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Copyright Troll Complains of Defendant's Legal Fees

zQuo Re:Losing plaintiffs should ALWAYS pay (138 comments)

Well, as I understand it, a losing plaintiff pays only up to their own legal costs. Sort of a double or nothing. Say an individual plaintiff spends $15k to prosecute, and the corp defendant spends $XX million. If the individual plaintiff loses, the plaintiff will have to cough up the lesser of the two costs, $15k, to partially compensate the corp defendent legal costs.

more than 3 years ago

Pickens Wind-Power Plan Comes To a Whimpering End

zQuo Re:And so (346 comments)

My only problem with HFCS is that it's subsidized to the point where it is used in preference to almost all other sweeteners. I actually prefer the taste of sugar cane and other sweeteners, especially in drinks. It used to be very hard to find drinks sweetened with anything other than HFCS, though that is changing with "premium" drinks.

Also, of course, it would be nice if we didn't have to use taxpayer money to support the subsidies.

more than 4 years ago

Pickens Wind-Power Plan Comes To a Whimpering End

zQuo Why is the corn lobby so powerful... (346 comments)

...in contrast to other farm crops or any other agriculture? Is it just because the first primaries are in Iowa/Idaho?

The corn lobby is very powerful, as the rather expensive ethanol subsidy was extended for another year in the tax cut deal, adding another $7 billion to the deficit. Kudos to Senator Dianne Feinstein who at least tried to cut the ethanol tax credit slightly to save about $2 billion, but she was rebuffed. Hopefully she won't be overly punished for defying the corn lobby.


more than 4 years ago

FCC Chair Seeks Comcast-NBC Merger Conditions

zQuo Can the FCC block the merger? (68 comments)

The FCC can add regulatory conditions to all cable companies, which is what the commissioner is proposing now. The regulation is specifically aimed at Comcast so that they don't abuse their position after the merger.

But I don't think the FCC has the power to actually block this specific merger, at least on anti-trust grounds. That might require the Dept of Justice. Does anyone know exactly?

Based upon what I've read about his proposals on this merger and the Net Neutrality issue, Genachowski seems to genuinely care for the public interest, even when it causes problems for himself. I wish we had more officials like him; he might not go far enough in his actions, but his heart seems to be in the right place.

more than 4 years ago

Vint Cerf, US Congresswoman Oppose Net Regulation

zQuo Need more good PR soundbites like this... (156 comments)

Regulating the internet means telling people what they can and cannot use.

Regulating ISPs means preventing them from telling people what they can and cannot use.

Finally! A soundbite for the Internet Freedoms that the average person can understand quickly. Frankly, the names and slogans supporting internet freedoms have been very poor. The literal name, "Net Neutrality," for example, is confusing and buys zero support. Look at the ill-considered provisions that quickly made it through Congress, they have emotionally charged meaningful names like "Patriot Act", "No Child Left Behind"

Even Cerf's quote (from the summary) "... we don't believe that governments should be allowed to grant themselves a monopoly on internet governance...," sounds rather weak. To the average less-informed person on the street, this is not compelling. If not the government, who should govern the internet? Why should one care? While it's truthful, it's unconvincing without additional context. Not a good soundbite.

Governments will always be tempted to censor or control the internet directly for their own self interest. (ex. Wikileaks) Having a central authority such as the UN do it would be a horror. The temptation to somehow tweak the traffic "to protect " worldwide would be unbearable. At least now, any national government doing so needs to establish some sort of "Great Firewall" to wall out the free internet.

more than 4 years ago

Microsoft, Apple, EMC, and Oracle Form Patent Bloc

zQuo Analogy with the Aircraft Industry. (113 comments)

This is a excerpted from http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1678028&cid=32489738 (not my post) which I think is very relevant.

Before the United States government forced aircraft manufacturers and patent holders into the Manufacturers Aircraft Association there was a patent war that resulted in lots of litigation in the United States but no aircraft manufacturing or innovation once the patent war started.

When a real war broke out, WW1, the United States had to buy aircraft from France because the United States business ventures were more interested in lawsuits than making aircraft.

After ending the patent war by forcing everyone into a patent pool the aircraft industry in the United States took off.

There are other similar cases that plainly show how the patent system has been a failure from the beginning in serving the Constitutional requirements. To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.

Note that the aircraft industry had to be forced into a patent pool by the US Government. This is another patent pool, but unfortunately controlled by a few giants. It's totally necessary to get business done, but excludes everyone else.

more than 4 years ago

Judge Declares Mistrial Because of Wikipedia

zQuo Re:wow... (558 comments)

IANAL, but I believe that the objective is not to have an ignorant jury, but to clearly document all the information available to the jury in court records.

If jurors depend on sources that no one knows about, justice may be subverted without anyone realizing. But if all information flow to the jury is clearly recorded, then supposedly all unfair influences on the jurors are available for further review, allowing for either a mistrial or an appeal.

In this case, it seems to be an honest mistake on the juror's part. I'd think that the best thing to do would have been to present the wikipedia definition to the two opposing attorneys, and if they both agreed that it was an ok definition, let the trial continue.

more than 4 years ago

World's Largest Patent Troll Fires First Salvo

zQuo Re:Do away with patents entirely (189 comments)

While I think that patents can sometimes be a good thing, (e.g. pharmaceuticals where new drug development is extremely risky), the current patent system is so bogged down scrapping patents entirely may be better than what we have now: a gradual continual strangling of tech innovation. The cost and legal risks of tech innovation in America keeps on going up.

There will be no sanity from the Patent Office while they directly benefit from patent renewal fees, fees that are the bulk of the PTO revenues. The patent office is proud to be the only government agency that operates in the black. Er, isn't that raising a red flag? That is not necessarily a good measure of success. They are selling the country's future competitiveness for their operating budget and bragging rights amongst the other agencies.

Patents are inherently restrictive. It's as if the FCC sold "radio rights" to sue anyone else using a small part of the radio spectrum for a specific marketing purpose. Or the post office sold "mailing rights" to sue anyone delivering mail of certain topics to a small region.... um, this might not be a good direction to continue speculating.

more than 4 years ago

PayPal Withdraws WikiLeaks Donation Service

zQuo Re:whats going on? (794 comments)

The TSA no-fly list can also be used to harass citizens without a warrant or oversight. Another possible chilling effect on journalists and the like.

more than 4 years ago

FCC To Vote On Net Neutrality On December 21

zQuo Re:An ounce of prevention (319 comments)

Totally agree! Net Neutrality is needed only because of the lack of competition in the last-mile. Regulation is almost mandatory because, like a gas company or electric utility, the internet provider has a near-monopoly position for each individual customer.

more than 4 years ago

DDoS Attack On Wikileaks Increasing

zQuo Re:Wrong analogy. (919 comments)

We put our trust in corporate officers to promote shareholder interests. If there is evidence of corruption or stupidity, then, of course, publish the exact details of the relevant events and "secrets." That is the whole purpose of whistleblowing, to bring evidence of corruption, stupidity, or conspiracy to light, and it is a service to the stakeholders.

The problem: People who are responsibility for the deed or misdeeds are the people who decide whether it is secret or not. This is a recipe for abuse. Any documents of normal operations or deals are of no interest; they are not an issue. The ones that reveal any betrayal of trust are the ones that should definitely be published.

Government needs checks and balances. The free press is the final check against bad government. Classified documents allow governments to avoid problems and give them incentive to put more resources into hiding problems rather than fixing them. Leaking or the threat of leaking makes them more careful. Which is why we need something like Wikileaks or something similar.

more than 4 years ago

EU Commission Says People Have a 'Right To Be Forgotten' Online

zQuo Have a Backup & Restore Feature... (200 comments)

It would be very nice if social networks had an official backup and restore feature to your profile. Then you could truly have control of your data, and delete or restore your account as needs without much fuss.

more than 4 years ago

Lawyer Is Big Winner In Webcamgate Settlement

zQuo Re:Associated costs (475 comments)

While theoretically true, practically, a lawyer is not accountable for bad advice. Has anyone you know (who is not a judge) ever brought that about?

Lawyers are very hard to sue for bad advice, even just to recover fees paid. Professional courtesy and professional reciprocity help them a lot.

But it's true that a lawyer's ability to shield accountability is worth $$$. If a client says, my lawyer advised me it was ok to [do something really stupid], then the client is somewhat shielded from really big penalties on top of normal damages. Of course, chances are, the lawyer almost always gets away unscathed. Lawyers and Accountants both have this ability, but for some reason, accountants are much more respected when they exercise it.

Disclaimer: IANAL, so any corrections to this worldview are welcome.

more than 4 years ago

Technological Genius Is Timeliness, Not Inspiration

zQuo Re:Obvious corollary (255 comments)

Yes, implementations are where the hard work is. The idea is worth very little (unless one patents the idea and tries to sue everyone who wants to make something).

Software copyright already gives plenty of protection and it protects only implementations of an idea. The Phoenix BIOS that overthrew IBM's monopoly of the PC and allowed PC clones to exist (to everyone's benefit) had to surmount copyright protections only, and Phoenix had to spend *a lot* of money to surmount copyright. This is from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_BIOS

With the success of the IBM PC in 1983, Phoenix decided to provide an IBM PC compatible ROM BIOS to the PC market. A licensable ROM BIOS would allow clone PC manufacturers to run the same applications, and even the MS-DOS that was being used by IBM. However, to do this Phoenix needed a strategy for defense against IBM copyright infringement lawsuits. IBM would claim that the Phoenix programmers had copied parts of the IBM BIOS code published by IBM in its Technical Reference manuals.[citation needed] Due to the nature of low-level programming two well-written pieces of code that perform the same function there will inevitably be some degree of similarity. As such it would be impossible for Phoenix to defend itself on the grounds that no part of its BIOS matched IBM's. Phoenix developed a "clean room" technique that isolated the engineers who had been contaminated by reading the IBM source listings in the IBM Technical Reference Manuals. The contaminated engineers wrote specifications for the BIOS APIs and provided the specifications to "clean" engineers who had not been exposed to IBM BIOS source code. Those "clean" engineers developed code from scratch to mimic the BIOS APIs. This technique provided Phoenix with a defensibly non-infringing IBM PC-compatible ROM BIOS. Because the programmers who wrote the Phoenix code had never read IBM's reference manuals, nothing they wrote could have been copied from IBM's code, no matter how closely the two matched.[4] The first Phoenix PC ROM BIOS was introduced in May, 1984, and helped fuel the growth in the PC industry.

If we had software patents back then, all the new PC's Macs, Amigas, etc. , almost any device that used BIOS-like ideas would have been stillborn; we'd just have really awful clunky PC's made by IBM for a really long time. Implementations of software are already protected by copyright. Software patents patent the idea; ideas are easy to come by. They prevent competing implementations of an idea, where the real hard work is. A software patent will prevent *any* implementation of the idea, if the patent holder is lazy

more than 4 years ago

US Plans Cyber Shield For Private Companies and Utilities

zQuo NSA has a slight conflict of interest. (178 comments)

The NSA is the government agency with excellent expertise to protect against computer based attacks. Unfortunately the NSA's original mission is to gather intelligence from foreign communications, and in fuzzy cases, domestic communications that may possibly turn out to be "foreign communications". Protecting citizens from cyber-attacks is a laudable goal, but is an add-on tacked on to their actual responsibility of protect US national security systems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Agency , http://www.nsa.gov/

This is the conflict of interest for the NSA in protecting citizens' data and computing; they also wish to gather intelligence. Any worker in the NSA will always have the temptation to mix the two purposes slightly. As a result, the internet community tends to suspect solutions provided by the NSA, even if provided in good faith.

One idea I've encountered is to have a separate agency with the unambiguous purpose of protecting citizen's data and computing, something hopefully similar to the CDC, the Center for Disease Control, which prevents diseases. Such an agency may be more transparent than the NSA, which is unfortunately limited in having to serve several purposes.

more than 4 years ago

Avoiding GM Foods? Monsanto Says You're Overly Fussy

zQuo Truth in Labeling (835 comments)

Labeling a food ingredient accurately is perfectly valid and should be supported. Many people have a preference and will pay more for one or the other.

There is an actual difference between GMO foods and non-GMO in the process of how they are grown, no matter whether the end product is similar or not. Accurate labeling is simply letting the people decide on the relative price difference between the two, such as organic milk or free-range eggs. It doesn't need to be intrusive... GMO corn starch, partially GMO corn starch, or non-GMO corn starch, etc.

If this is done accurately, it helps everyone. People who accept GMO risks end up paying less for their food costs. Which is exactly what we want. And people who are worried about unknown risks will pay more. If GMO foods truly cost less for a farmer to produce than regular foods, then the price savings should be evident in the market, and the price savings should be compelling enough to convince people to buy them.

more than 4 years ago

USPTO Grants Bezos Patent On '60s-Era Chargebacks

zQuo Re:Worthless Patent (144 comments)

Actually, this 'valuable' patent is worth the application fee and the stream of maintenance fees for the life of the patent! That's, er, about $8k over the life of the patent. http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/qs/ope/fee2009september15.htm
And that's not counting all the patent litigation fees to keep the lawyers' children fed!

Sadly, there are no longer many worthy patents that are on the scale of a lightbulb, where the realized implementation of an idea is patented after some incredible effort and trial and error. Nowadays, a patent would be just the idea: "a method of generating light from electricity". The carbon filament lamp in 1879, the tungsten filament lamp in 1915, the tungsten halogen lamp in 1959, etc. would all just details that fall under the original idea.


more than 4 years ago

Venture Capitalists Lobby Against Software Patents

zQuo Patents only prevent product development. (127 comments)

This is so true! According to "Innovation for Dummies" book, a patent only grants the right to forbid others to make a product. Patents do not give you any right to make anything. This is a very important distinction. A patent is the ability to deny others, not the ability to make something.

If you build a better airplane, you can patent all the innovative features (and not so innovative ones) as much as you like... and then you probably still can't make the plane... because there will be other patents or IP that your innovative airplane incorporates. If you can't get all the patent holders to agree to let you make the airplane, then you cannot make a product. The only way to make money off of your patent is to further deny others the ability to use the idea until they pay.

The notion of counting the patents issued in a country to measure "innovation" is terrible. It really means the opposite; that progress is actually slower in that country the more patents are issued. It doesn't mean that the whole idea of patents are bad, but each patent already issued slows future product development for the country as a whole . Given the societal costs of an issued patent, we really should put the bar higher, and grant patents only for really great innovations. Each current issued patent is like a grit of sand gumming up new product development... so each patent issued, if any, had better be worth quite a bit.

more than 4 years ago


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