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The Public’s Responsibility for Their Own IP


I don’t often respond to a message board, article, or blog in the comment section. It’s too easy to get lost in the throng of off-topic, uninformed, or mean-spirited posts. This morning when I had a little time to kill because of work however, I came across an interesting article. Perhaps because I’m passionate about the topic, or maybe because it was such an unreasonable hour after a 12+ hour day, I decided to go for it. Not one to let 60 minutes of work go unnoticed, I thought I’d try to bring it to your attention.

The original article from techcrunch is Flickr v. Free Speech. Where Is Their Courage? I read the whole article even though I didn’t find the argument very compelling and I noticed a lack of supporting information in the places it was needed most (and maybe a few too many citations I didn’t care about because of what was lacking.)

After skimming through all the comments and reading most of what I thought where the good ones, I decided to respond to the author’s comment buried in this comment. If you aren’t interested in reading all that, just skip to my comment.

I think my argument stands for itself, but there’s one thing I’ll add. The author of the article makes a claim that

Yahoo/Flickr should have asked its attorneys if the copyright claim had any validity at all before removing the image … [who could have told] … you that this is clearly a fair use of the original Obama image, Time Magazine‚Äôs copyright and copyright around the movie.

I wish the author would have consulted a lawyer. The DMCA’s Online Copyright Infringement Liability Act (OLCILA) was specifically created to prevent Service Providers from having much incentive to make any judgment about the validity of the copyright claim. More than that (and let me reassert, as I did in my comment, that I’m not a lawyer), the concept of Fair Use and more specifically, parodies, is an affirmative defense. This means that you’re still actually violating someone’s copyright and can still be sued, but (if your affirmative defense is proven) will be able to get out of it in court. This status as an affirmative defense makes it even less likely that a company receiving a substantially sufficient DMCA take-down notice would question the take-down because they thought the content was a parody — the OLCLIA doesn’t really give them the ability to do that without jeopardizing their safe harbor.

To quote myself:

Like it or not, this is the check-and-balance that makes the situation livable. To make the system work, the public has a responsibility to hold people accountable by filing counter notices and suing for misrepresentation if necessary.

Add comment Computer Geek 08/22/2009 at 10:01 ET

The Cake is a Lie!

I first did it a few days ago, but tonight I beat Portal. Here’s a screenshot of my accomplishment…

I beat Portal.

Ya’ll know I’m a computer geek and a music kid, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the part I’m going to absolutely rave about is the closing credits. WOW! For anyone who has a little intellect and a fair amount of patience (call me if you get stuck in one particular part or another), you should play and beat this game just to see the end credits. This kid Jonathan Coulton wrote an amazing song “Still Alive” for the game and I was just…wow. I bought it on iTunes. It was worth $0.99.

Add comment Computer Geek 04/10/2008 at 22:23 ET

Recover from Disaster

Today I’m helping a friend of a friend with her computer. As I’m sitting here watching xcopy backup most of her data onto my computer (temporarily) and pondering resizing her hard drive partition (non-techie-types can read that as “hopefully fixing the problem but running the risk of deleting her whole computer”), a thought floats through my mind. Does anyone remember undelete?

I think this is an especially poignant question for me these days as I’ve recently bought a new computer with Windows Vista (crappy Microsoft) and I’m quite sure that I have no idea how I would go about accomplishing an undelete. My friend’s friend’s computer has Windows XP (crappy Microsoft) and I don’t think I’ve ever undeleted a file on XP either. I don’t even know if NTFS (Windows 2000 Professional or later) supports the same kind of un-delete operation that FAT (Windows ME or earlier) did. When was the last time I seriously tried to undelete a file?

Actually, I know the answer to that question. It was when I was working on my website: my webhost runs everything on Debian Linux and I’m not as snazzy with *nix platforms as I am with Windows (crappy Microsoft). I deleted a whole folder by accident and then spent a few hours searching for a way to undo the operation. After a lot of Google research, I decided that even if I knew what I was doing, the files were probably gone, so I gave up.

There’s definitely the command-line factor. Who remembers DOS? That’s when undelete reigned supreme. It was really easy to type something and accidentally delete a file you didn’t mean to. With a graphical interface (thanks Apple, even if you’re overpriced) I think mistakes are a lot less common.

I also think it says a little about the evolution of the relationship of the computer to the operator. As we become more familiar with computers and they become more familiar with us, mistakes requiring undelete are a lot less common. I know, I know, there’s the trash can (or recycle bin — crappy Microsoft), but who really uses that thing, anyway? I think I have it turned off on two-out-of-three computers I regularly use.

So I’m sitting here thinking about the evolution. What would young Jed, writing MS-DOS-based batch files to create boot menus, think of OS X anyway? Would he even know where to start? What does that say about how computing technology has progressed, and more importantly, what does it say about how computing technology has pushed Mankind to progress?

Add comment Computer Geek 04/05/2008 at 18:15 ET

Get Google Talk

I said for a long time, as recently as yesterday, that I was going to leave my blog as is. One post is good enough for me. Anyway, I’m much more concerned about all my pictures. Yet, I found something extraordinary today (although it could have been around for a while) that I felt a need to share. Google Talk has opened their servers and now anyone who has a Google Talk account or uses Jabber instant messaging can talk to one another. If you don’t already know, this is very, very cool.

“Why is it cool,” you might ask? Well, let me tell you. Back in the old days there were many different instant messaging services AOL/AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, etc. They each had their own advantages and disadvantages. The most frustrating problem, however, was that if your friend had AOL Instant Messenger and you had Yahoo! Messenger, you couldn’t talk to one another. One of you had to switch, or at least get two accounts and run two different applications (one for AIM and one for Yahoo!). Programs like Trillian (which I use) help a little by merging all your different accounts into one program, but it can still be a pain. If you don’t know, trust me on this one.

Now for the cool part. Not too long ago, Google introduced a new service called Google Talk. If you’re like me, no matter how much you like Google, you are probably thinking either “this blog post isn’t as good as the first one” or “oh no, not another IM service/client/account.” If you were thinking the second, you’re both right and wrong. It’s true that Google Talk can’t communicate with the other major IM clients/services (yet), but it does something no other mainstream IM service does. It uses open standards. Specifically the XMPP standard used by Jabber enthusiasts. And now, the big news that inspired this post Google Talk has opened their servers and allowed open federation by any other service supporting XMPP.

This is huge, and it is a step in the right direction for IM and for the internet[worked] community as a whole, across the globe. This could be a first step in eliminating the ridiculousness of every service trying to demark their territory so they can maintain control. How many IM screen names should I have to have? Well, I’ll tell you what, now I only have 1. Get Google Talk or your favorite Jabber/XMPP service and you can be down to 1 too.

Google Talk has already federated with many IM providers including Earthlink, Gizmo Project, Tiscali, Netease, Chikka, MediaRing. And of course it should work with all industry-standard Jabber servers. That’s how my address works. If you have any questions, let me know!

Add comment Computer Geek 01/19/2006 at 17:42 ET