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07.16.08

Charlie Mccreevy to Hollywood: I Hereby Give You Europe

Posted in Europe, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 7:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Of agents of intellectual monopolies

For those who are new to this, Mccreevy is actually seen as a troublemaker for his attempt — whether deliberate and informed or not — to bring software patents to Europe. Sadly, this commissioner appears to be wreaking havoc also on the copyrights front. We rarely discuss these issue in this Web site (sometimes we do [1, 2, 3, 4, 5), but a few others like Larry Lessig and Glyn Moody definitely know how much political manipulation is involved here. Bribery isn't unusual, either. In response to the latest push, Moody writes:

Copyright is supposed to provide an *incentive* to create, not a *reward* for having created. Increasing the term of copyright protection will not suddenly make ageing rockers more creative. Moreover, the prospect of an extra 45 years’ protection is highly unlikely to make young rockers rush out and create more. So this is a pure loss for the public domain. Thanks for nothing, Charlie.

At this worrisome pace, DMCA will take over every single country. Software patents are another serious issue that not only threatens Europe. Another ugly thing to consider is government snooping, often justified using alarming words like “terrorism” and “paedophiles”. Here is a report from Germany:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit against the US government to protest the new Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) recently passed by Congress. The civil rights organisation believes that the far-reaching authority granted by the Act, which has now been signed by George W. Bush, is unconstitutional.

Nevertheless, the same broken laws are brought over to the United Kingdom. The government wants to archive all E-mails and phonecalls. Leaks, careless spendings, and misuse are — as usual — only to be expected.

A central database holding details of everyone’s phone calls and emails could be a “step too far for the British way of life”, ministers have been warned.

Going back to copyrights again, this one article about copyrights versus preservation is worth a look.

Although digital works are ubiquitous and easily duplicated, they also are ephemeral and are at risk of disappearing unless preservation efforts begin soon after they are created, according to a study by the Library of Congress and three international partners.

[...]

Libraries, archives and other institutions currently are hampered in preserving these materials by copyright laws geared toward more persistent, physical works. The study recommended that laws permit preservation institutions to preserve works according to international best practices, which includes making copies for administrative and technical purposes, migrating works to different formats as technology changes, and maintaining backup copies in multiple institutions to protect against catastrophic loss.

So herein the Library of Congress shepherds a study where others too are complaining about data loss and preservation.

Over in the United States, the Library of Congress has already been ‘violated’ by Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. In the United Kingdom, the story is similar. Alex Brown is still ‘selling’ the British Library some OOXML lock-inware [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

Contrariwise, the Canadian Library Association seem to 'get' it. It chooses ODF. Here is another new example of ODF support. [via Bob Sutor]

This addresses a pretty big speed-bump that people were hitting while trying to share documents in Buzzword. Finally, we added support in this release for exporting documents in Open Document Format (ODF). We’re not done with this format, though! ODF import is coming.

It remains to be seen what GNOME is going to do. It must support ODF, but Miguel de Icaza, a fan of Microsoft’s .NET and OOXML, is still evidently involved in GNOME’s direction.

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