Bonum Certa Men Certa

Scarcity vs Abundance: Microsoft and Copyright Cartel vs the World and the People

Al Capone mugshot and Steve Ballmer



Summary: A view on the latest attack on rights and freedom, with well-deserved focus on Microsoft Corporation's role

WHAT was rather unsettling but telling the other day is that Microsoft was conspicuously missing from a large-scale opposition to Mandelson's bill [1, 2], which is a Christmas gift from England to Hollywood (and the MAFIAAâ„¢ in particular). It seems safe to conclude that Microsoft is yet again sidling with the Copyright Cartel. Windows Vista and Vista 7 already have DRM crippleware built in, baked into the very core of the operating system.

According to the following new article about ACTA, there is a connection to Microsoft, which can be formulated as follows:

The term "counterfeiting" is now being used to reference any type of minor infringement of the temporary government monopolies granted to holders of patents, copyrights, trademarks or any other related rights. Rather than being seen as an offense against consumers, it has been transformed into an offense allegedly committed by consumers.

[...]

As I included in my submission to the 2009 Copyright consultation, this minor form of infringement is sometimes beneficial to the copyright holder. In 2007 Jeff Raikes, then President of the Microsoft Business Division , said "If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else". This is a recognition that while being directly compensated for a use of a copyrighted work is ideal, that infringement is better for the copyright holder than people switching to alternatives.

A far more serious form of copyright infringement is when a corporation, many that include staff lawyers who should be expected to know better, infringe copyright and commercially redistribute someone elses work without permission. As one example, yesterday I read Microsoft pulls Windows 7 download tool where Microsoft was yet again accused of commercial copyright infringement.

We should simply refer to this as "strike one", and be done with it.

While Microsoft is just one company, they are easily accused of copyright infringement more than 3 times in any given month. If it were not for that fact that nearly every so-called "3 strikes" law were bogus, companies such as Microsoft would not be allowed to have an Internet connection (No more Bing, no more Windows or Office update or even development/testing of any of their Internet products, no more Hotmail, etc).

It isn't as if Microsoft is alone. Brad M. Kuhn, the tech director at the Software Freedom Law Center, blogged on Sunday that, "Since 21 August 2009, I've been finding one new GPL violating company per day (on average) and I am still on target to find one per day for 365 days straight."

The terms of the GPL are clearly aimed at commercial companies, given the license already grants everything a private citizen would ever want which is to legally redistribute the unmodified software for free to anyone they want, and for any recipient to use the software for free. This means that all of these potential GPL violations are commercial violations that are far more serious than anything a private citizen would do. This type of infringement is far less forgivable given companies commercially redistributing copyrighted works should be expected to hire lawyers to understand the relevant legal contracts and license agreements, while citizens shouldn't be expected to.


Glyn Moody shares this good new essay, titled "IP and Artificial Scarcity"

Someone recently told me "I just ran across a few of your interviews and writings. I was particularly impressed with the point that IP creates scarcity where none existed before. Despite its obviousness, it is characteristic of IP that had not occurred to me before."


Moody also shares this new example of scarcity versus abundance.

Pixies fans on the hunt for holiday fixes are in luck: The deluxe edition of the legendary band’s high-art megabox The Minotaur is finally hitting mailboxes. That includes our own, which is where Wired.com’s Michael Calore found the collector-gasm for the video tour above.


Later on, Moody writes about the subject himself.

One of the (many) things that get my goat about ACTA is the sheer dishonesty of the project. It was originally put forward as aiming to curb large-scale counterfeiting - hence its name, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

It was sold as only going for the "big fish", with promises that ordinary people wouldn't be inconvenienced. In fact, it was purely for their benefit, its proponents explained, since one of the most heinous kinds of counterfeiting it attempts to tackle is counterfeit drugs - an undeniable health hazard.

But then something strange happened. Counterfeiting morphed into copyright infringement, and yet all the legal heavy guns aimed at massive, criminal counterfeiting remain, now ranged against little you and me.


Finally, Moody shares this piece of copyright propaganda, which echoes the talking points of the BSA when it comes to software [1, 2, 3]. Just because the big companies do not manage to squeeze money out of the population does not mean it is a loss to the country. There is too much focus on "earnings" while neglecting the notion of "savings". It is spin doctoring, and as far as the press is concerned, it proves to be effective. The press is, after all, part of the media industry, owned by the very same corporations.

Moody has also found this new article from the New Scientist. It describes this as a battle of "The people vs the entertainment industry," but sadly enough it uses misleading propaganda terms like "piracy".

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), suggested by the US administration in 2007, aims to redefine global trade rules. The intention is to stem losses from counterfeiting and internet-mediated piracy of content like music and movies.

It will do that by penalising internet service providers and websites that carry, or help people to find, pirated content. ACTA has quickly proved a hit with G8 nations, the European Union, South Korea and Australia, who are all using it as a basis for future national laws.

ACTA is still being worked up in secret by trade delegations from the many nations involved. But a series of leaks to the Wikileaks website reveal that it will require ISPs to become technological sleuths who monitor their customers' internet use to "deter unauthorised storage and transmission of infringing content". Infringers will face a "graduated response", with disconnection as the ultimate sanction.

The Obama administration's plans to implement ACTA are still hidden in a thicket of non-disclosure agreements with movie studios and record labels. The UK's Digital Economy Bill, unveiled in last month, is clearly inspired by ACTA.


Moving on to something a little different, Google has finally responded to the Microsoft|Murdoch insult.

Google tells Murdoch to shut up



[...]

But Schmidt said Google is a "great source of promotion" for newspapers through its aggregator website Google News and other services.


There is also this headsup from Moody, who took special interest in the subject recently. We're at a crucial legal corssroad in the UK.

Putting up paywalls around online content will not on its own transform the finances of national newspapers, but a mixed strategy of subscriptions and micropayments could prove more successful, according to research published today.


We previously covered the Microsoft|Murdoch situation in:



Microsoft is very afraid of Google, with which it is fighting for the minds of future generations. Now they are both looking to exploit young individuals. Mercury has this new article on the subject.

Microsoft, Google in battle to win over students



[...]

Neither Microsoft nor Google will disclose how much it spends to furnish those educational services, nor will they say how many schools they have signed up. But with schools under budget pressure at both the university and K-12 level, administrators are weighing concerns about the security of their data on a cloud-based network against its powerful educational features, and against its price — in most cases, zero.


Now that Google enters the dictionary and DNS business (mentioned this morning), there is more speculation about Google's stealth and impact on competitors.

Google has quietly rolled out its own online dictionary, complete with multilingual support and accompanying photos. The new site was first discovered by the LA Times Tech Blog, and you can access it at Google.com/Dictionary.


Some Free software people are rightly concerned, but worries are accentuated due to fear mongering from the Microsoft-faithful crowd.

If Android and later Chrome OS succeed, Google may become the portal to more than just the Web. Its services will have geo-location data as well.


There is no indication yet that such data will be misplaced and/or misused, but the above is from a Microsoft fan, so it is intended to cause uncertainty and doubt. Dana Blankenhorn responds to this endless daemonisation of Google, which in part comes from Redmond.

What I want to know is, where is the evidence? Where is the evidence that Google is evil, or has done evil? I try to read all the critics and mostly what I see are intimations of what they might do.

* They might use their digitizing of books to control the book market. * They might use their collection of personal data against you. * They might tie their Android phones and Chromium PCs to Google services and lock others out. * They might create a search monopoly. * They might kill the newspaper business. * They might take over the DNS market, and while they would be better than competitors it’s still evil.


Blankenhorn names it the "Google derangement syndrome". Microsoft calls it "screw Google". Unless and until Google commits crimes like Microsoft has, Google is a good tool for weakening a fierce enemy of Free(dom) software.

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