What's Blocking Innovation in America?

Hail! Amen! And any other shout of affirmation I can send out! This is the most spot on analysis of our "intellectual property" law problems that I've read in ages - but enough from here. Go to Groklaw and read the whole thing.

The White House is asking us to give them ideas on what is blocking innovation in America. I thought I'd give them an honest answer. Here it is: Current intellectual property laws are blocking innovation.

(link) [Groklaw]

20:27 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

China Could Game the U.S. in Intellectual Property


The dubious Chinese patent process poses growing risks for U.S. companies, which could be forced to pay license fees or withdraw from a market left free to exploit their technologies.

(link) [Business Week]

23:26 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Sony Sues PS3 Hackers

Apparently one no longer buys anything - one rents or leases it, under license, from the the producer. As Orin Kerr points out:

I’ve seen a lot of civil cases trying to use the vague language of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in creative ways. But this is the first case I know of claiming that you can commit an unauthorized access of your own computer.

Mr. Kerr needs to take a closer look: this happens frequently in a lot of arenas any more, not just computer software and hardware (although it's probably most obvious there). I've ranted about this for a while now - it's a particular bugaboo of mine. Like Mr. Kerr, I believe that if one owns something, one may dispose of it as one wills. This simple doctrine from common law is slowly but surely being eroded, and if the erosion continues it will someday destroy the whole notion of private property. The time to stop it is now.

Lawyers for Sony Computer Entertainment have asked a San Francisco District Court judge to block the release of code that would enable the "jailbreaking" of the Sony PlayStation 3.

(link) [PC Magazine]

via Overlawyered

11:47 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Guess What, You Don’t Own That Software You Bought

Unbelievable - it's getting to the point where you don't own anything. Hopefully this will not survive the inevitable appeal, but if it does, they may have finally killed that golden egg laying goose.

A federal appeals court said Friday that software makers can use shrink-wrap and click-wrap licenses to forbid the transfer or resale of their wares, an apparent gutting of the so-called first-sale doctrine.

(link) [Wired- Threat Level]

17:29 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

The Public (Domain) Be Damned


Warning: this one is depressing if you believe in the public domain. You may recall that last year, a district court made a very important ruling on what appeared to be a minor part of copyright law. The "Golan" case asked a simple question: once something is officially in the public domain, can Congress pull it out and put it back under copyright? The situation came about because of (yet another) trade agreement that pulled certain foreign works out of the public domain. A district court had initially said that this move did not violate the law, but the appeals court sent it back, saying that the lower court had not analyzed the First Amendment issue, and whether this was a case where the inherent conflict between the First Amendment and copyright law went too far to the side of copyright by violating the "traditional contours of copyright law." Getting a second crack at this, the district court got it right -- and was the first court to point out that massively expanded copyright law can, in fact, violate the First Amendment.

(link) [TechDirt]

21:04 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Inventing a Better Patent System

If we have to have a patent system, and I suppose it's inevitable for the foreseeable future, then these five proposals would go a long way towards making it tolerable.

The best way forward is for Congress to sidestep the damages question and instead add five amendments to existing statutes that would improve the processing of patents, reduce lawsuits and speed up the arrival of innovations on the market.

(link) [New York Times]

22:10 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

New iPhone Developer Agreement Bans the Use of Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone Compiler

Wow. Just wow. The new language in Apple's dev license for the iPad and iPhone has this gem:

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

Basically, this not only shoots Adobe's product in the head, it gets Lazarus, Embarcadero's forthcoming multiplatform products, and a whole slew of other potential and existing compilers and cross-compilers. It's got a lot of developers really pissed off, and as the news spreads, even more will decide that it's simply not worth developing for a platform with such capricious and obnoxious "rules". It's as though Apple was intent on returning to the 90's, when developers spurned the Mac because of it's arcane OS idiocy and did nothing but Windows work instead. That really worked for them then - and it'll work about the same way now.

I'm big on property and ownership. Apple's shenanigans prove that you really don't own anything anymore, we're all just renting or leasing.The last time this was the case on Planet Earth, they called it the Middle Ages, and they called the renters and lessees "serfs". It'll be interesting to see how long our new medieval times last.

What Apple doesn’t want — and as we see now, is not going to allow — is for anyone other than Apple to define the framework for native iPhone apps. What Apple is saying here is, if you’re going to write a native iPhone app, then you need to target our platform; if you want to do something else, then target the iPhone with an optimized web app. I.e., the iPhone OS supports two software platforms: Cocoa Touch and the web. Apple isn’t going to let anyone else build a meta-platform on top of Cocoa Touch.

(link) [Daring Fireball]

09:03 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Developers Trying To Treat Houses Like Copyright

Obnoxious and idiotic, eh? But it may serve a useful purpose. It brings into sharp relief the real threat of patents and copyrights to a free society, which is the threat against property (ownership) itself. This is probably the ultimate reductio ad absurdum argument against copyright and patent restrictions of any sort - it's much easier to understand the ridiculousness of such encumbrances when they're applied to physical property that has traditionally been owned outright.

The final irony here is the name of the company pushing this scheme: Freehold. They should look that word up - I don't think it means what they wish it meant.

We've been noticing a trend in recent years of companies that sell physical goods trying to figure out ways to have those goods get some of the "advantages" of digital goods. For example, with physical products, once you sell it, in theory, the seller no longer owns a piece of the good. But with digital goods, they still hold the copyright, and often try to limit what you can do with the product even though you thought you "bought" it. So we've been disturbed by the rise of things like artist resale rights, which take away the right of first sale on artwork, and require you to pay the original artist every time you sell the product.

(link) [TechDirt]

via Overlawyered

08:03 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Judge Invalidates Human Gene Patent

This could be huge - it's assuredly on it's way to the Supremes, so we'll have to await that result, but the reasoning is sound, to be sure. It's about time some Federal judge showed a modicum of common sense in this area.

A federal judge on Monday struck down patents on two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The decision, if upheld, could throw into doubt the patents covering thousands of human genes and reshape the law of intellectual property

(link) [New York Times]

18:17 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

The Tragedy of Steel

A techie looks at ACTA. Good read - this fellow gets it.

Intellectual property laws were written for the ultimate purpose of enriching the public domain and raising the standard of living for the entire nation. The monopoly-on-production provision that people these days speak of as being synonymous with copyrights and patents was never intended to be more than a means to an end: a financial incentive to create new things that will enrich all of society.

(link) [Turbu Tech]

18:04 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

The Future Won’t Be Free

Ah, yes, we took the digital acid. Anything free is by definition bad, so much so that using free software could get you declared an enemy of the state. (Sign me up for that!)

These folks seem to think that we shouldn't have a right to read, that history should be locked down and doled out, and that knowledge must be controlled. They long for the Middle Ages, before the printing press, when human knowledge was their exclusive province, and those questioning their authority could be inquired after.

Pardon my Anglo-Saxon, but fuck them ... information not only wants to be free, it will be. And there's no power in heaven or on earth that can stop it now. The future will be free, one way or another.

In the long run, the first decade of the Web could come to be seen as a momentary aberration—an echo of '60s free culture when we all took the bad, digital acid. So, media companies, on behalf of all misdirected Internet visionaries, I'm sorry. We like you—we really do—and we don't want a world without you. If you can hold on until we all have new kinds of screens, and new sets of expectations, you'll be fine. You'll be different, but fine. Just, please, don't take my word for it this time. Ask around.

(link) [Newsweek]

11:20 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

For the Love of Culture

When law becomes an impediment to history, it's time for it to get out of the way.

Her project faced two challenges, one obvious, one not. The obvious challenge was technical: gathering fifty years of film and restoring it digitally. The non-obvious challenge was legal: clearing the rights to move this creative work onto this new platform for distribution.

(link) [The New Republic]

19:40 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Hacker cracks Kindle's copyright

The only surprise: it took so long.

An Israeli hacker has found a way to transfer the books on Amazon's e-book reader to any other device.

(link) [BBC News]

19:39 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Intellectual Property

As I understand it, I am being paid only for my work in arranging the words; my property is that arrangement. The thoughts in this book, on the contrary, are not mine. They came freely to me, and I give them freely away. I have no "intellectual property," and I think that all claimants to such property are thieves.

— Wendell Berry (Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays)

21:16 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Patent Issued For Podcasting

You've gotta wonder if our patent examiners have been living under rocks or in holes for the past decade. How could anyone using a computer be so completely unaware of podcasting and RSS as to think it a "novel innovation" deserving of patent protection?

The EFF is reaching out for help after a company called Volomedia got the Patent Office to grant them exclusive rights to 'a method for providing episodic media' that could threaten the community of podcasters and millions of podcast listeners.

(link) [Slashdot]

18:53 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link