Monday, 18 May 2009

The Press

Lawyers stuck on stupid


Oh joy:  Two more lawyers who haven’t figured out that internet thingy:

Google’s products (and profit) would look a lot different if, for example, the law said it had to obtain copyright permissions in order to copy
I wonder if anybody has ever explained to these guys that whenever somebody loads a web page, their browser makes a copy of it, and what’s more, the browser might even keep a copy (in cache) after the page is closed.  Just think of all those millions of “unauthorized” copies that might be lurking around the web!  Horrors!

(Yes, the likely target here is Google’s cache function, which is defeatable, and which becomes remarkably useful when somebody- most often a news organization- “disappears” a URL.)
and index Web sites. Search engines have instead required copyright holders to “opt out” of their digital dragnets, and so far their market power has allowed them to get away with it...
No, “market power” has nothing to do with it: That’s the way the internet works.  Put up a page, and it’s world readable- unless you take measures to block it.  Don’t like the rules, go start your own network.
Publishers should not have to choose between protecting their copyrights and shunning the search-engine databases that map the Internet.  Journalism therefore needs a bright line imposed by statute: that the taking of entire Web pages by search engines, which is what powers their search functions, is not fair use but infringement.
Erm... lets parse that one carefully: “not have to choose...” “protecting copyright...” “map the internet.”  So: You do want the pages to show up when someone looks for them, right?  Well, I must admit that I’m not clever enough to figure out a way to index a page without reading its entirety... mental telepathy, perhaps?  (But then I’m not a lawyer...)
Such a rule would be no more bold a step than the one Congress took in 1996 rewriting centuries of traditional libel law for the benefit of tech start-ups.
Yeah, all those “tech start-ups” like AT&T.  Why, it was just awful how the phone company used to get put in jail every time somebody used its lines for unlawful purposes.  Good thing they fixed that![1]
It would take away from search engines the “just opt out” mantra -- repeated by Google's witness during the Kerry hearings -- and force them to negotiate with copyright holders over the value of their content.
As if Google is going to pay somebody for permission to index their pages.  Guys, that’s long gone.  What Google ought to be doing is charging websites to be included in the index.  Let’s remember who is getting the real benefit here.

No, what this would do is remove all copyright-protected content from search results.  You know, content which, I assume, the owner put on the web with the intention that someone would access it.  Otherwise, why put it on the web in the first place?  Because if you didn’t want anyone to look at it...

Doctor, I’m confused!


These guys also suggest some equally lame non-internet legislation in the name of “saving journalism:”
Federalize the "hot news" doctrine.  This doctrine protects against types of poaching that copyright might not cover -- the stealing of information not by direct copying but simply by taking the guts of the content.
As if the legacy media don’t spend most of their time copying each other (when not copying The New York Times).  Still wanna make that illegal?  Fine.  I just want the popcorn concession down at the courthouse, where I’ll eagerly await the prosecution of the next network to build a breaking story by stealing somebody’s Twitter tweet.
Eliminate ownership restrictions...  Congress should abolish caps on ownership of broadcast stations and bars on newspaper and television ownership in the same market.
Because we all know how well consolidation worked for the radio and music businesses.
Use tax policy to promote the press.
Ummm... no.
Grant an antitrust exemption...  Antitrust immunity is necessary because most individual news sites can’t go it alone by walling off their content for fees -- readers will simply jump to sites that are still free.
Yeah, How Dare those Readers Take Advantage Of a Good Deal?  This sounds more like “government-imposed charges for content” to me.  Because all the antitrust immunity in the world won’t protect the Content Cartel from the first competitor who figures out how to make free content pay for itself.

(I swear, if this is what passes for legal reasoning today, I shoulda gone to law school.)

Elsewhere:

Related:

Via:  Radley via Roberta
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[1]  Yes, I know the DMCA had nothing to do with the phone company.  But it applied longstanding common-carrier immunity precedents to the internet, since the internet people had this problem with being made common carriers.  So...

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