Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill
policy-making, technical standards development, and technological
innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we
know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property
conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of
copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying
and the law, and more.
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.
NMA - in their typical style - make light of the silliness of the situation. Most of their videos are news parodies that poke fun, but their clip also points out that the online gambling industry provided over 4000 jobs, a significant figure for two poor and tiny nations, and that most of those jobs have been lost since US regulators cut off access.
Yeah, that had my eyebrows going up, too. However, Reid isn't writing this stuff from an outsider perspective. In past lives he's been an entrepreneur and had a hand in the founding of listen.com which eventually led to Rhapsody - an online music service that is still operating (albeit in different form) today. Reid has also gotten some notice for his TED talk titled "The $8 Billion iPod" In this talk Reid lambastes the Cartel for its massively out of proportion sense of its own self-worth.
If anyone has read the book (or listened to the audio, read by John Hodgman, which is getting good reviews) please drop a comment and tell us what you thought of it.
A: I've refused to buy retail CDs since the Cartel went after Napster, long ago. I buy used CDs, sometimes. Often I buy new CDs from artists via their Web sites or at their shows. I buy through iTunes a fair bit, and rarely from other stores like Amazon or Beatport. Almost all the music I buy is stuff I found via some kind of free sample. I found Beats Antique because someone remixed them, which led me to finding a (probably illegal) video someone had posted on YouTube. That's two transgressions already, but the end result was that I went to their show and bought all the CDs they could sell me at the venue. This is how I thought it might work, which is why Emily White's story surprised me.
A: Sadly, no. I'm a terrible book reader these days. Decherney's publisher was kind enough to send me a review copy and that still took me a while to get through. I'm always willing to look at a book or a related product but I can't promise I'll blog about it. I don't hesitate to say something if I think what I've seen isn't that good but I try not to go out of my way to stomp on peoples' toes.
Q: Speaking of Legitmix, do you think they're going to fail?
A: Not exactly. I just don't expect them to be revolutionary. I expect that some people will use it, and lord knows most DJs and producers can use more income. If Legitmix makes them a few bucks then that's all to the good. I'm just doubtful that it's a scalable business model. Stuff will continue to be released as it is now, and also companies like Legitmix will have things to offer.
A: The problem is crap patents. Attacking the problem once the patent has issued is always going to be a second-best solution. So let's focus on removing the crap first.
First and foremost, stop stealing their money. Congress uses PTO fees for all kinds of things that have nothing to do with patenting or the office.
Second, do things that will lead to reduced pendency but without directly rewarding examiners for doing more exams. People do what they're rewarded for - if you just incent examiners to clear the backlog then they'll do that and cut quality corners along the way. Instead, use that PTO money for more staff and training. Give examiners access to all the public searching tools ever: Medline, Science Citation Index, Physical Review Letters, and of course the major search engines. If those tools cost money, pay for them.
Third, allow examiners to make summary rejections and make it mandatory that any patent application which cites no non-patent prior art be rejected before any examination. There is nothing so new under the sun that it hasn't at least been hinted at in the literature somewhere. When I noted that some of the patents Apple was asserting were "strong" that was in part due to looking at how much of the published literature they covered. Nothing slows down patent review more than the applicant making the examiner do all the prior art searching. In my more bitter days I also want to see applicants who clog the system with junk applications subject to fees for filing frivolous patents the way people who abuse the court system can be fined for bringing frivolous lawsuits.
Fourth, do something to bring clarity to the law and cases around patentability. Maybe it requires appointing a special court - we have those for national security matters and for tax litigation, why not for patents? Or maybe a court is the wrong model and we'd do better with an independent board of arbitration. Whatever the system is, it would need to be as independent as possible from the PTO and from whatever political party is in power.
(So, there you are. I probably won't do this often, but the last month or so of stories has brought more questions than usual. Thank you.)
One of my current hopes is that my younger son who, at age 8, thinks the Fibonacci Sequence is cool, grows up to be like Vi with a love of math and art and music and no hesitation about sharing it with the world.
Ray Beckerman of Recording Industry vs The People offers up a sarcastic handful of statistics in yesterday's blog post. Drawing together a bunch of numbers published by p2pnet, Beckerman points out that the RIAA has recovered about two cents for every dollar spent on lawyer fees to sue its customers. Actually the numbers are probably worse, but the point remains the same - whatever the Cartel thinks it's doing with its jihad against consumers, making money is not on the agenda.
Unless you're a Cartell lawyer, I guess.
(Aside: I apologize for misspelling Joel Tenenbaum's name in my Monday post. The error has been fixed.)
Well, the answer isn't particularly pretty for the bottled water people, either, as you can see at "The Story of Bottled Water." So for all you Cartel types out there... sorry, I'll try to come up with a better analogy for how you might compete with a high-priced product against one that's not quite as good, but cheaper. I hear FedEx is still turning a profit these days, where the USPS isn't...
You see, the publishers are starting to scare themselves again with the specter of "online book piracy," based on a study by Attributor, a company whose product I reviewed a couple years ago. As I noted, Attributor believes that its technology to track where copies go is superior to DRM technologies that attempt to prevent copies from going anywhere in the first place.
As reported in Publisher's Weekly, online copying is "pervasive" and may be "costing" publishers USD 3 billion. Those are some scary-sounding statistics, right? But what behaviors do they actually describe?
Well, as Hellman points out in excellently sarcastic tones, the behavior is that of reading a book you didn't buy. Shocking, I know! Someone buys a book and someone else reads it! Quick, call the cops and arrest those people who are, y'know, doing what libraries do.
Hellman's back-of-the-envelope calculation is that library lending could be "costing" publishers over 100 billion, per year, based on the roughly two billion books that are lent out by libraries in the US on an annual basis. Shockingly, these institutions also lend out CDs and DVDs, too. Goodness knows how much this terrible practice costs the Cartel!
PhD Comics presents its take on the process whereby scientists produce original material and then give it away (for free) to a system where other scientists work (for free) to select from those works so they can be published in journals that then charge huge fees to read this freely contributed work.
The aging Oz hard-rockers are hardly the first to strike this kind of deal. Given how influential big-box retailers have become in the dwindling world of physical platter sales it's not a big surprise that artists would go where the sales are. Still, the parody struck me as funny.
Emma Clarke is known to Londoners and visitors to that city as the voice behind the pleasant-yet-ubiquitous "mind the gap" reminders. On her Web site, she has a set of MP3 spoof files, apparently free for the remix-ready. My personal favorite is the Sudoku one...
Some guy who is not Jon Stewart but could be, and some guy who would have tried out for Monty Python's Flying Circus had he been able, explain the basic contention of the writer's strike: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzRHlpEmr0w
There have already been many thousands of words written about this and will likely be many more. Heck I might even write a few myself. But sometimes a picture captures it better. Well done, Iliad: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20070812
The ads certainly have a tinge of surrealism (or as Sartwell would put it, dadaism) in that they don't contain the usual political speecifying or promotion of the candidate. In fact, they contain no dialog at all. The candidate's Web site is superimposed on the image, which is how you know it's a political ad of some kind, but the video consists of... well, Mike Gravel staring at the camera wordlessly for a minute, then walking off and chucking a rock into a lake.
Sartwell waxes rhapsodic about Gravel's avante garde approach to political advertising. I was most strongly reminded of John Cage's 4'33" which was avant garde for its time. I don't think this art form is likely to catch on with other candidates but it sure would be fun if it did. If nothing else, it'd be nice to see them shutting the heck up for once when a camera is pointed at them.
The story starts with the hip SF Chronicle online attempting to respond to readers' phoned-in comments. Of course, the volume of comments in any major newspaper is too large to permit individual responses and the Chron comes up with the bright idea to make a podcast out of the recorded commentary so at least readers can hear what each other have to say. So far so good.
Then someone decided to take umbrage at a particular subhead in a Chron news story that used the phrase "pilotless drone." Despite its popularity (about 36,000 hits on Google as of this AM) the phrase really is redundant since "drone" means "unmanned vehicle" in this context. So one could say "pilotless aircraft" or just "drone."
Never one to leave a gauntlet lie, people took up this challenge and.according to this update in the Chronicle, not only can you get this snippet as a ringtone, but there's an entire group on YouTube now dedicated to remixes and music videos.
"It grieves me now that I cursed them (in the matter of book piracy), because I perceived that my curse is working and that their speech is be-coming a horror already. They delude them-selves into the belief that they talk English--the English--and I have already been pitied for speaking with "an English accent." The man who pitied me spoke, so far as I was concerned, the language of thieves. And they all do. Where we put the accent forward they throw it back, and vice versa where we give the long "a" they use the short, and words so simple as to be past mistaking they pronounce somewhere up in the dome of their heads. How do these things happen?
"Oliver Wendell Holmes says that the Yankee school-marm, the cider and the salt codfish of the Eastern States, are responsible for what he calls a nasal accent. I know better. They stole books from across the water without paying for 'em, and the snort of delight was fixed in their nostrils forever by a just Providence. That is why they talk a foreign tongue to-day."
- Rudyard Kipling, in American Notes, explaining the divergence of American spoken English.
For those not up on the history: America used to be very... what's the word... "relaxed" about recognizing foreign copyrights. Much like, say, China is today. Turnabout and all that. Pretty ironic in light of the current jihad being run by the Cartel.
9. The method of providing user interface displays in an image forming apparatus which is really a bogus claim included amongst real claims, and which should be removed before filing; wherein the claim is included to determine if the inventor actually read the claims and the inventor should instruct the attorneys to remove the claim.
So on the one hand it's funny both in its text and in that it got through. The complaints about abysmal patent quality and absurd patent claims in the software arena have come from all corners and as some have said at least this one is forthright in admitting its bogosity.
On the other hand, I have a lot of sympathy for the point made by "Tony2" in the comments, to the effect that the rendering of technical inventions into patents is the semantic equivalent of translating them into a foreign language spoken only by a specialized community. Bogus claims or not, I find as a technical person I can't make a lot of sense out of patent language. It's completely understandable that the inventor on this patent wouldn't be fluent in this foreign language and would trust that people paid hundreds of dollars per hour - the application-drafting lawyers - would in fact do their jobs.
I think it's a race to see who'll sue first: Justin Timberlake, whose song is being parodied, or SmithKline Beecham whose "social anxiety disorder" drug Paxil is the topic of the parody. My bet is on SK-B. Anyway, see the video on YouTube, at least for now: Paxilback, by Gray Kid
The swaps involved replacing physical platters in stores such as HMV and Virgin. HMV, in particular, appears to be taking quite a lenient view on what I suspect some others would call theft or vandalism. Their chosen spokesperson remarked that
"I guess you can give an individual such as Banksy a little bit of leeway for his own particular brand of artistic engagement."
P.S. If you recover one of these artistic gems I'll pay to have it shipped to me in the US.
It appears that Chevy has linked up its gas-guzzling Tahoe vehicle with the pop culture sycophant phenomenon called The Apprentice. And is asking people to make promotional videos/commercials for the vehicle. Which, yanno, is a good way to.. um, let some of that good ole 'creative expression' loose
My guess is that this link won't survive much longer, particuarly not once Chevy figures out what it is.
EDIT: as of Friday afternoon either the video is gone or the site is slashdotted - in either event the video doesn't seem to be available at that URL any longer. Here's hoping the author publishes it on another URL.
A Copyfight reader pointed me to the Canonist blog, on which we read a report of Pope Benedict XVI being given a gift of a pre-loaded iPod, containing "a sampling of the radio’s programming in English, Italian and German and musical compositions." As the blogger notes, it's unlikely that these tracks were individually paid for, as the RIAA would have us do. We can barely wait until the Cartel's jihad reaches the Holy See.
In response to the latest DRM flap, my friend Peter Cassidy remarked:
[T]he RIAA has a patent for placing DRM in ear canals. Apparently, they're going to present new parents with a demand leter at the birth of every child. Install the system, or pay the estimated value of all the music the child will steal in a lifetime. The congressmen from Disney will be considering the legislation for a moment or two before passing it unamended sometime this year.
I don't even know where to begin in talking about this one. The blog "Gizmodo" has announced the winner of its competition to create a remix track. The track must be "based on the sound of Hitachi hard drives failing". No, really. Hitachi has a page with .wav files playable so that people can figure out what that noise their hard disk is making might mean. The challenge was to remix these sounds (are they copyrighted? can you copyright ambient sounds? can you copyright a sound made by a machine if there's no human intervention to produce that sound?) into a music track.
The winning entry is composed entirely of the disk sounds, and is quite eerie. The runners-up are a little more conventionally musical, but still pretty off-kilter. Fun concept, at least.
This week's IP follies continue with Marty Schwimmer's coverage of the battle over who owns the million-dollar idea of creating a TV show about pitching million-dollar ideas:
February 20, 2003: Alleged date of first use for MILLION DOLLAR IDEA in relation to product and invention evaluation services, and entertainment services ('low-power' TV show), by Roaring Entertainment.
March 2004: Roaring pitches Andrea Wong, head of reality programming at ABC.
"Simon and Peter have conceived a fantastic show," said Andrea Wong, executive vice president, Alternative Programming, Specials and Late-Night, ABC Entertainment. "Somebody out there has thought of the next Post-it Note or Starbucks, but they don't have the means to actually make it happen. It's going to be thrilling to find that person and make his or her dream a reality."
Techdirt has an amusing article about that delightfully original, fresh piece of filmmaking starring Jessica Simpson, "The Dukes of Hazzard." Evidently, it was inspired by an equally novel, why-didn't-I-think-of-that, Hey,-there-is-something-new-under-the-sun-after-all late '70s television show called "The Dukes of Hazzard." And that show, in turn, was inspired by the original original work of singular artistic genius, a little-known movie called "Moonrunners." And that movie, in turn...
No, wait. That's where it ends, for now. Which is why the makers of the Jessica Simpson version had to cough up $17.5 million to the rights holders for "Moonrunners" -- according to Techdirt, more than they paid for Jessica herself.
Copyfighters may want to visit the IP Justice League of America, "celebrating the only comic book of international super-star INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY POLICY super heroes!" Not much there yet, except some Warhol-esque portraits that rollover to declare:
Eblen Moglen - "Batman"
Larry Lessig - "Superman"
John Gilmore - "Green Lantern"
Robin Gross - "Wonder Woman"
Richard Stallman - "The Martian"
Ed Felten - "The Flash"
And the following:
Can the IP Justice League save Wil Wheaton from super-villain Jack Valenti? Will they defeat his evil army of psycho culture pirates!? Whose side is Avril Lavigne REALLY on??
I guess we'll just have to stay tuned to the same IP Justice League Channel, same IP Justice League time for more. How about an RSS feed instead, so I know when it is updated?
(And would this group actually call themselves the Intellectual Property League? Wouldn't they use some other term?)
In reality, the mouse statues are part of 75 InspEARations, a traveling exhibit of 75 Mickey Mouse statues with various designs. I saw the exhibit when it was at Disney's California Adventure. It was pretty disappointing (the statues, not just DCA). Instead of artists (as in many of the other city-wide statue projects), they were designed by celebrities who generally had no artistic sense and quotidian sensibilities. "Oh, gee, a Mickey Mouse made to look like a Lakers basketball player designed by Shaq." Sad.
I can't make this stuff up. If you look up "hypocritical" on thesaurus.com, you get "Hollywood" as a synonym. The data source is listed as Roget's New Millennium Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1). My hat is off to them.
This won't last long. Wikipedia's current entry for the newly elected Pope has a rather... interesting picture associated with it. I doubt either Lucas or the Vatican will see the humor. (separate link for when it gets taken down off the papal page)
There's another totally-out-of-bounds BoingBoing parody. A post by Snory Hacktorow:
My call for sanity regarding the fair use of the brick
Bricks have many legitimate uses, including shelter, crowd dispersal, and brief grandstanding against Israeli tanks, so why all the focus on the very few which are heaved through shop windows to allow for the sharing of items? I paid for that brick, I'm not interested in being told what to do with it.
My 4:40 am shouty talk at my sock-covered fist on the Greyhound 234 westbound, transcribed for campus dissemination and worship.
Link(Thanks to Goonsnargle, the elf that lives in my hair and tells me which people are demons)
Boring Boring grinds jackboot in face of some other stupid site
Actually, the previous post gave us an idea, so -- after the cagey use of search and replace (which we just learned about last week over at Sony's Lifehacker) -- we forwarded Mr. von Lohmann's letter to this guy. (Thanks, Cory!)
posted by Chris James at 3:40:42 AM permalink | blogs' comments
Siva shares the sad news: "I have asked Ann Bartow to refrain from posting any more to Sivacracy.net. Basically, she was detracting from the mission of this blog: the pure and unadulterated promotion of me, Siva Vaidhyanathan."
Well-known "copyfighter" and sci-fi novelist Cory Doctorow can sure complain when the MPAA and RIAA try to enforce their members' copyrights, but the instant someone infringes on Cory's copyrights and trademarks - watch out! - the threatening legal letters and lawsuits start flying. Case in point, the BoingBoing parody site BoringBoring. [...]
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am legal counsel for and write on behalf of celebrated science fiction author Cory Doctorow and the award-winning website BoingBoing. We have recently learned that your organization, BoringBoring, is violating Mr. Doctorow and BoingBoing's copyrights by posting on your site, www.boringboring.org, certain copyrighted content from www.boingboing.net.
Rik Lambers @ CoCo blog: "This is the little mascot that guides the French kids through the rights and wrongs of the internet. Admittedly, it is less scary than the Dutch Pig and psychotic grinning BSA Weasel."
Who's the leader of the Propaganda club/That's made for you and me?/ L-A-J-R-M-A-S-C-O-T-T-E!
About.com has a really amusing piece by Cory Dietz claiming that the RIAA is suing people for listening to music in cars. The claim is that the music was only provided to the original owner of the car, so passengers and hitchhikers who listen to music in the vehicle are doing so illegally.
Sadly, this story is close enough to believable that About felt the need to mark it prominently as satire. Given the reach of the Cartel to date, I confess I didn't find the basic premise totally beyond the realm of belief.