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Antigua threatens our IP

March 21, 2008 @ 8:14am

I met an old friend of mine at an event he was attending and another old friend walked up and introduced me to the guy he was talking to, Jack Myers. I don't know if I gave Jack my business card or if he just has the mutant ability to sense peoples' email addresses, but I suddenly ended up on his newsletter mailing list. Not a weekly newsletter -- we're talking three or four of these a day.

The annoying thing is that they're about industries I follow and they're often useful. So I haven't unsubscribed. And I keep reading them. Damn.

Today's morning edition had an article by Shelly Palmer covering Antigua's recent copyright threats:

This week the government of Antigua threatened to unleash hell on the information economy. Well, kind of … they're threatening to repeal intellectual property treaties with the United States and to allow massive copyright infringement on the island if the U.S. doesn't hasten its response to pending trade disputes. In short, they are threatening to copy "virtually anything that can duplicated."
The reason for the threat of InfoWar, according to a representative of the Island, is that the United States is not negotiating fairly in a dispute over Internet gambling. Apparently, we owe Antigua $21 million dollars and they really want the money. If they don't get it, they will tighten-up our debt by stealing music, movies and other intellectual property.

Right off the bat, you have to give kudos to Shelly on labeling this "Pirates in the Caribbean." Shelly points out that anything that can be copied is already available and this might not be such a strong threat, but it would have some interesting effects on the value chain.

This is already happening in music. People are spending less on CDs, so artists and labels and focusing on other ways to make money like concerts and merchandise that isn't so easily ripped off digitally. In software we have open source. Piracy is a waste of time when the software is available for free and the money is all being made through services and support.

As someone who publishes DRM-free comic books online, the evolution of the role of the publisher in a time of easy piracy is fascinating.

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