Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘intellectual property

The Monday Morning Links Market Is Ripe for Disruption

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* This man owed $134 in property taxes. The District sold the lien to an investor who foreclosed on his $197,000 house and sold it.

Stanford Is Now Basically a Venture-Capital Fund With Some Dorms.

* Remaking the University: Rather than accept further gutting and the corporate solutions that are a domestic version of structural adjustment, we should work to meet our actual needs.

Intellectual property and the struggle over value.

The six ways we talk about a teenage girl’s age. “The ‘unreliable narrator‘ of Nabokov’s Lolita infuses our media and apparently permeates parts of our judicial landscape”:

When you consider the many ages of adolescent girls, it is clear that our cultural imagination encourages boys and men to think of young girls as fair game. By the time a girl is 12, she isn’t even seen as a whole human being, but regarded for her parts. She’s “forbidden fruit,” “a temptress,” “a man trap” and “asking for it.” All she has to do to be targeted sexually is go for a walk. If she wears skimpy clothes, is overly friendly with a teacher, dances with abandon, especially if she’s a girl or young woman of color, she might be blamed for her own assault. This is a male fantasy.

* Teaching naked, parts 1 and 2.

I had my students fill out mid-semester evaluations last fall.  No big deal, just answer these four questions: 1) What am I doing to help you learn? 2) What could I be doing better to help you learn? 3) What are you doing to help yourself learn? and 4) What could you be doing better to help yourself learn?  I had them turn the evaluations in anonymously to allow more genuine feedback.

Later that afternoon, I started going through the responses. It was encouraging to see that, in general, responses to the first two questions indicated I was getting better, which was gratifying given the amount of time and energy I spent re-developing the class. For the most part, students were surprisingly honest when responding to questions 3 and 4, showing they understood their responsibility in their progress, or lack thereof. Somewhere towards the end of the ~160 evaluations, I came across one that answered question #2 with: “Teach naked.”

What’s Killing Poor White Women?

Most Americans, including high-school dropouts of other races, are gaining life expectancy, just at different speeds. Absent a war, genocide, pandemic, or massive governmental collapse, drops in life expectancy are rare. “If you look at the history of longevity in the United States, there have been no dramatic negative or positive shocks,” Olshansky says. “With the exception of the 1918 influenza pandemic, everything has been relatively steady, slow changes. This is a five-year drop in an 18-year time period. That’s dramatic.”

NSA Revelations Cast Doubt on the Entire Tech Industry.

* Book Crooks “exposes a (zero-day?) vulnerability in Google Books that allows us to download entire books/novels/textbooks.”

* Anthology of “21st Century Science Fiction” Coming November 5.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden and David Hartwell have edited Twenty-First Century Science Fiction , a 250,000-word anthology of short fiction by writers who came to prominence since the turn of the century. The authors include “Vandana Singh, Charles Stross, Paolo Bacigalupi, Neal Asher, Rachel Swirsky, John Scalzi, M. Rickert, Tony Ballantyne, David Levine, Genevieve Valentine, Ian Creasey, Marissa Lingen, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, David Moles, Mary Robinette Kowal, Madeleine Ashby, Tobias Buckell, Ken Liu, Oliver Morton, Karl Schroeder, Brenda Cooper, Liz Williams, Ted Kosmatka, Catherynne M. Valente, Daryl Gregory, Alaya Dawn Johnson, James Cambias, Yoon Ha Lee, Hannu Rajaniemi, Kage Baker, Peter Watts, Jo Walton, and Cory Doctorow.

* Scientists are losing confidence that climate change will increase the frequency of hurricanes. I’m sure the reporting on this will be balanced and responsible, dedicated to getting to the bottom of what’s really going on.

* Does the dog die? Check before you view.

* One of the First Known Chemical Attacks Took Place 1,700 Years Ago in Syria. Obama will appear on TV six times this week to hype the war, just like he did all those times to push the public option, economic stimulus, infrastructure spending, climate change legislation, closing Guantánamo…

Bloomberg lets the mask slip. Yikes.

Why Big Pharma should be scared of the gaming industry.

Much of the height in Earth’s tallest towers is useless space.

Overworked America: 12 Charts That Will Make Your Blood Boil.

What Are Students Tweeting About Us?

* Prove me wrong, boy. Prove me wrong.

* And Angus Johnston concludes his series on the most important student activism stories to watch in 2013-2014: Part 3, 4.

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Thursday Links

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Public Domain Gets a Little Less Public

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Congress may take books, musical compositions and other works out of the public domain, where they can be freely used and adapted, and grant them copyright status again, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

In a 6-2 ruling, the court said that, just because material enters the public domain, it is not “territory that works may never exit.” 

Written by gerrycanavan

January 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Three for Thursday

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Depressing Sunday Links

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Establishment Democrats are enthusiastically betraying their constituents, and gloating about it. I’ve already committed to not giving money and not volunteering in 2012, but the sticker’s coming off the car if the deal as described goes through. I’m done.

While the New Deal stoically awaits the guillotine, some links, many shamelessly stolen from zunguzungu’s supersized edition of Sunday Reading:

* Congressional Black Caucus: Use the 14th Amendment.

* Jeffrey Sachs: “Every part of the budget debate in the U.S. is built on a tissue of willful deceit.”

* The basic error was that Buchanan approached American politics in procedural or legal terms at a moment when the reigning political conflicts in American life were no longer in any sense shaped or resolved by procedural or legal processes. Obama as James Buchanan. More here from John Judis:

Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today’s Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to, and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.

* In a nutshell, what’s going on is something that hasn’t happened in American politics for 50 years: an ideologically coherent social movement with clear political aspirations has taken shape out of murkier antecedents and disparate tributaries and at least for the moment, it has a very tight hold on the political officials that it has elected. The movement is not interested in the spoils system, its representatives can’t be quickly seduced into playing the usual games. And the movement’s primary objective is to demolish existing governmental and civic institutions. They’ve grown tired of waiting for government to be small enough to drown in a bathtub, so they’re setting out with battleaxes and dynamite instead.

Social movements that aren’t just setting out to secure legal protection and resources for their constituency, but are instead driven to pursue profound sociopolitical transformations are unfamiliar enough. What makes this moment even more difficult to grasp in terms of the conventional wisdom of pundits is that this isn’t a movement that speaks a language of inclusion, hope, reform, innovation or progress. It speaks instead about restoration of power to those who once held it, the tearing down of existing structures, about undoing what’s been done. This movement is at war with its social and institutional enemies: it has nothing to offer them except to inflict upon them the marginalization that the members of the movement imagine they themselves have suffered.

* Ezra Klein dangles the carrot: maybe Obama won’t capitulate on the Bush tax cuts again. Sure, maybe.

* Surely there must be a name, in advertising parlance, for the figure of the anthropomorphized food item that happily consumes a non-anthropomorphized version of itself?

* The great teddy bear shipwreck mystery.

* On misremembering the victims of injustice as small children.

* Julian Sanchez: “The very existence of such massive trade in “defensive patents” is, in itself, pretty strong evidence that there’s something systematically quite wrong with the American patent system—because a patent that’s useful for “defensive” purposes is very likely to be a bad patent. I love that Planet Money and This American Life got non-IP people talking about this.

* And I may have done this one before, but what the hell: Inside an abandoned East Berlin amusement park.

Thursday Links

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* BREAKING: John Boehner doesn’t have the votes for even a purely symbolic raising of the debt ceiling. I’m predicting Obama’s lawyers rediscover the Fourteenth Amendment by late Monday afternoon.

* Our bosses are starting to notice: Roach Says Chinese Officials ‘Appalled’ by U.S. Debt Impasse.

Roach cited an unnamed Chinese policy maker as saying in mid-July that “we understand politics, but your government’s continued recklessness is astonishing.”

* The U.S. now has less cash on hand than Apple.

* Limbaugh and Fox bang the table in response to record-breaking temperatures this month.

* Decadence watch: Danny DeVito Open To The Idea of Twins 2.

* This American Life‘s episode on patent law this week was excellent; here’s a response from the company at the heart of its critique.

* Your tweet of the day from Christopher Newfield: “The 13 worst-paying college majors — all are about helping other people or studying deep human needs.”

* Theory fight! Eagleton v. Spivak.

* And Will Arnett says the Arrested Development movie is still happening. Don’t break my heart, Mitch…

Given the Material Abundance Made Possible by the Replicator, How Would It Be Possible to Maintain a System Based on Money, Profit, and Class Power?

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Thus it seems that the main problem confronting the society of anti-Star Trek is the problem of effective demand: that is, how to ensure that people are able to earn enough money to be able to pay the licensing fees on which private profit depends. Of course, this isn’t so different from the problem that confronted industrial capitalism, but it becomes more severe as human labor is increasingly squeezed out of the system, and human beings become superfluous as elements of production, even as they remain necessary as consumers.

Peter Frase considers an anti-Star Trek. Via Yglesias.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 15, 2011 at 10:41 am

But What About Drugs?

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In response to this chart, a friend raised the objection that American medical costs are high because we cover pharmaceutical research and development costs for the rest of the world. This is a point that is commonly made by drug company apologists and right-wing partisans opposed to health care, but it turns out it’s not really the case (more here); in fact there’s good reason to think the for-profit, corporate structure of most American pharmaceutical “product development” actually stifles innovation and unnecessarily raises costs. As this must-read 2004 article from The New York Review of Books elaborates:

First, research and development (R&D) is a relatively small part of the budgets of the big drug companies—dwarfed by their vast expenditures on marketing and administration, and smaller even than profits. In fact, year after year, for over two decades, this industry has been far and away the most profitable in the United States. (In 2003, for the first time, the industry lost its first-place position, coming in third, behind “mining, crude oil production,” and “commercial banks.”) The prices drug companies charge have little relationship to the costs of making the drugs and could be cut dramatically without coming anywhere close to threatening R&D.

Second, the pharmaceutical industry is not especially innovative. As hard as it is to believe, only a handful of truly important drugs have been brought to market in recent years, and they were mostly based on taxpayer-funded research at academic institutions, small biotechnology companies, or the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The great majority of “new” drugs are not new at all but merely variations of older drugs already on the market. These are called “me-too” drugs. The idea is to grab a share of an established, lucrative market by producing something very similar to a top-selling drug. For instance, we now have six statins (Mevacor, Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol, and the newest, Crestor) on the market to lower cholesterol, all variants of the first. As Dr. Sharon Levine, associate executive director of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, put it,

If I’m a manufacturer and I can change one molecule and get another twenty years of patent rights, and convince physicians to prescribe and consumers to demand the next form of Prilosec, or weekly Prozac instead of daily Prozac, just as my patent expires, then why would I be spending money on a lot less certain endeavor, which is looking for brand-new drugs?

Third, the industry is hardly a model of American free enterprise. To be sure, it is free to decide which drugs to develop (me-too drugs instead of innovative ones, for instance), and it is free to price them as high as the traffic will bear, but it is utterly dependent on government-granted monopolies—in the form of patents and Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved exclusive marketing rights. If it is not particularly innovative in discovering new drugs, it is highly innovative—and aggressive—in dreaming up ways to extend its monopoly rights.

So why do we actually pay so much more? According to the Economix blog at the New York Times, there are four main factors:

Health-services researchers call the difference between these numbers, here $1,895, “excess spending.” That term, however, is not meant to convey “excessive spending,” but merely a difference driven by factors other than G.D.P. per capita. Prominent among these other factors are:

1. higher prices for the same health care goods and services than are paid in other countries for the same goods and services;

2. significantly higher administrative overhead costs than are incurred in other countries with simpler health-insurance systems;

3. more widespread use of high-cost, high-tech equipment and procedures than are used in other countries;

4. higher treatment costs triggered by our uniquely American tort laws, which in the context of medicine can lead to “defensive medicine” — that is, the application of tests and procedures mainly as a defense against possible malpractice litigation, rather than as a clinical imperative.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 3, 2010 at 12:53 am

Superman and the Courts

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io9 has a nice look at the history of comic-book intellectual-property law through the lens of Superman-related lawsuits. The most interesting, for me, remains the legal tussling over Superboy:

Superman creator Jerry Siegel submitted a proposal to DC Comics for a series of adventures about Clark Kent’s youth. DC rejected the proposal, but later printed Superboy while Siegel was serving in the US Army. When Siegel’s heirs attempted to terminate Superboy’s copyright, DC and Time Warner claimed that Superboy was merely Superman as a young man, and not a distinct character (and thus not copyrightable as distinct from Superman), giving DC the legal right to publish books featuring Superboy with or without Siegel’s permission.

Superboy’s Story: The original Superboy follows the adventures of the young Superman growing up in Smallville. He wears glasses as his alter ego Clark Kent and the iconic suit as Superman. Like his grownup self, he has superpowers and battles Lex Luthor, and he eventually travels to the 30th century to join the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Outcome: In 1948, a referee in a dispute between Siegel and DC found that Superboy was a distinct entity from Superman, and that DC had published the comic illegally. The findings were vacated in a settlement between DC and Siegel, but in 2006, the Ninth Circuit agreed with the referee, granting termination rights to Siegel’s heirs. However, the court later vacated that ruling, granting Warner and DC’s motion for reconsideration. Although Siegel’s family has recaptured some rights to Superman, the Superboy question remains undecided.

It must be the narrativist in me who just can’t understand how Superboy can be a distinct entity from Superman: the whole premise for Superboy is that he’s Superman as a boy.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 21, 2008 at 11:14 pm

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Who Owns the Watchmen?

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Who owns the Watchmen? We’re about to find out.

A judge has denied a Warner Bros. motion to dismiss 20th Century Fox’s lawsuit over Warners’ right to make a film based on the graphic novel “Watchmen.”

Ruling is potentially a huge victory for Fox, which could wind up as a profit participant in the film, and could cost Warners millions considering the film’s box office prospects. However, Fox’s legal team says it isn’t looking for monetary compensation and instead wants to prevent the big-budget film from being released altogether.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 21, 2008 at 11:52 am

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So Long, Scrabulous

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Facebook has been asked to remove the Scrabulous game from its website by the makers of Scrabble… Lawyers for toy makers Hasbro and Mattel say Scrabulous infringes their copyright on the board-based word game. Because this didn’t happen immediately, I’d assumed that Facebook and Hasbro worked out some kind of deal. I guess cease & desist orders still move slow in the future. Hasbro’s utterly insane, in any event, to try and shut Scrabulous down—what they need to do is offer Facebook the opportunity for a license so they can get a piece of the action. This move just shortsightedly kills their own user base. Via Tim, who’s come back after several crushing defeats to absolutely massacre me in our last two games.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 16, 2008 at 4:51 pm

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