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Whoever thinks blogging is a sad, soulless activity is clearly bananas. (Via Boing Boing.)

A Sad Day for Copyright

In the dark, twisted world of copyright, one ray of light has been William Patry's blog. no more:

I have decided to end the blog, after doing around 800 postings over about 4 years.

Although Google's top copyright man, he wrote his blog in a purely private capacity as one of the leading copyright scholars in the world. Indeed, despite his position at that company, he was remarkably approachable: when I asked him to do a quick email interview for this blog he readily agreed. Sadly, one answer has proved prophetic:

I think copyright has become less and less responsive to the balance of incentives and exceptions that the 18th century English common judges grasped intuitively. Our ability to adapt has been seriously hampered by trade agreements, and that's a big problem.

Indeed, Patry now feels that this crucial "balance of incentives and exceptions" has been lost to such an extent that he can no longer blog. Alongside the fact that people kept assuming his views were official Google policy (they weren't), his other reason for stopping was simply:

The Current State of Copyright Law is too depressing

This leads me to my final reason for closing the blog which is independent of the first reason: my fear that the blog was becoming too negative in tone. I regard myself as a centrist. I believe very much that in proper doses copyright is essential for certain classes of works, especially commercial movies, commercial sound recordings, and commercial books, the core copyright industries. I accept that the level of proper doses will vary from person to person and that my recommended dose may be lower (or higher) than others.

But in my view, and that of my cherished brother Sir Hugh Laddie, we are well past the healthy dose stage and into the serious illness stage. Much like the US economy, things are getting worse, not better. Copyright law has abandoned its reason for being: to encourage learning and the creation of new works. Instead, its principal functions now are to preserve existing failed business models, to suppress new business models and technologies, and to obtain, if possible, enormous windfall profits from activity that not only causes no harm, but which is beneficial to copyright owners. Like Humpty-Dumpty, the copyright law we used to know can never be put back together again: multilateral and trade agreements have ensured that, and quite deliberately.

When one of the world's pre-eminent experts in the field is so depressed by the state of copyright that he can't bring himself to blog about it, you know that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Thanks, Mr Patry, for all you gave, and sorry to see you go. Now it's up to us to carry on the fight for some copyright sanity.

Dell Trademarks "Cloud Computing"?

If this is true, it's outrageous:

Dell has applied for a trademark on the term cloud computing. The opposition period has already passed and notice of allowance has been issued. That means that it is very likely that the application will soon receive final approval.

As the posting from Language Log rightly comments:

In other words, this is a pure example of theft from the public domain. Speakers of English have a term, "cloud computing", which the US government is on the verge of privatizing and assigning exclusively to Dell. Other companies providing similar services will not be able to describe what they are doing as "cloud computing" anymore than Nike will be able to describe its shoes as Reeboks.

Shame on you, Michael Dell. Unless the company agrees to make this term generally available, I think it's time we considered a boycott in protest.

Originally posted at Open... This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence. Please link back to the original post.

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