On close inspection, I saw that the contract they wanted me to speak under required me:
* to exclusively assign all rights to the talk to them;
* to indemnify them against all claims (including nuisance claims) arising from the talk (meaning that they could simply hand money to nuisance complainants and send me the bill).
Effectively, this would have meant that I could not adapt this speech for further use, use parts of it in articles, or allow people to share it under CC licenses. It would also have meant that if someone made a baseless legal threat over my speech, they could have given that person money to go away and sent the bill to me, without limitation, forever.
Everybody should always read and understand agreements that they enter into, at least so they can decide for themselves whether they’re willing to accept the risk of having to live up to the more onerous parts of the agreement. Cory’s setting a really good example here.
via Sippin’ On Purple
I’m getting super excited for college football season this year, as my ‘Cats are ranked and expectations are (worryingly) high. This book excerpt was a pretty fantastic description of how Northwestern runs their football program differently from most schools, and it was fun to read.
I thought I’d share it here, though, because of this portion that shows the intersection between the business and personal sides of using NCAA player likenesses in video games:
[Quarterback Kain Colter] also received a bit of fame-but only a bit. Once you’ve “made it” as a college football player, you can look forward to being depicted in EA Sports’ college football video game. (You can also look forward to EA Sports, the NCAA, and member schools keeping all the profits.) Having started most of 2011, Colter figured he had to be in the video game this year-and he was, on their national third team.
"I was excited!" he said with a laugh. "I bought the game, ran home, opened it up, and put it in-and I ended up being a white guy with red hair."
Only at Northwestern.
via Xconomy Seattle
By this time next year, Microsoft will be led by someone other than Steve Ballmer. The longtime chief executive this morning announced his decision to retire after 33 years with the Redmond software giant. Ballmer, 57, has led the company since 2000, when he took over the CEO title from co-founder and chairman Bill Gates.
This news is all over today, but I’ll share my Steve Ballmer story anyway:
Pretty sure it was in the summer of ‘98, when I was interning in Redmond. I had stopped in after work at the Safeway near campus to pick up some food. I got in line to check out, and realized that the person in front of me in line was Ballmer. He was buying a package of Safeway muffins and having an animated conversation on his cell phone.
That’s pretty much the whole story, other than the fact that I felt bad for going home after that while Steve was probably going back in to the office to continue working and eat that package of muffins.
Oh my goodness can you imagine all the Supreme Court judges getting together at Clarence Thomas’s place and ordering a bunch of pizza and playing Team Fortress and Counterstrike and Call of Duty all night to get perspective on video game violence? And Kagan and Sotomayor have both played for years and everyone else is terrible at it and they’re all just chilling out eating pizza? I want this to happen so badly. (via jakke)
Maybe we could trade a moratorium on cameras at oral arguments for public availability of group chat audio? Totally worth it.
“You can’t build a better mousetrap if someone has already gotten a patent on “trapping mice”, regardless of how or what device is used.”
- Pamela Jones (pj) at Groklaw. The President’s Executive Action Addressing Overbroad Functional Claiming ~pj
Well, sure, but the example is trivial: it’s not disputable that “trapping mice” has been done before. But what if no one had ever trapped a mouse? Shouldn’t the first person who discovered that trapping mice is something that would benefit society be rewarded for their ingenuity?
I agree that overly broad functional claiming should not be allowed. That is, if a broad functional claim covers functions known in the prior art, a rejection of such language is reasonable. However, I don’t believe that rejections of functional claim language simply because “it is too broad,” absent any indication that some portion of the broad scope is present in the prior art, should be permitted.
Last week, tech entrepreneur Ladar Levison shuttered his email company, an act so painful he compared it to killing a pet, rather than comply with a secret government order he found immoral. He wasn’t allowed to say what the order was, a detail that made his story particularly chilling. But the order came at the behest of the surveillance state, and he sacrificed his livelihood rather than compromise the privacy of his users in a way that he found particularly insidious.
Perhaps it’s apparent that I find his plight galling, and his story affecting. And even as it lingered in the back of my mind, I came upon the story of another American who is withdrawing from the Internet rather than subjecting herself to the surveillance state. Pamela Jones’s protest is a bit different. The federal government didn’t come knocking at her door, and the website she runs, Groklaw, presumably doesn’t store any sensitive user information. It is a legal news site for the open source software community — and a very good one judging by the awards that she has won.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Though it usually only came to my attention when it had posted something I disagreed with, I’m sad to see Pamela Jones is shutting down Groklaw. However, doing so because email isn’t private is ridiculous.
Here’s some of her reasoning, as described in the Atlantic’s post:
You’ll see that early on, she recalls a time when she was younger, and had her New York City apartment burgled. “I wasn’t there when it happened, so I wasn’t hurt in any way physically. And I didn’t then own much of any worth, so only a few things were taken,” she recalled. “But everything had been pawed through and thrown about. I can’t tell how deeply disturbing it is to know that someone, some stranger, has gone through and touched all your underwear, looked at all your photographs of your family, and taken some small piece of jewelry that’s been in your family for generations.”
She feels that same way now, “knowing that persons I don’t know can paw through all my thoughts and hopes and plans in my emails with you,” especially when corresponding with international readers.
Having your apartment burgled sounds like a terrible feeling, but it is incredibly naive to think that your email has ever been anywhere near as private as that. It’s more like setting up all of your belongings in your front yard and then having someone go through them. Sure, it’s an invasion of your privacy, but should you really have expected things to be private in your front yard?
Is the problem that people just don’t understand how email works anymore? It used to be a standard joke that the system administrator, at least, read everyone’s email. Does no one remember the Bastard Operator from Hell from the early 90s?
I get out my pad and pen. “Before we get started” I say, “could you just call out your username before you ask me a question, I find it easier to apply your problem to terms you would understand better” The lecturer eats all this up - the personal touch really gets to them. “First Question, You over there..”
"What do you think of the privacy of individuals on a shared system?"
"What was your username please?"
>Scratchy scritch< “Computer Privacy… Hmmm. This is a toughy really. You mean stuff like reading the email between you and your counsellor about you not wanting to come out of the closet?”
I mean, ThinkGeek used to sell t-shirts that said, “i read your email.”
It comes down to this: the public has been giving access to their private information to companies without even thinking about it. Google has been indexing the contents of your gmail account ever since the service launched in order to improve search ranking and to provide relevant advertising. How do you think they serve you ads that relate to what you’ve talked about in email? Google Plus, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter all build graphs out of your connection information that they can mine for information to use to market to you and your connections (or that they can just sell to others), even when that connection information isn’t publicly displayed.
If the problem is merely that some human being could be reading your private communication, I don’t see the difference between whether that person is sitting in an office in Mountain View, CA or in Fort Meade, MD. I’d also wager that there are plenty of corporations who can screw up peoples’ lives in ways that would have an impact similar in scope to what the government could do (short of imprisonment).
via Boing Boing
The publisher John Wiley has lost a court battle over the copying practices of a patent law-firm that had assembled a private library of copies of scientific articles for the purpose of researching patent applications.
This seems trivial, but I’m glad to see this decision. Patent attorneys often need to submit copies of scientific articles to the Patent Office to comply with our duty of disclosure. While this is somewhat different than making copies for an internal firm library, we still end up making copies for the client files, and the copies sent to the Patent Office become publicly available (so it is probably even worse from the copyright holder’s standpoint). It’s nice to see that we’re less likely to be found liable for copyright infringement for just doing our job.
via Patent Law Blog (Patently-O)
If your product has been publicly disclosed or offered for sale more than a year before your patent filing date, you are barred from getting a patent. Clients often ask what “publicly disclosed” or “offered for sale” actually means. It’s not an easy question to answer, because there are a lot of nuances. Here, Hamilton Beach learned one of the nuances the hard way:
The On-Sale Bar of (Pre-AIA) 102(b) will invalidate a patent when the invention was sold or offered-for-sale more than one year before the filing date. The trick here to finding an offer-for-sale is to think in reverse – the supplier is selling the products to the patentee. Thus, the commercial offer-for-sale occurs when the supplier says “we’ll make it once you give your release.” In patent law, an offer for sale is one where the other party only needs to accept in order to create a binding contract for sale. Here, the supplier’s confirmation satisfies that definition.
The takeaway is: you should probably have your patent applications on file before you start looking for third-party manufacturers or suppliers. Worst case, you should carefully track any dates when you reach out to third-parties in this way and tell your patent attorney about them so he or she can make sure that they are properly tracked.
Expired patents turned into design files for 3D printers
"If you look at the figures in older patents, the 19th century patents are really beautiful. They’re really works of art," said Galese to New York Times. Now with 3D printing these items can be brought to life showing the brilliant ideas of the past.
Galese has posted some of these forgotten inventions on Tumblr, called "Patent-able", with drawings and CAD models of objects. He has also uploaded them to Thingiverse community where you can download them and print your own.” ~ 3ders.org
Maybe I am splitting hairs here, or quibbling over something that really doesn’t matter. But, I’ve got to just say it: Am I the only one who gets annoyed when folks refer to the giants of the Seattle tech community as part of the mythological Silicon Valley ecosystem?
I never noticed this before, but it’s definitely frustrating! Keep representin’ the 206, GeekWire!