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  • Feb 1st, 2016 @ 10:51am

    The war on footnotes

    I have no idea how you can write a law regulating links and distinguish that from academic use. French universities are about to lose their biggest measure of prestige.

  • Jan 29th, 2016 @ 4:23pm

    And 3...2...1

    When does Xerox start sending threatening letters to libraries who figured out this circulating documents using a computer thing decades ago. Certainly, there's a tempting mix of large deep-pocketed companies like EBSCO who make circulation software and defenseless individual libraries who roll their own or depend on open source software. It's a target rich environment.

  • Jan 27th, 2016 @ 10:44am


    Here I was thinking that copyright infringement and libel were mutually exclusive. If you feel like someone is using your words precisely and completely enough that it rises to standard of an unauthorized copy, it's hard to make the argument that they are also misrepresenting you in a damaging way.

  • Dec 11th, 2015 @ 10:48am

    Comey wishes he could fall back on paper communications

    It's especially funny because of government agencies' allergy to ever putting anything in writing.

    I picture Comey sulking in a corner "You don't see the terrorists having to respond to those meddling kids and their FOIA requests!"

  • Nov 17th, 2015 @ 11:15am

    Hello? DEA? Please target me!

    I wonder how many of these lawyers are going to offer defense services for people and businesses that register with the government as sole sponsors of criminal enterprises. No matter how things shake out on the legalization front, I'm sure the eventual status will be limited in some fashion. Whoever tries to patent a strain that falls outside of the guidelines is suddenly on the hook as the producer of any amount that's found in circulation.

    Even if federal enforcement remains lax, who would want to take on the liability of taking ownership of specific strains? If cops in Nebraska test a shipment and find that it is your intellectual property, how much extra legal wrangling is it going to take to maintain that you aren't responsible for trafficking it?

  • Nov 5th, 2015 @ 10:44am

    Reaching an unreachable market

    Generally, students in residence halls don't have a choice on their cable provider or package. If the school didn't sign up for HBO, then kids living in the dorm are out of luck (outside of torrenting individual programs of course). If anything, this HBO trying to keep parents as subscribers that might otherwise drop the service when their kids leave for college.

  • Aug 28th, 2015 @ 6:57pm

    Subscription? How about a la carte per game?

    If Ballmer is willing to brave the inevitable lawsuits... non-LA residents who want to see their team through a streaming service would probably pitch a couple bucks even if it's only to watch them play the Clippers. Even better if he can get access to away games. The local subscriber base would naturally make up most of the income but offering worldwide access online enlarges the market considerably.

  • Aug 14th, 2015 @ 7:14pm

    Somebody needs to troll pharma

    How can there not be a pile of overly general patents out there that instead of taking a well-known practice and adding "with a computer" it says "using a pill." Of course that ignores the huge number of new drugs that mimic existing drugs with little or no improvement in efficacy and only a slight change in mechanism. Pharma probably doesn't want the concept of prior art anywhere near their business.

  • May 4th, 2015 @ 7:24pm

    Intangible property rights

    I see intellectual property rights as having some parts in common with water rights in the West. Nobody owns the river, but you can own rights to some of the water and that is expressed in terms of amount or time. You can also buy, sell or trade all or part of your water rights, just as you can apportion a copyright or license a patent or trademark.

    Unfortunately, they also share problems with abuse of the underlying resource as unproductive uses crowding out productive ones (golf courses are water law's patent trolls).

  • Apr 9th, 2015 @ 11:11am

    Mormon Church

    The LDS Church puts a lot of support behind and they get really serious about genealogical records. If there are records being permanently lost, I suspect the result will resemble a fatwah more than a slap on the wrist

  • Mar 27th, 2015 @ 3:10pm

    What the hell?

    I'm sure there's a way to identify hardware changes without specifically identifying what the hardware is... but I doubt that's happening here. Instead, this looks like EA is making me pay to contribute valuable market research that they can use for leverage against hardware makers. Combine that with the linked payment and other data they collect and there's a pot of saleable consumer information as well.

    How are they not offering games for free or paying developers decently with all of this extra revenue they can rake in off their users?

  • Mar 26th, 2015 @ 10:23am

    Though, sometimes investment /= innovation

    The actions of the entertainment industry are unambiguously bad, but the results seem to be mixed. The MPAA and RIAA act like they're slowly losing a game of whack a mole partly because their opposition to innovation has spurred so many varied efforts to work at the problem from different directions.

    If there were a clear, legal path to distributing content that investors could get behind, I feel like we would have long since settled on a standard market with a few big players offering services that were just good enough. Presumably, a competitive market would still spark innovation but if a Pandora or even a Popcorn Time had the investor backing, we'd no doubt see the lobbying clout and the patent knives come out to defend their market position.

    It's funny to stupid anticompetitive behavior from one industry foster actual competition and innovation.

  • Mar 5th, 2015 @ 12:55pm

    Are policies on re-releases changing too?

    Are the theater owners and the MPAA regretting the choice to show previously released movies like Star Wars and the Marvel universe series in the build-up to a sequel? I'm sure all of those dvds out there have thoroughly cannibalized the audience.

  • Aug 28th, 2014 @ 4:33pm

    How about trademark infringement?

    In order for these Stingray devices to work, they have to misrepresent the service that you're connected to. Right at the top of my cell phone screen it states what network I'm connected to.

    Isn't it a bit weird that companies like T-Mobile and AT&T that are notoriously touchy and overreaching about their trademarks would let something like that go? Sure, bend over backward for law enforcement when they can do it secretly, but bork up their branding?

    Of course, there's the possibility that the Stingray might improve cell service by boosting the local signal. It's really just a vastly unconstitutional, privacy invading customer service enhancement.

  • Aug 28th, 2014 @ 2:10pm

    Yup, piracy kills bad franchises

    Piracy gives the opportunity for a critical mass of the viewing public to sample before making a purchase decision. It serves as an adjunct to critical reviews. Hollywood is upset that we have an opportunity to get a personal taste of their shit sandwiches before deciding to sit down for the meal.

    Of course, the most hyped number for any major release is the opening weekend ticket sales. Except for the rare occasion when a print is leaked early, the option to pirate a film in a way that would do anything to those sales is limited. As far as the studio decision process goes, piracy isn't doing anything substantial to the opening box office so followups to good flicks with solid numbers get greenlit on that basis.

    Movies that don't bomb in theaters, but absolutely need the subsequent dvd revenue in order to make the nut-- they're the ones that can get a boost or get trashed due to piracy. A savvy viewing public certainly isn't going to pay full price to take a flyer on an iffy production anymore. From a studio point of view, piracy actually has the potential to boost revenue for the occasional sleeper hit since the majority of the audience that might sample a pirated copy and then make a purchase would otherwise just wait until there's a streaming option.

    Maybe now that there's a real feedback mechanism for studios, we can hope that Hollywood will quit making shitty trilogies and stop once the shitty sequel has made the case that the franchise is dead.

  • Aug 26th, 2014 @ 11:44am

    Hope there isn't a lawsuit, considering the qualitatively worse offering

    The promise of Aereo was to allow access to OTA broadcasts for people with poor reception or no outside access to place a decent antenna. It was functionally equivalent to the basic idea of bottled water. If your local tap water tastes awful and ours is pretty great, then it makes commercial sense to bottle the good stuff and charge people for it. Tivo is just providing the bottles and letting you fill them from your own tap.

  • Jun 25th, 2014 @ 9:44am

    (untitled comment)

    I know it's natural for the Supremes to imagine only sparkly unicorn farts can result from the majesty of the adversarial legal process, but giving people due process rights to individually challenge their inclusion on a secret government enemies list, but not until they've already been subject to denial of travel and possible detainment... kinda minimally warm and fuzzy about this one.

  • Jun 24th, 2014 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: The indie downside

    Sorry I did I drive-by. It seems that the story evolved before I was able to check back in.

    The further comments do seem to indicate that Youtube isn't trying to entirely fence off content for paying subscribers-- though it certainly would make business sense for them if they could get away with it. The access to ContentID and the ability to monetize (or even track) fan uploads seems fuzzy since ContentID seems to be a service for "partners" but there's no telling whether that partnership will also be rolled into the new service.

    The Amazon strong arm tactics- yeah, that's kind of a rhetorical stretch. Though, from a business standpoint, a large distribution player presents suppliers with take it or leave it contracts. They target smaller groups specifically with poorer terms in a divide and conquer fashion. The terms may overall seem favorable at first blush, but it's hard not to make the comparison on the tactics. That may just be the way business is done these days.

  • Jun 21st, 2014 @ 4:57am

    The indie downside

    Youtube and Google provide an immensely valuable service for free... in exchange for the use of uploaded artists' content. It has been an uneasily balanced relationship with ad revenue as a sweetener for artists, not a charitable endeavor by Google to provide the service.

    The purpose of the service from an artist perspective has been to help with discoverability. Even the ad revenue is secondary to the ability to track further uploads from the masses through Content ID (which is apparently a service available to "partners").

    It's not clear whether participation in the subscription program precludes also making content available to non-subscribers. Presumably, Google would prefer to protect the exclusivity of their paid program. It's also not clear whether the lack of an ad supported partnership option will remove access to Content ID in order to track uploads.

    As a music subscription service, Youtube could potentially provide much higher revenues to participating artists. Since most indie artists use Youtube as a tool to aid in the discovery of their music, the direct revenue isn't as important as the ability to reach as many people as possible and to track total views. The Guardian article cites roughly 1/3 of new music revenue comes from indie sales, though the indies make up a relatively tiny part of the industry. That seems to indicate that the indies disproportionately rely on building their audiences rather than marketing a large catalog.

    I would say that it's understandable for the indies to kick up a fuss as a industry-shaping music discovery tool looks like it's being revamped to favor the major incumbents and are being asked to participate in a less useful service on even less favorable terms than the favored majors.

    It's Google's service and they can run it as they like, but the switch has echoes of Amazon-style strong arming that isn't very palateable.

  • Jun 19th, 2014 @ 1:36am


    None of it ever goes away, it just exists on a different scale or develops a different purpose. Vinyl records are still selling, just to audiophiles and djs. Steel dashboards get made for classic car buffs. I would love a pricing gun the next yard sale I have-- and I could get a used one cheap.

    I haven't a clue what scale or niche print media will eventually settle into. Locally, I see newspapers thriving in situations where the artifact itself is valuable like high school sports, weddings and other scrapbookable ephemera, and where the subject lends itself to a larger format like music publications that can tastefully use a full tabloid page for photos.

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