Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Internet and IP

The demands of IP (Intellectual Property) ownership bothers me. I have nothing against the creator of something making money from it, but society has rights as well. In the past the laws about IP used to strike one balance, but commercial interests have lobbied and moved the balance more and more toward an IP creator's right that lives forever and the public's rights are put off so long that they are effectively extinguished. From the Wikipedia article on copyright term, you can see how the length of copyright "protection" has continuously been extended in the US at the expense of the public's right to access the material:

This video of Neil Gaimon talking about copyright and piracy is very interesting...

Compare the reasonableness of Neil Gaimon to the completely unreasonable stance of the artist Jeff Koons. From an article in the NY Times:
All Bark, No Bite: Settlement Reached in Balloon Dog Dispute

By Kate Taylor

Clowns everywhere can breathe easier: Jeff Koons’s lawyers have backed down in an intellectual property dispute over balloon dog-shaped bookends. In December, Peter D. Vogl of the firm Jones Day, which represents Jeff Koons LLC, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Imm-Living, the Toronto company that manufactures the bookends, and Park Life, a San Francisco gallery that sells them, arguing that they violated Mr. Koons’s intellectual property rights. Mr. Koons is well-known for his stainless-steel versions of the canines.

Bloggers largely scoffed at the threat, but Park Life decided not to just sit around and see if Mr. Koons would sue. On January 20, its lawyer, Jedediah Wakefield of Fenwick and West, working pro bono, sued Jeff Koons LLC in San Francisco federal court, asking the court to declare that Park Life wasn’t infringing on Mr. Koons’s i rights. “They very quickly indicated they weren’t interested in putting up a fight,” Mr. Wakefield said of Mr. Koons’s lawyers. Ultimately, Jeff Koons LLC agreed not to pursue the gallery for the sale of the bookends, and the gallery agreed not to indicate that the bookends were by Mr. Koons, which, Mr. Wakefield added, “they hadn’t done and weren’t going to do anyway.” As a result of the deal, he said, he was planning to file on Thursday for a dismissal of the declaratory judgment suit.

Meanwhile, Imm-Living’s lawyer, Rod Byrnes, said he had also received a letter from Jones Day, saying that it would not pursue the intellectual property claims, as long as Imm-Living didn’t try to tie Mr. Koons to the bookends. Mr. Byrnes said he found that satisfactory, but wanted confirmation in writing that the settlement was final. Mr. Wakefield called the original threat a headscratcher that, in any event, “quickly deflated.”
By the way... I've taken copyright on the use of the word "the" and expect everybody to pay me a nickle every time they use my word! Please start forwarding your nickles to me now, otherwise I'll make my claim for ownership of the letter "e" and charge a dime every time you use my letter!

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