OSCON is probably the single largest annual gathering of free software developers in the world, so it’s always a good opportunity for SFLC to catch up with the projects we work with and to make new friends in the community. I only got to spend two days at OSCON 2011, but in that time I met and talked shop (and microbrews and vegan donuts) with lots of folks who are making impressive contributions to free software. I also got to talk about Legal Basics for Developers with Karen Sandler to a fantastic and engaged audience.
Microsoft’s much hyped “cloud”-based replacement to its $20 billion-per-year Microsoft Office business comes with new features such as real-time multi-user collaborative editing, instant messaging, video conference, online meetings and more. What Microsoft does not tell you in their press release is that when you, your business, or your friends sign up, you may be getting an unadvertised feature as well: free spying.
SFLC is introducing our redesigned website today! We hope you like the new look. While the content is largely unaffected, we’ve made some improvements to the information design to make the content easier to access and understand. (Take a look at our new publications page for an example.) We also changed our default content license to Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (formerly Attribution-NoDerivs).
We applaud the rejection by Judge Denny Chin of the Google Books class action settlement with authors and publishers regarding the digitization of books. SFLC filed a letter with the court on behalf of the Free Software Foundation and author Karl Fogel, urging the court to reject the settlement as it was last proposed and asking the court to consider the impact of the settlement upon members of the class who have distributed their works under Free licenses.
stet repository converted to git and moved to gitorious
According to the Government of India, private service providers like AirTel and Vodafone are failing in their legal obligations under the Information Technology Act, hastily amended in the days immediately following the Mumbai 7/11 attacks, by not providing access to the content of emails and texts sent to or from BlackBerry users. As a lawyer, I have some doubt about this legal position, no doubt under discussion between GoI and the service providers. But there is no doubt that the Government has failed to make clear the context of this dispute, or the real consequences of the demands it is making.
In the haze of confusion surrounding the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bilski v. Kappos, the appeals board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a ruling last week that takes a definitive stand against the worst kinds of patents that threaten software developers every day.
This weekend marks the 300th anniversary of the Statute of Anne, widely considered to be the foundation of modern copyright law. The Statute, formally titled “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning,” is often praised for placing intellectual property rights in the hands of individual authors and ushering in the era of public interest copyright law. In reality, however, the law’s most lasting legacy has been the misguided proposition that “the Encouragement of Learned Men to Compose and Write useful Books” cannot be accomplished without copyright: a system which restricts the flow and use of information, chills collaboration, and presupposes that property rights are necessary to encourage innovation.
Last week, to the surprise of patent lawyers and the biotechnology industry, advocates for technological freedom won an enormous victory against socially harmful distortions of patent law. The Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York held invalid patents owned by Myriad Genetics on diagnostic testing for genetic susceptibility to the most common hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer. By “patenting” the right to determine whether the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are present in the relevant mutated form in a women’s genome, Myriad Genetics has been able to exclude all other laboratories from conducting the test. Patients and their insurers have paid much more, and women and their families have waited crucial weeks longer than necessary for information relevant to treatment and potentially affecting survival.
A (belated) blog post about the future of free software; making the movement more inclusive; and the Libre Planet Conference in Boston on May 19-21.