Friday, July 11, 2003

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Alan Cunningham of the Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute, University of London, has started a weblog on issues related to intellectual property, law, technology, philosophy and economics.
The End of End-to-End? By Simson Garfinkel at ECommerce Times:
"Whenever you hear a company bragging about the great services it can offer directly in its
network, understand that it is trying to kill end-to-end. Personally, I'd rather have a dumb
network, a pair of smart endpoints, and a future"
The latest Journal of Information Technology Law has just been published. Refereed articles include:
Trademark Infringement, the Internet and Jurisdiction
by Professor David Bainbridge, Aston Buiness School
Internet File-sharing and the Liability of Intermediaries for Copyright Infringement:A Need for International Consensus by Matthew Just, University of Warwick
Software Development, Intellectual Property, and IT Security
by Robert Gehring, Technical University of
Much Pain for Little Gain? A Critical View of Software Patents
by Christian Koboldt, DotECon Consultants, London
Bearing the Burden: Small Firms and the Patent System
by Stuart Macdonald, Sheffield University
Software Patents and Innovation
by Sylvain Perchaud, President of Europe Shareware:Association Pour la Promotion des Auteurs Européens de Sharewares
There is also a commentary on two of the articles on software patents
The Proposed Software Directive: A User's Comments
by Simon Davies, Patent Attorney, D Young and Company
Musical collaboration across space and time via Creative Commons.
From Larry Lessig's blog, a (warning: large mp3) "wonderful radio show from the Columbia Workshop in 1937 about characters leaving the “copyright lane” for the “public domain.” It is a brilliantly complex and funny tale that reveals an understanding about the value of the public domain that would be hard to recognize today." The show was written by Eustace Wyatt.
A barrister, Jon Holbrook, is not happy with UK government's proposed law on corporate killing. He explains why in Spiked magazine.
"In summary: the government is proposing to create an offence of homicide where criminal guilt
exists in the absence of personal criminal guilt, where the management's errors may not amount to
gross negligence and where the death may not have been the direct result of those errors...
The offence of corporate killing has been devised as a means of securing a conviction for a
person's death where the moral culpability for manslaughter does not exist. The notion of criminal
responsibility is being degraded to such an extent the offence of corporate killing will be criminal in
name only."
Thoughtful piece. Unlikely to make an impact though because the proposed law has such intuitive political and popular appeal. I hasten to add that just because something is intuitively appealing on the surface does not necessarily mean it is correct.

Check out this from an 'urban infiltration' enthusiast at Declan McCullagh's Politech.
"Over the years, it becomes
glaringly obvious to explorers such as ourselves, that almost all of
the critical infrastructure of large cities is _totally_ vulnerable.
Electricity, water, gas, communications, sewage, drainage, rail - all of
them could be shut down over wide areas for days or weeks by simple acts
of vandalism, at remote and unguarded locations...
... we have two observations:
1. It would be easy for anyone wishing to massively disrupt society,
to successfully attack the crucial infrastructure (and escape free.)
2. Suck attacks do not seem to occur...
...The only possible conclusion, is that there is simply no one seriously
interested in committing major infrastructure attacks. And that implies
there are actually no true (or even wannabe) 'terrorists' among us.
And never have been."
I don't accept the conclusion but if s/he is correct about the vunerability of the infrastructure, it is surprising that we have not yet had such an attack.
Some stories of interest from the US press:
Net Radio Group Threatens to Sue RIAA in the Washington Post
How to Make a Sonic Purée From Pop Snippets in the New York Times
PATENT BENDING in the New Yorker.
Extract from the latter -
Innovators came up with new ways of selling products, handling
suppliers, running organizations, or managing information. If the ideas were good, the innovators got rich, but they also got
imitated, which made them less rich than they might have been.....
Those were the days. Now the first thing someone with a good notion does is press the government to protect it. Priceline
patented its reverse-auction method for selling cut-rate airline tickets. I.B.M. patented a method for keeping track of people
waiting in line for the bathroom."
This is a bit like getting a patent on the idea of fishing, not a new kind of fishing rod but the idea of fishing itself.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

A French court has castigated EMI for inadequate warnings on copy protected CDs, apparently saying they mislead consumers. My schoolboy french is not up to the job of translating the court's opinion but it is available online.

Shawn Fanning is, according to the LA Times, "looking for backers of technology he's developing that would let file-sharing networks distribute music without violating copyrights"
Posting here is likely to slow to a trickle over the summer as I get hit with lots of exam marking and summer school as well as a couple of weeks leave.

Notable: The World Intellectual Property Organisation have received a challenge from a diverse group with interests in the "explosion of open and collaborative projects to create public goods. " Signatories to a letter to the Director General of WIPO, requesting that WIPO "convene a meeting in calendar year 2004 to examine these new open collaborative development models, and to discuss their relevance for public policy" look likely to have that request fulfilled. James Love of the Consumer Project on Technology seems to have organised the letter and co-signatories include James Boyle, Larry Lessig, Yochai Benkler, Diane Cabell, Tim Hubbard, Bruce Perens, Ralph Nadar, Laurie Racine, Richard Stallman, Jonathan Zittrain. Other organisations associated include the Consumers Association in the UK and Medecins sans Frontieres.

Also notable: MIT are launching a "Government Information Awareness" GIA project in response to the US government's TIA programme. Wired News explains.