Saturday, 21 May 2011

© law­™ ®

OK, I am surprised it has taken me this long to post anything about copyright law since it has been bothering me for almost as long as I can remember. Maybe it took this news to enrage me all over again...

Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

The entertainment industry (books and magazines, music and movies) has enjoyed a long and prosperous history. That history, however, is wrought with anti-innovation lobbying and fear-mongering over generalizations and falsehoods. Let's look back at some of the fears that the media has had since 1440 when the printing press spread words and literacy throughout Europe and the rest of the world
  • The Music Industry
    • Phonographs and Player Pianos Will Kill Music! (John Philip "Stars And Stripes Forever" Sousa)
      published in Appleton's Magazine in 1906, Sousa argues that, "...I myself and every other popular composer are victims of a serious infringement on our clear moral rights to our own work..."
Some of these myths have been around a long, long time. The trouble is that these industries would rather bitch and moan anytime something new comes along to threaten their monopoly, when it is more productive (and profitable) to find the way to market this 'perceived' new threat. If the music industry had figured out they could charge $1 a song on the internet, and save money on printing, inventorying, shipping, and retail overhead instead of suing Napster, suing gnutella, suing eDonkey, and suing pretty much everybody else including single mothers and elderly people, Apple would not own the universe right now...

So not only did the RIAA miss their opportunity, they blamed all of us for it.

The film industry is just as guilty, but I have more ammunition for Music since they've been at it longer.

Both of these industries have, in the last 30 years;
So between whining about some technology they don't understand, gouging us when re-selling us what we've already bought, and suing us for what we aren't buying they've never once thought: 'Maybe, I am somewhat to blame for my own spiraling demise'? I used to feel engaged by Music, Movies and Television shows, but over the past decade I feel more like they're all trying to insult my intelligence.

About every 3 years I buy a CD because I actually felt it was worth buying it (and because I don't feel that Apple really needs my money via iTunes). The DVDs I buy are old TV shows and old movies that actually drew me in to something and sometimes even compelled me to think. The most recently released TV show I've purchased  were the only 2 seasons of 'Pushing Daisies' which was cancelled for being too witty (at least that is the explanation I believe to be true).

Mind you, I still go to the theater once or twice a year, but if I were single that rate would likely drop to once every 2 or 3 years.

Both of these industries need to evolve or die. Contrary to what anyone believes or says, I am sure 'artists' will still produce art and find a way to make money at it using the digital age to cut out big media fat-cats that were essentially exploiting them anyway.

Strangely the print industry has been more adaptable. Printed word is slowly taking a backseat to the digital world. Some of them are still doing it wrong as I would think if it costs less for them, it should cost less for everyone else. The New York Times charges different prices for .com + smart phone, and .com + tablet, and all digital access when in reality they are using tiered pricing for access to the exact same content. They even have the nerve to charge more for the all digital package than they'd charge for physical delivery of an actual paper 7 days a week outside of New York. I suppose they still have time to tweak this pricing scheme as it is fairly recent, and they might even decide to do just that.

Of course requiring permission or payment out of students who 'cite other works' in assignments as I mentioned above is outright evil, so maybe I need to gouge them heavier at a later date.

So this brings my to patents.

Patent reform is absolutely mandatory for any innovation or progress in technology, science, or medicine.

Here's an article from 2005 explaining the patent troll. Since that time the only thing that has changed is that patent trolls have increased their portfolio. I understand the patent system, it was designed to protect the little guy working in his basement toiling away years of his life then finally inventing something. EURIKA! He patents the idea so others cannot steal it then tries to figure out the economics of mass-producing and marketing it to an open market, or he licenses it to a larger company that already has manufacturing facilities. The patent was there to allow sufficient time to bring the idea to life and to try to make a profit.

Patent trolls just sit on these ideas hoping that 'some vague detail' of some other company's product has somehow made use of that idea (even in part), then they drag that company to court to extort money from them... Not just any court either, most of these cases are tried in Marshall Texas because most trials are awarded to the patent holder. Either Mashall Texas judges were all inventors or Marshall Texas has only 12 residents too stupid to get out of jury duty and those 12 people are not smart enough to see they're being played for fools by snake-oil salesmen.

Also the patent office is inundated with patents and there's no real way to properly monitor submissions to verify that anything has been done to develop the idea into a marketable product.

I won't talk too much on the patent issue though, as it would appear that a Patent Reform bill passed in the U.S. congress not long ago. Since I have not yet read that bill, I will let it run it's course for a while.


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