Apr 302010

There’s a lot we can learn about Flash from French, including why Apple is misguided in banning it from its devices. Steve Jobs complains Flash is old and it’s closed, which, at least to some extent, is true on both counts. Of course, we could also say the same about the French language, but our world would be a lot poorer if we were to ban it too.

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 Posted by at 8:52 am
Apr 262010

In 2001 the World Intellectual Property Organization (aka “WIPO“) thought to declare the 26th of April as World Intellectual Property Day. Oh sure they claim it was ostensibly:

“to further promote the awareness of intellectual property protection, expand the influence of intellectual property protection across the world, urge countries to publicize and popularize intellectual property protection laws and regulations, enhance the public legal awareness of intellectual property rights, encourage invention-innovation activities in various countries and strengthen international exchange in the intellectual property field.”

But all that was really a cover for WIPO’s true intention to make the world celebrate one of the finest intellectual property lawyers ever to walk the Earth: me. Really, why else would they have chosen my birthday as the perfect occasion for their so-called “IP celebration”?

Of course, as long as WIPO continues to be coy about its true intentions, we might as well celebrate some intellectual property today. Thus a perfect host for this week’s Blawg Review was Jeremy Phillips at his IP-focused IPKat blog. Not all the posts he reviews this week are necessarily IP-related ones, but he did kindly include a link to my Blawg Review covering the 300th birthday of the Statute of Anne.

Clearly WIPO’s not the only one who recognizes my awesome IP skillz…

 Posted by at 12:10 pm
Apr 052010

I was asked to write a Blawg Review celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Statute of Anne. It may instead be more appropriate to mourn its death.

Obviously the Statute of Anne, having been put in force 300 years ago, almost to this day, is no longer good law in any jurisdiction. In fact, almost immediately after it was enacted it began to be transformed. But it stands as a turning point in the history of English law-based systems by being the first true instance of copyright law as we’ve come to know it. Prior to the Statute of Anne, the privilege to publish was invested by the monarch in just a handful of companies who had an exclusive monopoly on all publication. Nothing could be printed that the Stationers’ Company and its select few brethren did not deign to print, and they were endowed with police powers to enforce their total control of the market for printed works.

Clearly such total power over the creation and dissemination of written works would cause a politically restless populace to bristle, and Parliament eventually acted to wrest the Royal Privilege to publish from this cabal and restore it to the population at large. It is thus bitterly ironic that today, almost exactly 300 years later, the English Parliament stands ready to do the exact opposite and restore total control over the creation and dissemination of work to a new generation of monopolists.

What makes it so ironic is, of course, what has long been forgotten: that the Statute of Anne was passed as “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning.” The intent of the copy right it created was always to stimulate the dissemination of knowledge. Now, three hundred years later, we have the ultimate disseminator of knowledge: the Internet, yet in England — as well as countless other countries — copyright law is evolving to stop the spread of information — the exact opposite effect.

But its project has not yet succeeded, and the Internet is so far still able to provide a wealth of information, a small portion of which this Blawg Review will highlight as I explore the premise, promise and problems of the Statute of Anne and its legacy.

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 Posted by at 3:37 am
Apr 042010

It’s difficult, as a non-Russian speaker, to fully educate myself about Yuri Shevchuk and his music. My inability to even type in Cyrillic makes the Internet searches particularly fraught. Fortunately I can at least read basic Cyrillic, and with cutting-and-pasting I can enter names and titles into search engines. (“Юрий Шевчук” = Yuri Shevchuk; “ДДТ” = DDT.) As for fully understanding what I get back, GoogleTranslate is often helpful, if not 100% accurate, in getting the gist of what was being said or sung. Plus I have a year of college Russian to fall back on. In fact, it’s been interesting: doing all this Internet spelunking to find out more about the man and his music has caused me to dust off my textbook and dig out long-buried memories of grammar and vocabulary. Indeed, so enthralled and engaged am I by what I’ve found so far, it’s even motivating me to renew my Russian studies, just so I can understand what he’s been saying!
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Apr 042010

The following is an example of why we need a free and open Internet.

Hearing a Seal song the other day reminded me of my visit to Russia way back in 1992. It was part of a high school exchange, and my host student and I got along great. So well, in fact, that it was incomprehensible that our worlds had been so closed off from each other. Now that they were open it was so nice to be free to connect with someone so much like me.

One of the ways we connected was through music. As I wrote a few years ago:

Although [my friend’s] English was good enough that we were able to converse, she wasn’t able to pick up the lyrics to songs she liked. One of them was [Seal’s] “Kissed by a Rose.” She had a sense that it was deeply poetic and asked me to transcribe the lyrics for her. The exercise forced me to listen to it closely and I realized she was right.

So I shared with her that music. She, for her part, gave me Yuri Shevchuk, whose lyrics were much the same.
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