Nov 13, 2000

Law to protect [Australian] artists imminent
Country Watch: Australia
11/13/2000; 11:33:17 AM

'Seven years after it was first seriously suggested, Australia is finally close to implementing what nearly 70 countries have long taken for granted: moral rights for artists....

'The bill contains three basic rights: the right to attribution, the right against false attribution, and - the most contentious - the right to integrity. This would allow artists to protest against "derogatory" treatment of their work - a book published with a chapter removed, for example, or a painting hung in the wrong position.'

The right to integrity is the right that has intrigued me most over the past few months.  Much of the 'goodness' in modern copyright law stems from that right. Much of the big debates (not counting Napster) have really stemmed from this concern about integrity in one form or another. It's interesting to watch a country adding that right into their system.

Nov 11, 2000

Graduate School
Personal Notes
11/11/2000; 6:37:59 PM I am proud to announce that I have been accepted into the Michigan State University Computer Science Graduate program as a Masters student.  Yes, another two years of successfully avoiding the real world!

Nov 10, 2000

NH Court Rules School District Must Release Net Records
Privacy from Companies
11/10/2000; 10:25:02 AM

'In what could be a landmark decision in the area of online privacy rights, a New Hampshire court granted the father of a public school student the right to obtain Internet usage records of all students who used computers and Web access supplied by the school district. The district was also ordered not to withhold records that may be requested in the future and was forced to pay plaintiff's attorney's fees.'

I put this here mostly because some people think this is a landmark decision. Personally, I disagree. This is a fairly normal Freedom of Information Act information request. The key paragraph is this:

'On the third issue, whether or not the IHLF was exempt from production under state law, the district attempted three sub-arguments, each of which were denied by the Court. Judge Abramson found that the district could use an inexpensive "write script" to produce a record without revealing confidential information, such as an individual student's name, user name or password, therefore the documents were not exempt. Similarly, the Court found that the IHLF could not be defined as "personal records of students," nor could they be construed as having the same legal protection as "library user" files, because the records could be produced with confidential information redacted.'

The identifying information will not be turned over (barring a technical flub-up). It's just a list of what sites were visited, not who visited them or when. This sort of thing happens in the non-Internet domain happens routinely, and the FoI Act has been a good thing overall. The Internet seems to blind the justice system in so many other ways, it's a relief to see it get it right for once.

Nov 09, 2000

Wings take to the water
11/9/2000; 9:41:58 PM 'A retractable boat mast with a variable sail has been developed by a UK researcher after he studied the wings of bats and birds.

'Dr Richard Dryden, a part-time lecturer at the University of Plymouth, believes his patented design will work on a range of watercraft from sailboards and dinghies to larger vessels such as wind-assisted tankers.

'The structure is jointed and segmented which allows the shape of the rig to be adjusted to match the conditions.'

Nothing to do with the Internet, per se... I just wanted to show an example of what I think is a perfectly fair patent.   This is pretty cool.

Nov 09, 2000

eBay not liable for bootlegged content
General IP Issues
11/9/2000; 12:02:29 PM

'In a ruling late Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Stuart Pollak in San Francisco County dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Grateful Dead fan who sought to stop sales of illegal concert recordings of the band....

'In dismissing the suit, Pollak said he based his ruling on the Communications Decency Act, which forbids computer service providers for being punished for the speech of others.

'"Plaintiff's attempt to impose responsibility on eBay as the seller of items auctioned over its service is no different from the unsuccessful attempts that have been made to hold computer service providers liable as distributors rather than publishers of defamatory or pornographic materials," Pollak wrote.'

Score one for sane people! 

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