Monday, October 31, 2005

File under recent and relevant: Alito on Copyright

The fine folks over at Copyfight give us this today: Alito on Copyright.

The story sounds a bit ominous at first, citing Alito's "marked tendency to enforce contracts as written" (and Copyfight here is quoting Laura Quilter quoting Ideoblog). Quilter and Copyfight's Donna Wentworth note that this may be of great concern, especially for those interested in EULAs, shrink/click wrap licenses, and reverse-engineering. By the way, for a list of other decisions/opinions and links to other blogs and sites with info on Alito, give Quilter's post a good read.

An update to the story, on the other hand, quotes William Patry, who believes that "Copyright lawyers should cheer the appointment" of Alito, who was the author of two opinions, both of which Paltry says are "thoughtful looks at basic questions of originality" (the full post is worth the read, as are the comments).

We'll see how it all shakes out eventually, I suppose.

- posted by laurie @ 10/31/2005 01:50:00 PM (0) comments

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Hallowen Treats

Hallowen Treats

Originally uploaded by johnsonla.

This morning's colorful holiday breakfast treats, before predation. Happy Halloween!

- posted by laurie @ 10/29/2005 05:52:00 PM (0) comments

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Strawberry smell trademark denied

From BBC NEWS: Strawberry smell trademark denied: "The company argued that while strawberries may look and taste different, they all smell the same, and as a result could be trademarked.

The court took a different view, and smell experts found that instead of just one aroma, strawberries can in fact have up to five different, distinct scents."

Wow. Can you imagine the smell that, perhaps, brings you back to childhood or makes you remember a perfect summer day picking strawberries with a significant other, reminds you of your kids covered with smooshed berries or of your grandma taking strawberry pie out of the over - or whatever - being trademarked?

I guess it's a good thing there are different strawberry smells, right?

Unbelievable. The quest to lock down every possible ownable molecule of culture progresses apace, folks.

- posted by laurie @ 10/27/2005 04:21:00 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Inside Higher Ed :: Between What’s Right and What’s Easy

Catching up on some ccc-ip list messages, including a link to an article from Friday's Inside Higher Ed. The article takes the integration of a CCC permissions "building block" into (mega-CMS, after recent merge with WebCT) Blackboard as a starting point to discuss the erosion of fair use in the academy. I agree with the author, and especially like the following:

Between What’s Right and What’s Easy: "Faculty and their universities should be at the forefront of the push for a more robust fair use, one that affirmatively protects “multiple copies for classroom use” when their distribution is noncommercial, especially as getting electronic readings to students is becoming ever cheaper and more practical."

Also, for those interested in the IP issue (especially the range of opinions and the divisiveness this topic can create), the comments are very definitely worth checking out. There are comments by folks ranging from university press director to first-year student to the director of the Free Curricula Center.

- posted by laurie @ 10/26/2005 07:20:00 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Happy Fall!

Happy Fall!
Originally uploaded by johnsonla.

We had the kiddo's pictures taken the day after her first birthday - which is way too long ago already - but anyway, as the weather gets cooler, I thought this might be an appropriate one to share. Enjoy autumn while it lasts!

- posted by laurie @ 10/25/2005 04:32:00 PM (0) comments

Monday, October 24, 2005

Open Office 2.0

So after following the discussion about it on the TechRhet listserv over the past few days, I decided to


I used OpenOffice 1 for a while, but got frustrated with it and reverted back to Word. I didn't like the way it handled opening and saving files, especially files that were originally saved by Word or other non-OO applications. I DO love the ability to export directly into .pdf format, though, and kept OO on my machine just because of that feature, long after I kind of abandoned everything else OO. I'm going to give 2.0 a fair trial, though, and see if it's worth scrapping Word (to be honest, I'll probably still keep MS Office on my computers - in part because, with weak organizational skills, moving twice in the last year and a half, and a mind that is sometimes less than keen, what with the baby-related sleep deprivation, I am not sure where my install discs for MS Office have even gone to - so reinstallation may not be an option).

Asides aside, give Open Office a try. And I'll tell you what: our future computers will never ever run brand-new versions of Word (or other office programs). I would never ever buy another MS Office product again, ever. Why? Really, even with educational pricing/discounts, it's not worth it.

- posted by laurie @ 10/24/2005 08:50:00 AM (0) comments

Friday, October 21, 2005

$$$$ Modern Design for Children (?!?!?!?!)

Hmm, even if I could afford such a thing, kid o's Modern Dollhouse just seems a little bit excessive.

So does the $50.00 stuffed zebra.

Granted, the store is very cool-looking, in a minimalism-that-is-unachievable-with-real-children kind of way. Maybe I'll plan a visit, next time I'm in NYC. But you can almost guarantee that I will leave empty-handed.

- posted by laurie @ 10/21/2005 11:35:00 AM (0) comments

Information & Communication Technologies and Trafficking in Women

Not exactly up my usual Intellectual Property alley, but definitely of interest from the prespective of feminist engagement with technolgies, is Digital Dangers, a "discussion paper" that explores the connections between ICTs (information & communication technologies) and trafficking. The central concern of the paper is nicely summed up in the following two paragraphs:

The word ‘trafficking’ suggests something very physical. Stories of trafficking of women often include details of stolen passports, border crossings, and foreign countries. But what happens when a concept that suggests the actual movement of people is taken into the virtual world of the web? What happens when trafficking is combined with information and communication technologies (ICTs)?

It seems unlikely that whoever coined the term ‘information superhighway’ anticipated that the traffic on the internet would be in people, as well as information. How, and how much, the internet and other ICTs are implicated in trafficking is the subject of this paper.

The paper was published jointly by the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) and Association for Progressive Communications Women's Network Support Program (APCWNSP). I find it very interesting that this paper explores not only the use of ICTs in trafficking, traditionally deinfed (i.e. how email and other communications technologies are involved in taking women physically from one location to another), but also discusses the trasmission of women's images (explicit material distributed without knowledge or consent) as a form of trafficking women. The three "pivotal and at times controversial questions":

"Does the role of ICTs matter or is it a fashionable distraction from serious countertrafficking work? Can we talk of trafficking in images or does trafficking only apply to people? Is consideration of privacy in relation to ICTs contrary to counter-trafficking work or an essential part of a broader movement to create safety and freedom for individuals and communities?" (2)

These are hard questions. And even though it makes me nervous (considering the kind of work I do and the kind of research I am now becoming more interested in), I think it is good - necessary - for people to be wondering if these kinds of explorations are "fashionable distraction[s]," what are referred to elsewhere as "luxury and diversion" (2).

The conclusions reached in this paper are interesting and challenging - basically that a focus on the role of ICTs in trafficking places an undue focus on the technology, not the crime, and that insisting that ICTs be placed more centrally in the question of trafficking deemphasizes the role played by women (on the grounds that ICT experts then become the more widely consulted experts, and that these are mostly men, as opposed to those who are experts in trafficking of women and children).

That's the sum of it - but it's a paper I would encourage people to take the time and read. Very interesting.

- posted by laurie @ 10/21/2005 08:46:00 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Happy Birthday Copyright Prank [SIVACRACY.NET]

Hee hee! I love this:

Unhappy Birthday is a site that (wink wink) encourages you to turn in offenders who sing 'Happy Birthday' illegally. If all goes as planned. ASCAP and Time-Warner will be flooded with reports of infringement! This should keep their lawyers busy for years!

Not only is this a really funny copyright-related joke (at least in my geeky opinion), but the site also provides good background on the history of "Happy Birthday," an explanation of why it is [still] protected under copyright, and how singing it in many public places or contexts, without paying royalties, is a copyright infringement.

Didn't you ever wonder why restaurants (the ones that indulge in this kind of stuff) have their very own tacky, annoying birthday ditties?

Well, there's your answer.

Now, remember to turn in anyone you suspect of infringing upon Time-Warner's copyrights, and keep their lawyers busy, busy, busy!

- posted by laurie @ 10/19/2005 06:15:00 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm a joiner, this week anyway.

I've been in a joining mood - or something - for the last several days. We signed up for netflix over the weekend (finally!). Today I got a "reminder" email about joining Friendster (which I have been invited to join several oter times - all long enough ago that I wasn't even aware that people I knew were still hanging out there, you know, given the tendency to move on to bigger, better, and newer). So, I joined that, too. Added a few frineds I knew were on there. Does anyone else want to be my friend? (kidding. just hope I am hip enough to be there - since having a kid, we're way less "tragically hip" and more just "tragic" - in the fashion and social life department, anyway).

Maybe this time I'll finally join MPR. It's been that kind of week, and the fall membership drive is in full swing right now.

Now, though, I need to join the ranks of those who have changed from work clothes into casual wear and have retrieved their children from daycare.

- posted by laurie @ 10/18/2005 01:29:00 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

If I only had a brain

Ladies and gentlemen, I think I still do. Have a brain, that is. I have been puzzling over some ideas having to do with feminism, intellectual property, and international issues. For MONTHS. I have primarily been banging my head against _____ (you name it: computer screen, keyboard, books, journal articles, my kitchen couter - wait, that's because of dirty dishes and the messy lunacy that is feeding a one-year-old).

As a result of good papers, good converstation, and good companions at the Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s) conference, I think that my cerebral wheels have started turning at a much more rapid pace. I am really excited about a few new - and more concrete - ideas that I had while at the conference! I am floating them by a few professors in the upcoming weeks. Keep your fingers crossed for me, y'all!

And even though I have just shown myself I am still smart (see the recent post over at Arete about surviving imposter syndrome), those papers won't grade themselves, now, will they?

Onward . . .

- posted by laurie @ 10/12/2005 05:40:00 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

RIP Wayne C. Booth

From the New York Times: Wayne C. Booth died yesterday at the age of 84. Many in the fields of rhetoric and literature (among others, I am sure) will miss him. We have benefitted from his numerous and profound contributions to our field(s).

- posted by laurie @ 10/11/2005 08:35:00 PM (0) comments

Happy birthday to blogging (mine, anyway)

I always forget and the date slips by, so I'm writing an early post this year. Exactly one month from today is my 4th blogiversary (not here @ memex, though - memex turns three in March).

- posted by laurie @ 10/11/2005 11:28:00 AM (0) comments

Kinda depressing over there . . .

So, it has, admittedly, been a while since I last checked in at infoAnarchy, but it really is a little dreary over there. eDonkey quits and winMX shuts down, and anonymous p2p networks launched - these are the main stories at the moment - all which point to the chilly p2p landscape right now.

So much potential. So little legal wiggle room (apparently). Anyway, all is not lost, so it seems. The article on Nodezilla, for example, is interesting. Something I would love to explore further, maybe when I am not in office hours!

- posted by laurie @ 10/11/2005 11:18:00 AM (0) comments

Monday, October 10, 2005

Breaking America's grip on the net (Guardian Unlimited)

So it's a few days old, but I have been under a communicative rock at this conference, where I gave a paper on new-ish research on women and intellectual property in an international context. Anyway, apparently while I was waay far away from computers with internet (somewhat intentionally), it appears that the US has begun to lose its control of the internet. Good thing? I suppose that depends on you position on the issue in general, as well as what you think of the solution offered (as detailed by this Guardian Unlimited article).

I have to say, I think that the US probably has way too much control over what is increasingly (and really should be) a global resource. The solution, though, made me groan. It sounds like a bureaucratic, slow-moving, contentious nightmare waiting to happen. On the other hand, the alternatives are. . . ? I mean, we can't just let the thing run itself (can we?).

bringing it home: "And what about business? Will a governmental body running the internet add unnecessary bureaucracy or will it bring clarity and a coherent system? Mueller is unsure: 'The idea of the council is so vague. It's not clear to me that governments know what to do about anything at this stage apart from get in the way of things that other people do.'"

Probably. But maybe they could learn ;)

completely OT: Am I back to semiregular blogging? Not sure. I'm considering it. We'll see how long I can remember this time . . .

- posted by laurie @ 10/10/2005 02:06:00 PM (0) comments

Monday, October 03, 2005


Well, this poor blog's died and been resuscitated so many times . . . shall we put it through one more revivication? Or just let it languish? I am personally undecided at the moment. If you have a comment that doesn't involve online gambling, viagra, or other commerce-oriented content, sound off.

Sadly, I continue to recieve approximately the same average number of daily hits, even though I haven't posted for two months (more or less).

I'm not posting because there's nothing going on. I'm not posting because I am trying to put time spent in front of the keyboard to more productive use, and also trying to keep up with the uber-mobile baby, who's been walking for a month and a half (and who has broken keys off of my laptop twice, and trys to pull the desktop's ergonomic keyboard off of the desk onto her head on a semi-daily basis).

She turned a year old over the weekend. It was a bittersweet moment. She's getting so big. And she now has so many toys!

But I have work to do yet, and a class to finish prepping for, and eventually a conference presentation to finish before we run off to Michigan Tech for Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s) 2005, family-style. Which means that the poor neglected blog must be left to languish yet again. Poor thing.

- posted by laurie @ 10/03/2005 03:57:00 PM (0) comments