Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Presidential Priority: Unleashing Open Data; Huffington Post, 7/21/16

Joel Gurin, Huffington Post; A Presidential Priority: Unleashing Open Data:
"The Center for Open Data Enterprise has received support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to publish a nonpartisan informational Open Data Transition Report, which will be made public in October. The report will draw on experts from business, the public sector, and civil society to provide an action plan for continuity and further improvements in open government data — free government data released for public use. It will show how open data can fuel national initiatives in healthcare, medical research, energy, criminal justice reform, education, labor, veterans’ benefits, and many other critical areas...
The next president will have an unprecedented opportunity to lead a truly data-driven government, working with federal agencies and the U.S. Congress. By providing high-quality, usable data about everything from satellite observations to local neighborhood resources, the government can open new opportunities for scientific research, economic growth, and citizen engagement. The next administration’s task will be to solidify the gains that have already been made, shape a new vision for a data-driven democracy, and ensure that the leadership and resources are there to make that vision a reality.
The Open Data Transition Report will be designed to help the next administration identify and pursue the most compelling open data opportunities."

Uncle Sam Wants You — Or at Least Your Genetic and Lifestyle Information; New York Times, 7/23/16

Robert Pear, New York Times; Uncle Sam Wants You — Or at Least Your Genetic and Lifestyle Information:
"People can sign up through academic medical centers at Columbia University, Northwestern University in Illinois, the University of Arizona and the University of Pittsburgh, each of which is working with local partners. Columbia, for example, is collaborating with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Harlem Hospital and Weill Cornell Medicine.
Participants will be recruited to reflect the geographic, racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the nation. To help achieve that goal, officials have enlisted community health centers, where more than 90 percent of patients have annual incomes less than twice the poverty level (less than $23,760 for an individual). About one-third of health center patients are Latinos, and about one-fourth are African-Americans.
Officials said they wanted patients to be partners in the research, not just “human subjects.” To that end, patients will have access to all the information about themselves, including laboratory and genetic test results. Doctors could eventually use the data to shape treatment for an individual patient, rather than using standard treatments that may not work for everyone. Patients will help guide the research, sitting on its steering committee and advisory board."

Saturday, July 23, 2016

"Tablet v. Newspaper"; Bizarro, 7/11/16

Dan Piraro, Bizarro:
"Tablet v. Newspaper"

Wellcome Trust launches open-access publishing venture; Nature, 7/6/16

Declan Butler, Nature; Wellcome Trust launches open-access publishing venture:
"One of the world’s largest biomedical charities, the Wellcome Trust in London, will launch an open-access publishing venture later this year. The idea behind Wellcome Open Research is to allow Wellcome grant recipients to publish their findings more quickly and to create a model that, according to the charity, other funders might adopt in future.
Management of the venture, which Wellcome announced on 6 July, will be contracted out to F1000Research, an open-access publishing platform. The platform publishes manuscripts and data sets within days of their submission, after a quick sanity check by its in-house editors, and then arranges post-publication peer review."

EFF sues US government, saying copyright rules on DRM are unconstitutional; Ars Technica, 7/22/16

Joe Mullin, Ars Technica; EFF sues US government, saying copyright rules on DRM are unconstitutional:
""Section 1201 is a draconian and unnecessary restriction on speech and the time has come to set it aside," writes EFF staff attorney Kit Walsh in a blog post announcing the lawsuit. "The future of cultural participation and software-related research depends on it."
"[C]opyright law shouldn’t be casting a legal shadow over activities as basic as popping the hood of your own car, offering commentary on a shared piece of culture (and helping others do so), and testing security infrastructure," writes EFF's Parker Higgins, in a separate post explaining the effects that Section 1201 has on scholars, artists, and activists. "It’s time for the courts to revisit Section 1201, and fix Congress’s constitutional mistake.""

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Why Do Women Inventors Hold So Few Patents?; Atlantic, 7/21/16

Adrienne LaFrance, Atlantic; Why Do Women Inventors Hold So Few Patents? :
"“The most significant determinant is women's underrepresentation in patent-intensive fields,” Frenkel wrote, citing a 2013 paper about why women patentees are underrepresented, “especially in electrical and mechanical engineering, and in patent-intensive jobs, especially development and design.”...
There’s evidence to suggest the inclusion of women inventors is good not just for women, but for business. Technological innovation is a huge driver of economic growth in the United States—it accounts for three-quarters of the nation’s postwar grown, the Commerce Department says. This kind of growth also produced high-paying jobs."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Publisher Seeks to Overcome Copyright Suit Over Famous Civil Rights Song; Hollywood Reporter, 7/18/16

Ashley Cullins, Hollywood Reporter; Publisher Seeks to Overcome Copyright Suit Over Famous Civil Rights Song:
"A documentary filmmaker, suing as the We Shall Overcome Foundation, filed a putative class action in April against Ludlow Music and the Richmond Organization, seeking a judgment that the song isn't copyrightable and that licensing fees collected for it must be returned. The lawsuit came after the filmmaker was denied a synch license to use an a cappella version of the song. In June, Lee Daniels' The Butler entered the fray, joining the suit because defendants had tried to charge $100,000 for use of the song in that film.
Plaintiffs argue "We Shall Overcome" is an adaptation of an African-American spiritual which is virtually identical to a 1948 composition called "We Will Overcome," the copyright for which expired in 1976. Therefore, they argue, that's when the unofficial anthem of the civil rights movement became part of the public domain."

Monday, July 18, 2016

Political Art in a Fractious Election Year; New York Times, 7/17/16

Randy Kennedy, New York Times; Political Art in a Fractious Election Year:
"Recently, bumper stickers and T-shirts began showing up around the country with a logo not for Hillary Clinton or Donald J. Trump but for a long-shot campaign: “Giant Meteor 2016: Just End It Already.”
The graphic, by Preston Whited, a production planner at a kayak-paddle company north of Seattle, was a lark that grew out of a Facebook chat among Mr. Whited and his friends. “We have a pretty dark sense of humor,” he said in a phone interview. “We came up with it, and I just took a Bernie ad and redid it on Excel and put it out there.” He added that, besides having no real graphic art experience, “I really don’t have any political faith in anything.”
A few weeks after he put the logo on Facebook, enterprising souls elsewhere on the web picked it up and began selling it on bumper stickers, shirts and hats. “Which is cool with me,” Mr. Whited, 30, said. “If I’d tried to copyright it and claim it, it never would have had the exposure it’s had. Now I see it all over. And I can go buy it and put it on my car.”"

Zika Data From the Lab, and Right to the Web; New York Times, 7/18/16

Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times; Zika Data From the Lab, and Right to the Web:
"Dr. O’Connor’s decision was the most radical manifestation of a trend already underway. In early February, more than 30 of the most prominent academic journals, research institutions and research funders signed a “Statement on Data Sharing in Public Health Emergencies” in which the journals agreed to make all articles about the Zika virus available free instead of charging their subscription fees, which can be hundreds of dollars.
The journals also agreed to consider articles that had first been posted for comment on public forums like bioRxiv, which is hosted by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island. The funders agreed to make everyone receiving their money share data as widely as possible...
“I never planned to be an evangelist,” he said. “I was happy toiling in anonymity, so this is a surreal experience. We all grew up in the same system: You do a study, you submit it to a journal, and your place in the hierarchy depends on the quality of the journal it appears in.”
“If it’s all you’ve known, you assume it’s the right way. But if you’ve got data that can contribute to the public health response during an epidemic — is it really yours to hang onto?”"

Pittsburgh's Digital Dream Labs sues British toy company over patent; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/24/16

Patricia Sabatini, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Pittsburgh's Digital Dream Labs sues British toy company over patent:
"Pittsburgh startup Digital Dream Labs is suing to stop a British company from selling an educational toy in the U.S. that allegedly rips off Digital’s patented game technology.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Digital claims that London-based Primo Toys plans to sell a playset in this country that essentially is a copycat of Digital’s Puzzlets game designed to teach children how to program computers.
Both companies’ toys involve arranging tiles on a game grid, which control the movement of a character."

Are MOOCs Forever?; Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/14/16

[Podcast and Transcript] Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education; Are MOOCs Forever? :
"Think back to the early days of MOOCs. Professors at Stanford and Harvard and other places were suddenly teaching really big classes, free. Hundreds of thousands of students at once were in those courses. It was an unprecedented giveaway of what had traditionally been the most expensive education in the world.
Back then, I met several students who were binging on the courses the way you might binge-watch a season of your favorite show on Netflix. They took as many courses as they possibly could, powering through and finishing as many as 30 courses in a year. When I asked why they were in such a hurry, the most popular reason was that they thought it was all too good to last. As one of those binging students told me, "I’m just afraid this whole thing might end soon." Surely, universities would change their mind about this, or the start-ups working with colleges might lock things up.
Fast forward to last month, when Coursera did something that stirred up all of those concerns again. On June 30 the company deleted hundreds of its earliest courses, as part of a shift to a new software platform. Reaction, as you might expect, was negative on social media and blogs. One programmer called it cultural vandalism...
Hello, and welcome to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Re:Learning Podcast. I’m Jeff Young, and I recently had the chance to talk with Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, about those issues."

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Fight for the "Right to Repair";, 7/13/16

Emily Matchar,; The Fight for the "Right to Repair" :
"The problem, Gordon-Byrne says, began in earnest in the late 1990s. Companies were increasingly embedding software in their products, and claiming that software as their intellectual property. Companies would argue that they needed to control repairs as a way of maintaining security and customer experience, reasons Gordon-Byrne calls “all fake.”...
The problem isn’t limited to traditional home electronics. A farmer may have paid for his or her John Deere tractor, a piece of farm equipment that can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But John Deere still owns the software that runs the tractor, and trying to fix it without going to an authorized repair center could put the farmer afoul of copyright laws. This means that, in order to make legal repairs, a farmer in a rural area might have to haul a broken 15-ton tractor for hundreds of miles to an authorized dealer or repair shop. In the harvest season, this could mean a crushing loss of revenue.
Nor does the problem only harm consumers. Independent repair professionals, from camera shop owners to computer technicians, suffer, saying the lack of access to repair parts and manuals makes them unable to do their jobs."

Pokemon Go spurs lawyers to stop and consider legal issues; ABA Journal, 7/13/16

Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal; Pokemon Go spurs lawyers to stop and consider legal issues:
"Some lawyers say Pokemon Go, an “augmented reality” game, raises legal issues and public safety concerns. Alabama lawyer Keith Lee, writing at his Associate’s Mind blog, says his legal questions include:
Does placing a Pokemon character on a private property, without permission, affect the owner’s interest in exclusive possession of the property? Does it create an attractive nuisance? Does owning real property extend property rights to intellectual property elements that are placed on it? Is there liability for placing the characters on private property or in dangerous locations?
Michigan lawyer Brian Wassom raises other legal issues in a post for the Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq. blog. Augmented reality games can lead to competition for the use of the same physical spaces, disrupting the ability of players and nonplayers to enjoy the place, and possibly leading to violence, he says. Could government limit the players in a public space? Would that bring a First Amendment challenge?"

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Meet Your New Librarian of Congress;, 7/14/16

Erin Blakemore,; Meet Your New Librarian of Congress: Carla Hayden will make history as the first African-American in the role—and the first woman:
"In the past, presidential nominations tended to focus on patronage and vague qualifications, and the role did not require that the librarian have served as a professional librarian at any time. Former Librarians of Congress carried out what was, in effect, a lifetime term. As a result, the the institution has only had 13 leaders in its 216-year-long history. That recently changed when Congress passed a bill limiting the term of the Librarian of Congress to 10 years.
Hayden had to undergo a confirmation hearing and political gridlock before being confirmed to the position by a 74-18 vote, McGlone reports. Just what does her post entail? In short, she’ll be responsible for overseeing the nation’s largest cultural institution, but her job will have other perks (and challenges). Not only does the Librarian of Congress name the nation’s Poet Laureate, but she oversees the Copyright Office, makes critical exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, oversees the National Recording Registry and National Film Registry and serves as the public face of books in the United States.
It’s a tall order—but one that America’s newest Librarian of Congress seems enthused to take on. Hayden tells Fritze that she looks forward to opening “the treasure chest that is the Library of Congress even further and [making] it a place that can be found and used by everyone.”"

Bastille Day Fireworks and Copyright; Trademark & Copyright Law Blog, 7/13/16

Alice Berendes, Trademark & Copyright Law Blog; Bastille Day Fireworks and Copyright:
"When the 100th anniversary of the building of the Eiffel Tower was commemorated, the French Supreme Court, or Cour de Cassation, held (in its Judgment of March 3, 1992, Case No. 90-18081) that a show “consisting of lighting effects of the tower by a combination of ramps and projectors, along with image projections and fireworks” is a work of art protected by copyright. In making this holding, the Court affirmed a lower court’s decision that a publisher cannot sell postcards reproducing photographs of the show without the show designer’s prior authorization.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is a good illustration of how extensive the notion of copyrightable work is under French law. Article 112-1 of the French Intellectual Property Code, states that works are protected by copyright “whatever their kind, form of expression, merit or purpose.”"

‘We’re lucky someone wasn’t killed’: A look at the patent office’s Christmas outage; Fed Scoop, 7/13/16

Whitney Blair Wyckoff, Fed Scoop; ‘We’re lucky someone wasn’t killed’: A look at the patent office’s Christmas outage:
"The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s massive data center outage last Christmas was more than just an inconvenience, said the agency’s chief tech exec — it could have been deadly.
“Metal vaporized, doors blown off hinges ... we’re lucky someone wasn’t killed,”John Owens, the chief information officer of the Patent and Trademark Office, said at a Patent Public Advisory Committee meeting in a harrowing account that sounds more like the start of a horror flick than a quarterly update from a CIO’s office.
The result was that many key patent and trademark systems — like those that allow people to file and search for applications — were unavailable for nearly a week. The agency’s IT staff and vendors came in over the Christmas holiday to make fixes and restore service...
...[Tony Cole, vice president and global government CTO at FireEye] said the biggest lesson he hopes the government learns is that it needs to upgrade its IT infrastructure. He touted U.S. CIO Tony Scott's push to create a $3.1 billion IT Modernization Fund, a proposal that he has been trying to sell to Congress. And he also recommended that the government make a stronger push into the cloud."

Carla Hayden confirmed as 14th librarian of Congress; Washington Post, 7/13/16

Peggy McGlone, Washington Post; Carla Hayden confirmed as 14th librarian of Congress:
"The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Carla D. Hayden — the chief executive of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library — to be the 14th librarian of Congress. Hayden becomes the first woman and first African American to hold the post.
Lawmakers voted 74 to 18 to approve Hayden’s nomination. She succeeds James H. Billington, a Russia scholar and author who retired last September after 28 years.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) described Hayden, 63, as a transformational leader who is the perfect candidate for the job of modernizing the library, an agency with a $620 million budget and 3,200 employees.
“She’s proven herself to be a skilled manager of large complex projects. She moved the Enoch Pratt into the digital age,” Mikulski said. “Our nation will be well served by her confirmation.”
The vote came five weeks after the Senate Rules Committee unanimously voted to recommend Hayden to the full Senate. But the nomination stalled after conservative lawmakers raised concerns about positions she held 13 years ago, when she was president of the American Library Association."

Nomination of Carla Hayden to Library of Congress is stuck in Senate; Washington Post, 7/13/16

Peggy McGlone, Washington Post; Nomination of Carla Hayden to Library of Congress is stuck in Senate:
"Hayden, 63, is credited with modernizing the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, where she has overseen a $112 million renovation of its central branch and the opening of the first new branch in 35 years. She was praised for keeping the library open during the community protests over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. She earned a PhD from the University of Chicago and has served on the National Museum and Library Services Board since 2010.
She told the Senate committee that upgrading the library’s technology would be a top priority, especially concerning its Copyright Office, which has been plagued with problems.
“The expansion of the technological capacity will help in not only preserving and making the materials and the extensive collection available, but also stabilizing and making the Copyright Office secure,” Hayden said."

Give the nominee for librarian of Congress a vote; Washington Post, 7/12/16

Editorial Board, Washington Post; Give the nominee for librarian of Congress a vote:
"A WOULD-BE librarian of Congress is the latest casualty in Congress’s confirmation abdication: Carla D. Hayden was nominated to head the world’s largest library in February, sailed through her confirmation hearing in April and passed committee in a voice vote last month. But the Senate has so far failed to give her an up-or-down vote on the floor. If a vote doesn’t happen before the legislature goes on its summer recess at the end of the week, it might not happen at all...
The next librarian of Congress will have to solve that challenge while answering some difficult questions: Should the library remain responsible for the country’s copyright system, or does the effort require a separate office? Should the library’s research reports remain restricted to members of Congress, or should they officially be made public?
...[P]ublic arguments against Ms. Hayden offensively suggest that, apparently because she is an African American woman, she would turn the library into a “monument to political correctness.” Meanwhile, legislators refuse to vote but offer no arguments at all. The Senate should give Ms. Hayden the consideration she deserves."

To Boldly Go Where No Fan Production Has Gone Before; Slate, 7/13/16

Marissa Martinelli, Slate; To Boldly Go Where No Fan Production Has Gone Before:
"The issues at the heart of the Axanar case are complex—in addition to copyright infringement, CBS and Paramount are accusing the Axanar team of profiting from the production by paying themselves salaries, among other things. Abrams, who directed 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, promised during a fan event back in May that the lawsuit would be going away at the behest of Justin Lin, the Beyond director who has sided, surprisingly, with Axanar over Paramount. But despite Abrams’ promise, the lawsuit rages on, and in the meantime, other Trekkie filmmakers have had to adapt. Federation Rising, the planned sequel to Horizon, pulled the plug before fundraising had even started, and Star Trek: Renegades, the follow-up to Of Gods and Men that raised more than $132,000 on Indiegogo, has dropped all elements of Star Trek from the production and is now just called Renegades. (Amusingly, this transition seems to have involved only slight tweaks, with the Federation becoming the Confederation, Russ’ character Tuvok becoming Kovok, and so on.) Other projects are stuck in limbo, waiting to hear from CBS whether they can boldly go forth with production—or whether this really does spell the end of the golden age of Star Trek fan films.
Axanar may very well have crossed a line, and CBS and Paramount are, of course, entitled to protect their properties. But in the process, they have suffocated, intentionally or otherwise, a robust and long-standing fan-fiction tradition, one that has produced remarkable labors of love like Star Trek Continues, which meticulously recreated the look and feel of the 1960s show, and an hourlong stop-motion film made by a German fan in tribute to Enterprise—a project almost eight years in the making. It’s a tradition that gave us web series like Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, which was exploring same-sex relationships in Star Trek well before the canon was ready to give us a mainstream, openly gay character."

An Open Letter From Technology Sector Leaders On Donald Trump’s Candidacy For President; Huffington Post, 7/14/16

Alec Ross, Huffington Post; An Open Letter From Technology Sector Leaders On Donald Trump’s Candidacy For President:
"We are inventors, entrepreneurs, engineers, investors, researchers, and business leaders working in the technology sector. We are proud that American innovation is the envy of the world, a source of widely-shared prosperity, and a hallmark of our global leadership.
We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline. We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy—and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth."

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


"This fan-made trailer for a fictitious “Marvel Ultimate Alliance” movie will have you wondering less about "Who would win in a fight between…," and more about, "Man, how cool would this team-up be?"
The trailer, crafted by YouTube user and veteran fan-film creatorAlex [sic] Luthor, takes on the moniker of the video game series by the same name to present a supercut of Marvel characters in film throughout the years, edited to appear as though they are all sharing the screen for one ensemble super-hero movie to end them all."

A Fight to Make Two Classic Songs Copyright Free to You and Me; New York Times, 7/12/16

Ben Sisario, New York Times; A Fight to Make Two Classic Songs Copyright Free to You and Me:
"Legal experts say that such cases show the difficulties in determining the proper limits of copyright, which is meant to encourage creators by giving them limited monopolies over their works. Yet the terms have gradually increased with the lobbying of corporate owners.
“We can respect the rights of creators, but creators are often in the position of building on other works, and there has to be freedom for that, too,” said James Boyle, a Duke University law professor and the author of “The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind.”
As an example of art that builds freely on pre-existing work, Professor Boyle pointed to the tradition of folk music — exactly the realm from which “This Land” and “We Shall Overcome” grew.
The tension is heightened when it comes to material considered essential heritage. The family of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has used copyright to prevent his “I Have a Dream” speech — delivered at the March on Washington in 1963, where “We Shall Overcome” was most famously performed — from appearing in documentaries. Yet they also once allowed it to be used in a cellphone commercial."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Is Our Love of Netflix and Spotify Really Reducing Piracy?; Huffington Post UK, July 8, 2016

Liz Bales, Huffington Post UK; Is Our Love of Netflix and Spotify Really Reducing Piracy? :
"Digital streaming services like Netflix and Spotify are reducing piracy, according to an article in the Daily Telegraph earlier this week. It’s a great headline and there is certainly some truth to it, but let’s not put out the party bunting just yet.
The article, which was reporting on the latest Online Copyright Infringement tracker from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), looks at the meteoric rise of paid-for streaming services and how this has coincided with a small yet significant drop in online copyright infringement to the lowest recorded rate in years (down from 17% to 15% since 2013). In addition, the figures show that for the first time, those consuming content from exclusively legal sources has risen to 44%, a 4% increase since the end of 2015.
This certainly is good news for the UK’s creative sectors and what we expected to happen as digital services became increasingly convenient and value for money. But look a little deeper behind the headlines and you can see the bigger picture."