Copyright and the Weather Present a United Front
Ok, I couldn't help the pun, but this is serious stuff here. Everyone knows how I am obsessed with the weather. You also know how I am obsessed with Intellectual Property. What you may not realize, is that many Copyright scholars have long recognized an important link between the two.
One of the arguments that the content industry makes about the need for stronger intellectual property laws is that unless they are able to regulate use of their inventions/art, there is no way for them to be able to compete in the marketplace. Also note that intellectual property law in the United States is based on an economic incentive theory. That is, our entire reason for having patents and copyrights is to enable inventors and artists to have a market for their works--thus incentivizing them to produce.
One of the foremost counterexamples to the argument for enhancing IP monopolies is the Weather Industry. Long before there was open source software or Creative Commons, the National Weather Service was giving away weather forecasts for free. I even have a link to their web site on this blog. Yet, the weather industry thrives in this country. Take a look at the Weather Channel or its web site.
Well, Sen. Rick Santorum thinks this is no good. He doesn't think the Weather Channel has any right to be stealing forecasts from the government, so he's introduced a bill to prevent the National Weather Service from giving its information away. That means no more free online weather from the NWS. Please write your Senators to tell them just how ridiculous this is.
In related news, the NWS is in the midst of a notice and comment period concerning the icons they use to convey the daily weather report. I for one prefer the current icons. Please click here to give them your two cents worth.