Intellectual Property

Who owns a dance?

The NYTimes discusses the recent ruling in the case of Martha Graham's heir, Ronald Protas. The Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance believes that when she sold her school to the Center that it became its employee -- and has the right to her body of work.

"This is definitely a success problem," Charles Reinhart, the director of the American Dance Festival, said in an interview. "These problems would never have existed 50 years ago, because the concept of a penny being made by a choreographer or from a dance was unheard of. So now that the commercial aspect of making money has prevailed in this nonprofit world of dance, and the valuable asset is the dance itself — hey, that's a success story. Now we've got to straighten it out and make sure we keep that value with the creator, the choreographer."

Music Downloading is Today's Pot Smoking

Gary Deane writes about another weigh- in on music downloading.

Slashdot Coverage of Database Protection Bill

David Dillard writes "A Slashdot post about current activity in Congress regarding legislation for database protection served as a spring board for a
substantial NetGold post about database
protection legislation discussion and document sources that have been produced over a period of time.

Here is a sampling of the links found in the
NetGold message about database protection legislation:

Ethics of Database Use

An anonymous patron pointed out this New York Times Magazine Column "The Ethicist" (second entry) about sharing library database passwords. In this case a university library user's password was offered a non-enrolled high school sibling. The Ethicist concludes that each "user must pay his or her fair share." Most university library database contracts provide for public access from within the library, however. This issue also comes up with serving non-affiliated users via consortial virtual reference systems.

Lawmakers to Weigh Database Protection Bill

Slashdot points to This Reuters article that says Lawmakers in the House of Representatives are circulating a proposed bill that would prevent wholesale copying of school guides, news archives and other databases which do not enjoy copyright protection.

The proposed bill would provide a legal umbrella for publishers of factual information, such as courtroom decisions and professional directories, similar to the copyright laws that protect music, novels and other creative works.

"Information, when not copyrighted, is something that can be shared. Once you start putting fences around information ... there's no freedom of inquiry, That doesn't make us smarter, it makes us dumber." launches with free blog offer to RIAA targets

There aren't any blogs yet at, but it's any interesting concept.

" is a clearinghouse and connection point for individuals who are the subjects of P2P-related copyright enforcement actions, and a place for the public to learn first-hand about what's going on. Our first project is to offer blogs to all who have been subjected to digital copyright enforcement actions, particularly those who have been caught in the avalanche of RIAA music-trading subpoenas that began in July."

Madness Tribute Copyright Dispute

Yet another example from the topsy-turvy world of copyright, where emulating your pop culture heros gets you slapped with a law suit.

"A Madness tribute band has been told to pay £500 for copying the original group's famous walk during concerts.

On top of that, Ultimate Madness also faces having to pay a further £100 any time it uses the 20-second dance in future performances.""

Here's the full story.
[via Peter]

A Call for Stories in Support of a Robust Public Domain

Public Knowledge, Creative Commons, and The Center for the Study of the Public Domain are collaborating on a public-education campaign that will highlight the struggles of creators with intellectual property law. They are collecting stories of citizens who are hampered by restrictive intellectual property laws. If you have a personal story of copyright, trademark or patent laws needlessly hindering your work and ideas, they want to hear from you. Conversely, if your work has benefited from the availability of art and information in the public domain, they want to know about it.

Not sure Why the Public Domain Matters?

The Copyright Cage

Jonathan Zittrain, Assistant Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, has written The Copyright Cage an article that looks at copyright law.
He says almost all those who study and write about the law of cyberspace agree that copyright law is a big mess. He adds it's time for us to wise up and to redraw copyright's boundaries so that the law and reasonable public expectations fall into better alignment with one another.Via Slashdot.

Patent Bending

Here's a quick but interesting little piece from the recent New Yorker.
Here's an extended quote to pique your interest:

Innovators came up with new ways of selling products, handling suppliers, running organizations, or managing information. If the ideas were good, the innovators got rich, but they also got imitated, which made them less rich than they might have been. It was great for everyone else, though. The competition lowered prices and increased quality; the new ideas spread and were improved upon. The mail-order catalogue, the moving assembly line, the decentralized corporation, the frequent-flier mile, the category-killer store—none of these radical ideas were patented.

Those were the days. Now the first thing someone with a good notion does is press the government to protect it. Priceline patented its reverse-auction method for selling cut-rate airline tickets. I.B.M. patented a method for keeping track of people waiting in line for the bathroom.

The article has a tone and slant that many of us will appreciate. It places emphasis on the fact that the ownership of information and ideas isn't beneficial to the majority. It doesn't, however, go so far as to mention how our current economic system is quite distant to laissez faire Capitalism (and more like Corporate Socialism) becasue of copyright, IP, and other issues. /my opinion

Here's the article.


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