policy Articles


Freedom hangs on by a vote

I know there are going to be plenty of people out there on the net that disagree with me, but yesterday's 66-34 vote that missed by one the opportunity to amend the US Constitution is both a happy thing and a sad thing. I'm certainly happy that it didn't make …

Network neutrality is about control

The following is the text of a letter that I wrote in response to an article in the Washington Post this morning. The article asserted that pro-net neutrality groups' call to "keep the Internet where it belongs -- in the hands of its consumers" is "empty fluff that is obviously designed …

Apple cleared to use Apple name/logo for tunes

At least in the UK, there may be some justice on the trademark front. Apple computer is allowed to use the Apple name and logo after winning a lawsuit from Apple Corps Ltd. (the Beatles' record company). Thanks to this article in the Wall Street Journal for getting us the …


DMCA effects after 7 years

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released version 4 of their report Unintended Consequences: Seven Years under the DMCA, an account of the effects of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) after we've had a chance to see what happens. Not many surprises in it, but those unfamiliar may find …

Netflix joins the patent-abuse fray

Well, I like NetFlix, but I have to say that their lawsuit announced this morning against BlockBuster is beyond ridiculous. They are going after the classic business idea patent--I say classic sarcastically, if you can't tell. There seems to also be a method patent for the queue management system that …

NZ looks at open source software's legal implications

The State Services Commission in New Zealand has put up a briefing this month (OK, last month, but with the International Date Line, who knows) about Open Source Legal Issues. The policy paper is well thought out, if lacking a bit in depth, but covers such things as the key …

Miller tracking down emails

An interesting post from boingboing.net recounts a story wherein a user who had formerly signed up for a Miller Brewing Company contest using a throw- away email address and then threw it away is now getting email from Miller on another account. The return email in the message is …

Google wants an unfettered internet

Vint Cert, long-time internet founder and now at Google testified last week in front of the Telecommunications subcommittee of the Commerce committee of the US Senate. No telling how well the comments were accepted by the Senators, but I liked what he had to say. I'll leave off the details …

EFF Warns of Google Desktop privacy issue

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted an article requesting that users take care when activating the "Search Across Computers" option in Google Desktop (available only for the PC right now). Although the article certainly raises an interesting question, there are some specifics that might mitigate at least some of this …

Linus nixes GPL3 over DRM provisions

Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux says that he won't switch the Linux kernel to GPL 3 because of the anti-DRM provisions in the license. An article from CNet covers a posting to the Linux kernel mailing list that details his concerns.

Google cache found legal

In an important ruling, a Nevada court found that Google's cache of the data of web sites does not violate copyright law and is covered by the "safe harbor" provisions of the DMCA and other laws. Comments from the EFF are available in an online article, as is the ruling …

RIAA/MPAA try to legistlate \"customary historic use\"

In a well-written article from Ars Technica, Hannibal chases down an item that appears in the EFF's Deeplinks section. The EFF article describes an attempt by the RIAA and MPAA to restrict future electronics to supporting only "customary historic use" of content, and they describe how they want it implemented …

My Christmas present from Congress

Last week was an interesting one for me. Just before the break for the holidays, Congress delivered (or failed to deliver) on three items of particular note: ANWAR drilling, the Patriot Act renewal, and Senator McCain's anti-torture provisions. To be assured, movement on each of these is not exactly what …

eBay case going to the Supreme Court

eBay has gotten its wish in a patent dispute with MercExchange of Great Falls, VA. The online auction powerhouse's call for a hearing in front of the nine justices of the Supreme Court has been accepted (according to an article in the New York times). The case, as you may …

Londoner arrested for having too much kit

Beware geeks in London! David Mery writes in The Guardian about being detained and arrested (not to mention having his flat searched, etc.) because he looked suspicious in a tube station in London. What did he do? Not much that you or I wouldn't do...

SCO tried and failed to find violations before

According to a letter disclosed as part of the SCO v. IBM case and reprinted on GrokLaw, SCO had tried previously to find evidence of copyright violation in the LINUX source and had been unsuccessful. It's a pretty amazing read considering some of the commentary made by SCO executives after …

Congress to vote next week on permanent Patriot Act

According to a press release from the ACLU and tons of other places, there is a move afoot to schedule a vote next week on Representative Sensenbrenner's HR 3199 which would completely repeal the sunset provision in the Patriot Act... you remember the part that the lawmakers told us made …

Unified software patents dead (for now) in Europe

In a move likely spawned more by the lack of leadership in software than by a true belief in free markets, the European Union has rejected the pending legislation on software patents. According an article from CNet, the landslide victory is likely to result in a delay of at least …

Why you shouldn't give away that info

Some people think that I'm paranoid when it comes to giving up my private information. I don't give any more than I need to, and when pressed, tend to give even less because I'm concerned that the recipients will (either maliciously or carelessly) use the data for some purpose other …