Intellectual Property and all that jazz

April 30, 2008 at 7:44 am 1 comment

IP is being created within the Pakistan IT industry as more companies are developing products and there is an ever-increasing number of idea entrepreneurs who are making their mark on the technology scene. Hence when I was invited to attend the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Roundtable which focused on Software Copyright, I felt it was important for P@SHA to be represented here in Kuala Lumpur.

It was good to hear the different perspectives of delegates from the region as they spoke about their industries, the legislation, enforcement and growth. I was happy to see that there was also a focus on Open Source. Several delegates from Malaysia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia felt that Open Source was the only viable option for countries in this region as the price of international software was just not in line with the purchasing ability of the regional economies.

What surprised me most were the stories from the Japanese speaker who was from the Association of Copyright for Computer Software (ACCS):

1. Apparently the software developer who developed Winny (a Japanese peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing program) – Isamu Kaneko, a research assistant in graduate course of computer engineering at the University of Tokyo in Japan – was arrested for suspected conspiracy to commit copyright violation by the High-tech Crime Taskforce of the Kyoto Prefectural Police. Kaneko originally anonymously announced his intent of developing the software on the Download Software board of the popular 2channel (2ch for short) Japanese bulletin board site.

Kaneko’s arrest caused an uproar in communities on the Internet citing it as an unjust arrest. A website set up to raise money for his defence raised over 11 million yen (about US$97,000) within two weeks. Kaneko was released on bail on June 1, 2004. More details on Wikipaedia.

2. The ACCS speaker also moaned and groaned about the sale of second hand computer games saying that it should be stopped because it impacts on the gaming industry and developers of games! I asked how this was different from the sale of second-hand books, clothes, bags, software, etc. Hadn’t there always been a separate market for second hand products? His answer surprised most of us. Apparently, because there is no degradation of computer games because they are on DVD unlike books which may have dog-eared pages and covers missing and clothes that are faded etc, computer games should be treated differently. The onward sale of the games by the first purchaser has negatively impacted the sales of the gaming industry in Japan by about one third. Amazing stuff!

More later!

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The use of language Near miss!

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Vic  |  May 2, 2008 at 11:23 am

    @jehan: The onward sale of the games by the first purchaser has negatively impacted the sales of the gaming industry in Japan by about one third. Amazing stuff!.

    The ability of the IPR industry (I think it deserves an independent status, because it seems to occupy some rarified space of its own, quite apart from the rest of us mortals) to generate creative conclusions from statistics is quite amazing, I agree.

    In any other market, say for instance, the stockmarket, the presence of a secondary market is used as a justification. “How could buyers judge future public offerings of companies, or their ‘worth’, if not for the secondary market?” But the same thing for the games market is an abomination, according to this speaker.

    Unfortunately, the IPR industry is prey to other ills. I was told a couple of days back about a design engineering firm, one that uses highly specialised drafting applications. These have the ability to read the files created in a proprietary format by a well known popular drafting applications software giant.

    The firm was raided by the police, in partnership with the IPR industry association (I would name them, but this is a family blog). Under the threat of seizure of all its computers (because the ‘flag’ of files with those giveaway extensions meant the company ‘could’ have illegal software on the premises), they were forced to buy a useless copy of the expensive software.

    A year later they were raided again! The ‘legal copy’ had to be upgraded, because the new version was out, and the police had become an unofficial part of the sales force.

    In the old days, we used to call such tactics protection rackets, but we are so much more polite now. Besides, this has the sanctity of the almighty UN. And as we all know, pirates fund global terror.

    Reply

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