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Journal Journal: Google Books and the Big Ten

The blog Modern Sourcery reports that Google Books and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), comprising the Big Ten and the University of Chicago, have announced an agreement with Google to digitize works from its libraries as part of the Google Book Search project.

In a multi-year project, Google will scan and for search millions of items in the collections if the CIC, which includes 6 of the nation's 20 largest libraries.

According to a release,

Public domain materials can be viewed, searched and downloaded in their entirety. For books under copyright protection, a search will result in basic information (such as the book's title and the author's name), and a snippet of text surrounding the search term. Users seeking further information from the text will be directed to avenues for purchase or library access.

The CIC plans to implement a digital archive of the public domain material, both for preservation and to enable academic study and collaboration.

See the complete announcment (450K pdf) at the CIC site for more information on the CIC and the Google partnership.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Wasted Votes

there's no such thing as a wasted vote.

The election process is about more than just who wins. Sure, the winner is important, but there are other factors that have an impact on the behavior of government. For the sake of discussion, let's assume that one of the two major parties will win in November. Why vote for someone else?

A vote is a statement of your general favor for a given candidate. It's a winner-take-all proposition; you don't get to divide it among three candidates you like. It's assumed that you don't believe the candidate is perfect for you; he was just good enough to get your vote.

Voting for a third party or write-in candidate sends the signal that A) you care enough to vote and B) neither of the two major party clowns was good enough for you. To the extent that your vote matters at all, you have used it to tell the major parties that if their policies were more like the one for whom you voted, they might get your vote.

A vote for a third party encourages that party, and also the other minor parties. They see the number of people who voted for them, and know where their support is.

A vote for a third party lends them authority when they speak out. A press release from a party that got .01% of the vote is treated differently from a party that got 1.01%. If a party gets even 2% of the vote, they start to look mainstream. After all, getting 2% might be enough to alter the balance of power between the two major parties.

But, it might be argued, doesn't that split the support for one of the major parties, causing the Most Evil Party to win instead of the Not Quite So Evil Party? Possibly, and that is part of the choice. Unless your tiny party is at one extreme of the spectrum occupied by the two majors, support for it will come proportionately from both of them.

Most people want to vote for a winner. To vote for a third party you have to get past that sense of wanting to be on the winning side and remember to vote your own mind. If you only vote for the candidate you think is going to win, you have effectively allowed someone else to vote for you.

Finally, voting for a third party encourages those who don't want to "waste" their vote that it's not such a waste. Voting is a herd phenomenon. When others see your party's vote total rising from past elections, they'll be more likely to vote that way themselves.

User Journal

Journal Journal: SCO December 19, 2003 ABI Files letter

Here is a commentary on the letter of December 19, 2003, which claimed that portions of 65 Linux source code files were 'copied verbatim' from SCO's version of Unix. SCO also claimed that some application binary interfaces were their proprietary products.

The commentary (an early version of which also appears in LinuxWorld and is Google cached) analyzes what SCO is actually claiming in Linux. The goal was to explain (with Groklaw's help) the letter's bogus claims so that programmers and lawyers would both understand how far off base those claims actually were. We'd still like more input, to keep Linux and the BSD's safe from SCO or the next opportunist who declares open season on Open Source.


Journal Journal: RFC on Spam Eradification


The basics:

  • (presumes reliable host identification for SMTP via e.g. LMAP)
  • incoming spam generates an alert to the sending site and to a blacklist server
  • to keep your name off the blacklist, you trace the headers of the message, find who sent it to you, and generate a new spam alert to them and the blacklist server
  • the blacklist server only has to keep the latest alert
  • the blacklist server tracks and publishes the frequency of spam alerts for a given site
  • sites can use this information in their spam detection
  • may or may not work for boxes that have been rooted
User Journal

Journal Journal: In determining Congressional intent...

"... a page of history is worth volumes of logic." - USSC, Eldred v Ashbrook

On whether economics or the quest for knowledge are the primary factor behind copyrights:

The public benefits not only from an author's original work but also from his or her further creations. Although this truism may be illustrated in many ways, one of the best examples is Noah Webster[,] who supported his entire family from the earnings on his speller and grammar during the twenty years he took to complete his dictionary."
-- House Hearings on Copyright Term Extension Act of 1995, at 165.

Because I was interested, I tracked down the Senate Judiciary Committee report (PDF) on the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1995. They interviewed Bob Dylan, Don Henley, and Carlos Santana. Really. Here is the gist of the part I found most relevant:

"... the principal behind the U.S. copyright term--that it protect the author and at least one generation of heirs--remains unchanged by the bill....

"As the foregoing discussion indicates, the primary purpose of a proprietary interest in copyrighted works that is descendible from authors to their children and even grandchildren is to form a strong creative incentive for the advancement of knowledge and culture in the United States. The nature of copyright requires that these proprietary interests be balanced with the interests of the public at large in accessing and building upon those works. For this reason, intellectual property is the only form of property whose ownership rights are limited to a period of years, after which the entire bundle of rights is given as a legacy to the public at large."

SCO's contention that copyright is primarily for the economic benefit of the copyright owner is utterly without merit.

(I'm a computer geek, not a lawyer)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sigs

  • This message was brought to you by the numbers pi and e, and the letters aleph and beth.
  • The message is over. Don't read this part.
  • IANARP; it's a pseudonym
  • Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist -- Emerson
  • Spews for Slurs. Nuff dat stammers.
  • It's an Overlord thing; you wouldn't understand.
  • It's a warlord thing - you wouldn't understand.
  • If you can read this, ytrql fihtxh gebt ryyil gub -- bhneedz!
  • Bad Troll - back! Ni! Ni!
  • Be careful: they monitor this site. You know, them.
  • sigs, as if you cared.

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