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Yesterday the organizers of one of Europe’s largest music conferences “Popkomm” publicly announced its cancellation for 2009. Originally it was to take place in September at “Station Berlin”. In an official press statement Ralf Kleinhenz, Managing Director of Popkomm Gmbh gave the following reasons for cancelling this year’s event:

“A situation that was becoming clear early this year at Midem in Cannes also seems to be affecting Popkomm in Berlin. Despite positive reactions to the new event location and a satisfactory number of bookings by exhibitors, because of the economic situation we anticipate a considerable decline in trade visitor attendance. Out of responsibility towards the exhibitors we have therefore decided to postpone Popkomm for one year.”

While this reads like a reference to the overall economic crisis, Dieter Gorny, head of the Association of the German Music Industry, tried to reframe the cancellation into a political statement later that day:

“The digital crisis fully hits the music industry. Because of Internet piracy many companies cannot afford to take part at the Popkomm any longer. […] We want to point the way that politics finally must act to stop theft of intellectual property on the net.” (Handelsblatt,  translation L.D.)

This strategy of blaming Internet piracy for all of the music industry’s problems is not new. For years this is the chorus sung by music industry representatives whenever there is bad news. But probably piracy is too good an excuse: if one has the impression that business models and strategies are only threatened by criminals and would work otherwise, this may not be the best starting point for (self-)critical reflexion and innovation. Couldn’t it be that the music industry fails in coping with digital challenges because its major proponents have a “perfect excuse” for their management failures? In a way, their defeatism might thus performatively cause their eventual defeat. Just consider this an alternative explanation.

(leonhard)

The property rights structure over the forest in nowadays Romania looks as follows: approximately 50% state property, 50% private property, out of which 58% is commonly owned (aprox.1.5 million hectares) and 42% individual owned forests. In absolute terms the state property is 3.5 million hectares, out of which 450.000 are still to be restituted to the former owners (Romanian Forestry Department data 2007). A commonly owned private forest means the following – a village owns up 20 000 ha of forests and is entitled with one property title (http://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/archive/00001750/00/Mantescu-Vasile.pdf). Romanian law of property restitution 1/2000 forbids the selling of property rights in the case of commonly owned private forests. Lately, two legislative initiatives were pushing towards the changing of this uncomfortable legislative foresight.

If one wants to buy forest in Romania, there is one advantage – the price is ridiculous, only 2000 euros per ha, but, according to the law, there is only one quarter available for sale, the individual private forests. Nevertheless, this part is brooked-up in very little lots and still with litigious problems over the property rights. Read the rest of this entry »

On May 22, 2008 the U.S. Congress passed amendments to the Lacey Act of 1900 that make it unlawful to import, export, sell, purchase or transport in interstate or international commerce any plants or products made of plants harvested or traded in violation of domestic and international laws, including timber and timber products. These amendments may open a new era in the development of global forest governance.

For one thing, this is a U.S. law that not only bans domestic trade in goods that were produced in violation of domestic laws of the United States, U.S. States and foreign countries but also attempts to indirectly regulate the production in foreign countries. At the same time, the Lacey Act itself does not violate international free trade regulations. The Lacey Act therefore brings public forms of forest governance back in the transnational space. Another interesting thing about it is that public and private actors reactivate an old piece of legislation to address a current issue. The case of the amended Lacey Act demonstrates that actors can effectively export dormant or taken-for-granted rules from one issue domain to another to achieve their goals. Finally, the Lacey Act opens up new opportunities for a public-private cooperation: if public authorities recognize certificates issued by nonstate certification programs similar to the Forest Stewardship Council forest certification as a sufficient proof of legality of timber, this may become an incentive for producers to certify their forest management. Nonstate actors can therefore use the Lacey Act as a leverage to promote better standards of forest management among or to reward well-performing producers. Read the rest of this entry »

For this year’s Wikimania (26-28 August, Buenos Aires) I submitted an abstract of a paper comparing transnationalization processes and community relations of Creative Commons and Wikimedia. In this series I present some work in progress.

While the now famous online-encyclopedia Wikipedia was founded shortly before Creative Commons in 2001, its organizational carrier – the Wikimedia Foundation – was founded about half a year after Creative Commons had formally launched its first set of alternative copyright licenses in December 2002. Both organizations share the fundamental vision of creating and promoting a global “commons” of freely available digital goods. Wikimedia hosts a framework of hardware (webspace and bandwith), software (the wiki-engine “MediaWiki”) and legal rules (copyleft licenses) for several projects of commons-based peer production such as Wikipedia, Wikibooks or Wiktionary. Creative Commons, in turn, delivers a set of open content licenses to – not only, but also – legally enable and foster such commons-based peer production projects as put forward by Wikimedia.

Interestingly, independent from one another, both organizations very soon after their foundation started to transnationalize by developing a transnational network of locally rooted organizations. In a way, this strategic coordination of legally and financially independent organizations resembles what is called “strategic networks” in the realm of business research (see, for example, Gulati, Nohria and Zaheer 2000). Their strategies of building such an organizational network were however quite distinct. Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday the Swedish “Pirat Partiet” (“Pirate Party”) actually made it into the European Parliament with 7.1 percent of the vote (see press release). According to exit polls, the Pirat Partiet got 19 percent of the votes cast by young voters (18-30 years of age). This is remarkable for a single-issue party. But while the Swedish results can to a large degree be explained by the enormous attention for copyright issues around the Pirate Bay trial, the German “Piratenpartei” got nearly 1 percent (about 230.000 votes), as well. There, the pirate party reached its best results in urban areas with large universities such as Bremen, Frankfurt or Gießen (read about the results of the German pirate party at heise.de (German) or in Google English).

Given the fact that the Swedish Pirat Partiet as the first pirate party was founded not before 2006, the global proliferation of pirate parties is impressive: Currently, the international pirate party site (pp-international.net) lists 23 countries “where you can find a Pirate Party, or where one is starting up”. All pirate parties share a principle opposition towards the prevalent copyright regime in general and criminalization of peer-to-peer file-sharing in particular. Read the rest of this entry »

This post is provided by our first “guest blogger” Sebastian Botzem. He is research fellow at the department „Internationalization and Organization” at the Social Science Research Center (WZB) in Berlin.

Fair value accounting has been identified as one of the causes of the current global financial crisis (see, for example, on this blog “Fair Value Accounting in Retreat?“). While it would be unfair to bookkeepers, accountants, auditors and academics to make them solely responsible for the loss of wealth and jobs, the present twists and quirks with regard to accounting policy are remarkable and merit closer attention.

A good example to show that the logic of accounting is questioned is Germany’s “bad bank”  solution: In principle there seems to be agreement to clear balance sheets from heavily impaired assets in order to free up capital and cut the risk of further writedowns. How that should be done, however, remains a big question. One of the great unknowns is of course how to determine the price for the assets to be transferred. Also, it needs to be determined how and to which degree the German taxpayers are eventually being burdened with liabilities not just for years, but for decades. The legal construction is also interesting: Germany’s “bad banks” are supposed to be set up as Special Purpose Entities (SPE). Günther Merl, former speaker of Germany’s public banking rescue fund Soffin (Sonderfonds Finanzmarktstabilisierung, in English: Financial Market Stabilization Fund), has just argued in the German quality daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that the government should exempt the proposed “bad banks” from the usual regulation that applies to financial institutions. The intention of such a move is to allow for accounting provisions that treat “bad banks” not as banks. The creation of Special Purpose Entities – one cause of much of the turmoil at financial markets – to rescue financial institutions indicates the dire straits market advocates are in. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
June 2009
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