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Current Topic: Intellectual Property

The Case Against COICA | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Topic: Intellectual Property 7:58 am EST, Nov 18, 2010

Peter Eckersley:

COICA gives the government dramatic new copyright enforcement powers, in particular the ability to make entire websites disappear from the Internet if infringement, or even links to infringement, are deemed to be "central" to the purpose of the site.

Instead of passing dangerous anti-innovation bills like COICA, Congress should be working to clear the licensing roadblocks that make it hard for new businesses and new models to emerge, thrive, and pay creators.

Senator Leahy is leading the government into the swamp of trying to decide which websites should be blacklisted and which ones shouldn't, and they're going to discover that the line between copyright infringement and free political speech can be awfully murky.


We should be screaming at Leahy. I'm so disappointed to see him backing something like this. He is usually computer literate. I used to think he was one of the few people in Congress whose positions I could trust. Unfortunately I'll have to view him with suspicion from now on. He has consorted with the devil.

It could be worse:

The Hong Kong government has unveiled a plan to use 200,000 young people from organizations like the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides as watchdogs for internet copyright infringement. Many civil liberties advocates question the use of teenagers in state-sponsored law enforcement.

Mark Kingwell:

What is the only thing worse than un-civil discourse? No discourse at all.


Oh, wait, is copyright protection preventing you from accessing the work of an author who died 99 years ago?

Vint Cerf:

The Internet is for everyone -- but it won't be if Governments restrict access to it ...

The Case Against COICA | Electronic Frontier Foundation

A Tendency To Flow The Other Way
Topic: Intellectual Property 7:46 am EST, Nov  8, 2010

Jasper Rees:

Known to its creators and participating artists as the Underbelly Project, the space, where all the show's artworks remain, defies every norm of the gallery scene. Collectors can't buy the art. The public can't see it. And the only people with a chance of stumbling across it are the urban explorers who prowl the city's hidden infrastructure or employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

That's because the exhibition has been mounted, illegally, in a long-abandoned subway station.

Steven Johnson:

When you share a civic culture with millions of people, good ideas have a tendency to flow from mind to mind, even when their creators try to keep them secret.

The Ministry:

Dear citizen, according to received information, you have been influenced by the destabilizing propaganda which the media affiliated with foreign countries have been disseminating.

Anonymous Official:

It's essential to remember that given the will and the relevant orders, WikiLeaks can be made inaccessible forever.

danah boyd:

Carmen is engaging in social steganography. She's hiding information in plain sight, creating a message that can be read in one way by those who aren't in the know and read differently by those who are.

Marlo Stanfield:

You want it to be one way. But it's the other way.

Free Me (EMI)
Topic: Intellectual Property 4:37 pm EST, Nov 15, 2009

Joss Stone:

Don't tell me that I won't
I can
Don't tell me that I'm not
I am
Don't tell me that my master plan
Ain't coming through

Don't tell me that I won't
I will
Don't tell me how to think
I feel
Don't tell me cause I know what's real
What I can do

David Foster Wallace:

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the "rat race" -- the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.

Steve Albini:

It was a lot to think about. Well, they like this guy and they trust him. Besides, they already signed the deal memo. He must have been serious about wanting them to sign. They break the news to their current label, and the label manager says he wants them to succeed, so they have his blessing. He will need to be compensated, of course, for the remaining albums left on their contract, but he'll work it out with the label himself.

Paul Graham:

Adults lie constantly to kids. I'm not saying we should stop, but I think we should at least examine which lies we tell and why.

It will always suck to work for large organizations, and the larger the organization, the more it will suck.

Malcolm Gladwell:

Free is just another price ...

Free Me (EMI)

Death to Puppy Smoothies!
Topic: Intellectual Property 9:59 am EDT, Aug 31, 2009

Hadley Leggett:

Starting this fall, you'll have a new reason to trust the information you find on Wikipedia: An optional feature called "WikiTrust" will color code every word of the encyclopedia based on the reliability of its author and the length of time it has persisted on the page.

Called WikiTrust, the program assigns a color code to newly edited text using an algorithm that calculates author reputation from the lifespan of their past contributions. It's based on a simple concept: The longer information persists on the page, the more accurate it's likely to be.

"They've hit on the fundamentally Darwinian nature of Wikipedia," said Wikipedia software developer and neuroscientist Virgil Griffith of the California Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the project.

It's pretty egregious that neither Wired nor the WikiTrust folks bothered to mention the Puppy Smoothies paper, which was published in 2006, a year before the earliest citations on the WikiTrust site. (Why didn't Virgil mention this?)

The reliability of information collected from at large Internet users by open collaborative wikis such as Wikipedia has been a subject of widespread debate. This paper provides a practical proposal for improving user confidence in wiki information by coloring the text of a wiki article based on the venerability of the text. This proposal relies on the philosophy that bad information is less likely to survive a collaborative editing process over large numbers of edits. Colorization would provide users with a clear visual cue as to the level of confidence that they can place in particular assertions made within a wiki article.

The omission is baffling, considering that the First Monday article was Slashdotted after its initial publication. (In fairness to the authors, it's perhaps worth noting that Puppy Smoothies is one of the primary citations in their first paper on the work that has become WikiTrust.)

Death to Puppy Smoothies!

The Late Age of Print
Topic: Intellectual Property 7:41 am EDT, Apr 17, 2009

A new book by Ted Striphas, freely available under a CC license.

Although the production and propagation of books have undoubtedly entered a new phase, printed works are still very much a part of our everyday lives. With examples from trade journals, news media, films, advertisements, and a host of other commercial and scholarly materials, "Late Age" tells a story of modern publishing that proves, even in a rapidly digitizing world, books are anything but dead.

From the rise of retail superstores to Oprah's phenomenal reach, Striphas tracks the methods through which the book industry has adapted (or has failed to adapt) to rapid changes in twentieth-century print culture. Barnes & Noble, Borders, and have established new routes of traffic in and around books, and pop sensations like Harry Potter and the Oprah Book Club have inspired the kind of brand loyalty that could only make advertisers swoon. At the same time, advances in digital technology have presented the book industry with extraordinary threats and unique opportunities.

Striphas's provocative analysis offers a counternarrative to those who either triumphantly declare the end of printed books or deeply mourn their passing. With wit and brilliant insight, he isolates the invisible processes through which books have come to mediate our social interactions and influence our habits of consumption, integrating themselves into our routines and intellects like never before.

The Late Age of Print

Google & the Future of Books
Topic: Intellectual Property 9:59 pm EST, Jan 26, 2009

Robert Darnton:

How can we navigate through the information landscape that is only beginning to come into view? The question is more urgent than ever following the recent settlement between Google and the authors and publishers who were suing it for alleged breach of copyright. For the last four years, Google has been digitizing millions of books, including many covered by copyright, from the collections of major research libraries, and making the texts searchable online. The authors and publishers objected that digitizing constituted a violation of their copyrights. After lengthy negotiations, the plaintiffs and Google agreed on a settlement, which will have a profound effect on the way books reach readers for the foreseeable future. What will that future be?

No one knows, because the settlement is so complex that it is difficult to perceive the legal and economic contours in the new lay of the land. But those of us who are responsible for research libraries have a clear view of a common goal: we want to open up our collections and make them available to readers everywhere. How to get there? The only workable tactic may be vigilance: see as far ahead as you can; and while you keep your eye on the road, remember to look in the rearview mirror.

No one can predict what will happen. We can only read the terms of the settlement and guess about the future. If Google makes available, at a reasonable price, the combined holdings of all the major US libraries, who would not applaud? Would we not prefer a world in which this immense corpus of digitized books is accessible, even at a high price, to one in which it did not exist?

Whether or not I have understood the settlement correctly, its terms are locked together so tightly that they cannot be pried apart. At this point, neither Google, nor the authors, nor the publishers, nor the district court is likely to modify the settlement substantially. Yet this is also a tipping point in the development of what we call the information society. If we get the balance wrong at this moment, private interests may outweigh the public good for the foreseeable future, and the Enlightenment dream may be as elusive as ever.

You might wonder:

Is more what we really need?

Before you take sides, consider Twain:

When an entirely new and untried political project is sprung upon the people, they are startled, anxious, timid, and for a time they are mute, reserved, noncommittal. The great majority of them are not studying the new doctrine and making up their minds about it, they are waiting to see which is going to be the popular side.

Oh, wait, is copyright protection preventing you from accessing the work of an author who died 99 years ago?

Google & the Future of Books

The Internet is for Everyone
Topic: Intellectual Property 6:45 pm EST, Mar  7, 2008

Vint Cerf, circa 2002:

The Internet is for everyone.

How easy to say - how hard to achieve!

How have we progressed towards this noble goal?

As high bandwidth access becomes the norm through digital subscriber loops, cable modems and digital terrestrial and satellite radio links, the convergence of media available on the Internet will become obvious. Television, radio, telephony and the traditional print media will find counterparts on the Internet - and will be changed in profound ways by the presence of software that transforms the one-way media into interactive resources, shareable by many.


The Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if it isn't affordable ...

The Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if Governments restrict access to it ...

I hope Internauts everywhere will join with the Internet Society and like-minded organizations to achieve this, easily stated but hard to attain goal. As we pass the milestone of the beginning of the third millennium, what better theme could we possibly ask for than making the Internet the medium of this new millennium?

The Internet is for Everyone

Intellectual Property Protection | Center for Strategic and International Studies
Topic: Intellectual Property 6:52 am EST, Feb 11, 2008


Deep changes in the ways that people create ideas, goods, and wealth are reshaping the global economy. These changes make innovation—the creation of new goods and services—the center of economic activity. This new report explores the critical role of intellectual property protection (IPR) in a global information economy and argues that the extent to which countries protect intellectual property will determine how well they perform in the new economic environment.

An excerpt:

Some argue that strong IPR is no longer important as there are alternatives that will create equal or greater amounts of innovation. The problem with these alternatives is that they tend not to work.

Intellectual Property Protection | Center for Strategic and International Studies

A Patent Lie
Topic: Intellectual Property 3:52 pm EDT, Jun  9, 2007

In a 1991 memo [*] to his senior executives, Bill Gates wrote, “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.” Mr. Gates worried that “some large company will patent some obvious thing” and use the patent to “take as much of our profits as they want.”

At the time, Microsoft had only eight patents to its name.

Today it holds more than 6,000 patents.

Only patent lawyers benefit from this arms race.

A Patent Lie

RE: YouTube’s Favorite Clips Aren't Copyrighted
Topic: Intellectual Property 4:08 pm EDT, Apr  9, 2007

Decius wrote:

Even more surprising, the videos that have been removed make up just 6 percent of the total views (

I don't see why this is so surprising. It's akin to expressing surprise that most telephone calls are not "commercial" (as in delivery of paid content). Or that most email traffic is not copyrighted.

I would be more interested in looking at the overall distribution ... a Long Tail plot.

Unfortunately, it seems like this press coverage is mostly orchestrated to drive traffic to Vidmeter, which is distinctly in the short head business:

Vidmeter gathers data from across the web to provide an accurate representation of the most popular online videos.

RE: YouTube’s Favorite Clips Aren't Copyrighted

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