Accumulation, control and contingency: A critical review of intellectual property rights’ ‘piracy’, by Yiannis Mylonas. First Monday, Volume 16, Number 12 - 5 December 2011

Abstract: This article problematizes piracy a) as a hegemonic discourse and technology of control, aiming to securitize late capitalist accumulation; b) as a practice developed by the multitudes that is compatible to post–Fordist mode of production and to neoliberal norms; and, c) as resistance to dominant mode of late capitalist production, distribution and consumption of immaterial goods. The article addresses and criticizes capitalism’s ‘organic’ and strategic colonization of fundamental social commons, such as culture, intellectual goods, as well as human creativity and communication, by looking at the ideological, institutional and material processes that reproduce the capitalist ‘machine’. This paper concludes by considering the possibility of overcoming the capitalist approach to commons, through the politicization of IPR as well as through the connection of the problem they pose to broader social perspectives, confronting capitalism — in its post political disguises — politically.

Launching the Innovation Renaissance (Amzn link, B&N for Nook, also iTunes) my new e-book from TED books is now available!  How can we increase innovation? I look at patents, prizes, education, immigration, regulation, trade and other levers of innovation policy. Here’s a brief description:

Unemployment, fear, and fitful growth tell us that the economy is stagnating. The recession, however, is just the tip of iceberg. We have deeper problems. Most importantly, the rate of innovation is down. Patents, which were designed to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, have instead become weapons in a war for competitive advantage with innovation as collateral damage. College, once a foundation for innovation, has been oversold. We have more students in college than ever before, for example, but fewer science majors. Regulations, passed with the best of intentions, have spread like kudzu and now impede progress to everyone’s detriment. Launching the Innovation Renaissance isa fast-paced look at the levers of innovation policy that explains why innovation has slowed and how we can accelerate innovation and build a 21st century economy.

A major new independent report to the UK Prime Minister on his country’s intellectual property laws is out. Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth could hardly make its position clearer: the UK has lost its way when it comes to copyright policy.

We urge Government to ensure that in future, policy on Intellectual Property issues is constructed on the basis of evidence, rather than weight of lobbying…

On copyright issues, lobbying on behalf of rights owners has been more persuasive to Ministers than economic impact assessments…

Much of the data needed to develop empirical evidence on copyright and designs is privately held. It enters the public domain chiefly in the form of 'evidence' supporting the arguments of lobbyists (‘lobbynomics’) rather than as independently verified research conclusions…

Estimates of the scale of illegal digital downloads in the UK ranges between 13 per cent and 65 per cent in two studies published last year. A detailed survey of UK and international data finds that very little of it is supported by transparent research criteria. Meanwhile sales and profitability levels in most creative business sectors appear to be holding up reasonably well. We conclude that many creative businesses are experiencing turbulence from digital copyright infringement, but that at the level of the whole economy, measurable impacts are not as stark as is sometimes suggested.

Ronaldo Lemos, Oona Castro et al.(2008). Tecnobrega: o Pará Reinventando o Negócio da Música. Aeroplano Editora [versión pdf completa]

Texto de Hermano Vianna para la contraportada:

Que a indústria fonográfica mundial está em crise, disso ninguém duvida. Todo mundo anda procurando o “novo modelo de negócios”. Escondido em Belém do Pará, o tecnobrega testa uma original economia cria há aos, na marra. As músicas saem direto de estúdios da periferia e são distribuídas nos camelôs da cidade, animando gigantescas festas de aparelhagem, sem mais depender da grande mídia ou gravadoras. Um mundo paralelo cujo funcionamento é finalmente revelado neste livro: estudo pioneiro sobre as novas indústrias culturais que comandam a vida musical mais popular no Brasil de hoje. Quem quiser pensar o futuro da música não pode ignorar as lições tecnobregas da Amazônia digital.

The book “How Developing Countries Can Manage Intellectual Property Rights to Maximize Access to Knowledge” is edited by Carlos M. Correa and Xuan Li and can be download here.

… the analysis, conclusions and recommendations presented in this book will contribute to a better understanding of the challenges to access to knowledge and of how to frame development-oriented policies to address them. The book is intended to reach a broad set of readers: it provides guidelines for developing countries’ governments in participating in multilateral and bilateral negotiations as well as to design national IP regimes consistent with those countries’ development objectives…

Media Piracy in Emerging Economies

About the Report | Media Piracy in Emerging Economies | A Report by the Social Science Research Council

Media Piracy in Emerging Economies is the first independent, large-scale study of music, film and software piracy in emerging economies, with a focus on Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico and Bolivia.

Based on three years of work by some thirty-five researchers, Media Piracy in Emerging Economies tells two overarching stories: one tracing the explosive growth of piracy as digital technologies became cheap and ubiquitous around the world, and another following the growth of industry lobbies that have reshaped laws and law enforcement around copyright protection. The report argues that these efforts have largely failed, and that the problem of piracy is better conceived as a failure of affordable access to media in legal markets.

“The choice,” said Joe Karaganis, director of the project, “isn’t between high piracy and low piracy in most media markets. The choice, rather, is between high-piracy, high-price markets and high-piracy, low price markets. Our work shows that media businesses can survive in both environments, and that developing countries have a strong interest in promoting the latter. This problem has little to do with enforcement and a lot to do with fostering competition.”

Major Findings

  • Prices are too high. High prices for media goods, low incomes, and cheap digital technologies are the main ingredients of global media piracy. Relative to local incomes in Brazil, Russia, or South Africa, the retail price of a CD, DVD, or copy of MS Office is five to ten times higher than in the US or Europe. Legal media markets are correspondingly tiny and underdeveloped.
  • Competition is good. The chief predictor of low prices in legal media markets is the presence of strong domestic companies that compete for local audiences and consumers. In the developing world, where global film, music, and software companies dominate the market, such conditions are largely absent.
  • Antipiracy education has failed.The authors find no significant stigma attached to piracy in any of the countries examined. Rather, piracy is part of the daily media practices of large and growing portions of the population.
  • Changing the law is easy. Changing the practice is hard. Industry lobbies have been very successful at changing laws to criminalize these practices, but largely unsuccessful at getting governments to apply them. There is, the authors argue, no realistic way to reconcile mass enforcement and due process, especially in countries with severely overburdened legal systems.
  • Criminals can’t compete with free. The study finds no systematic links between media piracy and organized crime or terrorism in any of the countries examined. Today, commercial pirates and transnational smugglers face the same dilemma as the legal industry: how to compete with free.
  • Enforcement hasn’t worked. After a decade of ramped up enforcement, the authors can find no impact on the overall supply of pirated goods.

Right now, designers pore over vintage magazines and patterns and visit museum archives in order to find inspiration for the next season’s look, cherry picking design elements that feel fresh and in line with the current zeitgeist. It’s a refreshingly open process unhindered by legal consultations. Those archives could become battlefields where litigants try to find evidence to support their assertion that a design is or is not unique. The geeky librarian in me is worried that some powerful people may attempt to limit access to particularly rich collections of design history and some unscrupulous types may destroy or hide rare materials that prove that their new design isn’t as unique as they claim. 

Historically, fashion designers have been denied copyright protection because the courts decided long ago that utilitarian articles should not be protected by copyright. Otherwise, a handful of designers would own the seminal building blocks of our clothing. Every time a new blouse would be made, licensing fees would need to be paid to the supposed originator of that particular sleeve or collar.>

Anyone familiar with the justification for copyright protection — without ownership there is no incentive to innovate — might be surprised by the critical and economic success of the fashion industry. A complex creative ecology has developed in the fashion world that balances a designer’s need to both stand out and fit in. Since anyone can copy anyone else, they do. The almost magical result of this process is the establishment of trends. Some designers have ascended to the highest echelons of the fashion world and are well-known for setting new trends with their original designs, but all designers admit that they’re inspired by “the street,” where people mix and match their own personal looks, combining a new Marc Jacobs bag with grandma’s vintage sweater with Army surplus boots. 

Of course this culture of copying has affected the creative process. One lovely side-effect is that high-end designers find themselves challenged to create truly innovative and surprising designs that they believe will be hard to knock-off. Stuart Weitzman, for instance, said that copyists forced him to innovate, as he did with the Bowden-Wedge, whose heel shape requires special materials like titanium or steel. A knock-off using cheaper materials would snap.

The ironic thing is that the fashion industry doesn’t really talk about how revolutionary it really is. The fact that people can steal from one another’s designs is often considered fashion’s dirty little secret. 

CientoOcho (Programa sobre LOST) (UEMCOM Radio)

Descripción: Programa semanal sobre Perdidos conducido por Nico Domínguez y Patrick Gornic. En esta ocasión analizaremos a fondo el episodio 6x08 (RECON) y con motivo de la “ley Sinde” entrevistaremos a Juan Freire, profesor de la Universidad de A Coruña y experto en redes sociales.

Michele Boldrin y Pablo Vázquez analizan en La Ley de Economía Sostenible y las Descargas el impacto económico de las discutidas disposiciones sobre Internet del proyecto central de la legislatura del PSOE. Lo que estos dos economistas muestran, sin tomar otro partido que el del análisis económico, es que el efecto de la ley es proteger a las grandes industrias y sus superestrellas a costa de los usuarios y los artistas menores. El discurso de la SGAE y sus representantes parlamentarios se revela insostenible. Pásalo.

Vídeos del Taller de Obras Libres en EOI

[En EOI en abierto]

El 23 de febrero celebramos en EOI un Taller de Obras Libres.Ponentes de distintos ámbitos compartieron sus experiencias con obras libres y nos pusieron al día de los avances en la producción, reelaboración y distribución de obras intelectuales.

En esta entrada podéis ver todos los vídeos de la jornada:

¿Qué define una Obra Cultural Libre? Jesús M. González de Barahona (GSyC/Libresoft).

Obras Libres en un Master de EOI. Bárbara Navarro, (Google España).

Observatorio Montegancedo, Francisco Sánchez Moreno de UPM.

Radio Círculo. David García Aristegui (Comunes).

El Cosmonauta. Carola Rodríguez y Gabriela Lendo.

Publicación con Creative Commons. José Antonio Millán, escritor y linguista.

Música libre: Crazy Cabin. Miguel Ángel Cortés, José Manuel Jiménez y Jesús Arnaiz.

The public domain, as we understand it, is the wealth of information that is free from the barriers to access or reuse usually associated with copyright protection, either because it is free from any copyright protection or because the right holders have decided to remove these barriers. It is the raw material from which new knowledge is derived and new cultural works are created.

After decades of measures that have drastically reduced the public domain, typically by extending the terms of protection, it is time to strongly reaffirm how much our societies and economies rely on a vibrant and ever expanding public domain. The role of the public domain, in fact, already crucial in the past, it is even more important today, as the Internet and digital technologies enable us to access, use and re-distribute culture with an ease and a power unforeseeable even just a generation ago. The Public Domain Manifesto aims at reminding citizens and policy-makers of a common wealth that, since it belongs to all, it is often defended by no-one. In a time where we for the first time in history have the tools to enable direct access to most of our shared culture and knowledge it is important that policy makers and citizens strengthen the legal concept that enables free and unrestricted access and reuse.

We invite you to read the Manifesto and sign it, if you wish to show your support. We also invite you to share this site (http://publicdomainmanifesto.org) with your contacts and friends. The Public Domain Manifesto is also onFacebook. Also remember to celebrate the Public Domain Day every year on New Year’s Day.

Copyright Criminals
Copyright Criminals examines the creative and commercial value of musical sampling, including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and (of course) money.This documentary traces the rise of hip-hop from the urban streets of New York to its current status as a multibillion-dollar industry. For more than thirty years, innovative hip-hop performers and producers have been re-using portions of previously recorded music in new, otherwise original compositions. When lawyers and record companies got involved, what was once referred to as a “borrowed melody” became a “copyright infringement.”The film showcases many of hip-hop music’s founding figures like Public Enemy, De La Soul, and Digital Underground—while also featuring emerging hip-hop artists from record labels Definitive Jux, Rhymesayers, Ninja Tune, and more.It also provides an in-depth look at artists who have been sampled, such as Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown’s drummer and the world’s most sampled musician), as well as commentary by another highly sampled musician, funk legend George Clinton.As artists find ever more inventive ways to insert old influences into new material, this documentary asks a critical question, on behalf of an entire creative community: Can you own a sound?Support for Copyright Criminals provided in part by the Independent Television Service, Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and the University of Iowa.

Copyright Criminals

Copyright Criminals examines the creative and commercial value of musical sampling, including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and (of course) money.

This documentary traces the rise of hip-hop from the urban streets of New York to its current status as a multibillion-dollar industry. For more than thirty years, innovative hip-hop performers and producers have been re-using portions of previously recorded music in new, otherwise original compositions. When lawyers and record companies got involved, what was once referred to as a “borrowed melody” became a “copyright infringement.”The film showcases many of hip-hop music’s founding figures like Public Enemy, De La Soul, and Digital Underground—while also featuring emerging hip-hop artists from record labels Definitive Jux, Rhymesayers, Ninja Tune, and more.

It also provides an in-depth look at artists who have been sampled, such as Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown’s drummer and the world’s most sampled musician), as well as commentary by another highly sampled musician, funk legend George Clinton.As artists find ever more inventive ways to insert old influences into new material, this documentary asks a critical question, on behalf of an entire creative community: Can you own a sound?

Support for Copyright Criminals provided in part by the Independent Television Service, Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and the University of Iowa.