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Working For Peanuts? 10 July 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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It looks as if making a dollar in the online grocery business is a big ask.

In the USA, leading online grocer Webvan has gone belly-up after failing to secure the US$25 million it needed to continue trading.

Believe it or not, Webvan has eaten through some US$700 million in venture capital during its brief life on the Net. Where on earth did all that money go?

And to show that it's not just a US-based problem, local online grocer thesupermarket.co.nz pulled out of its online activities recently.

Just imagine what YOU or I could have done with that US$700 million though eh?

Guest Commentary By Hamish MacEwan
Copyright in the UK was introduced as a censorship measure, and in the US to "promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries," something I hope the are considering around this time of celebration of their Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The notion of "Intellectual Property," an oxymoron if there ever was one, was explicitly denied by at least one of the framers, Jefferson.

I mention the UK and US as they are historically and currently the major influences on NZ law and belief, and if the Hague Convention succeeds in expanding it's mandate to include such matters in it's international reach it will be US law that has the most impact here.

We have already seen the Australians adopt a DMCA-like statute and if you think the threat of trans-national enforcement of such law is unlikely, read www.gnu.org/philosophy/hague.html and discover how it has already happened.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • Intellectual oxymoron... - Brian
  • Bad Analogy... - Nigel
  • Have Your Say

    If you think you can change the law, examine the small matter of banningparallel importing into NZ. There have been two calls for public submissions, both resulted overwhelming opposition, and yet the State continues to heed someone in repeatedly bringing the matter up for discussion.

    Reward for endeavour is right, but whether the families to the Nth generation (as in the case of the authors of "Gone With The Wind" and "Les Miserables") have the right to profit from and control the ideas and expressions relating to their works is much more debatable. That such cases were even considered viable is more the worry than the outcome, rather like the notion of taxing owner occupied dwellings.

    As for life plus 75 years, or 95 years, or whether these are relevant when the technologies protected by DMCA have no provision to *ever* release the material, they don't sound like limited times to me.

    Recent successes in the Supreme Court of the US in the Tasini case will have little impact, but it is indicative of the interest, acknowleged by the petitioner, that more want to get their snouts into the trough of lifetime earnings off a single work.

    All this an more is exquisitely expressed at www.msnbc.com/news/594462.asp?cp1=1 by a cultural historian and media scholar, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise that the benefits are not accruing where they were intended.

    The elitist snobbery that suggests a "creator" of mind products deserves payment for ever, where a ditchdigger is paid once for his time and not for each use of the ditch, nor is allowed to control what may flow through the ditch, is a repugnant discrimination that should be eliminated, not extended.

    The reason the debate is so heated is that there is merit, in some small monopoly, but it has been so distorted and extended, by the usual suspects, that it is now a significance risk to all freedoms.

    How? Well surely when they can control "copyright" material they can control it all. A similar argument applies to spam, porn, name suppression et al.

    Control for one, is control for all.

    What About You?
    If you've got a commentary you'd like published in Aardvark, please contact me with an outline of the subject you'd like to write on and I'll get back to you.


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