June 25, 2005

Brazil Threatens to Break AIDS Drug Patent

Brazilian law allows the government to violate a drug patent if in the public interest. The health ministry there may be about to do that, producing a generic version of an AIDS drug called Kaletra if a U.S. pharmaceutical company doesn't lower its prices for it. AIDS activists say patents are bad for health.

The practice of a government-sanctioned violation of intellectual property is often known as a "compulsory license," a sort of nuclear option in the world of IP. Brazil, India, and African nations have used the threat of compulsory licensing to persuade big drug companies to negotiate.

The companies, of course, often have complaints, and protest that if they don't get paid enough for their product, the lost revenues will impede research on new drugs. This "lost revenue" idea is the same flawed (to be generous) thinking that software, music and film companies employ in the propaganda war against piracy of their intellectual properties. In both cases the IP owners assume that everyone currently benefiting from cheap or free versions would pay the full price if only the cheap or free versions weren't available. However, most AIDS patients in the third world simply can't afford the full price of AIDS treatments and would just suffer and die. Similarly, though of course much less serious, most music and movie "pirates" couldn't and wouldn't possibly afford to buy the "official" version of every item they obtain illicitly, and if the illegal copy weren't available, they would, in most cases, simply go without.

I can't point to any hard statistics to back this up, but it seems self-evident.

Posted by steev at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2005

Fair Use Day

Fair Use Day is coming up, on July 11! From the site of Fair Use Day:

Fair Use rights have been under siege for a long time and from every direction. Sometimes it seems that almost anyone who makes or sells anything wants to eliminate another piece of Fair Use rights for their own gain. Manufacturers of cars and printers, media corporations, even garage door opener companies have tried to undermine Fair Use, often by hiding behind the DMCA.

We think Fair Use should have its own "Day", a day to celebrate Fair Use in any lawful way you wish. Exercise your Fair Use rights or contact a corporation or government of your choosing and let them know you want Fair Use rights and you want them protected - demand your Fair Use rights! Use what ever means you have available: phone, email, smoke signals, snail-mail, etc.

Be creative, join the forums and tell us how you plan to celebrate Fair Use Day! Trees have their own day, as do ground hogs and even income tax. Surely Fair Use rights are at least as important.

Fair Use isn't just about what you can play on your ipod. Fair Use promotes interoperability and the advancement of learning and expansion of knowledge. It impacts every thing from the computer in your car to accessing material at your public library, to playing a DVD you purchased or rented on your Linux computer.

We invite you to learn more about your rights where Fair Use intersects technology.

Posted by steev at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2005

Crime? What crime?

contra piratasThe BBC reports on a survey that found that most people don't consider downloading or purchasing pirated software or games to be a crime but as something normal and inevitable.

This is something we've been observing here at Detritus.net for years. The industry has tried, worldwide, to instill an 'ethic' around 'piracy' of intellectual property, but it just hasn't worked. It would be interesting for someone to explore further the concious or subconcious rationalizations that most people have for using 'pirated' materials, and how concious the behavior actually is. Some possiblities, one could posit, might be:

  • it doesn't really harm anyone, because the companies that own this stuff are already and still making plenty of money.
  • it's too expensive but I need it (esp in case of software)
  • ideologic: information wants to be free
  • everybody else is doing it
  • I just don't care/haven't thought about it.

The truly sad thing, as the article states, is that the content industries will probably continue to waste lots and lots of money, even public money, on propaganda to try to change people's views. They're stealing money from all taxpayers, basically, to brainwash the taxpayer.

Posted by steev at 02:16 PM | Comments (1)

June 17, 2005

copyright problems at the photo processing lab

the AP has a story today about a growing copyright conflict in the digital photography realm. some photo processing labs, including giants like wal-mart, instruct employees to reject digitally submitted images that look like they might have been taken by a professional. this is done to prevent people from downloading or scanning copyrighted materials and getting cheap photo prints made.

but advances digital camera and image editing technology allow non-professionals to create high-quality, professional-looking work. the result is that a growing number of customers are now being turned away essentially because their pictures look too good.

i'm linking to the washington post article because it includes a picture of bill wolfson and his "too professional" photograph, but the story also ran in forbes, MSN,newsday, and a number of daily newspapers.

Posted by stAllio! at 03:55 AM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2005

Call For Works: Incidental Amplifications

An opportunity to participate in this year's Liquid Architecture, an Australian event/festival held annually. Incidental Amplifications "reclaims the consumer soundscape by dispersing pieces made from incidental sounds into a variety of public spaces." Deadline is Monday 24 June 2005.

Posted by fossil at 06:21 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2005

a guide to abusing amazon images

nat gertler at aaugh.com has parsed and partially decoded amazon.com's image url format. turns out that amazon's system actually control the image size, orientation, bullets, and more using the url, rather than storing each image variation as a separate file. using this system, you can create some interesting and peculiar variations, adding multiple rotations and bullets and even superimposing text over the image. gertler has also posted a bizarre gallery of abused amazon images to show off the system's potential.

kudos to corante's copyfight blog for finding the guide as well as amaztype, a site that "prints" a phrase of your choice in a pseudo-pointillist style made up of tiny amazon images.

Posted by stAllio! at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)