Posted on February 28, 2008 in DRM, HarperCollins, IP, Neil Gaiman by Brian RoweView Comments

American Gods

Two weeks ago I blogged about how great it was that Neil Gaiman’s publisher was going to release one of his books for free. I didn’t think it was possible to fuck this up. Great writer, great books, the only result I could imagine was positive for Neil’s popularity and sales….

I was wrong. HarperCollins released American Gods online with terrible DRM with no download options. I voted for American Gods because it is a great book, but it is LONG and not a good choice for online only reading. With the DRM:

    You can’t download it.

    You can’t read it without an internet connection.

    You can’t tag it or link to cool stuff in it.

    You can’t cut and paste text.

    You can’t send people a chapter to try and get them interested.

If I had known it was going to be online-only I would have voted for a shorter book and not been so excited.

For more on the evils of DRM, see Defective by Design

Posted on February 22, 2008 in Seattle University, Seattle University Law, Social Justice by Brian RoweComments Off

This week Seattle University and Seattle University Law hosted a conference on Globalization & Justice from a critical Interdisciplinary perspective. The Friday keynote speech was not a speech, but instead a thought experiment focused on changing the way we think about scholarship. Francisco Valdes did a great job of engaging the group in thinking about how to democratize social justice as a grass roots community movement.

Here are my notes from his talk:

Background Assumptions:
1. Community is essential for new knowledge (without Community scholarship is hollow and removed from the real)
2. Can we approach Social Justice scholarship without being critical?
3. The processes is ultimately Political
4. Justice needs to be viewed through identities
5. Communities define Identities
6. Diversity produces conflict and possibly trust as communities and identities interact

Thought Experiment:
How can we build a framework to allow the interaction essential to building understanding between communities?

How do we engage the people in a movement when they are tethered to the old system for livelihood?
It is a process of hard work similar to gardening. It takes hands on work in the community that enables people to move away from the system they are tied to. It will not happen overnight, but it can happen.

Francisco Valdes, Professor of Law, earned a B.A. in 1978 from the University of California at Berkeley, a J.D. with honors in 1984 from the University of Florida College of Law, and a J.S.M. in 1991 and a J.S.D. in 1994 from Stanford Law School. Between law school and his graduate law work, he practiced with Miami and San Francisco law firms, and taught as an adjunct professor at Golden Gate Law School. After receiving his J.S.D. from Stanford, he taught at California Western School of Law in San Diego, joining the UM faculty in 1996. He is a leading figure in the LatCrit movement and in gay rights scholarship and is co-chair of LatCrit, Inc. He teaches civil procedure, comparative law, critical race theory, law and sexuality, law and film, and U.S. constitutional law.

Thanks to Margaret Chon for organizing the conference.

Posted on February 21, 2008 in A2K, A2K3, Rubbish, Seattle, WIPO by Brian RoweComments Off

The Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School will host the third Access to Knowledge Conference (A2K3) September 8-10, 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland. It will be held at the Geneva International Conference Centre and will bring together hundreds of decision-makers and experts on global knowledge to discuss the urgent need for policy reforms.

“Opening up access to knowledge is a demand of global justice; it is both a human rights issue and a crucial factor in spurring economic development and technological innovation,” said Yale Law School Professor Jack Balkin, founder and director of the ISP.

The ISP is collaborating on the conference with an international team of partners representing academia, civil society, industry, and government.

“The A2K community has grown exponentially in the last three years, and it is time to move this perspective to the mainstream of international policy-making,” said Lea Shaver, ISP’s Access to Knowledge Program Director. “The A2K3 will address crucial topics related to global knowledge policy, including innovation systems, digital education, Internet governance, climate change, public health, and human rights.”

Read more at:

Official Press Release From Yale on A2K3

“Orphaned Works” comprise the majority of works from the 20th century culture. Most works produced after 1923 are still under copyright, but the copyright owner cannot be found. As a result, orphaned works are not used in new creative efforts or made available to the public due to uncertainty over their copyright status, even when there is no longer anyone claiming copyright ownership, or the owner no longer has any objection to such use.

One possible solution to the orphaned works problem is a “Use it or Lose it” provision: a statutory end to copyright if the work is not made available in commerce for a period of time. In the trademark realm, one loses the rights associated with a mark if they do not use it or if they abandon it. Copyright is granted to bring works to the pubic. Limiting the exclusive rights when works are not brought to the pubic is congruent with Article 1 Section 8 Clause 8: “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; ”

More on Orphaned works at Duke

Posted on February 15, 2008 in A2K, WIPO by Brian RoweComments Off

The 3rd annual Access to Knowledge Conference is taking the struggle to liberate knowledge directly to policymakers. The location and timing of this year’s conference is targeted at a new audience of international organizations and policy-makers, particularly those delegates preparing for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) General Assembly.

Here are the full details:
Date: September 8-10, 2008.
Location: Geneva, Switzerland.
Cost: Free and open to the public, but advance registration will be required

The Conference includes three days of plenary panels, as well as workshops for smaller working groups. I highly recommend saving the date and attending if possible.

More information at The Information Society Project at Yale Law School
Edit: The Information Society Project web site is not updated yet. This information is from the A2K mailing list.

Posted on February 11, 2008 in CLE, DRM, Fair Use, Jessica Litman by Brian RoweComments Off

Fair Use Comic DukeLast week Columbia Law hosted a conference on Fair Use. The panelists included several scholars I respect. Here are some highlights from the third panel of the conference.

Posted on February 10, 2008 in Neil Gaiman by Brian RoweView Comments

Neil Gaiman’s publisher HarperCollins has approved releasing one of Neil’s books online for Free. Here is the best part you get to choose which book to release.

“Which book, though…? Ah, that’s up to you.

What I want you to do is think — not about which of the books below is your favourite, but if you were giving one away to a friend who had never read anything of mine, what would it be? Where would you want them to start?”

It was a tough choice for me, I voted for twice (don’t tell) once for American Gods and once for Coraline. I have wanted to give copies of each of these books to total strangers and either would be great to have online. This is a great opportunity to show off the power of free online distribution to one of the Old Guard.

Neil’s Birthday Gift (Vote Here)
Thanks for the Image Boing Boing

Posted on February 8, 2008 in CEA, corruption, Digital Freedom by Sarah DaviesComments Off

I got an email today from the Digital Freedom campaign. I found out about this organization about a year ago, after hearing that they had a huge pimped out booth at CES. I was immediately suspicious as free culture organizations are few and generally poor. I tried to do some digging around who was funding them and what their mission statement was. There was nothing on their website at that time and they didn’t answer emails.

The email I got today (a generic mailing list blast – they added me to their mailing list without my consent when I emailed them asking about their funding and mission) was hosted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), and had CEA contact information at the bottom of the email.

They still don’t have a mission statement on their site. They call themselves a “campaign” rather than a nonprofit. They have no list of employees or funders. Their blog posts don’t have authors. This implies to me that they exist merely to push consumer electronics to free culture people. Take this blog post for example:

We told them there was money out there just waiting to be made if they were willing to think outside the box, or in this case, inside the X-box, PlayStation 3, and other video gaming systems. The popularity of gaming and the incorporation of music into those games, are providing a valuable new revenue stream for artists, songwriters, and yes – even music labels. The numbers are remarkable and very telling. We have known for some time that the music industry ignored the potential of technology and innovation at their own peril – but now there is a very real example of what the future could look and sound like.

Them? They? Microsoft is a member of the CEA. Sony is a member of the CEA. This is self promotion masquerading as revolutionary politics!

The only positive explanation I can imagine for this “campaign” is that electronics organizations are sending a message to record companies to lighten up on consumer restrictions. But CEA members are some of the worst DRM-loving anti-consumer user-exploitative corporations on the planet! So that explanation doesn’t seem to make sense.

I’ve put attributes on all the links in this post so that we won’t increase the pagerank of these shady organizations. I would be happy to remove them once I know the funders, employees, and motivations behind this “campaign”.

Posted on February 6, 2008 in compulsory license, congress, copyright act, nfl by Riana PfefferkornComments Off

God bless America: The day after the Super Bowl, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) introduced a bill, S. 2591, that would create an exemption from the Copyright Act to allow churches to broadcast the Super Bowl and other professional football games without having to worry about the NFL coming after them for infringement — so long as the broadcast is live and the church does not charge a fee to view the game. Soon Americans may have the right to watch a live football game in a house of worship, just as the Lord wanted us to.

The full text of the bill can be found on THOMAS by entering S. 2591 into the search box and selecting the “Bill Number” option. (If you read the bill and are wondering what an “entity defined under section 3121(w)(3)(A) or (B) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986” is, as that link there will show you, it means “churches,” and only churches. Add an Establishment Clause analysis to the Art. I, § 8, cl. 8 and 5th Amendment takings clause analyses that I’m sure are boiling up in your brain.)