German court: Google Image thumbnails infringe on copyright

13 10 2008

A German court has ruled that Google’s image searches aren’t allowed to display thumbnails of copyrighted images, and says that it’s Google’s job to figure out what’s copyrighted.

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The knowledge revolution

13 10 2008

By Becky Hogge

The global transformation of the market in intellectual property is provoking elite resistance, but also creative initiatives to develop the potential of the new knowledge economy. Becky Hogge maps the state of debate.

In 2006, at the launch of Unbounded Freedom, Rosemary Bechler’s investigation into the Creative Commons for the British Council think-tank Counterpoint, I heard a comment I have not forgotten. The event had been contentious, dividing its audience of publishers, scientists and technologists. The two speakers, one from the publishing industry and one from the world of intellectual-property reform, had not seen eye-to-eye. Then a man with a background in scientific research funding stood up. “It appears to me there are two sides


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Sony Ericsson seeks India Patent

10 10 2008

According to a report published in the Economic Times dated 10 October 2008, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communication has filed a patent application in India for its new audio headset, which can be connected with various devices using bluetooth technology. The application was filed on August 18, 2008 and has been published in the Patent Office Journal dated October 3, 2008.

In the patent application, the company has given the following description of the device :

An audio headset usable for conducting a voice call through a phone, and for playing audio, such as music, frotR a streaming audio device, by means of a speaker. The headset comprises a signal transceiver, wirelessly connectable to a plurality of devices, including a voice call device and an audio device. A control unit in the headset can be controlled by means of a switea, which is operable to selectively set the control unit to a single point connection setting, in which only audio signals received from p first device are relayed to the speaker, or to a multiple point connection setting, in which audio signals received from the first devicl or from a second device are relayed to the speaker. The first device is typically a mobile phone, and priority is preferably alwayp given to voice call signals from mobile phone even in the multipoint connection setting.

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EU working on bill of rights for online shoppers

8 10 2008

The European Commission hopes that a newly-proposed set of shopper rights will not only help consumers, but also e-commerce within Europe. The organization says that, with the proposed rights, more people may gain the confidence to shop across country borders.

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This is scary

8 10 2008

Japan’s Daily Yomiuri Online has a very chilling story about Communist China concerning technology imported their country.

The Chinese government plans to introduce a new system requiring foreign firms to disclose secret information about digital household appliances and other products starting from May, sources said Thursday.

If a company refuses to disclose such information, the Chinese government plans to ban the firm from exporting the product to the Chinese market, as well as bar production and sales in the country, according to the sources.

Critics worry that such a system risks seeing the intellectual property of foreign firms passed onto their Chinese competitors.

In addition, the envisaged system poses security concerns if coding technology used in digital devices developed in other countries is leaked to China, they added.

There already is a serious problem with Communist China complete disregard for IP rights.  Giving them access to the source code of every IC based device that is imported to their country is only going to make that worse.

HT to Doug Ross

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When Judges Violate Copyright Free License Terms

8 10 2008

We noted in a number of places in our text, the irony in the likelihood that many officers of the court probably have about as much trouble following IP law as does the general public. [ell]

I came across this anecdote earlier this week, reading in the Israeli press about a judge who quoted in a court opinion an article from the Hebrew Wikipedia, but who failed to mentioned her source. The judge apparently copy-pasted whole sentences from a Hebrew Wikipedia article about umbilical cord blood. Since no references whatsoever were provided, the judge likely violated the terms of the GFDL license controlling Wikipedia content. The Israeli Wikipedia foundation complained about the mishap and was able to squeeze a laconic response from the courts administration, promising this shall not repeat.

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The Silent Death of Freedom (2)

8 10 2008

I am not sure who told me about it but once I googled it I found a number of posts about a plan by France’s prime minister Sarkozy making one step further in the direction of turning Internet Service providers into deputy cops. You can read more about it on Eric Bangeman’s blog on ‘ISP’s as copyright cops.’ The Internet has the opportuntity to be the great equalizer but it is used exactly the opposite way.

Well, you might say that tracking Internet usage to catch those nasty people who defraud billions of the record companies, the poor artists and the people who pay for their music is acceptable. I feel that this is not so because where does it stop? Artists especially see hardly ever more than 5% of the revenue that there music produces. We can start now a discussion about how acceptable or sensible the current copyright laws still are. Copyright and patent laws were originally made to protect the small artist or inventor but they have turned into a business tool for the global corporations to supress the individual innovators in arts, science and engineering. Especially in countries with Anglican case law this works perfectly well because you can sue someone and you will not have to pay his legal fees even if you loose. The large corporations don’t have to win the cases on merit, they win because lawyers charge 0 an hour so a court battle that lasts several years costs as many millions. Normal people therefore have to throw in the towel. Only in cases where large corporations stand a chance of being sued for damages because of neglect or discrimination you will find the ambulance chasing lawyers offering their legal advice pro bono.

Which directly leads to a problem with Sarkozy’s plan that is even bigger – privacy. There is no court authorization involved in spying on the internet user. France is not the first to step into this direction. The EU has adopted a directive that authorizes its members to perform telecommunication data retention. Germany has been on the forefront of this trend. Since 1st of January 2008 all German ISP and telephone providers have to store connection information and also emails for six month. At least has the German Supreme Court decided to put the unlimited use of the recorded data on hold. But they are still recorded! That is much like the post office being instructed to open each letter and keep a copy! Sounds like Communist Eastern Germany doesn’t it? Some in Germany call it ‘Stasi 2.0’. How much longer will it take until each phone call is recorded just in case? Whenever the government wants to spy on its citizens then it is to stop terrorists or catch child pornographers. Strange enough that mostly other people are caught ‘by chance’ for tax evasion. The German government can by the way request a citizens bank details without his knowledge.

The other direction to improve this data collection and correlation effort is a unique identifying number for all aspects of private life. For tax purposes those numbers already exist. In Spain for example you can virtually do nothing without this number, not even get a printed invoice! Well, the US is not much better. My PayPal records (and a few million others by means of data mining) were supoened by the IRS because of my country of residence. There are legislation bills waiting to be approved in the US that will outdo the EU in empowering the government to spy on its citizens.

I can seriously recommend The Crime of Reason: And the Closing of the Scientific Mind (2008) by Robert B. Laughlin a Nobel laureate in physics. Laughlin proposes that governments and industry are restricting access to knowledge by becoming intellectual property owners, who want ideas to be treated like physical assets with their unauthorized acquisition prosecuted as theft. With the problem being a complex socio-political issue Laughlin has no offhand solutions ready, but then who has when most people don’t even acknowledge the problem. Laughlin – like me – proposes that the huge amount of information that we are flooded with everyday is mostly there to hide the political reality from us. We seem to know but it is so much that all this information produces is more noise and in the end more fear and therefore makes us pretty glad that the people ‘up there’ have a handle on things. That reminds me of the following popular quote:

‘The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre.’ Frank Zappa

Well, your freedom to have an opinion will never be taken away, as long as you don’t say it aloud.

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This week in review … WIPO Assemblies conclude, take note of IGC work

7 10 2008

WIPO Assemblies Conclude

WIPO press release – 1 October 2008

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Topped by the appointment of Francis Gurry as the next Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the WIPO Assemblies concluded on 29 September 2008. In his acceptance speech, Francis Gurry outlined his priorities for the future and called for “concrete outcomes” to negotiations relating to the protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. With regard to the work of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), the General Assembly noted the work under the Committee on the analysis of gaps in the protection available for traditional cultural expressions/expressions of folklore and for traditional knowledge. These gap analyses have been developed and reviewed through an open commentary process in preparation for the IGC’s October 2008 session. Delegates also noted the IGC’s decision to update and re-issue working documents on the protection of genetic resources for in-depth discussion at its next session, and the invitation for intersessional commentary on the issue of genetic resources. With a view to accelerating the Committee’s work, in line with its mandate, the October 2008 session of the IGC will consider establishing intersessional mechanisms to build on the progress achieved so far in a structured and focused manner. Member states also welcomed the further successful implementation of the WIPO Voluntary Fund for Indigenous and Local Communities, supported by generous donations, noting that it had significantly enhanced the depth and diversity of representation in the IGC process. Read the press release …

This week in review … Developing countries call for binding instrument to protect TK

7 10 2008

Smooth transition for WIPO

Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest – 2 October 2008

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: During the recently concluded meeting of the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), developing countries, in particular the African Group, reaffirmed their long-standing demand for an international binding instrument to protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore, making reference to regional instruments recently concluded in Africa with this objective. Read the article …

This week in review … WIPO/ARIPO MoU strengthens cooperation on TK protection

7 10 2008

WIPO and ARIPO Sign MOU to Expand Cooperation

WIPO press release – 3 October 2008

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Francis Gurry and his counterpart from the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) Gift H. Sibanda signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on 2 October 2008 in Geneva, to strengthen and expand cooperation between the two organizations. The MOU covers traditional areas of cooperation relating to capacity building, as well as a special project to boost ARIPO’s patent information capacity. In addition to the provision of technical and legislative assistance, cooperation will also be strengthened in establishing a legal framework for the protection on traditional knowledge and traditional expressions of folklore. Read the press release …