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Comment Re:Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 109 109

Disney holds a trademark on Mickey Mouse, and can retain said ownership into perpetuity. That aspect alone can rightfully keep anyone else from utilizing the character in their own works, forever,

No, that part of the trademark will lapse when the copyright terminates. A trademark can't function as a substitute for a copyright. The remainder of the trademark might prevent people from selling MICKEY MOUSE brand breakfast cereal, but it would not stop them from using the character in their own works.

This is really the main reason that Disney is concerned about copyright terms; they know what would happen to the trademark.

Comment Re:Invasion of the DMCA trolls? (Score 1) 109 109

Piffle.

Copyright is utilitarian from top to bottom.

Copyright is only tolerable if it is better for society than not having it. One specific implementation of copyright is better than another if it provides a greater benefit for the public than the alternative.

It's no more based on fairness than a zoning regulation requiring a certain setback from the street.

Comment Re: Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 109 109

A small nit here:

An exclusive right isn't a right that is held only by one party (and in fact, copyrights can be held by many parties), but is literally a right to exclude others.

So copyright isn't a right to make copies (that's free speech, and it applies even to works that aren't eligible for copyright). It is instead a right to exclude other people from making copies, and from doing certain other things with regard to the protected work.

Comment Re: Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 109 109

As far as copyright on the glyphs for the letter font goes, the consumer or manufacturer who uses them, pays or has to pay for their use. I'm sure Microsoft and Apple license the various fonts included in their respective OSes.

Letter shapes are not copyrightable in the US. They may be eligible for a design patent, but that's relatively short-lived. Usually the only protectable thing, especially over a decent timeframe, is the name, as a trademark. That's why Apple's version of Helvetica from way back was called Geneva, and Microsoft's was called Arial.

How about forcing these descendents to donate their parents' assets to the public domain, just like copyrighted works?

We do.

We impose taxes on inheritances, because inheritance of substantial wealth is harmful to society. We impose taxes on property, because ownership of large, unproductive estates is harmful to society. We abolish property rights like the fee tail because inalienable property rights are harmful to society.

All property rights, beyond what an individual person can defend from others by force, relies entirely on the willing cooperation of others. The only reason I don't own the Brooklyn Bridge is because I can't convince enough people that I do. But if I were more convincing (or could overcome the force that would be mustered against me if I just tried to block others' access to it), my right of ownership would be perfectly legitimate.

Copyright operates similarly; no author has a right to tell others that they can't make copies, etc. of a work, merely because the author created it. All the author can do is keep the work a secret, if he's worried about that. Or he can convince others to respect his wishes. Just as you might not like to recognize my right of ownership of the Brooklyn Bridge merely because I really, really want you to, so too are third parties unlikely to honor a claim of copyright unless it provides some benefit to them that would not be enjoyed otherwise.

And so the deal with copyright is that we're willing to recognize an author's claim of copyright for a little while, because it seems to be useful to society, but eventually we're going to stop, and instead treat the work as being in the public domain, for the same reason. Authors can't stop that from happening, and there's too little benefit for the public in a perpetual copyright to bother recognizing them. It's a one-sided deal in favor of the public, but thems the breaks.

Comment Re:Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 109 109

The whole point of copyright was to encourage writers and publishers and artists to invest time in making a good product.

No, the whole point of copyright was to promote the progress of science (which is an archaic term for knowledge) and to thus serve the public interest.

Half of that involves encouraging authors to create and publish works which they would not have created and published but for copyright. But the other half is to grant the least amount of protection, for the least amount of time, that is necessary to accomplish that.

And the success of any copyright law is measured in how much of a benefit it provides for the public (in terms of the number of works created and published), less how much harm it causes the public (by restricting the free use of the works).

The idea of copyright ... was to provide payment for services rendered, which would encourage creators to make more quality products in the future.

No. First, copyright doesn't guarantee any reward for the author or publisher; that's left to the market. All copyright does is funnel some of the profits available for the work toward the copyright holder. If a work is a flop, the copyright holder doesn't make any money.

Second, copyright doesn't care about quality. A brilliant work gets as much protection as a crappy one, (and again, the market may reward crappy works over 'quality works). This is necessary because artistic value is a matter of subjective judgment that the government should not be involved in. Quantity is the only permissible metric, and since a larger number of works will tend to result in a larger number of 'quality' works (see Sturgeon's Law) it's all okay in the end.

Comment Re:Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 109 109

Until relatively recently the only way to obtain a copyright was to explicitly submit the material to the Library of Congress for certification at which point you were granted a 14 year exclusive use. You could apply for an additional 14 year grant but after 28 years the material would be forced to fall into the Public Domain and permanently accessible from the Library of Congress. You had those maximum of 28 years to make as much return on your investment as possible, but you were expected to then reinvest that return into new ventures.

"Relatively recently?" What are you, a highlander?

The 14+14 term you describe lasted from 1790 to 1831. Then it became 28+14. And in 1909, it became 28+28. That's the term that changed relatively recently, in 1978, to life + 70, etc.

Still, kudos on the general thrust of your argument.

Comment Re:Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 109 109

Well, it's a little more complicated than that.

The sine qua non of a trademark is that all goods with the same mark originate from the same source. If this is true, the mark can be protected. If not, the mark cannot be protected. This is why trademark holders are always concerned with infringers; if the infringer is not stopped, there will be identically marked goods originating from different sources, and the protected status of the mark is jeopardized and can be lost.

Trademarks and copyrights only sometimes overlap with regard to the subject matter that they protect (e.g. a very artistic trademark could be protected by copyright as a work of art; a mere word used as a trademark could not be copyrighted, however). However, copyright is considered the superior right; a trademark is not allowed to function as a substitute for a copyright, nor to interfere with copyright policy.

This means that if the trademark is a character from a creative work, and the work is in the public domain, copyright law allows everyone to make copies and use the work and thus the character from the work, as they see fit. Trademark rights in the character can't interfere with this, so to the extent that there is a conflict, the trademark loses.

So the MICKEY MOUSE trademark might survive with regard to products unrelated to creative works, like those ice cream bars that looked like a Mickey Mouse head. But it would not survive with regard to movies, books, comics, television shows, etc. And I wouldn't want to bet money on whether it would survive with regard to things like t-shirts or hats that might feature Mickey Mouse in an ornamental capacity, rather than as a trademark. So a lot of the merchandising gravy train would derail.

Submission + - Windows 10 Upgrade Strategies, Pitfalls And Fixes As MSFT Servers Are Hit Hard-> 1 1

MojoKid writes: The upgrade cycle begins, with Microsoft's latest operating system--the highly anticipated Windows 10--rolling out over Windows Update for free, for users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. For those that are ready to take the plunge over the weekend, there are some things to note. So far, Microsoft has been rolling out the upgrade in waves and stages. If you are not one of the 'lucky' ones to be in the first wave, you can take matters into your own hands and begin the upgrade process manually. While the process is mostly simple, it won't be for everyone. This guide steps through a few of the strategies and pitfalls. There are two main methods to upgrade, either through Windows Update or through the Media Creation Tool. In either case, you will need to have opted-in for the Windows 10 Free Upgrade program to reserve your license. Currently, the Windows Update method is hit or miss due to the requirement for additional updates needing to be installed first and Microsoft's servers being hit hard, leading to some rather humorous error messages like the oh-so helpful description, "Something Happened". Currently, it would be best to avoid the Windows Update upgrade, at least for the time being. Numerous issues with licensing have been reported, requiring manual activation either through the dreaded phone call, or by running slmgr.vbs /ato at the command prompt to force license registration.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - 10 years of Intel processors compared->

jjslash writes: An interesting look back at the evolution of Intel CPUs since the original Core 2 Duo E6600 and Core 2 Quad processors were introduced. The test pits the eight year old CPUs to their successors in the Nehalem, Sandy Bridge and Haswell families, including today's Celeron and Pentium parts which fare comparably well. A great reference just days before Intel's new Skylake processor debuts.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Bill allows government to revoke Americans' passports without charges or trial->

schwit1 writes: A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would allow the government to restrict Americans' travel through the revocation of passports based upon mere suspicions of unscrupulous activity. This bill represents another dangerous step forward in the war on terror and the disintegration of American due process.

H.R. 237, the "FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization) Passport Revocation Act of 2015," will allow the U.S. Secretary of State the unchecked authority to prohibit individuals from traveling internationally. According to the bill, the Secretary may unilaterally revoke (or refuse to issue) a passport from "any individual whom the Secretary has determined has aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped an organization the Secretary has designated as a foreign terrorist organization pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189)."

The bill did not bother to define what the terms "aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped" actually mean, in legal terms. The power has been left open-ended so that it can mean whatever the secretary wants it to mean. Needless to say, a bill like this would be easily abused.

The travel restriction requires no presumption of innocence for the targeted individual; no explanation; no public presentation of evidence; no opportunity for a defense; no checks and balances on the power. The bill does not outline any appeals process for the targeted individual. The only stipulation is that the Secretary of State must issue a report to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs — "classified or unclassified." The bill does not state that either committee can reverse the secretary's decisions.

Link to Original Source

Comment That's a common misunderstanding. (Score 1) 5 5

Yes, you know how to do that. VERY few PC computer users would know how. So, the practice is abusive toward most users.

Windows 10 is not "free". Windows 10 is apparently intended to take more control. For example, now Microsoft says it can take and make use of your data: Windows 10: Here are the privacy issues you should know about.

Microsoft will now have full control over Windows Home users with "updates". Microsoft often publishes buggy updates. Judging from the way things are moving, that is just one step to increasing control. Microsoft will apparently arrange even more domination later.

Submission + - For some Facebook users 'hide' may no longer mean hide->

Mark Wilson writes: What do you do if a story appears in your Facebook that you're not interested in? You might just ignore it, or you might try to train Facebook about your preferences by selecting the 'hide' option.

But if you're the sort of person who hides a lot of stories, Facebook might start placing less importance on your dislikes. This might sound counter-intuitive, but Facebook is convinced that it makes sense, saying that for some people opting to hide a story "isn't as strong a negative signal". So who are these people?

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Windows 10's New Feature Steals Your Internet Bandwidth-> 5 5

An anonymous reader writes: t's a devious little feature called Windows Update Delivery Optimization. It's enabled by default. For Enterprise and Education users, it operates over the local LAN. For ordinary Home type users, Microsoft can send their data update goodies to potentially any PC on the global Internet — from your PC, over your Internet connection. On your dime.

We could get into the pros and cons of local updates being staged between local machines on a LAN as opposed to the outside Internet.

But as soon as MS decided that it's A-OK for them to use my Internet connection to cut down on their bandwidth costs serving their other customers — without asking me for my specific permission first — the situation blows into the red zone immediately.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Want to fight climate change? Stop cows from burping->

sciencehabit writes: A simple supplement to a cow’s feed could substantially decrease a major source of methane, a planet-warming greenhouse gas, a new study suggests. Each year worldwide, the methane produced by cud-chewing livestock warms Earth’s climate by the same amount as 2.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide, a little more than 4% of the greenhouse gas emissions related to human activity. That makes cows tempting targets for methane reduction efforts. In a new study, researchers added the chemical 3-nitrooxypropanol, also known as 3NOP, to the corn-and-alfalfa-based feed of 84 milk-producing Holsteins and monitored their methane production for 12 weeks—the largest and longest such trial of its type in lactating cows, the scientists say. For cows whose feed included 3NOP, methane emissions dropped, on average, by 30%.
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