After industry adopts open video standards, MPEG founder says the end is nigh

Leonardo Chiariglione is founder and chairman of the International Standards Organization's Motion Picture Expert Group (MPEG), whose standards have dominated video playback since the earliest days; MPEG's primary rival is the Alliance for Open Media, an ascendant open standards body that requires that members promise not to enforce patents that overlap with its standards, meaning that anyone can play back AOM video without paying rent to MPEG members. Read the rest

The catastrophic consequences of the non-Neutral Net will be very hard to spot, until it's too late

Stanford's Futurity interviews Stanford Law expert Ryan Singel and International Studies expert Didi Kuo about the meaning of a non-Neutral internet, and the pair make an excellent and chilling point about the subtle, profound ways that Ajit Pai's rollback of Net Neutrality rules to pre-2005 levels will distort and hobble the future internet. Read the rest

Modern Farmer on how the DMCA takes away farmers' rights over their tractors

In spring, 2015, American farmers started to spread the word that John Deere claimed that a notorious copyright law gave the company exclusive dominion over repairs to Deere farm-equipment, making it a felony (punishable by 5 years in prison and a $500K fine for a first offense) to fix your own tractor. Read the rest

Canada Post drops legal claim over crowdsourced postal code database

Canada Post claimed a "crown copyright" over the postal codes assigned to Canadian homes, meaning that Canadian organisations and businesses could only use this vital information if they paid -- that is, they'd have to pay to access something their taxes already paid for, and the richer you were, the more access you could afford. Read the rest

Zombie company Atari wants exclusive right to make haunted house games

Atari was once a giant of video game innovation, but now it's a troll -- a company that produces nothing except legal threats -- and its latest project is to get the US Patent and Trademark Office to give it the right to decide who can make haunted house games, and charge the lucky few for the privilege. Read the rest

High profits mean capitalism is cooked

From The Economist to the White House Council of Economic Advisers to Goldman Sachs itself, the staunchest supporters of capitalism are worried about the consistently high profit margins in key industries, especially finance. Read the rest

Hedge funds buy swathes of foreclosed subprimes, force up rents, float rent-bonds

When a giant hedge fund is bidding on all the foreclosed houses in a poor neighborhood, living humans don't stand a chance -- but that's OK, because rapacious investors make great landlords. Read the rest

Sherlock and co are finally in the public domain

Patrick writes, "After more than 125 years and countless crappy incarnations on film, A federal judge has issued a declarative judgment stating that Holmes, Watson, 221B Baker Street, the dastardly Professor Moriarty and other elements included in the 50 Holmes works Arthur Conan Doyle published before Jan. 1, 1923, are no longer covered by United States copyright law and can be freely used by creators without paying any licensing fee to the Conan Doyle estate."

The estate are notorious bullies, and have relied upon bizarre legal theories to extract funds from people who use the Sherlock canon characters in new works, even though those characters come from stories that are largely in the public domain. Read the rest

Canada Post sues crowdsourced postal-code database, claims copyright in Canadian postal-codes

Michael Geist sez,

Canada Post has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Geolytica, which operates GeoCoder.ca, a website that provides several geocoding services including free access to a crowdsourced compiled database of Canadian postal codes. Canada Post argues that it is the exclusive copyright holder of all Canadian postal codes and claims that GeoCoder appropriated the database and made unauthorized reproductions.

GeoCoder, which is being represented by CIPPIC, filed its statement of defence yesterday. The defence explains how GeoCoder managed to compile a postal code database by using crowdsource techniques without any reliance on Canada Post's database. The site created street address look-up service in 2004 with users often including a postal code within their query. The site retained the postal code information and gradually developed its own database with the postal codes (a system not unlike many marketers that similarly develop databases by compiling this information). The company notes that it has provided access to the information for free for the last eight years and that it is used by many NGOs for advocacy purposes.

While GeoCoder makes for a fascinating case study on generating crowdsourced information, the legal issues raised by the case should attract widespread attention. Key issues include whether there is any copyright in postal codes, questions on whether Canada Post owns copyright in the database if there is copyright, and a denial that the crowdsourced version of the database - independently created by GeoCoder - infringes the copyright of the Canada Post database.

Canada Post Files Copyright Lawsuit Over Crowdsourced Postal Code Database Read the rest