Contracts in the grassroots ecosystem

Can contracts survive in the grassroots ecosystem?:

Interfaces that are XML-based and schema-backed can lay a kind of contractual foundation for layered extensions.[…]

Formal contracts aren’t just stabilizers, they’re enablers. If documents were predictably structured, for example, we could visualize their change histories in even more compelling ways.[…]

Contracts are awkward beasts, and they generate a lot of friction. Of course, some friction is a good and necessary thing, but if we can’t make contracts easier to use, the grassroots ecosystem will continue to route around them. And that’s not in anyone’s best interest.[…]

More like this in Recipes for remixers

This column suggests making the implied contract between a Web application and its human or robotic user into something more explicit.

Quite frankly, I don’t yet see the legal subject matter. But I’ll keep reading.


Je ne sais pas vraiment ce que sont les microformats (il y a une explication ici), mais il y a un format qui s’appele rel="license"

C’est vrai que c’est particulièrement damnant d’essayer de trouver sous quels termes sont offerts certaines oeuvres (en supposant que la page web moyenne soit minimalement originale et expressive).


041129itulogo2.jpgJ’ai croisé sous l’arrêt de tram Sismondi une série de panneaux, manifestement destinées à égayer un tunnel bétonné (ne autre conséquence semble avoir été de décourager les taggeurs).

Quelle joie d’y trouver l’emblème de mon employeur. Joie de courte durée lorsque mon patron me confirme que la permission requise pour son utilisation n’a pas été obtenue.

Les noms, emblèmes, sigles et abréviations des institutions internationales sont en effet protégés par la Convention de Paris pour la protection
de la propriété industrielle
, plus précisément son article 6ter. C’est comme une marque de commerce, mais c’est pas du tout pareil.


Journées à l’OMPI

Conférence sur la résolution de litiges dans le contexte de la collaboration internationale en matière de science et technologie.

Des intervenants de différentes institutions clefs impliquées dans la collaboration en matière de science et de technologie discuteront de leurs expériences en termes de structure de collaboration, de domaines de litiges potentiels, et de leur approche en matière de résolution de litiges.

Instructif et, bonus, substantiellement professionnellement pertinent. Je suis très content de pouvoir mettre ça sur mes feuilles de temps.

Tampere Convention

The Tampere convention on Emergency Telecommunications has left the press release world:

World Changing: « A new international agreement will make easier the import and deployment of telecommunications equipment in disaster zones:

‘Victims of disasters will now be able to benefit from faster and more effective rescue operations, thanks to the Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations that comes into force Saturday, 8 January 2005, following ratification by 30 countries.

‘Until now, the trans-border use of telecommunication equipment by humanitarian organizations was often impeded by regulatory barriers that make it extremely difficult to import and rapidly deploy telecommunications equipment for emergencies.’

(via SmartMobs)

See also ReliefWeb for more info

IBM Makes A Patent Move

Continuing their support for open source development, IBM will give away 500 patents.

This is an new pragmatic middle way in the software patent debate:

U.S. patent leader IBM said late on Monday it plans to donate 500 patents for free use by software developers, marking a major shift of intellectual property strategy for the world’s top computer maker and a challenge to the high-tech industry.

[…] The IBM move is meant to encourage other patent holders to donate their own intellectual property in order to form what the company refers to as a ‘patent commons,’ a modern twist on shared public lands set aside under traditional laws.

‘We think the way it’s going to evolve is that other companies will want to pledge,’ Stallings said. ‘I think they will come together and decide how to manage the commons,’ he said, stressing that IBM was hoping to jump-start but not control any resulting organization to manage this process.

CNet News – IBM offers 500 patents for open-source use; Slashdot – IBM Opens Their Patent Portfolio to Open Source; Washington Post – IBM to Help Open-Source Developers [pdf]; NYTimes – I.B.M. to Give Free Access to 500 Patents

[Via Furdlog.]

25$ de rabais sur l’iPod

La Cour fédérale a rendu une décision, pas encore en ligne, qui déclare notamment que le tarif sur les lecteurs MP3 (non-removable memory permanently embedded in a digital audio recorder) était hors de la compétence de la CPCC. Il s’agissait d’une demande de contrôle judiciaire d’une décision de la Commissision du droit d’auteur du Canada.

Cette partie de la décision est aux par. 133 et ss. On reprochait à la Commission d’avoir considéré le disque dur ou la mémoire flash d’un lecteur MP3 comme étant un support audio (audio recording medium) au sens de l’article 79 de la Loi.

La Cour avance d’une part le fait que, si la mémoire doit être intégrée au lecteur pour devenir un support audio (audio recording medium), ne perd-elle pas sa nature de support (medium) par la même occasion?

D’autre part, la Cour constate que l’absence de changement dans la nature de la mémoire lors de son intégration réfute la théorie de la transmutation de la mémoire en médium qui sous tend le raisonnement de la Commission.

La Cour refuse donc la tentation d’étendre la définion restrictive de support audio dans la Loi et renvoie explicitement la question au législateur.

Corollaire: pas de bénéfice de la protection de 80(1) pour la copie privée sur les iPods (par. 147). Intéressant…

Notons que la Cour a aussi confirmé le fait que le tarif n’est pas une taxe (illégale) et que la Comission n’a pas agit ultra petita en octroyant un tarif sur les lecteurs MP3 plus élevés que ce qui était demandé par la CPCC.

Voir le Globe and Mail, Michael Geist et Slashdot

CC patents?

Copyright-sharing group delves into science, in CNET From the CC website, a Proposal to Explore a Science Commons:

Creative Commons is a disinterested party with remarkable experience in the formation and deployment of well-written, accessible, machine- and human-readable licenses that guarantee wider availability of material while preserving some selected intellectual property rights. Along with scientists, patent and university IP lawyers and scholars, we believe that this particular conjunction of features might encourage an enormously valuable thaw against the freeze-in of scientific data. We anticipate that there will be a major role for well-written, standard form, machine- and human-readable agreements:

  • Between funders and grant recipients, requiring greater access to data.

  • Between universities and researchers, prohibiting collectively the most toxic types of restrictions on data, and guaranteeing a level and open playing field of access to data.
  • Between government agencies who are purchasing data from or providing data to, private commercial concerns, so as to develop standard terms that benefited the public and research as a whole.
  • In any or all of these areas, a Science Commons division of Creative Commons could play an important role.

[via BNA’s ILN]

Patent wars


Last year, Microsoft had 4,000 patents in total. This year, they applied for another 3,000. They are now planning at least twenty IP cross-licensing deals with other large corporations, and have made it clear that they are seeking similiar alliances with even their worst enemies. This April, they quietly offered a « Royalty Free Protocol License Agreement » on their site. It generously allows the license of « any intellectual property rights Microsoft may have in any or all of [the following] protocols ». The 130 protocols listed included Appletalk, most of TCP/IP – and everything else, from DNS to Zmodem, from DHCP to the port 9 discard service (whose sole function is to drop packets). Signing this license frees developers from being sued for IP infringements by Microsoft, but prevents you from working on GPL software (Samba already warns its contributors not to sign it). This week, Microsoft indemnified all their customers from the legal fallout of any court cases revolving around their IP. Which implies there is either about to be such a battle: or at least Microsoft wants everyone to think there’ll be one. Put this week in your diaries, ladies and gentlemen of the Internet: you don’t need Yoda to tell you that the Patent Wars have begun.

More context in Groklaw

[via IP]

Following copyright reform

Protecting ourselves to death in First Monday

There have been quite a few canadian centric copyright articles in the recent weeks… This one is definitely worth a read.

Ironically, while professing fear for their cultural sovereignty, and following the paths of their own internal political, bureaucratic, and rhetorical culture, Canadians appear to be constructing a copyright policy in complete harmony with the needs of American and international capital. I explore a proposal to license educational Internet use, endorsed by parliamentary committee, as one example of the relationship between protection rhetoric and policy development. By casting the Internet as more of a threat than an opportunity, copyright policy developers in Canada are gravely misunderstanding and threatening Canadians’ use of this medium.