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Comment: Five root monopolies (Score 1) 167

I can think of five root monopolies originating in statute: land, radio frequency spectrum, copyright, patent, and violence. Here are examples of how they may come into play:
  • If your business depends on the Internet, it must purchase Internet access from the local last mile monopoly. These monopolies arise from government-enforced exclusive rights to land (needing to cross private property of non-subscribers to reach a subscriber) and radio frequency spectrum. If the local ISP doesn't like you, how should you stay in business?
  • If your business develops applications to run on computing devices owned by your customers, especially set-top devices or handheld devices with input buttons, it may have to rely on each platform's monopoly supplier of development tools and application distribution services. This monopoly arises from the copyright in the device's firmware, which is used as a hook for anticircumvention laws. Patents come into play in a similar way when your product has to interoperate with devices that use patented data formats. If the device maker doesn't like you, how should you stay in business?
  • If your business sells products and services to governments, it may have only one buyer: the government of the sovereign state on whose soil the business is headquartered. Defense contractors are in this position.

How should one go about making these monopolies less palatable to legislators?

Comment: Re:User control of apps post-install (Score 1) 124

This level of control is available if you have root on your Android device. If not, well, just try setting iptables rules without superuser rights on Linux

The difference is that unlike the owner of a newly purchased Android device, the owner of a newly purchased GNU/Linux device has root.

Comment: It's a disagreement in definition (Score 1) 124

It's like saying, there are only two numbers, "zero" and "many".

Some people believe that either something is secure or it's not, just like a woman is pregnant or she's not, or a dish is vegan or it's not. But to head off an imminent definition debate, let me explain your core idea in terms they'll understand:

Virtually all off-the-shelf software is insecure. People take out errors and omissions liability insurance ("E&O") to cover their behinds in case a vulnerability causes a noticeable problem. You may call software "more secure" if it has had its vulnerable surface reduced, and you may call software "acceptably secure" if it is more secure to the point where the cost of E&O doesn't eat up too much of your earnings.

Comment: Patent still requires novelty (Score 1) 124

You're correct, as far as I can tell. First to file changes only how conflicts are resolved when two patent applications pending at the same time claim the same invention. It does not remove the novelty requirement, which means that an inventor is still not entitled to a patent if someone else publishes the invention before the inventor applies for a patent.

So I have two guesses as to how the Windows CE thing came about. Either Fingerworks licensed the patent to Microsoft before Apple acquired Fingerworks, or Microsoft released Windows CE less than 18 months after Fingerworks applied for the patent.

Comment: Not allowed to quote MISRA C rules (Score 1) 124

I would recommend MISRA C, but it's impossible to make a conformance checker under a free software license because quoting the rules in error messages appears to require an incompatible copyright license. Source: presence of the word "prices" in the section "I am a tool vendor" in the official FAQ.

Comment: I define restrict (Score 1) 124

I understand your fear of falling into a definition trap. I define restrict as A. refusing to make an API for reasonable uses of hardware features, such as no way for an app to see which SSIDs are nearby or no way for web apps to draw 3D scenes or upload data types other than photos and videos, or B. requiring a recurring fee or an organizational background check to run software that you compiled on a machine that you own.

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