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Current Topic: Intellectual Property

WKRP In Cincinnati – Requiem For A Masterpiece
Topic: Intellectual Property 6:43 pm EDT, Apr 20, 2007

There is widespread agreement that "WKRP in Cincinnati" was one of the greatest television sitcoms ever produced. The original episodes are rightly considered to be a national treasure and cultural landmark.

Copyright law madness has destroyed it forever - plain and simple.

Ridiculous. Bad laws and bad contracts. Ugh.

WKRP In Cincinnati – Requiem For A Masterpiece

EMI, Apple partner on DRM-free premium music | CNET
Topic: Intellectual Property 4:38 pm EDT, Apr  2, 2007

EMI Group will soon sell digital music with better sound quality and no digital rights management restrictions through Apple's iTunes Store.

Wow. I am really quite amazed by this announcement! I really, honestly thought Jobs was blowing smoke.

[This is genuinely good news... I'll buy the non-DRM'ed versions henceforth, if only to show support for the decision. -k]

EMI, Apple partner on DRM-free premium music | CNET

Patenting Life
Topic: Intellectual Property 11:38 am EST, Feb 14, 2007

Last Friday, Xavier Becerra, a Democrat of California, and Dave Weldon, a Republican of Florida, sponsored the Genomic Research and Accessibility Act, to ban the practice of patenting genes found in nature.

[ A crucial question : Will it invalidate all the patents that already were issued?

Certainly, there's value in not making a bad situation worse, but for the issued patents, is there a remedy besides waiting for the patent to expire?

I think there is some complexity to this issue that Crichton leaves out which is that some researchers actually do create novel genetic sequences that are related to existing genes, but modified to do something different. Perhaps the answer is to permit patents on the outcome (for example "generating medical grade insulin from genetically modified bacteria") rather than the genetic sequences themselves. Thus, the patent is on the product or process, not the genes that enable it...

Some answers to my own questions. Per Congressman Becerra's press release, the bill is not retroactive and will require patent expiry to bring the existing patented genes back into the public domain :

The legislation gives guidance to the USPTO on what is not patentable – in this case genetic material, naturally-occurring or modified. It is not retroactive – it does not rescind the patents already issued. Patents are granted for a period of 20 years from the date that an application is originally filed.

“Thus, if we enact this bill into law quickly, we will reach balance in less than two decades – a patent-free genome that does not hinder scientific research, business enterprise, or human morality,” Rep. Becerra said.

I couldn't find the bill on THOMAS, but a bill of the same name was introduced back in 2002 by Representative Lynn Rivers [D-MI13] and, again, Representative Weldon. It would seem that the current bill is somewhat different. The 2002 bill amended the law to permit as non-infringing certain uses of patented genetic sequences. It does not, by my reading, halt or proscribe the issuance of patents on genetic sequences. The statements above appear to indicate that Becerra's and Weldon's current bill do precisely that : prevent the ongoing practice of patenting genetic sequences.

I look forward to reading the bill... perhaps someone else can find it where I failed...

-k ]

Patenting Life

Intellectual Property Evolutionists Are Wrong!
Topic: Intellectual Property 10:38 am EST, Nov 10, 2005

This is an uncomfortable issue for copyright scholars, who, if they are anything like biologists, presumably disagree with intelligent design. But we have to call the game fairly. After complaining so loudly when Disney, Diebold and NBC used copyright as a weapon, it's hypocritical to stand by and watch as others use it to bring the Kansas Board of Education into the scientific fold.

[Hear hear! Copyrights won't win that battle. This ploy will probably only hurt the students more. No, the way to win is to reinforce the *actual* meaning of science in those places still intelligent enough to grasp it, and leave religion to the social scientists who analyze it in the context of culture and history. -k]

Intellectual Property Evolutionists Are Wrong! - Snap judgments
Topic: Intellectual Property 11:16 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.

Decius Writes:
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

A miss hit
Topic: Intellectual Property 11:38 am EDT, Apr 14, 2005

Companies should wake up to the new economics of the internet, and think abundance, not shortage.

The internet is changing the entertainment business from one that is driven by hits to one that will make most of its money from misses.

[ A solid article on the long tail meme that's so very hot right now. I'm glad they discuss the fact that this all comes about due to a failure in the model of scarcity in the digital domain. Too few people get that yet. -k]

A miss hit

Boing Boing: Wil Wheaton: So, ASCAP to *license* podcasts? Readers respond.
Topic: Intellectual Property 3:02 pm EST, Feb 17, 2005

] The ASCAP license is only the tip of the iceberg: there
] are also comparable licenses for BMI and SESAC, two other
] performing rights organizations; mechanical rights from
] the Harry Fox Agency, _and_ a "master use license" to be
] negotiated with the record labels for each track. The
] latter can be under any terms the label chooses, and they
] can refuse you outright.

This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. The corrupt world of Digital rights clearance. If you click on the link at the bottom of this story to Matt May's blog there are comments from me at the very end.

[ It's an interesting discussion... -k]

Boing Boing: Wil Wheaton: So, ASCAP to *license* podcasts? Readers respond.

EFF: This Land isn't your land
Topic: Intellectual Property 11:24 am EDT, Jul 27, 2004

] "This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of
] Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody
] caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty
] good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish
] it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote
] it, that's all we wanted to do."

[ Whether Mr. Guthrie would approve of this current usage or not, it's always a little unfortunate when money dictates art. -k]

EFF: This Land isn't your land

Copyright Office wants to ban VCRs
Topic: Intellectual Property 2:43 pm EDT, Jul 23, 2004

] While you have carefully crafted this bill to preserve
] the 20-year-old decision in the Sony case, it may become
] necessary to consider whether that decision is overly
] protective of manufacturers and marketers of infringement
] tools...

This is an extremely biased opinion for an executive agency to be presenting.

Today, the way things work, is that if a tool has non-infringing uses then its legal. The induce act flips this standard around 180 degrees and says if a tool has infringing uses then its illegal. There are many shades of gray in here that we could be having a reasonable discussion about. Instead we have this radical non-sense, and its coming from the people we pay to offer reasonable technical perspectives.

This isn't the first time that people working in the Intellectual Property arena in our government have proven to be foaming at the mouth copyright maximalists. Recently our UN abassador to WIPO argued that WIPO had no business discussing open source software because a discussion of anything other then "all rights reserved" is apparently inappropriate for an Intellectual Property organization. I concur with this author that some serious house cleaning needs to occur. People need to be fired.

[ Hear hear. I have only one nit to pick, which is mainly semantic, but i was under the impression that the wording of the law required "substantial non-infringing uses", i.e. there is a threshold you must meet in terms of having other functions. The threshold is, i think, left up for interpretation, but nonetheless, the non-infringing uses must be something more than token. Within the gray area you mention is discussion of where that line is drawn. Must 50% of the utility be legal? 10%? 90%?. Obviously people Ms. Peters and the *AA's want it to be a lot closer to 100%.
In the meantime, the patent and copyright offices could do with a major top-to-bottom thrashing in this country. -k]

Copyright Office wants to ban VCRs

Wired News: Pocket PCs Masquerade as IPods
Topic: Intellectual Property 5:20 pm EST, Mar  9, 2004

] StarBrite is selling a pPod, a virtual iPod for Pocket
] PCs, that -- given Apple's past tolerance for knockoffs
] -- may not be available for very long.
] ...
] The application fills the Pocket PC's entire screen with
] a faithful facsimile of the iPod, including the player's
] distinctive scroll wheel and four buttons for playing,
] pausing and so on.

[ I have a feeling these people are gonna get an apple branded smackdown in short order. What do people think? Legal issues aside, I think it's pretty tacky, like shiny-plastic fake chrome "rims" on a '94 Corolla. Imitation may be flattery, but it's also lame about 90% of the time.

On to those legal issues, later in the article we read :

] Brian Ferguson, an intellectual property lawyer with
] McDermott, Will & Emery in Washington, D.C., said he
] wasn't familiar with Apple's patent portfolio, but if
] the iPod is patent-protected -- and it likely is --
] the software may well infringe on the patent.
] "I'm just speculating, but I'd be surprised if Apple
] didn't patent-protect some of the ideas in the iPod,"
] he said. "If it does infringe on the patents, end of
] story."

Expect total domination. And then whining. -k]

Wired News: Pocket PCs Masquerade as IPods

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