from the eliminating-stupid-patents dept
First, for better or worse, an issue close to my heart: the patent troll. This week brought news of Rackspace's suit against notorious patent troll Erich Spangenberg and Parallel Iron. There's so much I can't stand about patent trolls, but so much I love about this post: it really explains the background of this particularly troll-ish character and also highlights Rackspace's actions, which deserve both praise and attention — Rackspace has been a real leader in the fight against patent trolls as of late.
While we're talking patents (which is pretty much all I ever do anyway), we also heard more this week from a particularly gross troll, the one who uses various shell companies to claim that anyone who uses "scan to email" technology over a network infringes its patent, and demands about $1,000 per employee. This is part of a much larger, dangerous trend of end-user suits, where patent owners threaten users who really have little or no reason to even think they were infringing a patent (some other examples include going after podcasters and app developers). These end-user suits really are the worst — whether they're used as little more than an extortion tool to shake down small companies for a few thousand bucks, or pressure points to get at the larger, richer technology providers (think Apple, Google, Cisco) — they're an unacceptable abuse of the system and a tax on innovation.
Speaking of abuses of the system, this week was really something else in the world of copyright trolls. Holy Prenda! It's worth your time to read here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Maybe make some popcorn.
Another important topic that came up a bunch this week was transparency (or, sadly, lack thereof). Take, for instance, international trade agreements, negotiated in secret and resulting in hamstrung democratic processes all over the world. Glyn Moody had a great post talking about these problems and reminding us that we need watch out for not just the big, multilateral agreements like TPP and TAFTA, but the dangerous bilateral ones that often fly under the radar.
And then there's Hollywood and the traditional content industries, which never cease to amaze. First, they unsuccessfully tried to shut down Aereo, and now they're threatening to pull channels off the air! Because those content companies know exactly what their customers want. Of course they do. Then the news that despite all the complaining otherwise, it actually turns out that the number of people employed in the music and movie business just hit an all-time high. And even Rep. Goodlatte, longtime considered a reliable friend of the content industries, criticized the cozy relationship between the DOJ and Hollywood (someone else who might have something to say about that is Kim Dotcom, who remains at the center of an unraveling spying scandal in New Zealand as he continues to face criminal prosecution here in the United States).
As usual, never a dull moment! Just thankful that we've got Techdirt on the story and reminding us that, as a community, we've still got a lot of work to do to make the world safe for innovation and the people who make cool stuff.