langelgjm writes: In 2009, the National Science Foundation teamed up with the Census Bureau to ask U.S. businesses how important intellectual property was to them. Now, after three years of surveys, the results are in. Astonishingly, it turns out that when asked, 90 percent of businesses say intellectual property is "not important". While some very large businesses and specific sectors indicate that patents, copyrights, and trademarks are important, overall, the figures are shockingly low. What's more, the survey's results have received hardly any press. It appears that formal intellectual property protection is far less important to the vast majority of U.S. businesses than some federal agencies, such as the patent office, are willing to admit.
langelgjm writes: As/. reported, last Thursday Wikileaks released a draft text of the intellectual property chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Since then, many commentators have raised alarm about its contents. But what happens when you mix the leaked text together with Perl regular expressions and R's network analysis packages? You get some neat visualizations showing just how isolated the United States is in pushing for extreme copyright and patent laws.
langelgjm writes: "In a closely-watched case, the U.S. Supreme Court today vindicated the first-sale doctrine, declaring that it "applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad." The case involved a Thai graduate student in the U.S. who sold cheap foreign versions of textbooks on eBay without the publisher’s permission. The 6-3 decision has important implications for goods sold online and in discount stores. Justice Stephen Breyer said in his opinion (PDF) that the publisher lost any ability to control what happens to its books after their first sale abroad."
langelgjm writes: The New York Times reports (registration may be required) that Apple and Amazon are attempting to patent methods of enabling the resale of digital items like e-books and MP3s. Establishing a large marketplace for people to buy and sell used digital items has the potential to benefit consumers enormously, but copyright holders aren't happy. Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, "acknowledged it would be good for consumers — 'until there were no more authors anymore.'" But would the resale of digital items really be much different than the resale of physical items? Or is the problem that copyright holders just don't like resale?
langelgjm writes: After repeated dismissals by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Congressman Darrell Issa has taken matters into his own hands by posting a copy of ACTA, online and asking for public comments. ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is a secretly negotiated multilateral trade treaty with the potential for profoundly affecting the Internet. "ACTA represents as great a threat to an open Internet as SOPA and PIPA and was drafted with even less transparency and input from digital citizens," Issa said. You can comment here.
langelgjm writes: Bringing a lengthy legal battle to a close, New York City's Department of Education will today release detailed evaluation reports on individual English and math teachers as a result of a request under public information laws. The city's teachers union has responded with full page ads (PDF warning) decrying the methodology used in the evaluations. The court's decision attempts to balance the public interest in this data against the rights of individual teachers. Across the country, a large number of states are moving to evaluate teachers based on student performance in attempt to raise student achievement in the U.S.
langelgjm writes: While much of the web is focused on the SOPA and PIPA blackout, supporters of the public domain today quietly lost a protracted struggle that began back in 2001.The Supreme Court, in a 6-2 decision, rejected the argument that Congress did not have the power to convey copyright upon works that were already in the public domain. The suit was originally filed to challenge provisions that the U.S. adopted when signing the TRIPs agreement. Justices Breyer and Alito dissented, arguing that conveyed copyright on already existing works defied the logic of copyright law. Justice Kagan recused herself. The text of the opinions is available here (PDF).
langelgjm writes: The Social Science Research Council, an independent, non-profit organization, today released a major report on music, film and software piracy in developing economies. The product of three years of work, the authors conclude that piracy is primarily driven by excessively high prices and that anti-piracy education and enforcement efforts have failed. Still, chief editor Joe Karaganis believes that businesses can survive in these high piracy environments.
langelgjm writes: ACTA negotiators met with a limited number of civil society representatives at an informal lunch yesterday, in Washington, D.C. Biggest news from the event? Explicit admission that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement isn't actually about counterfeiting. According to those present, Luc Devigne, a lead EU negotiator, "asked more than once how you could have an 'IP Enforcement' treaty and not include patents—and dismissed suggestions that ACTA was specifically an 'Anti-Counterfeiting' treaty rather than a broader enforcement treaty." For those unaware, yet another ACTA negotiating round is taking place this week in Washington. It was announced with little fanfare by the United States Trade Representative's office hardly a day before beginning. Even stranger, a South Korean negotiator indicated that some civil society groups in South Korea are pushing for "internet morality" provisions to combat slander. No word yet on whether a new text will be released after the round ends; now would be a good time to call up USTR and demand more transparency.
langelgjm writes: Announced this afternoon in a joint conference call held by CEOs Eric Schmidt and Ivan Seidenberg, Google and Verizon have released a joint net neutrality proposal in the form of a "suggested legislative framework for consideration by lawmakers." This comes on the heels of last week's assertion (and subsequent denial) that Google and Verizon were close to concluding talks that would permit Verizon to prioritize certain content in exchange for pay. A look at the actual text of the framework shows some positive net neutrality principles, but there is also some more curious content: "Wireless broadband" is singled out for exclusion from most of the agreement, and providers would be permitted to prioritize "additional online services... distinguishable in scope and purpose." Public Knowledge, a watchdog group based in Washington, has criticized the agreement for these provisions.
langelgjm writes: In the lead up to next week's Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations in Lucerne, a conference that drew over 90 academics and experts from six continents has released a statement issuing a harsh condemnation of both the substance and process of the agreement.
Held last week at American University's Washington College of Law, the attendees say "We find that the terms of the publicly released draft of ACTA threaten numerous public interests, including every concern specifically disclaimed by negotiators." The "urgent communique" covers more than the usual ACTA topics of interest on Slashdot: in addition to the agreement's effect on the Internet, it also considers the effects on access to medicines, international trade, and developing countries.
Meanwhile, Public Knowledge has an action alert where you can send a note to the White House expressing your opposition to ACTA.
langelgjm writes: Michael Robertson, a "serial entrepreneur" of MP3.com fame, has made Slashdot news severaltimesbefore. A recent article in the New York Times (registration may be required) discusses MP3tunes, the successor to MP3.com. MP3tunes allows you to rip your entire CD collection and store it online, whence it can be streamed to computers and various internet-equipped devices, including the iPhone and Android, and even the Playstation and Wii. However, the record industry is in the midst of a lawsuit against Robertson and his service, claiming that he should be paying licensing fees. The industry points to its blessed competitor, Catch Media, as the proper alternative: "Mark Segall, its business development adviser, says the company will soon announce which music companies will use the technology but suggests that consumers will have to pay a "convenience fee" for streaming their music from the Web, comparable to charges at an A.T.M. Won't people balk at paying again to listen to R.E.M. songs they have owned since the 1980s? Catch Media hopes not."
langelgjm writes: In an incident that is ripe for puns, Florin Necula, a New York City man, swallowed a flash drive in an attempt to deny investigators access to its contents. The ploy worked — at least temporarily. After four days, Necula agreed to allow doctors to remove the drive. Necula is being charged with obstruction of justice; he and three others are suspects are believed to have installed ATM skimmers on several machines in an attempt to obtain bank account information. Should've used TrueCrypt.
langelgjm writes: University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist is reporting that the "biggest ACTA leak yet" is available today. The 44 page document (PDF) goes further than any leaks yet by discussing the individual positions of negotiating countries on particular issues. For example, "On the issue of anti-circumvention legislation and access controls, the U.S. wants it included per the DCMA, but many other countries, including the EU, Japan, and New Zealand do not, noting that the WIPO Internet treaties do not require it." Geist's blog list a number of other topics from the document, including ISP safe harbor and notice-and-takedown. The document reveals significant divisions in negotiating parties, often with the U.S. pushing for greater enforcement measures than other countries are prepared to accept.
In related news, USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk will meet with members of the Senate Finance Committee this week to discuss US trade policy. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon recently expressed concern over the lack of transparency and possible provisions of ACTA, sending a letter to Kirk about the issue. Any Oregonians should take this opportunity to call Wyden's office and ask him to question Kirk directly about ACTA.
langelgjm writes: The Washington Post reports that during Saturday's record-breaking snowfall, hundreds of twenty- and thirty-somethings gathered in a mostly-empty area of the city and proceeded to have an enormous snowball fight. Things were all fun and games until a D.C. detective in plainclothes stopped in the middle of the fight, leaving his Hummer and confronting the crowd with his gun drawn. At first, D.C. police denied the claims, but the incident was caught on tape. The detective is currently on desk duty pending an investigation. The tech angle to all of this? 25-year-old Yousef Ali, a one-time Apple Genius, said he was inspired to start the snowball fight by a friend's Facebook status and used a dormant personal blog and extensive Twitter promotion to expand the participant list: "Basically, I used a lot of my social media promotions techniques... to really push this thing pretty big."