Tuesday, October 26, 2004

DMCA Reversal in US: printer cartridges not copyrighted material! 

Hurray! Another American court has refused another plaintiff's ludicrous interpretation of the DMCA, choosing to allow competition rather than let copyright law used to squeeze out other businesses on account of a bogus litigation. Another lesson for Canadian lawmakers: don't even try to make copyright laws that prevent competition or restricted expression, or the courts will smack them down for all sorts of good reasons. Besides, why should consumers be forced to pay more just because some intercompany intentionally makes their products incompatible?

"This just in --- Static Control Corp. has won its appeal against Lexmark over the right to produce after-market replacement cartridges for Lexmark printers."

LINK: from lawgeek

LINK: EFF Case archive

Monday, October 25, 2004

NoSoftwarePatents.com Launches Campaign Against EU Software Patents 

A new campaign against software patents in the EU was launched today in 12 languages at www.NoSoftwarePatents.com. (Munich, Germany 20 October 2004).

"Software patents are used for anti-competitive purposes, stifle innovation, and would cost the entire economy and society dearly", Florian Müller said. "On the bottom line, they create more injustice than justice. There is only a small group of people in the patent system who would benefit from them, and some large American corporations have ulterior motives. The public interest must prevail because every European citizen, every European company and every European government would end up paying a high price for such a monumental mistake."

As digital copyright Canada points out, "In Canada we await the promised public publishing this month of Chapter 26 of the Manual of Patent Office Practices drafted for the review of computer implemented inventions and business methods." patenting software makes about as much sense as trying to patent any other math formula-- That is, it doesn't make any sense at all. Allowing software patents opens the floodgates to the patenting of almost anything that can be represented by any mathematical symbols. There's plenty of evidence that the existing level of patenting is already a large drag on innovation and productivity, so it's hard to see how thousands more patents will do us (citizens and businesses alike) much good.

LINK: http://nosoftwarepatents.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Diebold hammered by EFF, US courts for false copyright infringement claims 

Diebold, everyone's favorite error-prone electronic voting machine manufacturer, lost big a couple of days ago down in the US, and agreed to pay $125,000 in damages and fees. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's release, "a California district court found that Diebold had knowingly misrepresented that online commentators, including Indymedia and two Swarthmore college students, had infringed the company's copyrights."

Chalk one up for the good guys, and let it be an example of why Canada should have a "notice and notice" system rather than a "notice and take down" system for allegedly infringing material on host servers.

LINK: EFF Press release

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Toronto ISP end user contracts 

Over the last few days, I've been giving a lot of thought to the terms and conditions Toronto-area ISPs have put in their contracts concerning copyright and other so-called intellectual property rights. In a couple of weeks, I'll post a complete rundown on the EULAs Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Golden, and any others providing high-speed Internet that catch my eye. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

WiFi neighborhood free-for-all (for now) 

Well, it turns out a guy living right here in Toronto has harnessed the airwaves, using WiFi to distribute his Internet connection as well as a massive library of recorded content, including digitized broadcast television.

"Now most of Andrew's neighborhood is watching digital TV with full PVR capability, making unmetered VoIP telephone calls, and downloading data at prodigious rates thanks to shared bandwidth. Is this the future of home communications and entertainment? It could be, five years from now, if Andrew Greig has anything to say about it."

As my hero Ali G asked so eloquently in one of his interviews, "What is legal?" Well, I could answer that I bet this set up is NOT, even though it seems ridiculously convenient, inexpensive and cool. Signal retransmission is allowed in Canada, but the CRTC said that permission doesn't extend to Internet rebroadcasters (Q: is a WiFi LAN/WAN the Internet?). Moreover, doing the PVR thing and providing it to neighbors (Q: are his neighbors the general public, or only his close friends?) Seems to fall on the side of copyright law where you get your butt hauled into court by the Canadian Recording Industry Association or some other such group of Darth Vader's friends.

Sure, sure, you say, this is so awesome that Canadian lawmakers would have to be on the MPAA's payroll not to try and find a way to encourage this sort of innovation that efficiently uses our technological resources, eh? Well, time to come up with a good argument about how all this might actually not fall foul of CRTC regulations and the Copyright Act- but that's for another day.

LINK: I, Cringely (from wirelessbandit)

Virtual economies, where copyright becomes a property right 


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Cool world subway maps 

If you're interested in side-by-side scale comparisons of major world subway systems, this is your thing.

LINK: Subway maps

Toronto Wi-Fi Meetup Group Event 

The Toronto Wi-Fi Meetup Group has an event tomorrow:

What: Toronto Wi-Fi October Meetup
When: Wednesday, October 13 at 7:00PM
Where: Courtyard by Marriott, 475 Yonge Street

Come out for another evening of WiFi networking!

LINK: WiFi Events

Friday, October 08, 2004

Movie Studios and Record Labels snitch and squeal 

"Major movie studios and record labels on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Grokster decision, which had absolved peer-to-peer networks of responsibility when their users download copyright material without permission [ of the file sharing network]."

Don't these people know when they're beaten? Peer-to-peer isn't going to be stopped without stopping the Internet, because the Internet is itself a peer-to-peer network. If the recording and movie people think they can actually win this fight even if they win in court, they got another think coming. See, we've got this thing called the Canadian border, and something else called the Supreme Court of Canada (now with four of nine judges being women- a world first), and if there is NO way the kind of nonsense like "shutting down peer-to-peer" would get past them. Not a chance.

We've also got the CRTC and things like compulsory licensing for audio recordings, and we're keenly aware that most of the money Canadians spend on music and movies flies south to the United States, and out of the hands of Canadians. Our pharmacies are doing a land-office business selling American-designed pharmaceuticals back to Americans at fair prices, rather than the profiteering mark-ups they force upon American citizens through their private health-care plans. Just imagine: Canadian servers sending gigabytes of music southbound, all completely legal in Canada... The war on drugs didn't do much to stop the flow of narcotics, I'd bet he would be at least as hard to try and stop something that is invisible, weightless, odorless and grows for free. Hear that, G.W.?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Compulsory licensing papers 

An interesting collection of academic papers outlining policies and legal requirements for creating a compulsory licensing regime. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has become a proponent of compulsory licensing for audio recordings in the United States as a solution to mass copyright infringement and ridiculous lawsuits by the recording industry- here in Canada, we already have a compulsory licensing scheme for audio recordings, and with a levy (tax!) built-in to the cost of every blank recording medium sold in the country, from blank CDs to Apple's iPods.

LINK: >papers

Monday, October 04, 2004

Massive victory at WIPO! 

Massive victory at WIPO!
"For years now, progressive elements and copyfighters have been trying to get the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization to start thinking about ways of promoting creativity and development instead of just IP... at the general session of the WIPO in Geneva this weekend, the Assembly as adoped a decision to put development and the promotion of creativity front-and-center in its goals. That means that from now on, WIPO isn't an organization that blindly supports more IP no matter what, but rather one that seeeks to improve the world by whatever tool is best suited to the job."

Myabe... but it still seems that it's called the World intellectual Property Organization, and with so-called intellectual property so central in its very name, it's probably still a long way off from becoming a strong supporter of public domain creation and sharing-based innovation. A large step for a further backwards organization, only a very small step so far for the world at large.

LINK: boingboing.net

Friday, October 01, 2004

Canadian Creative Commons license now available!

Following the lead of numerous other countries, Canada finally has a creative Commons license for public use. The CC license provides artists, authors, programmers and other content creators with an easy and efficient set of rules to encourage maximum distribution of their work, while maintaining control over economic exploitation.

Over at the Boing, Cory Doctorow notes that the waiver of moral rights is not mandatory, and could make some potential users think twice before making use of a work and creating directly derivative content. Moral rights in copyright law are a tricky thing, both policy-wise and in terms of clear definitions as to what may impugn an author's moral prerogative and what may not-- The language is all about reputation, etc., highly subjective terms, especially given intense personal connections to artistic works. Canadian copyright law stands somewhere between continental Europe's intense focus upon the rights of authors and the United States' (supposedly!) single-minded Pursuit of economic and scientific progress, and it seems somewhat inevitable that our creative Commons license import both the good and bad from our hybrid legislation.

At any rate, regardless of what one may think of the license terms itself, congratulations to CIPPIC and the University of Ottawa for providing Canadian content creators with another legal mechanism for getting their work out there.

LINK: creativecommons.org

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