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06.24.10

IRC Proceedings: June 24th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

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Why James Moore Should Resign (for Being Hollywood’s Aggressive Enforcer)

Posted in America, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Law at 5:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

James Moore
Photo by Kashmera

Summary: As Hollywood’s fight to subvert Canadian copyright law rages on, those who help Hollywood get named after they compare concerned citizens to terrorists (and then hide the evidence)

EARLIER today we wrote about the patent debate in New Zealand. One thing we alluded to at the time is the Canadian copyright fight which we post about on a daily basis in our summaries of Web links.

Techrights rarely covers copyright matters (due to lack of time, not lack of familiarity), but this time there is a good reason to make the exception. The parallel debates over software/software patents and copyrights also show similar tactics from those who play ball for the oligarchs, conglomerates, monopolists or whatever one wishes to call those who use copyright/patent law against the population. In both cases there is digital colonisation, usually benefiting north America (but not always). In the case of patents, far east Asia uses them extensively too.

“They are self-serving mediators/middlemen and other types (mostly lawyers) who don’t mind if they ruin Canada’s creativity.”Bad policies involve not only patenting of software (Bilski decision will be released on Monday by the way) but also DMCA/ACTA/three strikes. Last year we argued that those who wish to daemonise their opposition just compare them to terrorists and that’s the type of behaviour we find even among Canadian politicians, backed by that Old Guard of lawyers and lobbyists like Barry Sookman. They are self-serving mediators/middlemen and other types (mostly lawyers) who don’t mind if they ruin Canada’s creativity. But watch how one politician, James Moore, responds to critics:

Canada’s Heritage Minister caught covering up ‘radical extremists’ slur

Michael Geist sez, “Yesterday there was a firestorm of discussion over Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore’s speech (which was promoted by his department in advance) in which he labeled critics of Bill C-32 [ed: the Canadian version of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act] ‘radical extremists’ and urged confrontation against those who argue for fair copyright, which he said is really an attempt to mislead and oppose the bill. Almost lost amidst the considerable outrage from many people over Moore’s comments, was the possibility that there was an attempt to bury the ‘radical extremist’ comment. Moore himself denied making the comment in direct messages with several people on Twitter who expressed concern about it.

“By mid-morning yesterday, attendees were not confirming the comment, Moore was denying it, and the event video did not include it. That might have been the end of the story, but IT World Canada reporter Brian Jackson compiled his own video of the event and posted it online. The Jackson video included the reference and made it clear that Moore was not being forthright in his private claims (the event organizer site later added the same video). The lack of candor is rather rich given that Moore’s comments tried to paint critics of the bill as misleading the public.”

As Glyn Moody put it (regarding Moore), “so shouldn’t he resign now?” Here is the original message from Professor Michael Geist, who also happens to be fighting against the ACTA. The corrupt politicians wish to characterise him as the fringe, even though he actually represents the interests of the majority.

There are many lawyers and Hollywood lobbyists in this debate which also involves AstroTurfing (they got caught). One of them who writes at “musictechpolicy.com” (revealing name) is conveniently calling Hollywood’s side ‘the norm’ and not liking it when people speak out their minds about those who stab them in the back. “Geist Flips the Mob Switch,” the author titled this long rant and then referred to the origin of this term — the Internet-allergic sociopath, Lanier (we wrote about him before).

Recently I was discussing the effect of the Internet on Chinese dissidents with a friend from a world that concerns itself with that kind of thing. He told me that what bothered the Chinese was not so much that dissidents had access to any particular information which bothers them, and it wasn’t so much that dissidents were able to post particular information which bothers them a bit more—what really bothered them a lot was that dissidents were able to use the social media tools to organize.

Although the tools were quite different, what is happening today in reaction to the onslaught against artists from the consumer electronics industries and their fellow travelers is not that different from the organizing efforts of the labor movement against other unfair labor practices in the past. Instead of anonymous goons with baseball bats, organizers are met with anonymous hoards “commenting” online in something very similar to what George Orwell called the “Two Minutes Hate” and what Jaron Lanier calls “the mob switch”.

[...]

It is no surprise that Geist and his mob demonize anyone supporting compliance with international norms for creators.

So here we have the author using one of Lanier’s many freedom-hostile and culture-bashing rants. Those who are familiar with Lanier’s repertoire will probably know that he is exceptionally hostile towards software freedom and a culture of sharing. Here is a new critical review of his new book:

The main problem with “You Are Not a Gadget” is that Lanier seems determined to paint an idyllic picture of the early days of the Internet, and then contrasts current developments to that almost entirely mythical ideal that he has stored in his memory. This reminded me of Mircea Eliade and the mythological construction of in illo tempore, the long-gone times at the beginning of everything where things were perfect. In illo tempore is the period before the fall, everything was better in the past before the corrupting forces tainted the perfection. Lanier seems stuck in those mythical times where men were men, bots were bots, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. The problem with this, as with most mystifications of the past, is that it is a fictitious account. When the Internet was smaller, everyone knew each other, all of the developers were probably working within walking distance of one another, and therefore there was a strong sense of community. The early Internet was quirky and small because it was a tiny boys club where the geeks could make decisions that were disproportionately important to future developments. Nowadays development is widespread and, dare I say, more democratic. Lanier seems to resent that.

Lanier is an example of people who consistently write books to complain because people disagree with them. Those at the top of society (AI is often attributed to Lanier) don’t like the freedom of the Web as they prefer to hold cocktail parties that weed out the ‘little people’, taking away their voice in the process (so that only the affluent and powerful need apply for journals, conferences, publishers, and appointments with legislators). If those people — who happen to include rude politicians like James Moore — are left to do as they wish, how will voters know who to get rid of?

Private businessmen like lawyers needn’t and can’t be elected, but those who sign documents into law are politicians; if they are not on the population’s side (like Peter Mandelson in the UK [1, 2]), then voters ought to be told about this so that the culprits lose popular support. Remember: governments are not put in place to decide for their people; governments are elected by the people to serve the people’s will.

Henry Blodget: “…Odds Are Increasing That Microsoft’s Business Will Just Completely Collapse”

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Vista 7, Windows at 4:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Japanese cargo ship sinking

Summary: New articles of interest, including one from Forbes which says that “odds are increasing that Microsoft’s business will just completely collapse.”

Could Microsoft Collapse? (c/f Microsoft – Financials)

Once again, the Chrome/Android momentum has nothing to do with Windows. Once again, it doesn’t benefit Microsoft in any way.

Now take a look at what Microsoft’s biggest Windows customers–Dell, HP, and the other big PC manufacturers–are up to. Dell is in talks with Google to begin developing devices designed to run Chrome (and who can blame it–if it doesn’t do this, it will be left behind in the next wave of consumer devices). And HP just bought the wreckage of Palm so that it would have a better mobile operating system with which to compete against Apple. From Microsoft’s perspective, these last two developments are disasters.

[...]

In short, the monopoly “platform” characteristics that have protected Windows all these years are completely breaking down. The PC’s relative importance in the world of personal technology is dwindling, and Microsoft has not been able to transfer Windows to other platforms. Google will soon be offering a free alternative for remaining PC-like devices, which, at the very least, will put pressure on Microsoft’s margins.

Add all that together, and there’s basically nothing good to say about the future of the Windows platform.

Windows 7 Backup gets users’ backs up [via] (c/f Vista 7 Reality Log)

Windows 7 Backup is getting trashed in a Microsoft forum for being unbelievably bad and stupefyingly slow.

Users are posting stories that should defy belief. Jon Hell posted on April 23 that he is backing up 900GB of data on a quad core PC with 7GB of RAM; “After twenty four hours Windows Backup had managed to complete 18 per cent of the backup, but after forty eight hours, it had got even slower, and had only reached 23 per cent of the full backup.”

Kinect Unfairly Compared To…A Sofa

For snots and giggles, this comparison between a sofa and Microsoft’s Kinect has appeared on the internet. Just because Kinect apparently doesn’t play nice with couch potatoes, that doesn’t mean it cannot be compared to couches.

Malware: certified trustworthy – Update

Virus Teaser According to anti-virus vendor F-Secure, the number of digitally signed malware samples for Windows is increasing – and more and more scareware programs also include a valid digital signature. Virus authors use this method to overcome various hurdles on Windows systems and suppress alerts such as those triggered when a program attempts to install an ActiveX control in Internet Explorer, or before installing a driver. F-Secure’s list of potentially undesirable programs contains almost 400,000 digitally signed samples. In terms of malware, the list still includes almost 24,000 samples.

Links 24/6/2010: Cisco-Red Hat Tag Team, Nokia Elevates Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 4:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Africa

    • Implementing A Cost-effective Distance (Online) Learning Program At The University of Liberia

      MOODLE is the acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. It is an Open Source Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). MOODLE is provided freely as an Open Source Software under the GPL (GNU Public License).

    • Linux Professional Institute and Government of Tunisia to certify IT graduates

      The Linux Professional Institute (LPI), the world’s premier Linux certification organization (http://www.lpi.org), announced with the Ministry of Communication Technologies of Tunisia (http://www.mincom.tn) a program to train and certify young graduates in Linux and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). The program was announced during the signing of a partnership agreement in Tunis, Tunisia with Ministry officials and LPI’s affiliate in the region: LPI-Maghreb (http://www.lpi-maghreb.net).

  • Dell

    • Dell backs down on Linux praise

      What is interesting however is that Dell did not kill off the fatal phrase.

      It seems that Dell remains committed to Ubuntu Linux on its laptops and netbooks and will not allow itself to be bullied too much.

      Perhaps Dell sees life in Android, Chrome and Linux after all.

    • Dell hops on Google Chrome OS bandwagon

      Amit Midha, Dell’s president for Greater China and South Asia, told Reuters Monday that Dell wants to be a leader in the “unique innovations” that are coming to market in the next two to three years. Dell is working with Google to see where Chrome and Android fit with the “new form of computing,” he said.

    • Google’s Chrome OS Ventures Into Windows’ Turf

      At this point, though, that’s a big if. “I think Dell is using this mostly as leverage against Microsoft to gain a more favorable OEM contract rather than gearing up to sell a small number of systems to the Microsoft haters of the world,” said Piland.

      Dell wants to be a leader in the “unique innovations” that are coming to market and it’s working with Google to see where Chrome OS and Android fit with the “new form of computing,” Amit Midha, president of Dell’s Greater China and South Asia business, told Reuters Monday.

  • Server

  • Graphics Stack

    • Nvidia Releases a Much Improved Video Driver for Linux

      After many months of hard work, Nvidia finally announced on June 22nd the final and stable version of the 256.x proprietary driver for Nvidia graphics cards. Nvidia 256.35 incorporates lots of fixes and improvements, over previous releases. Unofficial GLX support was also added for a few OpenGL extensions, as well as Thermal Settings reporting improvements, Compiz fixes, many VDPAU improvements, and many more.

  • Instructionals

  • Games

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Slackware Linux 13.1

        The fun doesn’t stop there, though. Go back to the login screen, click the list button at the bottom left of the login window, and you begin to see the advantage of having accepted the defaults on installation, and thus installed almost everything… You can now choose your session type from KDE, Xfce, Fluxbox, Blackbox, FVWM, TWM and more. As I said, if you want to learn about Linux, this is an excellent distribution to use.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fog Computing

      • Results

        • Red Hat Q1: Revenue, EPS Both Up 20%
        • Red Hat’s JBoss adds to earnings increase

          Red Hat’s JBoss middleware is landing big greenfield deals as well successes with established outfits like the NYSE Euronext. Red Hat has said its Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 will be its most ambitious release and designed for virtual, cloud and physical IT environments.

        • Red Hat growth gathering pace again

          As the graph below demonstrates, Red Hat has grown significantly faster than the industry average (as measured by the Information Age index, which collates the revenue growth rates of the sector’s largest suppliers), but like most businesses it saw a severe deceleration in growth during the past two years – from a height of 52% at the start of 2007 down to a low of 11% at the start of last year.

      • Cisco

      • Virtualisation

        • Red Hat combines desktop and server virtualisation

          Red Hat has released a new version of its Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation that integrates desktop and server virtualisation into a single platform, simplifying the management of virtual infrastructures in a single end-to-end solution, according to the firm.

        • Red Hat turns the crank of KVM enterprise virt

          Cloud infrastructure wannabe and Linux juggernaut Red Hat has announced the next rev of its Enterprise Virtualization commercial-grade KVM hypervisor, saying it has qualified it to scale further and also adding the ability to support desktop images as well as server images.

      • Other

        • Executive Spotlight: Gunnar Hellekson of Red Hat U.S. Public Sector

          Like many other IT professionals, Gunnar Hellekson’s interest in computers was born at an early age, but it was not until college he received formal training in the field. While taking engineering classes, Hellekson put his skills and his entrepreneurial side to use and worked as a systems administrator to make some money. Not long after, he took the step to start up a number of Internet companies, doing business-to-business work and web development, eventually leading to the founding of a consulting company focused on helping small and medium-size arts and nonprofits in New York City. About four or five years ago, he traded the Big Apple for the nation’s capital and ended up working at Red Hat U.S. Public Sector as a chief technology strategist.

    • Canonical/Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu: Harder to Use, or Just Harder to Spell?

        Now, for many FOSS aficionados, the post serves as a bright spot of comic relief in a world otherwise dominated by all-too-real, anti-Linux FUD.

        ” Hahha,” wrote one anonymous reader in the comments on Hoogland’s blog, for example. “One of the most hilarious article on Ubuntu ever.”

        Some were even inspired to continue in the same sarcastic vein: “Ubuntu; why would anyone want to use that?” wrote another anonymous commenter. “Any fool could see that Windows is the best choice. Expensive, proprietary and restrictive is always better than free as in freedom.”

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Next Generation Virtual Platform Simulator Released by Imperas and OVP Initiative Extends Simulation Speed Advantage By 50 Percent

      Highlights of this June 2010 release are the virtual platform simulator OVPsim, which has improved its industry leading performance by 50 percent; fast models of PowerPC processors, and a MIPS-based reference platform under SystemC/TLM-2.0 which boots both Linux and Mentor Graphic’s Nucleus RTOS.

    • MontaVista Software Delivers First Commercial Linux for ARM Cortex(TM)-A9 Processors

      MontaVista(R) Software, LLC, a leader in embedded Linux(R) commercialization, announced the availability of the first commercial Linux distribution and toolchain optimized for the ARM Cortex(TM)-A9 processor. Based on the revolutionary MontaVista Linux 6 (MVL6) approach, it provides a market specific distribution (MSD) and toolchain designed specifically for the Cortex-A9 architecture and provides the perfect starting point for new product designs using the low power, high performance characteristics of the ARM Cortex-A9 processor.

    • Virage Logic Releases Major Update of the Open Source GNU and Linux Toolchains for Its ARC Processor Cores

      Virage Logic Corporation, the semiconductor industry’s trusted IP partner, today announced it is investing in its ARC processor product portfolio by releasing the ARC GNU 2.3 Toolchain for its complete range of ARC processor cores and the ARC Linux 1.3 Operating System for its ARC® 750D processor. The suite contains the ARC Linux 2.6.30 kernel for the ARC 750D processor, and a GCC 4.2.1 based ARC GNU Toolchain for Virage Logic’s complete range of ARC processor cores. Virage Logic is committed to release regular updates of the ARC Open Source Tool Suites to keep the ARC GNU and Linux tools up to date with the current standards. All of the ARC Open Source tools are available for free download at www.SourceForge.com.

    • Nokia/MeeGo

    • Android

      • Android 2.2 hits Nexus One — so who’s next?

        Numerous Nexus One users started receiving Google’s Android 2.2 upgrade over-the-air on their devices Wednesday night. Gauging by users’ reports, the updates appear to be hitting phones all throughout America, on both T-Mobile and AT&T, and on carriers in other countries as well. Users who were not part of the original Nexus One Froyo test group have received the software.

      • Motorola Droid X (Verizon Wireless)
      • Droid X Arrives, and Froyo Goes Open Source!

        The Verizon/Motorola event has kicked off, and the Droid X has been announced. We already knew the Droid X had a 4.3″ display, recorded video at 720p, and had HDMI out capabilities.

      • Google publishes Android 2.2 source code

        In a brief blog post, Google has announced that it has released the entirety of the source code for Froyo, better known as Android 2.2, under an open-source license. The open-source aspect of the release isn’t new — all previous platform iterations have been open-sourced too — but there are a few extra modules in Froyo that have been opened up that had previously been closed-source.

      • Exercising Our Remote Application Removal Feature

        Every now and then, we remove applications from Android Market due to violations of our Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement or Content Policy. In cases where users may have installed a malicious application that poses a threat, we’ve also developed technologies and processes to remotely remove an installed application from devices. If an application is removed in this way, users will receive a notification on their phone.

      • Google Can Remotely Remove Apps From Your Phone
      • Mobile Developer Survey, June 2010

        Apple and Google are now playing chess while everyone else plays catch up. The surge in popularity for developing tablet applications on the two leading OSes, coupled with second tier platforms seeing flat to declining interest, suggests that Google and Apple are moving the battle from phones to a broader, more long-term platform shootout for “anywhere computing.”

        [...]

        Why this is significant: Developers see Apple dominating in every category related to its devices and app store. Yet Android takes top honors for OS capabilities, openness, and, long-term outlook. Despite all of Apple‟s success, developers see that the winner long-term will be the mobile operating system that has the most capabilities and flexibility in scenarios beyond phones.

    • Tablets

      • Linux Tablets to Be Headed in the Near Future

        As a matter of fact, word is that some Linux tablets are headed our way in the near future but they ain’t here yet. And while I think that Linux tablets will do well, it also drives me to expect a lot from them.

        According to Jim Zemlin, the head of the Linux Foundation, it is necessary for mobile Linux vendors to increase their technical investments in order users could benefit Linux devices.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web culture inspires success in ‘real world’

    Online, open source is a movement, and has resulted in wholesale changes to the way in which software is developed.

  • The American Numismatic Society Partners with ByWater Solutions for Koha Support
  • Open Source Jousting
  • Celebrating the best of open-source

    Dr Koray Atalag, the inaugural holder of a fellowship also endowed by the Bedogni family, says while it’s likely the winner will be working in free or open-source software, the term “open systems” was used to take in people who may be working on components of open standards.

    “The spirit of this thing is open source, but it leaves the door open for people in the non-open source world,” Atalag says.

  • [IBM:] Why is Open Computing So Important In The Public Sector?

    Open Computing is already being widely used and saving money. The French Gendarmarie’s migration to an open source desktop has saved millions of Euros. In Italy, children’s hospitals in Tuscany are saving an estimated 1,000 Euros per PC by moving to open source. And the Spanish autonomous region of Extremadura has moved entirely to open standards and open source resulting in claimed savings of 18 million Euros.

  • High-End Visualization the Open Source Way
  • Richard Branson on open source, Twitter and entrepreneurship: The Memeburn interview

    MB: What is your view on the open source movement (free software and web services). Is it anti-business as Microsoft’s Bill Gates has suggested?

    RB: No, it’s not anti-business – it’s actually very pro-business. It’s enabling. It allows more people direct access to the tools and resources they need to succeed, and also gives everyone a sense of ownership as a whole community. As opposed to one corporate body retaining strict ownership and distribution rights which is more crippling to people at the coal face, particularly in times when we all face budget and resource restrictions.

  • Events

    • TransferSummit Conference

      The event will highlight, discuss and explain advantages and issues in open innovation and using Open Source software.

    • TransferSummit – How open changes everything

      Many organisations are beginning to embrace more open and collaborative approaches to innovation. Inspired by the success of open source products such as the Apache web server and the Firefox browser, many multinational companies such as Procter and Gamble, Orange and IBM have made ‘open innovation’ – the sharing of the risks and rewards of the product development process with partners – a top strategic priority.

  • Web Browsers

  • Fog Computing

    • Let’s Deep-Six Facebook and Do Open Source Social Networking Instead – Pro: Evan Prodromou

      In November 2008, Evan Prodromou — founder of identi.ca and CEO and lead developer of StatusNet — published a blog post on autonomo.us in which he argued that we need a distributed model for social networking sites.

    • Eucalyptus (and Fake ‘Open Source’)

      • Open core is not open source

        So let me try to make one thing clear: Open core may be a good business model, but open core is not open source!

      • The Road to Closed Source Software, Eucalyptus

        I can remember the morning of the first keynotes for the MySQL Conference after Sun had acquired MySQL. You have Jonathan Swartz and Rich Green delivering keynotes where the underlying message was “we continue to allow MySQL to run its own business”.

        Why was this?

        Because Marten was going to announce the close sourcing of part of the MySQL Server. For years there were conversations around “if we did XYZ could we take out a critical…”. These conversations were always met with a dead silence. The codebase was neither modular, nor did any of the developers resonate with the message. The backup code had never been designed to be a standalone component so the entire message of “we are close sourcing it” was a delusion. We had no ability to do it.

      • Multi-Tenancy in Cloud Will Dominate, Change Open Source
  • Databases

    • Open-sourced Membase Joins NoSQL Party

      Membase is a simple, fast and elastic data store that is optimized for demanding web applications. The software is based on Memcached, a very popular in-memory caching system. NorthScale was started by the leaders of the Memcached open source project. NorthScale also today announced the availability of the beta version of its NorthScale Membase Server.

    • Membase, a new open source NoSQL database, launched
  • Education

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • New Ground on Terminology Debate?

      Furthermore, I try to have faith in our community’s intelligence. Regardless of how people get drawn into FLOSS: be it from the moral software freedom arguments or the technical-advantage-only open source ones, I don’t think people stop listening immediately upon their arrival in our community. I know this even from my own adoption of software freedom: I came for the Free as in Price, but I stayed for the Free as in Freedom. It’s only because I couldn’t afford a SCO Unix license in 1992 that I installed GNU/Linux. But, I learned within just a year why the software freedom was what mattered most.

      Surely, others have a similar introduction to the community: either drawn in by zero-cost availability or the technical benefits first, but still very interested to learn about software freedom. My goal is to reach those who have arrived in the community. I therefore try to speak almost constantly about software freedom, why it’s a moral issue, and why I work every day to help either reduce the amount of proprietary software, or increase the amount of Free Software in the world. My hope is that newer community members will hear my arguments, see my actions, and be convinced that a moral and ethical commitment to software freedom is the long lasting principle worth undertaking. In essence, I seek to lead by example as much as possible.

  • Project Releases

    • Typo3 version 4.4 is now available

      Today the TYPO3 Association released the newest version of their Open Source project TYPO3. TYPO3 has been downloaded over 4.6 million times – making it one of the world’s leading Enterprise Open Source projects.

    • VLC Player 1.1
  • Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Why Share-Alike Licenses are Open but Non-Commercial Ones Aren’t

      It is sometimes suggested that there isn’t a real difference in terms of “openness” between share-alike (SA) and non-commercial (NC) clauses — both being some restriction on what the user of that material can do, and, as such, a step away from openness.

      This is not true. A meaningful distinction can be drawn between share-alike and non-commercial clauses (or any other clause that discriminates against a particular type of person or field of endeavour), with the former being “open” and the latter being not “open”.

    • The Sharing Industry Keeps Growing with Weeels, Closest Closet

      We at Shareable.net harbor the belief that the growth of the Internet and mobile technology has made sharing more practical–and that this trend has the potential to minimize consumption, by redefining wealth as access to stuff instead of the accumulation of stuff. We’re working on testing this hypothesis, by launching a series of studies with the research consultancy Latitude.

    • Open Data

      • OpenStreetMap: 2010 State of the Map conference

        The OpenStreetMap (OSM) Project has announced that this year’s State of the Map conference will take place from the 9th to the 11th of July in Girona, Spain. OpenStreetMap is an open source project that is building free online maps, not based on any copyright or licensed map data. Founded by Steve Coast in August of 2004 and run by the OpenStreetMap Foundation, to date the project has nearly 270,000 users worldwide that make more than 7,000 edits every hour.

    • Open Hardware

  • Eclipse

Leftovers

  • UK News Sites Hit Record Traffic In Election Month

    Unique browsers to the five national newspaper websites and groups which file monthly ABCe figures hit a record 131.8 million in May.

  • Science

  • Environment

    • Unpredictable fishery economics guide ocean’s populations

      The way the ocean is fished is less predictable than we thought, according to a paper published in PNAS this week. Researchers thought that commercial interests usually fished “down the food web,” targeting species high in the food chain and moving downwards. But the new study shows that price indexes of fish play a large role and don’t always correlate with food chain position, which will make the ecosystem impact of fishing difficult to predict.

    • Oil spills: Legacy of the Torrey Canyon

      On the morning of Saturday 18 March 1967, the Torrey Canyon ran aground on Pollard’s Rock between Land’s End and the Isles of Scilly. Over the following days, every drop of the 119,328 tonnes of crude oil borne by this 300m-long supertanker seeped into the Atlantic. Thousands of tonnes despoiled the beaches of Cornwall – and thousands more were propelled by winds and currents across the channel towards France.

    • BP ‘burning sea turtles alive’

      A rare and endangered species of sea turtle is being burned alive in BP’s controlled burns of the oil swirling around the Gulf of Mexico, and a boat captain tasked with saving them says the company has blocked rescue efforts.

      Mike Ellis, a boat captain involved in a three-week effort to rescue as many sea turtles from unfolding disaster as possible, says BP effectively shut down the operation by preventing boats from coming out to rescue the turtles.

    • Tony Blair for BP chairman?

      I was interviewed on British radio today and was asked about this idea. Seemed hard to believe: Blair has become a climate activist (see “Tony Blair, Climate Group, and CAP call for strong technology deployment policy driven by a carbon price, innovative financing, and serious technology standards“) — and this is a no-win, resume-destroying job.

      But some British pundits are actually proposing this radical solution to BP’s PR woes (see “Tony Blair is the right man to be BP chairman” and “Tony Blair’s Hiring Is Step One in a BP Comeback: Matthew Lynn.”

    • Moratorium Won’t Stop Unprecedented BP Project in the Arctic

      The Obama administration’s six-month moratorium has put a freeze on new offshore drilling permits, but three miles off the coast of Alaska, there’s one unprecedented drilling project by BP that’s still moving forward regardless.

      That’s according to two investigations this week—one in today’s New York Times and the other published online by Rolling Stone on Tuesday.

    • Tibetan environmentalist says Chinese jailers tortured him

      A jailed Tibetan environmentalist used the opening of his trial today to accuse Chinese captors of beatings, sleep deprivation and other maltreatment, his wife told reporters.

      Karma Samdrup – a prominent businessman and award-winning conservationist – issued a statement in court detailing the brutal interrogation methods, including drugs that made his ears bleed, used on him since his detention on 3 January.

      “If not for his voice, I would not have recognised him,” his wife Zhenga Cuomao told the Associated Press.

      She said Samdrup appeared gaunt when he appeared at the Yangqi county courthouse in Xinjiang, the mountainous province neighbouring Tibet.

  • Finance

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Ofcom opens debate on net neutrality

      Ofcom today published a discussion paper on the practice of internet traffic management – a technique used by network operators and internet service providers (ISPs) to stem or accelerate the flow of traffic over the web.

      This practice may allow network operators and ISPs to handle traffic more efficiently, to prioritise traffic by type, to guarantee bandwidth or to block or degrade the quality of certain content.

  • Copyrights

    • ASCAP raising money to fight Free Culture

      Fred says:

      Memehacker, and composer Mike Rugnetta just received a note from the collecting society ASCAP soliciting funds to fight Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, and the EFF. According to ASCAP, these organizations are mobilizing to undermine ASCAP members’ copyrights because they want all music to be free. Which, if you know anything about the kind of nuanced reform work these organizations do, is a pretty gross exaggeration. The letter reads like a McCarty-era scaremongering pitch to solicit funds from composers and musicians bewildered by the current pace of music industry evolution. Read part 1 of the letter here, and part 2 here.

      Blogger Molly Sheridan wrote a post asking ASCAP members how it sits with them, so if you’re a current ASCAP member, chime in. Or better yet, take a minute to donate to Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, and the EFF.

    • Could Accessing Your Own Data On Facebook Make You Criminally Liable?

      We’ve been following the rather bizarre and dangerous lawsuit filed by Facebook against Power.com, an online service that tries to let users aggregate various social networking activity into a single service. All Power.com does is let a willing user have Power.com’s tools log into Facebook and reuse/reformat the data within its own framework. From a user’s perspective, this could be quite useful. From Facebook’s perspective this is both a violation of copyright law and a violation of computer hacking laws. Why? Because Facebook says so.

    • US Tries to Block Progress on Treaty for Blind and Other Disabilities

      Today a UN body is trying to reach an agreement on work on copyright exceptions for persons who are blind or have other disabilities. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is aggressively trying to block adoption of a work program that would include the possibility of a treaty. Officially, the USPTO is proposing an alternative approach that could be a step toward a treaty. Privately, the USPTO and other federal agencies are putting enormous pressure on countries to abandon a binding treaty in favor of a very weak and even harmful resolution.

    • New Zealand Media Claiming That Huge Local Film Success Story Is Being Harmed… By 200 Downloaders?
  • ACTA

    • Digital legislation a threat to creative industry

      Doctoral research into media education and media literacy at the University of Leicester has highlighted how increased legislative control on use of digital content could stifle future creativity.

      The Digital Economy Act 2010 alongside further domestic and global legislation, not least the ongoing ‘Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)’, combines to constitute a very hard line against any form of perceived copyright infringement.

    • The Copyright Debate’s Missing Element

      There is certainly no lack of debate about copyright, and whether it promotes or hinders creativity. But in one important respect, that debate has been badly skewed, since it has largely discussed creativity in terms of pre-digital technologies. And even when digital methods are mentioned, there is precious little independent research to draw upon.

    • Leak: EU pushes for criminalizing non-commercial usages in ACTA

      A document leaked from the Presidency of the EU reveals that Member States are pushing for new criminal sanctions into the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a few days ahead of the next negotiation round. The proposal stated in this document reveals how illegitimate and dangerous the whole ACTA process is, while exposing the scary position of the EU calling for more repression of non-for-profit usages… and their incitation.

    • Those that Live by the DMCA….

      …content owners have to specify precisely which files they claim are infringing. They can’t just say: “everyone can see there’s infringement on your site, find it and deal with it.” If upheld, that’s very good news, because it means that anyone that sets up a mechanism for carrying out DMCA requests doesn’t need to go through their entire holdings looking for possibly infringing materials (obviously impossible for a site like YouTube.)

  • Digital Economy Bill

    • NUJ vows to support court challenges against Digital Economy Act

      The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) will support legal challenges to the recently passed Digital Economy Act, according to a new national policy.

      The new policy, which was signed off by the NUJ’s National Executive Council in May, raises concern from other industry groups that the Act’s measures could be used against sites that publish material of public interest without permission, such as the whistleblowing site Wikileaks.

      The union policy calls for the Act to be implemented in a way that “fully protects freedom of information and expression”.

      Originally, NUJ members focused their campaigning on the controversial clause 43 on orphan works. This was later dropped before the Bill was passed into law in the “wash-up” at the end of the last government.

Clip of the Day

CLUG Talk – 22 Apr 2008 – Further C Notes (2008)


New Zealand’s Legislation Regarding Software Patents Shows That the US is the Boss

Posted in America, IBM, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 7:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

World Map patents
The software patents “red threat”

Summary: New Zealand is the latest island to be colonised by the USPTO (headed by an IBM veteran), using lobbyists for multinationals who impose their will upon a vastly-outnumbered local population

WHO is responsible for the latest travesty in New Zealand? Let’s begin this from the top. People in New Zealand are not just outnumbered by sheep; they are also outweighed by drones from the United States based on the latest news. Here we have a video which was recently uploaded to YouTube. It hopefully sheds light on the situation which we covered many times this year.


The bad news from New Zealand was probably first covered by IDG, which cited NZICT — a lobbying group whose agenda and funding we exposed in previous posts [1, 2, 3, 4]. The “NZ” in “NZICT” easily gives the illusion that it’s actually about New Zealand, as opposed to multinationals (mostly from the United States).

Software patents, apparently on the way to being ruled out for New Zealand after a Select Committee decision on the Patents Bill, might not be completely excluded after all.

The committee earlier this year inserted a clause in the second-reading copy of the Bill [Section 15(3A)] reading simply “a computer program is not a patentable invention.”

On June 9 there was a meeting between Ministry of Economic Development (MED) officials and a delegation of local and international software companies led by Brett O’Riley of industry lobby NZICT Group.

Glyn Moody described this as “scandalous backroom dealing (note presence of Microsoft and IBM)” and NZICT must be just one of the culprits he referred to. Law firms in New Zealand said “yes” to software patents, whereas software developers (not just Free software developers) said “no”, as usual. It’s a battle between monopolies (and their lawyers) and actual developers everywhere we look, even in Europe.

Regarding this latest development, the president of the FFII wrote: “New Zealand to copy EPO, and pass a law that does not exclude software patents, for decoration only”

“Many would welcome a comment on IBM’s role in advocating for software patents in New Zealand.”
      –Simon Phipps
Later on he pointed out that “Big Multinationals will write software patent law in NZ” based on the quote which says: “our group will be working on developing this for submission”

Amazing.

So software patents are voted on not by people of New Zealand, who have no control over their laws, either. Simon Phipps has written to IBM’s Bob Sutor, asking: “Many would welcome a comment on IBM’s role in advocating for software patents in New Zealand. Can you help?”

Red Hat’s Wildeboer, who used to lobby against software patents along with other software Freedom proponents, writes: “Somehow I already expect a giant rant from Florian Mueller on this”

Wildeboer is right. Müller already uses his Slashdot account (which he resumed using some months ago) to say: “Simon Phipps, former chief open source executive of Sun Microsystems, has just asked IBM’s open source VP Bob Sutor via Twitter (with a reference to this very slashdot story) to clarify IBM’s role in lobbying for software patents in New Zealand. It will be interesting to see Bob Sutor’s response, should there ever be one.

“When it comes to patents, IBM stands for International Bullying Machines”

Here is the summary submitted to Slashdot by Ciaran:

ciaran_o_riordan writes “Due to lobbying by a group called NZICT, New Zealand’s parliament is now set to let go of its proposal to ban software patents. Patent attorney Steven Lundberg announced the details in a blog entry. This was quickly deleted, but not before it got stored in Google’s cache. Here we can read that ‘Hon Simon Power has asked MED [Ministry of Economic Development] to work with the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office to redraft the section along the lines of the European Patent Convention.’ Which is exactly the opposite of March’s announcement that ‘computer software should be excluded from patent protection as software patents can stifle innovation and competition, and can be granted for trivial or existing techniques.’ The background to this case gives every reason to be hopeful, if computer users in New Zealand get active again.”

Ciaran’s pages on the subject [1, 2] ought to give some background information too. The news from New Zealand is celebrated by some sort of a lobbying blog for software patents (which took down the original post):

New Zealand looks like its reversing course on software patent protection. On June 9, there was a meeting between representatives of NZ Ministry of Economic Development (MED) and representatives of NZICT Group. It appears that New Zealand is likely to ultimately adopt an approach to software patents that is consistent with the EPO’s position. My thanks to Jim Hallenbeck (Schwegman) and Paik Saber (IBM) for relaying this information.

Here is the summary of the meeting provided by Brett O’Riley CEO of NZICT:

Our representative delegation met with MED in Wellington yesterday. This was to discuss the formal submission we had made to Hon Simon Power last week covering our concerns about the proposed draft legislation.

Over a Twitter, the president of the FFII states: “NZ patent lawyer mentions that software patents are legal in Germany, thanks to the Microsoft FAT decision”

The FFII’s president links to the lobbyists above (“patents4software.com”), specifically one of their first posts, which was about FAT.

“American lawyers are free to mess with their own domestic laws,” states the FFII’s own account. Yes, it comes from the US, interfering with other people’s laws in other countries. It’s almost as though the law of New Zealand is being written by Americans. TechDirt too calls them lobbyists:

There was widespread happiness among software developers a few months back, when it was announced that New Zealand had decided to explicitly ban software patents. Of course, it didn’t take long for a lobbying campaign to kick off from those opposed to this provision, and it appears the lobbying was effective, such that software patents will now be allowed — though, they will still be somewhat limited (as they are in Europe). So, it’s not quite as bad as the situation in the US. A New Zealand patent attorney posted a letter from the head of the lobbying group discussing this shift. While that blog post has since been deleted, as of this posting Google still has the cache.

Citizens of New Zealand should protest. Their patent laws have just been hijacked by foreign interests which will hurt local software developers, including Free software developers. It’s bad for the population as a whole.

Fake Friends of Linux or Software Freedom

Posted in Database, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 6:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Florian Mueller

Summary: Timely reminder of the fact that software patents opposition is not the same of Free software advocacy

THE MOST effective lobbyists are sometimes those who pretend to be the very opposite of what they are. There are many example of that, extending well beyond the realms of IT. We wrote about “controlled opposition” in April [1, 2] and in June when we gave Association of Competitive Technologies (ACT) as an example.

Yesterday we wrote about OIN — the body which endorses Linux and software patents at the same time. It’s bizarre, no doubt about it, but that’s how companies like IBM seem to perceive Linux (more on that in the next post). Others join this same bandwagon for practical reasons [1, 2] that are simple to explain.

Here is what someone wrote to Bradley Kuhn (FSF/SFLC) a short while ago: “Wouldn’t OIN being proactive against [software patents] nullify some of their own member’s patent claims? That would explain their approach.”

The CEO of OIN (Bergelt, the successor of Rosenthal from IBM) says that he is in favour of “good” software patents — whatever that actually means.

“My guess is that he [Florian Müller] is being paid handsomely to act the way he does.”
      –Stefan Gustavson
Groklaw wrote about OIN the other day (not explicitly referring to IBM’s role), defending it unquestionably, as usual. The president of the FFII quoted Groklaw as saying that “Bergelt is highly respected in the FOSS community, as is OIN”; What did he label it? “When Groklaw get it wrong” — that’s right, the FFII was never a big fan of the OIN, either. Certain things which the OIN does are commendable [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], but there might be better ways to defend the freedom of GNU/Linux. On the other hand, there are those who consider OIN’s foes to be foes of GNU/Linux.

Over at Groklaw, Stefan Gustavson writes: “You may be confusing the Florian Müller from 2005 with the person we see blogging now in 2010. He might have been honest then. At least he did some good when the EU patent “reform” was shot down. He certainly isn’t honest any longer. He spreads lies about free software and its proponents, and throws mud in any general direction where Linux is being discussed in public, with a clear intent of spreading FUD. He is not stupid, so he can’t be excused for not knowing better. My guess is that he is being paid handsomely to act the way he does.”

Müller does not seem to have responded to that yet. When we had our suspicions about him and people started to turn up the heat he ended closing comments on his blog. It makes a more controlled platform for him, but he can’t control Groklaw, which continues to accuse him sometimes. Other former colleagues of Müller are equally suspicious.

One thing is for sure; Müller is nothing like the lobbyists from ACT and especially Jonathan Zuck (see video below) who denied wrongdoing in his E-mail to me.


ACT Microsoft

It is astonishing that the European authorities even give this man a seat after he produced fake letters 'on behalf' of dead people, as always in support of Microsoft which funds him. It’s people like these who tear down Europe’s software sovereignty, just as Hollywood’s lobbyists are subverting copyright law in Europe and in Canada (the latter is hot in the news at the moment).

Going back to Müller, he seems to have a fixation targeted at IBM (a bit like Jeff Gould with his anti-IBM rants that he pushed into GNU/Linux Web sites in the form of submissions from “AlexGr”). Müller may be against software patents, but he is not a proponent of GNU/Linux or software freedom. We also know that Müller is close to Monty, who is in Microsoft’s CodePlex. Glyn Moody has just written this detailed article which explains why CodePlex is still an embodiment of Microsoft, even the CTO. [via]

Not surprisingly, CodePlex has been subject to much suspicion – and derision. It was a pretty blatant attempt to jump on the open source bandwagon, in a form that was strictly controlled by Microsoft, which allowed it to place its own interpretation on what open source meant (by including licences that weren’t on the OSI list, for example). And so no surprise, either, that the open source world has pretty much ignored CodePlex as a result. I must confess that I am guilty of this sin too, and that is unfortunate, because something is happening there that is potentially very interesting.

CodePlex is based around .NET, Microsoft licences, and other parts of Microsoft’s proprietary stack. Open Source projects for .NET developers are no better than Mono and Moonlight. They are actually worse because many of them are Windows-only, SQL Server-only, and SharePoint-only. That’s not Open Source, it’s a farce. But Windows sites happily defend this.

Speaking of suspicious ‘friends’, somebody from Finland has told us about the latest giveaway from Tuxera:

Directly related to this is the European case of looming software patents.
Today Mikko Välimäki from Tuxera wrote several blog entries on their law firm’s page, main one is this:

http://www.turre.com/2010/06/softan-patentoinnille-euroopassa-lopullinen-ok/

Title in english: “Final ok for patenting software in europe?”

He even goes to say that decision to allow/approve software patents in Europe would be JURIDICALLY correct. What a nice bat called FUD that is.
And “oikeusvarmuus” is translatable to “assurance of juridical rights”, the same once again.. pay us or be sued.

In conclusion, some who protest against software patents are not in favour of Free software, some who develop for Linux are in favour of software patents, and in the next post we’ll put our sceptical eye on IBM (yet again).

OpenSUSE May Distance Itself From Novell/Microsoft ‘Linux Tax’

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenSUSE, Patents, Servers, SLES/SLED at 5:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OpensuseSummary: OpenSUSE does the right thing by actively distancing itself from Novell (and thus from Microsoft’s patent deal too)

ON ABOUT a handful of occasions in the past (e.g. [1, 2]) we suggested that OpenSUSE should be forked or made independent. The reasons are simple; the two main ones are that Novell has a patent pact with Microsoft and Novell is up for sale (the intention of potential buyers is unknown).

A few days ago we wrote about OpenSUSE discussing the project’s direction and Ars Technica argues that “autonomy from Novell” is on the agenda.

The developers behind openSUSE are drafting a new “community statement” as part of a broader effort to define a technical strategy for their project. The purpose of the community statement is to describe the kind of collaborative environment that the project wants to create as it refines its technical focus.

[...]

The challenges are not insurmountable, however, and a foundation would definitely open the door for other vendors to take a more active role. Novell’s Michael Löffler wrote a blog entry last year in which he described the reasons why an openSUSE foundation would be desirable. He makes a case that openSUSE would benefit from having a vendor-neutral organization to encourage contributions from other companies besides Novell.

Michael Löffler’s suggestion seems reasonable, but there is still a trademark issue. Novell literally owns “OpenSUSE” and at the same time it pays Microsoft for deployments of SUSE (GNU/Linux or Ballnux) such as those from Microsoft’s partner Cray. Novell goes a long way to help Microsoft in HPC.

The third generation of the Cray Linux Environment, a goosed version of Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 that was originally expected only on Baker boxes and their Gemini interconnect, made its debut last month sporting a neat new feature called Cluster Compatibility Mode.

This is another example of Microsoft making money from domination of GNU/Linux in supercomputers, thanks to Novell. A lot of the code comes from IBM, Red Hat, and several other companies that contribute to Linux more than Novell (whose rank among contributors has declined since it signed the deal with Microsoft). Novell has moved back to a proprietary agenda (below we put some of the latest news from Novell), including Fog Computing and Microsoft-serving software like Mono and Moonlight.
____
[1] Deloitte Wins Novell Partner of the Year in the Identity and Security Category

[2] Collaboration Products – “Suite Spot” for Enterprise 2.0 Conference (Novell also mentioned here)

Major vendors – full-function platform suites are being offered by IBM (Lotus), Microsoft, Novell, and now Cisco, which just announced its Quad product line. Novell’s special sauce is simultaneous document editing.

Patents Roundup: Apple Sues Android/Linux Again, ‘Anti-Microsoft’ Patent Upheld, In Re Bilski May be Due Today

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents, Ubuntu at 5:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The grudge

Summary: Latest updates about software patents, ranging from Microsoft and Apple to the impact on GNU/Linux users

For entertainment purposes only, see this new video titled “Software patents are dirty scum.”

Apple is once again attacking Linux using software patents. Shame on Apple. It is also part of the Apple vs HTC case and as Slashdot puts it:

Although Android is not mentioned in any of the court documents, many of the patent infringement complaints refer to the software rather than the hardware that HTC manufactures, leading to speculation that Google is the real target, especially considering that Android sales are surpassing the iPhone’s.

Here is the original:

As the court documents (embedded below) show, Apple mentions four of its patents in the suit. However, two of them had already been included in the initial suit, and it appears like they are being re-included because of some minor corrections that needed to be made by the USPTO.

HTC counter-sued, leading to the threat of banning hypePads and other Apple-branded gadgets.

In other patent news, the software patents-loving Facebook is now at Amazon’s mercy due to Amazon’s latest outrageous patent [1, 2] (this week’s fantasies about overlap and duplicates do not take account of the scale and time required to avoid these). Some critics already use this as a demonstration of the failure of the patent system and software patents in particular.

Moving on a little, here we have VirnetX issuing a press release about the patent it used against Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. This news is mostly covered by Microsoft boosters who worry about the effects on Microsoft:

According to a new survey from the law community, the alleged link between patents and innovation is weak, but they still defend patents in their survey (they are — after all — in the field of law, not science). From the overview:

The first major survey of high-tech entrepreneurs finds that patents provide less incentive to innovate than popularly believed. A large share of software startups avoid patents altogether, finding it more critical to move fast to market. But patents do offer tangible benefits across industries by limiting competition, attracting financing, and increasing the chances of an acquisition or IPO.

Actually, prominent VCs beg to differ. They publicly say that they are against software patents in particular.

Here is a company buying some software patents as assets, as if the right to write some algorithm can become a transferable monopoly.

IMMI’s technology is a patented proprietary software platform that respondents download to their own smartphone or a smartphone provided to them. According to IMMI’s website, the phone randomly samples ambient audio in the room several times a minute, tracking exposure to TV, movies and radio. In addition, IMMI software monitors mobile web surfing activity and measures internet use.

As readers are probably aware, we wrote a lot of posts about WebM because it’s extremely important as a deterrent of patent aggression against GNU/Linux. LWN has made public its coverage on the subject, going under the headline “Swift and predictable reactions to WebM” and Linux Journal says that “Mozilla, Opera, and Flock Release VP8 Ready Browsers” (that sure was fast!)

The latest wares of three popular browsing applications were released this week reflecting a changing Internet. Open formats are taking center stage at Mozilla, Opera, and Flock as lock-in (or freeze-out), security concerns, and performance issues fuel the drive toward the VP8 video format.

[...]

The VP8 codec reference implementation was open sourced by Google on May 19 and is regulated under a BSD license.

Also see “Get Rolling with WebM Video – VP8 WebM Encoding Tools“:

Now the tools are still in the proverbial Stone Age (those that are free) as it’s just been announced recently and you’ll need some tech savviness to get going. Of course if you’re a user of some of the services who have already begun to offer VP8 and WebM support, then you’re already ahead of the pack. I’ll list those services at the end of this article.

This hopefully makes the MPEG cartel simpler to ignore. YouTube may soon be MPEG-free, for those who wish for it to be that way. Canonical indirectly pays MPEG-LA [1, 2], but it really ought not to, at least in the long term.

Everyone is waiting for Bilski right now [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. It’s not just business method and software patents that boggle the mind these days. Here is another new article about gene patents. It’s titled “Myriad Gene Patent Litigation Goes Down Under” [via]

On Tuesday, June 9, 2010, several plaintiffs, including a breast cancer patient and a cancer advocacy group, sued in a Sydney, Australia federal court to invalidate Myriad Genetics’ patents on the breast cancer susceptibility genes BRCA-1 and 2. According to published reports and comments by Australian patent law experts, the suit substantially tracks the much-publicized one filed in New York by the American Civil Liberties Union. In particular, this suit is also a frontal attack on the Myriad patents, seeking a judgment that genes in isolation from the body are products of nature and thus not patentable inventions.

The factual background in Australia seems a bit different. Myriad has granted an exclusive license to perform BRCA gene tests to a Melbourne company called Genetic Technologies Limited, which is a co-defendant in the case. But GTL has been reported to have “gifted” its patent rights to health care institutions, and not to charge royalties. Nonetheless, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have expressed concern about the possibility of GLT exploiting their monopoly as in the U.S., where the tests cost over $3,000. They note that on two earlier occasions GLT sent letters to hospitals telling them to stop testing. A number of Australian sources have also worried aloud about the implications of the patents for medical research.

More patents lead to less innovation, contrary to what lobbyists and propagandists (like the guy shown below) tell legislators. Such weak arguments from them refer to no concrete evidence. Studies have shown repeatedly that software patents are harmful, unless one is a paranoid monopoly or a lawyer.


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