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Comment Re:BitLocker is Ultimate-only and Ultimate is gone (Score 1) 173 173

Sorry, I don't know anything about BitLocker. But if we're talking about getting Windows 7 with a new PC, I think it's fair to say that's a relatively minor limitation compared to everything you'd get stuck with moving up to 8/8.1/10, and you can still get Win 7 Enterprise on your new PC if it's an absolute must-have for your particular needs.

Comment Re:End of preinstalled Windows 7: October 2014 (Score 1) 173 173

From your own source:

Windows 7 Professional ... Not yet established **

** Microsoft will provide one year of notice prior to the end of sale date.

The consumer Win 7 Home line isn't generally shipped preinstalled any more, but the Win 7 Pro line used by power users, small businesses and the like is still available in the normal way, with many suppliers offering it if you ask.

Comment Re:What you can pay for instead... (Score 1) 173 173

We can only hope. For a long time, Microsoft has been the business you turned to when you wanted to get stuff done. They were notable for not having the effectively enforced upgrade cycles of Apple, Google, and most of the major Linux distributions, and instead provided systems you could count on using, with support for essential bug/security fixes, for periods measured in years or decades, not months if you were lucky. I want that Microsoft back, and they would surely get more money from me and my companies than the Microsoft we have today is going to.

Comment Re:I think they might'a meant to say something els (Score 1) 122 122

Actually, the Copyright Act was replaced entirely in 1976 (becoming effective in 1978), and has been amended some, yet in substantial ways, since then. Noises are being made about a new Copyright Act coming along in the near future.

The person who wrote the summary is a bit confused. What happened is that the Warner claim was based on a copy published in 1935. Evidence was discovered of a copy that was published in 1927. That's not terribly interesting, but a copy published in 1922 has also come to light. That is interesting, because the cutoff for copyright on published works is 1923. (Due to the duration of copyright prior to the effective date of the 1976 Act, which retroactively lengthened the term of copyrights that were still in force)

Comment Re:Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 1) 122 122

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) 122 122

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) 122 122

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) 122 122

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) 122 122

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) 122 122

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) 122 122

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.

Comment Re:Privacy in danger (Score 1) 183 183

In densely populated areas, the logical endgame is for devices to create their own mesh networks, independent of any active networking you might provide to them. Then all it takes is any path from your device to the mothership for your data to leak.

Homes with built-in Faraday cages and their own internal repeaters with firewalls for signals you actually want to let through is one possible technological response, but obviously worthless the moment someone creates a path outside the cage, for example by ever leaving the house.

A more practical alternative would be finally passing laws to regulate this area and protect privacy in meaningful ways in the context of 21st century technology, while still allowing beneficial applications of these technologies for those who don't want to be digital hermits. Given the modern reality that even if you opt out of everything those around you might not, the most reliable ways to prevent abuse of data by corporations are to ensure that it is not profitable to do so and/or the executives responsible for setting the policies will go to jail as a result.

Comment Re:Casino Noise (Score 1) 112 112

capitalism in which the cost of protecting property rights is paid for by taxing economic activity rather than the property rights themselves.

How do you tax property rights?

Have you ever owned property? It is quite simple and called property tax.

I wondered if that's what he was proposing, that all defense of property be funded by property taxes. Property tax isn't really a tax on property rights, though. And in any case property tax does end up being a tax on economic activity also, or at least on economic value, which is determined by economic activity. So I don't see the point.

Comment What you can pay for instead... (Score 1) 173 173

I hope that what you're missing is the businesses that supply professional laptops will continue to offer them with Windows 7 and no junkware for the foreseeable future. They'll cost more than all the consumer junk that is subsidised by pre-installed promo junk and spyware and so on, but if you want a system that actually works in your interests, someone will probably sell you one at a viable price unless some sort of legal agreement actively prevents it.

I also hope that this is finally the must-get-worse-before-it-gets-better moment for all the nasty recent trends of never-finished software, built-in spyware in everything, and subscription everything. Something as big as Windows screwing as many people as it's presumably going to screw might actually bring enough people to their senses that the industry reconsiders the path it's been following lately.

As I've commented before, I don't see Microsoft themselves changing course again as long as Nadella is at the top. He is exactly the guy the board hires if this is what they want to happen. However, given that Win10 is already looking less appealing than Win8 and people are still only just finding out all the ways it's a mess, the current generation of leadership at Microsoft may be short-lived if they can't turn avert the impending train wreck very quickly.

Comment Re:Avoid companies that are there just to IPO (Score 1) 112 112

Little ability to invest or plan for in the long term Is one of the biggest failures of capitalism. An example is the transcontinental railroad. That railroad was worth building, and unlike a lot of ventures, it could hardly be more obvious that it would be a huge boost to the economy and the nation, yet even with that the market could not raise the money necessary to finance the building of it. By the 1860s, the transcontinental was shifting from a dream to concrete plans, the technologies needed for steam powered railroading were proven, with 30 plus years of experience and refinements and a vibrant and expanding railroad network in the eastern US demonstrating daily its usefulness and value. Yet the market couldn't raise the money needed to build the transcontinental. The government had already scouted potential routes at public expense, but the market still couldn't do it. The government then helped out with a massive sweetening of the pot by loaning the railroads land along their routes, if only they would build them. (Prior to the Civil War, the government also hindered the effort thanks to factional fighting over where the route would be.) That was finally enough to get the railroads started. But they still resorted to all kinds of blind optimism, and outright cheating and financial trickery to disguise the true costs of the endeavor, lying even to themselves. The government also hugely underestimated the cost. Still, the railroad was worth it.

Another massive infrastructure project totally worth doing was the Panama Canal, and once again, capitalism was not up to the job. Government had to pony up and guide the entire effort, with capitalistic businesses serving as mere contractors. Somehow no land transport link has ever connected North and South America, a failure of political systems as well as capitalism. Today, would it be worthwhile to put a railroad tunnel under the Bering Strait? Yes, with a few caveats. But it's not happening, neither capitalism nor democratic government is up to the task.

Space exploration is another area that capitalism has, so far, been unable to do. The idea of a corporation, perhaps Apple or Microsoft or Exxon, ever landing on the moon or sending a probe to another planet, is improbable despite their wealth and size. A few corporations such as Scaled Composites are trying, but so far none have had more than limited success.

And finally, doing something about a problem has been another weak point. What are we doing about Climate Change? Business has largely washed its hands of the matter. That's someone else's problem. Some businesses have even been crazy enough to run a propaganda campaign to deny that there is a problem.

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