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  • Sep 29, 2014 @ 03:25pm

    On the other hand...

    What if this were approached with the aim of producing a large number of (say) 400 word fragments and releasing them into the public domain?

    Wikipedia reckons a vocabulary size of 5000 covers 95% of word use. While the combinations of that set over 400 word articles is still prohibitive, the number of grammatically feasible sentences will be much, much lower. If a suitable set of subject-specific CFGs were created (cf. SCIGen), it may be feasible to come up with a non-trivial subset of all possible articles in a particular field.

    If this were possible (and I really don't know how large the set would be) and the articles were all published online, what would the legal situation be?

    Specifically, if someone (human) who subsequently (and independently) wrote an identical 400 word article, could we rely on the USCO's comments in the monkey selfie case to negate any copyright interest the author may have (at least in the autogenerated copy)?

  • May 10, 2013 @ 04:31am

    Re: Re: Copyrights

    The issue isn't whether there is a valid copyright claim; the issue is whether the collators / site operators (who, realistically, would be the ones sued) have the money to defend themselves against a suit (filed in a jurisdiction as inconvenient for them as possible) and the stomach to risk $150k fines per work infringed (probably each bill submitted, as they're going to be unique to each patient).

  • May 10, 2013 @ 04:25am


    Yeah, either that or lawsuits for exposing trade secrets. Sue the site operators (who probably won't have the money to defend themselves as it's all volunteer work). Also throw in a discovery motion to find out who's submitted their bills to the site and then cancel their policies for violating their insurance contracts.

  • Jan 25, 2013 @ 05:45am


    Hey, maybe they believe that Google et al.'s algorithms are now so advanced they are capable of delivering "considered legal judgment(s)" on the fly (and therefore able to succeed pretty much all of the legal profession?).

  • Dec 07, 2012 @ 10:39am

    That's just bizarre. As a digital product, prices shouldn't fluctuate depending on actual "use" of the texts. If this is true, it's as though the intention was to push as many useless and needlessly expensive e-textbooks on students as possible in hopes of a greater "return" of "unused" textbooks. Beyond some minor account maintenance, it's hard to see many expenses being incurred by the use of e-textbooks, which makes the higher profit margin on unused "books" inexplicable.

    I'm only speculating, but it could be a licensing issue, i.e. the book is only licensed to the student - and its author compensated - if the book is used.

  • Nov 02, 2012 @ 02:05pm

    Sounds as sensible as allowing a trademark on the colour purple for various types of confectionery. Oh, wait...

  • Nov 01, 2012 @ 10:44am

    But the meme's not about Jepsen; it's about her song, and she is secondary...

    Yeah, exactly. And more specifically it's about the people doing things with that meme. They make videos, remixes, etc. because they think it's cool, because their friends will like it, because they want to appear on the front page of some pop blog.

    They're not doing it to please Jepsen. They don't really care about Jepsen - she's just not that big a part of their lives. They're doing it for themselves, and to expect them to put Jepsen's interests ahead of their own, particularly at the behest of some writer in a music mag, is frankly ridiculous.

  • Oct 25, 2012 @ 06:47am

    Re: Not the first

    Yes, I was going to say the same thing. If I remember the reports correctly, it didn't really work. Plus, in the UK at least, there's been a move towards using average speed cameras that monitor cars' speeds between 2 camera positions and, perhaps more pertinently in this context, don't use a flash.

  • Oct 23, 2012 @ 02:56pm

    I hadn't heard of 'rubberbanding' in connection with this patent before, and I genuinely thought that Apple had patented something to do with rubber bands, like perhaps enclosing their phones in a narrow strip of rubber to protect against damage or to improve reception.

    Depressingly, my 30 seconds of whimsy would probably make for a stronger patent than many of those discussed here. Particularly if I managed to include "on a computer" in the claims.

  • Oct 19, 2012 @ 06:10am

    Re: Belgian newspapers - Copiepresse

    You beat me to it. :) Techdirt on that case here, here and here.

  • Sep 24, 2012 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re:

    Hm. Did you read the linked article?

  • Sep 20, 2012 @ 12:32pm

    In the RIAA and MPAA's defence, Techdirt did recently write about the Copyright Act explicitly saying that disruptive innovation should be blocked.

    Although if arbitrage is "theft", which I assume is what's being implied here, does that mean I could get ICE to shut down the iTunes store in the US as tracks there are around 25% cheaper than in the UK? Surely iTunes has to be the biggest music piracy site out there by far.

  • Sep 18, 2012 @ 04:59am

    I find this extremely worrying. Quite apart from the right not to be offended enshrined in the Act (and also in the Communications Act 2003 127 (1)), which is very concerning, these laws don't seem to distinguish between communications directed at a particular individual and those put out into the public sphere.

    Posting a message saying "I'm going to kill you" on a blog, or even something hateful like "kill all [insert your favourite minority here]", is clearly going to be perceived as less of a threat than if the message were sent directly to members of that community. The law should reflect that, but, as with the Chambers Twitter joke trial, it doesn't appear to make that distinction. There seems to be a real danger that provocative and controversial reporting could fall foul of this Act - was yesterday's #muslimrage Newsweek article "grossly offensive", for example?

    I'm also a little concerned that someone may find my defence of distasteful speech, as in this case, grossly offensive and file suit against me. That is not a good place for a legal system to be.

  • Sep 10, 2012 @ 04:01pm

    Though, as Eric Johnson says, this won't help with purchases, this does seem like a big win for the TOS attached to websites.

    While the cost of implementing the ruling is de minimis for buying stuff, forcing people to click 'I agree' before accessing website content is a huge barrier that would absolutely kill traffic and conversion rates. Would it apply in this case too?

  • Sep 05, 2012 @ 06:42am

    Re: Designate "off limits"?

    Completely with you. This is also why I was so pleased with Righthaven, as they were obviously (to the public, but much more importantly to judged and (possibly) elected officials) attempting to use copyright to punish respectable actors for reasonable behaviour.

    It's much harder to defend file sharing sites (which often have significant infringing uses) or new startups and individuals (because no-one's heard of or cares about them, so they may as well be guilty, cf. endowment effect), and it seems courts have a tendency to stretch the law to get the 'right' outcome.

    Examples like this will hopefully result in some useful new policies (and hopefully case law too) to rebalance copyright a little more in favour of the public.

  • Aug 28, 2012 @ 04:17am


    Another downside is that a first responder (or someone pretending to be a first responder) would use it to download a film and then you'd get sued. But, other than that, I like the guest access / mesh idea generally, and this is an interesting extension.

  • Aug 14, 2012 @ 10:16am

    Whether or not it's to your taste, the Conspiracy Strip Club video is pretty slickly produced. The Drank in my Cup one, on the other hand, looks really cheap.

    Compared to the copied footage, the blacks are not deep enough, there's a huge amount of noise, the grade is inconsistent and the effects look like something a kid who'd just discovered After Effects (or, more likely, iMovie) would do. (And also what is that "body double" footage doing there? It doesn't match at all.)

    The hypocrisy point is well made, but this feels more like something the artist (or a friend) knocked up himself, not an official video.

  • Aug 07, 2012 @ 06:03am

    Re: Re: I can't tell why the anger...

    It's perhaps worth reading this post from Marco Arment on the Mac App Store, discussing how a lot of apps are actually being pulled from it due to Apple's store policies.

    And nearly everyone who?s been burned by sandboxing exclusions ? not just the affected apps? developers, but all of their customers ? will make the same choice with their future purchases. To most of these customers, the App Store is no longer a reliable place to buy software.

    Unlike iOS or Xbox, Windows is not (yet) a locked down system, and people are used to downloading software themselves, even if it's sometimes risky and inconsistent to do so. If Microsoft wants its store to work, it has to make it a significantly more attractive way to buy and sell software. It's possible Apple will not succeed on OSX if they try too hard to apply the iOS store model, and they have some big advantages in a very successful iOS App Store and a hugely loyal fanbase too.

  • Jul 30, 2012 @ 09:49am

    But as soon as Youtube is mentioned, EMI fires off a preliminary standard contract for sync rights, showing that its share of any money generated would be 33.34% and a guesstimated one-time fee of $1000.

    So, assuming the other labels responded similarly, does this mean Brown would have to pay 100.2% of money generated + $3000 for the privilege of putting his track on YouTube?

  • Jul 24, 2012 @ 09:59am

    What about Posner's idea for "forbidding patent trolling by requiring the patentee to produce the patented invention within a specified period, or lose the patent"? I can certainly see problems drafting it (how many products have to be produced, for how long, in which markets, could it be 'hidden away' as an unnoticed part of another product, does anyone actually have to buy them, etc.), but the concept is appealing.

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