Google pledged to not use its arsenal of patent weapons offensively today, taking a stand on open source and patents that is anti-patent troll, pro-competition, and pro-freedom to create, innovate, and code.
A whole bunch of people have been submitting Ian Hickson's writeup on the true purpose of DRM. Given how many people have submitted it, perhaps you've seen it already, but there are some really good points in there. His main thesis is that the debates over DRM tend to focus on the wrong thing. The anti-DRM crowd points out that DRM does not and cannotstop copying. Supporters of DRM say that's not true. Hickson agrees that DRM does not stop copying, but he argues that the purpose of DRM has never really been about stopping copying, but about gaining control over software and hardware tools that play content:
"The purpose of DRM is not to prevent copyright violations."
"The purpose of DRM is to give content providers leverage against creators of playback devices."
"Content providers have leverage against content distributors, because distributors can't legally distribute copyrighted content without the permission of the content's creators. But if that was the only leverage content producers had, what would happen is that users would obtain their content from those content distributors, and then use third-party content playback systems to read it, letting them do so in whatever manner they wanted."
As Mike noted a couple of days ago, international trade agreements often have the effect of constraining the power of national legislatures. Indeed, that's doubtless one of the reasons why they have become so popular in recent years: they allow backroom deals between politicians and lobbyists to set the agenda for law-making around the world, without the need for any of that pesky democratic oversight nonsense.
In particular, the trade agreement between South Korea and the US is turning out to be a key limiting factor for both TPP and what US politicians might try to do about phone unlocking. This makes two recent moves to loosen South Korea's harsh copyright laws potentially important far beyond that country's borders.
The first concerns a report by the National Human Rights Commission of South Korea on human rights in the digital age. Among other recommendations, it makes several for reforming Korean copyright law. Heesob Nam provides a useful summary:
Even a notoriously patent-friendly court like the district court in East Texas has admitted that there are limits to what's patentable.
Notorious patent troll Uniloc, whose name has been appearing quite frequently lately, has lost one part of its big cases, against Rackspace, after the district court in Tyler, Texas has said one of the patents in question in this lawsuit, US Patent 5,892,697 on a "Method and apparatus for handling overflow and underflow in processing floating-point numbers," is really patenting basic mathematical functions, and you can't do that.
Digital copyright is broken. We know this inherently, and wheeze exasperation whenever the latest nonsensical DRM news crops up. But fixing it's not as simple as tossing the whole system out the window.
Watch out, Google. A recently published patent application reveals that Sony’s head mounted display glasses are progressing down the evolutionary path rather nicely. What once amounted to just wide-eyed concepts, this latest patent filing, a continuation patent filed on November 14, 2012, shows that Sony, with perhaps a bit of inspiration for Google Glass, is nearing a practical model. And unlike Google’s take on HMDs, Sony’s has information displays for both eyes.
This isn’t the first patent to reveal Sony’s HMD aspirations. A patent published in the summer of 2012 shows a futuristic device — it looks like something from a made-for-TV sci-fi movie. The device in that patent has two lens, not connected by a traditional bridge, with each lens acting also serving as a display. There are cameras and battery packs and the works. This is, after all, just a concept.
Sony’s most recent patent is a more practical take on HMD glasses. They’re built on a traditional glasses frame in a sort of Google Glass fashion. The actual pop-up display sits behind the glasses’ lenses and, as previously mentioned, there are two displays along with ear buds mounted on little arms.
India's Supreme Court is to rule Monday on a landmark patent case involving Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG that focuses on demands by major companies that their investments be protected, against Indian companies that say they should be allowed to...
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