---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2001 12:00:25 -0600
From: Bruce Sterling <brucesATwell.com>
Subject: <nettime> FW: Anna Kournikova Deleted by Memeright Trusted System
subject: Anna Kournikova Deleted by Memeright Trusted System
date: Sun, Mar 18, 2001, 10:59 AM
December 6, 2067
Anna Kournikova Deleted by Memeright Trusted System
JAKARTA--Local officials today confirmed that celebrity guru Anna
Kournikova died on Wednesday from injuries sustained when a satellite
designed to protect intellectual property rights attempted to 'delete' her.
"Ms. Kournikova was apparently struck by a powerful, focused beam of
microwaves, and died almost instantly," noted Detective J. Sini of the
Jakarta Police. "Our current understanding is that this beam issued from
one of the MEMEye satellites and that it was an unfortunate accident. We
offer our sympathy to her families and followers."
The MEMEye system, activated only last year by international media
industry group MPRIAA, is a network of Low Earth Orbit satellites designed
to "police traffic in non-digital goods which infringe the memerights of
our member artists, producers, and rights owners." The individual
satellites, in conjunction with MPRIAA computers, monitor all public
activity within their field of view, searching for 'knock-off' products.
When the system locates a potentially infringing object, it attempts to
query a special chip embedded in protected products. If it receives an
inadequate response, the satellite uses a "surgically focused beam" to
"delete" the infringing object.
MPRIAA spokesman Ray Insult explains: "Knock-off and pirated products
cost designers and artists billions in lost revenues each year. MEMEye
protects artists from having their work stolen. Sure, I could still buy a
knock-off Mickey, but, as soon as I take it out in public, thhhhht, it's
gone. That re-balances the market, giving legitimately licensed products a
clear value edge over knock-offs."
Kournikova, a member of MPRIAA, had registered to use the system to
protect rights in her likeness, including its use in action figures,
stuffed dolls, and animatronic facsimiles. "We've had quite a problem with
people selling dolls and figurines that look like Anna without paying the
licensing fee," notes Kournikova's agent Mercedes Tick. "[MPRIAA] assured
us MEMEye was safe."
"In the case of the protection of likeness rights, we take special
measures to ensure the safety of our members, but we rely on their
cooperation," explains MPRIAA Head of Engineering Eric Themo. "Each member
with likeness protection is injected with a subcutaneous chip that informs
MEMEye that they are not an infringing likeness. The chip, in effect,
gives them a license to use their own likeness, but, when we configure the
chip, we depend on the member to give us information about what sort of
license they need. I suspect that Ms. Kournikova's license was not
configured to permit her use of her likeness in the Asia/Pacific Zone. It
would have been a simple matter for us to reconfigure her license for that
Zone, if she'd only told us of her travel plans."
Critics of MPRIAA and MEMEye have been quick to point to Kournikova's
death as a symptom of the excessive protections rights-holders enjoy under
current laws. "Memeright law is so restrictive now that it permits
rights-holders, with the help of a private industry group, to punish
themselves for violating their own rights," opines Open Meme Initiative
founder Phil Pour. "If that doesn't tell you how much lockjaw the law has
imposed on the public domain, I don't know what would."
"We are aware of the criticisms," responds MPRIAA's Insult, "and in
designing MEMEye we made a conscious choice to continue to permit use of
infringing goods in exclusively private spaces. If a kid draws a picture
of Mickey at home, and the folks put it up on the fridge, MEMEye won't do
anything about that. It doesn't look into your home. It doesn't look
through the roofs of buildings. By limiting MEMEye in this way, we protect
the legitimate private-use rights of meme users everywhere."
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