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January 9, 2015

This Valentine's Day, The Real Deal Means More Than a Copy

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments

December 17, 2014

What's It All About, Eli?

It’s not clear to me what Eli Lehrer is torqued off about sufficiently to sit down and pen a blog entry about the fact that Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is working with content owners to help fight online piracy.

Eli grants that A.G. Hood has done “meritorious work” in a number of policy areas of which Eli approves, and he grants that Hood hasn’t done anything to violate laws, canons or legal ethics. (I’m a little confused that Eli thinks one of Hood’s meritorious causes include going after drug companies about drug prices—I thought free-market types thought markets should set prices rather than governments. Same with going after insurance companies. Of course, Eli is in favor of carbon taxes, too, so he’s full of surprises.)

Nonetheless, Eli gives us a five paragraph blog entry. His gripe is apparently that content owners are still trying to protect their content even though SOPA didn’t become law, and that A.G. Hood is willing to work with content owners to do so. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

November 12, 2014

MPAA Debuts

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

October 23, 2014

More Misleading Hype about the IP Chapter of the TPP: Forbes' Katheryn Thayer

I’m cataloging some of the misleading, distorting, uninformed and just plain awful reactions to the latest Wikileaked IP chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty in a series of blog posts, in order to keep my response down to manageably sized bites.

My general reaction to this pattern of distortion can be found in my response to the previously leaked chapter, here. Frankly, not much has substantively changed since then, except for the ever greater heights of distortion from the IP skeptic crowd.

Perhaps the worst reaction was from Katheryn Thayer at Forbes, and I want to stress that Katheryn identifies herself as “staff” at Forbes, and not just as one of their many authorized bloggers. Katheryn uncritically accepts and then further inflates the inaccurate and policy-sloppy arguments of the IP skeptic activist groups, and her article is much more of an opinion piece. Most problematic, she works from the assumption that the TPP is “the latest threat to digital innovation and free speech online.” That’s just totally unjustified. You don’t get to throw around a charge of threatening free speech without backing it up. But she doesn't. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

September 29, 2014

Grooveshark Found Guilty of Massive Copyright Infringement

This evening Grooveshark, the popular music streaming service that has up to now managed to skirt accusations by copyright holders that is was hosting music files without paying appropriate royalties, was found to be guilty of massive copyright piracy.

Grooveshark’s defense has long been that it is legal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the federal law that protects websites that host third-party material if they comply with takedown notices from copyright holders. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

September 25, 2014

Online Piracy Is not Due to a Lack of Available Content

I've always thought it was somewhat self-incriminating that critics of copyright tend to excuse copyright piracy. They usually claim to believe in some form of copyright (though they can almost never describe what they would support), and claim to believe in obeying the law, yet they excuse and explain away piracy.

Very often, the technique is to deflect "but don't you think piracy is wrong?" with a quick "yeah, but Hollywood . . . " and then you either get:

  • Hollywood doesn't make content available to consumers they way they want it (what they really mean is that Hollywood should make its products available to consumers immediately, easily, in a variety of formats, and for almost nothing).
  • All those rich Hollywood fatcats make too much money. I'm just depriving them of their next Bentley
  • Hollywood is defending their old business model instead of adapting to changing technology
  • Copyright term is too long (what this has to do with pirating a movie that's been out for a week is not obvious to me)

or some other foolishness.

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

September 23, 2014

Yes, Of Course, In Trade Agreements, the Devil Is In the Details

Simon Lester, who I met earlier this year speaking at a Cato event, has a blog up over at Cato at Liberty giving a somewhat nuanced response to my new IPI Ideas on including IP protection in trade agreements.

His point, essentially, is that I'm being very general rather than granular in my argument. And he's completely right, of course. My argument in the piece IS a general argument; namely, that it's appropriate and important to include IP in trade agreements.

And, in fact, my general argument in favor is a response to the general argument that is being made by many, including Cato personnel, that IP should NOT be included in trade agreements. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

September 17, 2014

Some Things Are Worth Requiring Permission

Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet will hold a hearing on the portion of the Digital Millennium Copyright ACT (DMCA) that makes legally possible and enforceable strong digital rights management (DRM) and other forms of technical protection measures (TPMs). Section 1201 of the DMCA makes it illegal to circumvent such technical protection measures, and was designed in part to implement the WIPO Internet treaties.

Section 1201 has been the subject of much ire from both technologists (who didn’t see the point and who like things simple) and from the IP skeptic community (who don’t like IP and certainly don’t like anything that reinforces IP). TPMs are occasionally inconvenient, but the track record of TPMs has been one of facilitating numerous new business models for the distribution of music, video and software. Today’s content-rich environment is due largely in part to the fact that content owners have sufficient confidence that they can make their content available through reasonably secure channels, and those channels are made reasonably secure through TPMs. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

August 26, 2014

Piracy Killing Movie Franchises

Interesting piece on The Hollywood News website about the impact of piracy on the film production business.

It has to do with the "Kick-Ass" movies, and the fact that there probably won't be any more of them, due (at least in part) to the piracy problem. Actress Chloe Moretz, who played the character "Hit Girl" in the movies, gave an interview:

"Sadly, I think I’m done with the character. Hit-Girl was a very cool character, but I don’t think there will be any more movies. You make these movies for the fanboys, but nowadays everyone seems to pirate them rather than watch them in the movie theatre. KICK-ASS 2 was one of the number one pirated movies of the year, but that doesn’t help us because we need box office figures. We need to prove to the distributors that we can make money from a third and fourth movie – but because it didn’t do so well, we can’t make another one. If you want more than one movie, everyone has to go and see movies at the cinema. It’s all about the the numbers in the theatre." Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

August 7, 2014

Creativity is More than Pushing Buttons

The hot story in copyright this week is about Wikimedia (Wikipedia) refusing repeated takedown requests by a photographer because Wikimedia claims that no one owns the copyright to the image. And why does no one own this image? Because a monkey pushed the button on the camera.

You can read the story here—I have no interest in simply retelling the story.

What’s at issue in the story is that, because the monkey pushed the button on the camera, Wikimedia claims that the monkey should own the copyright. But since animals can’t own copyrights, Wikimedia concludes that no one can own the copyright, so the picture must immediately go into the public domain.

In an interview, Wikimedia Foundation’s Chief Communications Officer Katherine Maher said the organization is confident that the legal basis for denying Slater’s request is sound, because the person that takes the photo should own the copyright. But a person didn’t take this one. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

August 4, 2014

So Do We Need Pharmaceutical Innovation, or Not?

Today in the Wall Street Journal, there is good op/ed about the threat of Ebola and other infectious diseases that urges us to invest more money in medical innovation.

There's also another op/ed complaining that cutting edge, innovative medical cures are too expensive, and that we need something apparently just short of price controls to do something about it.

So which is it? Do we want pharmaceutical and biotech companies taking risks and innovating new cures, such as Sovaldi, the new cure for hepatitis? Or not?

Ms. Ignagni's piece is particularly egregious. It's part of a campaign that she's behind to get the federal government to forceably lower the price of Sovaldi, a blockbuster new miracle cure for hepatitis C. Note the word "cure."

First, she writes as if concern over high drug prices is a recent phenomenon, which of course it isn't. I've been hearing statists complaining about high drug prices for the 20 years I've been doing public policy. In fact, the first paper I ever edited and published at IPI was on this very topic. The redistributionists have never understood why they can't have all their diseases cured and their pain alleviated without it costing anyone anything. They're always focused on the second order concern--how goods are distributed--without fully appreciating the first order concern--how goods come to be in the first place.

Distributing existing goods is easy--innovating a new product or service that never existed before, now that's impressive. But apparently not to Ms. Ignagni. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

August 4, 2014

Piracy and the Small Indie Filmmaker

Those who dismiss concerns about copyright piracy always deflect the conversation to the big Hollywood studios, as if piracy only affects extremely wealthy people driving around in Bentleys. It's not surprising that defenders of piracy tend to be class warriors in other areas of politics as well.

But the greatest impact of piracy is on those downstream small businesses and employees who work in the industry. Losses due to piracy, at the margin, affect the number of people hired, how much they are paid, and how many projects are undertaken in the first place.

But then there's the indie filmmaker, for whom the entire project is being done on a shoestring. When everything is being done with marginal resources, marginal impacts have a major impact. The same protections that would protect the major Hollywood studios against rampant piracy would be even more beneficial to the little guys.

There's a very interesting article up on about filmmaker Zak Forsman and the experience he's having with piracy of his new indie film, Down and Dangerous. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

July 31, 2014

Distinctive packaging: Private property and a protection for consumers

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments

July 21, 2014

Shocking Reports Show Great Dangers of Counterfeit Goods

A particularly shocking report comes today from the UK, in which counterfeit wine and liquor are flooding the market, containing dangerous chemicals such as methanol, chloroform, bleach, nail polish remover and anti-freeze. According to the report, up to 2 dozen bottles of vodka were being produced every minute at one counterfeiting site. 

And it’s not just occurring in the UK.  

In the United States, federal agencies have stepped up to identify, intercept, and prosecute criminal activity attempting to import or manufacture fakes in the U.S. to protect innovators and consumers from the dangerous impact of counterfeits.  Read More >>

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments

July 11, 2014

Giovanetti responds to negative spin on Aereo decision

This week, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told the Washington Post the Supreme Court decision on Aereo will discourage innovation.

But in a recent podcast, IPI president Tom Giovanetti debunks what he calls negative spin regarding the ruling, and says it’s a win for all players in the market because it’s a win for the rule of law. (Click here to listen to the IPI podcast.) Read More >>

Posted by Erin Humiston | Comments


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