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Monday, September 01 2014 @ 04:05 PM CDT

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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.

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The Value of Open Standards

Intellectual property Rights

Two pan scale, Courtesy of Nikodem Nijaki and Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licenseYesterday I distributed the latest issue of Standards Today, my free eJournal of "News, Ideas and Analysis." While the central focus of Standards Today is (wait for it...) standards, I also cover a variety of other issues, just as I do at this blog. As usual, some of the articles in this latest issue appeared in earlier versions here at the Standards Blog, while others appear for the first time in this issue.

The theme of the latest issue is the value of open standards, a much debated topic with little actual data to work with. I'm pleased to include in this issue a guest article by two Dutch professors, who take to task a government-commissioned report that found little value in preferring open standards over proprietary alternatives. The authors not only found quite the opposite, but also propose a methodology for performing further analyses in the same area.

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FTC Finalizes Settlement in Google Motorola Mobility Case

Intellectual property Rights

The Federal Trade Commission today issued the Final Order in its action against Google involving that company’s assertion of certain “standards essential patents” (SEPs). Google gained control of the patents in question through its earlier acquisition of Motorola Mobility and asserted them against various mobile device vendors. Those parties cried foul, claiming that the terms that Google had demanded were inconsistent with the obligations assumed to license the SEPS on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) terms to all implementers of the standards in question.

Google agreed to a settlement with the FTC this past January, following which the FTC released a draft settlement order for public comment.  The Final Order just released includes a variety of adjustments and changes resulting from the 25 comments received during the public comment period. The 34 page Final Order can be found here  and a seven page letter, sent to each commenter and explaining the changes made, is here.

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The Problem With Patents: Operating with Blunt Instruments

Intellectual property Rights

Hunderfossen troll, courtesy of Åsmund Ødegård, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licenseYesterday, the Obama administration announced a new effort to curb baseless patent lawsuits, which it believes are stifling innovation and economic activity.  The new initiative would take five actions under the President’s Executive authority, and also makes seven legislative recommendations intended, “to protect innovators from frivolous litigation and ensure the highest-quality patents in our system.”