Monday, May 28, 2007




ARSTECHNICA - There are a few things lawmakers have decided really ought
to be handled with the "care and oversight" that only the government can
provide: e.g., tax collection, radioactive materials, biohazards, guns,
and CDs. CDs? No, I'm not talking about financial Certificates of
Deposit, though that might make more sense. I'm talking about Compact

New "pawn shop" laws are springing up across the United States that will
make selling your used CDs at the local record shop something akin to
getting arrested. No, you won't spend any time in jail, but you'll
certainly feel like a criminal once the local record shop makes copies
of all of your identifying information and even collects your
fingerprints. Such is the state of affairs in Florida, which now has the
dubious distinction of being so anal about the sale of used music CDs
that record shops there are starting to get out of the business of
dealing with used content because they don't want to pay a $10,000 bond
for the "right" to treat their customers like criminals.

The legislation is supposed to stop the sale of counterfeit and/or
stolen music CDs, despite the fact that there has been no proof that
this is a particularly pressing problem for record shops in general. . .

In Florida, Utah, and soon in Rhode Island and Wisconsin, selling your
used CDs to the local record joint will be more scrutinized than then
getting a driver's license in those states. For retailers in Florida,
for instance, there's a "waiting period" statue that prohibits them from
selling used CDs that they've acquired until 30 days have passed.
Furthermore, the Florida law disallows stores from providing anything
but store credit for used CDs. It looks like college students will need
to stick to blood plasma donations for beer money. . .

The music industry has never been a big fan of the Doctrine of First
Sale, and the rise of digital music sales will only exacerbate the
tension between consumers who believe that they "own" what they pay for,
and the music industry. As more and more content-oriented goods
transition to digital formats that are distributed free of physical
formats, this issue is going to get tricky because it will be harder to
spot the counterfeits from the authentic products, and consumers will
still expect to exercise robust rights with the content that they've
paid for with their hard-earned cash.



Trademark Office has issued 150 yoga-related copyrights, 134 patents on
yoga accessories, and 2,315 yoga trademarks. There's big money in those
pretzel twists and contortions - $3 billion a year in America alone.
It's a mystery to most Indians that anybody can make that much money
from the teaching of a knowledge that is not supposed to be bought or
sold like sausages.

The Indian government is not laughing. It has set up a task force that
is cataloging traditional knowledge, including ayurvedic remedies and
hundreds of yoga poses, to protect them from being pirated and
copyrighted by foreign hucksters. The data will be translated from
ancient Sanskrit and Tamil texts, stored digitally, and available in
five international languages, so that patent offices in other countries
can see that yoga didn't originate in a San Francisco commune.

It is worth noting that the people in the forefront of the patenting of
traditional Indian wisdom are Indians, mostly overseas. We know a
business opportunity when we see one and have exported generations of
gurus skilled in peddling enlightenment for a buck. But as Indians, they
ought to know that the very idea of patenting knowledge is a gross
violation of the tradition of yoga.



MICHAEL MCCANN, SPORTS LAW - From Dave McKenna of the Washington City
Paper comes news of a federal lawsuit over kickball In WAKA LLC v. DC
Kickball, the founders of the World Adult Kickball Association are
asking the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to
prevent DC Kickball from organized play this year. This is yet another
David v. Goliath story: WAKA allegedly has tens of thousands of members
and affiliated divisions, while the upstart DC Kickball featured about
400 players in its inaugural season last year. . .

WAKA contends that DC Kickball has infringed on its copyright by
"unauthorized use" of two of WAKA's co-ed kickball rules. These two
rules are the "clearly unique requirement that there be 4 men and 4
women at a minimum to play" and a 21-year old age floor for play. I'll
admit to knowing nothing about adult kickball, as the last time I played
the sport was in middle school, but co-ed kickball doesn't strike me as
that unique; if I recall correctly, kickball in middle school was co-ed.
And more specifically contending that there is something unique about 4
men and 4 women on the field (playground?) also seems like a stretch,
unless WAKA can somehow prove that it came up with the idea, that it is
clearly distinguishable from past ideas about kickball, and that it is
essential to their league.

The suit also contends that DC Kickball founder Carter Rabasa defamed
WAKA by calling it the "Microsoft of kickball" in stories appearing in
the Wall Street Journal and the Washington City Paper. . .

I think the real lesson from this lawsuit, and from the Harlem
Globetrotters attempt to squash the upstart Harlem Ambassadors, is that
appearing afraid of a smaller actor in a given industry only draws
attention to that smaller actor and thus unwittingly tilts the "balance
of power" in its direction.


1 comment:

K said...

Nice comparison on the WAKA story...