French Quarter, the local businesses are mostly open — but nearby on the Riverwalk shopping mall, many of the corporate-owned businesses are still closed. Make what you will of that. But walk just a bit beyond the French Quarter into the 8th and 9th Wards, and things are quite different. I walked over that way on Sunday after my talk, although I didn’t make it much past the Vieux Carré. (It’s hot in New Orleans!) But even as far as I went, it’s clear that the recovery is only partial. And the reports from locals, and ALA folks who biked or bussed around in other districts, are depressing. The country has moved on and forgotten about New Orleans — a city that is one of this country’s greatest treasures. As my partner said, it’s like the media is Vamp Willow: “Bored now.”
The Lyman Ray Patterson Award went to Prue Adler, well-deserved. Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail” was, while largely a regurgitation of his schtick, very good because his schtick is very good. (As long as he stuck to his schtick, that is. A number of folks quibbled with his naive market-centric and tech-utopian view of net neutrality.) The Free Speech Buffet was great, with an Emergency Zine Reading:
* Elaine Harger, in response to a censorship attempt, gave the would-be censor a button that said: “Use your brain: the filter you were born with.”
* Amusing reading of overblown prose from romance and other novels from Alycia Sellie. (I list this for its copyright relevance.)
* Ammi Emergency reading from a zine about post-Katrina looting of supermarket. “After the storm, New Orleans was even more New Orleans.” Community looters: One “incompetent neighbor” emerged with a broken bag of box wine and a rotten ham, and when it was pointed out, was upset & said “I’m no good at looting!” She was promptly consoled by another man who said, “You’re doing just fine honey.”
Bill Patry posted on the ongoing trend in popular discourse to treat copyright as a property right, contextualizing it with the traditional view of copyright infringement as a tort.
Go read Patry’s post, and as for me, I’m going to dig up this very smart Birrell article.
Out of the thickets of antitrust doctrine (“Noerr-Pennington”, anyone?) comes a District Court decision concluding that “‘misuse of copyright’ is a viable defense to a copyright infringement action”, and concluding similarly to the unclean hands defense. Hitherto the 8th Circuit had punted on copyright misuse, finding it not applicable in the particular cases it reviewed, while declining to state whether the defense was theoretically available or not. I expect the plaintiff (a racing association claiming infringement of its rules) will appeal.
* Int’l Motor Contest Assn, Inc. v. Staley, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2006 WL 1667889 (D. Iowa 2006 June 19). (Mark W. Bennett, J.)
* Bill Patry’s analysis (7/5)
The first stage of our new fair use project is online — the Fair Use Network website, at http://fairusenetwork.org/ .
At present, we’re focusing on consumer resources, and version 1.0 includes resources for recipients of copyright cease-and-desist letters or DMCA § 512 takedown notices. Similar resources for trademark will be coming online later. Version 2.0 will include more resources oriented toward “gatekeepers” and users of copyrighted & trademarked material, before they get a C&D. And Version 3.0 will include more network resources for attorneys serving these clients.
* Alas (a blog) has deemed Father’s Day “queer sex day” for very good reasons.
* Jon Stewart points out the obvious to Bill Bennett’s proffered state rationale for recognizing only male-female marriages:
Divorce doesn’t occur because 50% of marriages end in gayness.
* New York’s highest court (the confusingly named “Court of Appeals”) heard arguments in Hernandez v. Robles on Wed 5/31:
Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye said the court would have to decide the constitutional questions, ”whether we do it frontally or whether we do it in some more subversive way,” like changing language about gender.
To which Terence Kindlon, a lawyer for same-sex couples in Albany, replied, ”Subversive is one of the words I’ve liked all my life, your honor.”
[NYT 6/1 ... oral arguments webcast]
Research done on women’s and men’s favorite novels turned up that women have a diverse reading list; men are more focused on a smaller number of titles; and — surprise, surprise — women’s favorite books include both male & female authors, but men’s favorite books are pretty much all men. (Harper Lee is the exception.)
[link traveled to me from a feministsf list from Nick Gillespie @ Reason, reviewing a Guardian article]
we knew this, right? that legislative attempts to do something positive for consumers were likely doomed? [nyt 6/9]
consumers, if you get Internet service from a phone or cable company, do you think you pay enough to have service already? do you think your broadband provider ought to be able to charge you more for getting email from a non-corporate-licensed listserve, or using Google? you might want to consider calling & explaining that you already pay them to deliver a particular service–not to spend millions of dollars in lobbying to ensure their “right” to double-bill you for Internet access.
Save the Internet and Public Knowledge are the places to go on this one. Go now, while you’re not being charged double for the privilege.
(1) badgerbag posted this photo of Walgreen’s “Emergency Contraception Encounter Form” — probably from California, but perhaps implemented elsewhere. Nine states (including California) allow women to get EC directly from a pharmacist. Apparently, this is what women have to do to get EC. Holy Griswold, Batgirl.
(2) The FCC has finally broken thru the rightwing lobby to approve the HPV vaccine. [nyt 6/9] I note that the US has many states that will not be able to afford to disseminate it. Or will choose not to be able to afford to disseminate it, probably because they need to give tax breaks to sports stadiums or something important like that. I also couldn’t help but note the tender concern for the precious anxieties of “men”:
Merck had originally hoped to get the vaccine approved for use in boys. But although women have routinely allowed swabs to be taken of their vaginal cells, the company found that men rebelled against the use of emery boards to collect cells from their penises. Researchers eventually discovered that jeweler’s-grade emery paper effectively removed cells without alarming men and were able to complete their studies.
(1) Today’s NYT article on “tough questions” for gubernatorial candidates on abortion: all the gubernatorial candidates quoted are men. [NYT 6/5]
(2) Mercury Rising discusses what happened to Wen Ho Lee after the racist government debacle a few years back. [sideshow 6/4]
(3) I don’t believe I’ve plugged Ann Bartow’s “Fair Use and the Fairer Sex” article on the blog, although I’ve referred many people to it by now — It’s going to be a critical work in the developing scholarship on IP and critical theory. [info & link]
(4) I can’t make Octavia Butler’s memorial in NYC tonight (it was sold out and I’m in Boston anyway) but I snapped some pix from a Barnes & Noble memorial. Yes, it’s Barnes & Noble. I snapped them anyway because it was a lovely memorial. [x-posted w/ pix @ fsfblog 6/5]
(5) I’m setting up a listserv for folks in SF/fandom who are interested in IP issues particularly; and information more generally (telecomm, open distribution, libraries & information industries, media, censorship/First Amendment, etc.). The SF community has been, for years, an exemplar of the fact that consumers are creators are consumers, and that might explain why there’s less polarization among copyleft/copyright than in other genres/creative communities. Also, SF folks are particularly smart at realizing that rules and regulations are choices, and we can make different ones, and that technology can change everything. So I think that by pulling together SF/fandom to talk about IP/media we can have some interesting and hopefully really productive discussions.
I haven’t set up the list yet because I don’t have a snappy name for it — fandomIP? fanip? sfanip? sort of like turnip, isn’t it? pernip? parsnip? anyway – I’m taking suggestions for names, and offline emails if you’re interested in joining.