…And Copyright Law Is Broken Too (Duh!)

I was looking for a way to includes these in my story about the brokeness of patent law, but they just wouldn’t fit. So here they are separately.

Increasingly, content owners are taking advantage of the vagaries of the “public domain” to make us pay for rights we used to take for granted.

For instance, when you buy a chair, you expect to be able to use it however you wish. You might sit on it for hours, you might stand on it, you might hang it on the wall, but whatever you do, you’d never stop to ask if you were using the chair in accordance with the terms and limitations set out by the manufacturer. And you’d scoff if the manufacturer demanded more money for those uses. Right?

But that’s not how the music and film industries want things to work. While you can easily take the chair you purchased from one apartment to the next, and from there to a house, the entertainment industry is seeking to prevent you from doing the same with your music and videos. You see, the music industry has made more money from listeners upgrading formats as they have with new sales. But the MP3 revolution has changed that. You can put your new CD on your iPod, and in a few years you can put in on your home media server, but you won’t be buying a new “Super CD” just to keep up with the times, and (because you keep your music library backed up) you won’t be buying a new CD to replace your old one if it gets scratched. In short, things have changed, but the problem facing the entertainment industry isn’t piracy, it’s that the “format wars” don’t matter anymore. That’s why the entertainment industry is pushing for DRM and a new electronic format wara tower of eBabel to confuse customers.

So, back to chairs for a moment: We Make Money Not Art reports on Steve Mann’s Seating License:

…an internet chair with magnetic stripe card reader and spikes that retract when you slide your credit card into a slot on the chair to download a “License to Sit.”

Accordianguy, meanwhile, points out the absurdity of the intellectual property absolutists in a comic by Tony Esteves. Then, CriticalMontages (via lquilter.net ) makes the human argument on this matter.

Here’s two more, before we go: Copying is Theft — and other legal myths, but the FBI and Homeland Security Department are busily wasting manpower and billions of dollars chasing supposed copyright violators. It would be funny if we couldn’t imagine much more serious things for them to be doing, but Homeland Security Agents checked in on a small toy store to investigate (false) reports of trademark violations. If that’s not enough of a kicker, the reports where filed by the former owners of the Rubik’s Cube trademark, long after the trademark had expired!

[ubdate:] Copyfight is linking to a satire piece about the RIAA suing people for incidentally listening to music that they didn’t purchase, as when a CD purchased by one person is heard by everybody in the car. Alan Wexblat notes:

[T]his story is close enough to believable that About.com felt the need to mark it prominently as satire. Given the reach of the Cartel to date, I confess I didn’t find the basic premise totally beyond the realm of belief.

Increasingly, as with Steve Mann’s Seating License, we are being asked to pay extra for what used to be “fair use” rights.

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