Harvard Bus School on the impact of file sharing

Felix Oberholzer-Gee at Harvard and Koleman Strauss at Uni. of Kansas take an empirical look at the effect of file sharing on copyright industries.

They accept that file sharing has weakened copyright protection (although they are quite sceptical about the studies trying to prove this). They argue this is only part of the question, however, for policy-makers. They contend that, if the role of copyright is to provide incentives to create new works, it is necessary to look rather more widely.

For example, they note:

  • the publishing of new books increased by 66%
  • the number of new albums released more than doubled;
  • the number of feature films produced has increased by 30%,

in the early years of the 21st century.

They also note that revenues from concert sales and merchandising and the like has also increased.

Exploring this, their tentative conclusion for policymakers:

The role of complements makes it necessary to adopt a broad view of markets
when considering the impact of file sharing on the creative industries. Unfortunately, the
popular press – and a good number of policy experts – often evaluate file sharing looking
at a single product market. Analyzing trends in CD sales, for example, they conclude that
piracy has wrecked havoc on the music business. This view confuses value creation and
value capture. Record companies may find it more difficult to profitably sell CDs, but
the broader industry is in a far better position. In fact, it is easy to make an argument that
the business has grown considerably.

The role of complements makes it necessary to adopt a broad view of markets when considering the impact of file sharing on the creative industries. Unfortunately, the popular press – and a good number of policy experts – often evaluate file sharing looking at a single product market. Analyzing trends in CD sales, for example, they conclude that piracy has wrecked havoc on the music business. This view confuses value creation and value capture. Record companies may find it more difficult to profitably sell CDs, but the broader industry is in a far better position. In fact, it is easy to make an argument that the business has grown considerably.

Download the pdf here.

Lid dip Joshua Gans

Secrecy laws

The ALRC has released a discussion paper outlining 65 proposals:

“to balance a growing commitment to increased openness and transparency in government with the legitimate need to maintain the secrecy and confidentiality of some Commonwealth information.”

Submissions should be made by a leisurely 7 August 2009.

According to the Media Briefing:

The chapters fall into four broad areas:
concepts and comparisons;
a general criminal secrecy offence;
specific secrecy offences; and
administrative duties, practices and procedures.

The chapters fall into four broad areas:

    • concepts and comparisons;
    • a general criminal secrecy offence;
    • specific secrecy offences; and
    • administrative duties, practices and procedures.
and the centre piece would be:
the ALRC proposes that the new general secrecy offence should only impose criminal liability where a particular disclosure did, was reasonably likely to, or was intended to:
  • harm the national security, defence or international relations of the Commonwealth;
  • prejudice the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of criminal offences, breaches of a law imposing a penalty or sanction, the enforcement of laws relating to the confiscation of the proceeds of crime, or the protection of the public revenue;
  • endanger the life or physical safety of any person;
  • pose a serious threat to public health or public safety;
  • have a substantial adverse effect on personal privacy; or
  • have a substantial adverse effect on a person in respect of his or her lawful business or professional affairs or on the business, commercial or financial affairs of an organisation.

There are also chapters on the administrative obligations of the Public Service and fostering effective information handling practices.

(I guess that wouldn’t be: we can’t give you that for privacy reasons?).

Discussion paper here.

Media release

Media briefing paper

Unfair competition in EU

According to the IPKat, the ECJ has introduced an EU-wide law of unfair competition/tarnishment for registered trade marks in L’Oreal v Bellure.

Read more

Geographical indications

Bennett J has dismissed the Bavarian Beer (trade) association’s opposition to the Dutch company, Bavaria NV’s application to register the Bavarian Beer trade mark.

(The application is in black and white)
(The application is in black and white)

Her Honour found:

182 In summary:

  •  
    • The trade mark is inherently adapted to distinguish Bavaria NV’s goods from those of other traders and does so distinguish.
    • If the trade mark were only inherently adapted to distinguish Bavaria NV’s goods to some extent, there would be insufficient evidence to find it capable of distinguishing Bavaria NV’s goods pursuant to s 41(5) of the Act.
    • If the trade mark were not inherently adapted to distinguish Bavaria NV’s goods to any extent, there would be insufficient evidence to find it capable of distinguishing Bavaria NV’s goods pursuant to s 41(6) of the Act.
    • I am not satisfied that the trade mark connotes that Bavaria NV’s product comes from Bavaria or that it has certain characteristics attributable to a Bavarian origin. I am not satisfied that the use of the trade mark would be likely to deceive or cause confusion or that it would be contrary to law.
    • GENUINE BAVARIAN BEER and BAYERISCHES BEER are geographical indications for the purposes of ss 6 and 61 of the Act. Neither of these geographical indications equate with “Bavaria”. Section 61 does not refer to a sign that is substantially the same as or deceptively similar to a geographical indication. The trade mark does not contain a sign that is a geographical indication for the purposes of the Act.
    • Even if the trade mark did contain a sign that is a geographical indication for the purposes of the Act, Bavaria NV would succeed in raising the defence under s 61(2)(c) of the Act.
    • There is no discretion under s 55 of the Act to refuse to register a trade mark if none of the grounds of opposition are made out.

Professor Davison looks at the implications for (non-wine) GIs here.

I’ll just add that the Bavarians had argued s 55 of the Trade Marks Act conferred a discretion to block an application independently of the grounds of opposition. Hence the last bullet point above.

Of course, the last time I went to Europe, the Netherlands did seem to be quite some distance from Bavaria. I’m not sure what the status of the war (between the 2 sides) in Germany is.

Bennett J’s decision in Bavaria NV v Bayerischer Brauerbund eV [2009] FCA 428

wolfing it down, er, up

Wolfram Alpha, a new search engine that attempts to answer questions, not “just” provide a list of potentially relevant websites.

According to the website:

You enter your question or calculation, and Wolfram|Alpha uses its built-in algorithms and growing collection of data to compute the answer. 

Perhaps rather more sexily, ask it what the answer to life, the universe and everything?

The Daily Telegraph has a video.

Lid dip, Joshua Gans (try his other examples).

Dancing on the ceiling

Forty years ago today, Minister Bowen’s Act came into play.

It’s not often you wake up to the 40th birthday of the Copyright Act 1968 which came into force on 1 May 1969. From Note 1: see “Gazette 1969, p. 2543”.

With apologies to some Sergeants.

More dancing on the ceiling here.

Blacklisted!

I’m having a little bit of a problem accessing IPwars from Chambers at the moment.

It would appear in their wisdom the administrators of vicbar.com.au have blocked access to it! Pity about all the nightlife enhancement and/or Kenyan investment opportunities their spam filter sends to me.

Oh well. I’ve been cybersquatted so I guess I shouldn’t complain about yet another part of the full cyberspace experience.

My apologies.

It’s also affecting my email accounts, so you should ensure you use my vicbar email available from Vicbar’s website here (if you don’t already have it).

World IP Court? 2

Howard suspects a …

cat!

Denise Howell at Sound Policy discusses financial risk (what you and I might call insurance) for online activities here (also available through iTunes).

IP mapping?

So I’m watching a clever YouTube which Josh Gans points out has been annoyingly marred by a running stream of “subscript” advertisements.

On of the ads is for IP Mapping which seems like a clever description of patent searching. No doubt, I’m being a bit perfunctory here. Anyone know what I’m missing?

Apologies

Sorry about the break in transmission – some glitch in a database somewhere meant that only files up to 13 August were showing up.

Thanks to Jacques, everything seems to be back on an even keel now.