For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Some copyright thingies

First, the Big Debate on whether we come to bury copyright or to praise it, which was hosted in the palatial surroundings of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer's auditorium, not too far from London's iconic River Thames ("iconic" in its current meaning, "something you probably wouldn't bother looking at if no-one reminded you that it was there"). Here on the co-sponsoring 1709 Blog is a fairly decent report from two Freshfields trainees, Emmma and Sam. Do take a look if you get the chance!


On the subject of the debate, this Kat fished out some neat lines from each of the debaters.  In favour of praising copyright were Emily Goodhand
  • "There is no middle ground: it's thumbs-up or thumbs-down"
  • "A world without copyright would simply say 'hard cheese!' -- and move on"
  • "This speech is available in the public domain"
and Richard Mollet
  • "The creative economy is too important to put at risk by half-baked wishful thinking"
  • "Freedom of speech -- is it really restricted to the point at which a file-sharer is protected as a person expressing his political opinion?"
  • "Copyright is not unethical, but arguments against it come close to being so".
In favour of not praising it, though not necessarily burying it alive, were David Allen Green
  • "What's easy to copy is easy to spot"
  • "'If it's worth copying, it's worth protecting' -- so why then do we have defined categories of protected works?"
  • "Assignees, sixty years later, have no connection to creativity".
and Crosbie Fitch
  • "There's a new cultural guidebook: anyone who wants to engage with it has to fight the copyright cartel ... Disney!"
  • "We'll never learn not to copy since to learn is to copy"
  • "Copyright is a dead parrot. You can nail it to a perch and keep on praising it -- but it has ceased to be".

This Kat (and, he suspects, the other Kats too) has little opportunity to connect with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, better known by its acronym OECD. The OECD is what might be called a rich country's club and you can't just join it -- you have to be admitted.  Anyway, thanks again to the vigilant Chris Torrero, the OECD's proposed online copyright protection plan has come to the attention of this blog -- and you can check it out here.  Just six sides long (five, if you exclude the cover), the Communiqué on Principles for Internet Policy-Making, June 29, 2011, is presumably something to do with copyright protection, but funnily enough the word 'copyright' doesn't appear even once in it.  However:
"The policy-making principles in this communiqué are designed to help preserve the fundamental openness of the Internet while concomitantly meeting certain public policy objectives, such as the protection of privacy, security, children online, and intellectual property, as well as the reinforcement of trust in the Internet [So far so good: this is what most of want]. Effective protection of intellectual property rights plays a vital role in spurring innovation and furthers the development of the Internet economy [The OECD needs to be told this?]. Internet policy making principles need to take into account the unique social, technical and economic aspects of the Internet environment [The same can be said about all ad-hoc policy-making. Nothing shocking here]. It is clear that the open and accessible nature of the Internet needs to be supported for the benefit of freedom of expression, and to facilitate the legitimate sharing of information, knowledge and exchange of views by users including research and development that has brought about widespread innovation to our economies" [The Kat's feeling is that the problem of legislating for the internet isn't an issue of principle -- it's a set of practical problems in implementation such as who is responsible when things go wrong, who pays, who indemnifies, who gains or loses access -- and for how long and in what capacity. Freedom of speech, access to information, the right to one's property etc aren't something that has just been invented, and striking the right balance between them in a world where both technologies and their uses keep changing is very much a matter of hitting a moving target].
Also unsurprising is the news that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has declined to endorse the OECD's Communiqué:
"We oppose legal and policy frameworks that encourage Internet intermediaries to filter and block online content or disconnect Internet users under a “graduated response” system after alleged copyright violations. Civil society calls on OECD member states to defend free expression and support due process and procedural safeguards in the protection of intellectual property rights."
Merpel is amused by the contrast between the OECD and Civil Society. While the first is exclusive, the second is much easier to get into. More to the point, unlike the OECD, where some semblance of consensus usually precedes statements of policy, everyone who is a member of Civil Society is entitled to speak on behalf of everyone else.

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