Monday, October 29, 2012

Monopoly, Zynga, and Copyright (Link Round-Up 10/29/12)



China has lost $3.79 trillion from money laundering since 2000
Apart from the fact that rampant tax evasion—likely to be the largest component of illicit outflows—have reduced tax revenues, the loss of capital has directly contributed to a worsening of China’s income inequality. Around the late 1970s, when the process of economic transition from a closed to an open market system started in China, the country had a relatively egalitarian society. Since then, China’s income distribution has become increasingly skewed, with the Gini coefficient—the international standard for measuring income inequality in a country—rising from .31 in 1981 to.47 in 2008. The rising inequality is also taking a toll on average household consumption, which declined by over 10 percentage points of GDP since the early 1980s. Indeed, increasing income inequality remains the soft underbelly of China’s impressive rise in the world economy and presents a serious challenge for maintaining social and political stability. That income inequality is a sensitive issue is borne by the fact that the government has not released official data on the Gini coefficient since 2000. Officials are doubtless aware that data on household income, which are obtained through government-sponsored surveys, are unlikely to reflect foreign holdings of illicit assets by high net worth individuals, thereby understating the already bad news regarding income distribution.
Burma's leader admits deadly attacks on Muslims
Thein Sein's acknowledgement follows the release of satellite images showing the severe scale of the destruction in one coastal town, where most – if not all – of the Muslim population appears to have been displaced and their homes destroyed.

The pictures, acquired by Human Rights Watchshow destruction to the coastal town of Kyaukpyu in the country's west. They reveal an area of destruction 35 acres in size in which some 811 buildings and boats have been destroyed.

The images confirm reports of an orgy of destruction in the town which occurred in a 24-hour period in the middle of last week after violence in the province broke out again on 21 October.
How a Supreme Court ruling may stop you from reselling just about anything
"This case is an attempt by some brands and manufacturers to manipulate copyright law, to control the distribution and pricing of legitimate, authentic goods," said eBay's top policy lawyer, Hillary Brill. "When an American purchases an authentic item, he shouldn't have to ask permission from the manufacturer to do with it what he wants."

Content companies would be allowed to control use of their goods forever. They could withhold permission for resale and possibly even library lending—or they could allow it, but only for an extra fee. It would have the wild effect of encouraging copyrighted goods to be manufactured offshore, since that would lead to much further-reaching powers under copyright.

"When we purchase something, we assume it's ours," said Overstock.com general counsel Mark Griffin. "What is proposed by [the content companies] is that we change the fundamental notion of ownership rights."

Book publishers and their content-industry allies say those concerns are overblown. No assault on libraries and garage sales is forthcoming, they argue. These organizations simply have a right to set different prices abroad, without being undermined in the US by importation they say is illegal.
Anonymous leaks confidential Zynga documents, over mistreating employees
As you know, gaming company Zynga laid off employees last week and shut down a few of its offices right before its quarterly earnings call. Well, Zynga has pissed off the online group Anonymous, and it’s quite serious. Here’s a video just released by them, discussing exactly what it plans to do and why. CNet is also reporting on this story, and we’re actively checking to see if this is a legitimate maneuver.

According to Business Insider, the group is threatening to take down both Zynga and Facebook on November 5th.
Monopoly - stolen game idea turned monopoly
Sometime in 1932, Darrow copied the layout of the board, the rules of play, the property names, the deed values, and the Chance cards, and made his own version of the game. His only innovation seems to have been to claim the mantle of sole inventor. He would soon be assumed into the pantheon of American heroes of commerce.

The irony was not lost on Anspach. Before being monopolized by a single person working in tandem with a corporation, Monopoly had in fact been “invented” by many people—not just Magie and the Raifords but also the unknown player who gave the game its moniker and the unsung Ardenite who had perhaps aided Magie in advancing its rules. The game that today stresses the ruthlessness of the individual and defines victory as the impoverishment of others was the product of communal labor.

None of the information Anspach uncovered helped his case when it went to trial in 1976. The widows of Eugene and Jesse Raiford testified, as did seven other witnesses who claimed to have played monopoly as many as twenty years before Darrow marketed his game. Anspach even put Robert Barton, the former president of Parker Brothers, on the stand. Barton, who was pivotal in helping Darrow secure a patent for his “invention,” admitted under oath that he was fully aware of the game’s history and that he knew Darrow had not in fact invented it. The judge was unmoved. He dismissed Anspach’s complaint, ordering all unsold copies of Anti-Monopoly to be “deliver[ed] up for destruction.” Seven thousand of the games were bulldozed into a garbage dump in rural Minnesota, where officials from Parker Brothers oversaw the interment.
How Cretaceous plankton led to Democratic voting blocks in the South
In this 2000 census, you can see that the counties with the biggest populations of African-Americans still trace that Cretaceous shoreline.

This, says marine biologist McClain, explains that odd stretch of Obama blue; it's African-Americans sitting on old soil from ancient organisms that turned sunshine into fertilizer. So plankton remain a force in Southern elections — though not always, not continuously. After the Civil War, when the South voted solidly Democratic and Jim Crow laws ruled, many blacks couldn't vote, so the pattern disappears. Voting rights laws hadn't been passed during the Goldwater-Johnson election of 1964, so in this map, the African-American difference is invisible.
Clinton in Algeria for talks on Mali, Al-Qaeda
Secretary Clinton talked with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika about backing West African efforts against Islamic extremists in northern Mali.

When a March coup toppled the government in Bamako, militant groups in the north imposed a strict version of Islamic law. The terrorist group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM, expanded its operations in northern Mali, moving to extend its reach throughout the Sahel.

Clinton said AQIM is working with other extremists to undermine democratic transitions in North Africa, and played a role in the September attack on the U.S. mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

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