~ Archive for Copyright ~

Starbucks and DRM

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It’s not yet December but at Starbucks the Christmas season hits anybody who walks through their door like a fake snow storm . All around there are customers nursing bright red paper cups of Peppermint Mocha topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with red jimmies. You can watch cars whiz by from your third-story window seat and imagine that at any moment one of them might become Santa’s sleigh.

The background music is also tuned to a jingle-merry theme that’s sweeter than a caramel latte. Some tracks are light and springy, others have a softer, jazzier groove providing the perfect lounge music for a caffeinated Christmas party. However, there is one thing that spoils the seasonal feeling. Anxious customers can scour the first floor collection of Starbucks’ paraphernalia as hard as they like but it will not possible for them to find the famed Starbucks Music CD.
The good news is that the CDs have not sold out in some parts of the world. The bad news is that they have never been available – at least not in Korea.

In the United States, Starbucks sells CDs and DVDs in its stores , made by its affiliate Hear Music, but these are not available in Korea. Just as in the United States, many people in Korea have asked for compilation CDs of the music that they hear at Starbucks, but laws in Korea ban food and beverage enterprises from selling items not related to their specific food type. This includes CDs, even though the Christmas season is upon us. “We need another business permit to sell CDs, which we have not obtained,” said Mick Lee, a Starbucks spokesman.

Meanwhile, those CDs played at Starbucks are technologically protected so that they cannot be copied onto pirate CDs. Each CD contains about 100 songs and can only be played on the Starbucks music player. The CDs also have an expiration date of 10 months to one year, due to copyright agreements with the musicians featured. After that period, the CD will no longer function. It’s as if the government has sent the Grinch Who Stole Christmas into Starbucks.

Starbucks music players are also “protective” of music in that regular music CDs will not play on them. “In a sense we control the music. We receive about two new CDs every month from headquarters, which ships the CDs out to all the Starbucks coffeehouses around the world,” Mr. Lee said.

“I usually carry around my iPod Nano, but when I’m at Starbucks, I take off my earphones because I enjoy the music,” said Kim Tae-bin, a food stylist. “Sometimes I ask the worker what song is playing because most of the songs aren’t those you hear on Korean radio.” Too bad you can’t buy any of that music for Christmas.

Design and Copyright in SL

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I was at Dazzle, one of the most famous shops for women’s clothes, and saw a bag that was unquestionably a Louis Vuitton knockoff. Of course, the monogram was entirely different, so I couldn’t say it was counterfeit, but more on the lines of being cute, but it still raised questions in me just where the lines of copyright come in when it comes to cyberspace, especially designing in SL.
Now that I have started making my own clothes, I am undoubtedly inspired by my favorite designers, but as to where I take that inspiration, I’m not sure just what the limit is. The other day, I saw a marvelous Dior couture dress and I saved a photo of the dress because I loved the texture, but then when I thought about it, I suddenly got scared and wondered whether or not I was stealing from John Galliano.
But then, even artists copy from each other and no design is truly original. Why even Gogh copied paintings of Hiroshige.

Sometimes I see some very original artwork, furniture, or architecture in SL and I wonder just how original it is. I’ve seen things that seem very original, like this frog chair, for instance. But if you think about it, certainly copying someone else’s work is not something that is overly difficult, if you have the skills. But then, if copyright becomes so unimportant, I believe I would be left with a sense of futility and be discouraged.
But perhaps that is the way of the world. Sometimes I see that articles published in our paper are rewritten with almost no changed under someone else’s byline for some other publication. But being a media in a small country, there are limits to what you can do about it. In the end, it all comes down to ethics, but not everyone has the same standards or sense of what is ethical and what is not. So if you can’t prove your financial or emotional damages- you basically don’t have a case. It’s just a bitter pill you have to swallow.

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