Sunday, August 21

Seth Godin: If We Imprison Ideas, We Imprison Ourselves

Seth Godin writes, "governments and organizations are lining up to control ideas and the way they spread."

How is this control happening? Seth Godin gives three examples:

1. Nathan Myhrvold: Patent Troll
Myhrvold worked at Microsoft for 13 years, where he founded Microsoft Research in 1991. Intellectual Ventures, it is alleged, accumulates patents not in order to develop products and reward inventors, but with the goal acquiring licensing fees, often using shell companies.

Technology companies pay Intellectual Ventures fees ranging “from tens of thousands to the millions and millions of dollars … to buy themselves insurance that protects them from being sued by any harmful, malevolent outsiders,” says venture capitalist Chris Sacca.
There’s an implication in IV’s pitch, Sacca says: If you don’t join us, who knows what’ll happen? He says it reminds him of “a mafia-style shakedown, where someone comes in the front door of your building and says, ‘It would be a shame if this place burnt down. I know the neighborhood really well and I can make sure that doesn’t happen.’ “
2. BART: 1st Amendment issues mount over cell shutdown
In 1967, the California Supreme Court ruled that a city couldn't prohibit nondisruptive political activity inside a railroad station.

That was before cellular phones were invented and before the first BART train rolled down the tracks. But it's a precedent the transit agency may have to confront as it defends its decision to cut off cell service at the site of an expected trackside protest last Thursday, and its long-standing ban on "expressive activities" inside the fare gates.

BART says it might pull the plug on phone service again this afternoon to counter plans for a 5 p.m. demonstration at Civic Center Station in San Francisco, where a transit police officer fatally shot a knife-wielding man July 3.

The legality of such a decision may soon arrive in court.

"This is new territory in the United States," said Gene Pilicinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. Although courts haven't addressed a government cell phone shut-off, he said, "historically we have kept our hands off free expression. ... The government has a very high ladder to climb." [Read more here.]
3. How the Legal Fight Over 'Y.M.C.A.' Could Change the Music Industry (Analysis)

Does an artist have the right to terminate copyright?
In 1976, the U.S. Congress lengthened the copyright term, but as a fig leaf to artists who had created works at the early stage of their careers but handed their rights over without much bargaining power, legislators thought it wise to give artists another bite of the apple. So they allowed artists to enjoy the benefits of the latter stages of a copyright term by terminating a copyright grant.

However, in doing so, artists need to adhere to a strict protocol, including sending out precise termination notices during a short few-year window. Artists are allowed to terminate a copyright grant 35 years after first publishing, and since the Copyright Act amendments went into effect in 1978, it means that 2013 is the first year where musicians such as Bruce Springsteen and Victor Willis can effectuate a termination. Since these notices have to go out in advance, it also means that these artists are now under the clock to send out their termination notice or forfeit the right for the foreseeable future. [Read the rest here.]
What should we do about these cases? Wyhat can we do?

A good first step would be reading the rest of Seth Godin's article.

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