March 31, 2010

A Look at OpenCourseWare [7:50 am]

As Colleges Make Courses Available Free Online, Others Cash In [pdf]

Indeed, that raises a key question: how can professors and universities afford to give away the course materials that are their very livelihood?

The answer, says James D. Yager, senior associate dean for academic affairs at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, lies in why students pay to attend university in the first place. What OpenCourseWare offers, he notes, is not the full university experience: “We don’t offer the course for free, we offer the content for free,” Mr. Yager said by telephone in February. “Students take courses because they want interaction with faculty, they want interaction with one another. Those things are not available on O.C.W.

“O.C.W. is just the publishing of the content,” he said.

Moreover, O.C.W. offers no accreditation and no degree, although that may soon change. Before Utah State ran short of funds, Mr. Jensen worked on a project to certify students who passed examinations after completing O.C.W. courses.

If just 1 percent of the 50,000 unique monthly visitors to the Utah State OpenCourseWare site had paid a $50 exam fee, the OpenCourseWare program could have been sustainable, he said.

permalink to just this entry

Figuring Out The eBook [7:47 am]

A long way to go: In E-Book Era, You Can’t Even Judge a Cover [pdf]

[...] With a growing number of people turning to Kindles and other electronic readers, and with the Apple iPad arriving on Saturday, it is not always possible to see what others are reading or to project your own literary tastes.

You can’t tell a book by its cover if it doesn’t have one.

“There’s something about having a beautiful book that looks intellectually weighty and yummy,” said Ms. Wiles, who recalled that when she was rereading “Anna Karenina” recently, she liked that people could see the cover on the subway. “You feel kind of proud to be reading it.” With a Kindle or Nook, she said, “people would never know.”

Among other changes heralded by the e-book era, digital editions are bumping book covers off the subway, the coffee table and the beach. That is a loss for publishers and authors, who enjoy some free advertising for their books in printed form: if you notice the jackets on the books people are reading on a plane or in the park, you might decide to check out “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” or “The Help,” too.

“So often when you’re thinking of a book, you remember its cover,” said Jeffrey C. Alexander, professor of cultural sociology at Yale. “It’s a way of drawing people through the visual into reading.”

permalink to just this entry

And You Thought This Meant We Were Done With SCO’s Madness [7:44 am]

Nope — hope springs eternal in the heart of an IP litigant, even when rationality has long fled.

Utah Jury Decides Unix Battle in Favor of Novell [pdf]

Novell Inc. never sold ownership rights to Unix computer software code when it allowed another company to take over the servicing of the venerable server operating system used by large corporations, a jury in Utah decided Tuesday.

The verdict was a setback for The SCO Group of Lindon, Utah, which hoped a victory would help lift it out of bankruptcy and strengthen a separate case alleging IBM Corp. misappropriated Unix code for improvements that made the open-source Linux operating system run better.

Some former Novell executives testified that they intended to sell the copyrights along with the Unix operating system, and SCO Group offered an amendment written a year after the 1995 sale that it said transferred the rights.

”Obviously, we’re disappointed in the jury’s decision,” said SCO trial lawyer Stuart H. Singer. ”We were confident in the case, but there’s some important claims remaining to be decided by a judge.”

SCO will ask U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart to award the copyrights to SCO ”even if we didn’t have them before,” he said. ”It’s a setback, but it’s not over.”

permalink to just this entry

March 30, 2010

Well, It All Depends on the Details [5:38 pm]

Technology Coalition Urges Stronger Online Privacy Laws [pdf]

A broad coalition of technology companies including AT&T, Google and Microsoft, and advocacy groups from across the political spectrum said Tuesday that it would push Congress to strengthen online privacy laws to protect private digital information from government access.

The group, calling itself the Digital Due Process coalition, said it wanted to ensure that as millions of people moved private documents from their filing cabinets and personal computers to the Web, those documents remained protected from easy access by law enforcement and other government authorities.

The coalition, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, wants law-enforcement agencies to use a search warrant approved by a judge or a magistrate rather than rely on a simple subpoena from a prosecutor to obtain a citizen’s online data.

It’s ironic to note that, when I click on the WWW page, I get a URL that clearly suggests someone is paying attention to me — the URL in the browser window is — http://digitaldueprocess.org/index.cfm?objectid=37940370-2551-11DF-8E02000C296BA163 — we can ask what the “objectid” denotes at a later point in time….

permalink to just this entry

March 29, 2010

Zowie! [7:22 pm]

NYC judge: DNA isolated in genes can’t be patented [pdf]

In a ruling with potentially far-reaching implications for the patenting of human genes, a judge on Monday struck down a company’s patents on two genes linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet challenging whether anyone can hold patents on human genes was expected to have broad implications for the biotechnology industry and genetics-based medical research.

Sweet said he invalidated the patents because DNAs existence in an isolated form does not alter the fundamental quality of DNA as it exists in the body nor the information it encodes.

He rejected arguments that it was acceptable to grant patents on DNA sequences as long as they are claimed in the form of “isolated DNA.”

“Many, however, including scientists in the fields of molecular biology and genomics, have considered this practice a `lawyers trick that circumvents the prohibitions on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result,” he said.

If we’re lucky, something may eventually turn up here to read: Rulings of Interest. IN the interim, here’s the ACLU press release: Patents On Breast Cancer Genes Ruled Invalid In ACLU/PubPat Case; and their posting of the ruling [local copy]

Later: Judge Invalidates Human Gene Patent [pdf]

permalink to just this entry

March 22, 2010

Here We Go [4:15 pm]

Google Will Redirect China Users to Uncensored Site

Just over two months after threatening to leave China because of censorship and intrusions by Chinese hackers, Google said that it would close its China-based Web site and instead direct Chinese users to a Hong Kong-based uncensored version of its service, which may get blocked in mainland China.

In a blog post, Google also said that it would retain much of its existing China operations, including its research and development team and its local sales force.

The stunning move represents a powerful slap at Beijing regulators but also a risky ploy in which Google — one of the world’s technology powerhouses — will essentially turn its back on the world’s largest Internet market, with nearly 400 million Web users and growing quickly.

permalink to just this entry

A Look at the Culture/Ownership Fight [9:58 am]

Texts Without Context [pdf]

“Who owns the words?” Mr. Shields asks in a passage that is itself an unacknowledged reworking of remarks by the cyberpunk author William Gibson. “Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do — all of us — though not all of us know it yet. Reality cannot be copyrighted.”

Mr. Shields’s pasted-together book and defense of appropriation underscore the contentious issues of copyright, intellectual property and plagiarism that have become prominent in a world in which the Internet makes copying and recycling as simple as pressing a couple of buttons. In fact, the dynamics of the Web, as the artist and computer scientist Jaron Lanier observes in another new book, are encouraging “authors, journalists, musicians and artists” to “treat the fruits of their intellects and imaginations as fragments to be given without pay to the hive mind.”

It’s not just a question of how these “content producers” are supposed to make a living or finance their endeavors, however, or why they ought to allow other people to pick apart their work and filch choice excerpts. Nor is it simply a question of experts and professionals being challenged by an increasingly democratized marketplace. It’s also a question, as Mr. Lanier, 49, astutely points out in his new book, “You Are Not a Gadget,” of how online collectivism, social networking and popular software designs are changing the way people think and process information, a question of what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes “metaness” and regards the mash-up as “more important than the sources who were mashed.”

permalink to just this entry

March 18, 2010

[8:06 am]

Viacom-YouTube secrets to be exposed in lawsuit [pdf]

A legal tussle pitting media conglomerate Viacom Inc. against online video leader YouTube is about to get dirtier as a federal judge prepares to release documents that will expose their secrets and other confidential information.

The information expected to be unsealed Thursday will include some of the evidence that Viacom and Google-owned YouTube have collected to prove their respective points, but have kept under wraps so far during their 3-year-old dispute over copyright law.

The sensitive material is emerging now because Viacom and YouTube are citing some of the documents as they try to persuade U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in New York to decide the case without a trial. Stanton isnt likely to decide on a so-called summary judgment for several more months.

Each side will likely be pointing to things that the other might find embarrassing.

permalink to just this entry

March 17, 2010

Some Attention [2:27 pm]

How Privacy Vanishes Online, a Bit at a Time [pdf]

Computer scientists and policy experts say that such seemingly innocuous bits of self-revelation can increasingly be collected and reassembled by computers to help create a picture of a person’s identity, sometimes down to the Social Security number.

“Technology has rendered the conventional definition of personally identifiable information obsolete,” said Maneesha Mithal, associate director of the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy division. “You can find out who an individual is without it.”

In a class project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that received some attention last year, Carter Jernigan and Behram Mistree analyzed more than 4,000 Facebook profiles of students, including links to friends who said they were gay. The pair was able to predict, with 78 percent accuracy, whether a profile belonged to a gay male.

So far, this type of powerful data mining, which relies on sophisticated statistical correlations, is mostly in the realm of university researchers, not identity thieves and marketers.

But the F.T.C. is worried that rules to protect privacy have not kept up with technology. The agency is convening on Wednesday the third of three workshops on the issue.

permalink to just this entry

March 16, 2010

Political Culture and Access [10:31 am]

C-Span Puts Its Full Archives on the Web (pdf)

The online archives reinforce what some would call the Web’s single best quality: its ability to recall seemingly every statement and smear. And it is even more powerful when the viewer can rewind the video.

The C-Span founder, Brian Lamb, said in an interview here last week that the archives were an extension of the network’s public service commitment.

“That’s where the history will be,” Mr. Lamb said.

The C-SPAN Video Library

permalink to just this entry

A Copyright Puzzle, Too [9:22 am]

Emory University Saves Rushdie’s Digital Data (pdf)

Electronically produced drafts, correspondence and editorial comments, sweated over by contemporary poets, novelists and nonfiction authors, are ultimately just a series of digits — 0’s and 1’s — written on floppy disks, CDs and hard drives, all of which degrade much faster than old-fashioned acid-free paper. Even if those storage media do survive, the relentless march of technology can mean that the older equipment and software that can make sense of all those 0’s and 1’s simply don’t exist anymore.

Imagine having a record but no record player.

All of which means that archivists are finding themselves trying to fend off digital extinction at the same time that they are puzzling through questions about what to save, how to save it and how to make that material accessible.

In particular, here’s one place where one might run awry of the DMCA:

Among the challenges facing libraries: hiring computer-savvy archivists to catalog material; acquiring the equipment and expertise to decipher, transfer and gain access to data stored on obsolete technologies like floppy disks; guarding against accidental alterations or deletions of digital files; and figuring out how to organize access in a way that’s useful. [emphasis added]

permalink to just this entry

March 15, 2010

Here We Go [5:53 pm]

The FCC plan to widen broadband is out, with its fancy new webpage, www.broadband.gov.

permalink to just this entry

March 8, 2010

A Pending Distraction [3:40 pm]

Because, of course, righting a 70 year “wrong” will take precedence over something as trivial as reforming health insurance or financial markets. Dispute Heats Up Over New Fees for Playing Songs on Radio [pdf]

For more than 70 years, royalty payments for air time have flowed to the songwriters and music publishers but not to the musicians or record companies. Now there is a renewed drive to revisit that arrangement, and in recent weeks the volume of the discussion has increased several decibels.

permalink to just this entry

The Marginalism Argument [8:40 am]

This article from Sunday’s Boston Globe (front page, below the fold), is a great example of the weirdness of the marginal argument — the absence of protection means that, at the margin, there are those who elect not to participate. What’s left out, of course, is the needed balancing of the benefit of this marginal participant against the cost of a prior restraint on expression — but I really should read the article (”The Law, Culture, and Economics of Fashion.” C. Scott Hemphill and Jeannie Suk. Stanford Law Review, V.61 n.5. March 2009. pp 1147-1199. Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman present some counters, grounded in the “negative space” discussion, in “The Piracy Paradox Revisited” pages 1201-1225. Hemphill and Suk get to rebut in “Remix and Cultural Production.” C. Scott Hemphill and Jeannie Suk. Stanford Law Review, V.61 n.5. March 2009. pp 1227-1232.) to find out whether Prof. Suk’s argument includes this (it is not really here in the Globe): Should the law protect fashion from knockoffs? [pdf]

Jeannie Suk is poised, elegant, but decidedly conservative in her attire of muted grays, browns, and blacks. She is as well known for her teachings on feminism as for being the first Asian-American woman on the tenure track at Harvard Law School.

So why is the 37-year-old Suk, a Guggenheim fellow at Harvard Law School, at the heart of a heated debate in the fashion world about designer dresses and $900 shoes?

After coauthoring an extensive piece for the Stanford Law Review about why American fashion designers should have copyright protection against inexpensive knockoffs, something Euro pean [sic] designers have enjoyed for more than 25 years, Suk became a sought-after authority on the subject. Now Senator Charles Schumer of New York is drafting legislation that would give American fashion designers copyright protection and Suk is helping with the bill’s language.

permalink to just this entry

March 4, 2010

Enshrining Chilling Effects In UK Legislation [3:32 pm]

Lords copyright change could block YouTube [pdf] [via Bits Blog]

One of the most contentious parts of the controversial digital economy bill was voted down by the House of Lords last night – only to be replaced by a clause that campaigners say is even more draconian.

The Liberal Democrats forced through a surprise amendment to the bills notorious clause 17 on Wednesday – in a move that dealt a defeat to the government but troubled critics, who suggest it will have the opposite effect that its creators intend.

Instead of sweeping new powers that threatened sweeping alterations to British copyright law, the Lib Dems added a clause that gives extra oversight to the high court.

The new proposal – which was passed in the House of Lords by 165 votes to 140 – gives a high court judge the right to issue an injunction against a website accused of hosting a “substantial” amount of copyright infringing material, potentially forcing the entire site offline.

[...] But instead of making the proposed system more transparent and accountable, critics say it will simply leave it open to abuse.

“This would open the door to a massive imbalance of power in favour of large copyright holding companies,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group. “Individuals and small businesses would be open to massive copyright attacks that could shut them down, just by the threat of action.”

permalink to just this entry

March 1, 2010

A Burning Question [4:25 pm]

And pertinent on a number of levels. Making the Case for iPad E-Book Prices [pdf]

[P]ublishers also say consumers exaggerate the savings and have developed unrealistic expectations about how low the prices of e-books can go. Yes, they say, printing costs may vanish, but a raft of expenses that apply to all books, like overhead, marketing and royalties, are still in effect.

All of which raises the question: Just how much does it actually cost to produce a printed book versus a digital one?

permalink to just this entry

March 2010
S M T W T F S
« Feb   Apr »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
posts

0.176 || Powered by WordPress