Sunday, September 25, 2005

I have returned

I'm back. Got in late last night, and after a good night's rest, I'm pretty sure I can convince myself that it is now 9am, not 6pm.

I meant to post more during the trip, but the wireless revolution has apparently done quite a number on internet cafes.

Watch for highlights I've transferred from my trip journal.

Today I've got to go shopping for some work clothes. My new job starts Tuesday.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

I've got 3 eyes--gonna pluck one out for jesus....

Greetings from Trafalgar Square!

My trip is the coolest ever. Edinburgh is a fabulous city--so fabulous there was no time for blogging. I had a great time hanging out with my friends, exploring the Castle, Mary King's Close, the Museum of Scotland, and of course the Royal Surgeon's Hall Museum. After all, Scotland is the birthplace of modern surgery, and we saw some hella crazy specimens from Charles Bell's Pathology specimens. Too gruesome to detail right now--but there were plenty of 19th century body parts to be seen floating in jars.

My favorite thing was Friday's trip to the Highlands. We went to Doune Castle, which in addition to being the coolest castle ever, also happens to have been featured with a certain coconut accompanied King in Monty Python's the Holy Grail. Fabulous.

We got into London last night, and after a bit of laundry, went on a grand adventure to Lewisham. The TI attendant was quite concerned that we wanted to go there--he called it a "tasty" neighborhood. But, really it was just a lot like how Old Town used to be. Anyway, my Edinburgh friend's sister got us tickets to a secret show of Alabama 3 (called A3 in the U.S.). If you've ever watched the Sopranos, you've heard at least one of their songs. Anyway it was possibly the coolest show I've seen this year, and I'm sure it was the coolest thing going on in London last night.

Today we went to the British Library--got to see the original manuscript of Alice in Wonderland (another personal highlight). Then on to Dali Universe. Now some Indian food, and it'll be the end of a perfect day.

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Shrinkwrap Licensing Applies to Patented Products

If you've ever bought computer software in a store, you've encountered the Shrinkwrap License. These were widely used prior to the popularization of downloading and the pervasive use of "Clickwrap" licenses. They're basically a marriage of contract law and copyright law. Most likely you understood, that by opening the product package, you were agreeing to the terms of the software manufacturer--usually that you were agreeing not to make multiple copies of the software.

The computer printer company, Lexmark, has recently tried to use the DMCA to prevent competitors from refilling toner cartridges for its laser printers. In Lexmark Int'l, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc., the 6th Circuit wisely held that Lexmark could not rely on the DMCA, or even copyright law to protect toner cartridges. The court held that the program controlling the toner was not an original work of authorship, and thus not entitled to copyright protection. Moreover, the authentication sequence that Lexmark tried to argue was the technological measure controlling access to a copyrighted work, was not covered by the DMCA because:

The authentication sequence, it is true, may well block one form of "access"—the "ability to . . . make use of" the Printer Engine Program by preventing the printer from functioning. But it does not block another relevant form of "access"—the "ability to [ ] obtain" a copy of the work or to "make use of" the literal elements of the program (its code). Because the statute refers to "control[ling] access to a work protected under this title," it does not naturally apply when the "work protected under this title" is otherwise accessible. Just as one would not say that a lock on the back door of a house "controls access" to a house whose front door does not contain a lock and just as one would not say that a lock on any door of a house "controls access" to the house after its purchaser receives the key to the lock, it does not make sense to say that this provision of the DMCA applies to otherwise-readily-accessible copyrighted works. Add to this the fact that the DMCA not only requires the technological measure to "control[] access" but also requires the measure to control that access "effectively," 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(2), and it seems clear that this provision does not naturally extend to a technological measure that restricts one form of access but leaves another route wide open.

Thank goodness. Think about it--was copyright law designed to protect toner cartridges? Get real.

Well, now Lexmark has exacted its revenge on those who would seek a cheaper alternative to their ink jet printer cartridges. This week, in ACRA, Inc. v. Lexmark Int'l, Inc., the 9th Circuit has held that shrinkwrap licenses are enforceable to protect patented goods. That is, by unwrapping your printer cartridge marked "Single Use Only" creates an enforceable contract in which you are agreeing not to refill it with someone else's ink. If you do, you are a patent infringer. What's more, because patent law recognizes an inducement theory of infringement (copyright law does too now, but that's a different story), Lexmark can now sue cartridge remanufacturers too.

As the EFF's Fred von Lohmann notes:

The consequences for consumers, innovators, and competition are potentially dire. Will patent owners exploit this decision as an opportunity to impose over-reaching restrictions on formerly permitted post-sale uses, repairs, modifications, and resale? Will consumers soon confront "single use only, not for resale" notices on more and more products? Will innovators stumble over labels announcing "modifications prohibited"? Only time will tell.

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Donation Suggestion

BTW, if you haven't donated for Katrina relief yet, I recommend MercyCorps (they're based in Portland and they're good--according to their website, 92% of your donation funds programs, the other 8% is adminstrative) or, of course, the Red Cross.

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Katrina Spin Begins

Today, my last day in the States for the next three weeks, I am feeling extremely guilty for skipping town at a time like this.

Yesterday, an ex-pat friend of mine who lives in Scotland asked me why the hell people were not out protesting in the streets about the Katrina disaster and botched relief efforts. I couldn't give him an answer.

Here in Portland, so-called Democrats are arguing about whether now is the proper time to be placing blame (here and here).

Predictably, the media has started censoring the most scathing criticisms. See Kanye West's outburst that was censored from the West Coast broadcast of the Concert for Hurricane Relief.

Meanwhile giving W. and his machine time to regroup for spin.

We all know the outcome if we don't do something right now--they'll put all the blame on the head of FEMA, he'll resign and that will be that.

We know better--we know that the government knew exactly what would happen in this scenario--there was a National Geographic article on it for God's sake. We also know that the money to fix the levees had been allocated and then diverted away to pay for this Iraq war.

My friend also asked why the hell W. wasn't resigning right now. We know the answer to that. Let's not let them bury this.

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Eyes on the Prize Update

During my first week of blogging, I posted about Downhill Battle's efforts to encourage downloading and viewing of Eyes on the Prize--as a protest against their inability to clear copyrights for television rebroadcast and DVD distribution.

Later, I noted that Downhill Battle had caved under pressure from the film's copyright owners, and was no longer allowing downloads.

Apparently, the Ford Foundation and a private donor have donated enough money to clear all the rights. But, as Stay Free! points out, this doesn't really solve the very real problem facing scores of other documentarians.

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Nothing out there

The internet is boring. I tried to find some interesting stuff out there about the comandeering of culture, or other cyberlaw stupidity, but it's all too depressing for me to write about. Here's a sample:

When FBI supervisors in Miami met with new interim U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta last month, they wondered what the top enforcement priority for Acosta and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be. Would it be terrorism? Organized crime? Narcotics trafficking? Immigration? Or maybe public corruption?

The agents were stunned to learn that a top prosecutorial priority of Acosta and the Department of Justice was none of the above. Instead, Acosta told them, it's obscenity. Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.

Fucking America. Read the rest here.

Then there's the devastation in the gulf. Don't even know where to begin with the despair I feel just thinking about it.

So, I sit.

I'm supposed to be packing for my trip to Europe. I'll be leaving on Monday. I'll try to blog from the road when possible. Hopefully something interesting will happen out there, cuz from here shit sucks.

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