New York Times: Copyright restrictions limit innovation

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What's at stake when we fight for Internet openness by tackling copyright and other intellectual property issues? This article describes it well:

"It’s not that we don’t need to protect intellectual property at all. But the protections must take into account that innovation is often a cumulative process, with each step piggybacking on the ideas before it. [...] Overly strong intellectual property laws that stop creators from using earlier innovations could slow creation over all and become a barrier for new technologies to reach the market."

Canada's copyright bill—which contains strict "digital locks" provisions—is in the Senate right now, and the restrictive international TPP agreement is progressing. Join the international pro-Internet community to stay informed and be a part of the movement for innovation and openness.

Article by Eduardo Porter for The New York Times:

Casual observers would find little in common between the smartphones in their pockets and the funky backbeat of the Beastie Boys’ Car Thief. But these two creations will go down together in the annals of creativity as reminders of the flaws in our intellectual property laws.

TufAmerica, which manages the rights to the catalog of the go-go band Trouble Funk, sued the Beastie Boys this month, saying they had illegally used samples from Trouble Funk’s classics “Drop the Bomb” and “Say What” in several tracks on their 1980s albums “Licensed to Ill” and “Paul’s Boutique.”

To fans of 1980s hip-hop, the suit was a bitter reminder of how copyright law changed the music they loved.

Back then, a new generation of artists rapped over elaborate musical mosaics made of brief samples from other songs. “Paul’s Boutique” included hundreds of samples from artists ranging from the Beatles to Afrika Bambaataa. A series of court decisions in the 1990s, though, made this kind of musical collage all but impossible, forcing artists to get permission for every snippet they used — a logistical and financial nightmare. Lawsuits flew against several rappers, and a form of cultural expression virtually disappeared.

Hip-hop may have little to do with high tech. But its experience carries a stark warning for the future of technology. High-tech behemoths in a range of businesses like mobile computing and search and social networking have been suing one another to protect their intellectual property from what they see as the blatant copying and cloning by their rivals. Regardless of the legitimacy of their claims, the aggressive litigation could have a devastating effect on society as a whole, short-circuiting innovation. Read more »


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Topics: Copyright