Monday, September 28, 2009

Legalizing Theft - The New Capitalism

When I came home for lunch I turned on CNBC's Power Lunch as was surprised to see them interview Michael Moore who just released a new movie: "Capitalism: A Love Story". I was pleasantly surprised by his statements that we have lost our moral compass and that capitalism today is perceived as a means of "legalized theft".

I don't think that Mike fully understands capitalism and several of this comments are off base. Nevertheless I am pleased that he was given this airtime to present his viewpoint. My belief is that we are into corporatism. Our elected leaders today, seem to be nothing more than shills for the corporate interests that they represent. The result, our laws are of, by, and for the corporations. I hope that you will an opportunity to read my other post under Economics. There are some good Dilbert strips!

PS: This is my first attempt at embedding a video. Need to figure out how to eliminate the unused white space.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Begining of a Trend?

Good to see others recognizing the absurdity of how companies feel entitled to impose fees on the public. In the spirit of fairness, if companies feel entitled to contact us, we should be able to charge them for our time and the use of our equipment. Companies do not have a right to impose on us without our permission. Please see: Misplaced Regulatory Blame II. The cartoon below is by Darrin Bell from: Candorville. (Click on the image to see it better.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Breaking Out the Red Banner of Revolution

Crosbie Fitch on his webpage, Digital Productions, put together a very informative breakdown of the various views towards intellectual property. In his post, Natural IP in Nihilism to Maximalism, Crosbie writes:

"To put Natural IP in context, here it is among four key positions – using the example of a poem:

  • IP Nihilism: No-one can own a poem, only the material comprising the copies of it.
  • IP Naturalism: Those who have legitimate1 copies of a poet’s poem own that poem in the copies within their private property (house, car, briefcase).
  • IP Monopolism: A poet should also be granted a transferable reproduction monopoly (on the pretext of incentivising publication).
  • IP Maximalism: A poet, or his assigns, owns his poem in all representations throughout the universe, forever."
The breakdown helps to define a continuum from which the intellectual property discussion can be analyzed and debated. Personally, in response to the increasingly shrill calls for ever "stronger" intellectual property rights; I have been moving in the other direction, towards IP Nihlism. Fundamentally, why should the public (me specifically) have their property rights to the use of content diminished to the point of extinction so that the "seller" can extort an unreasonable monopoly rent?

For a summary read on my "enlightenment" please see narrative The Case Against IP: A Concise Guide. Also see Mike Masnick's series on The Grand Unified Theory On The Economics Of Free. Of course there is a lot more. In the meantime, break out the red banner of revolution!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Copyright Propaganda

Those advocating a "strong" copyright use half-truths so that the reader is left unaware of the real purpose of copyright and that the copyright of today is not the copyright of yesterday.

TechDirt writes: "A Look At The RIAA's Copyright Propaganda For Schools". In that story Mike looks at the RIAA's "curriculum" for teachers and the RIAA's Music Rules! webage. Of particular interest is the following RIAA quote:

"You might also inform them that our nation's Founders included copyright protection in the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8), believing that it would encourage creativity by giving the creators of intellectual property an exclusive right to profit from their artistic talents."
So what is so onerous about the above quote? To begin, the Nation's Founders passed the "Copyright Act of 1790". The Wikipedia entry for the "Copyright Act of 1790" states:

"The Copyright Act of 1790 was the first federal copyright act to be instituted in the United States, though most of the states had passed various legislation securing copyrights in the years immediately following the Revolutionary War. The stated object of the act was the "encouragement of learning," and it achieved this by securing authors the "sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing and vending" the copies of their "maps, charts, and books" for a term of 14 years, with the right to renew for one additional 14 year term should the copyright holder still be alive."
Then in 1998 the onerous "Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA)" was passed. The Wikipedia entry states:

"The Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) of 1998 extended copyright terms in the United States by 20 years. Since the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright would last for the life of the author plus 50 years, or 75 years for a work of corporate authorship. The Act extended these terms to life of the author plus 70 years and for works of corporate authorship to 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever endpoint is earlier.[1] Copyright protection for works published prior to January 1, 1978 was increased by 20 years to a total of 95 years from their publication date."
Finally there is the US Constitution. While the RIAA cited the US Constitution, they never disclosed the text below and its implications:

"To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"
As can be seen, the RIAA has not disclosed three critical points. First, the time period for copyright has significantly increased since the Nation's Founders established copyright in 1790. Second, the purpose of copyright is to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. Third, copyright was meant to be of limited duration.

In reading the RIAA statement, the reader would be left with the incorrect impression that the purpose of copyright is to provide a content creator with a revenue stream over an unspecified period to time. Clearly that is not the case.

Tom Bell writes:

"The term of copyright has steadily expanded under U.S. law. The first federal copyright legislation, the 1790 Copyright Act, set the maximum term at fourteen years plus a renewal term (subject to certain conditions) of fourteen years. The 1831 Copyright Act doubled the initial term and retained the conditional renewal term, allowing a total of up to forty-two years of protection. Lawmakers doubled the renewal term in 1909, letting copyrights run for up to fifty-six years. The 1976 Copyright Act changed the measure of the default copyright term to life of the author plus fifty years. Recent amendments to the Copyright Act expanded the term yet again, letting it run for the life of the author plus seventy years."
So when will those who advocate a "strong" copyright acknowledge that they have been getting what they have asked for at the expense of the public??? Probably never. The real theft is not the public "stealing" from the content creators, but the content creators "stealing" from the public.

The "Mockingbird's Imitations" website obtained a copy of Lord Kames's opinion in the case of Hinton v. Donaldson (1773). Note the date, 1773. Lord Kames writes:

"And when, upon expiration of the monopoly, the commerce of these books is laid open to all, their cheapness, from a concurrence of many editors, is singularly beneficial to the public. ... In a word, I have no difficulty to maintain that a perpetual monopoly of books would prove more destructive to learning, and even to authors, than a second irruption of Goths and Vandals."
So 300 years ago, the discussion concerning copyright already recognized that a "strong" copyright would be detrimental to society. In reading the RIAA propaganda you would never know that the purpose of copyright is to promote progress of science and the useful arts for the benefit of society; not to make the content creators rich through a State granted monopoly.

A National Disgrace II

The Washington Post writes: "Where the Towers Stood, Delays and Disagreements Mount". In summary the Post writes: "Eight years later, the site known as Ground Zero remains mostly a giant hole in the ground. A projected completion date has been pushed back years, if not decades. The project has been beset by repeated delays, changing designs, billions of dollars in cost overruns, and feuding among the various parties involved in the complex undertaking."

In commenting on the article gce1356 wrote: "America is no longer the land of getting things done, instead it's become the land of blustery talk, endless arguments, finger pointing and blame, bankers, insurance executives and lawyers."

In commenting on the article ChrisFord1 observes: "5 years - whole cities were rebuilt after WWII. ... 1 year - the time it took to build the Empire State Building ... Gaze on the Pit. Now proof America has lost it's ability to get things done"

A country that dwells on the past, is country that is in decline. Build a simple memorial park and get on with resolving our other national issues.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A National Disgrace

MSNBC writes: "Ahead of the Sept. 11 anniversary, questions remain over progress at site". Once again I am unfortunately reminded that both our corporate and governmental leaders do not seem concerned about getting things done, but about making meaningless ego driven verbose assertions about how great we are. If we were a results driven progressive country, questions would naturally arises as to: why has the site not been rebuilt, why haven't those responsible for our financial collapse been put in jail, why don't we have a new generation of space shuttles in production, and why can't we balance our budget?

The Washington Post recently ran this book review: "Rome Wasn't Destroyed in a Day Either". Essentially Rome declined over a period of time because it rotted from within. In reviewing the book, the Post remarks concerning Goldworthy's that: "Nevertheless, he finds some disturbing messages about inefficiency and corruption, about what happens when the selfish desire for personal advancement overrides thoughts of the common good, when bureaucracies become so swollen that they lose touch with their overall purpose and when institutions grow so large and powerful that their sheer size conceals their errors and inefficiencies." Of course there are significant differences between the US today and the Rome of yesterday. But based on the ever growing list of outstanding concerns, it is worth pondering on whether the US as a nation, like the concept of peak oil, has begun to decline.

As for me, build a simple memorial park. If we can't even get organized to implement, it is ridiculous and pointless to endlessly dwell on making some sort of grandiose statement . Build a park and lets get on with solving our real problems.