BT et C

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fisking W

I hate to kick a guy while he's down, but I just came acroos this letter he offered up last year on World Intellectual Property Day. w00t!

In today's increasingly competitive world, improved enforcement of intellectual property rights is critical to establishing free and fair trade among nations and to protecting consumers and hardworking innovators

This is par for the course: the world is "increasingly competitive" (?) and more enforcement, in the name of "protecting" the poor plebeians, is just what the doctor ordered. No sense of balance.

I was also pleased to sign the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act. This important piece of legislation will help protect Americans from those who sell illegal products and steal intellectual property

Ye olde "stealing" metaphor, coming as usual from a sloppy conflation of copyright, trademark, and patent law into the term "intellectual property". Mr. B is, of course, using the warm fuzzy feelings we associate with property to hide a fact that would otherwise be painfully obvious:

Unauthoried copying is not theft. Technically, I believe it can be called "criminal conversion" (like when you mooch a person's unsecured WiFi and heshe doesn't notice).

'Course a lot of people will say "whatever, you're splitting hairs". The problem is that if you start allowing this sloppy use of legal terms (by presidents!), you get a regime in which the following BS is occasionally taken seriously:

It's theft. Your contract with the network when you get the show is you're going to watch the spots. Otherwise you couldn't get the show on an ad-supported basis. Any time you skip a commercial or watch the button you're actually stealing the programming. (Src)

No copying is taking place here -- Mr. K is talking about using a PVR. Not only is there "theft" going on but apparently breach of contract! Geez. Better get a lawyer before you turn that thing on.

CW: What if you have to go to the bathroom or get up to get a Coke?
JK: I guess there's a certain amount of tolerance for going to the bathroom.

As you can see, I got bored with the prez 'cause this stuff is much funnier. I actually do not have any contract with Mr. Kellner or his client -- I do not and will not subscribe to cable because the quality of product is terrible. Hell, for all I know it actually does have a clause saying that you will watch all the ads. I suspect it does not actually discuss the bathroom exception, but if it does *please link it -- sounds like a great read.

Hell, two can play at this game. From now on I'm going to refer to copyright overreaching as "terrorism". Maybe then I can persuade W to get on board.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Whole New World

If you're an obsessive free-software upgrader like I (sorta) am, you probably come across a line like this frequently:
"Performance-wise you should see a boost..."
-from Linux Format's preview of GIMP 2.4

This reminds me of why I love GNU/Linux. It's approximiately 180 degrees from the planned-obsolescence, forced-upgrade cycle into which assorted nonfree vendors try to lock you.

Surely you've heard, for example, of "Vista". This is an operating system that improves on its predecessor so much that you'll basically need a new computer to run it. For 80% of you, this means you'll be shelling out four figures to be allowed to do what you're currently doing, namely surf the web, check your email, and write the occasional letter.

Let's review:
-you pay lots of money
-you get almost nothing new*
-what you previously had doesn't work quite as well

-you pay nothing
-you get new functionality
-it runs faster

*Just 'cause a (costly) machine says "Vista capable" doesn't mean you're going to be able to do the stuff in the ads. So no skimping by trying to get the cheapest one. Details on an interesting example to follow in this space.