The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'intellectual property'
Life in the Galambosian age of intellectual-property maximalism: When Spanish octogenarian Cecilia Giménez took it upon herself to restore a crumbling fresco in a local chapel and, inadvertently made a monkey out of Jesus,the chapel was inundated with visitors who weren't leaving donations, and soon its owners, a hospital foundation, began charging an entry fee to see the newly famous work (dubbed “Ecce Mono”, or sometimes “Rhesus Christ”). Now, Giménez' family has lawyered up and are suing for royalties from her handiwork.
The Giménez family are not yet going after internet users reposting this meme for copyright infringement, but let's not give them any ideas.
This is why we can't have nice things: One of the fastest growing technological business sectors in the US is patent trolling; i.e., buying up portfolios of patents and using them as letters of marque to shake down those who actually make things. The US's broad patent laws, and the ability to shop for favourable jurisdictions (there's one in East Texas which has a habit of siding with the litigant and awarding generous damages) makes this possible.
Now, patent trolls have started shaking down independent mobile app developers (these don't have legal departments, and can be counted on to pay up even if, say, Apple or Google might end up prevailing in court). A company named Lodsys started threatening anyone who uses Apple's in-app purchase mechanism, and more recently, a Mumbai-based company started demanding money from anyone who connects to Twitter, claiming that they infringed on an as yet ungranted patent application covering a broad range of activities involving real-time communication. And now, non-US developers are withdrawing their apps from the US market, on the grounds that the risk of ruinous litigation makes it too dangerous:
Simon Maddox, a UK developer, has removed all his apps from US app stores on both iOS and Android for fear of being sued by Lodsys, a company which has already sued a number of iOS and Android developers which it says infringe its software patent.
But for US-based developers, the problems remain. Craig Hockenberry of Iconfactory, developer of Twitterrific, remarked that "Just when you think things couldn't get any worse, they do and tweeted that "I became an independent developer to control my own destiny. I no longer do". Iconfactory is among those being targeted by Lodsys, but earlier this week was granted a 30-day extension to reply to Lodsys's claim.The patent-troll problem does not apply in the EU, whose parliament narrowly avoided introducing US-style patent laws. It's not clear whether they apply in Australia (weren't US-style software patents, if not the direct applicability of US patents, introduced in the Howard-era free trade agreement?)
This week, the European parliament will vote on extending the copyright term for sound recordings to 70 years, a vote made possible by Denmark dropping its opposition. The extension, if it passes (which is likely), will do for the next 20 or so years until valuable corporate monopoly rights are once again threatened by the encroachment of the public domain. And so on, at least until the powers that be judge that the metaphor of "intellectual property" as a natural right is sufficiently embedded in the public consciousness that they can dispense with the increasingly flimsy pretense of copyright being a limited, short-term trade-off for the public good, and scrap the expiry of copyrights once and for all.
Meanwhile, here is a very insightful article setting out exactly why copyright law as we know it is broken; i.e., that powerful vested interests have hijacked the regulatory mechanisms, and subverted a compromise for the public good into being purely about reinforcing private benefit:
Here’s a slightly absurd example: make it so that in Britain, only the Royal Shakespeare Company can perform Shakespeare. They would be granted exclusive rights in perpetuity to perform Shakespeare. They would do fantastically out of it. They could charge through the nose, and make bucket loads, because there would be no other way of seeing Shakespeare being performed.
There is no public good being served here except in a secondary fashion (the company would be taxed and those taxes could be used to provide public services etc.). Indeed, a great deal of public harm is being done because a culture where only one theatre company are allowed to perform Shakespeare is a much worse off culture. What if someone wants to come along and do a radically different interpretation of the same play? Like, oh, set Romeo and Juliet in New York City and replace the houses of Montague and Capulet with two teenage street gangs roughly based on Italian Catholics and Jews. Or perhaps replace them with the Israelis and Palestinians (West Bank Story). Or perhaps some new interesting technology like cinema or radio happens and you want to adapt it to the new technology.
Britain's privatised train companies are clamping down on unauthorised use of train timetable data, which they hold is proprietary intellectual property; they just shut down a (not-for-profit) web-based train timetables app a user wrote, and are now issuing licenses only to a few paying customers, who pass the cost on. One of these is the National Rail iPhone app, which costs £4.99, and despite the price, has spent a lot of time in the App Store Top 25; such are the economics of monopoly rents. Meanwhile, those who don't like trains quite enough to shell out a fiver for a timetable app (or fiddle around with their mobile browser navigating web sites, tapping, pinching and zooming, for a few minutes) just give up and fly (taking advantage of numerous free flight booking apps), drive or catch a bus, and Britain's carbon footprint grows.
Such is the nature of the short-termist capitalism inherent in the national ideology of Thatcherism-Blairism, which holds that (a) everything is a market, (b) the market is the most efficient solution to all problems, and (c) if there's a value in anything, there is a right to be licensed and monetised to the extent the market will bear, for the good of the shareholders (and likely party donors).
Meanwhile, there is a petition of sorts requesting the Office of Public Sector Information to make train timetable data freely available as one of the UK Government's data sets and/or pressure the train companies into not guarding it quite as jealously.
The latest copycat product Apple have gotten pulled for trademark violations: a rectangular German eggcup named the eiPott (a German pun roughly translating as "egg-pot").
One has to give the makers of the eiPott points for cleverness at least; and given the obviously satirical nature of the item, Apple's complaint does seem petty. A bit like Warner Brothers' Russian subsidiary having Tanya Grotter and the Magic Double-Bass pulled.
This week in lawsuits: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. claims that it owns Skype's brand name, or at least the first three letters of it, and threatens to block Skype from trading under that name in the EU; the EU has agreed with News Corp., though Switzerland and Turkey (neither of which are in the EU) have sided with Skype. Perhaps we'll see another Gmail/Googlemail-style situation, in which case Skype chooses some other, more awkward-looking, moniker to trade under in the EU?
Meanwhile, after having digested Sun, Oracle are wasting no time in drawing a line under its open-source-friendly days; not only have they killed OpenSolaris (an issue which could affect dozens of people worldwide) but now they're suing Google for using Java intellectual property in Android, demanding hefty damages and the destruction of all Java-based Google code, i.e., the annihilation of the Android platform. (Of course, they could let it slide for a few billion dollars.) Google contend that the lawsuit is baseless, while Java architect and Sun co-founder James Gosling weighs in:
Oracle finally filed a patent lawsuit against Google. Not a big surprise. During the integration meetings between Sun and Oracle where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer's eyes sparkle. Filing patent suits was never in Sun's genetic code. Alas...If Oracle are successful, they could stand to screw anyone who has ever used Java out of sizeable sums, whilst hastening Java's death as a platform of any credibility. (Unless this is thrown out of court with prejudice, I can see developers deserting Java hastily before Oracle's beady gaze descends upon them.)
Via Daring Fireball, an article blowing open the shadowy web of connections between the open-source/copyright reform movement and Google's world domination plans. It seems that there is a sinister power bankrolling the freetards' campaign to destroy intellectual property (and thus civilisation as we know it), and that power is none other than
Moscow Peking Mountain View. Or something like that.
A US company is developing a system that models and replicates the styles of famous musicians. Details of how Zenph Sound Innovations' system works are scant (apparently "complex software" is used, which simulates the musicians' styles, and the resulting high-resolution MIDI files are played on robotic musical instruments; currently pianos, though a double bass and saxophone are in the works).
Currently, it is capable of reconstructing a performer's style of playing a specific work, from a recording of the work, and can be used to rebuild flawed recordings. It cannot yet play a new piece in a performer's style, though the developers are planning to work on that next.
“It introduces a whole bunch of interesting intellectual-property issues, but eventually, you ought to be able to, in essence, cast your own band,” said Frey. “You should be able to write a piece of music and for the drum piece, have Keith Moon, and for the guitar piece, you can have Eric Clapton — that is a derivation of understanding each of those artists’ styles as a digital signature. That’s further down the road, but initially, you’re going to have the ability for artist to create music and have the listener manipulate how they want to hear it — [for example] sadder.”The intellectual-property implications alluded to are interesting; the prospect is raised of a new type of copyright, over an artist's style, being created, with the artist or their estate collecting royalties from replication of their style. While this is perfectly consistent with the copyright-maximalist ideology of the corporate-dominated, post-industrial present day, it ignores the fact that artists emulate other artists all the time. While initially, courts would exercise "common sense" and leave non-software-based copyists alone (i.e., Oasis wouldn't owe licensing fees to the Beatles), sooner or later, once the technology becomes the norm, this original intent would be forgotten and, after a few strategic court cases, a new precedent would be set, declaring styles, and the elements of them, to be licensable, much in the way that patents are, and requiring anyone taking them off to license them, much as anyone sampling even a split-second of a recording has to license it. (In the age of powerful rights-licensing corporations with political clout, intellectual-property law is a ratchet that turns only one way.) Soon, the different elements of musical style would end up aggregated in the hands of a few gigantic rightsholders with well-resourced legal teams, and musicians would be routinely slugged with heavy bills, itemised by stylistic elements.
The Wall Street Journal has a piece on the ever-worsening shortage of band names; all the good names are invariably taken, and in this globalised age of MySpace, SoundCloud and MP3 blogs, it is no longer considered acceptable for every other city to have its own The Bumpin' Uglies. That and the increasing power of intellectual-property-owning corporations, keen on smacking down anybody so much as hinting at their trademarks without a licence, goes some way towards explaining the current fashion for impressionistically meaningless word-salad in band names:
Between takes in a recording studio, Mr. Jones brainstormed about names with his new band mates, including former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, then checked them online. Their first choice, Caligula, turned up at least seven acts named after the decadent Roman emperor, including a defunct techno outfit from Australia. Eventually the rockers decided on Them Crooked Vultures. The words held no special meaning. "Every other name is taken," Mr. Jones explains. "Think of a great band name and Google it, and you'll find a French-Canadian jam band with a MySpace page."("Techno"? I thought Caligula were a Curve/Stone Roses knockoff.)
By 2006, they had come up with what they thought was the perfect country-music moniker: Jane Deere. It was simple, blue-collar and a little jokey. But after their lawyer registered the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the company behind John Deere tractors took exception. Moline, Ill.-based Deere & Co. asserted in filings that the Jane Deere trademark would cause "a likelihood of confusion" among consumers. The musicians backed down and the government officially canceled the Jane Deere trademark in January 2009.Of course, in the US legal system, might often makes right, and you can nab someone else's band name if you're confident that you can afford better lawyers, as Kathleen Cholewka of another Brooklyn band named Discovery found out when the Vampire Weekend side project refused to relinquish her band name:
With the help of a lawyer friend, Ms. Cholewka sent a cease-and-desist letter to her rivals. After some initial communication from the band's lawyer, Ms. Chowleka says, she's gotten no further response. She doesn't have the money to hire a trademark lawyer, but she says she's willing to compromise: "If you want to buy the name from me, great."The other Discovery have refused, saying magnanimously that there is enough room in the world for two bands of the same name. Of course, the fact that, should Ms. Cholewka attempt to exercise her right to ths name, she would find it impossible to promote her own project (even if she keeps the name, the amount of explaining she has to do would be tantamount to a de facto renaming to "Discovery—no, not that Discovery"), is not their problem, and winners are grinners.
The tragedy of the commons occurs when there is insufficient ownership of common assets, which, as a result, become overused. But now, in the age of monetisation, copyright expansionism and corporate legislative power grabs, we are seeing the opposite: the tragedy of the anticommons, where there are too many rightsholders needed to negotiate with and pay off (each doing their duty to their shareholders by being as greedy as they can be), and many endeavours are no longer viable:
The commons leads to overuse and destruction; the anticommons leads to underuse and waste. In the cultural sphere, ever tighter restrictions on copyright and fair use limit artists’ abilities to sample and build on older works of art. In biotechnology, the explosion of patenting over the past twenty-five years—particularly efforts to patent things like gene fragments—may be retarding drug development, by making it hard to create a new drug without licensing myriad previous patents. Even divided land ownership can have unforeseen consequences. Wind power, for instance, could reliably supply up to twenty per cent of America’s energy needs—but only if new transmission lines were built, allowing the efficient movement of power from the places where it’s generated to the places where it’s consumed. Don’t count on that happening anytime soon. Most of the land that the grid would pass through is owned by individuals, and nobody wants power lines running through his back yard.
Recent experimental work by the psychologist Sven Vanneste and the legal scholar Ben Depoorter helps explain why. When something you own is necessary to the success of a venture, even if its contribution is small, you’ll tend to ask for an amount close to the full value of the venture. And since everyone in your position also thinks he deserves a huge sum, the venture quickly becomes unviable. So the next time we start handing out new ownership rights—whether via patents or copyright or privatization schemes—we’d better try to weigh all the good things that won’t happen as a result. Otherwise, we won’t know what we’ve been missing.This effect is the subject of a new book, The Gridlock Economy, by Michael Heller, a law professor at Columbia University.
Last year, the Gowers report, commissioned by the British government, rejected the recording industry's call to extend sound recording copyrights in Europe. Recently, however, the recording industry scored a coup, in putting a copyright-extension directive before the EU. Here is a petition against it, organised by the EFF and Open Rights Group:
Copyright is a bargain. In exchange for their investment in creating and distributing sound recordings to the public, copyright holders are granted a limited monopoly during which are allowed to control the use of those recordings. This includes the right to pursue anyone who uses their recordings without permission. But when this time is up, these works join Goethe, Hugo and Shakespeare in the proper place for all human culture – the public domain. In practice, because of repeated term extensions and the relatively short time in which sound recording techniques have been available, there are no public domain sound recordings.The idea of copyright as a bargain, a deliberately limited monopoly, is one which has largely been erased from the public consciousness, through the introduction of a new concept a few decades ago—the concept of "intellectual property". When one thinks of ideas as property, copyright seems not as an unnatural, and mercifully limited, restriction on the natural flow of culture, but as an injustice in the opposite direction—the only form of property which expires in a few decades—and the idea of perpetual copyright, towards which we have been moving with copyright-term-extension bills and harmonisation treaties every few decades, seems, for a moment, like a much-needed correction of an unjust oversight, rather than the greedy, neo-feudal abomination it is. Whoever came up with the term "intellectual property" is a powerful sorcerer indeed.
(via Boing Boing)
Don't want your ideas and creative work to be locked up for 90 years after you die? You could always put one of these stickers on your driver's licence (as is, apparently, the done thing for organ donations in the US).
Not sure how legally binding they would be (the most likely answer is "not very"). If you really want your scrapbooks of poetry and Garageband recordings to go to the public domain, you'd probably be better off writing a will. Or you could consider releasing them under a Creative Commons licence while you're still alive.
Hasbro take legal action to shut down Scrabulous. I'm surprised it took them this long. I wonder whether they'll be smart enough to come to a deal, either acquiring Scrabulous or licensing it in return for a share of the (considerable) ad revenue, or whether they'll just sue it into oblivion to teach them a lesson, undoubtedly cheered on by the Ayn Rand fanboys loudly defending anything they may choose to do in the comments.
The Scrabulous servers are in India, which may be hard to shut down, though Facebook could block the application immediately. And the authors should probably avoid any country with an extradition treaty with the US unless this is settled.
A web-based sports news site is bypassing Rupert Murdoch's Sky TV's exclusive rights to broadcast the Cricket World Cup by displaying a computer-animated reconstruction of the match, from public domain information gathered by employees. The process resembles a modern version of the studio reconstructions of cricket matches on radio broadcasts before television (where announcers would "call" the match from descriptions, tapping microphones with pencils to create the sound effects), only this time, it's legal rather than technological limitations that are the motivation. And they look likely to get away with it:
Cricinfo, which is owned by Wisden, the company behind the Wisden Cricketing Almanac, uses data gathered by employees to simulate the action. The involvement of humans in the process is crucial, says Kim Walker, Head of Intellectual Property with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM.
Wisden said that it had carefully consulted lawyers before going ahead with the simulations in this week's World Cup. "Cricinfo 3D is based on public domain information gathered by our scorers who record a number of factors such as where the ball pitched, the type of shot played and where the ball goes in the field," said a Wisden statement. "That data is then fed as an xml to anyone who has Cricinfo 3D running on their desktops and the software generates an animation based on this data."
(via Boing Boing)
Leo Stoller, self-styled "intellectual property entrepreneur", revolutionised the monetisation of trademarks a few years ago. He did this by registering a large number of words, including "Stealth", "Sentra", and (perhaps appropriately) "Chutzpah", as trademarks and then aggressively going after anyone in any field using them, often extracting substantial settlements. Unfortunately for him, the bonanza came to an end when defendants began fighting back and losing lawsuits, and judges started invalidating his patents. Even worse for him, when he tried to declare bankruptcy, a judge ordered the liquidation of all his assets, and found that his personal and corporate assets were one and the same. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy...
(via Boing Boing)
Sun have announced that Java will be available under the GNU General Public Licence. Presumably because Flash/Python/PHP/.NET were eating their lunch. It remains to be seen whether this will prolong Java's life, or results in some of the nicer bits (such as the class libraries) being salvaged and bolted onto more vibrant platforms.
Paul Graham (of "Hackers and Painters" fame) looks at the issue of software patents. His view is that software patents are not inherently more evil than any other kind of patent; in the computerised world we live in, "software patent" is rapidly becoming the default kind, like "electric guitar" or "digital camera"; as such, opposition to software patents would effectively involve opposition to all patents but certain faintly archaic categories. Having said that, there are issues that need to be addressed:
Applying for a patent is a negotiation. You generally apply for a broader patent than you think you'll be granted, and the examiners reply by throwing out some of your claims and granting others. So I don't really blame Amazon for applying for the one-click patent. The big mistake was the patent office's, for not insisting on something narrower, with real technical content. By granting such an over-broad patent, the USPTO in effect slept with Amazon on the first date. Was Amazon supposed to say no?
Where Amazon went over to the dark side was not in applying for the patent, but in enforcing it. A lot of companies (Microsoft, for example) have been granted large numbers of preposterously over-broad patents, but they keep them mainly for defensive purposes. Like nuclear weapons, the main role of big companies' patent portfolios is to threaten anyone who attacks them with a counter-suit. Amazon's suit against Barnes & Noble was thus the equivalent of a nuclear first strike.And on the question of "are (software) patents evil":
Google clearly doesn't feel that merely holding patents is evil. They've applied for a lot of them. Are they hypocrites? Are patents evil? There are really two variants of that question, and people answering it often aren't clear in their own minds which they're answering. There's a narrow variant: is it bad, given the current legal system, to apply for patents? and also a broader one: it is bad that the current legal system allows patents?
These are separate questions. For example, in preindustrial societies like medieval Europe, when someone attacked you, you didn't call the police. There were no police. When attacked, you were supposed to fight back, and there were conventions about how to do it. Was this wrong? That's two questions: was it wrong to take justice into your own hands, and was it wrong that you had to? We tend to say yes to the second, but no to the first.
Patents, like police, are involved in many abuses. But in both cases the default is something worse. The choice is not "patents or freedom?" any more than it is "police or freedom?" The actual questions are respectively "patents or secrecy?" and "police or gangs?"
US liberal website Mother Jones has a list of the most absurd excesses of intellectual property:
BILL GATES had the 11-million-image Bettmann Archive buried 220 feet underground. Archivists can access only the 2% that was first digitized.
MICROSOFT UK held a contest for the best film on "intellectual property theft"; finalists had to sign away "all intellectual property rights" on "terms acceptable to Microsoft."
U.S. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY is valued at $5.5 trillion, equal to 47% of our GDP and greater than the GDP of any other nation but China.
A FRENCH DIRECTOR had to pay $1,300 after a character in his film whistled the communist anthem, "The Internationale," without permission.
RENTAMARK.COM makes money by claiming ownership of 10,000 phrases, including "chutzpah," "casual Fridays," ".com," "fraud investigation," and "big breasts."
(via Boing Boing)
The world's oldest multinational corporation, the Catholic Church, is joining the intellectual-property age; the Vatican has declared it intends to claim copyright on the current and previous Popes' words, and require any publications carrying those words to license them for a royalty equivalent to 3-5% of the cover price. Newspapers are exempted from the royalty, but only by "prior agreement" (i.e., giving the Vatican the power of veto over unflattering uses of the Pope's words). This has raised the ire of those who object to a price being put on the "word of the Lord" and its official interpretation.
(via bOING bOING)
Those making movies with Activision's new machinima game The Movies, beware: according to the licensing agreement, Activision owns the copyright to all films made using their content, which you can't avoid using this package.
The EULA states that while users retain ownership of movies they create, Activision exclusively owns "any and all content within [users'] Game Movies that was either supplied with the Program or otherwise made available to [users] by Activision or its licensors..." This means that any movie containing anything less than 100% user-created content (an impossible feat as far as I can tell) is under Activision's control.Which means that, unless you manage to strip your films of all Activision-owned content, what you can do with them is limited to what Activision will tolerate your doing. For example, you probably couldn't release them under a creative commons licence or put them in the public domain, and if you used them to say anything particularly controversial (as angry French Muslim youths are doing), you risk having your creation being pulled out from under you, because it's not really yours. In a sense, it is as if the basic words in the English language were copyrighted and had to be licensed in order to communicate.
A more reasonable approach would have been what the music software industry does, i.e., licensing the elements that come with the package (samples and loops, in the case of music software, 3D objects in the case of The Movies) for unlimited royalty-free use by the buyer and renouncing all rights to works containing them. Of course, Activision are a game software company, and assume that their punters are less savvy and/or less concerned with issues of rights. Who cares who really owns your movie, it's just a game, right?
(via bOING bOING)
Throughout its existence, the Soviet Union went to great efforts producing extremely accurate maps of the entire world, often containing information omitted from local maps. The information was often gathered by surreptitious means, especially in Western countries. And because the Commies didn't believe in intellectual property and the aggressive monetisation of all possible rights, these maps are now claimed to be in the public domain (though they are currently illegal in the UK, because of alleged copyright violations; the articles linked on the page, however, argue that the maps did not use Ordnance Survey data, though the Ordnance Survey still argues that the maps illegally undermine its monopoly), which could mean that, should digitised versions find their way onto the net, they may prove invaluable to open mapping projects.
And here is a Pravda article mentioning the alarm that occurred in Sweden when they found out that the Russians had better maps of Sweden than they did, and allegations that a lot of the data was gathered by KGB agents posing as the children of Swedish Communists who moved to the USSR in the 1930s and then disappeared in Stalin's purges.
(via bOING bOING)
The latest innovation from the US intellectual-property industry, following software patents and business model patents, is plot patents, i.e., the possibility of patenting a storyline and suing those thieves, parasites and second-handers who infringe on it, ushering in a new golden age of Randian/Galambosian creativity and wealth, and/or a new dark age where freedom of expression belongs solely to those with deep pockets or powerful backers:
The value of a performance is protected by copyright; the value of an invention is not. An artistic innovator is given but two choices absent patent protection: to sacrificially innovate for the unearned benefit of thieves, or to not innovate. Both options are morally and practically repulsive.The firm in question is confident that storyline patents will stand up in court, and has started filing and publishing them; for a fee, you can patent your latest story. Mind you, the US Patent Office hasn't actually decided on whether such patents are valid, but until and unless it shoots them down, the holders of the applications are entitled to litigate against those infringing their patents.
(via bOING bOING)
Irony of the day: the anthem of Communism, The Internationale is copyrighted; a filmmaker in France is being shaken down for US$1,283 for having someone whistle the song without permission in one of his films.
Under French law, "The Internationale" won't fall into the public domain until 2014 70 years of post-mortem protection plus extra time to cover the world war. Degeyter died in 1932.
(Via bOING bOING, who point out that there's (a fragment of) a decent electropop version of The Internationale here. Funnily enough, a while ago, I thought that a happy-hardcore/doof/indie-dance version, with some dude rapping about dialectic materialism in the middle, would work well at the numerous anti-capitalism rallies the lefties kept having before 9/11.)
(via bOING bOING)
Two researchers at Berkeley have created a virus which fights AIDS. This virus is a modified version of HIV with the harmful parts replaced by a mechanism that inhibits HIV's ability to kill immune cells. The anti-AIDS virus is sexually transmissible, much as HIV is, which means that now it is hypothetically possible to screw a sick person healthy. (They may have to get rid of this if they ever market it, as not to lose revenue; otherwise they could sell multi-user site-licenses to sexually promiscuous patients, or put a celibacy clause in their licenses and prosecute violators under copyright laws.)
Using copyright law to crush criticism isn't the exclusive domain of multinational corporations and the Church of Scientology: the Cuban
dictatorship people's democracy (you know, the Another World that they tell you Is Possible) has successfully sued Reporters Without Borders for using the icon of Che Guevara in a poster criticising Cuba's persecution of journalists; as such, the image has been banned in France. The image in question may be found here.
Mind you, it's not exactly like Che (a doctrinaire Marxist/Leninist who sent thousands of "counter-revolutionaries" to the firing squad and established the apparatus of state repression in Cuba, and not the mellow left-libertarian dude many people could imagine sharing a joint with) would be spinning in his CIA-dug grave at the injustice of this lawsuit. (via MeFi)
These people claim that former RIAA lobbyist Hilary Rosen is now writing intellectual-property laws for the new government of Free Iraq. If this is true, I wonder what bold experiments (abolition of public domain? criminalisation of non-DRM file formats/P2P filesharing? copyright as perpetual property title?) Rosen will have a free hand to try out without the legacy baggage of preexisting laws. Of course, it could be a hoax. (Maybe if the Democrats were in the Whitehouse...) (via bOING bOING)
I know; maybe they can fund the reparation of Iraqi heritage damaged by museum looters by giving the copyrights to Disney or someone and allowing them to invest in rebuilding Mesopotamia, in return for a guarantee that the profits will go swiftly back to head office.