The new copyspeak

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Assn., writes on c|net about the new “copyspeak”.

Why copyrights aren’t “property” — “Real property is subject to ownership taxes. Real property lasts forever and can be owned forever. A copyright can be owned only for a limited period of time. Indeed, the United States Constitution declares this. More, copyright law must bow to the First Amendment, which expressly allows people to use a copyrighted product without the permission of the copyright owner. ” (thanks, Tomalak)

The new copyspeak

IP lockdown

David Weinberger has a very eloquent, pointed comment on the most recent academic plagiarism scandal. I love the disclaimer at the end.

One comment, however: When you use the term “intellectual property,” you’ve already lost the argument. That term, by likening copyrights and patents to real property, gives them an implicit permanence, concreteness, and totality that they’ve never had, until now, either in the Constitution or in subsequent legal history.

Historically, patents and copyrights were always conceived of as limited monopolies, granted by the government in exchange for certain concessions to the public good (specifically, that the works would pass into the public domain after a limited period of time, and that “fair use” would not be infringed). The term “intellectual property” effectively obviates that tradition and flips the argument, as if by judo, into a zone where the “owners” of copyrights and patents hold all the cards, and those who are interested in intellectual freedom and the free exchange of ideas are relegated to the status of trespassers, vagabonds, and communists.

I haven’t done research on this but it would be very interesting to find out at what point the term “intellectual property” gained currency, and who first started using it.

IP lockdown

Sitting bulls and rung jumpers

New workplace terminology, from “outplacement firm” Challenger, Gray, and Christmas:

Righteous CEO (Chief Ethics Officer): Executive selected to review corporate operations and practices to ensure that ethical standards are being met.

Sitting Bull: Retirement-age worker who, due to stock market and other savings losses, will not leave, thus blocking younger workers from advancing.

Wilted Lettuce: What Human Resources consider candidates who start interviewing after taking a long break following discharge while living off a generous severance package.

Re-Generation: Over 65 and working.

Office Park Dad: The new “soccer mom” — a suburban, non-union, stock-owning political moderate, age 25-50, typically part of two-career household.

20/20 Workforce: Workers who split time evenly between two part time jobs.

Dual-Job Entrepreneur: Worker who runs his or her own business in addition to working a traditional full-time job that may include homemaker.

Sad-Grad: Recent college graduate living with parents, with credit card and school load debt, and no job prospects.

Pop Perks: Last-minute, tax-free perks such as the boss telling a worker in the morning to take the afternoon off (with pay) that day.

Rung Jumper: Someone who enters a new position at least two or three levels above his or her previous position.

Sitting bulls and rung jumpers

Information science: values

INFORMATION SCIENCE: THE INVISIBLE SUBSTRATE, by Marcia J. Bates, UCLA

From the abstract: “The mental activities of the professional practice of the field are seen to center around representation and organization of information rather than knowing information. It is argued that such representation engages fundamentally different talents and skills from those required in other professions and intellectual disciplines.

“Methodological approaches and values of information science are also considered.”

Information science: values

Intellectual “property”

Gary Shapiro on Intellectual property: “This term is so well established and that there is virtually no chance of rolling it back. But its usage serves to strengthen the position of the content business vis-a-vis information consumers (i.e. society as a whole). It amplifies the similarities and obscures the differences which copyright has with real property – such that it is a limited right granted only by statute.” … More on explodedlibrary.info.

Intellectual “property”

Google news flaws

Nick Denton has a smart critique of Google News: “It discriminates against an exclusive, which is perverse. A story exclusive to one source — the New York Times scoop on US war plans, for instance — will rank low. While a standard calendar-driven wire service story — reported everywhere, without any great enthusiasm — scores highly.”

This gets to the nub of Google’s power, and also its biggest shortcoming. You can’t beat the convenience of ranking pages by popularity. But you also have to believe that popularity is a good index of quality.

Google news flaws