Evan Noynaert's Favorite Techdirt Posts of the Week

from the favorites-favorites-and-more-favorites dept

This week's favorites post comes from Evan Noynaert, Assistant Professor at Missouri Western State University.

This was a great week to be posting my favorites because it started off with Nina Paley's When Copyright And Contracts Can Get In The Way Of Art. That was a wonderful piece on several levels. First, of course, is the marvelous art work. It is under a free license, so I expect to see at least bits and pieces of the art work showing up in a variety of media. The discussion of her relationship with the museum was also interesting. It was a perfect illustration of the principle that "managers like to manage." In many cases, like this one, they tend to over manage. Someone decided that proper management required a contract. The contract they produced was silly because it included an absurd non-compete clause and completely ignored the first use rights that should have been important to the museum. One of the commenters followed up with a criticism that the problems were caused by lack of a contract, but what the situation really showed was that a signed contract is meaningless if it is poorly drawn up.

Krishna the Cowherd Prince

Then later in the week we were treated to more of Nina's work when Mike wrote about her Kickstarter Project. I was amused when Mike said that he wanted several copies to hand out. That sounds a lot like handing out religious tracts, and, I guess for some of us, bringing some sanity to the IP system does amount to a religious mission.

One thing has changed since I started reading Techdirt years ago. It seemed like most articles back then were about what is wrong with the IP system. At every turn, it seemed like the IP holders were expanding their rights at the expense of the public interest. Things are different now as we see more and more common sense being introduced into IP issues and various judges and even legislatures realizing that the public interest is not always best served by extending trademark, copyright, and patent protection at every opportunity. Yes, we still have bad things like the PROTECT IP Act proposal hanging over our heads, but there is a lot of good news.

At the risk of being a Pollyana, I would like to highlight some of the positive events this week. We saw good news from Europe, where one European court found that Freedom of expression about Darfur is more important than Louis Vuitton's trademark. We also saw the European Court of Human Rights say that newspapers don't need to pre-inform celebrities of coverage. In Ireland, it looks like they are at least considering stronger support for fair use. In the US, we saw Koch Brothers Can't Abuse Trademark & Hacking Laws To Sue Satirical Critics. The Koch case seems like a pretty straightforward freedom of speech issue, but I am not sure the ruling would have been the same a few years ago. We also saw Patent Hawk's wings get clipped with a ruling that his editable toolbar patent is invalid. On the more academic side, we saw an important statement about The Anachronism Of Today's Patent And Copyright Laws. And we had a group of legal scholars stand up and explain why ACTA requires congressional approval. In the business arena, we saw Google follow Amazon's lead and just say "NO" to RIAA demands for licenses for their cloud music locker. Now I would like to see Google create a music home page that has links to sites and musicians that provide free and Community Commons music that can be easily transferred to your music locker. Google could probably make a fair amount of money by providing searches that included both paid and unpaid advertisements. It would be interesting to see how long it takes for RIAA companies to start buying those advertisements and giving away promotional music.

Finally, one issue that Mike raised this week was in the article about Google's internal collision course of Chrome versus Android. I agree that there does not seem to be much coordination going on between Android and Chrome at the moment, and that it is a huge burden for any company to maintain two different operating systems. However, this is Google, and Google has proven to be extremely flexible in the past. They have a corporate culture of trying lots of different things and learning from their failures as well as their successes. I would not describe Chrome and Android as being on a collision course. I think it would be more accurate to say that they are on parallel courses. For example, Google TV didn't work out well under Chrome, so they are going to try Android on the next iteration. I'm not sure that the real problems of Google TV have much to do with the operating system, but the situation does illustrate potential advantages of having two different operating systems in place. Eventually the two will probably merge, or, if the Chrome laptops are not successful, perhaps Chrome will just Wave and fade away. I think that even if the Chrome OS is a failure, it isn't an indictment of Google but rather an example of how Google is willing to take chances, accept some failures, and move on.

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  1. icon
    DannyB (profile), 14 May 2011 @ 12:17pm

    Just so it isn't missed . . .

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110513/15424314269/burson-marsteller-digs-itself-deeper-hole-dele tes-critical-comments-its-facebook-page.shtml#c53

    Burson-Marsteller used by Microsoft to smear Google in 2007


    SEPTEMBER 24, 2007

    Microsoft Goes Behind the Scenes
    Public-Relations Proxy Aims to Gather Opposition To Google-DoubleClick Deal

    Yes, Burson-Marsteller, the company to go to when you want to smear Google!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Jay (profile), 14 May 2011 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Just so it isn't missed . . .

    Even more amazing...

    They were used for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

    Facebook would have done better hiring Charlie Sheen. At least he knows the value of winning.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2011 @ 8:30pm

    Disney applied for a trademark on Seal Team Six.


    If this isn't trademark abuse ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    The eejit (profile), 14 May 2011 @ 11:55pm


    It isn't, because of the Disneyfication of Seal Team Six. Why do you hate artists so? [/sarc]

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    cc (profile), 15 May 2011 @ 1:24am

    Re: Re:

    Have you guys not been paying attention? Seal Team Six was sent in by Disney to seize Bin Laden's illegal stash of copyrighted porn. There were even Twitter reports that Mickey Mouse was part of the team.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, 15 May 2011 @ 3:48am

    This is unrelated to these posts, but related to the kind of topics typically covered here at Techdirt.

    For some reason, sometime yesterday or this morning PeerGuardian apparently started blocking access to www.againstmonopoly.org -- and for whatever reason, it can't be unblocked by clicking Allow HTTP in PeerGuardian.

    This means three separate things that are interesting and perhaps a bit disturbing.

    1. iBlockList lists must be able to flag two levels of
    severity on blocked items, the higher of which means
    "don't allow user override". This fact is not advertised
    anywhere that I have seen.

    2. PeerGuardian must respect this flag and not permit user
    overrides in this case. This fact is also not advertised.

    3. Someone saw fit to put the Against Monopoly blog, which
    dammit is on OUR side, on an anti-P2P site list(!).

    Unfortunately, short of uninstalling PeerGuardian or using a different computer I can now not visit Against Monopoly until this situation is resolved. I may in fact uninstall PeerGuardian; I don't like software second-guessing me and allowing something that's disturbingly reminiscent of the "broadcast flag" override my own express intentions as system administrator, even if it's being done by "our side" and not the copyright maximalists.

    On the other hand, the Against Monopoly blog (and especially the comment section) is not what it once was. Still, this is most likely a denial of service attack perpetrated by means of spurious submissions to iBlockList.

    Interestingly, PeerGuardian maintains and displays a log of connections it blocks. It's not showing anything for Against Monopoly, though, even though it's indisputably responsible as the symptoms are exactly those caused by trying to access a web site on its block list: a "connection reset" error that otherwise basically can't happen (unless Against Monopoly decided to shut down its web server, while keeping its internet connection and IP address, which would simply make no sense; if they deliberately shut down, I'd hope they'd give some notice they were going out of business rather than just quietly pull up stakes in the middle of the night, and they'd pull the plug on their server completely, so I'd get "connection timed out" instead of "connection reset"; likewise if they had some hardware failure or other disaster there wouldn't be a functioning computer at their IP address at all until they replaced the faulty part. A genuine "connection reset" from their end would mean they still had a working, Internet-connected server at their IP still but were *choosing* not to serve HTTP from it anymore, which just does not make logical sense. Therefore the reset is coming from this end, and PeerGuardian blocks by generating resets, hence the identification of the culprit).

    It is very disturbing that PeerGuardian is not only capable of enforcing certain blocks over the system administrator's wishes, but is apparently designed to try as much as possible to conceal the fact that it is doing so when this happens.

    I will probably uninstall PeerGuardian at some point, given this disturbing development, and also a proneness towards false positives (for example, it doesn't like Amazon EC2 hosting, which a lot of websites use, for some reason). Does anyone here know of a superior product with a similar purpose?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), 15 May 2011 @ 6:15am


    nice long rant full of such vim and vigor!

    but uh... that site is actually down....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2011 @ 8:59am


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2011 @ 10:05am


    The is nothing illegal about what Disney is doing, and it does not point to a flaw in trademark law.

    Nevertheless, I find it disgusting for any person or company to try and turn a quick buck on the backs of what these men did in the service of our country. They will forever remain anonymous and go about their daily lives as members of the Navy. No Disney parades for them. Just the quiet satisfaction of knowing they did something important.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Freedom, 15 May 2011 @ 12:00pm

    Re Google -- Chrome next Failure like Wave?

    In Corporate America, failure typically is bad and treated as a disease, but at Google the opposite it true.

    Failure is just the symptom of the underlying 'disease' of pushing and trying new things. The cure for this 'disease' isn't to punish failure as it typical in Corp America, but change the paradigm and realizing that you don't have a disease on your hands at all, but ultimately a cure instead that will lead to success.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Avitarx, 15 May 2011 @ 12:43pm


    I imagine Chrome OS is relatively easy to maintain (it's a browser with some limited hardware access from what I can tell). I can say as a CR-48 owner, and as a Chrome Browser user, I think Chrome OS is about getting focus on what to do with Chrome Browser. It forces webapps to be the main focus.

    I think the browser based App Store is due to Chrome OS, and I expect other tweaks to be made, partly because the focus on Chrome OS exposes what they need.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, 15 May 2011 @ 2:35pm

    You're not making sense. "Connection reset" always means one of two things: either the machine you're talking to is up, but does not provide the type of service (e.g. http) you asked of it, or something in between is actively and intentionally blocking access to it (both PeerGuardian and the Great Firewall of China use this method, though in service of very different causes).

    But www.againstmonopoly.org is BY DEFINITION a web server. Either it is up and provides http, or it is down. It cannot be up but not providing http, as there is simply no logical reason why its operators would configure it thusly while calling it "www.something". But if it were up and not being blocked in between it would respond normally, and if it were down and not being blocked in between the connection would time out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Nina Paley (profile), 15 May 2011 @ 3:49pm


    May I just say that I love your handle? Especially in light of the graphic above.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 15 May 2011 @ 7:06pm

    Chrome + Android Is Not A “Huge Burden”

    Both OSes are built on the Linux kernel, so they can already take advantage of the Linux kernel’s built-in hardware support, which is broader than any other OS in the world. Run on both x86 and ARM? No biggie. Maybe some new MIPS-based mobile gadgets might appear in the future? Can work there too.

    Even the apps can still work. For Chrome, they’re all Web-based anyway. For Android, so long as whatever language you use compiles for the Dalvik VM, you needn’t even notice the difference.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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