Thursday, September 20, 2018

Pittsburgh is filled with people trying to win patents. PPG is at the front of the line. One of an occasional series: Patented in Pittsburgh; The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 20, 2018

Courtney Linder, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Pittsburgh is filled with people trying to win patents. PPG is at the front of the line.
One of an occasional series: Patented in Pittsburgh

"Between 2005 and 2015, PPG was awarded 583 patents, the most in the Pittsburgh region, and certainly enough to warrant the structure PPG has crafted to protect its secrets until it has the force of a U.S. patent seal...

Pittsburgh universities churning out patents 

Between 2008 and 2017, Pittsburgh's research universities have tripled their patent generation and doubled the number of technology licenses granted for commercial use."

U.S. and Europe Regulators Make Some Waves Towards Copyright Protection; Forbes, September 19, 2018

Nelson Granados, Forbes; U.S. and Europe Regulators Make Some Waves Towards Copyright Protection

"It seems regulators are starting to make waves towards more effective regulations for media and entertainment professionals and creatives to be fairly rewarded. There will be opposition and hurdles to overcome. For example, the EU's Copyright Directive still has to be reviewed and endorsed by the EU Commission and EU member states. Nevertheless, some of the top tech companies like Google, which can play a key role in copyright enforcement, appear to be open to ride the wave with copyright holders. Suddenly, there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Man Who Uploaded Deadpool to Facebook May Get Six Months in Prison; Gizmodo, September 17, 2018

Jennings Brown, Gizmodo;

Man Who Uploaded Deadpool to Facebook May Get Six Months in Prison


"A California court will soon decide sentencing for a man who posted the entirety of Deadpool on his Facebook page. If the U.S. government gets its way, the man will spend half a year in prison."

China is stealing American intellectual property. Trump's tariffs are a chance to stop it; Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2018

Charlene L. Fu and Curtis S. Chin, Los Angeles Times; China is stealing American intellectual property. Trump's tariffs are a chance to stop it

"Whatever else one might think of President Trump’s actions, he is confronting China about its unfair trade practices and theft of American intellectual property when too many others shy away from the truth for fear of Chinese reprisal."

Inventors Corner: Here's why you should search for patent; Sioux Fall Business Journal, September 19, 2018

Jeffrey Proehl, Sioux Fall Business Journal; Inventors Corner: Here's why you should search for patent

"Jeffrey Proehl is a registered patent attorney with Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith P.C. in Sioux Falls. 

The searching of patents and published patent application publications may be performed for a number of purposes, but there are two primary types of searches that are requested by inventors and businesses for their developments."

Steve Jobs licensed Amazon’s one-click patent for $1 million in one phone call; Quartz, September 17, 2018

Kabir Chibber, Quartz; Steve Jobs licensed Amazon’s one-click patent for $1 million in one phone call

"“Licensing Amazon.com’s 1-Click patent and trademark will allow us to offer our customers an even easier and faster online buying experience,” Steve Jobs said at the time.

A Wired magazine oral history of Infinite Loop, Apple’s corporate offices in Cupertino, California for most of its existence, tells the behind-the-scenes story of that decision."

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Avengers 4 Fan Trailer Calls in the X-Men & Defenders; Comic Book Resources, September 18, 2018

Brittany Matter, Comic Book Resources; Avengers 4 Fan Trailer Calls in the X-Men & Defenders

"A new fan trailer seamlessly mashes up the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the X-Men, the Defenders and even Ghost Rider to take on the [sic] Thanos in Avengers 4."

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Scientific publishing is a rip-off. We fund the research – it should be free; The Guardian, September 13, 2018

George Monbiot, The Guardian; Scientific publishing is a rip-off. We fund the research – it should be free

"Never underestimate the power of one determined person. What Carole Cadwalladr has done to Facebook and big data, and Edward Snowden has done to the state security complex, the young Kazakhstani scientist Alexandra Elbakyan has done to the multibillion-dollar industry that traps knowledge behind paywalls. Sci-Hub, her pirate web scraper service, has done more than any government to tackle one of the biggest rip-offs of the modern era: the capture of publicly funded research that should belong to us all. Everyone should be free to learn; knowledge should be disseminated as widely as possible. No one would publicly disagree with these sentiments. Yet governments and universities have allowed the big academic publishers to deny these rights. Academic publishing might sound like an obscure and fusty affair, but it uses one of the most ruthless and profitable business models of any industry."

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Music Law 101: Who Owns the Copyright in a Song?; Lexology, August 29, 2018


"After your band has written and recorded a song, who actually owns the song? This simple question does not necessarily have a simple answer. How many people were involved in the writing process? Were there other people involved in the recording process? Did you hire a producer? Did you use other background vocalists or musicians in the studio? Did you use “work made for hire” agreements with individuals involved in the process? Do you have a band agreement? The answers to these and other important questions help determine who actually owns the copyrights in any given song."

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

EU approves controversial Copyright Directive, including internet ‘link tax’ and ‘upload filter’; The Verge, September 12, 2018

James Vincent, The Verge; EU approves controversial Copyright Directive, including internet ‘link tax’ and ‘upload filter’


"The European Parliament has voted in favor of the Copyright Directive, a controversial piece of legislation intended to update online copyright laws for the internet age.

The directive was originally rejected by MEPs in July following criticism of two key provisions: Articles 11 and 13, dubbed the “link tax” and “upload filter” by critics. However, in parliament this morning, an updated version of the directive was approved, along with amended versions of Articles 11 and 13. The final vote was 438 in favor and 226 against.

The fallout from this decision will be far-reaching, and take a long time to settle. The directive itself still faces a final vote in January 2019 (although experts say it’s unlikely it will be rejected). After that it will need to be implemented by individual EU member states, who could very well vary significantly in how they choose to interpret the directive’s text."

The EU copyright law that artists love—and internet pioneers say would destroy the web; Quartz, September 11, 2018

Ephrat Livni, Quartz; The EU copyright law that artists love—and internet pioneers say would destroy the web

"European internet users are up in arms over proposed changes to copyright law that will either make the web more fair and lucrative for content creators or destroy the web as we know it—depending on whom you ask.

The movement to modernize and unify EU intellectual property law, initiated in 2016, is up for a vote in the European Parliament in Brussels Sept. 12

Two controversial sections—Article 13 and Article 11—would force technology platforms to police digital content by automatically evaluating intellectual property before anything is uploaded and make news aggregators pay to license links to posts. This would ensure that musicians, artists, filmmakers, photographers and media outlets are paid for work that currently drives advertising revenue to technology companies like Google and Facebook for content that they don’t pay for, or say so supporters. Opponents argue that it will transform the web from a free and open platform to a tool to police information and limit ideas."

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Intellectual Property The Hard Way: Part II; Forbes, September 11, 2018

Mary Juetten, Forbes; Intellectual Property The Hard Way: Part II

"Last month I started an interview series on intellectual property (IP) and also wrote a piece about general IP tips for startups here.  The goal is to use actual stories and experts in the field to help others avoid IP mistakes or failures or infringement, and more importantly to ensure that companies of all sizes identify, protect, and monetize their valuable intangible assets. As has been discussed many times, these assets often make up 90% of a startup’s valuation."

Open Access at the Movies; Inside Higher Ed, September 10, 2018

Lindsay McKenzie, Inside Higher Ed; Open Access at the Movies

"[Jason] Schmitt's film raises some important questions -- how is it possible that big for-profit publishers, such as Elsevier, have fatter profit margins than some of the biggest corporations in the world? Why can't everyone read all publicly funded research for free?

Discussion of these questions in the film is undoubtedly one-sided. Of around 70 people featured in the film, just a handful work for for-profit publishers like Springer-Nature or the American Association for the Advancement of Science -- and they don't get much screen time. There is also no representative from Elsevier, despite the publisher being the focus of much criticism in the film. This was not for lack of trying, said Schmitt. “I offered Elsevier a five-minute section of the film that they could have full creative control over,” he said. “They turned me down.”

Schmitt said he made Paywall not for academics and scholars but for the general public. He wants people to understand how scholarly publishing works, and why they should care that they can’t access research paid for with their tax dollars."

[Documentary] Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, 2018

[Documentary] Paywall: The Business of Scholarship

"Paywall: The Business of Scholarship is a documentary which focuses on the need for open access to research and science, questions the rationale behind the $25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit academic publishers, examines the 35-40% profit margin associated with the top academic publisher Elsevier and looks at how that profit margin is often greater than some of the most profitable tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google.  

Staying true to the open access model: it is free to stream and download, for private or public use, and maintains the most open CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons designation to ensure anyone regardless of their social, financial or political background will have access.   

If you are interested in screening this film at your university, please fill out our contact form."

Tor, OverDrive Comment on Library Ebook Embargo; Library Journal, September 6, 2018

Matt Enis, Library Journal; Tor, OverDrive Comment on Library Ebook Embargo

"In a move that has raised concern throughout the library field, Macmillan in July announced that it would be testing a four month embargo on selling new ebooks published by its Tor imprint to libraries. The publisher said the test would help it determine whether library lending is having a negative impact on retail ebook sales. For libraries, the embargo recalled a time less than a decade ago when many major publishers refused to license ebooks to libraries altogether."

Copyright Battle in Europe Pits Media Companies Against Tech Giants; Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2018

Daniel Michaels, Wall Street Journal;

Copyright Battle in Europe Pits Media Companies Against Tech Giants

Not in our name: Why European creators must oppose the EU's proposal to limit linking and censor the internet; BoingBoing, September 10, 2018

Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing;

Not in our name: Why European creators must oppose the EU's proposal to limit linking and censor the internet


"The European Copyright Directive vote is in three days and it will be a doozy: what was once a largely uncontroversial grab bag of fixes to copyright is now a political firestorm, thanks to the actions of Axel Voss, the German MEP who changed the Directive at the last minute, sneaking in two widely rejected proposals on the same day the GDPR came into effect, forming a perfect distraction (you can contact your MEP about these at Save Your Internet).

These two proposals are:

1. "Censorship Machines": Article 13, which forces online providers to create databases of text, images, videos, code, games, mods, etc that anyone can add anything to -- if a user tries to post something that may match a "copyrighted work," in the database, the system has to censor them

2. "Link Tax": Article 11, which will only allow internet users to post links to news sites if the service they're using has bought a "linking license" from the news-source they're linking to; under a current proposal, links that contain more than two consecutive words from an article's headline will be illegal without a license."

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Wikipedia's warning: EU copyright changes threaten the internet itself; BoingBoing, September 5, 2018

Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing; Wikipedia's warning: EU copyright changes threaten the internet itself

"In just one week, Members of the European Parliament will debate and vote on the new EU Copyright Directive, which contains two of the worst, most dangerous internet proposals in living memory.

One proposal, the Link Tax (Article 11), bans linking to news sites (but doesn't define "linking" or "news sites") unless the service you're using has paid for a license with all the "news sites" you might possibly link to.

The other, Censorship Machines (Article 13), forces online services to check everything a user wishes to publish against a database of "copyrighted works" (except anyone can add anything to these databases, regardless of whether they are copyrighted) and to censor anything that is a match or near-match for anything in the database."

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Computer Programmers Get New Tech Ethics Code; The Conversation via Scientific American, August 11, 2018

Cherri M. Pancake, The Conversation via Scientific American; Computer Programmers Get New Tech Ethics Code: The guidelines come from the Association for Computing Machinery

"That’s why the world’s largest organization of computer scientists and engineers, the Association for Computing Machinery, of which I am president, has issued a new code of ethics for computing professionals. And it’s why ACM is taking other steps to help technologists engage with ethical questions...

ACM’s last code of ethics was adopted in 1992, when many people saw computing work as purely technical. The internet was in its infancy and people were just beginning to understand the value of being able to aggregate and distribute information widely. It would still be years before artificial intelligence and machine learning had applications outside research labs.

Today, technologists’ work can affect the lives and livelihoods of people in ways that may be unintended, even unpredictable. I’m not an ethicist by training, but it’s clear to me that anyone in today’s computing field can benefit from guidance on ethical thinking and behavior."

This Music Theory Professor Just Showed How Stupid and Broken Copyright Filters Are; Motherboard, August 30, 2018

Karl Bode, Motherboard; This Music Theory Professor Just Showed How Stupid and Broken Copyright Filters Are

"German music professor Ulrich Kaiser this week wrote about a troubling experiment he ran on YouTube. As a music theory teacher, Kaiser routinely works to catalog a collection of public domain recordings he maintains online in order to teach his students about Beethoven and other classical music composers."

Monday, September 3, 2018

Why Protecting Recipes Under Intellectual Property Law May Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth; Above The Law, August 27, 2018



[Kip Currier: Interesting and useful information--in case you're thinking about monetizing your own BBQ rub...or marketing Grandma's secret recipe for fill-in-the-blank.] 

"What may be pleasing to the palate, however, is not always acceptable under intellectual property law."

Print Is Dead? Not Here; The New York Times, September 2, 2018

Ted Geltner, The New York Times; Print Is Dead? Not Here


[Kip Currier: Timely New York Times article, given my Letter to the Editor that I emailed to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on September 1, 2018.]

"Practically every morning begins with a thud on the driveways of the roughly 50,000 homes here. The newspaper has arrived.

That newspaper, The Villages Daily Sun, which exhaustively covers this rapidly growing retirement community in Central Florida, is in the midst of a boom that few other papers can even imagine. According to the Alliance for Audited Media, the Sun’s weekday circulation of 55,700 is up 169 percent since 2003. Over the same time, weekday newspaper circulation across the United States has dropped 43 percent. (The Orlando Sentinel, the region’s largest newspaper, is down 53 percent.)...

Elsewhere around the country, the industry continues to cough and wheeze its way from print to digital, with layoffs and closings in its wake. Just this week, Pittsburgh became the largest city in the United States without a daily print paper when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette announced it was cutting its print distribution to five days a week, ending a nearly 100-year history of seven-day-a-week publication."

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Letter to the Editor: "Get the Facts on Readers", Emailed to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Kip Currier, September 1, 2018


[Kip Currier: I'm copying below a Letter to the Editor--titled "Get the Facts on Readers"--that I emailed today (September 1, 2018) to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. For additional background, see this story.]


Get the Facts on Readers

Dear Editor,

The Post-Gazette is running a multi-platform ad campaign that weaponizes variations of the line “I will never go digital” to make fun of older readers, depicted as fuddy-duddy Luddites. In one particularly offensive TV spot, a digitally-savvy granddaughter openly mocks her grandmother who prefers print.

Research refutes the ageist “messages” in the P-G’s divisive marketing campaign. Many adult U.S. readers—of all ages—are hybrid readers who want the choice of information in both print and digital formats.

As evidence, take a look at some of the key findings from a Jan. 3-10, 2018 national survey of 2,002 U.S. adults, reported by the well-respected, non-partisan Pew Research Center:

Despite some growth in certain digital formats, it remains the case that relatively few Americans consume digital books (which include audiobooks and e-books) to the exclusion of print. Some 39% of Americans say they read only print books, while 29% read in these digital formats and also read print books.

And the coup de grace to the P-G’s graceless stereotyping:

Some demographic groups are more likely than others to be digital-only book readers, but in general this behavior is relatively rare across a wide range of demographics. For example, 10% of 18- to 29-year-olds only read books in digital formats, compared with 5% of those ages 50-64 and 4% of those 65 and older.

The P-G’s preening effort to digitally divide users borders on farce, given that P-G writers and staff repeatedly concede the deplorable state of the newspaper’s digital search and archival features.

The P-G’s tagline is “One of America’s Great Newspapers”. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, that tagline is not supported by facts. So, here’s a “message” for P-G ownership:

Hire some of the Pittsburgh region’s highly educated information professionals to help the P-G become a bona fide leader in print and digital content, search, and delivery. Give the Pittsburgh region a truly great newspaper that inclusively serves and respects all of its readers and residents.


James “Kip” Currier 
Mt. Lebanon