Our society and its lawmakers are notoriously bad at predicting the effects of new technologies. I think of the ongoing battles over new distribution formats, like the assumption that "the VCR [would be] to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman... Read more
Why did Plato argue that remixing should be banned by the state? What threats did jazz and rock 'n roll pose? And what does all of that mean for the conflicts between artists and copyright today?
The serious problem of proliferating bad software patents was not solved by the Supreme Court's Bilski decision, but now it's looking like it may be part of the solution. The early case law applying Bilski is much more encouraging than expected. The new Bilski test focuses on whether an... Read more
License compliance is a major and costly issue for proprietary software, but the license involved in that case is an End User License Agreement (EULA), not a source license delivering extensive liberties. When we compare like-for-like, we discover open source software has no such issues. End-... Read more
When the Supreme Court decided the Bilski case, it didn't speak directly to the issue of software patents. But the Bilski majority emphasized that abstract ideas are not patentable, and recognized that allowing patents for abstract ideas could hinder innovation. Thus there's still room for... Read more
A collaborative activity dubbed Project Harmony is now under way between corporate and corporate-sponsored participants in the free and open source software communities (not to be confused with the Apache Java project of the same name). The project seeks to harmonise the various participant and... Read more
Can–or should–a programming language name be a trademark? The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, the administrative board within the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that adjudicates whether trademarks can be registered, recently decided that the word “Lua” was not a generic name for a programming... Read more
I think I was as surprised as anyone when I heard that Larry Lessig was stepping away from Creative Commons. It seemed like a sudden change of direction, because Lessig has been a vocal advocate for freedom and choice for so many years. But as I hear Lessig describe his journey from Creative... Read more
Eben Moglen's keynote address at LinuxCon last week, "Doing What it Takes: Current Legal Issues in Defending FOSS," called for a strategic shift in the free software movement. Moglen, the founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) and one of the principal drafters of the GPLv3,... Read more
Maybe you’ve heard of Lawrence Lessig. Maybe as Larry Lessig. Then again, maybe you haven’t. But perhaps you’ve heard of free culture as a movement or Creative Commons or DRM, or copyright law. How about freedom?