Posts Tagged ‘Ethics and Law in New Media’

The Uneasy Alliance: Free Software vs Open Source

Analyze both free software and open source approach in your blog. If you prefer one, provide your arguments.

For knowing more exact difference between free software and open source I went to the GNU operating system webpage and to the Linux Information Project page. Here goes what might be interesting:

Nearly all open source software is free software. The two terms describe almost the same category of software, but they stand for views based on fundamentally different values. Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement. For the free software movement, free software is an ethical imperative, because only free software respects the users’ freedom. By contrast, the philosophy of open source considers issues in terms of how to make software “better”—in a practical sense only. It says that nonfree software is an inferior solution to the practical problem at hand. For the free software movement, however, nonfree software is a social problem, and the solution is to stop using it and move to free software. (From the article Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software)

In the Linux Information Project we find  Open Source Definition where we may read:

The term open source was coined in 1997 or early 1998 as a substitute for the term free software because the latter was thought to imply something that was of inferior quality, and therefore not suitable for corporate use, due to its being available at no monetary cost. It was also seen as a way of avoiding confusion with freeware and shareware.

It is mentioned there that mixing the two terms was not causing so many problems as they mean almost the same.

However, recent events have emphasized that there is actually a very practical difference between the two concepts. It is that, whereas free software is always also open source, open source software does not necessarily have to be free software. That is, software can be open source without granting its users the additional freedoms that free software guarantees.

And there is a practical example given:

One of the most noteworthy such events was the November 2, 2006 agreement between Microsoft Corporation and Novell, Inc. and the statements by Microsoft that soon followed it. These statements included the comments by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that his company might sue users of Linux, other than those of Novell’s SUSE Linux, for what he claims are violations of Microsoft’s patents.

Fromall these quotations becomes clear that free software is much more than open source. It is not only about the open source code but about the idea of being free and sharing the freedom with others. It sounds good but there are some voices of critique. Matthew Paul Thomas in his article  Why Free Software has poor usability, and how to improve it gives 15 problems that free software has and some suggestions how to solve them. For ex.:

  • Lack of incentives to usability – for developers of free software utility program does not translate into money. Therefore, they do not care about usability. The solution could be competitions for the best free interface, for which the developer would receive a prize.
  • Ignoring the minor shortcomings – details can render that the user will see the program is poor. In the case of free software details are repaired after years. According to the MPT small problems with the interface should be removed immediately, and developers should not say “it’s just a small problem with the UI.”

And there is one more, a bit ironic, ideological problem. Journalists t3n magazine asked Sergey Belousov, CEO of Parallels, about the role of  free software (especially Linux) for Google and Amazon, as well as its own company. Belousov said: “Open Source is a big piece of shit!” (Open Source ist ein Scheiss riesiger Haufen!). He said that he hates open source, perhaps because he “was born and grew up under communism and can no longer listen to talk about communities.”

The same opinion has Microsoft…


The Digital Enforcement

Write a short analysis about applicability of copying restrictions – whether you consider them useful, in which cases exceptions should be made etc.

In general I don’t think copying restrictions are useful. I completely agree with the opinion of a known cartoonist and animator Nina Paley revealed in the following interview: How Copyright Restrictions Suppress Art: An Interview With Nina Paley About “Sita Sings The Blues”

…Most of the artists I know are animators who work in studios. And some of these animators have also made their own films, being terrified to use any music they couldn’t clear. And this just breaks my heart, you know, in education, all these schools are like “Don’t use this, and don’t use that, don’t do this, don’t do that!” They’re teaching … young artists to be scared of music [laughs]. …

I think it’s just unpractical as nowadays nobody in original anymore, they are just copying and it’s not bad. Nina Paley’s video says that All Creative Work Is Derivative

 

In the article of Karl Fogel The Surprising History of Copyright and The Promise of a Post-Copyright World

copyright was never primarily about paying artists for their work, and that far from being designed to support creators, copyright was designed by and for distributors — that is, publishers, which today includes record companies. But now that the Internet has given us a world without distribution costs, it no longer makes any sense to restrict sharing in order to pay for centralized distribution.

But from other side some people try to make everything free and there are still materialists:

 

However I hope one day the world will look like promised by Fogel:

We can, if we choose, have a world where concepts like “out of print” or “rare book” are not only obsolete, but actually meaningless. We can live in a fertile and vibrant garden of constantly evolving works, created by people who wanted deeply to make them available, not mandated by a publisher’s market research. Schools would never be forced to stay with out-of-date textbooks because of the per-copy prices set by publishers, and your computer would always let you share songs with your friends.

One Microsoft Way: the World of Proprietary Software

What could the software licensing landscape look like in 2015? Write a short (blogged) predictive analysis.

This task is confusing a bit for me as all we know the world is going to end in 2012. 😀 Actually, I think everything could happen: the software licensing could become much stronger and oblige us to pay for everything or it could become completely free and accept any useful changes from users.

Even though it seems that the world is going more towards the second version – as windows is imitating free functions but there is too much power coped in one’s hands. A good example would be youtube and prohibition of almost all the original music clips – a thing that one had problems with imagining before… Another example from recent days the prohibition of some pages that were not even proved as violating the copy rights (just were on the suspect list) by ICE. And what’s surprising – the pages were not banned only in the US but all over the world without any notification to the owners…

When we try to enter to the http://torrent-finder.com/ this is what we get:

But also from the other point of view we may see how powerful can be the mass (recent events with WikiLeaks). I hope that in 2015 there will be a big difference and the monopoly won’t be in the power any more. With the situation that we have now the digital divide is just becoming deeper and deeper as only the rich ones are able to  have access to every day simpler things (it’s not only about the professional software) and the normal people have to rely on illegal copies. Most of the students do as they don’t have other choice… And, the students that are not connected to any IT fields do not even know about the existence of OpenOffice, for example…

The Millennium Bug in the WIPO Model

Find a good example of the “science business” described above and analyze it as a potential factor in the Digital Divide discussed earlier. Is the proposed connection likely or not? Blog your opinion.

I consider a good example of ¨science business¨ the use of personal computers by students. More and more often universities require to have a personal computer and almost unlimited access to the internet. Maybe nowadays it doesn´t seem like a problem, but certainly there are people that do not have enough money and cannot afford to have a laptop or the internet connection at home. I think even Estonia is a pretty good example – since I have come here the only tasks that I have are based on computers and the internet: the tasks are published in the net, if I want to complete them I have to use the net, if I want the professor to check my homework I publish it on the net. What´s more – the internet is the only way by which I can speak to some of my professors or attend the online lecture. Also, I haven´t seen some of my classmates  in real life but I speak quite often with them.

From one point of view the use of computers help us getting along with the new technologies and accustom us to every day changing world. Obviously, it´s a huge help while learning – we may find anything we want. Although students use laptops as well at home as in the university, there are more and more negative opinions. We may read in Daniel de Vise’s article Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls:

A generation ago, academia embraced the laptop as the most welcome classroom innovation since the ballpoint pen. But during the past decade, it has evolved into a powerful distraction. Wireless Internet connections tempt students away from note-typing to e-mail, blogs, YouTube videos, sports scores, even online gaming — all the diversions of a home computer beamed into the classroom to compete with the professor for the student’s attention.

[…]

The laptop computer, introduced in 1981, has become nearly obligatory on campus; some colleges require them. They are as essential to today’s student as a working stereo system was to their parents.

It becomes a problem because there are more and more students that are technological natives and their professors often have problems in understanding them.

According to the Duke University’s scientists research called Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement children that have computers at home and access to the internet do worse on the test than their poorer classmates that do not have such an equipment. This study suggests that simply handing out computers is going to make the digital divide worse, rather than better. According to this graphic we may notice that there quite big divide in the computer ownership rates:

To sum up I want to quote Bill’s opinion posted in his blog (older man’s introduction to the internet):

Google

When I was young and I wanted to know something, I was beaten for being too inquisitive. That’s the problem with the young people today, they have a google answer for everything. If they had to walk to their local library every time they had something stupid to ask they would ask a lot less stupid questions.

The Hacker Approach: Development of Free Licenses

Study the GNU GPL and write a short blog essay about it. You may use the SWOT analysis model


strengths

  • the users have freedom to change the software
  • assures that patents cannot be used to render the program non-free
  • The purpose of the GNU GPL is to give users four basic freedoms:* The freedom to run the program for any purpose (freedom 0)
    * The freedom to study how the program works and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1)
    * The freedom to redistribute unmodified copies (freedom 2)
    * The freedom to improve the program and release your improvements to the public, so maybe the whole community benefits (freedom 3)
  • The GNU GPL provides that in the event of a breach of its terms, any rights acquired by the licensee shall expire. So the person loses the right to promote or modify a covered work. With this case we are dealing as examples, if someone had turned on all or part of our program under the GNU GPL to their own program and then distribute to its program to license other than the GNU GPL. Granting of licenses is not getting rid of copyright and the use of the program without an appropriate license means its violation. It is possible therefore (in accordance with Polish law) to demand from the person who infringes our copyright discontinue such violations, issue received benefits or pay double or triple, when the infringement is willful,  amount of equitable remuneration. You can also ask for reparations if the offending action was culpable. In addition, Article. 79 Law on Copyright and Related Rights Act provides several other claims. Of course, the presence of specific claims is dependent on the sole will of the owner. It may also benefit from exercising his rights under the same license. In this regard, we may refer to paragraph 8 of the GNU GPL v.3.

weaknesses

  • no warranty for the free software
  • Due to the fact that any work based on the work covered by the GPL must also be based on the license, the GPL is a viral license. So the GPL affects any program that uses GPL code. Criticism of that coercion is most often targeted by supporters of a less restrictive license, such as the BSD license.
  • Most free software licenses such as the X11 license, the BSD license and the LGPL is compatible with the GPL. This means that the source code based on them can be integrated seamlessly into the program under the GPL (as a whole will then be covered by the GNU GPL). But there are open source licenses, which are not compatible with the GPL. For this reason, many people are discouraged to use such a license, because based on the code is not difficult to be reused in other projects.
  • Code licensed under the GNU GPL can not be used in programs for other licenses.

opportunities

  • There was a German organization founded  gpl-violations.org, which aims to detect and prosecute, including the courts, cases of infringements of the GNU GPL. Its founder is Harald Welte. Most of the violations detected by the organization ended up with the sentence of an infringe, under which the violator had to pay a specified amount. In several cases, however, German court was in favor of the proprietor, like in the case against D-Link
  • The opportunities connected with Linux:
  • Linux has very good support, often much better than commercial programs. Internet is full of accessible information, and the answer to the question often is provided in a short time. Moreover, this support is free and requires no service contracts. There is also commercial support from companies like Red Hat, Novell, IBM and HP, if necessary. It is also worth noting that the fact that users need less support than in other operating systems is due to the fact that Linux has fewer bugs and much more resistant to viruses and other malicious code.
  • Linux is based on Unix, which was designed in 1969. UNIX and its descendants are considered by many experts as the best (most stable and flexible) operating systems that were ever designed. They survived over 30 years of rigorous testing and continuous improvement through world-class computer scientists, while other systems do not survive more than a couple of years, usually due to a combination of technical inferiority, and the planned service life.
  • The main reason for the rapid growth of Linux in the world is that the TCO is significantly lower TCO than proprietary software. Reasons why it is lower, are: (1) it is free, but also that (2) is more solid and reliable (fewer crashes, reducing the risk of data loss), (3) its support is an affordable (although there are also paid services), (4) can run on older hardware, thereby reducing the need to buy new (5) users are not forced to upgrade equipment, and (6) does not require a tedious and costly licensing control. The results, which show that the TCO of Linux is higher than Windows, is sponsored by Microsoft. The main reason why the TCO of Linux might be higher is that the cost of hiring its administrators is greater than the cost of employing people with experience with Microsoft products. Indeed, it is true, however, it is ignored here that Linux administrators are more productive, because for it there are less viruses and less security patches to install. Do they also have to deal with the system crash or fight with licensing issues.

threats

  • You may charge any price or no price for each copy that you convey,  and you may offer support or warranty protection for a fee. — isn’t that a thread of commercialization?

Ethics and Law in New Media/The Proprietary World: The WIPO Intellectual Property model

Study the Anglo-American and Continental European school of IP. Write a short comparative analysis to your blog (if you have clear preference for one over another, explain that, too).

While investigating the question I have found a polish book on intellectual property and here go some details from it (especially emphasizing the organizations found in Poland, Europe and the US).

Intellectual property and the European Union Framework Programmes
The strategic objective of the Framework Programmes of the European Union is striving to maintain the highest level of development in all spheres of social life. The member countries place great emphasis on supporting an intensive exchange of scientific, collaborative research and various research networks. The idea is that the knowledge resulting from the effort of human intellect is the key to our economy. It has long been witnessing the phenomenon of mobility of researchers around the world in search of knowledge, contacts with other scientists and materials for research. All this requires a wider exchange of knowledge and the product of human intellect, benefiting from protection under the intellectual property.

Polish Patent Office
The Patent Office grants patent protection rights to trademarks and other industrial property rights. Its main task is to grant exclusive rights for the subjects of industrial property protection. This is accomplished through:
1) providing legal protection for industrial property,
2) gathering and sharing of patent documentation and literature,
3) contributing to and promoting public awareness of the principles of industrial property protection.
The basic tasks of the office for the provision and maintenance of legal protection, are implemented on the basis of national legislation, for applications lodged directly to the office and based on international agreements: for patent and utility model – under the Patent Cooperation Treaty and trademark applications – under the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks and the Protocol to that Agreement.

Polish Chamber of Patent Attorneys
Patent Agents work in the Patent Office, administrative courts and other courts and adjudicating bodies in matters of industrial property.
Patent attorneys and clerks make up the Polish Chamber of Patent Attorneys
– Local government professional, whose tasks include in particular the provision of proper conditions for the profession, representing patent attorneys and applicants, cooperation in the development and use of industrial property rights, further training and education of trainees, supervision over the proper practice of the profession. Polish Chamber of Patent Attorneys is involved in the European organization Committee of the National Institutes of Intellectual Property Attorneys (CNIIPA).

European Patent Office
Competent authority for granting European patents. It contains a very extensive section called “Toolbox for Applicants” with information how to deal with activities of industrial property.

Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs – provides protection for the rights of Community trademarks and Community designs. In addition to the rich information on the procedures and practical operation of the notification procedure also admits on-line applications.

U.S. Patent Office
The U.S. office of the exclusive rights for inventions and trademarks. Very extensive site, both in terms of information as well as enabling the monitoring of pending applications. — http://www.uspto.gov/about/stats/index.jsp

World Intellectual Property Organization
It has a very broad tasks related to international trade in intellectual property. In particular, it deals with the administration of the system of international registration of marks (www.wipo.int / madrid / en) and international patent applications (www.wipo.int / PATENTSCOPE / en).

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council – enhancing the patent system in Europe (the whole found here):

The fragmented single market for patents has serious consequences for the competitiveness of Europe in relation to the challenges of the US, Japan and emerging economic powers such as China. The EU lags behind the US and Japan in terms of patent activity. Even in Europe, the US and Japan patent more than the EU: at the EPO 137 patents per million population are from the EU versus 143 patents from the US and 174 from Japan. The lack of critical patent mass at home translates in less patents that are filed in both the US, the EU and Japan, the so called triadic patents. Whereas Europe has 33 triadic patents per million population, the US has 48 and Japan has 102. Therefore, the US and Japan have respectively 45% and 209% more triadic patents than the EU. This is of particular concern since triadic patents are the most valuable ones and are considered the best patent indicator for innovation.

Recent studies have also shown that a European patent designating 13 countries is about 11 times more expensive than a US patent and 13 times more expensive then a Japanese patent if processing and translation costs are considered. For the total costs with up to 20 years of protection, European patents are nearly nine times more expensive then Japanese and US patents. If the analysis focuses on patent claims, the cost differences increase further.

 

The biggest companies are interested that the patenting of new technologies would be as simple and cheap as possible. Currently, you have to individually apply for patents at the same time in different parts of the world. The ideal would be global patents, but introducing them is not straightforward because of differences in the different countries.

In October, 2010 announced cooperation between the EPO and the USPTO has to lead to assimilation systems used for classifying patents in Europe and the United States to International Patent Classification (IPC), which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which is one of the specialized UN agencies.

Jointly developed classification is more detailed than the IPC. As a result, both patent offices will be closer to eliminating unnecessary work. They also plan on more efficient testing and improving patent quality.

The cooperation will achieve one of IP5 – an organization created to promote cooperation among patent offices of EU, U.S., Korea, Japan and China. Offices IP5 partner to be kept informed of the progress made in the context of cooperation.

In the article about the cooperation between the EPO and the USPTO is mentioned that in the USA, it is necessary to reform the patent system. In May this year the head of the USPTO officially admitted that his office has a huge backlog of applications for patents. This may mean for the US economy lost millions of revenue. One of the problems the US contributing to this state of affairs is the possibility of patenting business methods and a large number of patents of poor quality.

According to the sources that I have read the patent system in the US is much better than the one in Europe. Also because the US became party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty on January 24, 1978 as one of the first countries and has more experience with the matter. Europe has to cope with plenty of new member countries (Estonia – August 24, 1994, Poland – December 25, 1990, Lithuania – July 5, 1994; the full list may be found here). Of course, as mentioned before to unify all the countries needs a lot of effort and time.

In spite of all the advantages of the IP  I still agree with Martin’s opinion. And I support the Pirate bay 🙂

Ethics and Law in New Media/The Author vs the Information Society

Read Chapter 3 “Against Intellectual Property” of the Brian Martin’s book. Write a blog review (especially, comment on his strategies for change).

Types of ownership of information:

  • copyright,
  • patents,
  • trademarks,
  • trade secrets,
  • design rights,
  • plant breeders’ rights.

Disadvantages of information ownership:

  • stops development – companies can buy the patent of some new invention that would reduce demand of theirs products and that way stop the popularization of better product,
  • buying patents of goods found in nature, especial in the third world countries – the poor people have to pay if they want to use the natural goods that have been on the land that they live since ever,
  • it gives more power and wealth to those who are already powerful and wealthy,
  • instead to stimulate the production of new ideas it hides information,
  • crazy copyright ideas testify that information ownership has become a means for exerting power
  • Edwin C. Hettinger – there is no point of info ownership as sharing intellectual property doesn’t mean that one has to give it to somebody, the author is still able to use it no matter how many copies of it there are.
  • the product of intellectual labor is not actually one person’s accomplishment, everybody will admit that his ‘original’ idea was influenced by the environment and the society that surrounds him.
  • innovation is a collective process
  • in the markets of ideas: rules the most powerful – mass media influenced by governments – and usually their task is not to challenge the viewers but to please them; a lot of valuable ideas coming from alternative sources are underestimated.

How to change it?

  1. ideas should be available for everyone and nobody should own them,
  2. the scientific knowledge should be available for everyone as the fastest developing fields are the most open ones,
  3. it would be more useful to develop methods in order to support creative individuals, than just the ideas,
  4. in order to contest the legitimacy of monopolies granted by governments would be useful to change the way of understanding the issue – use term “monopoly privilege” instead of  “intellectual property”; also exposition of costs needed for the industry to work,
  5. instead of illegal copying the ideas it’s better to openly refuse the authority and do not cooperate with the intellectual property,
  6. use and encourage people to use and develop the “freeware”, with the help of the copyleft,
  7. if there are less credits available for the ideas the people will be more likely to share their ideas with no awards at all and this way prevent the intellectual property and try contributing to the freeware.

It was interesting to look at some statistics so I found a Special 301 Report from April 30, 2009, prepared by the Office of the United States Trade Representative. About Poland we may read:

The United States recognizes: the police closure in early 2009 of one of the largest
pirated optical disc distribution operations in Europe; the Government closure in 2007 of the
notorious Warsaw Stadium market, where large quantities of counterfeit and pirated goods were
being sold; and the efforts by law enforcement agencies to combat hard goods piracy. Poland
has yet to make adequate progress against Internet piracy and the trade in pirated and counterfeit
goods in markets on Poland’s border with Germany.

As far as I know the Warsaw Stadium market has been closed. So as we see the country is on its “good path”.

Copying from the table of contest we may see the list of countries that are considered dangerous to the intellectual property of the US:

Priority Watch List

  1. CHINA ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 13
  2. RUSSIA ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 16
  3. ALGERIA …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 16
  4. ARGENTINA ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 17
  5. CANADA …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 17
  6. CHILE ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 18
  7. INDIA ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 18
  8. INDONESIA ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 19
  9. ISRAEL……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 19
  10. PAKISTAN ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 21
  11. THAILAND ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 21
  12. VENEZUELA …………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Watch List

  1. BELARUS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 22
  2. BOLIVIA ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 22
  3. BRAZIL ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 23
  4. BRUNEI ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 23
  5. COLOMBIA ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 23
  6. COSTA RICA ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 24
  7. CZECH REPUBLIC …………………………………………………………………………………………… 24
  8. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ………………………………………………………………………………….. 24
  9. ECUADOR ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 25
  10. EGYPT ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 25
  11. FINLAND …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 26
  12. GREECE …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 26
  13. GUATEMALA …………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  14. HUNGARY……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 26
  15. ITALY……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 27
  16. JAMAICA …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 27
  17. KUWAIT ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 27
  18. LEBANON ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 28
  19. MALAYSIA ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 28
  20. MEXICO …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 29
  21. NORWAY…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 29
  22. PERU ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 29
  23. PHILIPPINES ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 30
  24. POLAND ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 30
  25. ROMANIA ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 30
  26. SAUDI ARABIA ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 31
  27. SPAIN ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 31
  28. TAJIKISTAN …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 31
  29. TURKEY ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 32
  30. TURKMENISTAN …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 32
  31. UKRAINE………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 32
  32. UZBEKISTAN ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 33
  33. VIETNAM ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 33

There are 45 countries on the list. Probably the small counties as Lithuania or Estonia are omitted because of the small amount of the illegal copies. So in total from ~200 countries existing in the world ~1/3 is considered suspicious. The whole report may be found here.