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Current Topic: Intellectual Property

Opinion Column by PC Magazine: Creative Commons Humbug
Topic: Intellectual Property 12:07 pm EDT, Jul 21, 2005

Dubbed Creative Commons, this system is some sort of secondary copyright license that, as far as I can tell, does absolutely nothing but threaten the already tenuous "fair use" provisos of existing copyright law. This is one of the dumbest initiatives ever put forth by the tech community. I mean seriously dumb.

Dvorak rails on Creative Commons. I think he is intentionally pretending to be more confused about it then he really is, because he wants to make a point. People are unbeleivably dumb when it comes to licenses. I recall dealing with a guy once who had published a software library that said both public domain and all rights reserved on it. His responses to my queries about this were nonsentical.

CC is being promoted as "hip," particularly by BoingBoing and related community. People who would otherwise put their stuff in the public domain are putting CC no commercial use licences on them instead. There is a risk that this will remove more content from the public domain then it will add. Furthermore, you are now starting to see people release source code that is "Creative Commons licensed." Creative Commons doesn't have a license for source code.

Why doesn't Creative Commons has a small commerical use license that lets the work be used commercially as long as the revenue generated by the context of the use is under a certain amount ($50,000)?

Opinion Column by PC Magazine: Creative Commons Humbug

Slashdot | We Don't Need the GPL Anymore
Topic: Intellectual Property 10:20 am EDT, Jul  1, 2005

"Open source would be succeeding faster if the GPL didn't make lots of people nervous about adopting it." From the article: "I don't think the GPL is the principal reason for Linux's success. Rather, I believe it's because in 1991 Linus was the first person to find the right social architecture for distributed software development."

Eric Raymond has said a lot of things that I strongly disagree with. This time, however, I think he is exactly right. There have been sparse few who've contributed to open source projects because they had to, and none of that "had to" code has been fundamental to the success of the system. On the other hand, the GPL has held projects back.

Slashdot | We Don't Need the GPL Anymore

SCOTUSblog - Discussion: Grokster
Topic: Intellectual Property 3:46 pm EDT, Jun 26, 2005

Tommorow is the big day. This URL should have lots of links and analysis as the decision comes down.

SCOTUSblog - Discussion: Grokster

EFF: DeepLinks - Follow up on request for Broadcast Flag advocacy
Topic: Intellectual Property 5:45 pm EDT, Jun 22, 2005

By 6 p.m. on Tuesday, the 27 members of the Senate Appropriations Committee received more than 11,000 emails and faxes. That's nearly 500 faxes an hour. Dianne Feinstein alone received more than 2,600 messages in her inbox. Kay Hutchison, the senior senator for Texas, received 1,441 letters.

EFF: DeepLinks - Follow up on request for Broadcast Flag advocacy

Putting the DMCA on trial | Perspectives | CNET
Topic: Intellectual Property 9:58 am EDT, Jun 21, 2005

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and its ideological allies argue that this kind of license is invalid and unenforceable because of a "fair use" right to reverse engineer. I'm not so sure about that, though.

The real question should be: Would a reasonable person expect to find that kind of restriction in a software license agreement? If the answer is yes, it's a legal contract. (Courts have properly ruled that unexpected fine print in a standard contract, such as a no-alcohol-at-all clause in a car rental agreement, is unenforceable.)

Nobody is forcing Blizzard customers to click "I agree." In fact, they can return the software for a full refund if they don't like the fine print. Or they can continue the reverse-engineering process without the benefit of having the software installed normally--a more difficult task, but not impossible.

Don't be surprised if the 8th Circuit chooses tried-and-true contract law over the hacker ethic.

This is wrong on so many levels, and yet possibly correct. The fact that you might expect to find a restriction doesn't make it reasonable. The idea of reverse engineering software without installing it is a bit silly. We ought to have the right to take things apart. However, this is something that probably can only be done with legislation. We'll see how this case sorts out.

Putting the DMCA on trial | Perspectives | CNET

Wendt v. Host
Topic: Intellectual Property 8:51 pm EDT, Jun 13, 2005

In prior cases, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had broadly construed California's right of publicity law. The term "likeness" was held to encompass a robot which caricatured Vanna White's features. (The robot wore a blonde wig, and was turning letters on what looked like a "Wheel of Fortune" set). Although the free speech principles of the United States Constitution would allow parody of Vanna White, Samsung Electronics wasn't just doing a parody for amusement or entertainment. It was using the Vanna-robot to sell Samsung products.

Samsung lost. I think this is a terrible decision. There is a line here, but Samsung didn't cross it.

Wendt v. Host - Snap judgments
Topic: Intellectual Property 9:17 am EDT, Jun  7, 2005

The trade group sent a wake-up call to the photofinishing industry when, in 1999, it sued Kmart Corp., alleging that the discount store violated federal copyright law by copying images without the permission of the copyright owners.

In 2000, Kmart settled the case by paying $100,000 and agreeing to implement procedures to guard against the unlawful copying of professional photos.


Watson said the manager of the photo department "felt" that three of the photos were possibly taken professionally. "I offered to sign anything, but there was just no way around it for them," Watson said. "They were not going to print them.

Man, I hate this crap. People that work behind the counter at Kinkos and Walmart do not understand copyright law and they are not well equiped to make spot judgements about what is and is not illegal. The result is that copyright enforcement consists of "I think you look like a punk kid so I'm not going to copy this." As a rule, I don't use Kinkos anymore because everytime I go in there I have some busybody trying to prevent me from doing business with them.

The absolute most annoying case was when I was required (by law) to make color photocopies of a government ID and the idiot at Kinkos insisted that I was commiting a crime and threatened to call the police.

There is a fundamental policy flaw in this, but I'm not sure where to pin it. The government has never required cash register clerks at these outlets to act as judge, jury, and executioner for copyright law. These companies have gotten sued by copyright owners who were not satisfied with actually suing the person who violated their copyright, but wanted to go after someone with big pockets (very honorable, indeed). The companies settled, partially because its cheaper then a suit, and partially because they didn't have the forsight to go through with a suit.

There ought to be a law which limits the liability of printing services. - Snap judgments

Schneier on Security: DHS Enforces Copyright
Topic: Intellectual Property 9:32 am EDT, Jun  2, 2005

Why is the Department of Homeland Security involved in copyright issues?

Mission Creep, and the self perpetuating nature of government.

Schneier on Security: DHS Enforces Copyright

Creative Commons kills people with AIDS
Topic: Intellectual Property 11:41 am EDT, May 23, 2005

I'm quoting the story but I'm linking to Lessig's response to the story, which which links to the story.

] While Fraser has written more than 150 songs, continuing
] royalties from radio and TV use of two compositions --
] "All Right Now" and "Every Kinda People" (first recorded
] by Robert Palmer) -- generate most of his income. Had he
] given up his rights to those early hits, he would not
] have the resources to cover his treatment for AIDS.

] Such a decision might have been tragic...
] "No one should let artists give up their rights," he
] says.

Creative Commons kills people with AIDS

Political copyright
Topic: Intellectual Property 9:50 pm EDT, May 15, 2005

] No Derivative Works. Others may copy, distribute,
] display, and perform only verbatim copies of the work,
] not derivative works based upon it.

John Edwards has started podcasting. In theory you cannot make a derivative work from his podcasts. Of course, this is because he is afraid that you might take this audio and sample it in a political attack ad. This raises an interesting question: Is there any derivative work that you would want to make from a John Edwards podcast which would not constitute a fair use of the material. It seems that attack ads in particular would be protected speech.

Political copyright

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