Thursday, August 27, 2015

How open data can help save lives; Guardian, 8/18/15

Eleanor Ross, Guardian; How open data can help save lives:
"The most interesting thing with providing raw data, says Shadbolt, is that you provide the information and the apps “think” about it when a situation arises. “The whole genius of the web is that you don’t even know how the data you put up will be used. For this reason it’s best to collect more information than you think you might ever need.”
Emma Thwaites, a spokesperson for the Open Data Institute, explains that data layering is where open data can have the most impact. “That’s when you can really see where the black spots are. Overlay air pollution, crime stats, and fuse the data together, and you can see the likelihood of the most dangerous things. From this you can work out where to position your ambulances, or fire stations. Data helps you to find the epicentre.”
As well as benefiting the local community, open data can also be used to help individuals."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cheater, cheater, MOOC beater; Fortune, 8/26/15

Barb Darrow, Fortune; Cheater, cheater, MOOC beater:
"Researchers at MIT and Harvard this week published a paper finding that students taking online edX coursework were able to game the system by logging on as one person to check out online tests, scout out the right answers, and then log in again as themselves to take the test. Needless to say, that takes a lot of angst (and studying) out of the process.
This is not exactly good news for the burgeoning field of massive open online courses (aka MOOCs) popularized by the Kahn Academy but also increasingly embraced by traditional institutions. MIT and Harvard, with many other universities, for example have backed EdX, a MOOC platform, as a great way to provide low-cost education for lots of people and narrow the skills gap. EdX itself is a technology platform for packaging up and deploying online classes and is backed by MIT, Harvard, University of California at Berkeley, Dartmouth, and other schools. Students typically can use edX to earn certificates but not degrees at the affiliate schools.
According to an MIT News report, the paper’s co-author Isaac Chuang, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and physics, said as they analyzed student data, they noticed that some users answered questions “faster than is humanly possible.”"

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Fat Jew, Plagiarism and Copyright Law; Forbes, 8/24/15

Oliver Herzfeld, Forbes; The Fat Jew, Plagiarism and Copyright Law:
"What are the differences between plagiarism and copyright infringement?
First, plagiarism is a violation of ethics and industry norms that involves the failure to properly attribute the authorship of copied material, whereas copyright infringement is a violation of law that involves the copying of “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression,” without a license or a so-called “fair use” exemption. So claims of plagiarism would apply to any joke even if it is only conveyed in a live performance that is not recorded, while copyright infringement would not apply to any such jokes that are never recorded or published in any way. Exposure to claims of copyright infringement would only apply to jokes that are written down, captured on film or memorialized in some other physical medium, whether paper, video or computer server.
Second, plagiarism applies to the copying of both ideas and the expression of ideas, while copyright law only protects the expression of ideas but not the ideas themselves. The copyright law’s so-called “idea/expression dichotomy” can lead to a lot of thorny issues. For example, if a comedian changes the words of another’s joke and puts it into her own words, is that a copying of only the “idea” which would not constitute a copyright infringement or a “substantially similar” copying that would constitute a copyright infringement? This has led to an informal standard in the world of comedy, namely, claims of joke copying must be based on material that is highly original, not simply topical, obvious or based on common denominator topics such as mothers-in-law, bosses or airline food. In this case, however, Ostrovsky is accused of copying others’ works lock, stock and barrel. For example, in one instance, Ostrovsky copied another comedian’s image of a daily planner with time blocked off for “drugs and alcohol” and other humorous scheduled items. Ostrovsky deleted the name, social media handle and face of the author from the image but made no effort to recreate it, rephrase the wording or otherwise alter the expression of the original idea in any manner."

Friday, August 21, 2015

Copyright Case Asks: What is a Cheerleading Uniform?; Wall Street Journal Law Blog, 8/19/15

Jacob Gershman, Wall Street Journal Law Blog; Copyright Case Asks: What is a Cheerleading Uniform? :
"The question before the appellate court was whether cheerleading uniforms are eligible for federal copyright protection.
Sixth Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore, who wrote the opinion, framed the case more enigmatically: “Are cheerleading uniforms truly cheerleading uniforms without the stripes, chevrons, zigzags, and color blocks?”
The dispute — an infringement claim by a uniform designer accusing another company of ripping off its designs (pictured above) — is a good example of how tricky it can be for courts to decide what is copyrightable.
Federal law says that for a work to be copyrightable it has to have some originality and be “fixed in a tangible medium of expression,” such as a canvas, film, a computer disc or even human skin. But things get extra complicated in cases involving three-dimensional objects.
How to distinguish between the mechanical or utilitarian aspects of an object and its artistic features is an unsettled area in case law. Only the latter is copyrightable. So, in an example offered by the U.S. Copyright Office in its manuals, the design of a chair cannot be copyrighted but a carving on the back of a chair can be. A T-shirt isn’t copyrightable but artwork printed on it is.
Courts have struggled to set guidelines for how to distinguish the useful qualities of a work from its expressive features."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

‘Happy Birthday to You’; New York Times, 8/18/15

Helen L. Horowitz, Letter to Editor, New York Times; ‘Happy Birthday to You’ :
"In the 1890s, in Louisville, Ky., my grandmother Helen Solomon studied in what she called “kindergarten school” under Patty Hill. Helen revered her teacher and told me that Miss Hill and her sister Mildred created “Happy Birthday to You,” once “Good Morning to All,” because she believed that children needed a birthday song.
Knowing my love of history, my grandmother gave me the page of music she had saved from that time. On the top of the official title is “Happy Birthday” written in pencil.
I’m glad that neither my grandmother nor Patty Hill has knowledge of today’s ugly copyright squabble over a piece that was written by a generous woman for all."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

DIY Tractor Repair Runs Afoul Of Copyright Law; NPR, All Tech Considered, 8/17/15

Laura Sydell, NPR, All Tech Considered; DIY Tractor Repair Runs Afoul Of Copyright Law:
"You may wonder why Alford doesn't just break that digital lock and get into the software and fix the problems himself. He could, but he'd be breaking the law. It's called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, or DMCA. It was written because movie studios were worried that people would break the digital locks on DVDs, make copies and pirate them.
"And now we have this situation where there's digital locks on all kinds of things," says Kyle Wiens, co-founder of iFixit, which helps people repair their own technology. "There's digital locks on your garage door opener and if you want to circumvent that, if you want to use an aftermarket garage door opener that wasn't made by your garage door manufacturer, you might be violating copyright law."
And you can add to this list. It is illegal to break the digital locks on medical devices, such as a pacemaker, as well as game consoles and cars — pretty much anything you purchase that runs with software. If you break the digital lock you can face five years in prison and/or a half a million dollars in fines. Though we haven't heard of that happening to a farmer.
The law provides that every three years the Library of Congress' copyright office can review the law and make exemptions. Farm groups, mechanics, security researchers, consumer advocates are all in the midst of fighting for several exceptions.
Automakers, John Deere and other makers of construction equipment are opposed."

Monday, August 17, 2015

A South Bronx Graffiti Walkabout; New York Times, 8/17/15

David Gonzalez, New York Times; A South Bronx Graffiti Walkabout:
"When asked what was the difference between graffiti and street art, Crash replied that traditionalists see graffiti as strictly aerosol art that placed an emphasis on letters and color, while street artists might employ different types of paint, stencils or subjects and surfaces. Some have suggested that real graffiti artists should still be outlaws, but some of the most dedicated — and respected — graffiti artists in the Bronx are tired of that unrealistic expectation. Graffiti is not just a way of life for them, it is also how they have been able to make a living doing commissioned pieces or exhibiting and selling at galleries (or defending their copyright when used without permission by designers and ad agencies)."