Nov 042010

The Department of Justice has just filed an amicus brief supporting the upholding of the US Federal District Court’s opinion that genes by themselves are not patentable. This is huge. The patenting of sequences of DNA has always been controversial. Opponents fall mainly in two camps. The first argues that there are those that say DNA, as a defining element of life, should be held by a private company as a patent. I don’t agree with this viewpoint. There is nothing extrinsically different about DNA from other materials that should differentiate it by this argument. The second camp makes a much stronger argument, and is the reason cited by the DOJ’s amicus brief, and is also the reason I am [more . . .]

Apr 302009

This is one of Lawrence Lessig’s classic speeches. I’m sure most people who read this already hold the viewpoint that copyright law needs a major overhaul, so this video will just be a friendly and clear reminder of why that is true. For those of you who believe that copyright law needs no change, hopefully this video will explain why so many people believe firmly that the current system is broken. The highly ironic part of this is that Warner Music has issued a DMCA take-down notice on the presentation. Really?

Jun 062008

There is an interesting study out by the University of Washington’s Computer Science department revealing flaws in the detection of copyright infringers online. In the study, it was found that enforcement agencies sometimes used merely the fact that an IP address was seen in connection with a certain file online in implicating a user, without verification that the owner of the IP address did actually download anything, or that the owner of the IP is even a person. With IP spoofing tactics, they managed, hilariously, to get three printers in the CS department to receive DMCA takedown complaints from the MPAA. Is this result likely to get noticed in the next wave of countersuits against the RIAA and MPAA? Probably. [more . . .]

May 212008

People say my girlfriend and I are a match made in heaven, and one of the reasons they give is that we both keep frighteningly detailed spreadsheets of various aspects of our lives. “That’s so sketchy!” says one, referring to a spreadsheet of a list of dozens of people’s favorite things, ranging anywhere from favorite cake, to favorite guilty pleasure, to favorite mathematical topic. Of course, I personally have a spreadsheet of every movie I’ve seen and wish to see, every book I’ve read and wish to read, every Star Trek episode I’ve seen, every flight I’ve taken, every national park I’ve visited, every IP address I’ve tracked, and, of course, the infamous spreadsheet of everyone I’ve ever counted as [more . . .]

May 142008

Articles like this one in Trees and Things rile my blood. Not only is this activity blatantly predatory, but shows both a lack of concern for many of the nation’s pressing issues and a fundamental lack of understanding of (or desire to understand) how endowments work. Yes, the thing known as the Endowment in most top private universities across the United States is increasing, and yes, there is a deficit, but coveting the money of educational institutions to help offset the national debt is an atrocious proposition. Many congresspeople complain that the major Universities with the $10+ billion endowments should allocate more money to financial aid, and use the money to expand programs and admit more students. However, things are [more . . .]