It looks as if making a dollar in the online grocery business is a big ask.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
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
And to show that it's not just a US-based problem, local online grocer
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
The notion of "Intellectual Property," an oxymoron if there
ever was one, was explicitly denied by at least one of the
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.
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
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.
Aardvark also makes a summary of this daily column available via XML using
the RSS format. More details can be found