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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fettered innovation: the more things change ...

My friend Agnes Varnum has a very interesting post on the Re:Sources blog today: More on Copyright: Protecting Innovation. She talks about Fair Use, and the corporate abuse of copyright law to squelch innovative media and technology. She links to the following Business Week article:

FAIR USE: Protecting Innovation
As lawsuits targeting new technologies in TV and music multiply, an industry executive supports a House bill to protect fair use rights
by Gary Shapiro

... when XM Satellite Radio made available to its subscribers an innovative satellite radio that allows listeners to time-shift their favorite music programs, the music industry sued. When Kaleidescape launched an innovative entertainment system that organizes and stores movies on a home server to be viewed in any room, the DVD industry sued.

Under a little-noticed change in law secured by record label lobbyists and the Recording Industry Association of America, the music industry trade association, such lawsuits can seek damages of $150,000 per copyrighted work infringed. Because a "work" can be defined as a single song, in the case of an audio device like an MP3 player that permits access to millions of songs, the potential risk is incalculable (see BW Online, 2/25/07, "Apple's International iTunes Controversy"). ...

Read the full article

I think this is a critical issue for people to understand, especially as technological innovation continues to butt up against legal structures put in place to protect an outdated economic order.

Unfortunately for us, the people who wield the most influence politically and hence legally are those with the most to lose from such change, so they resort to the most heavy-handed means possible to preserve the status quo.

Unfortunately for them, the more they try to contain these changes, the more the new forces chafe under their restrictions and work more aggressively to create a new social order where they control the laws.
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