Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Class-Action Lawsuit Against Google/YouTube Growing

YouTube's getting in hotter and hotter water. The class-action lawsuit I mentioned earlier is growing. Essentially, the intellectual property environment's a little more complex than I've seen mentioned before:

Unlike the music labels such as Universal and EMI, which own copyrights to specific recordings of songs, the NMPA owns copyrights to music lyrics and specific melodies. Media companies that wish to use music usually have to obtain licenses from both the music label and the NMPA, as pointed out by the Wall Street Journal —something that YouTube has not done when forming agreements with the four major labels to use their music on the site in exchange for a cut of ad revenue.

And being a class-action suit, merely settling out of court will be a little more difficult. Each party's going to have their own agenda.

This does nothing but strengthen my believe that Google is a bit cavalier in how it approaches intellectual property, and that this is going to cost them.

Russian's New "Anti-Westernism"

An interesting read in the Moscow Times on Russia's growing anti-Western stance. Some excerpts:

The Russian political elite has long dreamed of finding a national idea capable of rallying the people. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev tried to consolidate the country with his idea of socialism "with a human face." Former President Boris Yeltsin roused the people around anti-communism.

And President Vladimir Putin came to power under the unofficial slogan: "Let's put an end to the Yeltsin-era chaos." Now the elite is pushing a new national idea to rally the nation. It can be stated as follows: "We will protect the country from external enemies and establish a new global order to replace the one that so humiliated Russia in the 1990s." To put it more simply, Putin's motto is: "Russia is back!"

And then:

What is behind the new national idea? Anti-Western ideology has become an important factor that legitimizes the highly centralized state. The Kremlin has to offer some kind of explanation for the concentration of authority in so few hands, the elimination of political pluralism, the expansion of the state's role in the economy and the redistribution of property. The search for enemies and the cultivation of a "siege mentality" have always been used to justify "iron-hand" regimes in Russia. To be sure, the Kremlin also has created smaller enemies, such as Georgia, Ukraine, and the Baltic states. In addition, liberals and certain unpopular oligarchs serve as convenient adversaries. But a great power should not be shooting at sparrows with a cannon or focusing so much attention on "small fries," as one Russian analyst said. The West, and especially the United States, has proven to be the most convincing enemy.

And yet, interestingly:

Fortunately, the majority of people have managed to avoid getting caught up in the anti-Western hysteria. Polls show that 70 percent of Russians still consider Europe to be a partner. But there are definite consequences to the Kremlin's heavy anti-Western propaganda. The elite, which has built a political and foreign policy program based on anti-Western ideas, cannot easily switch back to the opposite position. That is the legacy Putin leaves behind -- a legacy built by everyone who today shouts with such enthusiasm, "Russia is back!"

It's an interesting read that explains quite a bit.

Digg Report

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at a light 2833 Diggs, is a link to a list of "20 Things I Learned from Tech Support." It's cute, as are many such lists.

Yahoo!'s China Troubles Keep Growing

I think things are going to get tougher for Yahoo! in their Chinese troubles before they get any easier. I remain torn on whether American businesses should do business with nations that don't recognize individual rights (my natural inclination as an Objectivist is to say that they should not), but this quote is unsupportable:

Yahoo! has always said its Chinese subsidiary was only obeying local laws.

Such a stance can be taken to support any action, no matter how evil. It could have been used to justify a company's direct support of and business with the Nazis. After all, the Holocaust was simply the result of local German laws.

Russian and China Play War Games

The Russian/Chinese joint military exercises being discussed for some time now seem a bit larger than necessary for anti-terrorism activities, specifically, unless it were anti-terrorism of the "invade a territory and root out terrorists" variety. The linked story speculates that it could be a show of defiance against NATO.

Which, of course, if true, is of concern.

Russia Continues Showing Two Faces

Russia needs to decide whether it wants to join in the European missile shield program, or whether it wants to continue seeing it as a threat to Russia. Because continuing to talk about alternatives to the American plan while developing new weapons to defeat the system is just self-contradictory and tiresome.

Other than merely envying America's currently dominating role in the world, I just don't see much reason for Russia to believe that the West is a threat to them. Sure, we're cozying up to some of Russia's neighbors, but Russia isn't supposed to be an enemy any longer. They're supposed to be a "democracy," (in quotes because I hate that term), and "democracies" aren't supposed to fight wars. At least, it's never happened in the past.

Perhaps Russia perceives a threat because it knows itself that its turn toward totalitarianism (of a more national socialist nature) will eventually bring it at odds with the West. Hell, maybe it's already happening. As far as I can tell, Russia has no intention of joining the West and supporting individual rights (to the extent that the West does so, of course), and so perhaps it's just preparing itself for the inevitable.