I mentioned Ben Quilty and Caroline Rothwell in my last blog. Qulity is Australian and Rothwell is English but lives and works in Australia. They are both in Grant Pirrie’s stable at the moment. Their works are interesting…Quilty’s latest is Pride and Patriotism. Rothwell’s The Law of Unintended Consequences

The folks over at strangemaps have posted an interesting map of the USA, matching the gross domestic product (GDP) of each individual state with a country with a similarly-sized GDP.

Strangemaps rightly points out that the map presents a somewhat distorted picture; while the state/nation state GDP levels may be similar, the corresponding population levels are not. This means that similar GDP figures do not necessarily indicate similar levels of wealth per capita in the US states and countries compared, although it does rank the size of the economies of US states and the corresponding foreign countries.

The rest of strangemaps is worth a look if you have a moment–there are some very interesting maps there. One of my recent favourites is the Online Communities Map.

Not before time, the UK has opened up the UK Statute Law Database (SLD) – the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom – for free, public use. This will be really useful: I’ve always hated trying to find UK legislation, and thought they really needed a proper AustLII. Hat tip: Boing Boing.

Apple has launched iTunes and Online Apple Stores in New Zealand. Interestingly, songs are priced at NZ$1.79, which equates to A$1.56 at today’s rates. This compares with A$1.69 at the Australian iTunes store.

Similarly, music videos are NZ$3.59 (A$3.13) and most albums are NZ$17.99 (A$15.68), compared with A$3.39 and A$16.99 respectively. (Not all albums are as much on the Australian store; for example Boston’s self-titled first album is A$13.52)

Of course, these compare with US$0.99 (A$1.26), US $1.99 (A$2.52) and US$9.99 (A$12.68) respectively at the US store.

Slate has a piece on the use of Google’s Book Seach in detecting plagiarism. It is an interesting area, as it really represents technology removing another barrier to something that was previously relatively hard to do.

Previously, there were a number of barriers to detection of plagiarism. The scope of detection was limited by people’s access to the original books (hence the popularity of plagiarising material published overseas, or which was out of print for some time, or both), their ability to read them (ie to have the time to read it, and to translate the work if necessary), their recollection of what they had read, and the likelihood of finding and reading the infringing work. And in most cases, you would just get a feeling that something was amiss, rather than knowing straight away which portions had been copied and from where.

Now, it is a simple matter of setting a powerful computer loose on a massive database. (more…)

Last week, we all had enormous fun laughing at EMI and it’s amazingly stoopid PR move (as well as highly questionable legal move) of trying to ban the circulation of a cricket songbook that put words to some of the tunes of songs that EMI owns. Fortunately, that little threat went away.

Now, via IPKat, I learn that the Barmy Army have issues too:

As if the England cricket team weren’t doing enough to lower the morale of their put-upon fans, the IPKat learns from DNA India that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is accusing the ‘Barmy Army’ of die-hard cricket fans of infringing its intellectual property rights. The claim is that merchandise bearing the ECB logo and the word ASHES infringement the ECB’s (presumably trade mark) rights. The ECB has said that it wants to avoid legal action, but hasn’t ruled it out.

What is wrong with these people?  Since when was it a good idea to stop people having fun and supporting their cricket teams? Let’s face it, the English Cricket Team clearly need all the help they can get!

Good news for cricket fans. ‘That’ songbook is going ahead now (I blogged about it here): EMI had protested a songbook designed to ensure Australian cricket fans can counter the ‘barmy army’ with their own songs, set to some tunes of songs that EMI deals with). To quote the Fanatics’ website:

Unless you’ve been living on another planet you would have surely been hearing about the Fanatics songbook over the last couple of weeks.

Just 5 days prior to the commencement of play at the Gabba it looked like we were going to have to shred the recently printed 100,000 copies.

After a slight misunderstanding with our good friends at EMI, we’ve been reliably informed that the songbook isn’t in breach of any copyright laws and in turn the songbook is once ahead downloadable and fully legal.

Fantastic news for Aussie cricket fans the nation wide!!

Download a copy for yourself from here.

In March, it was news that Google had acquired a neat web startup called Upstartfile, which was creating a site called Writely. New registrations were closed.

Today, Google quietly re-opened Writely to the general public, who can once again sign up.

I’ve just had a quick look at the new service. In fact, I’m using it to write this blog post. As for impressions? Well, in a word: (more…)

For those of you in the United States that read The New Yorker, this is old news, but for those of you who do not, you might be interested to read a very interesting article in the 31 July issue on Wikipedia. The article, which is very well-written, has generated some interesting commentary at Freedom to Tinker on the difference between Wikipedia’s open, peer-reviewed model and The New Yorker‘s more traditional fact-checking approach (typical of high-quality print media).

I’d be interested to hear what readers think is more reliable — the Wikipedia approach or fact-checking? Both models certainly have their virtues and their weaknesses. (My own view: while some sources of information tend to be more reliable than others, any single person–or even a group of people–holds biases and can make mistakes.)

IPRIA and the Melbourne Business School have an event coming up which would be of interest to readers of this blog: David Levine and Eric Von Hippel will be giving a seminar on Intellectual Property and Innovation: A Different Perspective. It’s all happening on 11 August. More details over the fold. (more…)

A recent New York Times article alerted me to the existence of, an excellent source of free podcasts.

The Times article focused on podcasts as travel guides, typically more personal than the typical travel book. PodcastAlley is definitely worth a good look by anyone interested in podcasting.

The great thing about being an IP professor is that you get to comment on the pressing information technology and information freedom issues of the day.

Like, oh, chefs copying other chefs’ creations. (blogpost here)

And, oh, the BIG issue: will elvis impersonators still have a livelihood in the future? Last night, if you watched closely, you might have seen me spouting forth on ABC news on the issue of whether transactions recently occurring over the Elvis Estate in the US would lead to Elvis impersonators losing their jobs (short version of the story here). Apparently, a new majority holder in Elvis Enterprises is threatening to crack down on ‘unauthorised’ Elvis impersonators. ABC News called me to comment (on my day off!!! Nothing like taking time out from a heavy shopping expedition to do a quick media interview. And nothing like taking a quick stop by the Myer make-up counters to get ready…).

Frankly, I can’t see that there will be a legal issue for the impersonators here. Far more important issues were being ventilated by Cory Doctorow last night in Melbourne (and tonight in Sydney – go if you can!) (more…)


Yochai Benkler has followed a trend set by such people as Larry Lessig and Michael Geist, and made his new book, The Wealth of Networks, available under a Creative Commons License. He’s gone further than Lessig or Geist, I think, and has put the ideas in the book – which are all about commons-based and cooperative production – to the test in the real world. It will be of interest to anyone who thinks the whole concept of the Commons, Creative Commons, and ‘social production’ are interesting. Comments on this method of publication, and the book itself, over the fold. (more…)

In case you didn’t know already, in October 2005 Stanford University launched a partnership with Apple called “Stanford on iTunes“, which allows the public to download podcasts of Stanford lectures, events, and music free of charge. There are already over 400 programs available, including: Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement address; various podcasts on technology; academic lectures on literature, philosophy, and music; and news of Stanford. Stanford on iTunes is also being used by Stanford academics to deliver content to their students. There does not seem to be any law-related content yet, but I’ll be looking out for it.

As with any content from iTunes, it’s not necessary to own an iPod to listen — you can also listen via another kind of mp3 player or your computer. The Stanford podcasts are available via an add-on to iTunes itself (meaning that it’s necessary to launch Stanford on iTunes via to download any content). It’s all pretty impressive, and I look forward to listening to some of the podcasts. I only hope that other universities will follow Stanford’s example.

A new voice in Australian blogs: Joshua Gans, a colleague of mine in Melbourne, has started a blog, apparently due to Andrew Leigh’s inspiring influence. Gans’ research focuses on areas of applied game theory: specifically in the nature of technological competition and also in various aspects of the regulation of market power. He writes/comments/consults on competition, innovation – that kind of thing. Definitely worth watching.

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