June 27, 2010

New research shows that weaker copyright benefits society

Posted in Digital Freedom, Intellectual Property, Internet Piracy at 22:41 by frifan

In today’s turmoil where the men in power discuss how to strengthen copyright and push it through as legislation across the world without any democratic insight into the proceedings, or any discussion of benefits. It is more important than ever to put the facts on the table and look at them objectively. Something researchers have been trying to do, for quite some time, and here is the latest result:
New research about the impact of weaker copyright enforcement on society has been released by Felix Oberholzer-Gee of Harvard and Koleman Strumpf of the University of Kansas. It shows how weaker copyright has benefited society. Summaries can be found at Ars Technica and TechDirt.
At the same time, in related news: New Research Suggests Digital Economy Act & ACTA Will Stifle Creativity


March 6, 2010

Innovation and Creativity

Posted in Digital Freedom, Intellectual Property at 11:59 by frifan

Most, if not all, innovative and creative works builds upon other works. They make use of prior knowledge and adapt or extend it to suite a new purpose. That is the way it has always been. It is an evolution of ideas. Take Mozart or Shakespeare or Michaelangelo as examples of people were highly creative and innovative, but borrowed a lot from their peers. Nina Palin even claims that all artwork is derivative.

"Nothing is original. For a work to have meaning, it must use language – it must “make sense.” It needs to work with memes already living in the host mind: language, images, melodies, patterns. It can’t be wholly original. It can hardly be original at all." — Nina Palin

Lately some companies and lobby organizations has taken it upon themselves to stop this from happening and thereby trying to eliminate the normal process of creativity and innovation. If they succeed, it may hinder the progress and evolution in the society. To innovate without building upon the vast knowledge that has been accumulated over the years is hard, but also not as interesting, because that makes it less suitable to incorporate into our lives.

It is not in the public interest to delay progress or to hold the evolution back. Yet we allow ourselves to be bullied by media lobby and high tech companies, who try to impose stricter rights on intellectual "property" both through copyright legislation and through patents. This was never the intention of either system and goes contrary to the discussions held at their inception. They were supposed to promote innovation and creativity, not stifle nor kill it. There is plenty of evidence that enforcing stricter copyright and patent protection will cost more than it is worth.

Some satiric and funny analogies:


Do Patents Work? Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig

February 21, 2010

Intellectual Monopolies

Posted in Intellectual Property, Monopoly Abuse at 14:12 by frifan

I don’t believe in imaginary property and I don’t believe in software patents in general. How can anyone have any rights to your thoughts?! If you come up with an idea, all by yourself, how can someone you have never heard of claim ownership of that thought. Even if they have gone through the trouble of purchasing a patent for it. The problem is that patent applications always, as far as my experience goes, are written in very generalized language to try to cover uses that they couldn’t imagine at the time. This makes them difficult to understand and even harder to use for creating something based on the ideas inside. To me this make the whole point about patents moot, as they cannot help others, only penalize them and kill competition.

I recently found interesting studies on the subject and why it has to stop (highlights). See a patent attorney highlight, or a Venture Capitalist explain why it is so bad and what the US can do about it. Otherwise they will see even more evil practices and patent trolls. Here is a recent example of an Intellectual Venture, by the king of patent trolls. They do not sue themselves, instead it is being outsourced.

"The purpose of the patent system should be to create incentives to come up with something that is both new and non-obvious, which would not be created without that incentive. And, then, of course, the idea is to share that information with the world, via the patent. But here we have a case where this is an obvious next step advance. […] But now we have a case where one company may have the right to prevent others from doing what it makes perfect sense for them to do. That’s not what the patent system was designed to do at all. A patent like this should never have been approved at all, as it serves no useful purpose in "promoting the progress" and seems to go against everything that the patent system is supposed to do." — Mike Masnick

My greatest fear is that the software patent craziness in the US will spread to other parts of the world, which is something they are working hard for as they have accumulated quite a number of them. If they were enforced I could be dragged to court for the work I have done in the past two decades. It would certainly wipe out most of the software industry. Leaving only the biggest players to fight out their disputes in court with hordes of lawyers.

"The real reason the independent software industry emerged is that operating systems and APIs made it possible for independent software vendors to develop applications independently. They no longer had to ask permission of the hardware vendors. This same characteristic of permissionless innovation led to the explosion of independently created services on the internet. The rampant abuse of the patent system has created the opposite condition for the creators of software and web services today.
Not only is it becoming impossible to invent new services on the web without the permission of a patent holder who claims to own the intellectual property embodied in your invention, it is impossible to know who you need to ask permission of." — Brad Burnham in TechDirt

Another great source of stupid patents is Apple, here is some courtesy of Gizmodo.

My second greatest fear in already a fact. Just look at what the pharmaceutical cartel is up to and how they are murdering people. More on that another time…

References: Stop Software Patents

  1. TechDirt
  2. BoycottNovell: Intellectual Ventures, The Pharmaceutical Cartel
  3. Open Rights Group
  4. Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure e.V.
  5. GNU on "Intellectual Property"
  6. It’s The Execution That Matters, Not The Idea
  7. QuestionCopyright.org
  8. A Unified European Patent System – The Historical Perspective
  9. When You Try To Figure Out Who Owns Imaginary ‘Property,’ Things Get Confusing Fast

January 31, 2010

Another four letter word: ACTA

Posted in Digital Freedom, Intellectual Property at 14:48 by frifan

One of the scariest political events of late is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations being held between the EU, US, Japan and more. These negotiations are kept secret from the people[9][1.3][13]. Luckily the Internet is difficult to silence and much of the discussions has been leaked [1][8][17].
They are claiming that the trade agreement won’t change any local laws, and I certainly hope that is true, but then what are they discussing, really, and why behind closed doors?[10]

The ACTA negotiations are said to be strengthening the intellectual protection already present in the TRIPS agreement [2][3][4], which was called "murder" [5] by Professor Joseph Stiglitz, a 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics. He also says ACTA stifles science and innovation in the world [6][7].

I wish they would take the agreement public and let people debate the proposals. Especially as the ramifications of this agreement may be felt by everybody. It has the potential to kill the Internet as we know it[11][12][1.4][14].

“IP is often compared to physical property rights but knowledge is fundamentally different.”IP Watch on Professor Joseph Stiglitz

“Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure to encourage innovation, he said.”IP Watch on Professor Joseph Stiglitz

Update February 8, 2010
Even though the negotiations in Mexico are concluded, we’re still left wondering what is really going on[18][19][20][21][22].

Update February 21, 2010
There is still some hope for a more balanced ACTA proposal[23][24], as the worst proposals seem be off the table.

Update March 21, 2010
Fortunately opposition is rising in the EU and other countries. New facts are leaking out about circumvention of WTO/WIPO, DMCA-style proposals and DRM. Despite the fact that any DRM scheme is fatally flawed and can never work. Even people in the gaming industry thinks it is bad. Still US President Obama praises ACTA, while Europe trashes it.

Funny remark: In Swedish the word "akta" means beware, note the similarity to ACTA.

[1.1] The ACTA Guide, Part One: The Talks To-Date,
[1.2] The ACTA Guide, Part Two: The Documents (Official and Leaked),
[1.3] ACTA Guide, Part Three: Transparency and ACTA Secrecy,
[1.4] ACTA Guide: Part Four: What Will ACTA Mean To My Domestic Law?,
[1.5] ACTA Guide, Part Five: Speaking Out?
[2] Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
[3] Overview: the TRIPS Agreement
[4] Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
[5] Joseph Stiglitz on Why TRIPS (Patents) is Like Murder
[6] Intellectual Property Regime Stifles Science and Innovation, Nobel Laureates Say
[7] ACTA Murders
[8] Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
[9] ACTA One Step Closer To Being Done; Concerns About Transparency Ignored
[10] Blogging ACTA Across The Globe: FFII’s Ante Wessels on Exporting Europe’s Flaws
[11] The Similarity Between ACTA And Chinese Internet Censorship
[12] But, Wait, Didn’t The Entertainment Industry Insist ACTA Wouldn’t Change US Law?
[13] USTR: A Lot Of Misperception Over ACTA, But We Won’t Clear It Up Or Anything
[14] News.com Prevents Falsely Accused Grandmother Of Getting Kicked Off The Internet By The MPAA
[15] Blogging ACTA Across The Globe: FFII’s Ante Wessels on Exporting Europe’s Flaws
[16] Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure e.V. (FFII ACTA WG) presents an analysis of the planned Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
[17] The ACTA Internet Chapter: Putting Pieces Together
[18] What Really Happened At the ACTA Talks in Mexico?
[19] ACTA Negotiators Report No Breakthroughs On Transparency
[20] ACTA absurdity continues, may only get worse
[21] ACTA goes on charm offensive sans charm
[22] EU Official caught in ACTA
[23] ACTA Negotiators: Maximal Protection Proposals Unlikely In Final Text
[24] Contradictory Court Rulings, Continuing Tension On Internet Liability In EU