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Archive for the 'The 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.


Mark Webbink On the Settlement

Former Red Hat Counsel Mark Webbink and Duke Law professor offers his take on the Red hat patent Settlement

Walking With Elephants

Although I had to repress my initial gag reflex at even settling these cases (the amount of prior art identified against the original patent asserted by FireStar was/is almost mind boggling), the settlement is a rational response to such claims. Red Hat disposed of the claims in a fiscally responsible manner given the cost of patent litigation. However, that is the far less interesting aspect of the settlement. The truly admirable part of the settlement were the terms that Red Hat and its legal team extracted from DataTern and its financial backers. Not only did Red Hat obtain license terms that protect its products, including Hibernate, it did so in a manner that I believe is entirely consistent with both versions of the GPL. That is no small feat. And we are not talking about a Microsoft/Novell style license. On top of that, Red Hat didn’t stop with the asserted patents; they made sure that DataTern and its portfolio of patents aren’t going to be a problem for Red Hat and its licensees for a long time to come.

Here are some videos about software patents that Mark made with Red Hat just before he moved on to academia.


Mark Webbink On: Software Patents

Mark Webbink On: The Red Hat Patent Promise.

Mark Webbink + Alan Cox On The Red Hat Patent Promise


The Future of Copyright

Cato Unbound » Blog Archive » The Future of Copyright

A very condensed version of copyright history could look like this: texts (1800), works (1900), tools (2000). Originally the law was designed to regulate the use of one machine only: the printing press. It concerned the reproduction of texts, printed matter, without interfering with their subsequent uses. Roughly around 1900, however, copyright law was drastically extended to cover works, independent of any specific medium. This opened up the field for collective rights management organizations, which since have been setting fixed prices on performance and broadcasting licenses. Under their direction, very specific copyright customs developed for each new medium: cinema, gramophone, radio, and so forth. This differentiation was undermined by the emergence of the Internet, and since about the year 2000 copyright law has been pushed in a new direction, regulating access to tools in a way much more arbitrary than anyone in the pre-digital age could have imagined.


ACLU: Patenting Abstract Ideas Violates The Constitution

Docudharma:: ACLU: Patenting Abstract Ideas Violates The Constitution

“The court must ensure that any test it uses in determining whether to award a patent is in line with the Constitution,” said Christopher Hansen, senior staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group, who filed the brief. “If the government had the authority to grant exclusive rights to an idea, the fundamental purpose of the First Amendment – to protect an individual’s right to thought and expression – would be rendered meaningless.”


Red Hat Asks Federal Court To Limit Patents On Software

Red Hat News | Red Hat Asks Federal Court To Limit Patents On Software

Today, Red Hat took a public stand challenging the standards for patenting software. In the Biliski case that is now before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, this patent issue is ripe for consideration. In a friend of the court brief submitted to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in the Bilski case today, Red Hat describes the special problems that patents pose for open source and seeks modification of the standards for patentable subject matter that take open source into account. Here is a quick summary of our brief.

Open source software is one of the most dynamic, innovative sectors of the U.S. economy, but the U.S. patent system is a costly hindrance to open source innovation. We believe that although the patent system was created to foster innovation, it’s simply not an engine for innovation for open source. Software patents were barely recognized when open source began, and so the hope of obtaining a patent did not motivate the first developers. Those pioneers were generally opposed to software patents. The open, collaborative activity at the heart of open source is at odds with the patent system, which excludes the public from making, using or selling a patented invention. Open source developers seek to contribute code to the community – not to exclude others from using the code.


CCIA Asks House To Oppose Telecom Immunity

CCIA Asks House To Oppose Telecom Immunity

Washington, D.C. — The Computer & Communications Industry Association sent a letter to House members Friday asking them not to support retroactive immunity for major telecommunications companies as part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act legislation.

Click here to see the letter[PDF]

For some background on this story, and what telecom immunity for warrentless wiretapping has to do with national security, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good rundown here.


Strike One Against Microsoft

Red Hat News | Strike One Against Microsoft

by Michael Cunningham, Executive Vice President & General Counsel

Strike One!

In our last blog posted on February 21, I proposed three test pitches for Microsoft to help judge the meaningfulness of its latest efforts to turn over a new leaf on interoperability. The first of these was to embrace the extant, multi-vendor ISO standard, ODF (Open Document Format) in lieu of its single vendor dominated efforts to create a new standard, OOXML (Office Open XML).

The first pitch was thrown in Geneva last week at the ISO ballot resolution meetings on OOXML. And we can safely say: strike one! There was no renouncement of the OOXML standard by Microsoft. Instead, every indication was business as usual.

By the way, you have to seriously wonder about those Geneva meetings. According to reports I’ve received about the meetings (which were closed but reportedly audio recorded), only a disturbing 25 or so of the approximately 1,000 substantive comments that were scheduled to be acted upon were actually discussed. As for the remainder of the comments, it appears that, in order to complete the agenda, a decision was made to vote on all of the remaining, undiscussed comments in a single vote.

Read the rest.


Counsel Cunningham Criticizes Patent System

From the Raleigh News and Observer:

Boosting our innovation system

Michael Cunningham

RALEIGH – Red Hat has been based in North Carolina for over a decade. As a leading provider of open-source software solutions, we’ve been able to witness and contribute to the state’s recent growth in high-technology jobs. While it is our hope that North Carolina’s future continues to be filled with this kind of development, companies must be given the tools they need to add to the state’s rich history and to create jobs for North Carolina’s future.

We, along with many other local and global companies, believe that our ability to create is being compromised by an outdated and imbalanced U.S. patent system. This issue affects all businesses, from smaller companies like us to large multi-national corporations.

The current system has not been significantly updated in more than 55 years. America’s abilities and needs have changed greatly since that time, and it’s important to have a system in place that not only adapts to these transformations, but encourages them.


Bird Song: The Raw Materials

Now you can help us elaborate on “Bird Song: A cartoon requiem for DRM,” our Lighthearted Cartoon Funeral March for Digital Rights Management.

Below you’ll find links to all of the raw audio, video, and image files you need to proceed with your mashup. Let us know if there are any other formats that might be helpful. All of it is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license, the terms of which you can find here translated into a jillion languages.

Now it’s your turn to add to the story. Here are the raw music and video files:

As for how it was made, we’ll let the designers speak.

Islam Elsedoudi, art direction and design:
We mainly used Adobe After Effects and Adobe Illustrator for the animation and GarageBand for the music.

All the illustrations were drawn in Illustrator using the pen tool for the sleek drawings and the pencil tool for the sketchy drawings. We then brought them into After Effects and built “sets” in a 3D environment with a camera. We put a light source on the background to maintain realism and texture. The solid components of the piece (bird, globe, leaves, chandelier) were treated to look as if they were painted on the background.

The background texture remained consistent and unmoving, while everything else moved as it would in real space. Some of the more crude animations, such as the line rolling into the record and the bird cage falling were conventionally animated, frame by frame, using Illustrator and and a lot of screenshots.

» Read more


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