NDN Blog

Protecting IP the Chinese Way

Jumping off James' earlier mention of intellectual property, I came across this very interesting article in the NY Times from last week.

Instead of the FBI or Moby checking Limewire and suing Napster (to the chagrin of many high school and college students), "the Hong Kong government plans to have 200,000 youths search Internet discussion sites for illegal copies of copyrighted songs and movies, and report them to the authorities" -- an interesting tack for a country with extraordinary levels of piracy.

While the effectiveness of such a program may be in question, Hong Kong looks to long-term goals: "Educating youths to respect copyrights is a central goal of the program, officials said." Despite the long term goals, this certainly represents a different, and I use that term loosely, method to solving a growing problem on both sides of the Pacific.


The Financial Times this morning prominently quotes Rob Shapiro, the Director of our Globalization Initiative, on the launch of the Hamilton Project's latest tranche of work. In something of a confirmation of arguments Rob and the rest of us have been making, the FT reports that this morning news: "Summers and Rubin to highlight lagging US wages".

Larry Summers, the last Treasury secretary of the Clinton administration, will on Tuesday join Robert Rubin, his immediate predecessor, in a high-profile drive to highlight stagnation in wage growth for the majority of workers in the US economy.

The article goes on to look in some detail at the recent dismal performance on incomes, which we and others have reported here before. The piece quotes Rob twice, in the first of which he links the wages issue back to Globalization

“What we are seeing is a major structural shift in the way the US economy works,” says Rob Shapiro, head of the New Democrat Network’s Globalisation Initiative, a centrist advocacy group. “The ripple effects caused by the supply shock of the entry of hundreds of millions of Chinese workers into the global economy has changed the way American workers benefit from trade.”

I'll be attending the Hamilton event. I'll have some reflections on it later. Rob and Simon are also planning a new Memo, which we will release later today and post on the blog, giving our updated thinking on some of these economic issues. 




Various interesting things around the newspapers this morning. The President's startlingly sucessful approach to trade policy continued yesterday with the final collapse of the Doha round. We all knew it was coming, but its still disappointing. We can't be too partisan on this issue. Its deathly complicated, and not exactly anyone's fault in particular that it failed.  As the Economist pointed out last month, the President pretty much signalled he'd given up on it when he moved Portman to OMB. (Given the failure, though, it is certainly legitimate to ask if the President's political decision to impose Steel tarrifs - which we know cost consumers millions of dollars - were worth the cost.) What we can say for sure is that the failure is a victory for fear over leadership; politicians in Europe, America and elsewhere have largely caved to their producer interests, rather than acting in the long-term interest of growth in the global economy. And, as the WAPO points out, it does tend to be exporters of commodity goods in the poorest countries that lose out most. Given the state the negotiations seem to be in, this means there is precious little chance of making progress until after the next election. With luck, though, that means a different party will be in charge. 

Elsewhere, NDN's Globalization Initiative is planning to do more work on Intellectual Property in the future, an under covered political issue. To that extent, its good to see a piece in the FT this morning highlighting how Europeans are understanding that "Patents are key to taking on China."Given the current administrations poor record of prosecuting international IP issues through the WTO and elsewhere, we can only hope they might also begin to make protection of IP more of a priority. 

The Quality of so-called Bottom-Up Video

If you have not done it yet, you should just go to youtube.com and check out various videos in order to get a sense of what this bottom-up video phenomenon is all about. A random visit runs the risk of you only coming across silly things that are poorly done – and that lead you to believe that the whole development is useless. Don’t fall into that trap. There are all kinds of gems sprinkled in there, and they point towards more amazing productions to come.

I came across this random video from two young guys who probably are worth keeping an eye on. It shows how the simple tools of digital cameras and inexpensive editing software can come up with very funny and well-done pieces. These guys might be on their way to making a living doing this, or maybe it will remain simply a creative outlet. Either way, it proves the point. This new video distribution system is going to open up the playing field for many new talents, either professional or amateur. And those new players are bound to impact politics.

Peter Leyden

Political "Web Widget" from Sunlight Labs

I really like the idea behind the "Sunlight Labs" effort:

"Sunlight Labs is a Sunlight Foundation pilot project to prototype tech ideas to improve government transparency and political influence disclosure. We also provide technical support to Sunlight Foundation sponsored projects.

Lab projects are experiments. Play with them, even add them to your website if you feel brave. We like to collaborate with others to pool resources and facilitate sharing of data and technologies. A current major focus is working with the such partners developing APIs — Application Program Interfaces — which allows one program to talk to another and share data."

I specifically like their first project a web app, politician popup web service...

"Imagine pressing one button and finding everything you need and want to know about a member of Congress, or a corporation, labor union or individual trying to influence her. Web 2.0 technologies - Web services, API's, XML, AJAX, RSS - now make that possible."

It allows any blogger or website to include a little more than one line of code to their sites and then they get an "AJAX-based widget that adds mini-profiles with links of Members of Congress to your page that appear when you mouseover [a hyperlink of their name]."

In some ways you have to see it in action to really get it. But it is a cool distriubted web service -- and the first overtly political webservice I've come accross -- and is available for anyone to use.

The Sunlight labs project page goes on in more depth on the future of this project:

"Sunlight Labs is readying various flavors of the widget for increased scalability. The basic widget can be added to a web site or blog by simply adding the Javascript and style sheet to the page's headers and then manually adding a properly formed linked to each members of congress name where a popup is desired....Other flavors include local server-side PHP code to automatically search and replace members of congress's names with the necessary links. Sunlight has built a Drupal plugin that does this for our own site, www. sunlightfoundation.com, and also built a WordPress 2.0 plugin as well. Plugins for the major blogging and CMS platforms are planned and SunlightLabs is eager to find open source developers to help accomplish this and extend the the plugin."


DLC publication

Our friends at the Democratic Leadership Council today published their American Dream Initiative. This has been a year-long research project lead by Senator Hillary Clinton, and in which NDN is proud to have been a partner organisation. The main proposal from the initiative is a plan to help many more Americans attend college over the next ten years. There are also a number of articles on the same subject in the latest edition of the DLC's Blueprint magazine, including an overview by Clinton and others. These documents are an important part of the ongoing thinking happening in all parts of the Democratic family in advance of November, and on the road to '08. Just as excitingly, the Brooking's Hamilton Project will have a big launch tomorrow profiling some of the latest thinking on Economics. NDN - or rather, I - will be attending the launch, and i'll report back on it tomorrow in more details.

Monday morning roundup

Most important piece I saw today was an op-ed from Arlen Specter defending his new bill to grant FISA the authority to declare an eavesdropping practice legal and constitutional. I don't always agree with Specter, but he is a smart man. On this one he doesn't really persuade me. Many newspapers had a related story about growing concerns that the President is remaking laws passed by Congress as he sees fit.

The Post has an indepth look at the fall elections today. And the Times has an interesting look at María Celeste Arrarás, a Spanish-accented Telemundo anchor who has been filling in for Katie Couric.

In the gee, this governing thing is hard category, we have three morning entrees: Pakistan ramps up its nuclear program; surprise, it is hard to recruit folks into the Iraqi police; and our tactics in fighting the Iraqi insurgency probably made it worse.

And if you haven't read it, check out the memo summarizing our new poll of Hispanics that has gotten so much attention.

Broder writes about our poll in his nationally syndicated column today

Even Republican Senator Mel Martinez agrees with our findings - the Republicans have been very seriously damaged in the Hispanic community this year. 

You can read his important column here.  For more on our poll visit www.ndn.org/hispanic

Not so much blogging this weekend

Am off on a trip with my family this weekend, so not too much blogging. 

More Monday. 

Syndicate content