31 October 2011

What Microsoft's Patent FUD Reveals About Its R&D

Microsoft is currently engaging in some incredible rewriting of history. Here's Horacio GutiƩrrez, deputy general counsel at the company, trying to defend Microsoft's evolution into a patent troll that is unable to make a smartphone that anyone wants, and thus seeks to tax those who can:

On Open Enterprise blog.

Why Creative Commons Licenses Help Rather Than Hinder Struggling Artists

Creative Commons (CC) has been with us for nearly a decade, so you would have thought people might understand it by now. Apparently not, judging by the title of this blog post: "How Creative Commons Can Stifle Artistic Output." 

On Techdirt.

28 October 2011

Will Anti-Free Trade Protectionist Agreements Be Bad For US Citizens Too?

As we've noted, the US has been using multilateral and bilateral negotiations conducted in secret as a way to craft some very one-sided trade treaties. They seem to offer pretty raw deals to the other nations involved – and correspondingly great ones for the US copyright and pharma industries. But could they turn out to have direct negative consequences for US citizens as well? 

On Techdirt.

Mozilla's Brendan Eich on JavaScript - and Microsoft Buying Netscape

It seems so long ago now, but for those of us lucky enough (and old enough) to have been there, the launch of Netscape's 0.9 version of its Netscape Navigator browser in October 1994 was clearly the beginning of a new era. For a few years, Netscape was the centre of the Internet universe - it's home page was the first you checked each morning for news about what was happening on this strange new Web thing that the company was doing so much to define.

On Open Enterprise blog.

27 October 2011

Leading French Presidential Candidate Would Repeal HADOPI But Keep Net Surveillance

As a recent Techdirt post noted, France's HADOPI "three strikes" policy has effectively criminalized vast swathes of that country. Despite widespread opposition, the law was pushed through in 2009 by the current French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, as one of his pet projects - it's probably no coincidence that he is married to a pop singer

On Techdirt.

Open Source, Open Science, Open Source Science

One of the key inspirations for the free software movement was the scientific tradition of sharing information and building on the work of others. That arose a few hundred years ago, at a time of rapid scientific progress:

On The H Open.

Just Because Something's Fake Doesn't Mean It Can't Be Innovative

The term "shanzhai" literally means a fortified mountain village, and originally meant those places in China that were outside government control, and hence not subject to its law. Today, by extension, it refers to Chinese outfits producing counterfeit goods that ignore intellectual monopolies like patents. 

On Techdirt

25 October 2011

EU Politician Wants Internet Surveillance Built Into Every Operating System

"Think of the children" has become the rallying cry of politicians around the world trying to push for ever-increasing Internet surveillance powers. Since nobody wants to run the risk of being branded as soft on crimes like paedophilia, resistance to such measures is greatly reduced as a result. 

On Techdirt.

Calling the Anti-Net Neutrality Bluff

One of the key arguments used by companies who want to see the end of net neutrality is that with growing use of high-bandwidth services like video on demand, or video telephony, there isn't enough bandwidth to go around, and that other services will suffer as a result. This leads them to call for differential pricing, charging more for such services. 

On Open Enterprise blog.

24 October 2011

Please Respond to the PDC Consultation (and PDQ)

Last month I wrote about the UK government's "Making Open Data Real" consultation. That's actually just the first part of a double-headed enquiry into open government data. The other part concerns "Data Policy for a Public Data Corporation" (PDC). 

On Open Enterprise blog.

21 October 2011

Hint: If You Commit A Crime, Do Not Google Every Aspect Of It Afterwards

Techdirt has reported on a number people accused of murder googling for things like "neck snap break" or "how to commit murder" beforehand, and leaving these suggestive details on their computers. Those were some years back, and since then there has been plenty of attention given to the idea that your search histories provide a great deal of information about what you were thinking - and possibly even what you were thinking about doing. 

On Techdirt.

20 October 2011

Of Open Source, Microsoft, India and Paraguay

One of the recurrent recent themes of IT in the UK has been how moves to open source by local and central government have been stymied by Microsoft - the most famous example being the Newham Council saga. Of course, that's not a problem unique to the UK: it's a pattern repeated around the world, as some recent stories highlight.

On Open Enterprise blog.

London 2012 Olympics Go For Gold in the Extreme 'Ambush Marketing' Law Event: 'Guilty Until Proven Innocent' – And No Streaking Allowed

The Olympic Games are not just about sporting success, but also legal excess – in particular, taking laws to extremes in order to "protect" sponsors, who are routinely elevated to the level of Greek gods during the games, with similarly superhuman rights over lesser beings like you and me.

Techdirt has already written about the UK police getting special powers to enter homes during the 2012 games, as well as free speech being curtailed. Now there are plans to suspend the presumption of innocence too: 

On Techdirt.

18 October 2011

Out ACTA-ing ACTA: All TPP Negotiating Documents To Be Kept Secret Until Four Years After Ratification

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has now been signed by several nations – even if its actual status is by no means clear. But that doesn't mean governments have finished with their trade negotiations behind closed doors. As Techdirt reported earlier this year, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is, in some ways, even worse than ACTA, and looks to be a conscious attempt to apply the tricks developed there to circumvent scrutiny yet further. 

On Techdirt.

'British Cinema's Golden Age Is Now': So Where's The 'Serious Problem' Of Copyright Infringement?

Last week we learned the UK government has precisely no evidence to support its plans for stricter copyright enforcement, which include disconnection upon repeated accusation. Instead, the best it could come up with was: 

On Techdirt.

17 October 2011

Office Suites: LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org?

The office suite has occupied a very strange position in the world of open source. As a key software tool used by practically everyone on a daily basis, it was vital for free software to be able to offer one. And yet what came to be the leading office suite - OpenOffice.org - was widely recognised as deeply unsatisfactory. Its early versions were barely usable, and even in its later incarnations it was hard to get enthusiastic about it. 

On Open Enterprise blog.

Fighting Back Against Public Domain Erosion By Growing The Commons

There have been a number of stories on Techdirt recently about governments diminishing the public domain - not just by extending copyright for future works, but also by putting works currently in the public domain back under copyright, both in the US and EU. Reversing that trend – by pushing back copyright's term closer to the original 14 years, say – will be challenging, to put it mildly. 

On Techdirt.

13 October 2011

Broadcasters Ask Brazilian Government To Protect Them From Interesting Foreign Content On The Web

Last week Techdirt wrote about a draft of a civil rights-based framework for the Internet that is being considered by lawmakers in Brazil. It seems like the Brazilian Radio and Television Association didn't get around to reading it, because they want the government there to "regulate" foreign web content flowing into the country (Brazilian news report): 

On Techdirt.

Does Amazon Want to Monopolize The Entire Publishing Chain?

The launch of Amazon's Kindle Fire at a price well below expectations has naturally focused people's attention on the e-book side of Amazon's operations, and the likely effect of the extended Kindle family on other publishers trying to go digital. But something else is happening at the other end of the publishing chain that could well disrupt the industry just as much, if not more: Amazon is becoming a major publisher in its own right. 

On Techdirt.

12 October 2011

Facebook Says Some of Your Personal Data Is Its 'Trade Secrets or Intellectual Property'

A few weeks back, Techdirt posted a story about a European campaign group called "Europe vs. Facebook", which is trying to find out exactly what information Facebook holds about its users. It is doing this using European data protection laws, thanks to the fact that Facebook' s international headquarters are in Ireland. 

On Techdirt.

What Happens When The Company Backing Up Your Passwords In The Event of Your Death Itself Dies?

The unprecedented public outpouring of grief in the technical community at the death of Steve Jobs seems to go well beyond the fact that he was an undeniably important and powerful figure in that world for several decades. Perhaps it's because the people involved in technology are disproportionately young compared to most other industries: death often seems very far away at that age. The demise of the charismatic Jobs comes as brutal reminder that even leaders of the most successful companies must, one day, die. And hence, by implication, that we too will die. 

On Techdirt.

Microsoft's Subtle Knife Through the Heart of EU Software Industry

One of the striking changes at Microsoft over the last twenty years is how savvy it has become in terms of lobbying and influencing political opinion. There was a time when, like most serious tech companies, it regarded this kind of sneaky activity as beneath it - something that only tobacco companies would stoop to. No more; today, it bombards everyone and anyone with a constant stream of carefully-crafted policy papers and posts designed to achieve its goals.

On Open Enterprise blog.

WIPO Article About Manga Piracy Describes Publishers' Failure To Meet Demand In Graphic Detail

Somehow you rather expect the head of the WIPO to come out with a statement on the potential benefits of patenting the World Wide Web. But you probably don't look to the WIPO website to carry stuff like this: 

On Techdirt.

11 October 2011

Will Nginx Be to Apache What Chrome is to Firefox?

The Netcraft Web Server Survey, which appears each month, is usually viewed as offering the spectacle of a two-player fight between the open source Apache and Microsoft's IIS. Actually, that's giving Microsoft too much credit, since it's never really been a fight: IIS has occasionally tried to claw its way closer to Apache's market share, failed dismally, and then started sinking back again. But there's another story in these graphs.

On Open Enterprise blog.

10 October 2011

EU Greens Come On Board Pirates' Copyright Agenda

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking about the striking success of the Pirate Party in the German local elections. Since then, an opinion poll has suggested that, currently at least, the party enjoys a similarly wide support throughout the country - around 8%

On Open Enterprise blog.

07 October 2011

Microsoft's $844 Million Software Giveaway To Nonprofits: Pure Charity Or Cheap Marketing?

Microsoft has just released its 2011 Annual Financial Report. But alongside that document's dry facts about its $69.9 billion turnover, and the operating income of $27.2 billion, Dj Walker-Morgan pointed us to a more interesting publication, Microsoft's 2011 Citizenship Report

On Techdirt.

05 October 2011

Access To Italian Wikipedia Blocked In Protest Of Wiretapping Bill In Italy

If you go to the Italian version of Wikipedia, you will not find a gateway to 847,000 articles in that language, but (at the time of writing, at least) an unusual letter to the reader

On Techdirt.

New UK Banknote Celebrates James Watt, Patent Bully and Monopolist

As do many nations, England likes to put images of its great and good on banknotes. In a somewhat quixotic attempt to stem the decline of what little manufacturing remains in the country, the governor of the Bank of England has come up with the following idea

On Techdirt.

04 October 2011

Brazil Drafts An 'Anti-ACTA': A Civil Rights-Based Framework For The Internet

One of the striking features of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is that it is mainly being signed by Western/“developed” countries – with a few token players from other parts of the world to provide a fig-leaf of nominal inclusiveness. That's no accident: ACTA is the last-gasp attempt of the US and the EU to preserve their intellectual monopolies – copyright and patents, particularly drug patents – in a world where both are increasingly questioned. 

On Techdirt.

German Politician Who Wanted Two-Strike Copyright Law Should Disconnect Himself After Multiple Infringements Found

One of the most noticeable trends in copyright law around the world is the way countries tend to adopt similar approaches. So after the "three strikes" law was introduced in France, the UK followed suit, and other nations are at various stages of doing the same. A cynic might almost suggest the whole thing was coordinated somehow. 

On Techdirt.

03 October 2011

Well, I Do Declare: Washington and Open Government Declarations

There seems to be something in the air (maybe it's the crazy weather): everyone is making “declarations”. 
On Open Enterprise blog.

Microsoft-Samsung Licensing Deal Tells Us Nothing About The Facts, Just About The FUD

As Bessen and Meurer's book "Patent Failure" points out, one of the biggest problems with software patents is their lack of well-defined boundaries. This makes it very hard to tell whether newly-written code is infringing on existing patents or not. The threat of treble damages for wilful infringement removes any incentive to try to find out. 
On Techdirt.

01 October 2011

Registry of Interests

This is a list of my main sources of income, and of any other work-related benefits, as of 1 October 2011. I will update this as and when any major changes occur.

My main sources of income are from writing for Computerworld UK, The H Open and Techdirt. In the past I have occasionally written for other titles, but not recently, and given my many commitments I think that is unlikely to change.

I also get paid to give talks, mostly on free software, intellectual monopolies and digital rights.

I occasionally accept paid-for trips to attend conferences related to my work; I aim to declare that fact in any writing that comes out of such visits. In the past (ten to twenty years ago) I accepted these routinely, as did all journalists. For the record, the company that invited me most frequently back then was probably Microsoft....

I am not, and never have been, a consultant for any company.

As for unpaid positions, I'm on the Open Knowledge Foundation Advisory Board, and also on the Advisory Committee of the Climate Code Foundation.

I do not own (and have never owned) any shares except those that might be hidden away in financial instruments I may have or have had: I have never tried to find out if there are any, or what they might be. Similarly, I do not have, and have never had, investments in any company.

I no longer accept freebies in the form of review software/hardware (though I did a couple of decades ago when this was standard practice.) I buy all my own computers and smartphones at full price (luckily, the software comes free...)

I very occasionally receive free review copies of books on areas I'm interested in, but I'm trying to discourage this since I never have time to write the reviews (er, sorry about that.)

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+

Dishing the Dirt on Me and Techdirt

I'm sure all my readers know about Techdirt:

Started in 1997 by Floor64 founder Mike Masnick and then growing into a group blogging effort, the Techdirt blog uses a proven economic framework to analyze and offer insight into news stories about changes in government policy, technology and legal issues that affect companies ability to innovate and grow.
The dynamic and interactive community of Techdirt readers often comment on the addictive quality of the content on the site, a feeling supported by the blog’s ~800,000 RSS subscribers, 45,000+ posts, 600,000+ comments and a consistent Technorati Technology Top 100 rating.

(Yes, 45,000+ posts in 14 years: makes me look positively un-serious....)

One reason I'm pretty sure anyone who follows my microblogs will know about Techdirt is that I tend to post a huge number of links to its stories. Indeed, sometimes I think it would be just easier to hook the Techdirt RSS feed in directly and save myself all the trouble of doing it manually.

That's an indication of how closely aligned Techdirt is with much of the key stuff that I'm interested in: copyright, patents, digital rights, business models, digital abundance etc. Techdirt not only offers extremely knowledgeable analysis that you simply won't find elsewhere, it makes it all freely available – thus offering a good example of precisely the kind of models based around giving stuff away that it discusses and advocates.

Mike has already run some of my pieces there, and I'm delighted that he's asked me to contribute stories to the site on a regular basis. One knock-on effect will probably be fewer standalone posts on this blog, but overall the number of posts I write will probably rise. As for my writing on other titles, I'll post links to everything here, which will remain the central reference point in that respect.

Given this move, now seems a good time to produce a formal registry of interests, which I have made a separate post for easy reference.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+