08 Mar

guardian.co.uk – Ebooks: durability is a feature, not a bug

Ebooks have loads of demerits, especially as they are marketed to libraries. They are sold at full price, while print editions generally go at a hefty discount to reflect libraries’ volume purchasing. They can only be read with certain, proprietary readers, something analogous to insisting that the libraries require patrons to read their books by the light of one preferred manufacturer’s lightbulb. They can’t be sold on as a library discard once the library no longer needs them for the collection.

But they have virtues, too. For example, they don’t wear out. To pretend that this belongs on the "con" side rather than the "pro" side of the ebook chart is indefensible. You might as well argue that a surcharge should be assessed against paperbacks to offset the "losses" experienced by publishers when libraries buy them instead of the hardcover, or that charity shops should be obliged to apply fake rust to stainless steel cutlery to make up for the fact that it lasts longer than the non-stainless kind.

Of course ebooks don’t wear out. Programming them to self-destruct after 26 checkouts is tantamount to asking librarians to embrace entropy. Anyone who thinks that this is going to happen has never spent any time with a librarian.

via guardian.co.uk – Ebooks: durability is a feature, not a bug. As tends to be the case, so on your side Cory Doctorow.

08 Mar

Electronic Frontier Foundation – Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Law That Removes Works from the Public Domain

Today the Supreme Court agreed to hear an important case about whether Congress has the power to "restore" copyright protection to works that already exist in the public domain. To be clear, for more than 200 years the law has been settled – once a work was in the public domain, there it remained, and downstream users could feel free to use, store, or share it any way they saw fit. Now Congress, in enacting Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, is changing the game by granting copyright protection to works by foreign authors that, for a variety of reasons, were no longer protected by copyright (for example, if an author had failed to renew her copyright). This means that many works already in the public domain – Peter the Wolf, literature by Maxim Gorky, pieces by Picasso, and music by Stravinski, for example – that have been used and performed countless times would now be subject to copyright protection. Those who have used the works could now be required to pay hefty license fees, and – even worse – if they can’t afford those fees, cease use of the works.

via Electronic Frontier Foundation – Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Law That Removes Works from the Public Domain. This should be declared unconstitutional, once work goes in the public domain, the work should stay there, perpetual copyright is a bad deal.

03 Feb

Wolfire Games Blog – Counterfeit Lugaru on Apple’s App Store (developing)

This is a kind of software fraud we’ve never even heard of: a pirate simply downloading the app and resubmitting it to the same distribution channel at a lower price. We immediately emailed Apple explaining the situation, expecting them to quickly investigate the situation, shut down the fraudulent app, and follow up with us. We started this process a few days ago, and haven’t heard back from Apple yet.

via Wolfire Games Blog – Counterfeit Lugaru on Apple’s App Store (developing). Wow that’s interesting and a pretty blatant breaking of trademark/copyright.

12 Jan

BBC News – Microsoft seeks to block Apple ‘App Store’ trademark

Microsoft has said that it has asked US officials to block Apple’s attempt to trademark the words "App Store".

Apple submitted an application for the phrase – used for its iPhone, iPad and Macintosh download services – in 2008.

But Microsoft has now told BBC News that it has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to reject the application.

The company says the term is too generic and competitors should be able to use it.

via BBC News – Microsoft seeks to block Apple ‘App Store’ trademark. Right there with you Microsoft.

11 Jan

TUAW – The GPL, the App Store, and you

We’ve covered the story previously, but here’s the bare-bones facts you need to know. VLC (hosted at http://videolan.org) is a cross-platform, full-featured media player with a long and distinguished history. VLC is licensed under version 2 of the GNU Public License (GPL). A company called Applidium, not affiliated with the project, took the VLC source code and ported it to a free iOS app so that iPhone and iPad users could use it to play back a wider range of file formats than either device supports natively – such as AVI or MKV files. In accordance with the GPL, Applidium made the full source code to the modified version publicly available.

This provoked mixed feelings on the VLC developers’ mailing list, with some developers OK with it, and others who felt that they did not want their work (written to be open) used on a platform, such as iOS, with a reputation for being closed and with some restrictions on code reuse for App Store-distributed apps. This culminated in one developer, Rémi Denis-Courmont (who personally wrote a lot of VLC code) petitioning Apple to remove the VLC iOS app from the App Store as it breached the GPL license under which he had contributed to the project.

Several months later, Apple appears to have complied without arguing the case and the app was taken down, although Denis-Courmont has stated that he’s skeptical about the timing — for this to have been a true response by Apple to his copyright claims, it should have acted a long time ago.

So who’s in the right?

via TUAW – The GPL, the App Store, and you. Lots of information into all the nuances of the GPL and how Apple could be right or wrong in it’s treatment of GPL licensed apps.

03 Jan

ConceivablyTech – The Ultimate Patent Troll Patent: Get Sued When You File A Patent

This patent reads a lot like a late Christmas present for Paul Allen (or the entire smartphone industry for the purpose of general entertainment), but there seems to be a deeper meaning in this patent. Some genius at IBM simply collected all the experience IBM gained from filing more than 100 patents virtually every week throughout the year and assembled that into a chart, which was then turned into a patent filing. Essentially, IBM could claim to have patented the …. patent. It covers very broad strategies how to file and protect a patent. So, this particular patent is, in fact, approved by the USPTO, and you file for a patent in the future, you may want to contact IBM, because you may infringe on at least on ingenious idea IBM laid out in its filing.

via ConceivablyTech – The Ultimate Patent Troll Patent: Get Sued When You File A Patent. Just when you thought patents couldn’t get any more stupid, IBM comes through.

02 Jan

Thomas Hawk – Miami’s World Erotic Art Museum Fraudulently Uses the DMCA to Take Down Items in Their Collection From the Web

While this is troubling to me personally, I’m even more troubled by the precedent that it sets and am going to try and fight this takedown of my photos. While a museum may object to their work being shown online, misusing the DMCA by submitting a sworn statement under perjury that they own copyright on 100% of the items in their collection is an abuse of the DMCA. The DMCA is meant to give content creators (not physical content owners) an ability to remove their copyrighted work from the web. While a museum may own paintings, sculptures, drawings, etc. It generally speaking does not own copyright on these items. Copyright is generally retained by the original creator of a work. By taking down my entire set of images from the museum’s collection, they are asserting ownership of copyright that they do not have. The collection includes works by people like Picasso for example. I guarantee you the museum does not hold copyright over the Picasso in their collection.

via Thomas Hawk – Miami’s World Erotic Art Museum Fraudulently Uses the DMCA to Take Down Items in Their Collection From the Web. Another in a long list of DMCA abuses.

02 Jan

Center for the Study of the Public Domain – What Could Have Been Entering the Public Domain on January 1, 2011?

That means that all these examples from 1954 are only the tip of the iceberg. If the pre-1978 law were still in effect, we could have seen 85% of the works created in 1982 enter the public domain on January 1, 2011. Imagine what that would mean to our archives, our libraries, our schools and our culture. Instead, these works will remain under copyright for decades to come, perhaps even into the next century. And for most of them – orphan works – that means they will be both commercially unavailable and culturally off limits, without any benefit going to a copyright holder. Think of the cultural harm that does. How ironic that Samuel Beckett’s English-language version of Waiting for Godot, the existentialist play in which the characters Vladimir and Estragon wait interminably for a Godot who never appears, was published in 1954 and would once have been entering the public domain on January 1, 2011. As Vladimir says in the play: “But that is not the question. What are we doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come—” 56 years later, we are still waiting.

via Center for the Study of the Public Domain – What Could Have Been Entering the Public Domain on January 1, 2011? Wouldn’t it be nice if copyright actually made some sense, but that’s crazy talk.

22 Dec

PCMag.com – RIAA Misfires, Grazes PCMag.com

It worries me that the music industry took this action, because it reeks of desperation. The RIAA and other music industry organizations have spent the better part of the decade fighting the digital transition, with only a shrinking business to show for it. In recent years, though, the fist of anger has turned into at least one open hand as the music industry embraces the once shunned digital music industry. Unfortunately, that warm embrace, and the change that comes with it, are not happening fast enough. Clearly the music industry is still losing money to music piracy and even the recalibrated profit margins brought on by legal music sharing services.

It’s time for these music execs to pull their collective heads out of the sand and fully acknowledge and accept all the ways their industry has changed. They also have to understand that nothing will stop technology’s inexorable march forward. Things will continue to change. Music downloads and sharing will never go away. These execs have to find a way to use all that technology allows and make a business that rivals the good old days of vinyl, cassette tape and even CDs.

via PCMag.com – RIAA Misfires, Grazes PCMag.com. Apparently blaming journalists is now how the music industry will fight its battles.

13 Dec

TorrentFreak – Author Slams eBook Piracy, Son Outs Her As a Music Pirate

As part of an article investigating the growing phenomenon of eBook piracy, a Scandinavian news outlet interviewed a 19 year-old self-confessed pirate who bragged about his activities. To counter his viewpoint a well known author contributed to the piece, stating that she abhors book piracy since it costs her huge amounts of money. However, her moral stance took a bit of a beating when her son let an embarrassing fact slip out.

via TorrentFreak – Author Slams eBook Piracy, Son Outs Her As a Music Pirate. Turns out she pirated 1800 songs and purchased knock off Prada bags. The bags were purchased because real Prada bags “have such an inflated price”. Possibly the most absurd part of this is that her main complaint about piracy is it takes money out of her pocket, but the record labels and Prada well that’s a different story. She is now blaming the music piracy on her son, though the knock-off bags she freely admitted in the interview as purchasing them.