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June 2003

o-blog  an i.p. blog o-blog: an i.p. blog


©¦ Some history. Here’s a piece from that maintains the music piracy is nothing new; as far as recorded music is concerned, it dates back to Edison. Read George Ziemann’s “Thomas Edison, Intellectual Property and the Recording Industry.”


media¦ The big news. With the writing on the wall for some time, no one should be surprised to hear that the FCC has voted (along party lines) to relax media ownership rules. • Silicon Valley Columnist John Gillmor posts an 11th-hour commentary on the impending rule change. • Given the broad and variegated opposition to the rule change, senses that we may now actually get the debate that FCC Chairman Powell tried so scrupulously to avoid. • And, in a more hopeful light, a bipartisan group of congressmen seeks to change the law to make the FCC’s action moot.


©¦ Online petition. Here you can sign an online petition to the U.S. Congress to Reclaim the Public Domain.

©¦ Linux assailed. A small company, claiming to hold IP rights to some key components to Linux, the open source operating system, has sued IBM as a leading Linux vendor for a billion dollars.’s Farhad Manjoo talks about what it means and the likely outcomes.


media¦ Boycott. The government of Malaysia wants its citizens to stop buying CDs, DVDs, and VideoCDs. They claim that the prices are simply too high and the boycott is aimed at bringing them down.

©¦ Lotta links. The Future of Music Coalition issues a periodic newsletter dealing with IP issues, calls for action, and many others activities. The site is worth exploring, but if you do nothing more, check out their most recent dispatch.


media¦ Action alert. Common Cause, an organization that lobbies on behalf of U.S. citizens wants you to take action now to get Congress to overturn the recent media-friendly diversity-hostile ruling of the FCC. You can give them your support online. • Also, here’s Ralph Nader’s commentary about the recent FCC rules.

media¦ Open Data. If you, like many others, worry about your hard-entered data being effectively held hostage by some corporation by software obsolescence or other technical “advances”, you might wish to give your support to the Open Data Format Initiative.

©¦ Could be good. A site called Willful Infringement offers up “The movie that Disney does NOT want you to watch!” and “A report from the front lines of the real culture wars.”


©¦ It’s official.Verizon Identifies Download Suspects.”

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Ancient Town Sees Visit from the Tape-beatles

Trencin, Slovakia

Flawed Set Followed by
Drunken Revelry

The town of Trenčín, Slovakia, has deep roots, going back at least to the day that Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius had an inscription carved into a large rock outcropping that soars up in the center of the town. A millennium later, in the 10th century, this rocky tower became the site of Trenčín’s impressive castle, updated many times and, aside from a recently collapsed wall, still in a remarkable state of preservation. A further millennium’s passage of time brings the Tape-beatles’ unique form of expanded cinema to this ancient settlement.

To reach Trenčín, we drove across Moravia, and, after a long detour made necessary by road construction that took us well south of our intended route, we eventually reached the hamlet of Buchlov. We had wanted to visit the castle there, noteworthy for its collection of artifacts related to demonology; unfortunately, the castle was closed. But there in the parking lot we encountered a small girl, who couldn’t have been older than 8 or 9. Of her own initiative (and our willing encouragement), she showed us a footpath that went around the castle, giving a close up view of its stone walls and fortifications.

We soon had to say good-bye to our knowledgeable and diminutive tour guide, and just a few hours (and one easy border crossing) later reached the city center of Trenčín. There we were welcomed by Multiplace organizer Peter Mazurkovič of the group Kontakte Komunity. He took us immediately to show us our venue, a club called Area 51, whose medieval-kitsch storefront tacitly ignores its own namesake. The event was to take place under the aegis of the Multiplace Festival, with events simultaneously occurring in a handful of major towns in the Slovak Republic.

The next day, we set off on a round of sightseeing, the town being extremely worthy of such an activity. Together with Peter, we walked around the castle, and, from a high vantage point, took in the hazy bluish vista of Carpathian peaks, softly undulating hills, and the city’s residential and industrial sections stretched out beneath us on either side. We inspected the recently-collapsed castle wall, its moat, and then, heated by our exertions, stepped into a cool dark forest park with winding footpaths that took us back to the city center. We arrived at the club in the mid-afternoon.

Area 51 is an ancient cellar with arched ceilings, and the air is dank and smoky. We were given the choice of one of the underground rooms, or the courtyard by which the club’s main entrance was accessed. We chose the courtyard (thus placing our bets that it wouldn’t rain). The set-up presented only one real challenge: that of getting a large enough surface to project onto. Nearing the last minute, we finally settled on two similar screens (of slightly differing hues) placed side by side in front of the ivy-covered wall opposite the projectors. The seam that ran down the middle image was only minimally distracting during the show, as it turned out.

More distracting was the complaints about noise from the neighbors once the show had started. From our position near the projectors, it sounded as if a screaming scuffle had broken out just outside the courtyard. The end result was the need to mollify the neighbors, and so the sound volume was reduced, making the effect of the music, shall we say, less dramatic than would be our preference.

We took it in stride and finished the show without other serious mishap. In the end, the audience seemed to appreciate it anyway, and the organizers were pleased with the presentation. So it was certainly good enough in the end. After taking down the equipment, we adjourned to the bar, were we drank borovička with our new friends until early the next morning.

The next day, we determined to take an alternate route back, to avoid the detour that had derailed our progress two days before. We took in the winding roads, green fields and gentle mountains of western Slovakia, delaying our border crossing until late in the afternoon. It was nearly eleven o’clock when we finally arrived back in Prague.

Hrad Buchlov, Moravia

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