Intellectual Property

Downloading has an Impact on Music Sales

The impact, though, is very small and in some cases positive:

This estimated effect is statistically indistinguishable from zero despite a narrow standard error. The economic effect is also small. Even in the most pessimistic specification, five thousand downloads are needed to displace a single album sale. We also find that file sharing has a differential impact across sales categories. For example, high selling albums actually benefit from file

So, as has been recently mentioned here the content providers and in particular the RIAA might want to take another look at their business models. Perhaps the artists should consider whether they really want to be involved with the RIAA members.
On the other hand Newmark’s Door links to this study which argues that there is a significant impact. I hope Craig does take a closer look at the two studies and write something on their comparative validity from a technical perspective.
Initial link to the Strumpf Oberholzer-gee study via Boing Boing.

Free Culture Discussion

Read along with Lawrence Solum a he discusses Free Culture:

This is the first of eight posts on Lessig’s book–a sort of blogospheric book club. You are invited to read along, and to send your comments on the book, my posts, or on the comments of other readers.

The class reading schedule may be a bit agressive if you are not an academic (faculty or student) but if you are at all interested in intellectual property issues and the internet you will be well served to join in.
Via Lawrenc Lessig.
Update: Lawrence Lessig discusses the rationale for the free offering.
Update (3/31): Tech Law Advisor notes that a Wiki of Free Culture has been created.

Search and Seizure

Just in from Europe:

The European Parliament has passed the EU Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive by 330 votes to 151.

At passage, the law imposes civil penalties on counterfeiters, but amendments aimed at bringing in criminal sanctions for piracy, favoured by large media companies, were defeated, and a late-tabled amendment restricted the civil penalties to so-called professional counterfeiters, and not individuals copying music or films on an occasional basis “in good faith” for their own use.
… the directive does allow companies to raid offices, homes, seize property and petition courts to freeze the bank accounts of those they believe to be engaged in piracy.

Do they really mean “allow companies to raid…?” So now Vivendi, et al, hire their own enforcement arm to perform the function of the police?
Well, I’m going to look at this in more detail when time permits just to make sure what the article says is a reasonable translation of the proposed law. But, if it is even close to right then folks in the EU are in real serious trouble.
Via Nipper’s Patent Law Blog.

Good News on the pretend Patent Front

The key here is not that M$ may be off a $521 million hook. No, it is simply that the patent office invalidated the Eolas patent (also known as the 906 patent):

A system allowing a user of a browser program on a computer connected to an open distributed hypermedia system to access and execute an embedded program object.

This patent should not have been awarded in the first place. Not only is there substantial prior art but this type of software process patent should not qualify for a patent. Yea, I know the patent office has been granting these types of patents but, come on, let’s restrict patents to things that take, say, a bit of originality and genius. Not things that your average programmer or system analyst knocks out routinely.
Via mozillaZine.