Category Archives: politics

Why the tech industry can’t “go on the offensive” against IP laws

It’s SOPA blackout day today.

At Hacker News, most SOPA related stories have a comment something like “It is time to stop being defensive. The tech sector has lots of money, it should get together to lobby and go on the offensive against the RIAA and MPAA instead”

What no one seems to realize is that the large players in “the tech sector” generally do not have interests which align well with one another.

The biggest us tech companies by market cap are:

  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • Google
  • Oracle
  • Intel
  • Verizon
  • Cisco
  • Qualcomm
  • Amazon

Why would Microsoft, IBM and Oracle lobby for a decrease in copyright length (as has been suggested)[1]. Why would Apple, Intel, Cisco and Qualcomm lobby for patent reform when a great deal of their value is in the form of patents?

If I was trying to organize a “tech lobby group” I’d lobby on two things:

  1. Hands off the Internet. I don’t think this needs explaining, but will be a hard, hard fight. All tech companies should benefit from this.
  2. Compulsory licensing of streaming video. Currently music streaming is compulsory licensed (which allows Pandora etc to exist), and this arrangement should be extended to video. This would enable a huge number of video-related startups to legally build innovative solutions around copyrighted materials, while still giving revenue to the owners of the content owners. Every tech company would benefit either directly or indirectly from this. Also, the MPAA would hate it (even if they should be lobbying for it themselves).





Sunshine disinfects.. unless you live in Australia

So I’ve been quite interested in the work TheyWorkForYou have been doing in the UK. It seemed like a good idea to do something similar for Australia – after all we have an election due soonish, and what’s another project to add to my list?

I figured that a good thing to start with would be to create some kind of API to give access to Member of Parliament’s financial interests. After all, it was only a few months ago when the former Federal Minister for Aging Santo Santoro had to resign over his financial dealings.

I was hoping I’d be able to find a page on the Parliament website which I could screen scrape and use as a data source for an API. After quite a lot of searching I was forced to send an email asking for help.

From that inquiry I found that neither the Senate nor the Representative’s Register of Pecuniary Interests is available online, or in any electronic form at all. The only way to see it is to physically go to Canberra, make an appointment and then copy the it which interest you.

As tempting as that sounds, I think I might start somewhere else….