Sunday, July 22, 2007

Resources, Sales. Resources, Overpackaging, and Resources

I went to the store to buy laundry detergent and ended up being pissed off. I went to get the brand I normally buy and instead of finding the normal package I saw clear plastic bags containing the detergent I wanted plus a small container of "free" fabric softener for "jeans". I do not own any jeans and therefore do not want jeans' softener, and I absolutely hate being forced to get something for "free", which I am not going to use and end up throwing away.

This is simply a waste of resources. Not only people will buy something which they do not want and which gets thrown out, but it is also overpackaging, because the company decided to use an extra outside container that would not otherwise be used. And why did the company do it? Of course, to sell more detergent!

What to be really makes this relevant today is that much of what I have been hearing late (for example, during the Live Earth concerts) is how individuals can do to prevent global warming. That is fine, but the majority of carbon emissions is industrial and commercial, not residential.

When industry decides it wants to increase its sales without any other considerations such as overpackaging, waste production, resources used, etc. then nothing will ever happen on global warming even if every person changes his light bulbs. We must make industry as responsible, if not more so, then the average citizen.

Remember, nothing is really ever free.

P.S. I ended up buy a different brand of detergent.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Copyright - should we question it?

Coincidently during my writing of the last blog Copyright??? versus Environment. There was an interesting discussion about copyright on slashdot. This led to me looking at the website for an organization I had never heard of called Their objective is exactly what their name suggests, to question copyright -- at least as it exists today.

I have always been bothered about copyright. Here is a statement from the World Trade Organization website "Intellectual property rights are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time" (emphasis added). NOT!

I am a scientist and if I write an article to most journals, you must sign away the copyright to the journal's publisher. The publisher is not the creator. Then I am explicitly prevented from doing anything else with the article I wrote. I not only do not have an exclusive right, I almost no rights. I find as a writer that attitude repugnant.

I once knew the author of a book on geology. The publisher owned the copyright and gave him 10 cents! for each book sold.

The issue always in the news is about copyright is music. They say "we need to protect our (sic) copyright, so that the musicians get there money". Now, take a good look at your music CD's. Who owns the copyright? The music publishing company, not the musicians.

In 1998, the US extended their copyrights by twenty years under heavy lobbying by major producers. It was even nicknamed the "Mickey Mouse Protection Act" because of the pressure by the Disney Company. It is now the life of the author plus 70 years! (Most countries it is 50 years after the author's death). Some people have even argued it should be forever! Why?, so publishing company can continue to make big profits. Disney is said to make 6 billion dollars a year from holding the copyright on Winnie the Pooh (the author died in 1956).

The bottom line is that there are lots of people are making lots of money off of copyright who show no creativity, while the creative people make little or nothing. It is the damn right time to start questioning copyright.