Marcel de Jong's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the five-up,-five-down dept

This week's favorites post comes from Marcel de Jong.

Today, I'll be entertaining you with a few of my most favorite stories of this week on Techdirt. I had to limit myself to just 5 stories, otherwise this article would be miles long.

My first story is a funny one. At least it had me laughing out loud. The whole Google bidding pi billion dollars on the Nortel patents thing was just very funny to me and so incredibly geeky. I am not a big fan of patents, especially in the software industry, as they are, more often than not, being used to abuse others that might have a better product and to stifle competition. But this story did make me laugh a lot.

My second highlight of this week was Nina Paley's rant for "free (as in speech) culture". I agree with a lot of her points and also think that the FSF's free software definition would work well for culture. What's wrong with the freedom to (re)distribute? Don't artists want to be heard, read and/or seen? Non-commercial and no derivatives can also be a huge barrier for culture. Standing on the shoulders of giants used to be the phrase used for culture and art, but with the "no derivatives" clause, apparently the giants don't want to be stood on anymore. And if someone else can make money with (a derivative of) your product where you couldn't, would that be a bad thing? I think not. It just means you missed a market. Yes, it stings, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. And if you insist on getting paid for it, instead of going to court, how about a dialog first to figure out if, maybe, you could work something out between the two of you. Lawsuits should really be the very last line of defense. My only problem is with the ambiguity of the word "free" in the English language, as free can also mean free as in beer. And that confusing distinction is already hard enough to explain in the software world. You can have free software that isn't free, and vice versa, if you get what I'm saying. It would muddle the waters in the cultural sphere even more:
"Don't you value your cultural works?"
- "Yes I do, I just think it should be free."
But I don't have an alternative for the word 'free'. Perhaps the English language needs to be enriched with a new word?

Third story that I want to highlight is the one about RIAA accounting. It shows just how much the RIAA is hurting the artist. At least that's my take on it. Only the big ticket bands and singers have access to the larger funds, any other artist gets stiffed with the bill.

My fourth story is the one about German politicians trying to introduce internet licenses for kids. Now, educating kids about the dangers of the Internet is a good thing. Had this politician intended the license to be akin to the certificate kids get when they have learned how to tie their own shoes, I would've been all for it. But to have authorities ban parties, because something bad might happen, that's just incredibly stupid. And I'm glad to see that other politicians are putting the brakes on this plan.

I had a hard time choosing which story I wanted to sign off with. But I'm going with the article about Homeland Security wanting to make sure that everyone knows that basically the Internet is the US' property. I found myself to be saying the following often this week: this is what you get when an older generation tries to legislate something they don't fully understand or don't fully realize what repercussions their decisions might have for the rest of the world. This is this generation's 'generation gap', and this time around the gap has a global effect. The ripple effect of these quotes can seriously hurt the Internet in the short run and the US' image in the long run. I hope that these ideas won't hold out for long. And that the parties involved start to realize that the USA does indeed own a TLD: .us, where they can decide just about anything, but that .com and .net is global. The fact that Verisign often is the registrar for these domains does not mean that those domains are US-owned.

These were my picks for this week. Thanks for your attention, have a nice weekend and see you in the comments.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    Standing on the shoulders of giants used to be the phrase used for culture and art, but with the "no derivatives" clause, apparently the giants don't want to be stood on anymore.

    Possibly my favourite quote from a techdirt post... Awesome, Marcel!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

      Re:

      On one hand that statement sounds original but on the other . . .

      I'm so confused! And, pricks!

       

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      Nina Paley (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 12:30pm

      Re:

      I love it too! Maybe I should draw a picture for it.

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 12:39pm

        Re: Re:

        Perhaps a juxtaposition: a stack of happy people towering into the sky, next to a grumpy giant forcing everyone to stand on the ground around him :)

         

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        freak (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 6:35pm

        Re: Re:

        Maybe a giant with spiky Non-commerical symbol epaulettes? Preferably, right next to a very non-structural tower of people that might be a little smaller, but has lots of people climbing it?


        If I could draw at all, I'd be tempted to as well :)

         

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        Marcel de Jong (profile), Jul 10th, 2011 @ 6:00am

        Re: Re:

        I'll look forward to that picture. :)

         

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 1:07pm

      Re:

      Agreed. Great job!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 7:53pm

      Re:

      Sadly, the current technique is to kick the giants in the balls, and then sit on their heads once they are on the ground.

      The rush to the bottom is on.

       

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        Nicedoggy, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 9:59pm

        Re: Re:

        Here are some freetards kicking the giants on the balls, they should be arrested because I bet they didn't pay any licenses and where performing in public oh the horror.

        Satisfaction by The Garbage Men

        And imagine that, they build their own instruments out of garbage, stole the music and where doing it for a profit.

        Those are scum, the people who believe everything should be free, they need to be put in jail for a very long time so they learn the lesson that stealing is not right.

        If you don't do it when they are young they will grow to think they can steal everything from everybody, that is not right is it, someone spent countless hours having booze and sleep to come up with the song, taking drugs all the time, having sex while touring and making millions to some punk kids on the street that don't even have money to buy their instruments to steal it and try to make a profit selling a TV for $7 dollars, this is unacceptable, outrageous and immoral everybody can see it.

        ps: Thanks to Cory Doctorow for pointing them out on Boing Boing

         

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        Marcel de Jong (profile), Jul 10th, 2011 @ 6:06am

        Re: Re:

        no, the groinkick is not the intended effect, the giants just position their groins in front of it and wait for the other shoe to drop. To say nothing about mixing my metaphores.

        Instead of the Quixotic fight against windmills, why not leverage this new technology? Learn about its uses (because it has many valid and valuable and potentially profitable uses), and then actually apply yourself to dealing with the 21st century, where the gatekeepers will have to take on a completely different role.

        The rust to the bottom is done by the Goliaths, not by the Davids of our time.

         

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        Kaden (profile), Jul 10th, 2011 @ 6:48am

        Re: Re:

        Again with the ball kicking fetish... dude, there professional women in your home town who will help you with that.

         

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    Miff (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 3:02pm

    I personally think there need to be three words for free:

    Free as in freedom
    Free as in no money paid
    And free as in no cost paid period

     

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    charliebrown (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 9:15pm

    Nortel

    Those patents from Nortel... what were they for again? I forget why Google wanted them.

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 9:47pm

    Master Troll vs. Orland PD

    Quote:
    Actually I'm just here to support local law enforcement, I think they have a hard job, I think we should ah, should have respect for what they do, and ah, my whole thing is specially, Orlando police department have demonstrated that you can count on them to enforce the law, and I would say you know, if it was against the law for women to vote they would be there to arrest women who tried to vote...

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jul 10th, 2011 @ 7:11am

    At least the Germans are just thinking about it, because the U.S.A. the police is hard working throwing in jail people who feed the poor or plant victory gardens on their front lawn.

    This is no country of laws, this is a country of abused laws.

     

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    jcar2 (profile), Jul 10th, 2011 @ 8:05am

    What does age have to do with it?

    "I found myself to be saying the following often this week: this is what you get when an older generation tries to legislate something they don't fully understand or don't fully realize what repercussions their decisions might have for the rest of the world. This is this generation's 'generation gap', and this time around the gap has a global effect."


    Here are some things to keep in mind before we condemn the older generations for the ills of the patent and copyright systems today.

    Those who originally developed the technologies of the www, upon which the Internet is built, are certainly not youngsters today. Yet they had the foresight to NOT patent their creations.

    If you visit some of the "search for prior art" articles on Groklaw you'll see that most things covered by today's patents (many that are being litigated now) generally have decades of prior art. Which would indicate that today's old farts were yesterday's inventors of the very technology you use and wish to stay free (as in Freedom).

    On the other side of the coin we have the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, who's been schmoozed by Bill Gates (the king of patent troll funding). One wonders, how soon after Microsoft's Skype has been added to Facebook will the patent suits start flying towards Google + ? Does anyone think Mark would refuse to go along with such a thing?

    Then there are today's gamers. They will put up with any kind of restrictions to their Freedoms as long as they can get their gaming fix. How many of the game developers are young people? Yet many are fine with encumbering their products with restrictive EULAs and DRM.

    The truth is that greed knows no age boundries. Old, young, it doesn't matter. Legislators are paid to be selectively ignorant. They have favors to pay back for the campaign funds they received, or the perks from paid lobbyists.

    And then there are lawyers, many involved with the litigations that are making technology news these days are young, aggressive, arrogant and infinitely greedy for control and power...and money, lots and lots of money.

    Of course it depends on your definition of "young." If your dividing line is 50 and under, then you might need to rethink your assumptions. From what I can tell, some of the worst cases that have been discussed here on Techdirt are Righthaven, HB Gary, and others involved in bringing mass lawsuits against citizens accused of torrenting movies (Hurt Locker for example), seem to be in their 40s (I could be wrong, but the ones I've seen don't exactly look elderly).

    Getting the older generation of legislators out of office is not going to change anything. The young ones will soon be mired in the same sludge of selective ignorance. I'm not saying that things can't get better, I'm just saying that waiting for the old farts to retire isn't a solution.

     

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      Marcel de Jong (profile), Jul 10th, 2011 @ 12:59pm

      Re: What does age have to do with it?

      I never said that the younger generation will make it any better, but I do feel that right now a lot of people in office have no clue what's going on in the digital age.

      It's just my feeling that we are dealing with the digital generation gap.

      I might be wrong, but it's my feeling.

      I never mentioned any age, so your assumption that I meant over 50 is your own.

      And I agree, that there are older people who do understand what's going on, how the world is changing, but not many of them are in a position to influence things.

      We see people and companies left and right actively trying to resist change. That's what I'm pointing to. And yes, I do feel that a large part of the older generation (and by this, I mean 30+) doesn't understand what's going on. (I'm 31 btw, so I'm including myself.) Or don't want things to change.

      Change is inevitable, but it's going to be a long wait before things get better. Especially when we get atrociously bad laws like PROTECT IP, and ACTA etc. to try and prevent that change from happening.

       

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        Klaranth, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 10:49am

        Re: Re: What does age have to do with it?

        "I never said that the younger generation will make it any better, but I do feel that right now a lot of people in office have no clue what's going on in the digital age."

        Care to put your money where your mouth is?

        If you have a problem with an older generation in office, run for city council next time, and improve it from the inside.

        Biggest problem for you now, is : Which party to choose, or do you want to start your own? :-D

         

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    Interesting Take, Jul 10th, 2011 @ 4:47pm

    I agree that the internet is a complex machine that needs complex solutions. I like your insight.....it can't be simple minds with simple answers to the various issues. I also saw an interesting story on a local PBS station that had more realistic solutions. I think it was The Journal with Joan Lunden. Anyway, I really like your articles. Keep up the good work Marcel.

     

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