Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 30th Jun 2012 19:34 UTC
Legal Yesterday, we were treated to another preliminary injunction on a product due to patent trolling. Over the past few years, some companies have resorted to patent trolling instead of competing on merit, using frivolous and obvious software and design patents to block competitors - even though this obviously shouldn't be legal. The fact that this is, in fact, legal, is baffling, and up until a few months ago, a regular topic here on OSNews. At some point - I stopped reporting on the matter. The reason for this is simple: I realised that intellectual property law exists outside of regular democratic processes and is, in fact, wholly and utterly totalitarian. What's the point in reporting on something we can't change via legal means?
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Vote with....
by ferrels on Sat 30th Jun 2012 19:43 UTC
ferrels
Member since:
2006-08-15

Vote with your wallet! Don't buy products marketed by the patent trolls. That's why I NEVER buy anything made by Apple. That and the fact that I can't stand Steve Jobs, even if he's dead.

Edited 2012-06-30 19:44 UTC

Reply Score: 22

RE: Vote with....
by TADS on Sun 1st Jul 2012 10:21 UTC in reply to "Vote with...."
TADS Member since:
2010-11-01

In spite of the overly bleak tone of the article and the spot on analysis of the current IP quagmire we currently find ourselves in, I have to disagree with the conclusion that nothing can be done, so it's not even worth reporting about it.

Democracy is all fine and dandy, but when it endangers the corporate bottom line, they will find a way to circumvent it.

It's true that the democratic process has failed when it comes to reforming IP law, and we now have this rhizome growing separate from it, but as they circumvent democracy, so can we, and it's pretty simple to do as the parent has stated. Go for their wallet, simply don't buy their products, hurt their bottom line.

You'll always be playing a rigged game, true, but think of the situation where dictatorships are overthrown. There is no democratic process to rely on, and the system is set up to perpetuate the status quo, and still people, given enough numbers and organization, find a way to subvert it.

As an example, read this article if you think it can't be done. The problem of modern dictatorships and totalitarian regimes is essentially the same as current IP laws, as Thom has pointed out.

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/23/world/gene-sharp-revolutionary/in...

Yes, the irony that he's using the hardware of a known patent troll is not lost on me.

And before anyone points out that we need our Microsofts and Apples and other such companies in order to make a living, I can only point out two things: the first is that change is never easy and you have to sacrifice short term comfort in order to attain long term freedom. If you can't handle this fact, then you don't get to complain. The second is that, personally, I haven't purchased any product of the two companies I mentioned previously in over a decade, and I work for one of the world's leading IT companies and have what could be considered a career. So have many others I know, which shows it can be done.

Bottom line: every time you make a payment for whatever reason, just stop for a second and think about where that money is going and who it is going to empower. If you don't like it, consider alternatives. It's not going to solve the problem, but it's a start. The next step is organization, which as the recent SOPA backlash has shown *can* be done, all we need is the will to make it happen. But that won't take place unless we can stop doing something as simple as giving these companies money which they in turn use to tighten the control they have over our lives even further.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Vote with....
by Lorin on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 07:40 UTC in reply to "Vote with...."
Lorin Member since:
2010-04-06

I agree 100% more people need to act on their principles even if they feel tempted to buy the trendiest toys.

I was able to demonstrate to my company how easy it is to steal proprietary documents with an Apple product, seems that all you need to do is change the extension to a media extension and it copies over with iTunes, bypassing the company's file copy monitoring system.

Apple products cannot be brought into the company any longer.

Reply Score: 2

Uh?
by JoshuaS on Sat 30th Jun 2012 20:02 UTC
JoshuaS
Member since:
2011-09-15

Since when is taking part in your stock exchange illegal? Owners of obligations are in power, because even the government needs money to function.

Anyone with a brain knows that democracy and capitalism simply can't co-exist. Those who own the means of production that give you an income of which you can live, will controll you. We are dependant on them, not the other way around ( try not buying food, sounds like fun ). I hate communism ( I hate the state in general ), but, sorry folks, I also hate lying.

Reply Score: 2

v RE: Uh?
by andih on Sun 1st Jul 2012 01:06 UTC in reply to "Uh?"
RE: Uh?
by Slambert666 on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 07:40 UTC in reply to "Uh?"
Slambert666 Member since:
2008-10-30

Anyone with a brain knows that democracy and capitalism simply can't co-exist.


Stop being retarded, it does not further your cause one little bit....

Reply Score: 2

v not a ptatent troll
by darcysmith on Sat 30th Jun 2012 20:45 UTC
RE: not a ptatent troll
by Alfman on Sat 30th Jun 2012 22:03 UTC in reply to "not a ptatent troll"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

darcysmith,

I voted you up by accident.. haha.

My opinion is that apple are behaving as patent trolls since it's clear that a key part of their strategy is resorting to litigation to harass competitors instead of just offering the best product value for customers on the market.

It's a shame because I think apple can do pretty well on merit alone, why are they tarnishing their image with patent trolling tactics? I really have to wonder if they internally believe their value proposition is getting worse in the face of new competitive threats.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: not a ptatent troll
by darcysmith on Sat 30th Jun 2012 23:47 UTC in reply to "RE: not a ptatent troll"
darcysmith Member since:
2006-04-12

A patent troll is one who protected their patent with no intention of implementing it... Apple clearly doesn't meet that.

I am not saying I agree with Apple, or with Samsung. Personally I think Samsung never have slavishly copied the iPhone to begin with. On the other side I'd say that Apple seems to be grasping at straws with a number of their lawsuits.

The whole patent system needs a massive overhaul. Apple should never have been granted many of the patents they hold. However, it is hard to fault them for playing by the rules they have been given. Samsung could have (probably) easily avoided the lawsuits as well.

Out of all of it, I just object to Apple being called a Patent Troll since they don't meet the definition of it. At the very least, they are trying (rightly or wrongly) to protect things that they have actually implemented.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: not a ptatent troll
by Soulbender on Sun 1st Jul 2012 03:49 UTC in reply to "RE: not a ptatent troll"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

My opinion is that apple are behaving as patent trolls since it's clear that a key part of their strategy is resorting to litigation to harass competitors instead of just offering the best product value for customers on the market.


Sure, they are abusing the patent system but that's not the same as being a patent troll. A patent troll has no products, only (questionable) patents.
Apple, for all their faults and bad behavior, do create real products.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: not a ptatent troll
by Alfman on Sun 1st Jul 2012 04:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: not a ptatent troll"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Soulbender,

I see it as being overly pedantic. I'm still comfortable calling apple patent trolls on account of their courtroom behaviour. I don't think it makes sense to say the status as a patent troll ought to be dependent upon factors completely external to the case. If my product is banned by apple or an IP corp, it's the same to me. Maybe one is more vulnerable to counter attacks, but I see patent trolling as patent trolling regardless of who does it. And I certainly hope a distinction isn't incorporated into law because that opens up a loophole that's a mile wide. Apple doesn't manufacture their own hardware, likewise IP corporations could just contract out manufacturing and sell insanely expensive implementations with no intention of getting real customers...it wouldn't even matter to them if their products are banned.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: not a ptatent troll
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 1st Jul 2012 05:22 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: not a ptatent troll"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

There actually is no set definition of patent troll. If Apple fanatics get to come up with fairy tales of Google stealing, I think I can use the term patent troll when Apple engages in patent troll behaviour.

It's not like I can make the multibillion dollar corporation cry.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: not a ptatent troll
by Soulbender on Sun 1st Jul 2012 05:51 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: not a ptatent troll"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

I think I can use the term patent troll when Apple engages in patent troll behaviour.


Sure, you can do whatever you want but it devalues the real meaning when you apply it like that.

It's not like I can
make the multibillion dollar corporation cry.


That's not what we're saying.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: not a ptatent troll
by M.Onty on Sun 1st Jul 2012 10:30 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: not a ptatent troll"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

... but it devalues the real meaning when you apply it like that.


It devalues the 'real' meaning of a phrase only a few years old?

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: not a ptatent troll
by darcysmith on Sun 1st Jul 2012 19:22 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: not a ptatent troll"
darcysmith Member since:
2006-04-12

Yes, it does devalue something that is only a few years old.

It has a pretty specific, non-legal, meaning. And Apple clearly does not meet the definition.

Interestingly I googled Apple Patent Troll and the *ONLY* references I found for Apple being a patent troll were sites that were clearly Android biased using it. Everything else was companies that were actually patent trolls suing Apple (and others).

I have no issue with sites having bias for/against Apple/Android/Google/Windows/whatever. I do have an issue with sites that present things in the wrong way though. I'm just asking for people who are supposedly reporting/editorializing on things to use the proper terms and not try to co-opt them to make their point. Either your point stands on its merits, or you have to try to use evocative language to make your point. One argument is strong, the other is weak.

No if you were to say that Apple is behaving like a patent troll, and explain why you think that you have a totally different thing. I'd probably not agree with you, since the fundamental part of being a patent troll is not implementing the patent, but at least you could try to explain why you feel that way, and perhaps convince the reader.

Ultimately the issue resides with the patent system, not those using the patent system. I find it hard to fault a company for using patents that they have been granted. I do have a huge problem with the patents being granted to begin with, as well as the length of them. I actually hope that more companies do more stupid things with stupid patents so that the issue comes to a head and someone finally gets the nerve to solve it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: not a ptatent troll
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 1st Jul 2012 20:22 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: not a ptatent troll"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

It has a pretty specific, non-legal, meaning


It does not, and you give proof of this in your own comment:

Interestingly I googled Apple Patent Troll and the *ONLY* references I found for Apple being a patent troll were sites that were clearly Android biased using it.


Just because you disagree with those sites does not mean you get to ignore the fact that the term is routinely and often used in the way that it's been used here. Language doesn't work that way.

Edited 2012-07-01 20:22 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: not a ptatent troll
by andydread on Sun 1st Jul 2012 02:22 UTC in reply to "not a ptatent troll"
andydread Member since:
2009-02-02

Words are important, they convey meaning. Apple is not a patent troll. You may disagree with them, but trying to use the wrong term, or the right term in the wrong way, just weakens your argument.

Please define what you *think* patent troll means, then go look up the actual meaning of it, and then find out what the proper term you should be using.



How about Apple is an abuser of trivial and obvious software patents such as slide to unlock and multisource search. So Apple is a patent abuser not a patent troll. They also qualify for the term hypocrite.

" We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas" - Steve Jobs

Reply Score: 8

RE[2]: not a ptatent troll
by Soulbender on Sun 1st Jul 2012 05:10 UTC in reply to "RE: not a ptatent troll"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

" We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas" - Steve Jobs


This statement is so awesomely contradicting of Apple's actual behavior that it should be carved into stone somewhere and preserved for posterity.
Apple: taking hypocrisy to new heights.

Reply Score: 10

RE[3]: not a ptatent troll
by ins0mniac on Sun 1st Jul 2012 14:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: not a ptatent troll"
ins0mniac Member since:
2008-10-01

Yep, Apple are hypocrites, big time, but guess what? so is the entire society and in my personal opinion the US in particular has taken hypocrisy to a whole new level.
On the other hand taking ideas from others, adding your own stuff and trying to put them together in the right way is what everybody is doing or trying to do.
Really, with something as complex as a personal computing device you just can't be completely original. And if you come up with something that's entirely original chances are it would be too unfamiliar to use.
Also the patent system problem is hardly anything new, it's just that Apple vs. The World is high profile. I just came across an excellent 2002 Forbes article called "Patently Absurd" written by the antitrust attorney Gary L. Reback outlining the same issues Thom has been writing here about.

Reply Score: 2

A questions for Thom
by mkone on Sat 30th Jun 2012 22:02 UTC
mkone
Member since:
2006-03-14

Can you give us examples of these democratic processes that IP law sits outside?

You can't just say that the processes are undemocratic because you don't like the outcomes.

Reply Score: 0

RE: A questions for Thom
by Thom_Holwerda on Sat 30th Jun 2012 22:14 UTC in reply to "A questions for Thom"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Can you give us examples of these democratic processes that IP law sits outside?

You can't just say that the processes are undemocratic because you don't like the outcomes.


I don't think you read the article.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: A questions for Thom
by mkone on Sun 1st Jul 2012 02:29 UTC in reply to "RE: A questions for Thom"
mkone Member since:
2006-03-14

Thom, your last statement (question actually) in your "article" was "What's the point in reporting on something we can't change via legal means?".

Wel, you generally don't change laws via the legal process, but via the legislative process which is the domain of politicians. IP law exists because lawmakers made it so.

As far as I am aware, most countries' legislative bodies are sovereign, i.e. they can legislate whatever they want.

The fact of the matter is that the public is not clamouring for a change in IP laws, therefore what is happening is completely democratic. If the vast majority of people want IP laws to change, then they should vote in people who pledge to change them. However, we all know most people aren't bothered about IP law, therefore it is entirely democratic that the law, as it stands, is applied. By not voting for change the public is voting for the status quo.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: A questions for Thom
by Alfman on Sun 1st Jul 2012 04:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: A questions for Thom"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

mkone,

"The fact of the matter is that the public is not clamouring for a change in IP laws, therefore what is happening is completely democratic."

That doesn't necessarily follow, and to be sure there are plenty of counter examples too where politicians do whatever they hell they want to without regards to their supposed constituency. In reality even local politics requires millions of dollars, which is typically funded by corporations. They've recently been allowed to pledge infinite funds to influence politicians and elections, not to mention think tanks and apostrophising. This is corrupts the notion of a government democracy which exists "for the people". I find the control corporations have over government to be the downfall of a functional democracy.

"If the vast majority of people want IP laws to change, then they should vote in people who pledge to change them. However, we all know most people aren't bothered about IP law, therefore it is entirely democratic that the law, as it stands, is applied. By not voting for change the public is voting for the status quo."


I think it's a fallacy to say people aren't voting for change...they're always voting for change. But the only issues we'll ever get an opportunity to debate and vote on are "hot button issues" like jobs, affordable healthcare, war, union rights, taxes, education, housing, abortion, even religion and marriage, etc. You don't know what people think about their IP rights from the polls because the polls haven't attempted to measure that - election data is too granular to draw those kinds of conclusions.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: A questions for Thom
by mkone on Sun 1st Jul 2012 11:45 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: A questions for Thom"
mkone Member since:
2006-03-14

The reason that IP issues aren't brought up when campaigning for votes is precisely because voters don't see them as particularly important. There is nothing about democracy that mandates that every issue under the sun will be in a manifesto. Part of the democratic proces is about deciding which issues are important enough to be presented to the public to garner votes. IP law just so happens to be such a low priority issue for most individual voters that they don't really care one way or the other.

Whilst individuals in a democracy can state their preferences for the big issues, and the political process is oriented in that way, voters are also delegating the responsibility for other "smaller" issues to the politicians. If the public don't like how the politicians are dealing with the small issues, they should vote them out, or make their feelings known. If they don't, then they either happy with it, or at least not bothered by it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: A questions for Thom
by bert64 on Sun 1st Jul 2012 13:08 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: A questions for Thom"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

The reason IP reform isn't considered as terribly important by the general public, is because most people only ever get to hear one side of the story...

Most people get their information from mass market media, the same mass media that benefits from IP laws and wants the current laws either retained or made tighter. The chance of people who aren't explicitly looking for such information, to be exposed to an opposing view on IP law is extremely slim...

On the other hand, if you take the time to explain the situation to a guy on the street, many people would agree that reform is needed.

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: A questions for Thom
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 1st Jul 2012 13:11 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: A questions for Thom"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

On the other hand, if you take the time to explain the situation to a guy on the street, many people would agree that reform is needed.


It's getting out there, though. I hear more and more people talking about this matter, and things like SOPA and ACTA were on prime-time news here in The Netherlands. Our political parties have chapters on the subject, so awareness is growing.

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: A questions for Thom
by bfr99 on Sun 1st Jul 2012 23:59 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: A questions for Thom"
bfr99 Member since:
2007-03-15

I, like the majority of Americans fail to see the problem. Apple, Google, Facebook etc have all prospered under the existing system. Furthermost there is ample money for and no shortage of start-ups for the creation of future products and services. Apparently you wish to change the existing patent and perhaps copyright laws largely because you object to arcane legal proceedings between large corporations. I can't think of any other industry than computers and software that enjoys the such dramatic innovation and new product creations.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: A questions for Thom
by Alfman on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 03:30 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: A questions for Thom"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

bfr99,

"I, like the majority of Americans fail to see the problem. Apple, Google, Facebook etc have all prospered under the existing system. Furthermost there is ample money for and no shortage of start-ups for the creation of future products and services."

Where do you live?

Things have gotten much more difficult in the US and venture capital is far tighter that it used to be. That your claiming the majority of Americans have no problem makes me think you are far disconnected from typical Americans, who are absolutely not doing well. Sure a few are doing great, but I honestly believe growth of behemoth companies like google and apple has come at the opportunity cost of less growth in smaller ones. Just as local independent stores have been demolished by corporate chains, I suspect the same trend will become more evident in the tech field as it continues to mature.

Edit: A healthy industry should produce more competitors, not more consolidation. Though the patent system is just part of a much larger problem, it contributes to the monopolization of technologies, which is harmful to competition.

http://www.theeagle.com/article/20120503/BC0106/305039996

"The rate of new business startups fell in 2010 to the lowest point on record, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Figures released Wednesday indicated that new companies as a percentage of all businesses dropped below 8 percent in 2010, the latest year for which numbers are available.

The rate has been falling since peaking at 13 percent in the 1980s, but the slower rate of new startups accelerated during the recession, said Robert E. Litan, vice president of research at the Kauffman Foundation, which partially funds the gathering of business data."

Edited 2012-07-02 03:35 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: A questions for Thom
by Alfman on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 01:04 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: A questions for Thom"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

mkone,

"Whilst individuals in a democracy can state their preferences for the big issues, and the political process is oriented in that way, voters are also delegating the responsibility for other 'smaller' issues to the politicians."

It is a problem that smaller issues never get to benefit from democracy. Heck, it's failing even for bigger issues.

In NYC Bloomberg is planning on banning large colas & milkshakes because he can despite the fact that most voters oppose his plan. This sort of thing is happening everywhere. Consider the outlawing of public unions under Scott Walker, it was done despite a majority opposition (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZmHZFzOtUo). Due to the law he couldn't be impeached at the time. At the federal level public funds were repeatedly used for corporate bailouts and forgiving bad corporate debt with overwhelming public opposition. (some corps, like Goldman Sach subsequently gave executives record breaking executive bonuses http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jun/21/goldman-sachs-bonus-...). The illegal CIA wiretapping program infuriated the public, yet government didn't bother to prosecute anyone involved. The trouble with "democratic" governments is that they often fail at democracy.

Please don't read this wrong, I highly value democratic principals. But sometimes people will try to justify policy by saying it was enacted by the will of the people through a democratic process when said democratic process has lost some of its integrity.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: A questions for Thom
by The1stImmortal on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 00:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: A questions for Thom"
The1stImmortal Member since:
2005-10-20

Thom, your last statement (question actually) in your "article" was "What's the point in reporting on something we can't change via legal means?".

Wel, you generally don't change laws via the legal process, but via the legislative process which is the domain of politicians. IP law exists because lawmakers made it so.

Perhaps in this instance, Thom means legal as opposed to illegal, rather than legal as in court?

As far as I am aware, most countries' legislative bodies are sovereign, i.e. they can legislate whatever they want.

Unless they voluntarily give up such sovereignty, through the signing of treaties.
As the US civil war (amongst others) demonstrated, the giving up of sovereignty can be done irrevocably.
And it appears that in this case it's only revocable through departure from the WTO, which is economic suicide.

The fact of the matter is that the public is not clamouring for a change in IP laws, therefore what is happening is completely democratic. If the vast majority of people want IP laws to change, then they should vote in people who pledge to change them. However, we all know most people aren't bothered about IP law, therefore it is entirely democratic that the law, as it stands, is applied. By not voting for change the public is voting for the status quo.

Popular apathy in itself does not mean that the status quo is democratic. It just means the issue hasn't received enough publicity recently to test its democratic support.

Reply Score: 2

RE: A questions for Thom
by sydbarrett74 on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 04:51 UTC in reply to "A questions for Thom"
sydbarrett74 Member since:
2007-07-24

If you would read the entire article, it would be evident to you that he lays out the historical evolution very nicely. Or are you merely trolling?

Edited 2012-07-02 05:02 UTC

Reply Score: 1

History ...
by WakaJawaka on Sat 30th Jun 2012 23:38 UTC
WakaJawaka
Member since:
2012-06-30

> Three years prior, in 1883, the Paris Convention for the
> Protection of Industrial Property was first accepted.

... and twelve years prior to that, the same bourgeois class who gave us the first treaty on intellectual property protection (BIRPI), organized and oversaw the massacre of 30.000 Parisians (ten times more than were executed in Paris during the entire French Revolution). This is about so much more than mere patent trolling.

Reply Score: 2

Nitpick
by earksiinni on Sun 1st Jul 2012 02:03 UTC
earksiinni
Member since:
2009-03-27

Not having WTO membership isn't exactly a sine qua non for a modern economy. China didn't get it until fairly recently. Leaving the WTO once already in it, however, would probably wreak some havoc.

That said, great find.

Reply Score: 3

EU
by ndrw on Sun 1st Jul 2012 04:16 UTC
ndrw
Member since:
2009-06-30

It's not like TRIPS has some sort of absolute power. Maybe if you're living in a small developing country, then, yes, you may have no choice.

But for the EU, it was a conscious decision to follow these regulations, and indeed, to participate in their creation. Should they decide otherwise, TRIPS would be dead already, as WTO would have never allow EU to leave. My point is, if you're a European, you can't claim the process was undemocratic.

Frankly speaking, I don't think these treaties matter anymore. We will likely see them collapsing as the world-wide economic situation deteriorates. As always, it will happen for all wrong reasons (like leaving WTO in order to block the import) but nevertheless days of trade treaties are counted.

Reply Score: 3

v Maybe Google should stop ripping Apple off
by MollyC on Sun 1st Jul 2012 04:38 UTC
Lorin Member since:
2010-04-06

Look at history, Google owned Android, Inc years before IOS existed.

Crunchpad existed as a prototype product before iPad existed.

I guess that means Apple should stop ripping off all the prior art their products are based on.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Gone fishing
by Gone fishing on Sun 1st Jul 2012 07:56 UTC
Gone fishing
Member since:
2006-02-22

Lots of issues – firstly is Apple a patent troll? If a troll is a company that collects patients, but makes no products using them, but simply uses the products to extort money out of other companies the Apple isn’t a troll, its just hypocritical, unethical and bullying – hope I’ve made all the Apple fanboys happy.

The issue of democracy – firstly to say that capitalism and democracy cannot exist together is just silly. Democracy is the political system of modern capitalism. If you think democracy means that society is totally fair and a level playing field for all, then your being naive. A Marxist analysis would be something like; the democratic state attempts to regulate the conflict between the classis so that class war does not break out whilst maintaining the existing property relations. I don’t agree with that analysis, however, I think it is fair to suggest that the democratic state does allow for tensions to be resolved, but in a way that usually favours the interests of the powerful who exert more influence, as they have more levers of influence. The cards are stacked against the weak in favour of the powerful – that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. This would certainly apply to the current state of affairs with large corporations and IP.

Certainly trans-national bodies that are un-elected and exert massive influence over our lives are a concern. However, I do not take the view that they are unchangeable. They seem to me to be quite vulnerable. Possibly the crisis in the Euro at the moment is indication of how fragile these apparently powerful bodies can be when torn by the self interest of states (which are under democratic control). Will more Europe, more trans-national bodies, regulators save the Euro? – I’m doubtful, unless that is the will and general consensus of the European people, and even with that I’m sceptical.

A problem with IP law and governance is that large corporations that have powerful levers of influence unduly control it. The fact that some of these corporations are particularly unethical is also disquieting. However, an equal problem is that western governments (and people?) see IP and the control of information as a way of making themselves powerful and wealthy forever, without the need to produce or innovate. As they are powerful this is entrenched in trans-national bodies, but it will fail. Production and innovation produces wealth and wealth produces power, with power you can re-level the playing field in your favour.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Gone fishing
by Slambert666 on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 07:50 UTC in reply to "Comment by Gone fishing"
Slambert666 Member since:
2008-10-30

Lots of issues – firstly is Apple a patent troll?


A patent troll is a troll that trolls using patents.

Because a company can choose to do this trolling itself (like Apple) or by proxy (Microsoft, IBM, etc.) there really is no need to distinguish between the different types of trolls.

Reply Score: 6

The main point
by djohnston on Sun 1st Jul 2012 08:08 UTC
djohnston
Member since:
2006-04-11

"The end result is simple. Even if a majority of voters in a country want a drastic reduction in IP rights to modernise IP law and adapt it to modern times, it simply cannot be implemented. This effectively means that copyright law, patent law, trademark law, and all other associated laws, exist in a protected legal bubble over which we, as voters, have zero democratic control. In other words, current IP law exists entirely outside of the democratic process - effectively making it totalitarian."


Isn't that the main point of the article? The perceived futility of altering processes out of our reach? Shouldn't we be worried about how to change the status quo to a more equitable arrangement? Yet, the discussion from some is devolving into some kind of brand war amongst their proponents. "My favorite brand is better than yours because mine is less of a patent troll!"

Geez, no wonder the world's in such a mess. I'm glad Thom posted this kind of 'technocrat merges with social consciousness' article. I wasn't aware of some of what he wrote about. Kudos, Thom.

Reply Score: 3

Re:
by kurkosdr on Sun 1st Jul 2012 12:09 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

I think you 've touched a deeper problem: People do not vote freely nowadays, because the mainstream media tells people that if you vote for certain "radical" parties, bad things will happen to the country. Econony will fall, there will be no gas at the pump, the four horsemen of the apocalypse will appear on the sky etc "You do not want to doom this country, dear listener? Right? Please vote for the two mainstream parties"

Just look what happened in Greece with Syriza (i know because i live in Greece). When peopke expressed intent to vote for Syriza (a party with some pretty neat ideas), the mainstream media (local and foreign) bullied and threatened the people, so, surprise, one of the two mainstream parties came first. The good news is that young people voted mostly for Syriza.

See, not everyone has access to the internet to be able to find out that the mainstream media are BSing him. Back on topic, people would vote for pirate parties and IP reform parties if they were able to find out that pro-fair use laws or laws preventing software patents will not get you kicked out of the WTO. There are countries with no software patents (France) or even allowing sharing of copyrighted stuff via torrent (Canada) that are nembers of the WTO. It's not as easy to get "kicked out" of the WTO (or any other organization) as the mainstream media wants you to think, because of the consequencies it will have on other countries.

Long story short, if we want our democracy back, people should start voting with their hearts again and not by "what will happen because of the X treaty/organization". But for this to happen, people must first find out the mainstream media are BSing them. Aka having access to other information sources.

Browser: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.2.2; el-gr; LG-P990 Build/FRG83G) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1 MMS/LG-Android-MMS-V1.0/1.2

Edited 2012-07-01 12:20 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Re:
by raboof on Sun 1st Jul 2012 12:45 UTC in reply to "Re:"
raboof Member since:
2005-07-24

pro-fair use laws or laws preventing software patents will not get you kicked out of the WTO. There are countries with no software patents (France) or even allowing sharing of copyrighted stuff via torrent (Canada) that are nembers of the WTO.


Can't vote you up because I already commented, but, this.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Re:
by zima on Sat 7th Jul 2012 23:58 UTC in reply to "Re:"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

People do not vote freely nowadays, because the mainstream media tells people that if you vote for certain "radical" parties, bad things will happen to the country [...]
Just look what happened in Greece with Syriza (i know because i live in Greece). When peopke expressed intent to vote for Syriza (a party with some pretty neat ideas), the mainstream media (local and foreign) bullied and threatened the people

Why do you use "" around the radical? The party calls itself the Coalition of the Radical Left FFS... (why did you left out the real name, instead using nothing-telling acronym, hm?)

...yeah, neat: the communists are here - Greece, you're saved!

Also, don't forget to mention that those involved around this party were very active with "bullied and threatened the people" - or did you not notice all the rioting?

Or that the Neo-Nazi party in Greece got 7% in the recent elections.

Long story short, if we want our democracy back, people should start voting with their hearts again

Voting with hearts (all directions), not minds, is what gets us into mess. Like the mess when gov gave too much of what its people wanted, just more "me! me! me!"
Humans are immature, short-sighted, generally unable to think long-term & to see and support long-term issues; it's in our nature to just want more "stuff" and to have fun in our short few prime decades of life. And that is simply reflected in many govs - if a gov would really go against such primitive impulses of its population, it's usually voted out.
Here you also voted just "against"...

There's a close precedent in Ancient Greece, in its deforestation and erosion - back then, those in positions of authority were also unable to raise public support and the necessary economic resources, trying to do so just destroyed your political status.
Hence, fast forward to today - and Greece will be officially a desert in a few years.

Also, for democracy to work, you need to have and educated society (one which genuinely values that) ...Greece seems to have plenty dysfunctions in that area.

BTW, quick site search on a website of another Greek gives...
http://eugenia.queru.com/2011/06/20/regarding-the-greek-situation/
http://eugenia.queru.com/2010/02/24/greece-in-shameful-protests/
http://eugenia.queru.com/2008/12/09/regarding-the-greek-riots/
http://eugenia.queru.com/2007/03/07/the-problem-with-the-greek-civi...
http://eugenia.queru.com/2006/09/27/teachers-on-strike/

Edited 2012-07-08 00:15 UTC

Reply Score: 2

The Problem Is Not IP Law
by raboof on Sun 1st Jul 2012 12:32 UTC
raboof
Member since:
2005-07-24

For the most part, IP Law is not the problem.

While it might be true it we're so 'deep into' various treaties and trade agreements it's impossible to 'go back', those treaties are generally the lowest common denominators of laws that were (democratically!) decided on before, and were fairly reasonable.

As Thom points out in the first paragraph, the problems we face today are mostly with 'frivolous and obvious software and design patents' which 'obviously shouldn't be legal'.

All IP laws have safeguards and prerequisites designed to prevent abuse, such as patenting obvious stuff.

It's in the execution of those laws where we're going way wrong today. It is the USPTO's, EPO's and the like that need a firm reality check. And we can do that without doing something drastic like pulling out of WTO - the treaties leave ample room for interpretation.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by BeamishBoy
by BeamishBoy on Sun 1st Jul 2012 14:52 UTC
BeamishBoy
Member since:
2010-10-27


This is where things start to go wrong. The WIPO is actually one of the 17 specialised agencies of the United Nations... [meaning] every member state's vote counted equally. This meant that in matters related to IP, the world's developing nations could exert far more influence than developed nations. You know, democracy at work at the international state level.


I have little time for software patents, particularly the frivolous ones. However, why exactly do you have a problem with, say, the US being against a system where their views count for as much as, say, Cape Verde? Surely the clearly democratic way in which such a system would work is one where the votes of individual countries are weighted in proportion to their population?

Edited 2012-07-01 14:52 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by BeamishBoy
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 1st Jul 2012 15:11 UTC in reply to "Comment by BeamishBoy"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

By population, the developing world would have even more power.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by BeamishBoy
by Soulbender on Sun 1st Jul 2012 17:33 UTC in reply to "Comment by BeamishBoy"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Surely the clearly democratic way in which such a system would work is one where the votes of individual countries are weighted in proportion to their population?


That wouldn't really work in the U.S favour, you know. US ~= 250-300 Million people, the rest of the world ~= 8 billion. but hey, maybe the U.S would love a system where China had more than 4 times the importance of the U.S with India not far behind. That's not even counting all the other nations (3rd world or otherwise) who could make a common cause and easily outnumber the U.S.

Reply Score: 4

v Debasement of language
by Tony Swash on Sun 1st Jul 2012 15:16 UTC
RE: Debasement of language
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 1st Jul 2012 15:29 UTC in reply to "Debasement of language"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

We can have a normal discussion the moment you stop putting all sorts of nonsensical words in my mouth that I have never said or alluded to. Tony, your perpetual weakness is coming up with verbose nonsense and thinking up things I never said without actually addressing anything said in the articles in question.

Nothing in your comment can be traced back to the article (New World Order? Negativity about the WTO? Completely ignoring the detailed explanation of why I use the term totalitarian in favour of your own simplistic bullshit?), and until you actually address the points raised, there's no point in replying.

Take your nonsense about my opinion on Android, for instance. Have you actually ever read anything I have written about Android or Apple products? You clearly have a very, very severe case of cognitive dissonance that you are trying to solve by amazing counts of selective perception, only remembering my negative comments about Apple and my positive ones about Android - completely blocking out the two opposites.

It's fascinating and disturbing at the same time.

Edited 2012-07-01 15:32 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Debasement of language
by Tony Swash on Sun 1st Jul 2012 23:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Debasement of language"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

I repeat my question and would genuinely like an answer as I think it is a question worth exploring.

Leaving aside whether Samsung have or have not copied Apple do you think that in general companies should be free to copy other companies products with no legal restraint?

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Debasement of language
by Alfman on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 02:59 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Debasement of language"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Tony Swash,


"Leaving aside whether Samsung have or have not copied Apple do you think that in general companies should be free to copy other companies products with no legal restraint?"


You need to define what is meant by "copy", there are copyrights, trademarks, process patents and design patents. None of them work quite the same way... The biggest controversy with patents in particular for CS folks is that they are used against implementations even when they are NOT copied.

Of course this case is about overly broad design patents. Some can be so broad that it's very likely for new products to infringe simply by coincidence, and that's a problem.


In the case of one guy's freedom to kick competitors out of the market, and our freedom to develop & bring new products to the market, I think the law should error on the side of allowing competitors in the market. Being copied is just be a risk of doing business.

If customers are honestly being confused, then I can see merit in stopping the counterfeits. But if customers understand what they're buying, then let them drive the market without interference by government decree.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Debasement of language
by Neolander on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 04:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Debasement of language"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Ok, I'll feed the troll.

In general, yes, companies should be able to copy each other's work sometimes. Arguing otherwise would be as silly as giving someone a patent on liquid containers or car steering methodologies. Then, of course, legal limits also have to be set so as to prevent unfair competition such as counterfeiting clothes at a fraction of their design costs.

Now, get some real arguments out to prove your point ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: Debasement of language
by zima on Sat 7th Jul 2012 23:40 UTC in reply to "Debasement of language"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

You're delusional, as usual, living in your small perception bubble. Apart from what Thom pointed out ...increased trade, how it enabled cities, is what brought also immense suffering, worked also to shorten life expectancy, by enabling spread of diseases.

Black Death (for just one example) wiped out half of Europe.
Read just the first section of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_trypanosomiasis#History (oh yeah, for a long time it was often slave trade ...which didn't really disappear). Similar with HIV pandemic.

Trade also wiped out many civilisations (by disease or otherwise)

Generally, it enables increase of number of people, but the proportion of them that's out of poverty seems to be not changing much at best - you need few essentially slaves for your comfy life (for example
http://www.businessinsider.com/wikileaks-haiti-minimum-wage-the-nat... ).
Also, trade is what brought this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Human_welfare_and_ecological_foot... insanity, what makes it possible... already causing what will be one of the most rapid extinction events in geological record, most of megafauna gone by the end of this century (you think we aren't part of global ecosystem, it won't impact us? And it would be really "funny" if in a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medea_hypothesis way)

It's entirely possible that no single human activity is responsible for more human deaths than trade. Please, please develop a sense of perspective.

Edited 2012-07-07 23:42 UTC

Reply Score: 2

v You guys are really kooks!
by jefro on Sun 1st Jul 2012 16:05 UTC
RE: You guys are really kooks!
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 1st Jul 2012 16:19 UTC in reply to "You guys are really kooks!"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Thom, you are an anarchist.


That one's new. Totally idiotic, of course, but still new. A welcome change from the "anti-my-pet-company"-stuff I usually get.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: You guys are really kooks!
by silix on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 09:42 UTC in reply to "RE: You guys are really kooks!"
silix Member since:
2006-03-01

"Thom, you are an anarchist.


That one's new. Totally idiotic, of course, but still new. A welcome change from the "anti-my-pet-company"-stuff I usually get.
"i think he meant anarchist as in
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism (in that way
raher than an insult...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: You guys are really kooks!
by zima on Wed 4th Jul 2012 13:11 UTC in reply to "RE: You guys are really kooks!"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

When was the last time you tested yourself? ;)
http://www.politicalcompass.org/test

Reply Score: 2

RE: You guys are really kooks!
by raboof on Sun 1st Jul 2012 17:55 UTC in reply to "You guys are really kooks!"
raboof Member since:
2005-07-24

There is a legal way to change this.


Here your post got really interesting...

Just use your legal expertise to find legal ways to correct it.


.. and here you blew it.

If you're going to contradict a reasonably well-argued position, you'll need to come up with a better argument, and not leave that task up to the reader. That doesn't make sense.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: You guys are really kooks!
by jefro on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 16:10 UTC in reply to "RE: You guys are really kooks!"
jefro Member since:
2007-04-13

You have confused humor with an argument.

Reply Score: 1

Act together in defense
by twitterfire on Sun 1st Jul 2012 16:21 UTC
twitterfire
Member since:
2008-09-11

Google and Android phone makers should play together in defense and sue Apple into Oblivion in any country they can, for every reason they can find, for whatever patent they might own and Apple might infringe.

The best defense is offense. They should defend themselves until is not too late and Apple would establish too many precedents and would try to achieve bans against all major Android devices.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Act together in defense
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 1st Jul 2012 16:24 UTC in reply to "Act together in defense"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Apple would establish too many precedents and would try to achieve bans against all major Android devices.


That is Apple's ultimate goal, yes. They divided up the desktop market with Microsoft, and they can't stand it that they have to share the mobile market with a successful competitor that is very, very far outside of their own business model. So, they respond the only way incumbents know how: by suing.

Pretty classic and basic stuff.

Reply Score: 2

Undemocratic != unethical
by theosib on Sun 1st Jul 2012 16:38 UTC
theosib
Member since:
2006-03-02

I'm not arguing in favor of adopting the alternatives, but it is knee-jerk and uneducated to make the blanket assertion that anything other than a democracy is inherently evil.

Communism and Socialism (both as much systems of economics as they are systems of governance, with communism typically having a dictatorship) are concepts that have their uses. For instance, communism is perhaps the quickest way to go from anarchy to an organized system of government. And centralized resource pooling by government is inherently socialist, but it's necessary for many functions like road building and defense.

The problem is that when these systems of government and economy are taken too far, they tend to go wrong. Communism invariably turns into totalitarianism because those in charge don't want to relinquish their power. And socialism is invariably abused by those who are unwilling to work and make their own contributions to the system.

But analogous problems exist with capitalism and democracy. For instance, in the "civilized" world, we have evolved corporations to be completely sociopathic, putting revenue ahead of everything, especially ethics. This has, in turn, corrupted our government, because it's impossible to get a seat in Congress without being financed by big corporations.

Reply Score: 4

v copying is anti innovation
by Netfun81 on Sun 1st Jul 2012 19:11 UTC
RE: copying is anti innovation
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 1st Jul 2012 20:19 UTC in reply to "copying is anti innovation"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

hmmm so lets see if I got this right. If I invent something really popular and different by spending millions on research and development, it should be ok for any cheap imitation to come to market without any penalties?


I have never said anything even remotely like that in any article I have ever written - this one or earlier ones. Don't make stuff up. Just because I criticise current IP laws does not mean I advocate having no IP laws at all. Your reasoning is exactly the same as that of extremist religious folk who claim that people who are pro-gay marriage are also in favour of marriage with animals or children.

Intellectual property is a good thing. Our current IP regime, however, is not. This isn't rocket science.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: copying is anti innovation
by Netfun81 on Sun 1st Jul 2012 20:37 UTC in reply to "RE: copying is anti innovation"
Netfun81 Member since:
2008-03-25

ok then maybe we agree partially. I'm not fond of gay marriage but I do believe we should be able to marry animals. Its not fair that geeks have been so repressed ;)

Reply Score: 1

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

Intellectual property is a good thing. Our current IP regime, however, is not. This isn't rocket science.


What is not clear is what you think the limits of the law on IP should be. The devil is in the detail. It's all very well saying current IP is broken or dysfunctional - OK - what should a working IP legal structure look like?

I get the impression that you don't like software patents at all, why? What in principal is different about owning the legal rights to a piece of code or software design compared to say owning the rights to a novel or a piece of music?

What about hardware patents? Are some OK but some not? In which case what are the dividing lines? Suppose someone sets up a company and makes shoes that look just like the latest Nike shoes and has a logo on them that looks very similar to a Nike logo and uses a product name similar to the Nike shoes? Should Nike have the opportunity to claim in court that their designs are being infringed? And if you can seek legal protection for the design of a pair of shoes why not for a phone or tablet?

It seems to me that product bans freak people out and Apple winning products bans really freak people out, including you Thom, and provoke generalised statements that sound plausible and principled but which obscure the fact that in the real world these issues are immensely complex and difficult. Generally the further away from the practical reality of a problem one is the easier it is to believe that there are simple solutions or that the issues are clear cut.

I personally think the current system of arguing the details out on a case by case basis through exhaustive legal actions in multiple courts in multiple jurisdictions is probably as a good a way to sort this sort of stuff out as one could find, tiresome though it is to watch. I think it is incumbent on those who say the current system is rotten to suggest what should be in it's place. How much of what sort of stuff should companies be allowed to copy and how and who should make the judgment of when thy have crossed the line?

Reply Score: 1

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I get the impression that you don't like software patents at all, why? What in principal is different about owning the legal rights to a piece of code or software design compared to say owning the rights to a novel or a piece of music?


A novel or a piece of music can be protected by copyright, but not by patents. There is no issue with software copyright ... if one wants to make a competing software product one should write one's own code rather than selling a literal copy of someone else's code, in exactly the same way that if one wants to be a best-selling novelist, one should write one's own novel and not copy the words of another writer.

No problem with that, copyright is fine as IP protection for software, just as it is for writing or music. Note that Android is not a copy of iOS, it is a work-alike. No, the problem is software patents.

Having software patents is akin to disallowing Harry Potter novels from ever being written because someone else had earlier written a novel about a young male wizard character named, say, Merlin growing up. No more lullabys ever to be allowed to be written except for the one by Brahms.

Insanity of the highest order, and totally inappropriate.

What about hardware patents? Are some OK but some not? In which case what are the dividing lines?


There are very reasonable dividing lines in European law:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patentable_subject_matter


The following in particular shall not be regarded as inventions within the meaning of paragraph 1:

(a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
(b) aesthetic creations;
(c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;
(d) presentations of information.


You will note that software is excluded twice since software is "programs for computers" and it also is "mathematical methods".

Suppose someone sets up a company and makes shoes that look just like the latest Nike shoes and has a logo on them that looks very similar to a Nike logo and uses a product name similar to the Nike shoes? Should Nike have the opportunity to claim in court that their designs are being infringed?


Now you are getting very confused indeed, and totally silly. You are talking now about another totally different IP law called trademark. Android does not infringe on Apple's trademark ... no one can possibly confuse a little comic green robot icon for an apple.

Edited 2012-07-01 23:59 UTC

Reply Score: 6

Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

No, the problem is software patents.


While you are right with respect to the question you answered, in the big picture, the other two IP systems, copyright and trademark, are flawed too.

Copyright lasts way too long. After the author's death? Why? How come people who had nothing to do with the work in question are entitled to royalties? My great-grandchildren won't get a penny from my current employer, and that's how it should be. Imagine if all companies had an obligation to pay your salary to your grandchildren, 70 years after you are gone. Plus extensions. And also in that time, nobody would be allowed to fill your job (OK, this last one is not entirely accurate).

Trademark is no better. From the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_white : "The Walt Disney Company currently has a trademark application pending with the US Patent and Trademark Office, filed November 19, 2008, for the name "Snow White" that would cover all live and recorded movie, television, radio, stage, computer, Internet, news, and photographic entertainment uses, except literature works of fiction and nonfiction."

So it's OK to write a story about Snow White, -- maybe not on the Internet, though, -- but creating a TV series or drama act is not? How can a company have an exclusive trademark for a name that was invented by someone else probably centuries ago, (two times, no less,) when even the copyright for the Brothers Grimm's book has long since expired?

(And sadly, judging from how they treat software patents, I have not a second's doubt that the UPSTO will grant the trademark.)

Edited 2012-07-02 07:33 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

How can a company have an exclusive trademark for a name that was invented by someone else probably centuries ago, (two times, no less,) when even the copyright for the Brothers Grimm's book has long since expired?


Because Disney is one of the most evil companies this world has ever seen. Virtually their entire business is built upon stealing European public domain works and charging money for their adaptations. Walt Disney's earliest work were adaptations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, right after the 17-year copyright term on the original books had transpired.

Disney then proceeded to push through the insane copyright terms we have today. Disney is pure, concentrated evil. Stealing European public domain works because the company has virtually zero creativity of its own. It's despicable.

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: copying is anti innovation
by jefro on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 16:16 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: copying is anti innovation"
jefro Member since:
2007-04-13

Again you miss the point. Disney made a movie. The movie is protected. You can use other European works and create your own movie or try to re-create Alice in Wonderland. Instead you point your wicked witch of a finger and the US and Disney when it is you who fails to create. It is you Thom who is jealous of or desirous of their fame and fortune. You need to look inside yourself and be a winner instead of a whiner. Disney isn't evil. It is you who can't create like you wanted.

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

It is you Thom who is jealous of or desirous of their fame and fortune. You need to look inside yourself and be a winner instead of a whiner. Disney isn't evil. It is you who can't create like you wanted.


300,000 monthly readers beg to differ, kiddo.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: copying is anti innovation
by zima on Sat 7th Jul 2012 23:14 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: copying is anti innovation"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Disney is one of the most evil companies this world has ever seen. Virtually their entire business is built upon stealing European public domain works and charging money for their adaptations. [...]
Disney then proceeded to push through the insane copyright terms we have today. Disney is pure, concentrated evil. Stealing European public domain works because the company has virtually zero creativity of its own. It's despicable.

Not only European, and not even necessarily public domain...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lion_King#Controversies
http://www.kimbawlion.com/rant2.htm
http://www.cs.indiana.edu/~tanaka/Tezuka_Disney/

I suppose Disney thinks that the rules they themselves push don't quite apply to them.


But it's worse, since of course no big multinational can live without...
http://www.somo.nl/monitoring/reports/hkcic01-02.htm (edit: ugh, OSNews comment formatting brakes it... somo.nl link should go through archive.org)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2001/06/18/sweatshops_010618.html
(and IIRC, lots of animation work is done in North Korea - not sure if that's Disney though)

Quite lengthy Wiki article, in all... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_The_Walt_Disney_Company
(though, in turn, some of that criticism is of course ridiculous in ~puritan ways)


Overall, what does Disney teach to children? "Pretty blue-eyed blondes always get what they want, and ugly people are evil"

Edited 2012-07-07 23:16 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: copying is anti innovation
by zima on Sat 7th Jul 2012 22:46 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: copying is anti innovation"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Copyright lasts way too long. After the author's death? Why? How come people who had nothing to do with the work in question are entitled to royalties? My great-grandchildren won't get a penny from my current employer, and that's how it should be. Imagine if all companies had an obligation to pay your salary to your grandchildren, 70 years after you are gone. Plus extensions. And also in that time, nobody would be allowed to fill your job (OK, this last one is not entirely accurate).

It's not so simple; this kind of argument can be easily struck down (or at least, it has a not bad counterargument).

Our descendants can (and usually do, yours most likely will) benefit from physical inherited property, or from virtual, really, financial assets (just some data entries in a database somewhere) - how come people who had nothing to do with the work (in broader sense) in question are entitled to benefits from its results?

So why not for continuing benefits of work which produced "intellectual property"?

Reply Score: 2

ndrw Member since:
2009-06-30

The ideal system is where there is no IP except for protection of secrets (personal data etc.) and protection against misinformation (for example with trademarks). We obviously won't get a chance to vote the current system out, partly because democratic process is dysfunctional, partly because the system is already fueling itself and simply doesn't depend on our votes.

The dividing line for patents? To me, it would be either no patents at all (if they do 99% harm and 1% good we won't be off by much) or weighting the cost of protection against the cost of secrecy (if the design is clearly visible, because e.g. it is slapped on top of the product, what's the deal for us in granting the protection?).

You don't need patents for product identification either - trademarks work just fine. Here, the purpose is to make sure the consumer is not being cheated into buying a different product he intended to purchase. I have no problem with consumers buying replicas as long as they know they are not the original product.

The only reason the current system is so complex is because we have intentionally made it so. There were almost no IP protection laws (as there was no IP itself) in our history, including periods of greatest growth of our wealth. Equally well we could make a law against unauthorized breathing - you would see multiple "moral hazards" there too, as many people would try to circumvent the system/licenses/what not.

Reply Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Let's start with three fundamental principles which I strongly hope we will agree on. 1/IP law is here to address the problem that creating new stuff comes at a cost and brings little rewards in itself, by offering various legal ways through which innovation can be indirectly financially rewarded. 2/This protection of existing innovation should not come at the cost of hampering future innovation by putting ridiculously high demands on new actors of a given market. 3/The legal protection of a given innovation should be proportional to the extent of the innovation that is being protected.

Given this, I can start to address your first question : what is it that makes software patents so dangerous as compared to the copyright that protects novels and music ? Basically, it's the granularity of each legal construct.

In most countries that implement copyright, there is a fair use clause in the law that states that people can freely copy, say, a few pages of a book, or 30 seconds of music. Such a legal provision is necessary because otherwise, people would be able to get IP protection on single language constructs (words, sentence, 5-tune musical arrangements), which are not innovative in themselves. This would violate principle #3, and ultimately principle #2 since innovators would end up stepping on copyrighted constructs by accident, allowing the IP owner to act like a dick and sue them for 5 notes of music.

Software patent law, however, often has no such clauses, which is made worse by the fact that patents apply to nonexistent products. It allows IP holders to patent language both figuratively (as in the case of multimedia codecs, which are languages that multimedia devices use to communicate with each other), and literally (as in the case of Apple's patents on single man-machine interactions such as slide to unlock, multitouch gestures, or scrolling mechanisms). Now, IP protection of language is a huge violation of #2, because new market actors come with a huge handicap if they have to spend years enumerating patents and pay absurdly large sums of money just to make their products work together with existing products and user habits. And even if you don't agree with this moral principle, basic concerns of usability and interoperability should have been sufficient to get this abuse of patent law outlawed. So far, probably due to financial pressure from big companies, it obviously hasn't.

In the case of software patents, the ability for market actors to patent language has already been greatly used in litigation (Unisys' patents on GIF, Apple's overlapping windows and touchscreen interaction lawsuits, Microsoft's FAT long file name patents), which is why the tech world is aware of that issue. But similar issues can also exist in hardware, as soon as you bring design patents to the mix. Individual features of hardware design, such as the use of specific materials or simple geometric shapes, can play just as much of a vital role in device engineering as language plays a role in man-machine and machine-machine interaction. Thankfully, I believe that the former is illegal. The latter, however, obviously isn't, since Apple managed to get a patent on what is basically a parallelepipede with rounded corners not so long ago (and as any hardware engineer will tell you, rounding edges is a vital feature of any device which does not want to hurt its users). Can you imagine what would happen if someone patented such a core element of everyday hardware as Phillips screws ?

So basically, when people say that they are against software patents, they are not necessarily against the concept that software should be able to receive legal protection like any other innovative kind of engineering work. They are maybe just against the current usage of software patents, which is to patent minor details of a product instead of patenting a complex whole (as in your example of a whole, existing as opposed to virtual, shoe design).

So basically, I suggest to outlaw any direct patent on language, whether it concerns man-man, man-machine, or machine-machine interactions (I'm actually surprised that this is not the case already, since we forbid patents on mathematics which is one kind of language), or alternatively to add a legal clause that allows any patent to be bypassed at no cost for the sake of interoperability.

Patent legislation also desperately needs coarser granularity like what is done in the realm of copyright, so that obvious details cannot be patented, but I'm not sure how this could be expressed in legal terms. An option could be to limit the amount of patents which a company, no matter how big it is, can hold, by making patent registration fees directly proportional to the income of the registrar. This would also be more fair to small market actors than the current fixed-rate model. However it would also require provisions against compagnies that create unofficial subsidiaries whose sole purpose is to manage patents and litigation (hello, Apple and Microsoft !)

Edited 2012-07-02 06:10 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: copying is anti innovation
by zima on Wed 4th Jul 2012 10:13 UTC in reply to "RE: copying is anti innovation"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

marriage with animals

Seems it's not unheard of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human–animal_marriage

Overall, humans are a bit silly with this - zoophilia is supposedly taboo, but a) mass slaughter of animals is apparently fine, as is causing what will be one of the most rapid extinction events in geological record b) a typical caressing of pet animals, if done on another human, would generally be perceived as quite sexual in nature (also, if my cat is in what remains - after sterilisation - of its heat, then it quite often displays mating behaviour when caressed by a human...) c) any animal roughly compatible with human is probably large enough to severely damage the human, if it didn't like it...

Then there are silly people, one replying nearby, who at first glance could be understood by somebody as being OK with the above, but have something against two consenting adults.

(and WRT children, wasn't that more or less standard exactly in the more traditional approaches?... at least as far as legal "non adult" definition goes; plus it was all often already arranged much earlier)

Edited 2012-07-04 10:15 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: copying is anti innovation
by lemur2 on Sun 1st Jul 2012 23:33 UTC in reply to "copying is anti innovation"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

hmmm so lets see if I got this right. If I invent something really popular and different by spending millions on research and development, it should be ok for any cheap imitation to come to market without any penalties? That ruins innovation by destroying the companies that do the research and innovation. Apple has every right to sue anyone that steals from them and so does Samsung. Why can't Google and Samsung make something unique and better rather that just stealing the whole iphone and ipad designs. Because they are not innovators and the world is rewarding the cheap copiers not the true innovators. Long live ip law, and protect against these thieves around the world. I am not an Apple fan boi...but on the opposite side of this argument.


An Android phone is not a copy of an iPhone, it is a work-alike. Just as a GM vehicle is not a copy of a Ford, it is a work-alike. Likewise, Airbus aircraft are not copies of Boeing aircraft, they are work-alikes.

There are myriad products on the market which are not copies of competitor products, they are built differently but they look and work in a similar way to produce similar functionality and performance.

It is the whole basis of a capitalist free market economy that there are multiple similar products competing against each other in open competition. Supply and demand. Competition is good.

Are you saying that you do not believe in a free market economy?

Edited 2012-07-01 23:33 UTC

Reply Score: 5

v RE[2]: copying is anti innovation
by Netfun81 on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 01:51 UTC in reply to "RE: copying is anti innovation"
Comment by ephracis
by ephracis on Sun 1st Jul 2012 19:25 UTC
ephracis
Member since:
2007-09-23

This isn't the first time, or the last for that matter, that big interests have found a way to go above and beyond our little democratic, national processes.

But I think you're not doing the world a favor by giving up and stop talking about it. Obviously there's a lot of people who still believe they can change the rules by voting. They need to be told how the system works, how their power via the vote has been changed.

I still buy virtually all of my content - TV, video games, music - because I want to reward those that created it.

In the case of music you do know that less than 10% of that money will ever reach the actual artist? Not to tout my own horn but I just recently made a service where you can donate money DIRECTLY to any artist, bypassing the record labels, distributors, managers and lawyers. It's on my website. ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by ephracis
by Savior on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 15:28 UTC in reply to "Comment by ephracis"
Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

Not to tout my own horn but I just recently made a service where you can donate money DIRECTLY to any artist, bypassing the record labels, distributors, managers and lawyers. It's on my website. ;)


Great idea! I had a look at the page and I liked what I saw, except for the little disheartening "What to do if the transaction fails" combo box. Can you show us some statistics about how many of the donations are successful? How do you send the donations to the artists? Do you contact them one by one?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by ephracis
by ephracis on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 15:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ephracis"
ephracis Member since:
2007-09-23

Just launched so there hasn't been any donations yet. In fact this thread is my first mention of it. ;)

The idea is that I will contact the artist myself and if they accept the money I will add them to the system and have all subsequent transactions be automatic. If they decline the money, are dead, have split up, or I just can't find the artist I will mark him/her/them as such so people can't continue to send money to that artist.

The reason why I don't contact the artists beforehand is because

a) I don't really have anything to show them when I approach them, they don't know me, my website, anything. This way I can contact them and say "Hi, your fans have sent you $X to show you support. This is the service I made that they used to support you. Do you accept the money?"
b) Before I have enough artists signed up the service will be pretty much useless
c) I can't find all the smaller indie artists and to be honest I think this service is more for them than for the big and already established artists

I am thinking of adding a sort of FAQ where I explain everything in a little more depth. Also, I should mention the laws I have to follow, where to send complaints (both to me and the supervising governmental body here in Sweden), what rights you as a donor has (for example you can regret the donation for 14 days) and so on.

Any feedback is welcome! I would love to get some more pointers. ;)

Edited 2012-07-02 15:43 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Global awareness change
by pepa on Sun 1st Jul 2012 23:28 UTC
pepa
Member since:
2005-07-08

Great, getting closer to raising awareness of how our lives are shaped by global institutions. I think your advice to "do what your own sense of ethics compels you to" is great. I hope you will keep on writing when prompted by the unfolding events, because more people need to become aware, this is how things can be changed. This, and no longer going along with buying into the institutions' regulations that we don't want to abide by. I was reminded about Gene Sharp's non-violent resistance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Sharp

Reply Score: 4

Churchill quotation appropriate here
by sydbarrett74 on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 04:57 UTC
sydbarrett74
Member since:
2007-07-24

'Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.'

Thom, awesome article. However I think you don't give yourself enough credit and have prematurely thrown in the towel on IP reporting. OSNews is precisely one of the alternative media outlets that should be reporting on that stuff. You and the other editors need to keep the issue fresh in everyone's mind. *Please* keep reporting on IP issues!

Reply Score: 2

nej_simon
Member since:
2011-02-11

If we just give up then nothing will ever change for sure, but if we keep protesting then at some point things will become better.

Just look at how peoples' protest are about to kill the ACTA agreement. Just a few years ago few people cared about these issues but due to sites like OSNews, and many other, people became aware that the freedom of the web was about to be taken away from them.

Even organizations like the WTO can be changed. It's difficult and takes time but that doesn't mean we should give up!

Reply Score: 3

IP history
by modicr on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 15:24 UTC
modicr
Member since:
2005-09-20

What book do you recommend to read about history of Intellectual/Industrial property?

Reply Score: 1

RE: IP history
by Tuishimi on Tue 3rd Jul 2012 09:24 UTC in reply to "IP history"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

I would have thumbed you up but I already commented.

Reply Score: 2

What the?
by Tuishimi on Mon 2nd Jul 2012 17:17 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

"IP law is undemocratic and therefore unethical"

That statement is quite a reach.

Reply Score: 2

TemporalBeing
Member since:
2007-08-22

...is the moment at which they win.

Reply Score: 3

We can at least ask for TRIPS minimums
by jrincayc on Tue 3rd Jul 2012 12:39 UTC
jrincayc
Member since:
2007-07-24

Even if we can't bypass TRIPS easily, we can at least demand that laws are at the TRIPS minimums. For example, in the US a recording is protected for 70 year after the death of the performer, but in TRIPS it only needs to be 50 years after the performance is recorded.
http://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/27-trips.pdf

Reply Score: 2

There actually is a roundabout way...
by bhtooefr on Thu 5th Jul 2012 14:37 UTC
bhtooefr
Member since:
2009-02-19

...work with other nations that also don't want to be bound by TRIPS, and join together.

Potentially even declare war on the US, and withdraw from the war the moment TRIPS isn't mandatory to join the WTO, which can be very effective if run as a guerrilla war, albeit causing massive destruction to the home country.

Reply Score: 2