mfioretti: patent*

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  1. you sense this getting a little more complicated in the digital era, though, where you don’t “own” things like movies, music, or even the software on your phone; rather, it’s being licensed, which means companies can go to all kinds of lengths to keep controlling how, when, and where you use the things you’ve bought long after you’ve bought them.

    Where some kind of digital rights management (DRM) was once standard only for video games and movies, you now find it on everything from coffee to cars and a whole lot of in-between — including printer cartridges.

    The question before the Supreme Court, then, isn’t one of “can Lexmark patent this?” Because Lexmark can, and has. The question is, rather: Can patent exhaustion still be a thing, or does the original manufacturer get to keep having the final say in what you and others can do with the product?
    What Happened in Court?

    A Supreme Court ruling is still likely months away, but the transcript PDF » of this week’s oral arguments can tell us quite a bit about the way the justices may be leaning.

    The attorneys for both sides — Impression and Lexmark — each pointed to several previous rulings on patent law to support their own perspective on why the law does or does not support patent rights’ exhaustion.

    The problem faced by either side is that the most recent case dealing with exhaustion applies it to copyright law, not patent law. To the lay consumer, that may seem like a minor distinction, but copyright and patent are two very different beasts, legally speaking.

    the Court is now dealing with 2017 technology and a 1952 law whose authors couldn’t have guessed that patent rights would be used to restrict what a customer can do with a product after it’s been purchased.

    Meanwhile Chief Justice Roberts, along with Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito, kept wanting to probe the question of why patent law was even necessary for this sort of thing, as SCOTUSblog explains. Each of the three asked some kind of question, or raised some argument, wondering why Lexmark couldn’t just restrict use of its items with ordinary contract agreements instead of patents.

    In the end, though, the Justices didn’t say very much that indicated a particularly strong position one way or the other. As SCOTUSblog’s analyst put it: “the justices are well aware of the major implications here and don’t see any obvious way to avoid doing something that will have real economic consequences… Rather, it seems, they are going to have to decide if these kinds of restrictions will, or will not, remain a product of 21st-century innovation policy.”
    https://consumerist.com/2017/03/23/wh...upreme-court-case-on-toner-cartridges
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  2. Free software is built on a paradox. In order to give freedom to users, free software licences use something that takes away freedom – copyright, which is an intellectual monopoly based on limiting people's freedom to share, not enlarging it. That was a brilliant hack when Richard Stallman first came up with it in 1985, with the GNU Emacs General Public Licence, but maybe now it's time to move on.

    There are signs of that happening already. Eighteen months ago, people started noting the decline of copyleft licences in favour of more "permissive" ones like Apache and BSD. More recently, the rise of GitHub has attracted attention, and the fact that increasingly people have stopped specifying licences there (which is somewhat problematic).

    I don't think this declining use of copyleft licences is a sign of failure – on the contrary. As I wrote in my previous column, free software has essentially won, taking over most key computing sectors. Similarly, the move to "permissive" licences has only been possible because of the success of copyleft: the ideas behind collaborative creation and contributing back to a project are now so pervasive that we don't require "strong" copyleft licences to enforce them – it's part of coders' mental DNA.
    http://www.h-online.com/open/features...ing-open-source-licences-1802140.html
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