Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Small entity? (Score 1) 266

That is exactly what filing a patent and then abandoning it would do. The original applicant wouldn't have a patent, so nobody would owe the original applicant anything for the use of the idea. But it would prevent future applicants from patenting the original applicant's idea. That means no one has a patent and everyone can use the idea.

Comment Re:It's still in the gene databases (Score 3, Informative) 294

A bunch of folks have said in this discussion that patenting the gene doesn't patent the gene itself, but only the method of finding it, the method of using it, and other methods having to do with the gene.

It is true that methods for doing all those things are patentable subject matter, but an inventor can also get a patent on the gene itself if the inventor is the first to purify that gene from its surrounding environment. The landmark case for this proposition (that chemicals found in nature are patentable in their isolated and purified form) is called Parke-Davis v. H.K. Mulford 189 F. 95 (S.D.N.Y. 1911). I tried to find a link to the case online, but couldn't find anything for free. The case concerns purified adrenaline, which before the invention at issue could only be used in conjunction with the rest of the junk in whatever gland produces adrenaline. The court held that purified adrenaline was different enough from the adrenaline found in nature that the substance itself could be patented. This is the basis for gene patents and also pharmaceutical patents (most of the drugs you take can be found in nature, just not in purified form).

Comment Re:Free Speech? Of course! (Score 2, Interesting) 343

The games you mentioned, especially Deus Ex and Bioshock, make gestures towards art, but don't fulfill their visions.

Probably the best part of Bioshock is killing Ryan. You've been told throughout the game "Would you kindly" do this or that, and every time you do it. Then "Would you kindly" kill Ryan and the game takes control of your character and makes you! A really interesting comment on the genre of video games and freewill inside of video games. "A man chooses" but does a video game character (or player) choose? Never.

But even amidst this admittedly very large step towards art, Bioshock is at heart rather hackneyed when compared to serious artistic endeavors. Why do you have to kill everyone? Why is everyone in Rapture so angry? They were all driven insane by their modifications is what the game tells you, but the truth is that it is an FPS and it wouldn't be an FPS if it didn't contain a bunch of people to kill. The parts that you're calling "artistic" are really just window dressing to the FPS mechanics.

I suppose the response to this might be, "Why is that painting flat? Not in order to better express the artist's message, but because paintings are always flat: that what makes it a painting!" But FPS is not the medium that Bioshock was set in. The medium is an interactive three dimensional world. Until there is a video game that takes advantage of its whole medium to do something with artistic merit, I'll continue to believe that there is no video game with a coherent artistic vision.

Comment Free Speech? Of course! (Score 5, Insightful) 343

Of course every game cited above is protected by the First Amendment. Should the government keep these games off of the shelf? No, of course not. The government should not be the keeper of the public's morals. That is the public's job.

It does not necessarily follow, however, that those games should be on the shelves. If RapeLay, for example, sat next to Disney Game Du Jure at Toys R Us, parents would rightly complain. Toys R Us would get bad press, and they would pull it for what they would call "bad judgment." And it would be bad judgment, because it would make their customers mad at them. This is essentially a self-correcting problem. Anything that, as a society, we won't tolerate will quickly be forced out of sight where most people won't have to deal with it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you have to actively search for RapeLay if you want that sort of thing.

Final point: the accuracy question. Does a controversial video game become more acceptable by being more accurate? The above poster has it dead right: nobody plays games to reflect on the nature of the human condition. Maybe a game could be made to get you to do that. I'm holding out hope that video games could mature into some kind of new art form. So far, though, there hasn't been much more than puerile bang and flash. Accuracy only enhances the literary merit of a work if that accuracy is used to further some artistic objective. I haven't seen any video game with a coherent artistic vision.

Comment Re:Plagiarism detection is easy (Score 1) 289

Well, the whole point of plagiarism is that the author doesn't want to cite the source. Hell, you can blatantly rip off anything and be ethical if you're simply honest about doing it. There is a huge market for condensing complex arguments into a digest, after all, and that isn't plagiarism. It would be plagiarism if you condensed someone else's argument without giving the original author credit.

I think it is important to distinguish between the ethics of academic writing, which requires credit where credit is due, and rules governing high-school and college students. An essay that was nothing other than quotations from the NY Times, so long as the NY Times was credited, would be perfectly ethical but it might not comply with whatever rules the students were supposed to follow.

Comment What of the Rebellion? (Score 1) 330

General Tagge: What of the Rebellion? If the Rebels have obtained a complete technical reading of [the Joint Strike Fighter], it is possible, however unlikely, they might find a weakness and exploit it.

Darth Vader: The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands.

Admiral Motti: Any attack made by the Rebels against [the Joint Strike Fighter] would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they have obtained. [The Joint Strike Fighter] is now the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it.

Comment Re:CIPAV (Score 5, Insightful) 372

Flamebait, seriously? We had a whole debate about this last summer, and some members of Congress actually argued that the President has a Constitutional prerogative to use whatever intelligence gathering methods he wants as long as he has a plausible argument that we're "at war."

Note, that it doesn't particularly matter that the President argued he had Constitutional prerogative, presidents always assert that they have more power than they actually have. But Congress is supposed to be a branch of government competing with the President for power, they have incentives to check him instead of enable him.

So it isn't flamebait at all to note that warrants are questionable protection when it comes to surveillance activities.

Comment Re:People are stupid. (Score 4, Insightful) 415

We probably don't need an elaborate quantum theory to explain this behavior, but we might want to have it in order to predict behavior we haven't observed.

Wouldn't it be neat if we had a set of behavioral models that could predict how people would act in the aggregate for any arbitrary game?

Maybe that's not possible, but that shouldn't keep us from trying to do it.

Comment What about the economic argument? (Score 4, Insightful) 522

Most posts on this topic have been along the lines of, "Maybe CAPTCHAs as they are implement now don't work, but here is a method that is trivial for people but hard for computers."

TFA's best argument, in my opinion, was that it is trivially inexpensive for a spammer to simply hire people to break CAPTCHAs. So, a method that doesn't annoy people but is hard for computers still won't work because the spammer will just use people. This is not a topic I know a lot about (not being a spammer I don't know what kind of revenue they generate) but would like to hear a response to this. Is the TFA off its gourd and better technology really will solve this problem? Or is gate-keeping for free services essentially pointless?

Comment Re:Huh? (Score 1) 731

The first sale doctrine allows the owner of a copy to re-sell that copy. Selling used games is legal behavior.

While TFA doesn't say, creating a unique copy, just for that user, sounds a lot like not allowing re-sale. This is one of the most important functions of DRM. It keeps people from "sharing" their install media but also from selling their install media.

So from where I sit this system looks to be creating technological restrictions which exceed the legal restrictions on a copy's use.

Comment Re:Piracy because indie product is too low value? (Score 1) 120

Full disclosure, I actually bought one of these spiderweb games. I had just played Fallout 2 and was looking for something similar gameplay wise. It was actually a disappointment.

But I think the grandparent's point isn't that piracy is good/bad/ugly or whatever. There is no judgment attached. It is simply a part of the current business landscape. For instance, maybe I hate the income tax. Maybe I think that there shouldn't be an income tax. But if I plan my business without accounting for income taxes I'm in for a world of hurt. And there are a bunch of things like that: employees want health insurance, customers want demos, you can't infringe on your competitors patents, etc. etc. The morality of these things are irrelevant. If you want to succeed you need to play on the field as it is, not as you want it to be.

Comment Re:Interesting/Disappointing (Score 1) 120

Well, yes, it does actually. Morals are defined by the masses, and if the masses support something as being an acceptable activity (which judging by the scale of piracy it is) then it cannot be defined as morally wrong except on a personal level.

As has been pointed, this particular argument doesn't work and can be disproved easily.

While you might disagree with that, I don't think you can disprove it. When dealing with matters of morality I think you'll find it hard to establish yourself on any footing that could be considered proof.

Slashdot Top Deals

Economists can certainly disappoint you. One said that the economy would turn up by the last quarter. Well, I'm down to mine and it hasn't. -- Robert Orben