Monday, 26 January 2004
NYT on IP politics & culture
Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media scholar at New York University, calls anecdotes like [the Diebold/electronic civil disobedience affair] "copyright horror stories," and there have been a growing number of them over the past few years. Once a dry and seemingly mechanical area of the American legal system, intellectual property law can now be found at the center of major disputes in the arts, sciences and — as in the Diebold case — politics. Recent cases have involved everything from attempts to force the Girl Scouts to pay royalties for singing songs around campfires to the infringement suit brought by the estate of Margaret Mitchell against the publishers of Alice Randall's book "The Wind Done Gone" (which tells the story of Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind" from a slave's perspective) to corporations like Celera Genomics filing for patents for human genes. The most publicized development came in September, when the Recording Industry Association of America began suing music downloaders for copyright infringement, reaching out-of-court settlements for thousands of dollars with defendants as young as 12. And in November, a group of independent film producers went to court to fight a ban, imposed this year by the Motion Picture Association of America, on sending DVD's to those who vote for annual film awards.