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Working in coalition with the StopWatching.Us coalition to put a stop to NSA overreach.
Every day, we find out even more about how, and how pervasively, the NSA has been surveilling us and collecting our data. Whether it is your phone or Internet records, whether you reside in the US or not, the NSA has the means and desire to collect and store your data, and even share it with other government entities.
This sculpture is in the public domain in the US but not in France. Why?
Artist Cosmo Wenman has been making something of a splash lately by taking detailed 3D scans of sculptures and then re-printing them with a 3D printer and posting them for others on Thingiverse. But one of the side effects of his project is to throw some light on the fundamental arbitrariness of copyright terms.
From a copyright standpoint, scanning sculptures is no different then copying them in any other way. If the sculpture is still protected by copyright, you probably need permission to make a copy. If the sculpture is in the public domain, you can copy (and modify) it to your heart’s content.
This means that determining if a work is in the public domain plays a big part in Wenman’s work. And that has brought him face to face with the madness that is copyright terms.
We shouldn’t take the reliability of our phone system for granted. Although some characterize the phone system’s current rules as unsuitable for newer technologies, these rules are necessary to make the system work, regardless of the underlying technology.
On Wednesday, the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on what’s commonly called the IP transition. Basically, as John described on the blog a few weeks ago, newer packet-switched technologies are gradually replacing the traditional technologies behind our phone network. Because this presents an important opportunity to shape the future of our phone network, the Subcommittee invited a panel of communications experts, including our very own Harold Feld, to speak on the government’s role in the transition.
As Harold discussed in his testimony, the phone network should continue operating smoothly and reliably, regardless of the underlying technology. Deliberate policy choices have ensured the high level of quality we almost take for granted today. Our Five Fundamentals articulate the principles behind policies that have shaped the phone network: service to all Americans, competition and interconnection, consumer protection, network reliability, and public safety. And these same principles should continue guiding our phone network, no matter what technology it runs on.
Public Knowledge takes its fight for clear patents to the Patent Office.
If it’s not clear by now, I really don’t like unclear patents. I have blogged about how Intellectual Ventures applied for a patent on Microsoft’s Clippy, showed the Supreme Court how a 350-word patent claim was merely 16 lines of computer code, and filed a brief arguing that vague patents are impeding innovation.
Public Knowledge files an amicus brief with EFF, to attack patents with fuzzy boundaries that impede innovation.
Imagine you are buying a house, and find out that the next-door neighbor owns all the property that is in a “spaced relationship” apart from the fence. How are you supposed to know what is yours and what is your neighbor’s? If you build a shed a foot away from the fence, is it yours or the neighbor’s?
Of course, this is a ridiculous situation. When we draw property boundaries, we draw lines, not blurry clouds that force others to guess what is inside and what is outside.
But this is not the case for patents. Although patents are supposed to specify the boundaries of what infringes and what does not—just like your house’s title deed does—courts regularly allow fuzzy language like “spaced relationship” to be used in defining those patent boundaries. Indeed, the words “spaced relationship” came straight from the patent that is at issue in the case Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments, which was considered acceptable by the appeals court, and is now before the Supreme Court for consideration.
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