For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Forthcoming London events - and that mysterious Italian fine

On Tuesday 13 November the Intellectual Property Institute takes pleasure in presenting the 2007 Stephen Stewart Lecture. The speaker is the IPKat's friend William Patry, who appears to have cornered the market for credentials for giving a memorial lecture in the field of copyright law (Senior Copyright counsel at Google Inc., in its New York City office. Previous convictions include copyright counsel to the US House of Representatives' Committee on the Judiciary; Policy Planning Advisor to the Register of Copyrights, US Copyright Office; full-time law professor; as well a private lawyer. Blogger and author of the seven-volume Patry on Copyright, published in January 2007 by Thomson/West, the largest work written on the subject).

Right: a visual metaphor for the fault line that divides rights owners from users -- the chasm can be bridged, but at what personal cost?

William's subject is “Metaphors and Moral Panics in Copyright”. As the lecture information explains,

"Intellectual property is intangible and abstract; not surprisingly, so are key concepts within the field, such as the idea-expression dichotomy. Early rationales for copyright in the UK to encourage learning, and in the US to promote the progress of science, are also abstract. Cognitive linguists propose that metaphors are essential to understand such abstractions. Under this approach, metaphors are not affective or rhetorical devices, but rather cognitive vehicles by which we directly understand one conceptual domain in terms of another.

Left: detail of an early steam-powered VCR. Never popular with consumers because of the condensation it deposited on TV monitors, this device was never perceived as a threat to the economic well-being of rights-owners.

Those advocating grants of robust copyright employ a number of metaphors to achieve their desired result, usually in conjunction with what British sociologists in the 1960s and 1970s began calling "moral panics," seen in Jack Valenti's testimony that "the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." Those who oppose copyright have their own sets of moral panics and metaphors, such as "information wants to be free." The lecture will review how metaphors and moral panics have been used to obfuscate rather than enlighten".

Ponders the IPKat, what can we learn from these recent experiences? does enlightning ever strike twice? Kindly hosted by London-based law firm Slaughter and May, this event's doors open at 4.30pm for a 5pm start and entry is free -- but you have to register with the IPI here first.

Panic here; don't panic here; Boston Strangler here


The next meeting of BLACA (the British Literary and Artistic Copyright Association) takes place on Thursday 8 November at 6.15 pm, in the Adelaide House, London office of Berwin Leighton Paisner. The speaker this time is the IPKat's friend John Enser (Partner, and Head of Music, Olswang). John's topic is "Fair dealing in a digital world". Having seen and heard John in action, the Kat can confirm that he is an entertaining and knowledgeable speaker -- so this is a golden chance to see him in action.

BLACA emphasises that non-members are welcome, particularly if they would like to consider joining the association. For further details, see http://www.blaca.org.uk/.


Yesterday the IPKat expressed his surprise at the magnitude of an administrative fine imposed on unauthorised file-sharers in Italy. Today he is assisted by his much-appreciated former student Luca Giove , who tells him
"I think that the Italian police authorities probably applied Article 174bis of the Italian Copyright Act, which is not available in the WIPO text but was introduced in 2000 and amended in 2003.

Pursuant to this provision an administrative fine is applicable in addition to the criminal fine for each violation of the criminal provisions on copyright. The fine is therefore proportional to the number of infringed copyright works and/or copies. Each violation may carry an administrative fine of between Euro 103 to Euro 1,032.

Euro 103 x 120,000 files is approximately Euro 12,000,000 ...".

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