"Five people, including two former GlaxoSmithKline researchers, were charged with a scheme to steal trade secrets from the British drugmaker for potential sale in China, according to indictments announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia on Wednesday. The indictments include charges of conspiracy to steal trade secrets, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, theft of trade secrets, and wire fraud... The alleged conspirators established three corporations in China, all using the name Renopharma, to sell the stolen information that could be used to reproduce Glaxo products and drugs in development, to competitors in China, according to the complaint."
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Five Charged in U.S. With Stealing Secrets From GlaxoSmithKline; Reuters via New York Times, 1/20/16
Reuters via New York Times; Five Charged in U.S. With Stealing Secrets From GlaxoSmithKline:
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe; Aaron Swartz and copyright wars in the Internet age:
"Swartz is a particularly tragic casualty of a conflict as old as the Gutenberg Bible. When copycats can easily republish the latest Charles Dickens novel or Adele CD, how will artists and publishers get paid? But laws to protect intellectual-property rights can cripple the free exchange of ideas. Justin Peters seems as helpless as the rest of us to resolve this dilemma. But in his lucid and witty new book, he ably sketches the contours of the dilemma... Peters places Swartz’s well-meant misdeeds in historical context, showing how this young man was one of many smart, ambitious combatants on both sides of the copyright wars.
"I can’t fault Peters’s sympathy for Swartz, and I share his opinion that the prosecutorial sledgehammer fell much too hard. But Peters seems a little too inclined to play the populist, sneering at the pro-copyright arguments of publishers. Yes, our current intellectual property statutes are absurdly restrictive. But apart from strong protections, how would artists and writers hope to make a decent living? The conundrum continues, with activists on both sides engaged in constant efforts to redraw the boundaries. Peters’s new book is an excellent survey of the battlefield, and a sobering memorial to its most tragic victim."
Friday, January 29, 2016
Jane C. Hu, Atlantic; Academics Want You to Read Their Work for Free:
"Whitaker, who founded two other Elsevier journals and has a combined 50 years of editorial experience with the company, came into his new position after he heard about the former Lingua board’s actions and contacted Elsevier to express his dismay. “I disagreed with just about everything they were doing,” he said. He came out of retirement to sign a new contract with Elsevier in early January, and has since recruited several interim editors. He says that he and his editorial staff have received a fair amount of animosity from Glossa supporters. But Whitaker stands firmly in favor of for-profit publishing; noting that publishers’ profits allow them to invest in new projects. (Elsevier gave Whitaker funds to found two new journals—Brain and Cognition and Brain and Language.) Plus, he says, profits ensure longevity. “That’s one of the many reasons I support the idea of a publisher that makes money,” he says. “Lingua will be here when I retire, and Lingua will be here when I die.” The fate of Cognition, meanwhile remains to be seen. Barner and Snedeker plan to submit their petition to Elsevier on Wednesday. “The battle has been taken from a very small region—linguistics—to a much larger one,” says Rooryck. Barner and Snedeker are staying silent about their long-term plans, but their request sends a clear message to publishers: Scientists are ready for change."
‘Let’s Play’ enters the public domain as USPTO kills Sony’s trademark attempt; Digital Trends, 1/29/16
Danny Cowan, Digital Trends; ‘Let’s Play’ enters the public domain as USPTO kills Sony’s trademark attempt:
"After reviewing the matter, the USPTO found that “Let’s Play” was part of a larger vernacular, and is therefore ineligible for trademark. The new decision all but ensures that Sony’s attempted trademark is dead in the water. The McArthur Law Firm takes credit for the revised decision, noting that it submitted “over 50 examples of how Let’s Play is generic and descriptive of video game streaming” in order to thwart Sony’s trademark attempt. “The gaming community spoke, and the USPTO listened!” the firm announced this week."
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office News:
"A report issued today by the U.S. Department of Commerce recommends amendments to copyright law that would provide courts with both more guidance and greater flexibility in awarding statutory damages. In its "White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages," the Department’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) sets forth its conclusions on three important copyright topics in the digital age: (1) the legal framework for the creation of remixes; (2) the relevance and scope of the “first sale doctrine;” and (3) the appropriate calibration of statutory damages in the contexts of individual file sharers and secondary liability for large-scale infringement. The White Paper recommends amending the Copyright Act to incorporate a list of factors for courts and juries to consider when determining the amount of a statutory damages award. In addition, it advises changes to remove a bar to eligibility for the Act’s “innocent infringer” provision, and to lessen the risk of excessive statutory damages in the context of non-willful secondary liability for online service providers... This new report follows up on issues first discussed in a 2013 IPTF Green Paper, "Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy," and is the product of two sets of written comments and five public meetings and roundtables conducted through the following year. The IPTF is made up of representatives from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and other Commerce Department agencies. The White Paper and additional background information can be found online at: www.uspto.gov/copyright-white-paper-2016."
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), The Hill; Pass the Defend Trade Secrets Act:
"Every year, industrial spies infiltrate American companies, stealing valuable trade secrets and leaking them to domestic competitors and corporations overseas. This crime cripples innovation and hampers economic growth, costing U.S. businesses billions of dollars each year. What’s worse, federal law does little to protect against this form of intellectual property theft. In fact, trade secrets are the only form of intellectual property lacking remedies under federal civil law. To safeguard American ingenuity and give companies the protections they deserve, Congress should act now to pass the Defend Trade Secrets Act, which we authored earlier this year. In addition to the billions of dollars in direct economic costs, trade secret theft also stifles innovation by deterring companies from investing in research and development. Consider the case of DuPont—the chemical company that invented the life-saving Kevlar body armor used by our service members. DuPont invested significant time and resources developing a Kevlar material strong enough to withstand the penetrating trauma of rifle rounds and grenade shrapnel. Because of the company’s efforts, DuPont has saved thousands of lives. But six years ago, a rogue employee leaked the manufacturing process of Kevlar to a rival company in South Korea, costing DuPont nearly $1 billion in economic losses. In an instant, the company’s comparative advantage—which it had earned after investing thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars—disappeared. Lacking a federal private right of action, DuPont executives were fortunate that the FBI was able to conduct a successful criminal investigation under the Economic Espionage Act. But the FBI lacks the resources to investigate the tens of thousand or more thefts that take place each year. Last year, in fact, the Department of Justice brought only 15 criminal cases for trade secret theft. The absence of a federal private right of action for trade secret misappropriation leaves American intellectual property vulnerable to theft and discourages research and innovation."
Mike McPhate, New York Times; With Corbis Sale, Tiananmen Protest Images Go to Chinese Media Company:
"Corbis, the photography archive owned by Bill Gates that includes some of the most famous pictures ever made, has sold its image and licensing division to a Chinese company. The sale gives the new owner, Visual China Group, control over photographs of immense cultural and commercial value — Marilyn Monroe on a subway grate, Rosa Parks on a bus, Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock and Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue. But it has been the transfer of images from the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square, an event that China’s Communist Party has aggressively blotted out of public view ever since, that has perhaps raised the most alarm."
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Hacking the Patent System: Improved, Expanded Guide to Patent Licensing Alternatives; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 1/26/16
Elliott Harmon, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Hacking the Patent System: Improved, Expanded Guide to Patent Licensing Alternatives:
"We're pleased to announce the 2016 edition of Hacking the Patent System, a guide to alternative patent licensing produced by the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property & Innovation Clinic at Stanford Law School in partnership with EFF and Engine. First published in 2014, the guide provides a high-level overview of several tools that inventors and innovators could use to avert unnecessary and costly patent litigation (or at least to avoid trollish behavior themselves). The tools we cover fall roughly into three categories: defensive patent aggregators, defensive patent pledges, and insurance. Generally speaking, defensive aggregators use the pooled resources of member companies to purchase patents that may otherwise have been purchased by trolls."
Monday, January 25, 2016
Lisa Peet, Library Journal; CHORUS Inks Agreement with NSF, USGS, NIST:
"CHORUS (the Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States) has partnered with a number of federal agencies over the past six months to help them comply with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directives requiring open access to federally funded research. The United States Department of Energy (DOE), the Smithsonian Institution, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have all reached agreements with CHORUS. CHORUS was formed as a not-for-profit membership organization in 2013 in response to the OSTP memo, which required all federal funding agencies to develop public access plans for sharing both research data and peer-reviewed publications. Using metadata such as funder identifiers, award numbers, and Open Researcher and Contributor IDs (ORCIDs), CHORUS provides stable digital identifiers to full-text peer-reviewed articles after an embargo period, customarily 12 months. These can then be accessed by funders, institutions, researchers, publishers, and the public through CHORUS’s open application programming interfaces (APIs), which include search and dashboard services. CHORUS identifies federal funding through Funding Data, previously called FundRef, which collects funding source information for publications deposited with the nonprofit citation linker Crossref."
Kevin Melrose, ComicBookResources.com; ‘X-Men: Danger Room Protocols’ shut down after one episode:
"“X-Men: Danger Room Protocols,” a fan-made animated tribute to the 1990s cartoon and comics, has ended after just one episode, purportedly due to legal pressure from Marvel. “When I set out to make this project, I never really thought this was going to be an issue,” creator Joel Furtado said in a video posted this morning. “I didn’t think that Marvel was going to react this way, and this outcome, for me, is a little bit shocking.” When contacted by ROBOT 6, Marvel declined comment. Launched last week, the project was planned as a series of 18 episodes, each pairing two X-Men in a Danger Room training exercise (hence the title). Furtado had described “Danger Room Protocols” as “a love letter to Marvel and my childhood, as well as a way to give something back to the fans.”"
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Watson helped IBM win more patents than any other company last year; New York Business Journal, 1/13/16
Michael del Castillo, New York Business Journal; Watson helped IBM win more patents than any other company last year:
"Even after 104 years, IBM is still the most innovative company in the United States by at least by one important metric: patents. With 7,355 patents granted in 2015 IBM — which was founded in 1911 — crushed the competition, thanks in part to its artificial intelligence system, Watson, based in Astor Place in the East Village. “More than 2,000 of IBM’s patents last year were related to its cloud and cognitive computing,” an IBM representative wrote to the New York Business Journal this morning. “Many of which are in use and part of the Watson offering’s capabilities.” Two patents specifically mentioned in the IBM press release are Patent US9117446, which helps machines understand human emotion, and Patent US9146917, which helps machines learn from human beings."
If Patents Are So Valuable Why Does IBM's Intellectual Property Revenue Continue To Decline; Forbes, 1/19/16
Chuck Jones, Forbes; If Patents Are So Valuable Why Does IBM's Intellectual Property Revenue Continue To Decline:
"IBM was awarded 7,355 patents in 2015 which was the 23rd year in a row it has received the most patents. Over 2,000 of last year’s patents were related to cognitive computing and the company’s cloud platform. Over the 23 years IBM has received over 88,000 patents and I would estimate they have generated about $20 billion or more of IP (intellectual property) related revenue. While the value of patents isn’t calculated just by the revenue they generate, it is interesting to see how IBM is doing with this financial line item. Between 2008 and 2012 IBM’s patent portfolio generated between $1.1 and $1.2 billion per year. It has fallen each year since then to $742 million in 2014 and could fall again in 2015 to under $700 million."
Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica.com; US Copyright Office is taking comments about how well the DMCA is working:
"If you're feeling down about the DMCA this winter—or feeling just skippy about it—there's a government agency that wants to hear from you. On December 31, the US Copyright Office said it intends to take public comments about the effectiveness of the DMCA and its "safe harbor" provisions. The comments will be part of a "public study to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the safe harbor provisions" of the DMCA. Questions that the office wants to consider include:... There are 30 numbered questions in all (but there's no requirement to address every point.) The questions and other information about the study are listed in the Federal Register notice. Specific instructions on how to submit the comments will be posted by February 1 on the Copyright Office website, and comments are due by March 21. While a comment to the Copyright Office is a long way from influencing policy, the discussion could be interesting. Many of those on the receiving end of DMCA notices tend to think it's a "shoot first, ask questions later" approach to the problem, while content owners concerned about piracy have long held that the DMCA is too burdensome on them."
Friday, January 22, 2016
Joe Karaganis and David McClure, New York Times; What a Million Syllabuses Can Teach Us:
"COLLEGE course syllabuses are curious documents. They represent the best efforts by faculty and instructors to distill human knowledge on a given subject into 14-week chunks. They structure the main activity of colleges and universities. And then, for the most part, they disappear. Some schools archive them, some don’t. Some syllabus archives are public, some aren’t. Some faculty members treat their syllabuses as trade secrets, others are happy to post them online. Despite the bureaucratization of higher education over the past few decades, syllabuses have escaped systematic treatment. Until now. Over the past two years, we and our partners at the Open Syllabus Project (based at the American Assembly at Columbia) have collected more than a million syllabuses from university websites. We have also begun to extract some of their key components — their metadata — starting with their dates, their schools, their fields of study and the texts that they assign. This past week, we made available online a beta version of our Syllabus Explorer, which allows this database to be searched. Our hope and expectation is that this tool will enable people to learn new things about teaching, publishing and intellectual history."
Meredith Filak Rose, Public Knowledge; Celebrating Copyright Week with a Theatrical Copyright Revue:
"We're taking part in Copyright Week, a series of actions and discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day this week, copyright allies are taking on different elements of the law, addressing what's at stake, and discussing what we need to do to make sure that copyright promotes creativity and innovation. Happy Copyright Week! To celebrate, I’m looking back on all the exciting copyright cases that have occurred since last year’s Copyright Week, with courts and the music industry alike tackling everything from uncredited sampling to fair use dancing babies. I’ve rounded up some of the highlights of the year’s upheaval, and took the liberty of suggesting a few edits to reflect the changing times. (And yes, that does mean I’ll be reviewing landmark music copyright cases via lyrical skits.)"
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Copyright Week
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Elliot Harmon, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Open Access Movement Demands More: 2015 in Review:
"In October 2015, all six editors of the linguistics journal Lingua quit at once, along with its 31-member editorial board. The walkout brought mainstream attention to a debate that has been brewing for years over the future of academic publishing. Elsevier—Lingua’s publisher—classifies it as a hybrid journal. By default, Lingua is available only to subscribers (or to institutions that purchase access to journals in bulk). Individual writers can choose to have their articles shared openly if they pay an additional fee. In principle, there’s nothing wrong with those fees—most major open journals have article processing charges, as do many closed journals. But Lingua’s editors believed that their journal’s fee was prohibitively high and didn’t correspond to increased support from Elsevier. The same team is planning to launch a new journal next year with the growing open access publisher Ubiquity Press. In a lot of ways, what happened at Lingua is emblematic of something that’s been happening all year. If 2014 was the year that the open access movement became mainstream, then this is the year we stopped compromising with closed publishers. One of the biggest tactics the open access movement can use to effect change is encouraging research funders to adopt open access policies—that is, policies that require that any work they fund be shared openly. Creative Commons reports that in 2015, five major foundations adopted policies requiring any research they fund to be published under an open license: the Ford Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Vancouver Foundation."
Declan Butler, Nature; Dutch lead European push to flip journals to open access:
"The Netherlands is leading what it hopes will be a pan-European effort in 2016 to push scholarly publishers towards open-access (OA) business models: making more papers free for all users as soon as they are published. In 2014, publishers worldwide made 17% of new papers OA immediately on publication, up from 12% in 2011 (see ‘Growth of open access’). But most papers are still locked behind paywalls when they are first published. The Dutch government, which took over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union council of ministers this month, has declared furthering OA to be one of its top priorities... A major driving force for the Dutch and British deals was to combat the expensive and controversial ‘hybrid’ business models that have been adopted by many subscription journals worldwide. Hybrid journals collect subscriptions but allow authors to make individual papers open for a fee. They charge higher fees, on average, than do fully OA journals, yet scientists who want OA papers often choose to publish with them because they are generally more established or prestigious than many recently launched OA journals."
U.S. Top Court to Examine How Government Agency Reviews Patents; Reuters via New York Times, 1/15/16
Reuters via New York Times; U.S. Top Court to Examine How Government Agency Reviews Patents:
"The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether a federal agency's procedures have made it too easy to successfully cancel patents after agreeing on Friday to decide a case involving a vehicle speedometer that alerts drivers if they are speeding. The nine justices will hear an appeal filed by Cuozzo Speed Technologies LLC, whose speedometer patent was invalidated in a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office review procedure after being challenged by GPS device maker Garmin Ltd in 2012. Companies that are frequent targets of patent suits, including Apple Inc and Google Inc, have taken advantage of the patent office procedure, known as inter partes review (IPR), in unexpectedly high numbers since it was put in place in 2012. These reviews allow anyone to challenge the validity of a patent far more cheaply and quickly than in a U.S. federal court. The high court justices will now consider whether the patent office is improperly interpreting the patents that come before it in the reviews. Critics say this leads to a high rate of patent cancellations."
Kevin Melrose, ComicBookResources.com; Fan-made ‘X-Men: Danger Room Protocols’ calls in the Sentinels:
"Wolverine and Jean Grey team up against the Sentinels in the premiere episode of the animated web series X-Men: Danger Room Protocols, a fan tribute to the 1990s cartoon and comics. Announced earlier this month, the biweekly project by Joel Furtado is exactly as advertised: Classic X-Men are placed by Professor X into teams of two and put through their paces in the Danger Room.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Alison Flood, Guardian; Anne Frank's diary caught in fierce European copyright battle:
"In a letter to Ertzscheid sent in late December, the foundation asks him to “cease and desist” from making The Diary of a Young Girl available online, to “immediately” announce he was “misinformed” about the copyright in the diary, to compensate damages, and to pay €1,000 each day he does not comply with the instructions, or risk court proceedings. Ertzscheid went ahead, however, describing it as a “gift”. “This first of January 2016, 70 years after the death of Anne Frank, because this is enough time and because it is legal, this diary, her diary, enters the public domain. It belongs to everyone. And it is up to each of us to weigh its importance,” he wrote."
Friday, January 15, 2016
Christopher Solomon, Outside; Yosemite to Rename Several Iconic Places:
"The outgoing company also trademarked “Yosemite National Park” for merchandising purposes, said Gediman. Will you be able to buy a Yosemite T-shirt at the gift shop come March 1? “That’s something that remains to be determined,” he said. The announcement is the latest drama in a long legal dispute between the park service and the concessionaire, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. And it comes as the agency kicks off the centennial celebration year of America’s national parks system—when the park service would rather be feting America’s parks, not painting over signs at one of its marquee locations. The news angered some park watchers. “It’s a really unfortunate situation where the National Park Service is being held hostage by a corporate concessionaire who clearly does not have the public interest at heart,” said Amy Trainer, executive director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. “I think this is pretty outrageous that the park service, because of a 50-plus-million-dollar lawsuit, is forced to change these historic namesakes,” Trainer said. “It’s a tragedy.”... The federal government might find some relief, however, in a law Congress passed in late 2014 that allows the government to keep a name that’s historically associated with a building or structure that is either on, or eligible, to be included on the National Register of Historic Places, says Sitzmann."
Kyle Wiens, Future Tense; Before I Can Fix This Tractor, We Have to Fix Copyright Law:
"These hard-won exemptions last only until the next rulemaking. (That’s how unlocking your cellphone went from legal to illegal, before Congress stepped in.) In three years, proponents will have to find a way to do this all over again. This is not sustainable process—not for participants and not for the Copyright Office. It’s time to level the playing field. Let’s make these exemptions less restrictive and shift the burden of proof a little. Instead of making supporters go to extreme lengths to show that an exemption is absolutely necessary, how about asking the opposition to show that an exemption is absolutely unnecessary? At the very least, Congress should remove the expiration date on exemptions. Once granted, exemptions should be permanent. I’m a repairman. I recognize broken things when I see them. I got into this fight because I wanted to help people repair their broken stuff. Turns out, copyright law is the thing that was broken all along."
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
David Bowie Wasn't Just An Incredible Music Visionary, But An Internet & Business Model Visionary Too; Techdirt.com, 1/11/16
Mike Masnick, Techdirt.com; David Bowie Wasn't Just An Incredible Music Visionary, But An Internet & Business Model Visionary Too:
"As I'm sure you've heard by now, famed musician David Bowie passed away yesterday at age 69 due to cancer. As someone who influenced so many people in so many different ways, it's great to see basically everyone celebrating his life and his music. But, given that this is Techdirt, I also thought that Bowie deserved a shoutout on topics that we discuss around here as well: Bowie wasn't just an amazing music visionary, but he was similarly visionary about the music business and the internet as well. All the way back in 1996, he was the first major musician to release music only on the internet, launching the single for "Telling Lies" as a direct download off of his website, and announcing it in an online chat session. Yes, nearly 20 years ago, Bowie embraced internet distribution for his music."
Peter L'Ecluse and Thibaut D'hulst, Mondaq.com; European Union: European Commission On Harmonisation Of EU Copyright Rules:
"As announced in its 2016 Work Programme (See, VBB on Business Law, Volume 2015, No. 10, p. 15, available at www.vbb.com), the European Commission presented on 9 December 2015 its vision on a further harmonisation of EU copyright rules as part of its Digital Single Market Strategy (the "Communication"). To achieve a wide availability of creative contents across the European Union while maintaining a high level of protection for right holders, the European Commission considers it necessary to have a higher level of harmonisation and adapt copyright rules to new technological realities. To achieve this goal, the European Commission focuses on the following courses of action."
Ed Oswald, Digital Trends; U.S. Marshalls raid a Chinese hoverboard maker’s booth at CES:
"The company sent a cease-and-desist letter to Changzhou in December, but received no response. Future Motion’s lawyer told Bloomberg that his company again tried to reach out the day before the show opened, but failed to achieve any resolution. On Wednesday, Future Motion filed a request with a federal judge to bar Changzhou from displaying its version, which the judge approved, and the result was Thursday’s raid. As far as we can tell, this is the first time a seizure of this magnitude has happened on the floor of CES. The show itself actually has policies intended to discourage disputes on the show floor, including prohibiting “loud” disputes, and limiting the number of company representatives (two employees, a translator, and a lawyer) who can approach another company’s booth over an intellectual property infringement claim."
Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post; The new way police are surveilling you: Calculating your threat ‘score’ :
"Police officials say such tools can provide critical information that can help uncover terrorists or thwart mass shootings, ensure the safety of officers and the public, find suspects, and crack open cases. They say that last year’s attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., have only underscored the need for such measures. But the powerful systems also have become flash points for civil libertarians and activists, who say they represent a troubling intrusion on privacy, have been deployed with little public oversight and have potential for abuse or error. Some say laws are needed to protect the public."
Saturday, January 9, 2016
Mike McPhate, New York Times; Monkey Has No Rights to Its Selfie, Federal Judge Says:
"“A monkey, an animal-rights organization and a primatologist walk into federal court to sue for infringement of the monkey’s claimed copyright. What seems like the setup for a punch line is really happening.” Judge Orrick explained from the bench on Wednesday that he had no authority to extend such rights to animals. “This is an issue for Congress and the president,” he said, according to Ars Technica. “If they think animals should have the right of copyright, they’re free, I think, under the Constitution, to do that.”"
‘The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet,’ by Justin Peters; New York Times Book Review, 1/8/16
Stephen Witt, New York Times Book Review; ‘The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet,’ by Justin Peters:
"By the end of “The Idealist,” Peters has dropped the pretension of neutrality and taken up Swartz’s crusade. This is fine, I think — it wouldn’t be a good biography if it didn’t have a point of view. But in the final pages, as Peters dons the sports coat of the history lecturer and draws a lame comparison between Aaron Swartz and Noah Webster, he disappoints once again. It’s the whole book in microcosm: superb when it focuses on its subject, unnecessary when it veers away."
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times; New York Public Library Invites a Deep Digital Dive:
"But the game is what you might call a marketing teaser for a major redistribution of property, digitally speaking: the release of more than 180,000 photographs, postcards, maps and other public-domain items from the library’s special collections in downloadable high-resolution files — along with an invitation to users to grab them and do with them whatever they please. Digitization has been all the rage over the past decade, as libraries, museums and other institutions have scanned millions of items and posted them online. But the library’s initiative (nypl.org/publicdomain), which goes live on Wednesday, goes beyond the practical questions of how and what to digitize to the deeper one of what happens next... A growing number of institutions have been rallying under the banner of “open content.” While the library’s new initiative represents one of the largest releases of visually rich material since the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam began making more than 200,000 works available in high-quality scans free of charge in 2012, it’s notable for more than its size. “It’s not just a data dump,” said Dan Cohen, the executive director of the Digital Public Library of America, a consortium that offers one-stop access to digitized holdings from more than 1,300 institutions. The New York Public has “really been thinking about how they can get others to use this material,” Mr. Cohen continued. “It’s a next step that I would like to see more institutions take.” Most items in the public-domain release have already been visible at the library’s digital collections portal. The difference is that the highest-quality files will now be available for free and immediate download, along with the programming interfaces, known as APIs, that allow developers to use them more easily."
Monday, January 4, 2016
George Gene Gustines, New York Times; Comic Book Recalls Effort to Expose ‘Mein Kampf’ :
"The 70-year copyright on Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” expired on Thursday in Germany. And a comic book released last month sheds light on a legal battle over the book that occurred in America in 1939. The comic, “The Book That Hitler Didn’t Want You to Read,” tells the story of how Alan Cranston — then a journalist, and years later a California senator — produced his own version of Hitler’s book, only to be sued by Hitler. “I was aware of the efforts of young Alan Cranston to warn the free world of the dangers that Hitler represented,” said Rafael Medoff, the director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington, which produced the comic. “It seemed to me that Cranston’s story could be an effective vehicle to convey the new controversy over ‘Mein Kampf’ that would be starting after Dec. 31.”"
Ashby Jones, Wall Street Journal; Patent Litigation Up in 2015, Despite Efforts to Rein it In:
"According to the report, released Monday by RPX Corp., NPEs filed over 3,600 patent cases in 2015. NPEs, also referred to derisively by some as “patent trolls,” buy up patents and seek to make money from them through licensing and litigation. NPEs filed 3,604 cases last year, a sharp increase over 2014, in which NPEs filed 2,891. The number was down slightly from 2013, in which NPEs filed 3,733 lawsuits. The authors of the study acknowledge that the uptick is somewhat counterintuitive. In recent years, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have all taken steps to curb litigation based on patents, especially those relating to computer software. Critics argue that many of these patents should not have been awarded in the first place. The 2011 America Invents Act — Congress’s first overhaul of the patent laws in decades — established a new tribunal, called the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. The PTAB allows a company embroiled in a lawsuit to skip the question of whether it infringed a patent and challenge whether the patent should have been issued in the first place."
Mahita Gajanan, Guardian; Controversial artist Richard Prince sued for copyright infringement:
"Richard Prince, a New York-based artist whose work often involves appropriating that of others, has been sued for copyright infringement by Donald Graham, a photographer who claims Prince knowingly reproduced his photo Rastafarian Smoking a Joint without seeking permission. Artnet reports that Graham filed a complaint on 30 December against Prince, the Gagosian Gallery – where Prince’s New Portraits exhibition ran between September and October 2014 – and Lawrence Gagosian, the gallery owner. The New Portraits collection featured 37 inkjet prints on canvas of what Prince called “screen saves” of Instagram posts, according to the complaint. The only modification to the images by Prince, besides blowing them up in size, are in comments underneath the pictures comprised of emojis and bizarre sentences. The pieces sold for up to $100,000 at New York’s Frieze art fair, where they caused considerable controversy. One woman in the photographs, Doe Deere, a member of the SuicideGirls burlesque collective, posted on Instagram that she had been told the picture of her had been sold for $90,000. Prince, as is his custom, had not asked permission to use the images."
Sunday, January 3, 2016
Tracie Mauriello, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; TPP trade deal pits Pittsburgh against Philadelphia:
"Pittsburgh manufactures the products. Philadelphia ships them around the world. One city stands to gain from expanding trade into the Pacific Rim while the other has much to lose, their mayors say. That’s why Philadelphia’s outgoing mayor, Michael Nutter, has been helping the White House stump for the Trans-Pacific Partnership while Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto stands opposed... Mr. Peduto acknowledges that the trade deal might be good for some industries, but says any benefits are outweighed by harm it would do to the steel industry."