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Posted on Techdirt - 9 July 2011 @ 12:00pm

Marcel de Jong's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

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.

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