At the 2007 EG conference, Kevin Kelly shares a fun stat: The World Wide Web, as we know it, is only 5,000 days old. Now, Kelly asks, how can we predict what’s coming in the next 5,000 days?
This month’s announcement of a back-room deal between ISPs (internet service providers) and the big record companies to spy on suspected copyright infringers and reduce the quality of their internet connections is just the latest paragraph in the record industry’s long, self-pitying suicide note, and it’s left me wishing they’d just pull the trigger already and stop beating their chests and telling us all how unfair it all is.
Under the new scheme, the rule of law is replaced by a cosy inter-industry deal. Whereas before, anyone who wanted your ISP to spy on your internet connection would have had to show evidence to a judge and get a court order, now any joker who claims to be an aggrieved copyright holder can do so.
And whereas actual criminals are punished by judges who make rulings that are proportional to the offence, and which are calculated to minimise external harm, the new scheme allows ISPs and their pals in the record industry to randomly shake up your connection like a snow-globe, dropping some or all of your services – whether you’re using your VoIP phone to speak to your dying granny in Australia or downloading the latest hit single from the guy who did the “Crazy Frog Song”.
Since the settlement of the Firestar lawsuit last month, we’ve been asked to explain why Red Hat settled the case, rather than fighting to invalidate the patent at issue in the lawsuit. The news some days back that the Patent Office had issued an initial, non-final action rejecting the claims in a re-examination of the same patent has inspired similar questions. Here are our thoughts.
The patent asserted in the Firestar lawsuit was U.S. Patent No. 6,101,502. In a perfect world, this patent and others like it would not even be awarded. In an almost-perfect world, even if such patents were awarded, there would be a fair opportunity to challenge their validity. Unfortunately, that is not the world we currently live in with respect to U.S. patent law.
Thousands of parents will learn of their children’s illegal downloading habits when warning letters arrive at their homes in a battle against internet piracy.
A government-backed drive is targeting the worst offenders of the estimated 6.5 million web users involved in illicit file-sharing of music and films. Britain’s six largest internet service providers, or ISPs, have joined the scheme, amid estimates that the practice could cost the music industry £1bn in the next five years.
One sanction being considered is to disconnect those who ignore warnings under a “three strikes and you’re out” rule similar to a measure under consideration in France. But this is still under consultation, and likely to be opposed by some ISPs.
Architecture created by the National Security Agency and expanded with help from the open-source community will save the Defense Department and intelligence agencies millions in hardware costs.
Analysts used to need multiple computers because they worked on separate machines for each classification level of data they accessed. Soon, users will be able to access data from a single console that could cost $500 or less, thanks to the NSA security architecture dubbed Flask.
With Flask, “we can guarantee that high-integrity data can’t be corrupted by untrustworthy entities or that sensitive data doesn’t leak to untrustworthy entities,” said Stephen Smalley, one of the chief developers of Flask at NSA.
The Patent and Trademark Office has now made clear that its newly developed position on patentable subject matter will invalidate many and perhaps most software patents, including pioneering patent claims to such innovators as Google, Inc.
In a series of cases including In re Nuijten, In re Comiskey and In re Bilski, the Patent and Trademark Office has argued in favor of imposing new restrictions on the scope of patentable subject matter set forth by Congress in § 101 of the Patent Act. In the most recent of these three—the currently pending en banc Bilski appeal—the Office takes the position that process inventions generally are unpatentable unless they “result in a physical transformation of an article” or are “tied to a particular machine.” Perhaps, the agency has conceded, some “new, unforeseen technology” might warrant an “exception” to this formalistic test, but in the agency’s view, no such technology has yet emerged so there is no reason currently to use a more inclusive standard.
Wikipedia is considering a basic change to its editing philosophy to cut down on vandalism. In the process, the online encyclopedia anyone can edit would add a layer of hierarchy and eliminate some of the spontaneity that has made the site, at times, an informal source of news.
It well could bring some law and order to the creative anarchy that has made the site a runaway success but also made it a target for familiar criticism.
The idea, which is called “flagged revisions,” has only been possible in the last few months because of a new extension to the software that runs Wikipedia. It is sure to be a hot topic here at Wikimania 2008, in Alexandria, Egypt, because it promises to enact a goal for “stable versions” of articles that has long been championed by Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales.
The free and open source software community is a spirited, independent-minded group of people who think for themselves. It is not surprising, therefore, that there have been numerous questions about the agreement and requests to make it publicly available. In the spirit of freedom and openness, we are happy to make the agreement public today here. We hope it will be a useful tool both in addressing existing legal threats and also in suggesting methods for addressing threats as yet unknown.
The agreement is, of course, a legal document. Some of the language is routine legal terminology, and some concerns the parties to the case and is of no general interest. On the other hand, the agreement has some important ideas expressed in terminology that may be unfamiliar to the non-lawyer reader, and so some explanation may be useful. Here are some pointers on where to find the juicy parts and how to figure out what they mean. To state the obvious, this is not intended as legal advice and should not be relied on as such.
This is what relentlessness looks like.
Keep in mind, these are the appeals against OOXML approval, which is the bogus not-at-all open standard being passed off as open by a competitor of ours.
This could be a big deal.
Last night someone sent me a copy of a document delivered by the CEOs of ISO and IEC earlier that day to the ISO Technical Management Board (TMB). That documents summarizes the four appeals filed in relation to the adoption of DIS 29500 (OOXML), and provides a response to each claimed basis for appeal. Those appeals, you will recall, were registered by the National Bodies of South Africa, India, Venezuela and Brazil, not all of which have became publicly available. Under the Directives, the next step in the Appeals process is for the TMB to vote on each appeal, with each member being entitled to vote yes, no or abstain on one or the other of the following resolutions, in each case as to each appeal separately:
a) Not to process the appeal further
b) To process one or more of the appeals, which would require setting up of a conciliation panel
If more than one appeal is approved for further consideration, the CEOs recommend that a single panel be formed to address them (I’ve previously described the ongoing process in greater detail here). The TMB’s are asked to vote by August 4.
The recommendation of the CEOs is as follows:
The processing of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 project has been conducted in conformity with the ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directives, with decisions determined by the votes expressed by the relevant ISO and IEC national bodies under their own responsibility, and consequently, for the reasons mentioned above, the appeals should not be process further.
Those who have been disappointed by how the Fast Track process was conducted will also be disappointed by the reasoning they will find in the document, which can be effectively be summarized as follows:
1. All judgments made during the course of the process were appropriately made under the Directives
2. The fact that the BRM voted on all proposed resolutions in some fashion satisfies the Directives
3. The fact that a sufficient percentage of National Bodies (NBs) ultimately voted to approve DIS 29500 ratifies the process and any flaws in that process
4. Many objections, regardless of their merits, are irrelevant to the appeals process
But the really sad part, the part none of those young kids in the theatre knew, the truly despicable part, is that poor Wall-E would be deemed a dirty copyright criminal under Canada’s new copyright law. Bill C-61 would criminalize much of Wally’s behavior in the film. Now that’s something to really cry about!
Here’s the evidence against WALL-E documented in the movie (**SPOILER WARNING**):
1. WALL-E records audio from his favorite movie, Hello Dolly, putting in onto his own digital recorder (bypassing the macrovision DRM on the tape). A COPYRIGHT CRIME UNDER C-61
2. WALL-E archives the audio, he doesn’t merely time-shift it. He listens repeatedly! A COPYRIGHT CRIME UNDER C-61
3. WALL-E shares his DRM-broken music with his friend, another robot named EVE. A COPYRIGHT CRIME UNDER C-61
4. WALL-E watches Hello Dolly on multiple evenings, on the screen of an iPod. Hello Dolly is not available through the iTunes store, therefore he broke the videocassette DRM when he platform shifted it. A COPYRIGHT CRIME UNDER C-61