Apple loses big in DRM ruling: jailbreaks are “fair use”

Apple loses big in DRM ruling: jailbreaks are “fair use”.

This time, the Library went (comparatively) nuts, allowing widespread bypassing of the CSS encryption on DVDs, declaring iPhone jailbreaking to be “fair use,” and letting consumers crack their legally purchased e-books in order to have them read aloud by computers.

But the exemptions that did make it were carefully thought out and actually helpful this time around. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they must be re-argued every three years, and the Library has taken so long getting its most recent ruling out that that the next review happens just two years from now.

So enjoy your exemptions while you can.

Did you hear the joke about the comedian and copyright law?

Did you hear the joke about the comedian and copyright law?.

Ponder the difference between the comedian and the musician. Both create and perform works to entertain audiences, but they go about protecting that work in different ways. The notoriously litigious music industry often resorts to the legal system to protect itself from pirates and samplers. But comedians don’t. So why hasn’t the joke well gone dry?


In both cases, though, comedy flourished, and neither required official IP laws. “Conventional wisdom would have us believe that this [lack of official protection] entails a tragedy of the commons and suboptimal supply of jokes,” write the chapter’s authors. “Our research makes us pause. We see an operating market.”

Their takeaway is not that we don’t need rules, but that we should be doubly vigilant against the “careless expansion of legal protections.” Informal norms might work well enough within different communities (and the smaller the community, the easier social norms are to enforce), and changing the official rules could produce unintended changes in the type of creativity that people engage in.

IP rules are needed, but they aren’t “necessarily right for stand-up or for every creative practice.” And that’s no joke.

The Standard – China’s Business Newspaper

Octopus in for privacy grilling after data furor

Octopus Cards, which earlier admitted sharing customers’ data with two merchants, said it is discussing ways to terminate the contracts signed with them.

Thomas Yau

Monday, July 26, 2010

Octopus Cards, which earlier admitted sharing customers’ data with two merchants, said it is discussing ways to terminate the contracts signed with them.

That came with company officials set to meet the privacy commissioner today.

Unionist Wong Kwok-hing asked the Legislative Council to demand details from Octopus on how much it got from disclosing the personal data of customers and, if necessary, to use the Powers and Privileges Ordinance to get the information.

Octopus also apologized to the public for providing personal data to merchants for marketing purposes, saying it would no longer do so. It said it was also “actively working” with Cigna and CPP to terminate the contracts.

The Federation of Trade Unions also said an investigation it conducted concluded that the Mass Transit Railway was the “big tiger” behind Octopus with 57.4 percent of its shares and that it did not do enough to prevent the disclosure of customer data.

In a report released yesterday, the union said that while MTR claimed it could not control the card company’s board of directors because it had only 49 percent of the voting rights, some of MTR’s senior staff such as general managers Jeny Yeung Mei-chun and Herbert Hui Leung- wah were on the Octopus Rewards board of directors.

In addition, Octopus chief executive Prudence Chan Pik-wah was listed in MTR’s annual report as “key corporate management.”

“By using MTR’s leading role in the city’s transport system and property development, Octopus Cards has been expanding dramatically. MTR in return, became Octopus Cards’ major supplier in many services,” the report said.

These services include the Octopus Card being used as ID cards in MTR-managed residential blocks’ security systems and checking students’ attendance in schools. “It is impossible that MTR is unaware of Octopus’s development,” it added.

The FTU urged the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data to include representatives from MTR in its hearing and for the company to appear before the Legco panel.

“Let’s see if the privacy commissioner can burst the big tiger behind Octopus,” Wong said.

An MTR spokeswoman said Octopus was an independent company and that it should explain the issue.

via The Standard – China’s Business Newspaper.

No, Dorothy, patents aren’t always good for you

Both benefits and drawbacks in the filing of patents

But are patents always good? Can patenting always act as the silver bullet in effectively protecting novel and useful inventions against imitation and infringement across different industries and intellectual property regimes?

Extensive research studies – including those I have published with Professor Fiona Murray at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – have found that the answer is unfortunately, but not surprisingly, ‘no’. Patents are simply not always good and effective.