Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Russian president calls for reform of international IP treaties

Sometimes I get that sense of the world sliding away from me - as it did for Phaedrus in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I vividly recall reading Frank Zappa's obituary in the Financial Times: that still epitomises for me how radically the world had changed in a few years, eliding the passing of an iconic cultural figure, the fact that he might qualify for an obit in that newspaper (a few years before, few of its readers would have recognised his name) and indirectly the disappearance of the Iron Curtain (brought to mind because of his appointment by Vaclav Havel as a special ambassador to the West - what a tribute for a fan to pay to a musician!).
The news that President Medvedev was talking to musicians at the Rhythm and Blues Café in Moscow might have caused similar feelings. The fact that there is such an establishment in Moscow might alone have been enough once to produce that sliding feeling, but I am reconciled to the fact that times have changed. The fact that he was arguing for reform of international IP conventions, singling out Berne and Geneva (the phonograms convention, I assume, not the red cross one), could also prompt the same sensation.
His point that those conventions are stuck in a different era, before the Internet allowed faithful copies to be sent around the world in the blink of an eye, when Frank Zappa was unknown to FT obituary writers, is well-made. The notion that downloading needs to be treated "like any other crime" is a bit worrying ... fortunately Russia is a different place from what it was in Vysotskiy's day.

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