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Thursday, October 02 2014 @ 11:29 AM CDT

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Introducing “Ideas Today, Politics Tomorrow”

On the Media

Ask someone of a certain age today how politically engaged they think young adults are, and they’re likely to respond “not very.”  And in fact, the current U.S. political system is dysfunctional enough that someone of any age could be forgiven for simply turning away in disgust. Of course, that does no one any good. Or, as we used to say back in the 1960’s, “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.”

All of which makes me happy to bring your attention to a Web site called Ideas Today, Politics Tomorrow, for which my daughter Nora is a staff writer.  She writes primarily about foreign affairs, and like everyone else at the site (including the founders), she’s unpaid.

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When FRAND meets FOSS: Bottom Up or Top Down?

Intellectual property Rights

Still looking for the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for someone? 

Problem solved!

Courtesy  	Yuval Y/Wikimedia Commons  GNU Free Documentation License, The U.S. may be the place where more emerging technologies bubble up than anywhere else, but when it comes to developing public policies to address new technologies, Europe continues to hold the lead. That reality was underlined recently with the release of a report summarizing the proceedings and conclusions of a European Commission (EC)/European Patent Office (EPO) workshop titled Implementing FRAND standards in Open Source: Business as usual or mission impossible?That workshop (on which more below) is only part of a larger series of efforts surrounding the ongoing evolution of the EU legal frameworkICT Standardization policy, and much more.

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WIPO Builds a FRAND Arbitration Business (but will they come?)

Intellectual property Rights

Bob Stein Field, courtesy of Zach J. Beavers/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.Ever since Apple set off the mobile platform wars by suing Samsung for what Steve Jobs believed were egregious borrowings of patented Apple smartphone innovations, the courts have been busy processing the disputes.  One of the most effective weapons the combatants made use of has been the so-called “standards essential patent” (SEP). And the armament of SEPS is very large, because each mobile device which implements many hundreds of standards. For example, if a company owns a SEP necessary to include a camera, wireless function or other key feature, the owner of the SEP can its price to license it, or even refuse to license it at all.

That is, of course, unless the SEP owner was part of the standards setting organization (SSO) that developed the standard in question, and had made a commitment to license that SEP on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

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The Launch of AllSeen Alliance (and the Next Generation of Open Collaboration)

Open Source/Open Standards

If you read the technology press today, odds are you already know about the launching of the AllSeen Alliance (a Google News search I just did produced 412 results in a wide range of languages). That’s not a surprise, because this is an important and ambitious project. But there’s a story behind the story that likely won’t get the attention that it deserves, and that’s what this blog post is about. (Disclosure: the AllSeen Alliance is a Linux Collaboration Project – the 11th so far – and I assisted in its structuring and launch.)

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Where I Was Then; Where we Are Today

Monday Witness

It seems easier to accept that it has been a half century since JFK was murdered than that most people now alive were then yet to be born. The enormity and impact of that event were so unprecedented that one feels everyone should somehow be able to remember where they were when those terrible shots were fired.

Like everyone who was old enough to grasp the fact of the young president’s assassination, I remember where I was when the news began to spread.  Just turned 10, I was sitting in my second floor classroom at the Hay School, a one class per grade elementary school in Easton, Pennsylvania. There was a knock at the door, whispering, and then more quiet voices as the teachers congregated, shocked and no doubt fearful, in the hallway.

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Judge Chin Reimagines "Fair Use" for the Internet Age

Intellectual property Rights

Last week, Judge Denny Chin handed down the latest opinion in the now-eight year battle between Google and the Author’s Guild (among others) over Google’s massive book scanning project. If the Author’s Guild fails to overturn the Judge’s decision on appeal, it will mark an enormous watershed in the ability of Web site owners to display copyrighted works without the prior permission of the owners of those works.

At issue was the appropriate application of the “fair use” doctrine under U.S. law to the Google project, a rationale that allows certain types of copying to be permissible that would otherwise be actionable. As applied by Judge Chin, the scope of that doctrine has seemingly been expanded by orders of magnitude. Indeed, in the case at hand, the judge has broadened its scope so dramatically that it’s difficult not to conclude that he was struggling to find sufficient legal precedents to justify a favorable outcome for Google. Many will contend that he fell short in that effort, and that his intent was instead to rebalance, if not rewrite, the doctrine itself in order to bring it into the Internet age.

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Open Data and Competitive Advantage

Standards and Society

Yesterday, the Deputy CTO of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a press release highlighting the efforts (and success) of the Obama Administration in getting data compiled at public expense into the hands of the private sector for commercial repurposing.   The release refers to a McKinsey & Company report that estimates that making such data publicly available “can generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value in seven key domains of the global economy, including education, transportation, and electricity.”

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NSA Blowback Spreads to Internet Governance Organizations

WSIS/Internet Governance

The Thousand Nights and a Night Translated and Annotated by Richard F. Burton - Courtesy WikiMedia CommonsThe unexpected disclosures of NSA activities by Edward Snowden presents a splendid example of U.S. government, as well as popular, indifference to world opinion. As part of its efforts to control the political damage of the embarrassing revelations, the Obama administration repeatedly stressed that only foreign nationals had been the targeted. As the breathtaking breadth of the data accessed and analyzed became clear, this rationale raised the question of how the foreign citizens - and even leaders - of U.S. allies might feel about being considered to be fair game for the NSA’s attention.

The answer to that question is that they weren’t happy.  Nor, as we will see, were a group of NGOs that had no reason to think they were targeted at all.

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FTC Will Require Patent Assertion Entities to Disclose Key Business Information

Intellectual property Rights

It’s hardly news that the Obama Administration is no friend of so-called “Patent Assertion Entities,” or PAEs.  Not only members of the administration, but the big man himself have spoken publicly against those companies that make a business model out of buying and asserting patents, as compared to universities and others that actually develop, and then license, new technology (sometimes referred to as “Non-Practicing Entities,” or NPEs).

Most of what little we know about the business strategies, licensing practices and economics of PAEs has been gleaned from disclosures made in the course of litigation.  Now the Federal Trade Commission has decided to gather some first-hand information on exactly how PAEs operate. And, because it is a regulatory agency, it can do so by asking the PAEs themselves to respond, and under oath, to boot.

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Groklaw, Domestic Surveillance and the True Measure of Risk

Monday Witness

U.S. Constitution, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration and Wikimedia CommonsThis week, Pamela Jones announced that Groklaw would shut down – this time for good. The loss of this pillar of legal journalism provides an appropriate occasion for reexamining whether our commitment to the liberties upon which America was founded still holds true. And also to consider whether pragmatism in policy development has surrendered to illogical political expediency.

PJ’s final post (titled Forced Exposure) explains her decision, and is well worth your while to read. In brief, she has concluded that since she and her sources can no longer rely on the privacy of their communications, Groklaw can no longer function.  And so a site that has been repeatedly recognized for the contributions that it has made comes to an end after a decade of service.