27 January 2013

Unadulterated Sausage Platter

... or perhaps just very unadult and childlike, which is what usually results from misguided litigation tactics.

  • This has been a busy couple of weeks on copyright issues in the European courts, most recently a formal Advocate General's opinion on fair compensation to creators for enabling digital copying. And although this isn't the law in the US yet, y'all should pay attention... because it's a system that gets raised every couple of years, in both public statements and occasional legislative proposals.

    Basically, this is a throwing-up-of-the-hands at piracy. The system basically assumes that anything that can be used for recording digital data will be used, in a certain proportion, for doing so with pirate copies; a source-level "tax" is imposed, which is then supposed to be fairly redistributed to the creators as compensation for their lost income.

    Needless to say, the actual redistribution is... less than fair. That's part of what is at issue in this most recent opinion (which is somewhat parallel to the Solicitor General's recommendation to the US Supreme Court in matters in which the United States is not a party). Whether it is fair or not, it is convoluted — and I mean the Advocate General's opinion as much as the system she is discussing.

  • All of which is, I suppose, better than fully legalized piracy in Antigua and Barbados. This is yet another example of the strange world of the World Trade Organization and its complete inability to distinguish between the actions of governments and the entitlements of private parties.
  • Professor Goldman believes that false-notification penalties under the DMCA may be dead... except, that is, when some pirates and vultures try to intimidate small copyright holders by threatening to file a § 512(f) claim. <SARCASM> Gee, I've never seen that before, nor any combination of that with spurious claims of interference with commercial advantage. </SARCASM> (You know who you are.)
  • Not all childlike litigation tactics are in IP law, of course. Consider the "military commissions" at Gitmo, and what happens when the chief military prosecutor refuses to sign on to the political appointees' preferences — again. Much as it pains me to agree with a West Point graduate, he's in the right on this one. And it's not just about protecting US servicepeople from other governments; it's about protecting US servicepeople from ourselves.