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Showing posts from May, 2011

A Taxonomy of Intellectual Property

In the interest of adding some more substantial content to this blog, I thought I would present a tutorial series. I have already made reference to issues in intellectual property law, but some of my readers might not be familiar with the basics (let along the intricacies) of intellectual property in the US. To that end, this post will be the first in a series of tutorials on intellectual property. Let's begin with a taxonomy of intellectual property.
US intellectual property law recognizes four types of intellectual property.
Copyright Copyright concerns creative works fixed in a tangible medium of expression, including musical works, novels, poems, paintings, sculptures, etc. Since it concerns creative media, copyright is likely the form of intellectual property that people have encountered most. Copyright originated as a way to censor seditious or heretical publishers. Once enshrined in British law, from which the American statutes take their original form, copyright allowed p…

Digital Distribution

Continuing on this week's topic of first sale and digital distribution, I thought I would discuss emerging distribution strategies for digital media. The outline below comes from my observations on new media technologies, some of which can be found in an earlier entry here. As far as I can tell, digital distribution strategies can be divided into three categories according to salient features.
Access-Based distribution (“cloud” based services) the customer subscribes to a service the subscription entitles the customer to access content stored on the provider's servers content is remotely stored, though some items may be remotely cached for offline use when the subscription is terminated, the customer loses access to all content the content provider can exercise a great deal of control over what content is offered; the selection of content may vary over time, meaning that the customer is only guaranteed access to the cloud, not any particular item in the cloud typifie…

First Sale and Digital Content

The previous entry ended on the note that to discuss file sharing, there must be some discussion of first sale in the age of digital content. At base, first sale is a straightforward concept. A copyright-holder has the exclusive right to make and sell copies of the work, but that right to sell is exhausted after the first sale. Once a consumer has purchased a copy, she has the right to resell the copy, give it away, lend it out, or even destroy it. First sale typically makes content both more available and more affordable. Content is made more affordable by the creation of secondary markets for used copies. Libraries also rely on first sale rights to lend copies to the public (or to members, students, etc), lowering the cost of access by distributing the cost of copies over a population (of tax-payers, tuition-payers, etc). First sale increases availability of content by allowing the owners of copies to continue to circulate (through sale or gift) their copies even after the work is n…

Types of File Sharing

I have neglected this blog due to a wave of work. In an attempt to turn that neglect around, I offer up some somewhat sketchy notes for my dissertation. I have been thinking through some arguments about file sharing and first sale. To get a better grip on the issues, I have a short taxonomy of file sharing cases. Other scholars have done this before; this is just my attempt to get some clear on the fine points of the file sharing debate.
Instances of file sharing can be divided into four categories:
Public Domain content (PD) Protected works still in circulation (PC) Protected works out of circulation (P~C) Unreleased works never in commercial circulation (NC)
For each category, there are different issues at stake. PD cases are the least problematic. A work in the public domain can be freely copied, so there are no legal interests at stake. PC cases are perhaps the hardest cases for justifying file sharing. The work is still under legal protection and is still available for purchase on t…