Fear as a business model

Moby has commented on the recent verdict against file-sharer Jammie Thomas has been found guilty and ordered to pay some $1.92 million in damages for illegally “making available” 24 songs in her KaZaA shared folder. That’s $80,000 per song!

Musician and electronica genius Moby (I only just found his blog/journal) writes:

punishing people for listening to music is exactly the wrong way to protect the music business. maybe the record companies have adopted the ‘it’s better to be feared than respected’ approach to dealing with music fans. i don’t know, but ‘it’s better to be feared than respected’ doesn’t seem like such a sustainable business model when it comes to consumer choice. how about a new model of ‘it’s better to be loved for helping artists make good records and giving consumers great records at reasonable prices’?

i’m so sorry that any music fan anywhere is ever made to feel bad for making the effort to listen to music.

the riaa needs to be disbanded.

Like many others Moby has put his finger on the main weakness on protecting intellectual property through lawsuits. You are either suing and pissing off your best fans or beating up (relatively) innocent bystanders in order to scare others… Isn’t this jailhouse logic? Beat someone up to gain respect?

Playing Moby loudly in the office as a tribute to his good sense and taste… also I like the music…

Enforcing dress codes

In case anyone missed it President Sarkozy recently decided to attack the Burka

In our country we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,” Mr Sarkozy said to applause in the parliament’s ceremonial Versailles home. The burka is not a religious sign. It is a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement,” he added. “It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.”

So ok the man has a point. Equality cannot be achieved in a society when one group has the power to enforce dress codes on another group. The intentions behind forcing a sub-group to behave or dress in a special manner is irrelevant. As the saying goes: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions…”

Photo: Stencils Oslo May 2009 by svennevenn (CC BY-NC-SA)

So even we can agree with Sarkozy what can be done? Sarkozy seems to be attempting to regulate the wearing of a specific style of clothes in public. This is not the same as refusing to allow different types of clothes inside public buildings such as schools or courts. Attempting to enforce such a rule would in itself be a form of denial of freedom. Can you imagine police arresting burka wearing women on the street? This would hardly strengthen the image of France as a democracy.

Another question is what other forms of dress would be prohibited? Are we to focus on the fully dressed aspect then maybe wearing hoods, scarves and masks would be considered wrong. On the other hand if we were to see the lack of individual freedom as an important aspect then wouldn’t all the slaves to fashion be violating the intent of the law?

Times Online has a list of dress related regulation:

— In France a law was passed in 2004 banning pupils from wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols at state schools, a move widely interpreted as aimed at the Muslim headscarf

— In Turkey where 99 per cent of the population is Muslim, all forms of Muslim headscarf have been banned in universities for decades under the secular government. In June 2008 the country’s Consitutional Court overruled government attempts to lift the ban, prompting protests

— In Britain guidelines say that the full Islamic veil should not be worn in courts, but the final decision is up to judges. Schools may forge their own dress codes and in 2006, courts upheld the suspension of Aishah Azmi, a Muslim teaching assistant who refused to remove her veil in class

German states have the option of choosing to ban teachers and other government employees from wearing Muslim headscarves; four have done so

—The Italian parliament in July 2005 approved anti-terrorist laws that make hiding one’s features from the public — including through wearing the burla — an offence

Tunisia, a Muslim country, has banned Islamic headscarves in public places since 1981. In 2006 authorities began a campaign against the headscarves and began strictly enforcing the ban

— The Dutch Government said in 2007 that it was drawing up legislation to ban burkas, but it was defeated in elections in November and the new centrist coalition said it had no plans to implement a ban

The abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren

Buying a good beer has never been this complicated! Check out the instructions and the promises you have to make if you would like to buy beer from The abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren. Amongst the instructions and warnings:

Our beer is sold in limited quantities and the reservations which we accept are always for a particular type of beer. Since we want to serve as many customers as possible, orders are limited to one order per car per per telephone number within any given month.
Anonymous numbers cannot be used.
You yourself must be the consumer. The receipt stipulates that the beer is not to be sold commercially to a third party. We reserve the right to prosecute offences.

Not only are you making promises to the monks – they even reserve the right to prosecute you if you break your promise. What is the religious punishment for lying to a monk?

Is blogging counterproductive to writing?

Like many bloggers I have occasionally indulged in online self-examination and questioned why I blog (here, here & here). Obviously there are many reasons why to blog (personally I do it because it’s fun). But I have never really considered the effects of my blogging. Not the effects on other people, but the effects on me.

So far in my blogging I have been happy to write posts. They are a quick and comfortable way to organise and spread thoughts and ideas. Didn’t think much more about it. But then I came across a quote – which I cannot find right now, how typical. Anyway the quote was from a writer who said he did not like to talk about what he was writing about becuase… it ruined his creative tension.

I find the idea of maintaining a creative tension very interesting. Blogging is fun and can be used successfully to organize and communicate but could it have a negative effect on other writing? Writing blog posts not only take time and effort but is also very rewarding.

The rewarding part is actually not all good as it does produce a feeling of well being. And this well being does acutally remove part of the motivation to continue writing. Obviously I have no intention of giving up my blogging but I may need to come up with a better strategy to prevent blogging from killing the motivation to write other stuff.

Copyright in fossils

Some early morning copyright humor from Norway via Olav Torvund‘s blog. Apparently the researcher who found the fossil Ida, Jørn Hurum wants to hold copyright in the fossil (in Norwegian). A quick reminder of what we are talking about here, from the Guardian:

Ida is believed to be the most complete primate fossil ever discovered. She is 95% intact and so well preserved that her tissues, hair and even her stomach contents are visible. By comparison, the much more recent fossil “Lucy” from Ethiopia is only 40% complete.

And for what noble cause does this academic want copyright? Well he tells the newspaper that he wants the exclusive right to put the image on caps, t-shirts and childrens soft toys.

Statements like this should make us copyright speakers think! With all the noise about copyright in society today many people, even highly educated people, just don’t get copyright. They don’t understand how it works today even less why some groups argue that it does not work today.

Hopefully Jørn Hurum and the Museum of Natural history will read Olav blog or be informed by someone else that copyright expires 70 years after the creators death… and may be a tad difficult to apply to a 47 million year old corpse.

Endnote-Zotero lawsuit dismissed

This is good news. The Quintessence of Ham writes that the lawsuit against Zotero has been dismissed.

I’m delighted to announce that this morning the Fairfax Circuit Court dismissed the lawsuit filed against Zotero by Thomson Reuters. The lawsuit had claimed that the Center for History and New Media “reverse-engineered” Thomson Reuters’s EndNote software to provide data interoperability between Zotero and EndNote.