Intellectual Property and the Public Sphere

I haven’t had a chance to read Intellectual Property and the Public Sphere from the “UK’s leading progressive think tank”, but I hope to over the weekend. It should be interesting to read the take of a non-US based group as so much of my perspective is shaded by matters here in the States.

This looks at why the politics and economics of online information has become so fiercely contested, especially around intellectual property, and the nature of the dilemmas this creates for policy-makers. The paper stands back from this to ask why things have reached this impasse, and presents an analysis that positions all these competing visions within a broader understanding of what constitutes ‘the public sphere’. It concludes by out-lining the possibilities available for Government.

View the full paper (PDF)

The Constitutionality of Software Copyrights

As mentioned on The Technology Liberation Front , “Greg Aharonian, Editor/Publisher of the Internet Patent News Service—and one of America’s leading intellectual property experts—has just filed a major lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of software copyrights. In his complaint to the U.S. District Court’s Northern California Circuit, Aharonian details the adverse impact of vague software copyright laws and decisions.”

I haven’t had a chance to read all of this, but from the overview, and some skimming, I think this could prove quite interesting as it may well affect the very foundation of the software world.

Also, a quick note, Adam Thierer, who posted this to The Technology Liberation Front, edited CopyFights: The Future of Intellectual Property in the Information Age which contains some essays discussing this issue and patents on business methods. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is seriously interested in the interaction of copyrights, business and the consumer now and in the future.

IPac in Wired

Check out the Wired News story titled Battling the Copyright Big Boys, which provides a great introduction to what we, at IPac are building, and the goals we aim to accomplish. There is a lot to do, so if you have some time, and care about copyright and intellectual property issues (including whether or not you can record your favorite TV show), then stop by the IPac site, and sign up!

Donna Wentworth makes a great point concerning how to help us fight bad law. In her post about the story she recommends that people “give up today’s (and/or tomorrow’s) wildly over-priced Starbucks latte and make a donation to IPac.”

Chris Rush Cohen of the INDUCE Act Blog has also provided coverage and kind words regarding the IPac story. It’s great to see the word spreading!

The Senate Ponders Bad IP Laws

Wired News reports that the Senate may try to pass a hellish cornucopia of copyright and IP laws during the current lame duck session:

The Senate might vote on HR2391, the Intellectual Property Protection Act, a comprehensive bill that opponents charge could make many users of peer-to-peer networks, digital-music players and other products criminally liable for copyright infringement. The bill would also undo centuries of “fair use” — the principle that gives Americans the right to use small samples of the works of others without having to ask permission or pay.

This is a key example of why I have committed much of my free time to IPac. If you aren’t familiar with IP, here is some more information from the site:

IPac is a nonpartisan group dedicated to preserving individual freedom through balanced intellectual property policy.

We believe that technological innovation and individual creativity are vital to the future of this country. We believe that a prosperous and democratic society depends on freedom for all individuals to pursue scientific invention and artistic expression. Unfortunately, new intellectual property laws threaten to stifle these freedoms and restrict public participation in science, art, and political discourse.

Ultimately, the only way that we, as consumers and citizens can guarantee that we are allowed to use our purchases the way we want (and the way that we have been able to historically), is to speak up to the politicians who routinely trade our rights for campaign donations from large media groups. If you want to retain the right to use your purchased media in the same ways that you did 20 years ago, it is time you stand up and lend a hand.

Reminder: IPac

The good folks at IPac have sent out their newsletter today, which reminded me that I need to remind everyone to check them out. If you aren’t familiar with the group, you may want to check out my earlier post about this important political action committee which is “dedicated to preserving individual freedom through balanced intellectual property policy”.

Intellectual Property PAC

IPac gives me hope that our rights as both innovators and consumers might survive the current onslaught of intellectual and copyright legislation.

IPac is a political action committee (or PAC) that is dedicated to creating balanced intellectual property policy. We support U.S. Congressional candidates who will be advocates for the public interest in debates over copyright and patent law, technology regulation, and other IP-related issues. IPac focuses on getting better, smarter, tech-savvy legislators into office while coordinating with other groups who engage in litigation, activism, and regulatory work.