Wednesday, January 28, 2004

IP Absurdity Watch

It has come to the attention of Beyond the Commons, via Shachar Oren of Neurotic Media, that Congress has granted a waiver for the first two years of interstellar use of copyrighted material. Royalty levels are to be determined in a later date and will probably be retroactive. However, if life is found on Mars, royalty levels will have to default to local law. And the exchange value between Mars money and USD is yet to be determined.

Folklore/Cultural Policy Related

For Immediate Release
January 7, 2004

Contact: Christy Crytzer


New Format Encourages Simpler Application Process

Washington, D.C.- The National Endowment for the Arts today posted Grants for Arts Projects (GAP) guidelines for FY 2005 on the agency Web site at These are the first online-only GAP guidelines at the Endowment, providing applicants earlier access and a more flexible format for changes and access to information.

The most beneficial change to the guidelines is a return to discipline orientation. For the past several years, applicants have been directed to funding categories, such as Creativity or Heritage & Preservation. This coming year, applicants will approach funding through the field or discipline of their project, such as dance, theater, or visual arts.

"We hope this change will simplify the application process, as well as underscore the importance of artistic field and discipline at the agency," said A.B. Spellman, NEA Deputy Chairman for Guidelines and Panel Operations.

Grants for Arts Projects supports exemplary projects in dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, museums, music, musical theater, opera, presenting, theater, visual arts, and multidisciplinary art forms. Although organizations will apply directly through these fields, each discipline offers granting opportunities in the following categories:

§ Access to Artistic Excellence- supports artistic creativity, preserves our diverse cultural heritage, and makes the arts more widely available in communities throughout the country

§ Challenge America Fast-Track Review Grants- enables small and mid-sized organizations to extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability

§ Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth- advances learning in the arts for children and youth consistent with national, state, or local arts education standards

Further information about these categories and about GAP requirements can be found at on the NEA Web site mentioned above.

Music and Copyright Related

19th Dec


The Dutch Supreme Court has dismissed a suit brought by a music copyright agency against the developers of Kazaa. The ruling, the highest yet from a European court, means that the developers of the software cannot be held liable for how individuals use it. The ruling upholds a March 2002 appellate court decision that also found in favor of the company.

Music and Copyright Related

Future of Music Newsletter:

Environmental/Cultural Studies Related

A provocative piece by Michael Crichton on scaremongering in environmentalism:

Music and Copyright Related

Steve Jobs: The Rolling Stone Interview:

Music and Copyright Related

Copyright laws are stifling art, but the public domain can save us
December 3, 2003

By Fiona Morgan

"Artists steal. It's a well-known fact. Blues musicians built upon the tradition of other blues musicians playing on the same circuit, and rock musicians built upon their music in turn, sometimes appropriating wholesale their songs and styles. Writers, it's been said, choose from a limited number of plots and write the same story over and over, just tweaking the details. Nothing is entirely original, yet artists make original work out of the culture they're immersed in. ..."

Music and Copyright Related

Dec 4, 2003, 4:06 pm ET

By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A federal judge has approved a settlement that gives discount vouchers to more than 8 million members of various music clubs who had accused record groups of conspiring to fix CD prices.

The settlement, approved by U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby in Portland, Maine, on Wednesday, calls for immediate mailing of vouchers providing for 75 percent discounts on regular CD club prices.

The class action lawsuit was filed several years ago against Bertelsmann AG's BMG Music Club, Columbia House and several other CD manufacturers and distributors, alleging they conspired to set prices of CDs sold to music club members.

BMG declined comment, while officials of Columbia House were not immediately available.

Under the settlement, class members will receive up to three discount vouchers, said Michael Jaffe, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Anyone with a voucher will pay about $4.50 per CD, based on the normal music club price of about $18. Individuals buying CDs with the vouchers will not have to pay the usual extra shipping and handling charges of $2.80.

The lawsuit was filed in the same court as another CD price-fixing suit that was signed by the attorneys general of 43 states and territories and consolidated in Portland in October 2000. Hornby approved a $143 million settlement of that case in June 2003.

That settlement involved a class action suit in which consumers accused major record labels and large music retailers of conspiring to set minimum music prices.

Defendants in both suits included Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Group Plc's EMI Music Distribution, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corp., Vivendi Universal's Universal Music Group and Bertelsmann Music Group.

By agreeing to the settlement on Wednesday, the music clubs and distributors denied any wrongdoing.

Venture capital firm Blackstone Group last year bought an 85 percent stake in Columbia House for $410 million from owners Sony Corp and Time Warner Inc .

"This is a reasonable settlement for an extremely complex and difficult case. We encourage all class members to take advantage of the voucher program, which will be in place for the next six months," said Jaffe.

Music Industry Targets Even Computer-Less
Wed Dec 3, 6:15 PM ET Add Technology - AP to My Yahoo!

By TED BRIDIS, AP Technology Writer

WASHINGTON - The recording industry has filed 41 more lawsuits against computer users in at least 11 states it said were caught illegally distributing songs over the Internet, continuing its aggressive campaign against online music piracy.

The latest copyright suits this week bring to 382 filed since the Washington-based Recording Industry Association of America (news - websites) announced its legal campaign nearly six months ago.

The group's president, Cary Sherman, said the group has no plans to cut back, even as media coverage over the continuing lawsuits wanes.

"People who engage in illegal file-sharing should be aware, whether or not they hear about it this month, that doesn't mean the enforcement program has been reduced in any way," Sherman said. "If anything it will be increased."

The recording industry is monitoring popular Internet services where computer users can download song files, searching for people illegally distributing the largest music collections. Court-issued subpoenas compel Internet providers to identify their customers linked to the online accounts used to download songs.

Among the RIAA's recent targets is retiree Ernest Brenot, 79, of Ridgefield, Wash., who wrote in a handwritten note to a federal judge that he does not own a computer nor can he operate one.

Brenot was accused of illegally offering for download 774 songs by artists including Vanilla Ice, U2, Creed, Linkin Park and Guns N' Roses.

Brenot's wife, Dorothy, said she and her husband were stunned by the claims, offended at the suggestion they listened to such music. Brenot was targeted in the previous round of 80 suits the recording organization filed late in October.

Brenot and her husband said their son-in-law briefly added Internet service to their own cable television account while living with the couple because
Comcast Cable Communications Inc. said it would add a surcharge to send separate bills to the same mailing address.

"There's a mistake in this case," Dorothy Brenot said. "We're innocent in all of this, but I don't know how we're going to prove it."

The 41 most recent suits were filed against Internet users in Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona, Connecticut, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois and Washington.

The recording industry also said Wednesday that it has reached financial settlements against at least 220 computer users. Defense lawyers familiar with some of the cases have said penalties ranged from $2,500 to $7,500 each.

And now for some Canadian news ...

Music copyright war goes to Supreme Court
SOCAN calls for blanket net tariff. Web sites offering downloads should pay royalties, if anyone, Internet providers say

CanWest New Service (Submitted by Vito Pilieci) The Ottawa Citizen 2003 Montreal Gazette

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

An association representing music composers and publishers is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to force Internet providers to pay millions in royalties for allowing music files to be shared on the Internet.

The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, which helps protect the copyrighted works of music artists by collecting royalty payments and distributing the money to artists, will argue its case before the Supreme Court beginning tomorrow morning.

The association is asking that a blanket tariff be implemented, to allow it to collect as much as 10 per cent of the annual revenues of Canada's Internet providers.

According to Statistics Canada, Canadian Internet service providers reported revenues of $1.3 billion in 2001.

Canadian Internet providers claim they have no control over what people do with their Internet connections and if anyone should pay royalties it should be the Web sites offering music downloads.

"CHUM has their own MuchMusic Web site. SOCAN could easily go to MuchMusic and license them," said Jay Thomson, president of the Canadian Association of Internet Provid-ers.

"Somebody will have to pay the tariff. We are saying it should be those that control the content."

If SOCAN is successful in arguing its case, the outcome could prompt other groups - including software publishers, authors, photographers and even the movie industry - to use the legal precedent to try and collect more royalty payments from Internet service providers.

SOCAN has also asked the Supreme Court to address certain jurisdictional issues and how they pertain to Internet providers. Specifically, it has asked if companies can be held accountable for Web-site content, accessible by Canadians but located on Internet servers in other countries.

The decision could raise issues about who will be held accountable for objectionable content hosted on computers residing overseas.

"This is quite important, it's groundbreaking," said Mark Perry, a professor of law and computer science at the University of Western Ontario in London.

"If you say that Internet service providers are responsible for content, then it makes their life a lot more difficult."

SOCAN already collects royalties on blank CDs, DVDs and cassettes, as well as annual fees from bars, restaurants, store owners, TV and radio stations and skating rinks. In 2002, the collective received more than $121.9 million in royalty payments.

If SOCAN argues its case successfully, Thomson said, Canadian Internet providers will have no choice but to increase monthly access fees.

"Initially, the tariff would affect all of the ISPs and then through them it would affect all of their customers," he said.

"It is going to be quite dramatic if we lose this case."

Another piece from John Borland ...

Group seeks political power for P2P
Last modified: December 2, 2003, 5:28 PM PST

Staff Writer, CNET (By John Borland)

A new nonprofit organization aimed at welding file-swapping and open-source computing advocates into a political force is launching online this week.

Dubbed "Click The Vote," an allusion to the successful Rock the Vote efforts focused at the MTV generation, the group hopes to make digital copyright and computing matters an issue in the 2004 election campaigns.

While not yet backing specific policies, the group's early statements include support for legalizing music sharing along with a mechanism for paying artists, and support of "open computing" as opposed to the "trusted computing" initiatives supported by Microsoft and others. These technology issues should be viewed as policy issues in a modern, digital world, the group says.

"Openness and free speech is what has made this democracy thrive," said organizer John Parres, a onetime advisor to Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz and co-founder of the influential Pho digital music e-mail discussion group. "We're concerned that things are going in the wrong direction, that we're heading towards closed computing, encrypting speech, and those things are not conducive to a thriving democracy."

The group hopes to tap into the momentum several online organizing efforts have gained this year, including the early stages of presidential candidate Howard Dean's campaign, and the fundraising efforts of the political action committee MoveOn.

It's targeted at the technologically savvy audience of file swappers and open-source programmers--a demographic perhaps best represented by the extraordinarily active Slashdot technology news site community. That is a vocaal group in online circles, but it has not yet been felt as a powerful political force.

This isn't the first attempt to turn the widespread dissatisfaction with digital copyright law--along with campaigns such as the Recording Industry Association of America's lawsuits against file swappers--into political action.

In the declining days of the original Napster, the company beseeched its users to write their legislators and sing the virtues of file trading. The campaign did raise some awareness of the issue in Washington, D.C., but that did not save the company from crippling legal rulings and bankruptcy.

More recently, Kazaa parent Sharman Networks spent $1 million last month on a print advertisement campaign, touting its own organizing Web site.

Click The Vote is starting without corporate backers and will rely largely on donations for funding, Parres said. But the group is looking to focus on exerting influence through galvanizing voters rather than through political contributions.

"I think there is a pool of energy out there that we're going to harden and focus and bring to bear on these issues," Parres said. "What needs to happen to push this thing forward is for people to start communicating in a coherent voice with their legislators."

Japan police arrest two P2P users
By Staff, CNETAsia (John Borland contributed to this report)
Wednesday, December 3 2003 7:00 AM

A Japanese peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing network which claimed to keep user identities untraceable has failed to work--two users in Japan have been

The developer of the P2P software has also had his home searched by police, according to a report in the Mainichi Daily.

There are around a quarter of a million users of the supposedly anonymous file-trading network, called Winny, which rides on the more well-known
Freenet network.

Such networks differ from other file trading software such as Kazaa in that they claim to be able to hide the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of users.
It is not known how the police managed to track down the two users, or why criminal action is being taken against them. In other countries, P2P users have been hit with civil lawsuits instead.

The creator of Freenet, Ian Clarke, has cast doubt on whether Winny uses Freenet's full identity-cloaking features or its cryptography, according to a report in New Scientist.

Freenet is an open-source project and is most prominent of a growing number of projects aimed at giving people the ability to communicate online without being tapped, traced or monitored.

The software marks an attempt to create a network that exists as a parallel Internet, where content of any kind can be uploaded and downloaded without any way to track who created a given "site".

Unlike other peer systems, Freenet has a built-in method of pushing content between different computers, so that a given file can migrate around the network between different people's hard drives until it is stored near regions where it is most often used.

The arrested are two men, aged 41 and 19, said the Mainichi Daily report. Among other charges, the older man is accused of sharing the Hollywood movie
A Beautiful Mind while the teenager is being held for making the game Super Mario Advance available online.

Several companies, including game maker Nintendo, are pressing charges against the pair. This is the first known case of legal action being taken on users on anonymous file-sharing networks.

In Korea and Taiwan, lawsuits have been filed against users of P2P networks. A copyright body in Taiwan is suing three users of file sharing networks while in Korea, recording companies are threatening to do the same.

In both countries, creators of file sharing software have been brought to court, but defendants are arguing they are not responsible for what people choose to share. Both cases involve homegrown P2P networks sharing local-language music.

In Taiwan, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has sued three P2P users who are said to have shared files on the locally-popular Kuro and Ezpeer networks.

Unlike internationally popular networks such as Kazaa, both Taiwanese services are fee-based.

The Recording Industry Association of Korea (RIAK) is said to be mulling suing end users of free-use P2P software Soribada.

Soribada's 4.5 million users have lost the recording industry millions in revenue, claimed the RIAK. The makers of the software have been slapped with
a US$16,300 fine, despite claiming that they are not responsible for the actions of its users.

In the U.S., the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has targeted hundreds of P2P users for legal action.

There is some evidence that the controversial RIAA lawsuits against ordinary computer users are making a dent in the file-swapping world. According to Web analysis firm Nielsen/NetRatings, weekly usage of the Kazaa software in the United States plummeted from a high of 7 million people in early June to just 3.2 million people in late October.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

RIAA extends legal actions to fight online music piracy
Association files new round of lawsuits

By Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service December 03, 2003

The Recording Industry Association of America Inc. (RIAA) is expanding this week its legal efforts to curb online music piracy, the industry watchdog
group announced Wednesday.

The RIAA is firing off a new wave of lawsuits and lawsuit-notification letters to users whom the RIAA alleges have illegally distributed significant amounts of copyright-protected music files online.

The group is filing 41 new lawsuits and sending 90 lawsuit-notification letters this week, adding to the 341 lawsuits filed and 308 notification letters sent since September.

The RIAA has settled with 220 file-sharers as a result of lawsuits, lawsuit-notification letters and subpoenas. In addition, 1,054 users have submitted affidavits as part of the RIAA's amnesty program.

Recent surveys have shown that the RIAA's campaign to seek legal punishment against music pirates is increasing awareness about the issue and prompting
users to stop downloading music files illegally.

However, the RIAA's campaign has also drawn criticism, particularly its attempts to force Internet service providers (ISPs) to disclose personal information about subscribers suspected of being illegal downloaders. For example, SBC Communications Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union are separately challenging the RIAA in court over this issue. The RIAA tussled over this issue with Verizon Internet Services Inc. earlier this year and got a favorable court decision that forced the ISP to turn over the personal information of subscribers.

The following press release was issued by PACNEWS, the Pacific News Agency Service, on the 24th September, 2003

Legislation to protect indigenous intellectual property rights

24 SEPTEMBER 2003 SUVA (Pacnews) --- Fiji's Cabinet has approved the drafting of an appropriate legislation for the recognition and registration of indigenous intellectual property rights.

Traditional knowledge and expressions of culture will now be protected through this legislation.

Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said government is concerned with the increasing exploitation of traditional knowledge and expressions of culture for commercial purposes.

"Folklore has been commercialised without due respect or acknowledgement to the cultural and economic interests of the communities from which they originate," he said. "In order to adapt them to the needs of the market, they are often distorted or mutilated.

"More often than not, no share of the returns from its exploitation is returned to the communities, which have developed and maintained them for generations," Mr Qarase said.

The Prime Minister said traditional knowledge and expressions of culture need to be recognised and legally protected not only to ensure their survival but to ensure that the owners' derive maximum benefit from their exploitation for commercial gains.

He said government recognises that the current Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) system is inadequate in protecting traditional knowledge. In this regard, appropriate legislation will be drafted based on the Model Law formulated by the member states of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The Model Law provides rights to traditional owners of traditional knowledge and expressions of culture; allows traditional owners to be compensated for use of their traditional knowledge and expressions of culture for commercial purposes by others; allows for the establishment of national institutions to create and maintain up-to-date database on owners, and also permits the establishment of a national dispute resolution system....PNS (ENDS)

“Oh, it’s just sad, that’s all.”
“What’s sad?”
“People is.”
“I see. What’s sad about people?”
“People ought to get more wise when they get older. Bossy and Patch do, but
people don’t.”
“Don’t you think so?” I asked.
“No. People’s boxes get littler and littler.”
“Questions are in boxes,” she explained, “and the answers they get only fit
the size of the box.”
“That’s difficult; go on a bit.”
“It’s hard to say. It’s like – it’s like the answers are the same size of
the box. It’s like them dimensions.”
“If you ask a question in two dimensions, then the answer is in two
dimensions too. It’s like a box. You can’t get out. ... The questions get to
the edge and then stop. It’s like a prison.”

From Mister God, This is Anna. Fynn. Collins, 1974 pp. 154-5.

Lucas Gonze has created a modified version of the Oyez' presentation of the Eldred vs. Ashcroft arguments (a very important recent copyright extension case). His modifications make it possible for third parties to add commentary and analysis.

The Oyez original is at

A weblog entry on his modifications, including instructions for people who want to add comments, is at

Eben Moglen has a paper on the web called "Freeing the Mind : Free Software and the Death of Proprietary Culture" at: (June 29, 2003)

Law Professor Jessica Litman has posted an early draft of a paper called "Sharing and Stealing," about licensing and
P2P distribution.

The draft is available for free download at

The abstract of the paper reads as follows:
The purpose of copyright is to encourage the creation and mass dissemination of a wide variety of works. Until recently, most means of
mass dissemination required a significant capital investment. The lion's share of the economic proceeds of copyrights were therefore channeled to
publishers and distributors, and the law was designed to facilitate that. Digital distribution invites us to reconsider all of the assumptions
underlying that model. We are still in the early history of the networked digital environment, but already we've seen experiments with both direct
and consumer-to-consumer distribution of works of authorship. One remarkable example of the difference consumer-to-consumer dissemination can
make is seen in the astonishing information space that has grown up on the world wide web. The Internet has transformed information and the way we
interact with it by creating an easily accessible, dynamic, shared information space. Its success derives from the fact that information
sharing on the Web is almost frictionless; individuals are free to post information they learned from others without having to secure their
permissions. This paper proposes that we look for some of the answers to the vexing problem of unauthorized exchange of music files on the Internet
in the wisdom intellectual property law has accumulated about the protection and distribution of factual information. In particular, it analyzes the digital information resource that has developed on the Internet, and suggests that what we should be trying to achieve is an online musical smorgasbord of comparable breadth and variety. It proposes that we adopt a legal architecture that encourages but does not compel copyright owners to make their works available for widespread sharing over digital networks, and that we incorporate into that architecture a payment mechanism, based on a blanket or collective license, designed to compensate creators and to bypass unnecessary intermediaries.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

It has been a long time since I last posted on this weblog, which most people don't know about anyway. I started a Beyond the Commons newsletter and got one issue out, but there is so much information flooding in that putting together a newsletter is a little unwieldy. Instead, what I am going to do is just keep this blog going with the same kinds of information (articles, calls for papers, conferences, and whatever else) and on the same sort of themes (enclosure and the commons, music and copyright, general intellectual property, Intellectual Property Absurdity Watch, ethnomusicology and other things). I hope to post regularly, at least three or four times a week. Apologies to those who expect a blog to be a lot more professional in appearance than this one - it's just text, no frills - and I am aware that there is a lot more that one can do with a weblog than I am doing. I do intend at some point to get hold of Blogger Pro and to improve the design of the page, but for the moment I will just persist regardless. So, little by little I will catch up with the information that I was intending to post over the last month or so since the first/last Beyond the Commons newsletter.