Archive for October, 2007

if i was american…

October 31, 2007

I know who I’d vote for. Even though he’s not a she.

“authors” not “creators”

October 31, 2007

So I’m having an interesting discussion in Moodle with my high school class. A student posts –

After reading the first chapter of Free Culture, I came to ponder what creation really is […] What is a creation? Moreover, is it important for the so-called “creator” of a piece of art to be well known?

Sure enough, it takes a nanosecond for the discussion to turn in the direction of chicken-egg philosophy and biblical accounts of the origin of the universe. I had to split the discussion off to a “Philosophical Discourse” forum. Don’t get me wrong, we’re loving that ongoing discussion and I encourage continued participation in it. But the fact is, that discussion has nothing to do with the original post. Stallman has a point.

teach, don’t preach

October 30, 2007

The 20th century will linger so long as students are taught this:

When the concept was explained that they were obtaining a product that they did not pay for and it was essentially stealing from the artist and the recording company they seemed to understand […]

They “seemed” to understand because they’ve been told a subtle lie. What students need “explained” is that they have violated 20th century copyright law in need of reform to fit our 21st century technology. Then they need to see the difference between physical objects and intangible information. Then they need to see how Big Media ignores this difference every time it claims downloading to be “stealing” and that “piracy” must be fought to “protect the artists”. Students need to see that the analogy with sensate “products” is deceptive propaganda used to encourage thinking of copyrighted works as “property” when nothing could be further from the truth.

If we get this far then we need to explain to students that change can occur if we work toward it. We need to remind students that although they are doing absolutely nothing wrong by file-sharing, it’s against the law – so they do so at their own risk. We need to inform them that change can happen without disobedience – but only if they work for it. We need to expose students to innovative projects demonstrating that copyright need not necessarily be an all-or-nothing venture. We need to educate students with b o o k s that challenge us to become aware of and think deeply about, world-wide digital networks and their intersection with copyright law. Most importantly, we need to ask students about the ethics of file-sharing. And just as importantly, the ethics of those that fight it.

In short, the worst thing we can do is encourage industrial age thinking when the networked information economy is knocking at our door.

south africa adopts ODF

October 28, 2007

Andy Updegrove reports.

microsoft placation

October 27, 2007

One has to have their head in the sand to believe this:

This means [Microsoft] will continue working towards the same goal: enabling as many individuals and schools as possible to benefit from the transformative power of technology at the best possible price.

Achieving this goal requires little “work”. All Microsoft needs to do is transform their business model by releasing their software to the public domain or relicensing it as free software. However, the actual goal of Microsoft is to make as much short-term profit as possible despite any social or pedagogical considerations. A belief that this corporation’s goal is to “enable” individuals or “transform” society is naïve.

weighing the importance of presidential gender

October 27, 2007

The Independent:

This week, [Hillary Clinton] said that, if elected president, she would not rule out military strikes to destroy Tehran’s nuclear weapons facilities. […]  So far, Mrs Clinton has received $52,600 in contributions from individual arms industry employees. That is more than half the sum given to all Democrats and 60 per cent of the total going to Republican candidates.

Some have stated to me they like Clinton because they “would like to see a female president”.  In general, I share and sympathize with this desire. But in this instance, is the potential price the world may pay compared to other candidates worth it? Perhaps it’s not wise to consider gender a significant factor in this case.

the coolest

October 26, 2007

Peter Kirn:

it’s interesting to watch artists try to out-cool each other on online distribution.

Indeed. The coolest would be CC licensed OGG files. I’d throw cash to that.

UK must match law to intent

October 26, 2007

The BBC on Lord Triesman:

While [Lord Treisman] said that the government had no interest in “hounding 14-year-olds who shared music”, it was intent on tracking down those who made multiple copies for profit.

What is interesting is this admittance that the goal is to “track[…] down those who made multiple copies for profit” (emphasis added), not “hound”. This is a perfectly reasonable compromise. But if this compromise is genuinely pursued, then reform must head in the opposite direction of “anti file-sharing laws”. For example, a UK law stating the default copyright be (or along the lines of) CC by-nc-nd would be in sync with the “intent” of the government. This way they can still track down those who copy “for profit” yet avoid passing corrupt laws that criminalize the sharing of culture.

Unfortunately, the article clearly demonstrates that Lord Triesman is confused by the distorted “intellectual property theft” view. Therefore, a passing of antisocial law would not come as a surprise.

the purpose of patent law

October 24, 2007

Mike Masnick in reference to Amazon software patents:

This is clearly not what the patent system was designed to protect.

The patent system was not designed to “protect” anyone. It was designed to promote the publishing of innovative thought. “Protect” implies prevention of harm. But if the law protects people from malicious action, then the law should not expire.

top law professors spread “IP” confusion

October 21, 2007

Henry E. Smith:

Intellectual property rights are conventionally said to solve an incentive problem but not an allocation problem. (pdf page 3)

Those who favor treating copyright, patents, and trademarks as property tend to use the vague and misleading term “Intellectual Property” when trying to persuade others toward their line of thinking. This leads to overgeneralization, thus breeding confusion. Trademark law isn’t about incentives. It’s a stamp of approval to protect consumers, not a solution to an “incentive problem”.

Via Zohar.