11.08.10

Novell Continues to Exploit Broken USPTO and Collect Even More Software Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 10:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Troll picks cows

Summary: Novell is still playing along with the ‘Dark Side’ of the software patents debate, taking advantage of a system which seems broken beyond repair

Novell is not shy to admit that it likes software patents and it takes some pride in them too. “Inventive people who write more software patents per capita than anywhere else” is how Novell’s CTO described the company’s staff just under a year ago and before he quit.

People can be easily confused by Novell’s membership in the OIN, which does not make Novell an opposer of software patents. But then again, Novell is a predominantly proprietary software company with interest in blocking rivals in some areas of its operation. Novell is also indirectly sponsoring the BSA, which lobbies in favour of software patents.

Over the years we have given many examples of Novell applying for and receiving new software patents. A few days ago another one was announced as coming from Provo. Here is the summary:

Adaptive method and system for encoding digital images for the internet, patent No. 7,826,616, invented by Kasman Ellis Thomas, of Wilton, Conn., assigned to Novell Inc. of Provo.

The USPTO is suppressing rather than fostering innovation and those who support its continued existence possibly pursue the wrong path/s. Over at O’Reilly Radar (whose editors sometimes promote or defend software patents, notably Andy Oram), there is now an announcement about a patent database which would only make the USPTO stronger, not weaker. “U.S. Patent data that once carried a high access fee is now available for free online,” says the summary. From the post: “Just one year ago, I posted a piece on O’Reilly Radar about an unlikely group working happily together to vastly increase the amount of U.S. Patent information available at no charge on the Internet. I’ve done no heavy lifting whatsoever on this project, so it has been a pleasure to watch the U.S. Patent Office, the White House, and Jon Orwant at Google plow through this rather daunting task.

“What’s actually making a real difference at the moment is federal intervention regarding patents on genetics for instance.”“The system is now in full production including all the current feeds that were previously only available for big bucks by subscription. Also available for the first time is the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) data, which is the full “wrapper” for a patent application. PAIR data was only available previously on a rate-limited query-only service.”

How about just showing that the USPTO is doing the wrong type of thing? What is done here is similar to what Peer-to-Patent has been doing, namely complementing the functionality of the USPTO. This would achieve not so much in terms of progress. What’s actually making a real difference at the moment is federal intervention regarding patents on genetics for instance. We wrote about it several times last week and NPR writes about it too at the moment (notice: NPR has also been promoting patents of companies like Monsanto after Bill Gates, a Monsanto shareholder and major promoter, had paid a lot of money to NPR and received self-praising pieces in return).

Dana Blankenhorn joins this debate of patents on the living as he complains about patents in medicine and names this new patent from Zynx Health. From the press release:

Zynx Health, the market leader in providing evidence-based and experience-based clinical decision support solutions, today announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued United States Patent 7,822,626 covering their “extensive suite of tools that facilitate and enhance the capability within a healthcare institution to establish and maintain an evidence-based best practice approach to providing patient care.”

Well, here is a new example of a press release boasting a software patent which does not paint itself as “saving lives” or whatever (for PR purposes). The title says: “Guidance Software Secures Search Patent from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office” (USPTO).

“What’s actually making a real difference at the moment is federal intervention regarding patents on genetics for instance.”
      –Slashdot
Writing on behalf of swpat.org, Ciaran tells Slashdot that things are getting worse at the USPTO and it makes the front page with a very misleading headline. The descriptive summary says: “Anyone who feels that patent quality is just far too high nowadays will be glad to hear that the USPTO has decided to ditch four of their seven tests for obviousness. Whereas the 2007 guidelines said that an idea is considered obvious if it consisted of ‘[predictable] variations [...] based on design incentives or other market forces’ or if there was ‘Use of a known technique [prior art] to improve similar devices (methods, or products) in the same way’, the new guidelines do away with those tests. The classic ‘teaching-suggestion-motivation’ test is still there, with two others. For software developers, silly patents are not the main problem, but they certainly aggravate the matter. As described in one patent lawyer’s summary, this change will ‘give applicants greater opportunities to obtain allowance of claims.’”

TechDirt has also just published this criticism of Judge Rader, to whom the problem with the USPTO is not one to be taken too seriously. TechDirt wrote a good and very lengthy post to explain why Rader is wrong:

Law professor Doug Lichtman’s latest “IP Colloquium” podcast is an interview with Judge Randall Rader, who’s the chief Judge of CAFC, the appeals court that handles most patent cases. Rader is known for being outspoken and opinionated (but also very, very smart), so it’s always fascinating to hear what he has to say. The first part of the interview is interesting from a purely procedural standpoint, as Rader goes through the process by which the CAFC makes decisions, including the fact that nearly every case is decided almost immediately after the oral hearings. It sounds like they almost never feel the need to sleep on a decision. However, the latter part of the interview is where things get really interesting. While Lichtman and I tend to disagree over copyright issues, we find a lot more common ground on patent issues, with Lichtman pointing out the harm that patents often seem to do to innovation, as well as questioning why independent invention isn’t a sign of obviousness.

[...]

Rader does admit that there are cases where companies feel compelled to pay up because the cost of “licensing” is more than the cost of fighting the battle in court. He actually calls it “a form of systematic blackmail” — and he says he’s trying, in his role, to decrease the cost of patent litigation. He suggests a plan to limit discovery for this purpose, which he admits would require a big change in policy (and one that I have trouble believing would actually get anywhere). But that only discusses one small part of the problem, and does not cover many, many, many innovation-hindering situations, especially in cases where there’s independent invention or patent thickets. Lichtman pushes back again, even pointing to situations like Intellectual Ventures showing up at your door with tons of patents.

Rader’s response is really bothersome and ignores the reality. He first brushes it off, by calling it “arguing by anecdote,” but this is a very real situation that happens all the time.

The USPTO is still protected by people who benefit from its existence. These people are rarely — if ever — those who invent new products. Some of them are not even scientists as their background is in law. It is time to take power back from the USPTO, which originally was a well-intended institution providing an incentive for publication (and thus dissemination) of applicable ideas.

Newly-elected UK Government Hopes to Imitate the United States With Software Patents

Posted in America, Europe, Google, Patents at 9:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Theresa May and David Cameron
Photo of Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May (taken by ukhomeoffice)

Summary: The British Prime Minister threatens not only software developers in the UK but in Europe at large now that some charlatans want to open the whole of Europe to US-style patent law

IN yesterday's audiocast Tim and I spoke about the misguided new plan of the government, which seems to be thinking the advancement will be improved or restored in Britain by having more patents and bureaucracy. One of the issues that few outlets have covered is software patents. The Guardian, a leading UK publication that recently sold out to Bill Gates [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] wrote about Cameron’s day with the big G:

Not at all: software patents are defensive, and they’re often a problem for startup companies, which may find themselves threatened by bigger ones which, being bigger, have been able to build them. They’re a blight, and British startups are much better off without them. A senior insider at another big internet company mused to me afterwards: “It sounds like the minister has been nobbled. We’ll have to un-nobble him.”

TechRadar, another British Web site, wrote the following:

Now, it seems, we’re going to review our laws to make them more Google-friendly – including, it seems, our patent laws. The prospect of US-style software patents is a chilling one, with big firms using them to stifle competition and patent trolls effectively running legal extortion rackets.

This post on the patent mayhem surrounding Android should give you an idea of how crazy the US system has become.

Thirdly, there’s the involvement of Facebook and Google. There’s something disturbing about seeing the two online giants so close to government, because our government appears particularly bad at getting them to stick to the law.

British lawyers rejoice over at IAM, which is a site/publication that always promotes their interests. “UK government wants to make it easier to obain software patents” says the headline (yes, with a typo), but the article requires a subscription for one to read.

The FSFE‘s Karsten has just paraphrased Dr. Glyn Moody (a Brit) as saying at FSCONS that software patents “cost US economy 4bn USD 1996-1999, added value of just 100 million USD. Just serve to secure incumbents” (this was stated over the weekend).

The British government must listen to its own people and not multinational corporations. Theresa May still remembers my long conversation with her (my grandfather told me this when he met her in July) and the politicians she is surrounded by are mostly technophobes, so they would believe anything that any company with lobbyists may tell them (this includes Google, which does not accept Moody’s sob story). This is a recipe for disaster and further loss of power to those who are already in power. Software patents are fences, therefore they impede new entrants like Google used to be and no longer is. Falk Metzler, a German patent attorney, can already be seen using language tricks to say that “Computer Program Claim not Excluded from Patentability under the EPC”:

The referral claimed a divergence between decisions T 1173/97 (Computer program product/IBM), placing the emphasis on the function of the computer program rather than the manner in which it is claimed (e.g. as computer program, computer program product, or computer-implemented method), and T 424/03 (Clipboard formats I/MICROSOFT), which placed emphasis on the manner in which the computer program was claimed. Following the reasoning of the latter decision, only a claim of the form “computer program for method ‘X’” could possibly be excluded from patentability as a computer program as such, whereas claims of the form “computer implemented method ‘X’” or “computer program product storing executable code for method ‘X’” would not be excluded, irrespective of the nature of the method ‘X’.

As a quick reminder, software patents may come to Europe through case laws in Britain (Symbian) and in Germany (Microsoft and Siemens), so this is important for the continent at large, especially now that Barnier et al. push for centralisation [1, 2, 3].

Patent Situation in Canada Shows Continued Colonisation

Posted in America, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 8:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

1946 Canadian flag (proposal)

Summary: Another look at Canadian patent law (especially regarding software patents) and how it is affected by the neighbours down south

Patent law allows one company to have monopoly power over the action of other companies. One country’s national patent law allows this country to have leverage/power over another (e.g. the United States enforcing US-style laws in China). It’s not about innovation, it’s about protection by offensive action. There are ways of obscuring these truisms using all sorts of euphemisms and propaganda that’s repeated endlessly until it permeates all of human kind. The spin does not make these outdated claims any truer.

Metzler has just made this remark on Canada:

New guidance re computer-implemented inventions in Canada http://t.co/kgZwlh4

Here is the post in question. It says: “Interestingly, during the consultation, the US Supreme Court handed down the landmark Bilski opinion (holding that the machine-or-transformation test is not the only test for patent eligible subject matter) but this did not seem to find its way into the Canadian chapter.

“The Office had been urged by some stakeholders to wait for Justice Phelan’s forthcoming decision in the Amazon 1-click appeal. This decision has been under reserve since the hearing on April 20, 2010. Should the Court re-write the legal foundation for the guidance, the Office’s new guidance on computer inventions may become obsolete very soon.”

While this may be true, recently we saw that US-style patent law enters Canada [1, 2, 3, 4] just as US-style copyright law aggressively forces its way into Canada, despite great resistance from the Canadian public. A lot of the patent side of it reached public awareness after Amazon had done its latest bad deed [1, 2, 3]. This helped expose the uncertainty and the associated threat.

According to the president of the FFII:

Canadian PO says computer is undefined: “The definition of “computer” is so broad and vague that it has little meaning” http://ur1.ca/2a8xd

Amazon in Canada is one of the major test cases at the moment and the swpat.org wiki has a new page about it. If any of our Canadian readers could add information, that would be lovely. Techrights was recently approached by Canadian television (CTV) for more information on the subject as information that is posted here gets taken seriously by the mainstream. This helps us shatter myths and bring about positive changes.

What Alfresco and Android Can Teach About Ubuntu

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Ubuntu at 8:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Silhouette - technical

Summary: Canonical puts its own wheels inside the GNU/Linux system, which in turn it can use to deviate further into a package that’s open but not exactly free (as in freedom)

A LONG discussion in IRC this morning revolved around Canonical. It is important to just keep an eye on what Canonical is doing, not to accuse them (based on mere suspicion) of something which they have not yet done and may never do at all.

Last month Canonical was criticised for its copyright policy in Ubuntu. Now that we deal with Unity and Wayland in future releases of Ubuntu, one might also ask about control which goes beyond copyrights. There is growing concern among us that Ubuntu does to GNU/Linux what Alfresco does right about now by going proprietary with an ‘open’ core-like (dual licensing) structure. Canonical’s current COO came from Alfresco where such a business strategy had been implemented even before he left. Hosted plans are part of it.

“Now that we deal with Unity and Wayland in future releases of Ubuntu, one might also ask about control which goes beyond copyrights.”Canonical desperately needs to hire some Free software advocates, including the likes of developers such as Alan Cox (now in Intel). Canonical adds so-called ‘pragmatists’, especially for the management (there are even hirings from Microsoft), so guidance sometimes misses the point about freedom. Just consider the Yahoo! debacle (Ubuntu sending users to Microsoft), which Canonical eventually withdrew from, only after a lot of backlash.

There is a growing perception that’s difficult to deny about Canonical building its own Android-like environment which embodies GNU/Linux but disregards developers from other companies that use the same software. Android is good at addressing Ubuntu’s #1 bug (market share), but it does very little to actually promote software freedom.

Here is a new example of a key Canonical developer promoting Novell’s Banshee, which is based on Novell’s Mono that contains Microsoft code. We wrote about this troubling subject in:

Ubuntu should not be imitating Apple or emulating Microsoft. Trying to become something they are not will leave almost everyone dissatisfied. Additionally, in order to succeed, Ubuntu should work closely with other companies. Diverging and doing things alone would leave Canonical competing quite weakly against far bigger and more aggressive companies. A lot of developers associate themselves with Free/libre software through the GPL (which Apple hates). Ubuntu should not anger “developers developers developers developers” like Microsoft is doing right now; instead, it ought to consider working more closely with GNOME and with X. It would help everyone.

“That would be because we believe in Free Software and doing the right thing (a practice you appear to have given up on). Maybe it is time the term ‘open source’ also did the decent thing and died out with you.”

Alan Cox to Eric Raymond

Links 8/11/2010: Userful Becomes Free Software, Vandalism Suspected Amid Postponed LSE Move to GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 7:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Multiseat for Schools

      Userful has just become FLOSS… For years Userful, a company from Alberta, Canada, has pushed a multiseat (multiple simultaneous keyboard/mouse/monitor/users on one PC) solution that is great for schools, libraries and offices. anywhere you have a lot of users in one place. It uses the multiseat capability of X windows, the networked display of GNU/Linux. Now they offer free downloads and an easy installation. All you need are USB keyboards and mice and multiple video cards.

    • The So-Called Death Of Desktop Linux

      And that’s why the article is called ‘The So-Called Death Of Desktop Linux’. Yes, desktop Linux adoption has appeared for years to have been stalled, due to Microsoft’s monopolistic manipulations. But Microsoft is limited. Sure, it’s one of the richest companies in the world. But even it has only so much money to spend.

      Add to that it’s inability to produce an answer to Apple’s media campaign, and people who didn’t know they had an option, now know that they do. Mobile Phones and Tablet Computers are now defined in most people’s minds as ‘Not Made By Microsoft’, just as MP3 players are. About the only success that Microsoft has had outside of it’s traditional markets is the Ford Sync, and Ford acted pretty quickly to make the Microsoft name just about totally invisible.

      It appears that we are approaching a tipping point. I wonder if Microsoft isn’t shortly going to feel like Terry Pratchett’s non-hero Rincewind.

  • Server

    • London Stock Exchange traders concerned over network capacity around new Linux system

      The exchange declined to comment on reports that a contractor was suspended over a “suspicious” network incident.

    • Research, Research, And More Research

      No where in the IDC Press Release did it mention that Windows was installed on 75.3 percent of servers sold worldwide. So where did Mary Jane get this number? So far, no one knows, probably because it’s the weekend. But others picked up on her numbers without confirming them.

      Wikipedia quotes Mary Jane’s numbers as gospel in the OS Market Share/Servers entry. I noticed this when I was doing some research for another article, and since I have a horse in this race so to speak, I didn’t make any changes, instead I left a message on their discussion board…

      [...]

      Conclusions? Well, you can’t trust anything you find in any media. You need to do some research yourself, because no matter how careful some of us are, others just repeat whatever they’ve heard, and all too often it’s wrong. Even those of us who try to be accurate make mistakes.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA have ‘no plans to support Wayland’

        With the current flurry of excitement over the announced aim of Ubuntu the current X server with the promising ‘Wayland’ display server in the near future, NVidia have decided to join in the jamboree by stating their intentions on delivering support for it.

  • Applications

    • Download Compress PDF 1.2 (Nautilus Script)

      Compress PDF is a Nautilus script which uses ghostscript to compress PDF files and comes in 8 languages (English, Portuguese (pt-PT), Spanish (es-AR), Czech, French, Simplified Chinese, Arabic, Malayalam). The script lets you choose between 5 different compression levels: Screen-view only, Low Quality, Hight Quality, High Quality (Color Preserving) and Default.

    • Avant Window Navigator Gets Per Dock Intellihide

      An update to the Avant Window Navigator trunk PPA from a few days ago brought per dock/panel Intellihide to AWN (taskmanager).

    • apt-offline – 1.0

      I am very pleased to announce apt-offline, version 1.0.

      This release adds a Graphical User Interace to apt-offline.

  • Distributions

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • More on Shuttleworth v X

          Because RedHat and Ubuntu may not see desktop GNU/Linux as a hotspot will not make it go away. It is easier to make money in hot areas like smart-thingies but Ubuntu would be very foolish to abandon the desktop. I think Linton is wrong about that. Mark Shuttleworth may be somewhat bold but he is no fool. If Ubuntu does go –>Unity–>Wayland they will make sure the desktop is well maintained. Wayland is quite compatible for the desktop especially for video/high-end graphics. For that purpose it does not need to work on every piece of hardware out there, just the ones most likely used for such work. The market will sort that out but I can envisage each hardware maker of graphics interfaces producing a product line with a driver for Wayland. The rest of the desktop world can run X, perhaps in a virtual machine running on top of Wayland somehow. The details will be sorted out.

        • Battery Status PPA, Finally Updated With Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Packages

          Battery Status is a GNOME panel applet that shows information about laptop battery state – but has a lot of extra features compared to GNOME’s Power Manager icon. Battery Status applet features a battery status dialog, power statistics, CPU frequency scaling and power management preferences.

        • Compiz to be Rewritten for Ubuntu Wayland

          A few days ago I theorized that Mark Shuttleworth’s move to Unity on Wayland was an effort to focus his operating system more on mobile devices and, ultimately, cloud-based services. Unity’s hardware compatibility is limited in range, at least for now, and Wayland is even moreso, again at least for now. But there’s one part of the equation I failed to consider. What about the X11-dependent Compiz?

          One of the more intriguing aspects of Wayland is that it does away with window managers. Instead it pushes all of the work of managing windows to the application. X11 and application developers have been resisting Ubuntu’s push in that direction for a while. But with Wayland, it’s built-in. This opens the door for one misbehaving application to bring down the whole graphical display – as seen in Windows.

        • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android Code Walk-through

          Despite misinformation that has appeared in comments here and on the web that somehow Android is not GNU/Linux, this chart clearly shows that Android is a layer running on top of GNU/Linux. Android is basically GNU/Linux with a virtual machine (Dalvik) running byte-code translated from Java. There’s no Java code in there, Larry.

          [...]

          [comments:]

          Well, GNU/Linux means running the GNU userland toolchain on top of the Linux kernel.
          Android is essentially DalvikVM (not a GNU project) as the userland layer on top of the Linux kernel.
          Therefore Android is DalvikVM/Linux.
          I may stand corrected if you can run the GNU utilities on Android.

          [...]

          libc is BSD. Likely Dalvik depends on libc.

          Development depends on GNU:
          GCC

          They use GNU bison for something:

          bison

          and GRUB

          and glib

          So, you could be right. There is not much GNU in there. There is a lot of BSD stuff but it’s not BSD either. Folks do hack in and run Debian GNU/Linux on their Android devices. It’s a personal computer, just not x86.

        • In the USA, Android Continues to Climb

          Because Android does not lean to anti-competition, it likely will not end with 90%+ share but we shall have to see how far it will go. I look forward to the future when users of Android in mobile will be accepting of GNU/Linux on the desktop/notebook.

        • Replicant- Android For Linux Purists

          Developed by LibrePlanet Italia and Software Freedom Centre, Replicant seeks to be the 100% free software compliant mobile operating system that is built on Android.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Saving Identica and StatusNet?

    There is a significant spam problem on Identi.ca, and it looks like some fresh ideas are needed to crush it. Here are mine, and a few ideas that I like from other people.

    Identi.ca is the open microblogging site based on the StatusNet software. It’s a fantastic service, with features that leave Twitter in the dust. But spammers are not being caught and banned quickly. Users are becoming frustrated.

  • Web Browsers

    • Top 10 Must-Have Browser Extensions

      Your browser of choice may have changed a lot in the past year, but luckily the best extensions for making your browser better have kept up with all the most popular browsers. Here are our cross-platform, must-have favorites.

  • Oracle

    • The Legacy of OpenOffice.org

      If one just read the headlines over the past month one would get the mistaken notion that LibreOffice was the first attempt to take the OpenOffice.org open source code and make a different product from it, or even a separate open source project. This is far from true. There have been many spin-off products/projects, including:

      * StarOffice
      * Symphony
      * EuroOffice
      * RedOffice
      * NeoOffice
      * PlusOffice
      * OxygenOffice
      * PlusOffice
      * Go-OO
      * Portable OpenOffice

      and, of course, LibreOffice. I’ve tracked down some dates of various releases of these projects and placed them on a time line above. You can click to see a larger version.

      So before we ring the death knell for OpenOffice, let’s recognized the potency of this code base, in terms of its ability to spawn new projects. LibreOffice is the latest, but likely not the last example we will see. This is a market where “one size fits all” does not ring true. I’d expect to see different variations on these editors, just as there are different kinds of users, and different markets which use these kinds of tools. Whether you call it a “distribution” or a “fork”, I really don’t care. But I do believe that the only kind of open source project that does not spawn off additional projects like this is a dead project.

    • Oracle To Monetize Java VM
  • Project Releases

    • Lightspark 0.4.5 Is Bringing The New Graphics Engine

      Lightspark’s advanced graphics engine will soon be released with the forthcoming Lightspark 0.4.5 version. We first talked about this advanced graphics engine in August that uses Cairo and OpenGL for rendering, but finally, after making a lot of progress, it’s ready to be released.

  • Licensing

    • British author faces prison sentence in Singapore

      The British author Alan Shadrake is today facing a possible prison sentence after a court in Singapore convicted him of challenging the integrity of the city state’s judiciary in a book criticising its use of the death penalty.

      Shadrake faces a custodial sentence or a fine – or both – for contempt of court when Singapore’s high court sentences him next week.

Leftovers

  • Goodbye PC

    The last bas­tion of the com­puter will be the office. At this time, it is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine peo­ple ges­tur­ing in front of their com­put­ers as a way to inter­act with them. More likely, tilted touch dis­plays will become the new norm in offices (and by tilted, I mean that the screen would be on the desk at an angle of no more than 20–25 degrees). Those types of changes will take some time to make their ways into cubi­cles and may force busi­ness to even rethink the con­cept of the cubi­cle. The ones that have already will get a head start on their competitor.

  • Why Did TechCrunch Scrub a Post About an Alleged Tech Sexual Assault? (Updated)

    On Thursday, Google technical writer Noirin Shirley accused Twitter software engineer Florian Leibert of sexual assault on her personal blog. TechCrunch staffer Alexia Tsotsis picked up the story, writing the post, “Googler Accuses Twitter Engineer Of Sexual Assault, Trial By Twitter Commences,” late on Friday. By Saturday morning, however, the link was dead.

  • Web browser pioneer backs new way to surf Internet

    Web browser pioneer Marc Andreessen is betting people are ready to try a different way of surfing the Internet.

    That’s why he is backing a new browser call RockMelt, which will be available for the first time Monday after nearly two years in development.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Obama environment agenda under threat from incoming Republicans

      Republican leaders have begun gathering evidence for sweeping investigations of Barack Obama’s environmental agenda, from climate science to the BP oil spill, if as expected, they take control of the House of Representatives in the 2 November mid-term elections, the Guardian has learned.

    • Is climate science disinformation a crime against humanity?

      Disinformation about the state of climate change science is extraordinarily – if not criminally – irresponsible, because the consensus scientific view is based upon strong evidence that climate change:

      • Is already being experienced by tens of thousands in the world;

      • Will be experienced in the future by millions of people from greenhouse gas emissions that have already been emitted but not yet felt due to lags in the climate system; and,

      • Will increase dramatically in the future unless greenhouse gas emissions are dramatically reduced from existing global emissions levels.

      Threats from climate change include deaths and danger from droughts, floods, heat, storm-related damages, rising oceans, heat impacts on agriculture, loss of animals that are dependent upon for substance purposes, social disputes caused by diminishing resources, sickness from a variety of diseases, the inability to rely upon traditional sources of food, the inability to use property that people depend upon to conduct their life including houses or sleds in cold places, the destruction of water supplies, and the inability to live where has lived to sustain life. The very existence of some small island nations is threatened by climate change.

    • Barack Obama’s green agenda crushed at the ballot box

      Californians decisively rejected a measure to roll back the state’s landmark climate change law yesterday, the sole win for environmentalists on a night that crushed Barack Obama’s green agenda.

    • We’ve been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened
  • Finance

    • Jamming neoclassical economics

      Students at the University of California-Berkeley have launched the first salvo in an international movement to challenge neoclassical economics. They printed the Kick It Over Manifesto [pdf] on bright pink paper and pinned it to the door of Daniel McFadden, a Nobel Prize winner in economics [pdf], and to bulletin boards throughout the department.

    • Is What’s Good for Corporate America Still Good For America?

      “Of course,” you answer, since you’re reading this blog on HBR. And “of course,” I answer, since I ran the editorial page at BusinessWeek for a decade and covered everything from currencies to innovation. But the anti-Big Business chorus is getting louder and louder, with the Tea Party radicals on the right singing a tune CEOs and B-School profs would be foolish to ignore. They should be worried. I sure am.

      The CEOs I have talked to in recent years over drinks, overseas, and in private, are worried too. I have heard this comment at Davos far too many times to ignore: “I am as patriotic as anyone, but when I see where my corporation is investing, where it is doing R&D and especially where it is hiring, I worry about my country. It’s all going outside America. But what can I do?”

      In vino veritas perhaps. Not ALL of his global company’s R&D, investing and hiring is happening in China or India, but so much is that he and his fellow US CEO-buddies talk about it a lot — to themselves. When they do go public, they frame the Big Business issue in terms of complaints — too much regulation, high taxes, government debt to invest in America. The Tea Party old folks, the union people, the millions of white and blue collar Americans laid off — and my Gen Y students — frame the Big Business issue differently — in terms of obligation. They wonder, what, if any, obligations do corporations still feel to the nation, to democracy, to employees, especially after taxpayers bailed out Wall Street, Detroit, and the “system” in general. They wonder about CEOs making so much when employees lose jobs to outsourcing and hedge fund managers pay half the federal tax rate than their secretaries.

    • President Obama: offshoring fears are outdated, unwarranted

      The perception that Indian call centers and back office operations cost U.S. jobs is an old stereotype that ignores today’s reality that two-way trade between the U.S. and India is helping create jobs and raise the standard of living in both countries, U.S. President Barack Obama told a gathering of business executives in Mumbai on Saturday.

      President Obama’s remarks come after some moves in the U.S. that had Indian outsourcers worried that the U.S. may get protectionist in the wake of job losses in the country. The state of Ohio, for example, banned earlier this year the expenditure of public funds for offshore purposes.

    • Unicredit Debt Collection Scam “Serves” Fake Court Papers by Fake Cops and Fake Judges

      This story is so outrageous that I cannot figure out why it has not gone viral on the internet. Unicredit America Inc, a debt collection firm, had people dress up (pretending to be police), serve fake papers to people requiring them to show up in court.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Updated: ABC, NBC, CBS Block Website Access from Google TV

      Google TV was designed to allow users to easily search for their favorite television shows across local television listings and Web sites offering streaming. Google TV can also run Android apps such as Netflix streaming, Pandora Internet radio and Amazon Video on Demand.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Lamebook Sues Facebook Over Trademark Infringement. Wait, What?

      Here’s a head scratcher, at first glance at least: Lamebook, a hilarious advertising-supported site that lets Facebook users submit funny status updates, pictures and “other gems” originating from the social network, is apparently suing Facebook over trademark infringement.

      Lamebook was launched in April of 2009 by two Austin, Texas based graphic designers (Jonathan Standefer and Matthew Genitempo), and was obviously ‘inspired’ by Facebook’s branding when it comes to its name, logo and color scheme.

    • Copyrights

      • [Canada] Bill C-32: Mr. Ricci is wrong about Fair Dealing

        The Globe and Mail published a Bill C-32 Opinion piece by Governor General Award Winning fiction writer Nico Ricci, This updated copyright bill guts Canadian culture.

        The very title of this opinion piece is both inflammatory and misleading. Although Mr. Ricci mayt be qualified to comment on the state of culture, the article is actually exclusively devoted to one small piece of Bill C-32, the expansion of the fair dealing section of Bill C-32 to include educational uses.

Clip of the Day

Gnome Panel


Credit: TinyOgg

Apple EULA is Still Not Compatible With the GNU GPL

Posted in Apple, DRM, GPL at 6:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Jobs and GNU
Source of original photo

Summary: VLC helps expose Apple’s real zeal and disdain for freedom, which Groklaw believes will pressure Apple to rethink its ways and undo the hostile EULA

“I am glad that VLC is enforcing the GPL against Apple,” Richard Stallman wrote some days ago regarding the VLC saga.

Pamela Jones from Groklaw (winner of an FSF award) cites her friend Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols and adds: “As Simon Phipps points out on identi.ca, the headline should more accurately read, “Apple’s EULA blocks distribution of all GPL software including VLC.” But you know what? It’s fine with me if there is a clear dividing line. Get an Android if you want to have it all. If you want Apple’s tightly controlled, DRM’d environment instead, you can have it. Over time, my bet is that Apple will fix this problem, because in the long run, it’s in their economic interest to do so. Plus may I point out that the GPL was around long before the Apple AppStore, so if there is a conflict, it isn’t the GPL that made it happen.”

“We increasingly cover Apple in this Web site because it’s a real problem, in some way greater than Microsoft which is imploding anyway.”Additionally, pointing to this article about Skyfire in Apple’s App Store, Jones writes: “this is why I know in due time Apple is likely to fix the GPL compatibility problem at its AppsStore. It’s all about what customers want, and if enough people want something, they usually can get it. And the opposite is also true.”

Groklaw has been quite forgiving towards Apple. In recent months, however, Groklaw was reformed this attitude and did a lot less to promote Apple’s side. We increasingly cover Apple in this Web site because it’s a real problem, in some way greater than Microsoft which is imploding anyway. As argued in yesterday's show, Apple is to choice what having two parties representing the same business interests is to politics. The real choice comes from freedom.

Another Microsoft Product Seemingly Dies: Bing Maps 3-D

Posted in Microsoft at 6:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

World map

Summary: The continued collapse of Microsoft’s business as seen based on its products portfolio

TECHRIGHTS no longer covers Microsoft like it used to, so the editorship relies on people informing about important bits of news which were missed. Well, two people — including my colleague in yesterday's audiocast — have said that our list of dead Microsoft products ought to be amended to include 3D map viewer in Bing Maps (as well as dumping Silverlight as default, which we covered last week).

News coverage includes:

The last one is from Microsoft itself. On average, Microsoft kills one of it products every two weeks. It’s the hallmark of a dying company.

”Microsoft is Like Enron in 2001!“

Posted in Deception, Finance, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer at 6:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hallowindows

Summary: Steve Ballmer’s dumping of many shares of the company he runs has raised many questions, including his abuse of the system with a lot of lobbying money

A YEAR ago, a Microsoft shareholder likened Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates to Bernard Madoff. He gave an interview to IDG. Now that Microsoft's CEO is selling billions in shares, people start talking about his future in the company (or the future of the company in general). Corporate press like Associated Press says nothing critical and Microsoft-sponsored sites like this one say that Ballmer has just contributed a huge sum of money to lobbying against tax for the rich (I-1098):

The stakes are getting higher in the battle over a proposed tax on high-income individuals and families in Washington state, and it turns out Steve Ballmer really doesn’t want Initiative 1098 to pass. A new public disclosure statement (PDF) from the campaign to defeat the proposed income tax shows the Microsoft CEO contributing another $325,000 to the cause, bringing his total to $425,000.

What this Microsoft boosters’ site will not tell readers is that Gates found a loophole and therefore does not pay tax while he takes over more industries and creates new monopolies. Instead, this silly site gives a platform to the Gates family (the senior one for example) and pretends it wants rich people to be taxed. This type of damaging spin oughtn’t be forgiven for because it hurts the same citizens the site claims to be informing. A few weeks ago there was similar spin aided by Pelosi’s Microsoft visit, which this site covered poorly. Microsoft is working against the US public, contrary to Pelosi’s claims, and the explanation can be found here. Anyway, in another post from the same site they announce that “I-1098 goes down in flames”, having previously used it to unjustly praise the Gates family (which is exempted from tax).

Washington voters have decided that they don’t want to tax the rich in order to raise funds for education. Initiative 1098, which would have imposed a state income tax on individuals making more than $200,000, was defeated Tuesday night, according to early returns from the Washington State Secretary of State’s office.

Somebody a little sharper has submitted a summary to Slashdot in which s/he puts together the pieces and explains that when Ballmer sells his shares he profits a lot from all the lobbying (legalised bribery) he has just done to distort public policy. “Income Tax Quashed, Ballmer To Cash In Billions” says the headline:

Just three days after the measure went down in flames, Ballmer said in a statement that he plans to sell up to 75 million of his Microsoft shares by the end of the year to ‘gain financial diversification and to assist in tax planning.’ Based on Friday’s closing price of $26.85, the 75M shares would be valued at approximately $2 billion. All of which might make a cynic question what was really important to Microsoft — public education, or a $2B state income tax-free payday for its CEO?

As a reminder, Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie also paid $100,000 to Obama (personal payments, not corporate payments). How many citizens of the United States can afford to do this type of stuff? This is not democratic.

Microsoft's booster Eric Savitz shows that Gates too continues to sell his Microsoft shares:

Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer disclosed in an SEC filing Friday that he sold $1.34 billion worth of stock on November 3-5, at prices ranging from $26.74 to $27.18 a share. After the sales, which included 49.3 million shares, Ballmer continues to hold 358.9 million shares.

“Microsoft is like Enron in 2001,” says gnufreex about this news. It was only about a week ago that we mentioned a site saying: “Enron was a cash maven too, till nearly the very end” and Microsoft’s “moves are not a marker of a company with coffers full of cash.” As a reminder, Microsoft has growing debt and just because rich people came out of Microsoft does not mean much for the company’s own situation. “Ballmer’s Worth Billions, and he’s Cashing in his Stock” reports Maximum PC:

Steve Ballmer might look like Joe Everyman on the outside, but under that sweat stained exterior is a billionaire in disguise, and according to Reuters he’s cashing out. The CEO has apparently confirmed reports that he has sold 49.3 million shares of Microsoft stock worth an estimated $1.3 billion, a move that some feel might be motivated by the end of Bush-era tax cuts on capital gains.

One must not forget the Bush-era Microsoft pardon. The company was supposed to be forcibly split about a decade ago, after it had committed serious offences against many companies and thus harmed progress.

“Microsoft looks at new ideas, they don’t evaluate whether the idea will move the industry forward, they ask, ‘how will it help us sell more copies of Windows?’”

Bill Gates, The Seattle Weekly, (April 30, 1998)

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