Ruining America: Intellectual property abuse (Part I)
Posted 20 February 2012 - 12:26 AM
For example, Americans, did you realize that your Region 1 DVDs of Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" deleted sexy/nude scenes of Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise to garner a US R-rating? Scenes the rest of the world gets in its DVDs?
Let the riots begin!
--Orpheus "Far more familiar with Miranda oh-so-deliciously wrongs than Miranda rights, personally"
Posted 28 February 2012 - 11:43 AM
Under pressure from many sources, including the recently announced boycott by thousands of scientists, Elsevier announced on Monday morning that it was no longer pressing for the "Research Works Act" which would make it illegal for the Federal government to mandate eventual free and public publication (i.e. no fee paid to a private publisher) publication of research that was done by Federal employees or under a Federal grant, even (as under current law) allowing one year after journal publication to sell their copies and make a reasonable profit on the latest research (which they neither performed nor funded)
Then after lunch, in an all-too-familiar display of openly "paid for" politics, RWA's co-sponsors, Rep. Darrell Issa (R, Cal) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D, NY), said they didn't want further action on the bill. I guess it wasn't the vital issue of scientific advancement and America's future they felt it was before the weekend.
Meanwhile, H.R.4004 (Federal Research Public Access Act of 2012) has been introduced in the House. In short strokes, this bill essentially mandates free public publication (along with govt-maintained archives, etc.) of research performed by Federal employees or funded by Federal grants, within 6 mos of publication in a journal. Unlike current law, this bill has no expiration that I see.
Elsevier has said it will fight this new law.
And the scientist boycott of Elsevier (for exorbitant costs) remains in effect.
Posted 16 March 2012 - 05:49 PM
Today, of course, it's been ubiquitous for many years, even by small companies: e.g. Who's agitating my dots?
As I've said before, "patent trolls" buy up blocks of patents (usu were never demonstrated/used) and make millions by writing demand letters alleging infringement. Are those allegations valid? Do the patents really apply? Would they stand up on re-examination Patent trolls counting on a general unwillingness to go to court and find out, esp. since the cases are invariably filed in the Eastern District Court of Texas which has proven to be notoriously pro-patent. You'd have to appeal to the 5th District Federal court to appeal -- and those who do often succeed, but an initial case AND an appeal is doubly expensive and time consuming
Because each company implements its own system, each is clearly an independent "infringer". After suing over 100 private companies in recent years (an unknown, but likely much larger, number settled upon receiving litigation threats, so no lawsuit was filed), they last year sued the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston's MBTA), King County (Seattle), Illinois Commuter Rail (which owns the Metra Chicago-area commuter trains), the Maryland Transit Administration, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Of those only the Port Authority didn't settle immediately, and ArrivalStar has racked up "dozens" of licensees without ever once getting past the "Claims Construction phase" -- i.e. stating a charge in the form of a lawsuit. King County agreed to pay $80K/yr: Anh Nguyen, the attorney with the county prosecutor's office who handled the case said the county had never faced a patent suit before and wasn't eager to face others -- bad move, Anh, that's blood in the waters)
Note that I said they had dozens of licensees, but over 100 suits. What happened to the rest? I'm guessing ArrivalStar is keeping them on hold as long as possible: they have little to gain from an expensive litigation, either
A lot of people argue that the patents shouldn't have been issued (the Patent Office has been notoriously lax in researching prior art since the 80s, arguing that it's the responsibility of the applicant and any disputants to do that). Indeed some of Jones' patents have been shot down on re-examination, "but at least one has survived" according to ArrivalStar. Which one? They aren't saying. I guess you'd have to take them to court to force them to tell you -- and even that one wouldn't be immune to further re-examination by a different plaintiff on different grounds.
ArrivalStar just sued the US Postal Service... I can see their logic: if the USPS settles, it could be huge -- or they could offer it a cheap settlement just for the impact of being able to say the USPS agreed. If the USPS decides to fight, it's not exactly going to be in a rush to go to court, so ArrivalStar could keep it on a backburner for many years, while continuing to rack up licensees. Once you agree to a license, it's a private business contract, and you're on the hook, even if someone else stands up in court and wins.
Edited by Orpheus, 16 March 2012 - 05:54 PM.
Posted 16 March 2012 - 09:25 PM
Posted 23 March 2012 - 02:13 PM
RIAA to artists: We won't pay you MP3 licensing royalties because we didn't license them, we sold them
RIAA to everyone: MP3s are just like physical records. We only want to makes sure the artists get paid.
Posted 09 July 2012 - 09:19 PM
Though the US has largely been the locus and driving force in IP maximalism (i.e enforcing IP "rights" to the exclusion of all plublic interest exceptions, even though the Constitution, like British law before it, has explicitly rejected the "property rights" interpretation of intellectual "property" and has always explicitly said IP was instituted to further the public good and ultimately enrich the public domain), it's a disease that is spreading everywhere.
For example, Sabam, a Belgian private copyright association is now saying that children's libraries can't hold public readings of children's books for free -- not even centuries-old public domain works like Grimm's fairy tales, because they aren't reading from the (pricey) antique volumes but from modern printed volumes, over which the publishers claim their own copyright. [original article] [English translation]
And on an upbeat note:
I know it can be a bummer when I just report abuses, so here's a bit of good news (the defeat of the overblown Anti-Counterfeiting Trade act, ACTA) that may be a far-reaching opportunity for public and private usage rights. There's still a big opening for the RIAA/MPAA to subvert or dilute this surprise recognition of longstanding legal principles like "Fair Use", but it's a good sign nonetheless.
[Ars Technica] Op-ed: MPAA/RIAA lose big as US backs copyright "limitations"
Posted 28 August 2012 - 09:43 PM
Now that SOPA/PIPA have been overwhelmingly shot down, there's an imminent risk of even more restrictions on Internet Freedom, coming in through a back door -- well, two back doors, actually -- that will be very hard to close legislatively, if they are opened by a new treaty called the TransPacific Partnership [TPP]
"TPP Creates Legal Incentives For ISPs To Police The Internet. What Is At Risk? Your Rights."
It's not coming through a law, but back-door through a treaty. Imagine this: we demand some treaty terms on another country (what civil rights group looks at foreign treaties?), but once it's signed, BOTH sides are bound by it. We'd have an international obligation to stifle our own citizenry! They tried to push a treaty like this on Chile a few years back, thinking that Chile would be too weak to fight back, but Chile refused. Chile did -- but not our govt.
The second back door is that our government can wash its hands of all rules and constitutional issues, because they won't be govt rules. The Govt will only say that ISPs will be legally liable if IP holders allege commercial losses. France has a Three-strikes and you're off the Internet law, and similar ones have been proposed here. This could cripple your citizenship in the 21st century!
This is the back door that allows the many abuses of US citizens rights to free travel (e.g. a no-fly list that is almost impossible to get off, with no requirement to prove that there was any reason for you to be on it, which has often been proposed for trains/buses too -- it's not the TSA that is restricting you (so forget recourse to your civil rights) it's those pesky airlines who the TSA would hold liable. They aren't obligated to transport you, and your ISP isn't obligated to give you an account on the Internet.
BTW, I'd like to take this opportunity to warn you about the Republican plank on "Internet Freedom". It's not freedom for you or me to do what we want, but freedom of corporations to do what they want, esp. silently limiting your access to competitors and funnel you to their partners only. It's hard to believe, but the basic idea that a carrier only provides you access to the network (like a phone company) but doesn't "own" you and has no right to control 'who you talk to' has been hotly battled for several years now.
Posted 29 August 2012 - 09:35 AM
In hindsight, I realize I should have provided some support of this assertion. This article is a start.
I'm really saddened by what happened to the Libertarian Party in 1980 -- I'd waited all my life to vote for it, but it was stolen out from under me and many like-minded supporters of individual freedom. I think that many Democrats and Republican can feel my pain, having had their ideals, party and political voices stolen out from under them as well
Posted 29 August 2012 - 09:48 AM
Can you elaborate on this, please?
Posted 29 August 2012 - 12:06 PM
The heads of the ticket in the 1980 elections (Ed Clark/David Clark) were not unrepresentative of the party's tradition and garnered nearly a million votes despite an election already divided among three major candidates (Reagan, Carter, Anderson), but late the campaign, the party was flooded by fringe elements representing a diverse set of often non-libertarian views. More accurately, there was a large organized and visible movement of people calling themselves "libertarians", but often clearly aligned with the likes of Lyndon Larouche.
They much more visible "on the streets" than the traditional party itself, which tended to spread its views more through a cadre of well-spoken and (IMHO) thoughtfully logical radio commentators and host such as (here in Boston) David Brudnoy. I was very excited to be able to cast my first vote but was embarrassed at some of the 'fringe' views that were suddenly being presented as libertarianism.
There's more to the story, but in short strokes: the party never recovered. It never again scored even half as many votes, nor IIRC did it again appear on the ballots in all 50 states (though that last may have changed: it is said to be the third largest party in the US and the fastest growing party). It has never been the same in tone and cohesive policies as it was before spring/summer 1980.
Edited by Orpheus, 29 August 2012 - 05:40 PM.
Posted 04 September 2012 - 12:20 AM
Before dismissing this, recall that NASA's video of the Curiosity Mars Lander landing was taken off YouTube by a similar false infringemnt claim. Fortunately Youtube is recordings, so it could be re-upoaded. The Hugos were live
Posted 23 September 2012 - 12:56 PM
Then again, most of what people thought they knew about the traditional US system was wrong anyway.
Posted 24 September 2012 - 07:56 PM
Posted 24 September 2012 - 09:05 PM
Patents were instituted in the constitution to encourage the spread and implementation of technology. Today, theyy serve only to limit that spread and implementation. Fortunately, they can only affect consumer goods.
Posted 19 November 2012 - 02:16 PM
"That Was Fast: Hollywood Already Browbeat The Republicans Into Retracting Report On Copyright Reform
original report] [PDF]
Posted 22 November 2012 - 09:54 AM
Distance education for blind people opposed by a White House responsive to MPAA
On an Unrelated note:
The pioneering 3D printer company 3DS has sued a Kickstarter project, FormLabs, that is promising to develop an inexpensive 3D printer for hobbyists and the mass market. FormLabs stated that their work is covered by expired patents, but 3DS claims that the rights on "one or more patents may remain" -- well, at least until 2013 or 2014 (It's hard to say, since they haven't specified which patents). If that's so, well, good, for them, they're within their rights to sue, but they might not get any damages (the FormLabs printers haven't yet been developed, built or shipped) and I hear that they've only attracted a LOT of attention to how many of their patents have expired or will expire soon, only inspiring more development efforts over the next year or two.
The near future is looking good for makers and hobbyists!
3DS sues innovative new 3D printer company Formlabs & Kickstarter for patent infringement
Johanna Blakely did a TED talk that got me thinking what would happen if the fashion industry COULD patent fashions (most people, believing the IP industry's simplistic but legally incorrect explanation of "Why we have patents, what rights they protect, and how we all benefit" think patents can cover a lot more things than they actually can)
Posted 24 November 2012 - 01:45 AM
Because who would ever try a better way to cook or carve a turkey without a 17 year monopoly?
Posted 26 November 2012 - 02:16 PM
Now imagine you buy a DRMed book from am e-tailer. Well, we've already seen that things are not so simple. The news has been filled with stories of people whose DRMed books were taken back for various reasons, or whose accounts were canceled (thereby voiding their access to all their previously purchased books. Now, there's a new risk:
If the credit card you bought the book with expires (and all credit cards expire) the pages of your DRMed book may magically glue themselves shut. But wait, didn't you already PAY for that book? Well, yes, but Barnes and Noble, for example, seems to require that you keep an active valid credit card with them in perpetuity if you want to keep your books. Hit hard times and lose your credit card? You're a bum; instead of reading books, you should be finding a job and repairing your credit report. Sick of B&N billing issues and don't want to do business with them any more? The minute you don't want to do *future* busines with them, you're a bum as far as B&N is concerned. Simply tired of the credit card consumer rat race. Again, you're a bum, not a potential online customer.
But don't bums get to keep the stuff they already own? A loophole. The megacorps are working on that.
I've written elsewhere how big corporations are fighting to eliminate "rights of first purchase" -- and indeed replace or shackle existing purchases with "licensing terms" -- often retroactively!
A customer complains to the Consumerist (a branch of Consumer Reports) that B&N cut off her access to her purchased books when her credit card on file expired
Though it is often against the e-vendor's Terms, a lot of eBook buyers consider it merely prudent to strip DRM off their eBooks immediately after purchase
Posted 26 November 2012 - 06:05 PM
This is just one of 38 patents they received this week. Never mind that animated turning pages have been in cartoons and flipbooks for over a century, if you do it on a computing device, your gluteus is theirs. Also: don't you dare use a music note as an icon for "music". That's raw Apple Genius there. No one else would have thought to do that!
Well, no one else who'd cough up the Big Bucks to contest the patent. (Except maybe Samsung. They're screwing up Apple's entire system: Apple is suing Samsung over so many details that it doesn't cost Samsung anything extra to challenge one more "economically unchallengeable" patent, the scoundrels!)
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