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“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

If Mahatma Ghandi’s famous this description of political struggles applies to Creative Commons’ quest for an alternative copyright, then the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has just entered stage three: open battle.

In a letter to members (see Part 1, Part 2) ASCAP asks for donations with the following rationale (see BoingBoing):

“At this moment, we are facing our biggest challenge ever. Many forces including Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation and technology companies with deep pockets are mobilizing to promote ‘Copyleft’ in order to undermine our ‘Copyright.’ They say they are advocates of consumer rights, but the truth is these groups simply do not want to pay for the use of our music. Their mission is to spread the word that our music should be free.”

According to this statement, the biggest enemies of copyright holders are no longer “pirates” and respective platforms such as “The Pirate Bay” (see also “Framing Piracy“) but rather NGO’s and unnamed corporations pursuing a copyright reform agenda. Read the rest of this entry »

Environmental groups and the public worldwide are seriously concerned about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after the explosion of the BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling rig. The disaster has turned into a catastrophe and is likely to affect the environmental, social and economic condition of the Gulf of Mexico’s shore in years and decades to come. Neither the BP nor the U.S. Government really knows what to do to stop the oil leak. The U.S. Government blames the oil multinational. The BP seems to be unable to deal with the situation. Moreover, other oil companies do not seem to possess any adequate means to deal with similar situations. The BP’s stock price has gown down dramatically. It postponed dividend payments to its shareholders. Thousands of people, e.g. fishermen, have lost the source of income. What are people going to learn from this story? What are the probable scenarios of further developments and what are the likely consequences for the oil industry? Read the rest of this entry »

One of the things that make blogs particularly interesting are series. The “series” series recommends series at related blogs. This time, Phil takes up the initiative and introduces a series he has particularly enjoyed: the book chapter releases on David Roodman’s Microfinance Open Book Blog.

Okay, maybe technically this isn’t really a series. But since February 2009, when David Roodman (who is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development CGDEV and also the father of the fascinating “Committment to Development Index”, CDI) began sharing the progress he was making on his new book, his blog has become one of the most prolific and insightful blogs about microfinance. And on that blog, the central recurring theme has been the book chapters which David has incrementally released.

David’s book (which, it seems, is now finished to a draft level) was presented via occasional single-chapter releases. These frequently produced interesting discussions among the blog’s growing readership, which notably includes an array of high-profile development intelligentsia members like Harvard Professor Lant Pritchett, senior cooperative banking expert Hans-Dieter Seibel, and development über-academic Bill Easterly.

Perhaps it is less the book and more the wide range of controversial issues covered – from double-borrowing and microfinance bubbles to the heavy-hitting disappointing RCT impact studies (and the industry’s disappointing reaction to them) – processed through Roodman’s brilliant analysis, which have led his readership to read his take again and again.

Most laudably, this blog also gives outspoken microfinance critics like Milford Bateman an open forum to engage in cultured discussion with microfinance’s supporter community away from the less tolerant industry-operated “discussion” forums. I too don’t see eye-to-eye with David on many issues concerning microfinance, and would often consider a more critical tone to be justified. But his blog and the upcoming book definitely provide some of the sharpest and most thoughtful discussions of those questions which currently shake and shape the microfinance industry (against its will), and make microfinance the controversial subject which it is. Big props.

(phil)

This post is provided by our “guest blogger” Elke Schüßler. Elke Schüßler is postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Management at Freie Universität Berlin.

As part of a larger research program on so-called field configuring events (FCEs) in the German music industry, Leonhard Dobusch and I took a closer look at the question of how the issue of copyright is represented at – and in turn framed by – music festivals, fairs, and conferences where the issue of copyright (or, more generally, the question of the future of the music industry in its multiple forms) is discussed by a diversity of field actors (see working paper). The concept of FCEs comes from organization theory (see Garud 2008 for a scholarly example) and refers to events as temporally and spatially bounded arenas for networking, sensemaking, and debate with a potentially larger impact. We consider such FCEs as a discursive focusing lens hosting different “discourse coalitions” and their respective “story lines” (see Hajer 1993) and argue that the way the event landscape evolves can be taken as a representation of how the field evolves with respect to certain issues.

Empirically, we first analyzed at the evolution of the event landscape in the pre- and post-Napster period (1995-2001 and 2001-2009, respectively). We identified 27 events in the German music industry that fulfilled our selection criteria and that we classified as conservationist, reformist, radicalist, or neutral with respect to copyright. We observe a steady rise in the number of events, from only 3 in the year 1997 to 20 in the year 2009 (see Figure 1).  There is now a larger number of radicalist and reformist than conservationist events and, accordingly, the majority of newly founded events had either a radicalist (5 events) or a reformist (7 events) orientation.

We further conducted a comparative in-depth discourse analysis of three selected events in the year 2009, a critical year for the German music event landscape: the traditional main industry event, the “Popkomm”, sponsored predominantly by the major labels and canceled in 2009 with reference to “illegal downloads”; the all2gethernow (a2n), an impromptu collective act of the independent players in the industry to fill the gap and to counter the claims of the Popkomm; and the c/o pop festival founded in Cologne in 2004 associated with the digital music business. Our aim was to identify compatible and incompatible story lines, associate them with certain actor groups (not) participating at these events, and link them to the related event- and field-level practices. In a comprehensive media analysis we identified 34 different claims with respect to copyright made in the context of these events and, again, classified them as conservationist, reformist, radicalist, or neutral.

Read the rest of this entry »

Last week consumers around world learned about the place our mobile phones, ipods, iPads and PlayStations are produced: In production facilities in China, owned by a Taiwanese company called Foxconn, which produces for brands such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung and Dell. Consumers learned that Foxconn is the biggest producer of electronic goods, employs over 400.000 workers in the Shenzhen province, 11 workers committed suicide this year. Consumers also learned that the official annual suicide rate in China is 13 per 100,000 workers. And Terry Gou, the founder of Foxconn recapitulates that his factory is below the official norm.

The rising protest inside China but also abroad which followed these tragic incidents, reveal a lot about the new dynamics in the fight for improvements of working conditions in Chinese factories: a dynamic which combines strong local critique, which does not leave the government untouched, with international outrage against the major customers.

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 2010
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