IP madness

Eventually, enough rich and powerful people/companies will become sufficiently inconvenienced or annoyed at the archaic intellectual property laws under which we now live that change will happen. Or am I being totally naive?

A few current stories relevant to this issue:

From Slashdot:

“As Chicago wages its battle to host the 2016 Olympics, it also finds itself scrapping over a valuable piece of cyberspace: the domain name of Chicago2016.com. The bid team along with the U.S. Olympic Committee are trying to wrest that online address from Stephen Frayne Jr., a 29-year-old MBA student. Frayne snagged it back in 2004, about two years before the bid was launched. … ‘We certainly see Chicago2016.com as the logical default domain for our site, and we believe having someone else control it is misleading for people seeking information about Chicago’s bid,’ said Patrick Sandusky, a spokesman for Chicago 2016, a moniker protected by trademark.”

Also from Slashdot, from the “You mean this is not already true?” department:

“Since its release, the OpenGL code that is responsible for 3-D acceleration on GNU/Linux has been running on licenses that were accepted by neither the Free Software Foundation (FSF) nor the Open Source Initiative. Today, however, the FSF has announced that the licenses in question have been rewritten, the problems resolved, and the code freed. Peter Brown, executive director of the FSF, says, ‘This represents a huge gift to the free software community.'”

OK, from the “we might as well just stick with the slashdot theme” department, here are more items from slashdot:

Apple Shenanigans Look Microsofty to Me
:

“Apple appears to be taking ideas from commercial software already being sold and is attempting to patent the concepts as their own. According to Apple Insider, Apple has recently filed a patent application for a notification screen on the iPhone. The only problem with this is that Intellisync has been using this concept in their popular iPhone notification screen software for over a year now, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this is a clear rip-off. Apple recently became famous (or infamous) for stealing other people’s ideas when they rolled out their Dashboard in Mac OS X, which had many similarities to a desktop widget program named the Konfabulator, which later became Yahoo widgets. The case here isn’t a simple hijacking of an idea, however — Apple is applying for a patent on Intelliscreen’s concept, which could be detrimental to the original manufacturer of the software, who is actively selling it for Jailbroken iPhones”

Canonical Offers Sale of Proprietary Codecs for Ubuntu

Drop-In Replacement For Exchange Now Open Source

That is all.

Comments

  1. #1 Dan J
    September 20, 2008

    The IP wars continue…

    I am sort of glad to see the deal Canonical made regarding the proprietary codecs. I’m currently using the illegal codecs on my Ubuntu systems in order to watch DVDs or play certain multimedia files. Canonical’s blog post about the codec issue gives some more details about their new plan. It’s sad that you have to go to such lengths to do something as simple as watch a DVD or play an MP3 file on your computer.

    For those people who have never used Linux, the fact that you can’t do these things “out of the box” may seem quite strange (and rather frustrating). When you have Windows on your PC, you’ve payed Microsoft for DVD and MP3 playback capability. Microsoft licensed the technology from the patent owners, and passed the cost on to you. Since the most popular Linux distributions are distributed free of charge, the developers aren’t able to include these things. Most of them would not even be able to license the technology if they had the money.

    The most unfortunate detail is the cost. PowerDVD for Linux, purchased through the Canonical Store is $49.95. Fluendo Comlete Playback Pack, which includes MP3 and several other codecs, is $39.95. You get a wonderful operating system at absolutely no cost, but if you want DVDs and MP3s, it’s going to cost you about $90. Or, you could do what I (and countless others) have done, and install free software that isn’t able to be distributed by Canonical because of copyright or patent issues.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    September 22, 2008

    Most enraging codex: The one you have to buy for 19.95 to run a microsoft game (zoo tycoon) on a microsoft system, whereby said game cost 19.95. In that case, a codex is a hidden cost. I’m not sure why they really exist.

  3. #3 Dan J
    September 22, 2008

    Most enraging codex: The one you have to buy for 19.95 to run a microsoft game (zoo tycoon) on a microsoft system, whereby said game cost 19.95. In that case, a codex is a hidden cost. I’m not sure why they really exist.

    What did you have to do to get Zoo Tycoon running? Blue Fang is the company that developed this game for Microsoft, and their contract expires in 2009. It seems that Blue Fang may be moving away from the PC as a gaming platform.

    There are so many different algorithms used to encode video and audio that it makes my head spin. It seems that everyone that gets the hang of data compression decides to copyright their own algorithm and charge people to use it. They charge other software companies to license their codec (compressor/decompressor or coder/decoder) because it will save them x bytes per file over codec B. Many people often confuse the codec with the format. The codec is the program (or library) that does the compression/decompression of a source file to/from a particular format (or formats).

    Of course, there are several Open source codecs, but like so many other programs, arguments rage over which is better under what circumstances; not to mention the patent issues attached to some, such as LAME:

    Like all MP3 encoders, LAME implements some technology covered by patents owned by the Fraunhofer Society and other entities. The developers of LAME do not license themselves the technology described by these patents. Distributing compiled binaries of LAME, its libraries, or programs which are derivative works of LAME in countries which recognize those patents, may be considered infringing on the relevant patents.

    MP3 licensing and patent issues provide a good example of the tortuous legal maneuvering used by many companies to make a buck, usually from another person’s work, though they have purchased (or inherited) the rights to that work. Company A says they own certain patents and license their use to Company B. Company C claims that they own an included patent and sue Company B, halting distribution of their product. In the end, the only winners are the lawyers.

  4. #4 Dunc
    September 23, 2008

    Eventually, enough rich and powerful people/companies will become sufficiently inconvenienced or annoyed at the archaic intellectual property laws under which we now live that change will happen.

    And they will have them rewritten to be even more protective of their wealth and power.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    September 23, 2008

    Dan: As part of the standard installation of Zoo Tycoon on my Windows machine, I had to pull out my credit card a second time and pay the same amount I did the first time (earlier in the day). I don’t know if there were alternatives. The software was quite clear (once installation as under way, not on the outside of the box anywhere). Click this button, buy this thing. And that will be $19.95

    It was kind of a last straw event for me. Now the only games we buy run on an operating system other than Windows, and so shall it be forever and ever and ever. 19.95 got them 19.95 and a lot of zeros thereafter.

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