22 Jul

The Word of Notch – On Patents

But there is no way in hell you can convince me that it’s beneficial for society to not share ideas. Ideas are free. They improve on old things, make them better, and this results in all of society being better. Sharing ideas is how we improve.

via The Word of Notch – On Patents. Notch (the guy who started Minecraft) has a really good piece on why patents are a bad idea. My opinion on patents has slowly changed from thinking that just software and business process patents to getting more convinced that patents in general are a bad idea.

19 Jan

TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)

What does a bill like PIPA/SOPA mean to our shareable world? At the TED offices, Clay Shirky delivers a proper manifesto — a call to defend our freedom to create, discuss, link and share, rather than passively consume.

via TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea). Clay Shirky delivers a clear and cogent history and explanation of PIPA/SOPA, walking through both the intent and what the ramifications of the bill and how it changes the entire legal system under which websites operate. Shirky also makes the very real point that even if PIPA and SOPA are killed (as appears increasingly likely) a bill similar to them will be back.

19 Jan

Electronic Frontier Foundation – The Internet at its Best

Today, we watch in awe as the Internet rallies to fight dangerous blacklist legislation, the PROTECT-IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House. The originality, creativity, and magnitude of action we’re seeing represents exactly what these bills would harm most: the value of a vibrant and open Internet that fosters these activities.

As the day goes on, we will continue to update you on Twitter (@EFF) and in this space. In the meantime, here are some of today’s #SOPAblackout highlights. Thank these organizations for their participation and go here to make your voice heard!

via Electronic Frontier Foundation – The Internet at its Best. EFF highlights some of the largest sites that participated in the SOPA/PIPA blackout.

16 Jan

O’Reilly Radar – The President’s challenge

All I can think is: we gave you the Internet. We gave you the Web. We gave you MP3 and MP4. We gave you e-commerce, micropayments, PayPal, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, the iPad, the iPhone, the laptop, 3G, wifi–hell, you can even get online while you’re on an AIRPLANE. What the hell more do you want from us?

Take the truck, the boat, the helicopter, that we’ve sent you. Don’t wait for the time machine, because we’re never going to invent something that returns you to 1965 when copying was hard and you could treat the customer’s convenience with contempt.

via O’Reilly Radar – The President’s challenge. Cory Doctorow has a wonderful saying “Copying is never going to get harder than it is now.” The idea that we’ll be able to go back in time and make it harder for people to get digital information/media/anything is just wrong. Businesses (hello entertainment industry) seems to ignore that fact time and time again. Businesses can either accept that getting media via the internet is getting easier and easier and try to make it simpler for consumers to get it legally or they will fail.

10 Sep

Ars Technica – Sanctioned: P2P lawyer fined $10,000 for “staggering chutzpah”

A federal judge has fined Texas lawyer Evan Stone $10,000 for sending out subpoenas and then settlement letters to people accused of sharing a German porn film called Der Gute Onkel—all without the judge’s permission.

In September 2010, Stone brought suit on behalf of Mick Haig Productions against 670 accused file-swappers, and he asked permission to take early discovery. Judge David Godbey said no; instead, Godbey brought in the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Citizen to represent the interests of the Does, since none of them had yet been named and therefore had no counsel to speak for them. EFF and Public Citizen lawyers soon began hearing from people who said that Verizon had turned over their information to Stone, information generally obtainable only by subpoena.

The lawyers asked Judge Godbey to find out what was going on, and to sanction Stone if he had in fact issued subpoenas without the court’s permission. Turns out that he had—at least four times. Godbey ruled (PDF) yesterday that Stone "grossly abused his subpoena power," obtained subscriber names he was not entitled to learn, and then, "almost unbelievably, Stone used the information he received to contact an unknown number of potential Does, presumably in the form of demand letters and settlement offers."

This wasn’t even the first time Stone had run into subpoena problems. In a separate Texas lawsuit over anime, Stone sent a subpoena more than a month after the judge in that case withdrew permission to do so; even more shockingly, "Stone issued the subpoena on the same day that he voluntarily dismissed the underlying case," according to Godbey.

via Ars Technica – Sanctioned: P2P lawyer fined $10,000 for "staggering chutzpah". Seriously stupid and unethical moves by this lawyer.

19 Aug

Electronic Frontier Foundation – Open WiFi and Liability for Copyright Infringement: Setting the Record Straight

Last week, TorrentFreak ran an interesting pair of posts offering opposing views on an issue that has become increasingly important with the rise of the copyright trolls: whether a person who runs an open wifi network can be held liable when others use the network for copyright infringement.

The problem with “online debates” like this is they can leave folks with the false impression that there are two equally valid approaches to a legal question. In this case, there aren’t. The truth is that no court has ever found that anyone is liable simply because another user of his or her open wifi committed some legal wrong. Every day cafes, airports, libraries, laundromats, schools and individuals operate open wifi routers, happily sharing their connection with neighbors and passers by. Sometimes people use those connections for bad acts, most of the time they don’t, the world gets a valuable public service, and the open wifi providers are not liable.

via Electronic Frontier Foundation – Open WiFi and Liability for Copyright Infringement: Setting the Record Straight. The line about “online debates” had me giggling.

02 Apr

TorrentFreak – Why Is It Rocket Science That Laws Should Apply Online Too?

One of the primary demands of the Pirate Party has been that the same laws that apply offline should also apply online. I think it’s an entirely reasonable thing to demand; the Internet is not a special case, but part of reality. The problems appear when an obsolete but powerful industry realizes that this just and equal application of laws means they can’t enforce a distribution monopoly any longer.

To understand the absurdity of the copyright industry’s demands, we must pause and consider which rights we take for absolute granted in the analog world. These are rights that already apply in the digital part of reality as well, but are somehow hidden in a legal game of hide-and-seek.

Let’s look at what rights I have when I communicate through analog channels with somebody — using paper, a pen, an envelope and a stamp. The same rights should apply when using a digital communications channel instead, at least theoretically, since the law doesn’t differentiate between methods of communication. Unfortunately for the copyright industry, the enforcement of these our rights online would mean that the copyright monopoly becomes utterly unenforceable, so the copyright industry is now attacking these fundamental rights on every level. But that doesn’t mean our rights aren’t there.

via TorrentFreak – Why Is It Rocket Science That Laws Should Apply Online Too?. Why indeed?

24 Mar

CrunchGear – Record Industry: Limewire Could Owe $75 Trillion – Judge: “Absurd”

So we’re all pretty desensitized by now to the mind-blowing stupidity on display by the record industry in its foolhardy attempts at assigning damages in piracy cases — was anyone surprised when they told one woman, who had shared 24 songs, that she owed nearly two million dollars? Yes, ridiculous. But this — this is beyond ridiculous. This is… sublime.

The record companies suing Limewire were asked to estimate the damages that should be paid by the file-sharing service. Their estimate? $400 Billion on the low end, and at the high end — $75 trillion dollars. That’s more than the GDP of the entire world.

The judge, in a refreshing stroke of good sense, deemed these potential damages “absurd” and the plaintiff’s approach “untenable”. The $75tn figure relies on an interpretation of copyright law that provides statutory damages for each instance of copying, and with the numbers of downloads and individual songs the industry is alleging, the money adds up quickly. Even the $400bn figure is certainly grossly inflated, however “conservative” it may appear to Virgin, Atlantic, Sony, and so on

via CrunchGear – Record Industry: Limewire Could Owe $75 Trillion – Judge: “Absurd”. The judge has exactly the right idea, absurd indeed.

21 Mar

Bloomberg – Apple Sues Amazon.com, Seeks Order to Stop Use of ‘App Store’ Trademark

Apple Inc. (AAPL) sued Amazon.com Inc., saying the online retailer is improperly using Apple’s “App Store” trademark for a mobile software developer program.

Apple, in a complaint filed March 18 in California, accused Amazon.com of trademark infringement and unfair competition and asked for a court order to prevent the company from using the “App Store” name, as well as for unspecified damages.

“Amazon has begun improperly using Apple’s App Store mark in connection with Amazon’s mobile software developer program,” Apple said in the complaint. Amazon also plans to use the name with a mobile software download service, the complaint states.

via Bloomberg – Apple Sues Amazon.com, Seeks Order to Stop Use of ‘App Store’ Trademark. Ughh when does it ever end.

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.