Monday, July 27, 2009

when is the work of the intellect "property?" (part 635)

Just in time for the federal government's copyright consultations, has managed to make a complex issue a whole lot denser.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported on consumer advocates lobbying Amazon to drastically alter their current business practices for fear the new tools of retail may someday be used as tools of oppression.

It seems Amazon recently flipped one of their all-powerful switches and erased illicitly obtained copies of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four from the Kindle reading devices of many Amazon customers. This spawned countless uses of the adjective "Orwellian" by headline writers around the globe; inspired a potential class action lawsuit; and somehow managed to align those who do not believe in the concept of intellectual property with the idea that files they have acquired to their digital devices are some form of "property" others should not be allowed to arbitrarily yoink from their hands -- especially when that "property" represents the "intellectual" freedom we as a society demand.

I think what I find most interesting about the Boing Boing posting (see link above) is the house-breaking analogy they quote:

"it’s like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we’ve been reading off our nightstands..."

So, unauthorized use of intellectual property is somehow like the unauthorized use of physical property? As Mr. Spock would say... fascinating.

One-stop shopping for both the catchy headline and the physical property analogy can be found at e-consumer advocate Michael Geist's blog.

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