Sunday, July 31, 2016

Britain’s scientists are freaking out over Brexit; Washington Post, 7/31/16

William Booth and Karla Adam, Washington Post; Britain’s scientists are freaking out over Brexit:
"British research today is networked, expensive, competitive and global. Being part of a pan-European consortium has helped put Britain in the top handful of countries, based on the frequency of citations of its scientific papers.
Last week the heads of British academic societies posted a public letter reminding everyone that the country’s universities, many of them among the best in the world, are staffed by legions of top-flight researchers from abroad...
Research in the 21st century is more collaborative than ever, the scientists say...
“You can’t do this kind of research in one country,” Rosser said. She is especially worried about what will happen to funding and collaboration for investigating rare diseases."

Marvel Artist Complains After 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Giveaway Uses His Work; Hollywood Reporter,

Graeme McMillan, Hollywood Reporter; Marvel Artist Complains After 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Giveaway Uses His Work:
"Bill Sienkiewicz, known for work on such Marvel titles as X-Men spin-off New Mutants and Elektra: Assassin, took to Facebook to complain after discovering that Fox was giving away limited edition promotional replicas of an album cover used as a prop in the movie, using artwork he had created three decades earlier. Previously unaware of the promo item, he discovered its existence at Comic-Con itself when fans asked him to sign them, he explained.
"I've been doing this comic-book thing for years. I'm aware most everything is Work-Made-for-Hire," Sienkiewicz wrote on his post. "Still, I received no prior notification (a common courtesy), no thank you (ditto), no written credit in any form whatsoever either on the piece or in connection with the premium, absolutely no compensation and no comp copies of the album. It's like two losing trifectas wrapped in an altogether indifferent f--- you."
The artist, who originally created the image as part of a cover for Marvel's Dazzler No. 29 in 1983, in collaboration with Marvel's in-house designer Eliot R. Brown, went on to say that he had to be physically restrained by colleagues from "making a scene" at the Fox booth during the show about the giveaway.
"Am I over-reacting here?" he continued. "Do I have the right — at least on behalf of fellow creators — to, at the very least expect decent treatment and some kind of minuscule, even boilerplate, acknowledgment?"

Milton Glaser Still Hearts New York; New York Times, 7/29/16

John Leland, New York Times; Milton Glaser Still Hearts New York:
"The original scrap of paper is now in the Museum of Modern Art. The logo, for which he received a $2,000 fee — less than the cost of producing the mock-ups, he said — now generates more that $1 million annually for the state in licensing fees, and keeps a bevy of state lawyers busy writing cease-and-desist letters for its unlicensed use...
Mr. Glaser’s touch has not always been so golden. When he tried to recapture the magic for the State of Rhode Island this year with the slogan “Warmer and Cooler,” people complained that the design was trite and overreaching, ultimately forcing the state’s chief marketing officer to resign.
“There was an explosion of negativity on the internet,” Mr. Glaser said, still marveling at the depth of the rancor."

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bowser’s $9,000 in Trump change; Washington Post, 7/29/16

Colbert I. King, Washington Post; Bowser’s $9,000 in Trump change:
'What the Trump Organization sees in Bowser is for it to know. What Bowser sees in Trump is for D.C. citizens to know. To rid the city of any false idea that Bowser is not offended by Trump or is influenced by the Trump contributions, she should return all of the Trump family money or donate it to worthy causes.
And as mayor, she must deal with real estate mogul Trump and his business partners at arm’s length and with someone else in the room with a tape recorder."

The Blog That Disappeared; New York Times, 7/29/16

Roxane Gay, New York Times; The Blog That Disappeared:
"On June 27, Mr. Cooper’s Google account was deactivated, he has said. He lost 14 years of his blog archives, creative work, email and contacts. He has hired a lawyer and made complaints, and many of his readers and fans have tried to support his efforts. There is a petition circulating, urging Google to restore his work. Pen America, an organization that promotes free expression, has weighed in, saying that Mr. Cooper deserves a substantive response from Google.
Thus far, these efforts have been in vain. Google has not responded beyond saying there was a violation of the Terms of Service agreement. It has neither identified the specific violation nor indicated why it also deleted Mr. Cooper’s email account. It has not provided Mr. Cooper with the ability to download his personal information so he might rebuild his blog and email account elsewhere. In one interview, Mr. Cooper said he thought that the male escort ads might have led to his account’s being deactivated, but this has not been confirmed by the company.
When I contacted Google for further comment, I got a response that said, “We are aware of this matter, but the specific Terms of Service violations are ones we cannot discuss further due to legal considerations.” I asked about why Mr. Cooper’s Gmail account was also deleted and whether or not he would be able to retrieve the archive of his work, and I was directed to Google’s Terms of Service, Gmail Policy and Blogger Content Policy, which did not offer any useful specifics."

Friday, July 29, 2016

Photographer sues Getty Images for $1 billion after she's billed for her own photo; Los Angeles Times, 7/29/16

Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times; Photographer sues Getty Images for $1 billion after she's billed for her own photo:
"Carol Highsmith is a distinguished photographer who has traveled all over America, aiming to chronicle for posterity the life of the nation in the early 21st century. She’s donating her work to the public via the Library of Congress, which has called her act “one of the greatest acts of generosity in the history of the Library.” The Carol M. Highsmith Archive, which is expected ultimately to encompass more than 100,000 images, is accessible royalty-free via the library’s website.
So one can imagine Highsmith’s reaction last December when she got a threatening letter from a firm associated with the photo licensing agency Getty Images, accusing her of license infringement by posting one of her own images online. The firm demanded a “settlement payment” of $120 from her nonprofit This Is America! Foundation, backed up by the implicit threat to take her to court.
Actually, one doesn’t have to imagine Highsmith’s reaction. One can read all about it in the lawsuit she filed this week against Getty in New York federal court, accusing the agency of illicitly claiming rights to 18,755 of her photographs and seeking more than $1 billion in damages. The lawsuit also names Alamy, a British-based licensing agency that was puportedly the license holder whose rights were infringed. Neither Getty nor Alamy had the right to claim a license or copyright on her photos, she says."

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Stephen Colbert Officially Retired “Stephen Colbert” Because Corporate Lawyers Made Him; Slate, 7/28/16

Aisha Harris, Slate; Stephen Colbert Officially Retired “Stephen Colbert” Because Corporate Lawyers Made Him:
"The world rejoiced recently when Stephen Colbert, host of the Late Show, brought back “Stephen Colbert,” beloved host of The Colbert Report, to cover the Republican National Convention alongside Jon Stewart.* Viacom, parent company of Colbert’s old stomping grounds Comedy Central, on the other hand, did not. Instead, as the host put it on Wednesday evening, Viacom’s corporate lawyers contacted CBS’ corporate lawyers to claim “Colbert” as their intellectual property. “[It’s] surprising,” he said, “because I never considered that guy much of an intellectual.”"

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."

Saturday, July 9, 2016

New Censorship and Copyright Restrictions in UK Digital Economy Bill; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 7/8/16

Jeremy Malcolm, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); New Censorship and Copyright Restrictions in UK Digital Economy Bill:
"This week a new Digital Economy Bill [PDF] has been tabled before the United Kingdom Parliament, tackling a diverse range of topics related to electronic communications infrastructure and services. Two of these give us serious concern, the first being a new regime restricting access to online pornography, and the other an expansion of criminal liability for copyright infringement."

Park City trademark battle: Mayor says ski resort won't put its promises in writing; Deseret News, 7/8/16

Ashley Stilson, Deseret News; Park City trademark battle: Mayor says ski resort won't put its promises in writing:
"Vail Resorts, which owns Park City Mountain Resort, filed an application in May to trademark the Park City brand, meaning the resort would own the rights to the phrase "Park City."
But government leaders don't like the idea of a business owning their city's namesake. Their latest frustration came this week when the mayor says the ski resort refused to put in writing what it's been promising Park City residents.
"As a community that has existed since the mining days, we’re a little uncomfortable with the notion that someone just starts to use our name and trademarks it," Park City Mayor Jack Thomas said."

Asia Is Getting Its Own Patent Police; Bloomberg, 7/7/16

Paul Einhorn and Pavel Alpeyev, Bloomberg; Asia Is Getting Its Own Patent Police:
"Xiaomi is among a growing number of Chinese companies—PC maker Lenovo, screen maker BOE, appliance maker Midea—“looking to get their hands on good, solid IP that can be used against multinationals,” says Guy Proulx, chief executive officer of advisory firm Transpacific IP Group. “Used against” often means extracting fees via angry letter, negotiation, or lawsuit. It’s a shift for Chinese companies, which have more often been the defendants in patent suits. They’re catching up with a trend in Japan and South Korea, where government-backed funds are fighting on behalf of big tech companies’ IP."

Wright Brothers’ Patent Application, Missing for 36 Years, Turns Up Underground; Air & Space Magazine, 4/4/16

Tony Reichhardt, Air & Space Magazine; Wright Brothers’ Patent Application, Missing for 36 Years, Turns Up Underground:
"The Wright brothers’ original patent application for a “flying machine,” which had been missing for 36 years, has turned up in an underground storage center in Kansas. The find, reported in detail in The Washington Post and The Kansas City Star over the weekend, came 113 years, almost to the day, after the brothers filed their patent on March 23, 1903.
They were turned down at the time (the first powered flight was still months away), and the patent wasn’t granted until 1906. Selected pages from the patent application will go on display at the National Archives in Washington D.C. on May 20."

Wright Brothers’ Long-Lost Patent Gets a Private Family Viewing; Air & Space Magazine, 7/8/16

Paul Glenshaw, Air & Space Magazine; Wright Brothers’ Long-Lost Patent Gets a Private Family Viewing:
"On July 2, a pair of visitors to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. came face-to-face with a vital part of their family’s history for the first time—documents that also mark the beginning of the age of flight. The Wright brothers’ great-grandniece Janette Davis and her son Keith Yoerg were ushered into a room used for preparing exhibits, where they were greeted by Debra Wall, the Deputy Archivist of the United States, and Senior Registrar Jim Zeender. On a long table were three folders containing the once lost, recently rediscovered patent application of the Wright brothers—the airplane’s birth certificate...
Yoerg is working toward a career in spaceflight, which he sees entering an era of great innovation. He appreciates why his famous ancestors went to the trouble to get a patent. “They realized how essential it was in order to protect their invention,” he says, “And obtaining it before they had flown [the powered airplane] shows how holistically they approached the problem.” When the last folder was opened, there were quiet gasps. Anyone who has studied the Wright brothers in detail has seen the famous patent drawing based on the 1902 glider. Davis and Yoerg found themselves staring at an original. They took a very long look."

Friday, July 8, 2016

Hillary Clinton backs US copyright reform; The Bookseller, 7/8/16

Katherine Cowdrey, The Bookseller; Hillary Clinton backs US copyright reform:
"Hillary Clinton has come out in favour of US copyright reform, revealed by a campaign document announcing her "tech and innovation agenda"...
Clinton's document said she would promote open-licensing arrangements for copyrighted material and data supported by federal grant funding, including in education and science."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

What Is a Patent Cliff?; via Fox Business, 7/6/16

Motley Fool Staff, via Fox Business; What Is a Patent Cliff? :
"When a company is issued a patent, it can sell the item covered by the patent on the open market without having to worry about competitors coming in and snatching up a piece of the action. But the problem with patents is that they only have a limited life, and when they run out, they can significantly impact a company's bottom line. This is a particular problem in the pharmaceutical industry, where drug companies rely on patents to sell the products they work so hard to develop. That's why drug companies are often subjected to what's known as a patent cliff.
A patent cliff is what happens when a company's revenue starts plunging, or falling off a cliff, because an established product's patent reaches its expiration date and competitors can then start selling that product. While the term technically applies to any industry, it most frequently comes into play when talking about pharmaceutical companies."

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Look Who's Winning A New Generation Of U.S.-China Patent Disputes; Forbes, 7/5/16

Ralph Jennings, Forbes; Look Who's Winning A New Generation Of U.S.-China Patent Disputes:
"Chinese officials now as ever don’t like being told by foreigners, whether companies or government agencies, that their business people are breaking laws that hurt peers offshore. Now the Communist Party-backed legal system may want to bite back at the old allegations. Chinese smartphone developers conservatively took a 17% share of the world’s 349,000 smartphone sales in the first quarter, per data by market research firm Gartner, so their lawyers will be hard to ignore. Tech hardware firms tend to do a lot of suing anyway – just part of business...
Foreign business people are watching the Qualcomm case as another bellwether, like the Apple cases, for how Chinese courts will rule and watch for any political overtones. “If, now that Qualcomm has met those demands, China’s courts don’t uphold Qualcomm’s IP rights, then it will send a resounding message to other foreign firms that there’s really nothing you can do to protect your technology there,” says Mark Natkin, managing director with market research firm Marbridge Consulting in Beijing."

McDonald's Wins EU Trademark for 'Mac' and 'Mc'; Associated Press via New York Times, 7/5/16

Associated Press via New York Times; McDonald's Wins EU Trademark for 'Mac' and 'Mc' :
"McDonald's has won a case in a European court that could prevent another company from using any combination of the terms "Mac" or "Mc" to sell food or drinks.
The ruling came after the U.S. fast-food giant tried to stop Singapore's Future Enterprises from registering MACCOFFEE as a European Union trade mark."

Korean Tutor Gets Suspended Sentence in U.S. Exam Leak Scandal; Reuters via New York Times, 6/30/16

Reuters via New York Times; Korean Tutor Gets Suspended Sentence in U.S. Exam Leak Scandal:
"A South Korean court has handed down a suspended prison sentence to a cram school tutor for leaking test answers from the U.S. SAT college entrance exam, a ruling obtained on Thursday showed...
In May 2013, the U.S. College Board, which owns the SAT, canceled the sitting of the exam in South Korea because of leaked questions. It was the first time the organization scrapped an SAT sitting across an entire country."

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


[Kip Currier: Colonel Sanders' Original Recipe of 11 herbs and spices, owned by KFC, is probably the 2nd most famous trade secret in the world. The zany--and props-for-creativity--free comic "KFC: The Colonel Corps" has the villainous Colonel Sunder scheming to pluck the perennially sought-after secret recipe from Colonel Sanders' control to leverage it for...wait for it...WORLD-WIDE RESTAURANT DOMINION. Cue mustache...err, goatee twirl.]
""KFC: The Colonel Corps" -- available for free on comiXology -- pits Earth-1's Colonel Sanders against an old foe: Colonel Sunder, our fast food hero's evil doppelganger from Earth-3. Colonel Sanders first encountered him in "The Colonel of Two Worlds" special, and -- in "The Colonel Corps" -- Sunder is back to his evil ways: he wants to steal Sanders' recipe and take the easy way out in conquering the restaurant business, instead of putting hard work into becoming number one. In order to overcome Sunder, Sanders teams up with his doppelgangers from across the multiverse to put an end to Sunder's plans once and for all.
It's every bit as ridiculous as it sounds, and twice as fun."

Juno probe enters Jupiter's orbit after 'amazing' Nasa mission – as it happened; Guardian, 7/5/16

Michael Slezak, Guardian; Juno probe enters Jupiter's orbit after 'amazing' Nasa mission – as it happened:
"Well, what a day. What an achievement.
After a five year journey from Earth, Juno the solar-powered spacecraft squeezed through a narrow band, skimming Jupiter’s surface, avoiding the worst of both its radiation belt and its dangerous dust rings.
It fired its main engine, slowing its velocity, and allowing it to get captured into Jupiter’s hefty orbit.
After it was complete, jubilant scientists fronted a press conference, and tore up a “contingency communication strategy” they said they prepared in case things went wrong.
“To know we can go to bed tonight not worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow, is just amazing,” said Diane Brown, a project manager from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Scott Bolton, principle investigator of the Juno mission told his colleagues: “You’re the best team ever! We just did the hardest thing Nasa has ever done.”"

Monday, July 4, 2016

NASA’s Juno orbiter set to arrive at Jupiter on Monday; Washington Post, 7/4/16

Rachel Feltman, Washington Post; NASA’s Juno orbiter set to arrive at Jupiter on Monday:
[Kip Currier: What a fitting testament NASA's Juno orbiter mission to Jupiter is to reason, shared human endeavor, and Open Science on this day, the USA's 240th birthday.]
"Take a break from your all-American cookout tonight to look up at the sky and think of Juno. On Monday, the football-field-size spacecraft will zip into Jupiter's orbit, allowing us to study the secrets of our solar system's biggest, oldest planet for the first time.
Other spacecraft have visited Jupiter before. But Juno will orbit closer than any of them – within 2,700 miles of the planet's cloud cover – and allow scientists to probe for data from beneath the giant planet's roiling, gassy surface.
"We're barreling down on Jupiter really quick," principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute said at a news briefing held at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in California on Monday. "It's been an amazing journey."
Around 1:30 p.m. Eastern, he said, Juno passed Europa – the Jovian moon that has subsurface oceans where future missions may look for signs of life. Around half an hour later, it passed Io, the innermost moon.
"In one Jupiter rotation, we'll be there," said Jim Green, director of planetary science for NASA. "What a wonderful day to celebrate. It's a milestone for our country, but also for planetary science.""

Episode 709: The Quiet Old Lady Who Whispers "Fair Use"; Planet Money, NPR, 7/1/16

[Podcast] Planet Money, NPR; Episode 709: The Quiet Old Lady Who Whispers "Fair Use" :
"...[A]fter writing his own Goodnight Moon spinoff, Keith wanted to know: Could he sell it? Is that even legal?
Today on the show, we dive into the world of copyright and fair use. Just where is the line between inspiration and stealing?"

Fur flies in this purrr-fect ‘Batcat v Supercat’ video; Comic Book Resources, 7/3/16

Kevin Melrose, Comic Book Resources; Fur flies in this purrr-fect ‘Batcat v Supercat’ video:
"This parody of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” — called “Batcat v Supercat,” of course — is the work of Kaipo JOnes, who also produced “Magneto Cat” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine Cat.” You may detect a theme at play."

One of the copyright's scummiest trolls loses his law license; Boing Boing, 7/3/16

Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; One of the copyright's scummiest trolls loses his law license:
"For more than four years, we've chronicled the sleazy story of Prenda Law, a copyright troll whose extortion racket included genuinely bizarre acts of identity theft, even weirder random homophobic dog-whistles, and uploading their own porn movies to entrap new victims, and, naturally, an FBI investigation into the firm's partners' illegal conduct.
Now, Paul Hansmeier, one of Prenda's masterminds, has lost his license to practice law, after "voluntarily stipulating" to its suspension in an investigation into his professional conduct -- a plea bargain that forestalled a judgment by the Minnesota court hearing the case brought against him by the state's Office of Lawyer Professional Responsibility.
Hansmeier had recently branched out from copyright trolling to ADA trolling -- sending bogus threats under the Americans With Disabilities Act, a racket that, if anything, is even more despicable than pornographic copyright trolling (!), as it discredits the good work that real civil rights lawyers do to protect the rights of disabled people."

Sunday, July 3, 2016

With Canada’s Entry, Treaty for the Blind Will Come Into Force; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 6/30/16

Parker Higgins, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); With Canada’s Entry, Treaty for the Blind Will Come Into Force:
"A groundbreaking international agreement to address the “book famine” for blind and print-disabled people is now set to go into force after passing another key milestone today. The agreement requires countries to allow the reproduction and distribution of accessible ebooks by limiting the scope of copyright restrictions.
The Marrakesh agreement takes aim at the global shortage of ebooks available in suitable formats for the print disabled, which in some regions is as low as 1% of published books. At the time of its completion, only 57 of the 184 member countries of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) had copyright exceptions for this purpose, and inconsistencies between them made sharing books between countries nearly impossible."

Amazon Inspire Removes Some Content Over Copyright Issues; New York Times, 6/29/16

Natasha Singer, New York Times; Amazon Inspire Removes Some Content Over Copyright Issues:
"Amazon designed the site to enable teachers to post and freely share lesson plans, quizzes and curriculums of their own design, as well as open educational resources created by others. Mr. Agarwal said that users were not supposed to upload copyrighted materials and that the site had a process in place to quickly take down items that were the subjects of such complaints.
But it may be more difficult than Amazon executives realized for the site’s users to distinguish between open educational resources and copyrighted works.
“Even with all the safeguards in place, you have the ability to have someone upload a resource that violates a copyright,” Mr. Agarwal conceded."

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Britain’s Shaky Status as a Scientific Superpower; Atlantic, 6/24/16

Adrienne Lafrance, Atlantic; Britain’s Shaky Status as a Scientific Superpower:
"A sizable portion of funding for scientific research in the United Kingdom comes from EU grants, and the United Kingdom is one of the largest recipients of research funding in the union. Between 2007 and 2013, the U.K. received €8.8 billion—the equivalent of nearly $10 billion—for scientific research, according to a 2015 report published by the Royal Society, an independent scientific academy based in London. Drayson and others say it’s unlikely the United Kingdom will be able to negotiate a deal for such funding to continue...
Yet there’s more to the debate than money. More broadly, many scientists fear that international collaboration among researchers from across the EU will become difficult, if not impossible, once Britain leaves the union.
“Being in the EU gives us access to ideas, people and to investment in science,” Paul Nurse, the director of The Francis Crick Institute, told the BBC. “That, combined with mobility [of EU scientists], gives us increased collaboration, increased transfer of people, ideas and science—all of which history has shown us drives science.”
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, is a key example of the kind of collaboration that EU membership has enabled."


"In an alternate Marvel Universe where Gwen Stacy, not Peter Parker, was bitten by a radioactive spider, and Samantha Wilson is Captain America, the classic supervillain M.O.D.O.K. resembles a certain real estate mogul turned reality TV star turned presidential candidate: Donald J. Trump.
In this week's "Spider-Gwen Annual" #1, writer Jason Latour and "an awesome assemblage of artists" offer a tour of Earth-65 with a collection of short stories that includes She-Hulk as a pro wrestler, the origin of Koala Kommander, and an all-too brief showdown between Captain America and M.O.D.O.K. -- wait, make that M.O.D.A.A.K. (Mental Organism Designed As America's King)."

Friday, July 1, 2016

President Obama Signs FOIA Reform Bill into Law on 50th Anniversary; Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 6/30/16

Luis Ferre Sadurni, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; President Obama Signs FOIA Reform Bill into Law on 50th Anniversary:
"President Barack Obama today signed a bill that significantly reforms and improves access to public records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The signing marked the culmination of open government advocates' battle to reform part of FOIA ahead of the law's 50th anniversary on July 4th.
One of the most notable provisions is the law's mandate for agencies to operate from a presumption of openness, ensuring that information is withheld only under one of FOIA's nine exemptions. The bill codifies Obama's 2009 memorandum sent on his first day in office — which ordered federal departments to operate under this presumption.
The law also paves the way for the creation of a single online portal to accept FOIA requests for any agency, similar to FOIAonline, already in use by 12 agencies and offices. The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) will also be strengthened with the reforms, permitting it to make recommendations for improving FOIA without necessarily seeking input from other agencies.
A White House fact sheet provides more details about the law and announced new members of the FOIA Advisory Committee."