Copyright law and its problems

Sometimes, the summer recess in the television programming schedule creates opportunities for documentaries to see the light in the Netherlands that otherwise would lose their slot to sports programs or a quiz. This evening the Dutch public service broadcaster aired the documentary RIP: A remix Manifesto, an account of the history and state of copyright law in the US in the digital information age.
It shows that, not only copyright issues are of all times, but it also seems to reach the level of absurdity regarding Digital Rights Management (DRM). Responsible are the lobby groups in the US representing the large media companies such as Viacom, Warner and NewsCorp.

Copyright law is still going strong, also in Europe. In Sweden the owners of the Pirate Bay (a bit torrent site) have been convicted. In the Netherlands the owners of the bit torrent site Mininova also are being prosecuted.

The documentary makes an interesting and relevant side step to science by referring to extensive patenting by medical and pharmaceutical companies.

Fortunately, not all is lost because awareness is growing that sharing in the long run may be beneficial to all, given the increasingly being used Creative Commons licenses. Brazil seems to be leading the way in this respect.

Be carefull to invest in new media

Apparently the credit crisis has led banks to looks for creative (read: cheap) ways to aquire market information. This market information is crucial to decideĀ  where to invest their customer’s savings. Well, people should think twice to give their money to investment bank Morgan Stanley. Their 15 year old intern apparently wrote a report on youngster’s media use. His report pleasently surprised the management so much that they made it public. Apparently they are easy to impress.

The report concisely describes youngster’s use of many types of media. Most findings are not that surprising, but provide nice headlines: “Twitter is not for teens”. What casts doubt is that the intern selectively spoke to his peers. How many is not clear. As such they at best only provided a biased picture of their media use.

Is the intern to blame? Of course not. He most likely did his utmost to provide interesting results. Are people at Morgan Stanley to blame? Well, before I answer this question one could ask yourself why the bank decided to publish the report. Because the report was concise and well written? Or because they didn’t have any positive publicity recently?

But are these bankers to blame? Well, yes. These are educated people and should have spotted the limitations of the study. As such, future investments based on this report are at least very risky. Oh I forgot, taking risks is daily business for banks…

Another noteworthy issue is why newspapers noticed this item. Is it the findings? Or is it the fact that it involves a 15 year-old?

A new start

This is my second attempt to keep a blog. The first one, written in Dutch didn’t work out. Why then a new one? Well, as of September 2009, I will travel to South Korea as part of the World Class Universities project on political communication on the web at Yeungnam University inĀ Gyeongsan-si, near Daegu.

The principal director of the project is Han Woo Park. Greg Elmer and I will stay in for four months for three consecutive years each. Furthermore, a large group of academics is to give lectures and workshop. And last but not least, Nicholas Jankowski, who provided a large contribution to the proposal and tapped into his extensive network for collaborators will give some lectures as well.

In the near future I hope to make many observations on the Korean case of political communication on the Web.

As for the project description, a website is being developed right now and should be online in the near future. When ready I’ll put the link in the blog roll.