Patents & Copyrights

Whose hardware is it anyway?

With the recent launch of the Petition to protect Information Technology property rights at the Ottawa Linux Symposium (French translation in progress), we now move to the harder stage of explaining the petition not only to those who we want to sign it, but those whose activities we wish to influence. It is not only politicians who must help protect our property rights, but also software authors who we want to discourage from working with monopolies in the hardware manufacturing and content industries to circumvent our property rights.

Canadian anti-DRM coalition makes timely debut

A newsforge article by Bruce Byfield includes:

We talked to representatives of two coalition members about the status of DRM in Canada: David Fewer, staff counsel at the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), Canada's leading legal technology law clinic, and Evan Leibovitch and Russell McOrmond of CLUE, an open source advocacy group.

The Hon. Joe Fontana, P.C., M.P., hosts Open Source event on Parliament Hill

It is great to see that some members of parliament are taking the time to learn more about FLOSS. While this introduction to the event focuses on using FLOSS to save money, it also provides an opening to discuss some of the policy issues facing our part of the software sector.

FLOSS is to software what patents were to historical tangible inventions

I wrote the following as a reply to an ITBusiness.ca article written by Shane Schick titled Truth, justice and the open source way which discussed FLOSS and the patent system.


I believe that FLOSS is to software what the patent system was for tangible inventions of physical things in the past.

Historically we had limited communications technologies and mobility slowing down collaboration. Inventions of tangible things took a lot of time and energy to move from design to prototype to distributable product. Within this context patents solved important problems. Without governments granting a temporary monopoly to the first inventor there would be too much risk to trying to develop ideas, and too much of an incentive to keep the ideas secret. Far too many inventions were kept secret and lost with the death of the inventor. A patent filing required a full disclosure of the invention such that someone skilled in the art could study, replicate and improve upon it, with the 20 year monopoly representing the slower realities of the day.

John Dvorak attacks DRM, a few years too late

There's not much that longtime tech columnist John Dvorak has to has that I find agreeable. He's been wrong on so many issues related to open source it's been hard to keep track.

This week, however, there's finally something on which we can agree, as he implores his readership to Screw the Digital-Rights Bugaboo. Of course, in the US such a plea at this time is somewhat pathetic, as the DMCA is already in place. Where was this opinion when the DRM debate was actually going on south of the border? I guess I shouldn't expect more from Dvorak, but I guess it's (maginally) better late than never.

Canada’s Privacy Community Speaks Out on DRM, Privacy and Copyright

CLUE is participating with a wide coalition of experts and community groups who are deeply concerned about the legal entrenchment of “digital rights management” (DRM) technology in Canadian copyright law. Today this coalition, led by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa, today launched the website intellectualprivacy.ca and released a background paper on the issue.

In an open letter to Minister of Canadian Heritage Bev Oda and Industry Minister Maxime Bernier accompanying the background paper, we offer to work with policy makers and politicians on this issue, and seek assurances that:

  1. any proposed copyright reforms will prioritize privacy protection by including a full privacy consultation and a full privacy impact assessment with the introduction of any copyright reform bill

  2. any proposed anti-circumvention provisions will create no negative privacy impact

  3. any proposed copyright reforms will include pro-active privacy protections that, for example, enshrine the rights of Canadians to access and enjoy copyright works anonymously and in private

CLUE will remain an ongoing part of this effort, and work with the coalition to ensure that Canadian copyright laws protect both creators and consumers, and will not impede the ability of developers to create free and open source software.

Comments are invited.

FLOSS in a competitive marketplace: avoiding the "one true way" myths.

I have been complaining for years that the incumbent "software manufacturing" firms have been justifying radical FLOSS crippling changes to the law using invalid statistics. The statistical method that the BSA (and it's Canadian arm with the Orwellian double-speak name of "Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft") use largely include the use of FLOSS software as if it were "infringement".

Their methodology is simple: Count the number of computers shipped to a region and "estimate" the demand for software from BSA members. Then count the amount of software BSA members shipped, subtract the two, and declare the difference as "piracy".

Software patents

There has been a lot of discussion about software patents and how evil they are over the past months. Even without the insanities concerning RIM and those concerning "business methods," there has been a lot to really dislike.

But nothing has gotten my back up the way patents (in the US) have been distributed on mathematics.

No, I'm not kidding.

If you studied advanced algebra or calculus, you know that Fourier analysis is an important and often-employed method. It is based on the notion that complex wave forms can be approximated by a sum of sinusoids, each of a different frequency. There are a number of techniques that have been developed to perform analyses employing computers.

Globe and Mail: Liberal MP's fundraiser causes controversy

Globe and Mail: Liberal MP's fundraiser causes controversy - This Globe and Mail article by Roma Luciw about Bulte's fundraiser tonight contains this gem:
"I will not be silenced by zealots like Michael Geist and political opportunists like Peggy Nash who are making something out of nothing," she said, adding that she believes Mr. Geist's comments are nearing the point of being defamatory.
"I am not going to sue him before the election but dammit, watch me after the election."