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Archive for the ‘Patents, IP, Privacy and More’ Category

As summarized by Cory Doctorow in “The EU hired a company that had been lobbying for the Copyright Directive to make a (completely batshit) video to sell the Copyright Directive“:

In other words, the Parliament gave public money to a corporation that stands to make millions from a piece of legislation, and then asked that corporation to make a video that used false statements and hysterical language to discredit the opposition to the law. It’s not even lobbying, where a corporation uses the promise of campaign cash and other incentives to get officials on-side: this is public officials paying lobbyists to sway public opinion to win a law that will vastly enrich the corporation the lobbyists represent.

Cory is a far better writer than me, so let me use his words to reiterate (and reinforce!) the point I tried to make two weeks ago:

If the Parliament gets its way, those Eurosceptic parties will go into the elections with a devastating piece of ammunition: if the European Parliament votes in a law in spite of the largest petition in the history of the human race opposing it; if it passes the law after being directly contacted by millions of concerned voters; if it passes the law after massive, continent-wide street demonstrations opposing it, then the Parliament will have proved Eurosceptics’ point for them.

I hope it does not have to get even worse than that before it can begin to get better with European politics.

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When I first read these words (by Cory Doctorow), I was quite surprised. Could an executive entity be so… stupid… ?

The EU Commission has been forced to retract a Medium post in which it patronised and dismissed opponents of the controversial Article 13 proposal that will force platforms to surveil and censor users’ postings with copyright filters, calling them a “mob.”

The Commission characterised the opposition as being stooges for Google, hoodwinked by the company to carry water for it, despite the fact that Google has quietly supported the idea of filters as an acceptable alternative to other forms of regulation (Facebook, too, has supported the proposal).

The answer to my question above is: yes. And just to be clear: I oppose some of the Articles in the proposal, but no-one has paid me to do so!

If you want to read what the EU Commission published, head over to TorrentFreak – they have archived a copy of the text.

Does the text of the Commission in anyway address some of the critiques levelled at the current proposal? Not really. It tries to explain the rationale behind it, but hides that attempt between a number of fabrications that can only be classified as condescending, disrespectful and anti-democratic. How else can you interpret a text that says “Do Google, Facebook or others really need to pay to persuade?“, when you know that such companies are among the biggest lobbyists in Brussel (just check LobbyFacts.eu).

Anyway, let’s talk facts: if you want to know what’s wrong Article 13, head over to the EFF website and read “Artists Against Article 13: When Big Tech and Big Content Make a Meal of Creators, It Doesn’t Matter Who Gets the Bigger Piece“. In short: Article 13 is about filtering content, and no reasonably-size forum can do so without automation. Given that all pattern-recognition software (that’s what AI is about) is strongly dependent on the input used to train it, it’s more than likely that many errors will be made. Obliging the platforms to police the content of its users amounts to a form of privatisation of censorship – without much recourse to a fair trial to redress errors and fraud…

What worries me, as a longtime supporter of Europe, most about the EU Commission’s blog post is that incidents like this one are very likely to diminish enthusiasm for the European unification and for the upcoming European elections; it certainly does so for me. Two decades ago, being an elected official for Europe was an ambition for those with a genuine will to make the European Union a success. These days, it seems more like an extension of local and national politics: you try to be elected because one way or another there’s (big) money to be made there… I know this is a very cynical view – but I can’t help feeling that whoever wrote that EU Commission post as far more cynical about democracy than me!

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TorrentFreak explains why and how a “Swedish ISP Protests ‘Site Blocking’ by Blocking Rightsholders Website Too“.

“Bahnhof has repeatedly demonstrated how copyright law is being abused and exploited by greedy opportunists [like Elsevier], and in the end it is always ordinary people who have to pay,” Bahnhof notes.

Thank you, Bahnhof, for speaking out against the abuse.

This is what you’ll see when surfing to Elsevier’s site as a Bahnhof customer. Don’t you love that modem sound?

The fight against copyright abuse: that’s exactly what Aaron Schwartz was a part of, and the case in Sweden, like others (check Australian law, for example), proves that the battles aren’t over. In fact, that is why the EU really needs to get rid of the current proposal for a Copyright Directive, and come up with something much better.

In the mean time, let Cory Doctorow explain why it is good that “Europe’s massive plan to require open access for all science gets two new backers: Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation“:

Now, Europe’s two largest science funders have joined the consortium: The Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation, and with these 15 funders backing Plan S, nearly all science research in Europe will be open access.

“Open Access” to scientific publications, that’s what this is all about.

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Strange as it may seem, it does exist: an open-source motorcycle. At least, that’s what a company called Fictiv is telling us. Their name may not bode well in this context, but the company seems legit, going by their website. The blog post detailing their effort, “Open Source. Open road. Build your own fully customisable, street-legal motorcycle in a weekend“, is unfortunately rather skimpy on details.

The open-source bike on the open road

The bike does look good. I’m certainly not the only one who would like to know how it handles, what it costs, whether it can be done in a weekend, etc. If you have a more detailed report, let it know in the comments!

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Aral Balkan wrote about “Schnail Mail: free real mail for life!” more than a year ago. Now he calls the “business practices ” behind Schnail Mail “http://aralbalkan.com/notes/spyware-2.0“. Whether you agree 100% with him is not essential; you can’t deny that his reasoning is out of place in a time when everyone is taking about the NSA and Snowden and …

While you’re at it, check out the ind.ie website, where the products of the Indienet, which is part of Aral Bakan’s vision, come to life. I’m reading the Pulse documentation; I can totally see myself using this tool for peer-to-peer copying of files.

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Repost from Inessential.com:

” Were the National Security Agency an agency charged with the security of our nation, it would have reported the Heartbleed bug immediately instead of exploiting it.”

You may replace ‘NSA’ with another security service name if that suits you…

On a very, very,very related note,  Dave Winer writes:

“This is one of the reasons why the Internet of Things hype is so scary. Right now, in 2014, our entire financial system is accessible through a compromised system. That’s bad enough. But what happens when our bodies are wired to the net. And our cars, homes, everything. It’s great to think about when everything is working and everyone plays nice. But if you know anything about software and networks you know that’s a naive dream.”

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If you still think that the patent system (be it in the US or in Europe) is benefitting society (or at least the economy), think again after reading this hard proof:

Turns out there is a very real, and very negative, correlation between patent troll lawsuits and the venture capital funding that startups rely on. A just-released study [PDF] by Catherine Tucker, a professor of marketing at MIT’s Sloan School of Business, finds that over the last five years, VC investment “would have likely been $21.772 billion higher… but for litigation brought by frequent litigators.”

patent-troll-graphic-final.png

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