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Archive for the 'Intellectual Property Law' category

How sharing works: The Amen Break

Note:  I pulled this up from the archives today when I read this.

Can I Get An Amen?, 2004
recording on acetate, turntable, PA system, paper documents
dimensions variable
total run time 17 minutes, 46 seconds

By Nate Harrison

Can I Get An Amen? is an audio installation that unfolds a critical perspective of perhaps the most sampled drum beat in the history of recorded music, the Amen Break. It begins with the pop track Amen Brother by 60’s soul band The Winstons, and traces the transformation of their drum solo from its original context as part of a ‘B’ side vinyl single into its use as a key aural ingredient in contemporary cultural expression. The work attempts to bring into scrutiny the techno-utopian notion that ‘information wants to be free’- it questions its effectiveness as a democratizing agent. This as well as other issues are foregrounded through a history of the Amen Break and its peculiar relationship to current copyright law.

This is why this blog talks about music, DRM and copyright control. If you have 20 minutes, check it out. Especially the Judge Alex Kozinski quote at the end.

“Overprotecting intellectual property is as harmful as underprotecting it. Culture is impossible without a rich public domain. Nothing today, likely nothing since we tamed fire, is genuinely new: Culture, like science and technology, grows by accretion, each new creator building on the works of those who came before. Overprotection stifles the very creative forces it’s supposed to nurture.”

* Dissenting in the White v. Samsung Elec. Am., Inc., 989 F.2d 1512 (9th Cir. 1993) ruling.

Linux Defenders

On the front lines in the battle against patent trolls, is Linux Defenders.

Architected to eliminate poor quality patents and ensure that only high quality patents issue, the Linux Defenders program enables individuals and organizations to efficiently contribute to:

1. “Defensive Publications” that codify ‘known’ inventions that have not previously been patented so that they can be brought to the attention of the patent office to ensure that later developed patent applications claiming such inventions do not issue. In general, defensive publications are a vehicle which allows the Linux and broader open source community to create valuable prior art that enables Linux and freedom of action/freedom to operate for those active in utilizing Linux to drive innovation in products, services, and applications;

2. “Peer to Patent” which solicits prior art contributions from the Linux and broader open source community to ensure patent examiners are aware of prior art relevant to published applications that are currently under review. In this way, the patent office is alerted to relevant prior art and only the most innovative and novel ideas are actually patented.

3. “Post-Issue Peer to Patent” which solicits prior art contribution from Linux and the broader open source community to permit the invalidation of previously issued patents that were issued in error because of the patent office’s lack of awareness of relevant prior art.

Use of Linux Defenders is free of charge to contributors and the hosting of Defensive Publications on databases accessible by patent and trademark office examiners around the world is borne by the program’s sponsors.

via Linux Defenders.

Go Ogg, go!

Mozilla contributes $100,000 to fund Ogg development – Ars Technica

Mozilla has given the Wikimedia Foundation a $100,000 grant intended to fund development of the Ogg container format and the Theora and Vorbis media codecs. These open media codecs are thought to be unencumbered by software patents, which means that they can be freely implemented and used without having to pay royalties or licensing fees to patent holders. This differentiates Ogg Theora from many other formats that are widely used today.

via Mozilla contributes $100,000 to fund Ogg development – Ars Technica.

On software patents and the need for reform

The Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, D.C., recently held a conference on software and business method patents, and while there wasn’t unanimity, there was general agreement that the current system is dysfunctional and in need of reform.

This has been Red Hat’s position for a long time, and yet again, we see that conventional wisdom is finally catching up to us. Slowly, but surely, truth is happening.

From the Red Hat News Blog, here’s part of an account of the conference from Rob Tiller, Red Hat Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, IP

At a minimum, history suggests that patents are not a significant incentive to innovation in the software field. As I pointed out in my remarks at the conference, the Federal Circuit case law finding software to be patentable mostly dates from the mid-1990s, and the software patent explosion has occurred in the last ten years or so. However, a great deal of software now in everyday use was created earlier. Free and open source software programs such as GNU Emacs, GCC, and Linux date from the 1980s and early 1990s. Some of the most widely used proprietary software programs, like Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Word, and Oracle were released in the early 1980s. There’s no reason to think that the developers of those and other successful software programs would have been more innovative if they could have obtained patents.

It is theoretically possible that some software developers today are motivated by the hope of a new patent, but the likelier impact of our current patent system is to distract developers with anxieties about being sued over preexisting patents. We know beyond question that the the incentives of the patent system are not encouraging free and open source software developers. A patent entitles the holder to exclude others from making, using, and selling an invention. FOSS developers don’t want to exclude others this way – they want to share their code – and so FOSS developers in principle have no interest in obtaining patents.

via Red Hat News | Brookings Conference on Software and Business Method Patents Highlights Need for Reform.

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