Monday, July 31, 2006

New draft of GPL v3 published

The second draft of the GNU General Public License version 3 is now available to the public. I have spent some time this weekend reading through the new draft and comparing it with the original. You can find some of my earlier opinions about the first draft in this SCRIPT-ed article. The new draft has been released alongside some useful information about the drafting process, including an audio comment by Eben Moglen and a document explaining the changes. The draft comes after three international conferences, thousands of comments on the website and hundreds of hours of committee discussions.

The text has been tidied and compressed, making the new draft much more readable and easier to follow. However, the end result is still a long document, but it is good to see that there are some efforts in making the license as user-friendly as possible. It must be remembered that the primary audience of the GPL is not the legal profession, the recipients are software developers.

One of the stated goals of GPL version 3 has been to make it compatible with international standards set out in the Berne Copyright Convention, as it has been recognised by the drafters that the licence has international use, but earlier versions were designed with American law in mind. In my opinion, the most welcome change to the new draft has been to get rid of some American-specific terminology by using international definitions. This applies particularly to the term "derivative work", which has specific meaning in American law as a work based on another. However, derivative work has other meanings in other jurisdictions (such as the UK), so the term has been a sticking point for international lawyers and academics since earlier GPL versions. The new draft uses the term "modified", defined as "versions in which material has been translated or added".

A lot of re-drafting has gone into Section 1 with regards to source code. This was perhaps one of the most complicated sections, and it has been considerably cut down to make it easier to understand. The spirit of the section still remains, as it requires the release of keys in cases in which the modified work is encrypted. This was controversial originally, and by reading the new draft I believe that it is still controversial. Although the text has been made clearer, the keys still have to be released, which could be a sticking point with some developers.

The similarly controversial section on Digital Rights Management has also been modified, which is a very welcome development in my opinion. The text used to read: "Regardless of any other provision of this License, no permission is given to distribute covered works that illegally invade users’ privacy, nor38 for modes of distribution that deny users that run covered works the full exercise of the legal rights granted by this License." The new draft now reads: "Regardless of any other provision of this License, no permission is given for modes of conveying that deny users that run covered works the full exercise of the legal rights granted by this License." This is another welcome change, as the mention of privacy was redundant and could produce legal challenges in jurisdictions with restrictive privacy protection legislation.

Another interesting change with regards to DRM is that the draft has added some wording to the previous definition of technological protection measure. The old draft stated that: "No covered work constitutes part of an effective technological protection measure..." This was initially designed to excludes all works distributed under the GPL from the anti-circumvention measures in the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) by specifically stating that the licensed software shall not constitute "an effective technological protection measure", and it would therefore not apply for such protections. However, this was extremely confusing to those who were not familiar with the legal terminology and the origin of the definition, as it can be seen in the heated exchanges generated by this paragraph in the comments section. The new draft states that "No covered work constitutes part of an effective technological “protection” measure under section 1201 of Title 17 of the United States Code." This makes it evident that what the paragraph is covering is the legal definition of "technical protection measure" found in international treaties and national legislation. Specifically, section 1201 of the U.S. Code is the DMCA anti-circumvention measures provision. This is useful, but if the licence wants to be really international, why not mention the WIPO Copyright Treaty instead?

The most innovative feature of the draft is that the Lesser GPL (LGPL) will now become an extra permission of the GPL, which helps to make the licensing process simpler.

I will continue with the analysis in the following days, but my initial opinion is that I am extremely pleased with the direction that the draft is taking. While it still has some of the problems that I noted in the first draft, the FSF must be commended for the amazing effort placed in democratising the discussion and involving the open source and free software community into the drafting process.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

KaZaA deal worth gloating about?

The international record industry has been heralding as a great victory their deal with P2P software producer Sharman Networks, the makers of the KaZaA P2P client. Read for example this note from, where the settlement is described as one of the biggest victories against online piracy for the music industry.

Under the terms of the settlement, Sharman Networks will pay the world’s four major music companies - Universal Music, Sony BMG, EMI and Warner Music - more than $100 million USD in damages. KaZaA has also agreed not to share pirated copies on their network, while it has promised to go "legal" and start selling music in the fashion of another former pirate haven, Napster.

As far as victories go, this is as pyrrhic as they come. It is no secret in the P2P sharing community that FastTrack, the P2P network used by KaZaA, has been in considerable decline since 2004. To understand this, one has to understand P2P networks, and I believe that some of the journalists writing on this subject are seriously out of their depth when reporting on this issue. P2P clients like Grokster, KaZaA, Limewire, Morpheus and eDonkey do not make a P2P network; they only allow the user to connect to an existing network by using common protocols. There are a large number of P2P networks out there: Gnutella, Gnutella 2, Ares, FastTrack, eDonkey2000, BitTorrent and even Freenet. Clients are applications used to connect to those networks. For example, the Gnutella network alone serves a large number of P2P clients, including LimeWire, BearShare, iMesh, FrostWire, MLDonkey, Morpheus, Swapper, Shareaza and XoloX. KaZaA is only one client in the FastTrack network, which includes other clients such as giFT, Grokster, iMesh, KCeasy, MLDonkey, mlMac and Poisoned. You can bring down KaZaA without bringing down the entire network.

Moreover, FastTrack has been in serious decline in recent years. In January 2004, FastTrack accounted for 46% of all the P2P worldwide traffic. By June 2004, their share had been reduced to 19%, mostly because users swapped to other networks, mainly BitTorrent and eDonkey2000. It is thought that nowadays FastTrack accounts for less than 15% of the global P2P traffic.

Why the celebration then? I believe that the music industry has to show something for their efforts, as it is clear that despite their heavy-handed tactics they have been losing the battle against P2P networks. I believe that they should concentrate on making legal downloads more appealing and interoperable, which will eventually solve most of the issues.

iCommons Summit 2007 announced

The place and dates for the 2007 edition of the iCommons summit has been announced. This edition of the summit will take place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, between 15-17 June 2007.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Wikipedia celebrates American independence

(From Burkhard Schäfer). Wikipedia is celebrating 750 years of American independence on the 25th of July, according to The Onion. The article informs us that the United States became independent in 1256, that there is footage of the original Thanksgiving on YouTube, and that the founding fathers are Jefferson, Washington and FAG. The article also points out that:

The commemorative page is one of the most detailed on the site, rivaling entries for Firefly and the Treaty Of Algeron for sheer length. Subheadings include "Origins Of Colonial Discontent," "Some Famous Guys In Wigs And Three-Cornered Hats," and "Christmastime In Gettysburg." It also features detailed maps of the original colonies—including Narnia, the central ice deserts, and Westeros—as well as profiles of famous American historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Special Agent Jack Bauer, and Samuel Adams who is also a defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals.
I have modified the above entry to included links to relevant sources in order to make sure that non-geeks understand the above references.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Blogging behind a firewall

So I am now coming to you from Islamabad. This is a very beautiful city with exceptionally nice open spaces, and some interesting grand architecture that towers above the greenery (we are in the middle of the monsoon season). This is one of those “designed” capitals, so everything is in an ordered grid, which does not detract from the astounding natural surroundings. There are mountains Gandalf, mountains!

One thing I have discovered is that for the first time in my life (that I know of) I find myself behind a country firewall. The most publicised one is of course the Great Firewall of China, but many other countries are adopting the gateway filtering approach. I have discovered to my horror that Blogger is blocked in Pakistan (as is the case in China, apparently). I have of course managed to circumvent the block by connecting to my VPN in Edinburgh, so as far as the Internet is concerned I could still be sitting in my office at the University. However, the circumvention is more difficult for those who do not have the benefit of virtual private networks and such, so I am left to wonder about the efficient manner in which this regulates content. As far as Pakistan and China are concerned, Technollama does not exist.

This of course is a well-explored area of regulation, and it does speak well about Code model of regulation. The Pakistani architecture regulates Blogger (and undoubtedly it also regulates huge amounts of other data). However, architectural regulation does not work that well with the super-users, those who can easily circumvent the architectural restrictions imposed on the network. Those same super-users tend to be at the forefront of any revolt against the technological restrictions.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


The Llama Tour '06 continues with a visit to Pakistan. I will be attending the WIPO Seminar on Copyright in the Digital Environment. I shall continue posting, wireless permitting and all that.

Friday, July 21, 2006

DRM-free music sold on Yahoo

(Thanks to León Sánchez Ambía for the link). This is a very interesting new development in the DRM front. Yahoo is selling the new song by Jessica Simpson as an MP3 unencumbered with technical protection measures. This is quite a development, as all the songs sold in iTunes have some form of restrictive DRM protection or other.

The song is more expensive to the DRM alternative ($2 USD as opposed to $1), but you can customise the file and it plays everywhere.

There seems to be a definite swing against DRM in the public, although I still believe that not enough people care.

One thing though, who in their right mind would want to buy a song by Jessica Simpson?

Vorsprung durch technik

Find out how George W. Bush operates.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Computer Law Conference programme published

We have published the draft programme for the VI Computer Law World Conference, which will take place from Wednesday 6th - Friday 8th September 2006. The programme is looking extremely good (if I may say so myself), so get going and register as soon as you can! (llamas not included). The programme for the GikII workshop (4-5 September) will be available shortly. Come to Edinburgh and enjoy the hospitality of the AHRC Research Centre for Studies in IP and Technology Law.

The programme for the main conference is:

Wednesday September 6th

9.00 - 9.30 - Registration

9.30 - 11.30 - Plenary Session

9.30 - 9.45 - Welcome message and acknowledgments: Andrés Guadamuz, University of Edinburgh and Erick Iriarte Ahón, Alfa Redi.
9.45 - 10.30 - Keynote Presentation: Ray Plzak & Steve Ryan, American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN). Title to be confirmed.
10.30 - 11.45 - Guest speaker to be confirmed.

11.45 - 12.00 - Coffee Break

12.00 - 13.30 - Cybercrime

  • Chik, Warren. Computer Crime, Cyber Crime and Challenges to Law Making: A Critical Comparative Study of the Adequacies of Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Legislation in the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore.
  • Jones, Mark. Amending The Computer Misuse Act 1990 – An Adequate Response to the Global Denial of Service Threat?
  • Valeri, Mauro. Europe's first “On line Police station”.

12.00 - 13.30 - Policy

  • Lipskier, Natalia; Olivera, Noemí and Proto, Araceli. Legal Policies for ICT in Latin America.
  • Mathur, Tarun. Resolution of Disputes Through Artifficial Intelligence: An Interface Between Law and Technology.
  • Saravia, Miguel. Creating Prosperity through Innovation: ICTs at Work in Development.

13.30 - 14.30 - Lunch

14.30 - 16.00 - Justice System

  • Griffo Oliveira, Cristine. The convergence of Law on Computing Science.
  • Gregorio, Carlos. Access to legal information and use of information to enforce the law in Latin America and the Caribbean: a chiaroscuro that could attain an equilibrium.
  • Kuchta, Kelly. How the Technical Evolution of Electronic Discovery Will Impact Litigation in the Future.

16.00 - 16.15 - Coffee Break

16.15 - 17.45 - Governance

  • Plaza, Juan Carlos. The new IPV6 as a source of legal risks and opportunities.
  • Alvarez Cabrera, Carlos. Working Group on Electronic Emergencies: the Latin American experience.

Thursday September 7th

9.30 - 11.30 - Plenary Session

9.30 - 10.45 - Keynote Presentation: Professor Lilian Edwards, University of Southampton. Title to be confirmed.
10.45 -11.30 - Keynote Presentation: Mia Garlick, Creative Commons. Creative Commons: Five years On.

11.30 - 11.45 - Coffee Break

11.45 - 13.15 - Intellectual Property

  • Al Ramahi, Mohammad. The Ownership of Internet Domain Names.
  • Rens, Andrew. Res Communes and Creative Commons?
  • Lipton, Jacqueline. Internet Domain Names and Free Speech.

13.15 - 14.15 - Lunch

14.15 - 16.15 - Electronic Commerce

  • Menon, Rohan and Mukhija, Ketan. E-Governance in the Indian Corporate Sector: A Long Overdue Initiative.
  • Peguera, Miguel. Liability of online intermediaries in Europe: The implementation of the E-Commerce Directive exemption rules.
  • Rico Carrillo, Mariliana. Privacy and Data Protection in Payment Systems.
  • Valero, Julián and Sánchez, Daniel. Personal data protection, e-commerce, certificates service providers, trusted third parties, certificate validation, electronic identification card.

16.15 - 16.30 - Coffee Break

16.30 - 17.30 Privacy

  • De Rooy, Julie. Workplace Privacy in a Technological Environment.
  • Hoffman, Sharona and Podgurski, Andy. Privacy Rights and the Electronic Storage of Personal Health Information.

Friday September 8th

9.30 - 11.30 - Plenary Session

9.30 - 10.45 - Keynote Presentation: Professor Michael Geist, University of Ottawa. All Rights Reserved?: Cultural Monopoly, the Internet and the Trouble with Copyright.
10.45-11.30 - Keynote Presentation: Nic Garnett (WIPO). Automated rights Management Systems and Copyright Limitations and Exceptions.

11.30 - 11.45 - Coffee Break

11.45 - 13.15 - Intellectual Property

  • Haigh, Maria. Downloading Communism: File-sharing as Samizdat in Ukraine.
  • Jondet, Nicolas. La France v. Apple: who’s the dadvsi?
  • Meehan, Michael. Virtual Property, Protecting Bits in Context.

13.15 - 14.15 - Lunch

14.15 - 15.45 - Privacy

  • Ferrer Serrano, Roberto and Oliver-Lalana, Daniel. Privacy and Identity Management in Communication Processes within Organizations: Insights from the Le-Sig Project.
  • Moustakas, Evangelos and Ranganathan, C. Legislative Approaches to Tackle Unsolicited Commercial Email (Spam): A Cross-Country Comparative Analysis.
  • Reis, Fabio. The use of visual surveillance system at mass audience festivals in Brazil: looking for a balance between human rights and the need of security.

15.45 - 16.00 - Coffe Break

16.00 - 17.30 - Intellectual Property

  • Fotinopoulos, Konstantinos. The ICT European industry and software patents.
  • Granados, Palmis. Genetic Patents and Indigenous Peoples in the Third World.
  • Wang, Yueyue. Will Fair Use Survive? - Regulating File-Sharing in Research and Education.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Chronicle of a suit foretold

It was inevitable. The popular online video repository YouTube has been sued for copyright infringement by Robert Tur, owner of Los Angeles News Service. Tur seems to be an experienced copyright litigator, and he is asking for $150,000 USD for each infringed work, and also is asking for an injunction against YouTube not to allow any of his works to be posted on the Web site.

Does he have a case? I think not, as YouTube's service is completely unlike P2P sharing networks. Most of the content hosted by YouTube is amateur video loaded by users, sometimes remashed from other sources, such as the surprisingly funny Juggernaught video (trivia for X-Men fans, the tag for this video makes an appearance in X-Men 3!). YouTube also defeats easily the Grokster inducement test, as it does not advertise or promote infringement in any way. When users sign-up for a YouTube account, they agree on click-wrap terms of use that clearly leave all responsibility of ownership with the person submitting the video. The relevant clause reads:

In connection with User Submissions, you further agree that you will not: (i) submit material that is copyrighted, protected by trade secret or otherwise subject to third party proprietary rights, including privacy and publicity rights, unless you are the owner of such rights or have permission from their rightful owner to post the material and to grant YouTube all of the license rights granted herein; (ii) publish falsehoods or misrepresentations that could damage YouTube or any third party; (iii) submit material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, libelous, threatening, pornographic, harassing, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive, or encourages conduct that would be considered a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability, violate any law, or is otherwise inappropriate; (iv) post advertisements or solicitations of business: (v) impersonate another person. YouTube does not endorse any User Submission or any opinion, recommendation, or advice expressed therein, and YouTube expressly disclaims any and all liability in connection with User Submissions. YouTube does not permit copyright infringing activities and infringement of intellectual property rights on its Website, and YouTube will remove all Content and User Submissions if properly notified that such Content or User Submission infringes on another's intellectual property rights.
The question then is if Mr. Tur has requested that his copyright works be removed from YouTube servers. Although it is not clear from the reports, my guess is that he has not, otherwise he would not be filing this suit.

Fred von Lohmann from EFF has written a timely article on why he believes that YouTube is acting within its rights. This one is another one to watch, but in my humble opinion this case should be an easy victory for YouTube.

Update: In an interesting related news item, YouTube has announced that it serves 100 million videos per day.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Shakira don't lie

(via Carolina Botero). Colombian pop superstar Shakira was involved in a brief IP-related scandal with regards to a song from her album Oral Fixation vol.2. The hit song is "Hips Don't Lie" with Wyclef Jean, in which it is possible to hear a distinctive trumpet tune troughout the song, but most prominenly during the opening and closing. The tune comes from the song "Amores como el nuestro" by famous Salsa singer Jerry Rivera.

The controversy began when Jerry Rivera was interviewed in Latin show Escándalo TV, where he claimed that he had not been asked for permission to use the tune, and that he was disappointed and hurt by the infringement. This prompted a scandal within Latin music, would Jerry sue? How could Shakira do this to her fans! As Caro Botero commented, we had our very own Latin copyfight!

However, the scandal was short lived. Jerry Rivera is only the performer of the song, the copyright lies with the composer and with the record company. In this case, Shakira's record company, Sony BMG, asked for permission to the composer, one Omar Alfanno, and Rivera's record company, Lafranco Music in Miami. End of the scandal.

As a matter of trivia, some people may ask why is this album called "volume two"? The volume one is actually the Spanish verison of the album, called Fijación Oral vol 1. I admit that I'm a big Shakira fan, so what?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bars in Spain

(Thanks to Paul Keller for picture) Is this the shape of things to come in Spain? In case you do not read Spanish, the image says: "The music that you are listening to is free for public difusion."

By the way, you can also smoke in this bar.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

European patent policy under review

A couple of noteworthy developments in the European software patent debate. Firstly, the European Commission has criticised the European Patent Office harshly as lacking political accountability. The lack of accountability has allowed the EPO to change policy so that it permits the issuing of software and business methods patents.

Secondly, FFII has presented a statement to the Commission's patent policy hearing against the proposed European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA). The statement reads:

As has been said by other speakers, the EPLA will make litigation 2-3 times more expensive. These numbers come from the EPO.
What does this mean for SMEs?
It means that if you are an SME and have a patent, it will become harder to enforce your patent because litigation just became 2-3 times more expensive. It also means that if you are an SME and accused of patent infringement, it becomes harder to defend yourself because litigation just became more expensive. And if you cannot defend yourself, you will be forced to license, even if the patent is weak or invalid.
Granted patents that are invalid are a plague, yet 50 % of all patent litigation concerns patent validity. That means every second trial relates to a problem that should not be there in the first place. Every second patent trial is a trial which could be 100% cheaper for all parties involved if the organisation responsible for the granting of patents would have taken it's full responsibility, but also if these patents would never have been filed.
We will keep an eye on this, it seems to me that we are headed towards another struggle in Brussels.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Tom Chance on the iCommons summit

This is a very interesting read from Tom Chance of Remix Reading. I can see that there are going to be a growing number of concerns about how events like the summit are run, organised and handled. He makes some very valid points about the venue and governance. In my opinion, Microsoft's participation has definitely created a further split with Free Software communities.

Jet-lagged in Sydney

William Gibson writes in his excellent novel Pattern Recognition that jet-lag happens because your soul is catching-up with you. Mine must be somewhere over Ukraine.

The first day of the Unlocking IP conference has finished, and it has been an excellent first day, perhaps with the exception of one paper given half asleep. Michael Geist and Brian Fitzgerald gave two great papers conceptualizing the commons, while Jane Anderson and Kathy Bowery gave a thought provoking paper trying to challenge the political assumptions of the commons movement, challenging the "coolness" of it all. Peter Drahos gave a highly conceptual analysis of the philosophies behind the idea of the commons, where he posited that we must defend freedom because freedom leads to diversity.

One of my favourite paper of the morning was by Melissa De Zwart, entitled 'Future of Fair Dealing in Australia: Protecting Freedom of Communication'. This was an excellent look at the rationale for copyright and rationale for fair dealing. Of particular interest was the comparison between the use of freedom of expression/communication/speech in Europe, the USA and Australia. I was surprised to learn that FoE doesn't exist in Australian legislation!

The other highlighted paper was Kimberlee Weatherall's, provokingly entitled 'Would you ever recommend a Creative Commons license - and why?' It was a look at all the quibbles and serious objections to the use of Creative Commons in the public sector, with some excellent replies to the problems raised by others.

After this session the caffeine stopped having an effect and I joined the lands of the living dead. Brains... grrr...argggh!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Down Under

I'm off to the land of boomerangs, koalas, kangaroos and IP lawyers. I will try to blog from the Unlocking IP conference, wireless permitting as usual.

Filling an iPod legally

Is it possible to fill an iPod legitimately? I will ignore the fact that the act of ripping your own CD is still an infringing activity under UK law due to the absence of a private copying exception in copyright law. As reported earlier, the British Phonogram Industry has kindly communicated that they will not enforce such actions.

I hadn't realised just how much space 60 GB is until I started trying to fill it. In the last weeks I have been engaging in a ripping festival transferring my CD collection into unprotected AAC and MP3 formats. I have ripped the majority of the 305 CDs that I own (latest and final count), and left some that I was not interested in ever listening to again. Leaving out some songs from other CDs, and removing duplicates, this produced an excess of 4,300 songs. This is still considerably short of the advertised 15,000 song capacity of the iPod.

The next stage was to load my MP3 collection, which was surprisingly small once I removed all the music that I owned and burned the music that I actually want to listen to. I have been increasingly reluctant to download music permanently from P2P newtworks, I think that it is more ethical to purchase the music if you like the artist, and as a professional with a salary I see no reason why not to do this. My downloaded collection is made up mostly of Latin music that I cannot obtain here in the UK, which is the manner in which I justify owning downloads.

With that done, this left just under 5,000 songs on the iPod. I then proceeded to browse the iTunes music store. There is quite a lot of choice there, but I have been troubled by the DRM protection in the music. My first purchasing experience was to buy Carmina Burana; the operation was seamless, and the music was available in seconds with excellent quality. However, the iTunes DRM does not work well with other players. I have been listening to my music with Winamp because of the playback quality and a MP3 digital effects enhancer that I use to improve the sound, but the purchased music would only play with iTunes. There are several solutions available online for this problem, but some require untested third party software. My choice is to burn the purchased music into a blank CD, and then rip it back into MP3s, which removes the protection. I have been wondering if this constitutes a circumvention of the technical protection measures as present in the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the European Copyright Directive and the UK's CDPA. It probably does, but I cannot see any other way of playing the music in the way that I want and with the player of my choice.

Another source of music has been a growing Creative Commons music collection. I now have 83 songs released under various CC licences. I was particularly glad to find an MP3 CD with the materials distributed at the iCommons Summit in Rio; this CD contained music from all over the world, some of it is extremely good! I hope that the music can be made available for download eventually. The other source is the famous Wired CD, which can also be downloaded in its entirety from the Creative Commons website.

The next step was to find worthy podcasts to subscribe to. This has been quite a revelation for me, I was aware of the popularity of the new medium, but I have been blown away by the wealth of choice. It seems like everything is subject to a podcast nowadays, from Anime to World Cup coverage. However, I have been disappointed by the few options in Spanish. Even Costa Rican podcasts seem to be recorded mostly by American expats and Christian missionaries. I have now subscribed to a series of techie podcasts:

(links to RSS feeds)

Unfortunately, these podcasts barely cover 100 MBs. What else to do? There are the video and picture capabilities of the 5G iPod. I have now uploaded 660 pictures into the pod, a nice way of keeping your pictures mobile, and you can create a slide show that will display your photographs while playing music. A word of warning though, if you use iTunes to load the pictures, they are loaded into a proprietary database that can only be read by iTunes and the iPod software. An alternative is to create a folder with Explorer and just upload the files into it. As for video, I have uploaded the excellent Troops, and will probably upload some other favourites, like The Power of Nightmares and Macross Zero, although I need to convert them into Quicktime format.

With 35 GB to fill, I'm running out of ideas.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Rio Declarations

Photo by Attila(picture by Attila Kelényi)
Comments are now open on the three declarations to come out from the Rio iCommons Summit, you can submit your ideas on the iCommons wiki.

The less controversial and (in my opinion) most worthy of the three proposed texts is the Open Access Declaration, which states that scholarly literature should be available to the world under “open access” conditions. I would expect this declaration to go through with no changes.

While potentially problematic, the language in the Declaration on the WIPO Broadcast Treaty seems measured and appropriate given the potential problem that the eventual treaty will have on Creative Commons licences. The proposal to WIPO reads:

1. Establish a new clause requiring signing parties to implement the treaty in law in a way that preserves creators’ grants of permission as embodied in Creative Commons' licenses and other systems.
2. Require signing parties to grant, at minimum, the same limitations and exceptions that are currently present under their national copyright and related rights laws (e.g., Fair Use, Fair Dealing, and other user rights).
3. Eliminate the controversial extension of legal protection for Technological Protection Measures to this new right.
4. Remove from all further consideration the inclusion of “Webcasting” from negotiations, whether in the main body of the treaty or as an “optional protocol.”
More controversial is the Declaration on DRM. I have serious problems with the use of the term Digital Rights Management, as I have mentioned several times on this blog. I believe that when talking about DRM, most people are actually talking about technical protection measures, as DRM need not be restrictive. My first comment then is to change the language of the declaration in order to make sure that it reads "technical protection measures".

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Blog ecosystem

I have been a fan of The Truth Laid Bear for quite a while, as it measures linkability to generate an accurate picture of the blog ecosystem. Having been an Insignificant Microbe for a while, I am now delighted that for the first time I have achieved Lowly Insect status. The categories are:

Insignificant Microbe • Multicellular Microorganism • Wiggly Worm • Crunchy Crustacean • Lowly Insect • Slimy Mollusc • Flippery Fish • Crawly Amphibian • Slithering Reptile • Flappy Bird • Adorable Little Rodent • Marauding Marsupial • Large Mammal • Playful Primate • Mortal Human • Higher Being

To put things in context, relative newcomers panGloss and Patenting Lives are Multicellular Microorganisms (well done Jo and Lilian!); geeklawyer is a Wiggly Worm; Lenz Blog and Axel H. Horns are fellow Lowly Insects; Creative Commons Blog is a Flippery Fish; IPKat is a Crawly Amphibian (highest ranked UK blog I believe, gratz!); Lessig Blog is an Adorable Little Rodent (I'm not making this up); and Boing Boing is a Mortal Human. Groklaw is not listed, of which I'm a bit surprised.

Can I be a Slimy Mollusc? That didn't come out as intended.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Microsoft in court

Microsoft has been having a very busy time at the courts and with regulators. The first item comes from Europe, where they have been trying to comply with the European Commission's competition enforcement. They are supposed to provide the Commission with documentation and protocols from their server division, and if they do not comply they face charges that could climb as high as 2 million euro per day.

Better luck with American law, where an anti-trust case with regards to the alleged harassment of software company Go Computing has been dismissed by the judge. Then another anti-trust suit in California has been settled, where Microsoft was accused of breaking competition rules by offering three months free MSN internet connections with new computers.

The most interesting case in my opinion is a class action suit accusing Microsoft of infringing California and Washington consumer protection laws and anti-spyware regulations. The argument is that the anti-piracy tool Windows Genuine Advantage is installed amongst security updates, and that it collects personal data on the computer and transmits it to Redmond. Consumers want this information deleted and they want the ability of users to remove this software. This is quite worrying, and I agree that it is a sneaky manner, reminiscent of Sony's rootkit.

What an interesting life for Microsoft lawyers.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Moblogging CC

All the pictures I took from the iCommons summit were from my trusty mobile phone, as my camera was stolen in another conference. Here are some of my favourites:

¿Cerveza gratis o cerveza libre?

grumble....grumble...collecting societies...Australia...Bloody Italians!

Is that picture on an open format?

I'm going to finish in the pool again, am I not?

You can just make out the players in this little screen...

I'm on top of the world, and I'm not happy about it!