Facebook vs ConnectU

I’ve been following the ConnectU versus Facebook lawsuit. The Inside Facebook blog has been helpful. Here’s an earlier article on the case.

When will the judgement come down? While waiting, here are some other links on the subject.

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Meet Internet Billionaire Kevin Ham

What could be more lucrative and rewarding for an individual than a career in medicine? Kevin Ham found the answer. He switched from being a general practitioner to purchasing old domain names on auction and is now “the man who owns the internet“, according to Paul Sloan, Business Magazine editor-at-large. Some of the URLs that comprise his electronic empire are those ending “.cm”, a common mis-entry for “.com” that is also Cameroon’s top level domain.

This brings to mind the cases of logo copyright infringement multi-national corporations faced decades ago when expanding into new territories. A single investor had beat them into certain geographic markets, registering their own established logos before they had thought to invest there. Dastardly! – but insightful, I thought at the time. And immediately afterwards: I wish I’d thought of that. Yet when the World Wide Web came along and investors started exhibiting these same behaviours, domain squatting or cybersquatting was condemned by the World Intellectual Property Organization and shot down in the courts. One could no longer benefit from purchasing that which someone else already had legal claim to.

Like Access Copyright, which protects the rights of the producer or owner of a work, the “intellectual property (IP) system” is claimed to “reward creativity, stimulate innovation and contribute to economic development while safeguarding the public interest” (see WIPO). I can appreciate that economic gain from one’s work is a motivation for many of us. Yet creative commons can increase productivity and innovation – and what is it they mean by “safeguarding the public interest”, anyway?

I’m torn. I want to say something witty and decisive that will strike a move forward for the open source movement; collaborative visionaries are creating amazing programs that proprietary organizations can’t keep up with. Yet I remember Jerome K. Jerome‘s claims about “Three Men in a Boat: To say Nothing of the Dog“. He gained financial security from its early sales, yet did not have the means prior to copyright legislation to keep its republication solely his own. But that same fact must have helped to drive its success. As I say, I’m torn on this issue.

No time exists like the present for doing some reading. Here’s Jerome’s opus, 1909 illustrated edition online.

If I forget thee, O Pandora

It’s old news now that Pandora has been disabled by Canadian law in providing the sweet sounds of the Music Genome Project over the net, but my heart still aches for it. For those of you who weren’t subscribed, the service interruption message ran as follows:

Dear Pandora listener,

Today we have some extremely disappointing news to share with you. Due to international licensing constraints, we are deeply, deeply sorry to say that we must begin proactively preventing access to Pandora’s streaming service from Canada. We began blocking access from almost all countries outside the U.S. last week and had originally hoped to maintain access to Canada. However, it has become clear in the last week that we just haven’t been able to make enough progress to continue streaming.

It is difficult to convey just how disappointing this is for us. Our vision remains to eventually make Pandora a truly global service, but for the time being, we can no longer continue as we have been. As a small company, the best chance we have of realizing our dream of Pandora all around the world is to grow as the licensing landscape allows.

We show your IP address is ‘xxx’, which indicates you are listening from Canada. If you believe you are seeing this by mistake, we offer our sincere apologies and ask that you please reply to this email.

Delivery of Pandora is based on proper licensing from the people who created the music – we have always believed in honoring the guidelines as determined by legislators and regulators, artists and songwriters, and the labels and publishers they work with. In the U.S. there is a federal statute that provides this license for all the music streamed on Pandora. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent license outside the U.S. and there is no global licensing organization to enable any webcaster to legitimately offer its service around the world. The volume of listening on Pandora makes it a very expensive service to run. Streaming costs are very high, and since our inception, we have been making publishing and performance royalty payments for every song we play.

Until last week, we have not been able to tell where a listener is based, relying only on zip code information provided upon registration. We are now able to recognize a listener’s country of origin based on the IP address from which they are accessing the service. Consequently, on May 16th, we will begin blocking access to Pandora to listeners from Canada. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

We will be posting updates on our blog regarding our ongoing effort to launch in other countries, so please stay in touch. We will keep a record of your existing stations and bookmarked artists and songs, so that when we are able to launch in your country, they will be waiting for you. We deeply share your sense of disappointment and greatly appreciate your understanding.

-Tim Westergren
(Pandora founder)

Copyright (US)

Here’s an interesting piece from YouTube – a masterpiece in editing dedicated to teaching everyday users about American copyright laws using clips from Disney films. Watch it all the way to the end to see why he uses Disney’s clips.

I’m posting this because Access Copyright is an issue in my school; getting instructors to log their copying accurately for reporting is always a challenge. For anone else having similar issues, CIPO is a useful resource!