[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Monday, 2010-09-20

Guess what? You don’t own that software you bought

Filed under: Intellectual Property,Software — bblackmoor @ 10:51

Some disappointing news from the Ninth Circuit Court.

On Friday, 10 September, three judges in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, covering the nine western states of the US, handed down a decision that effectively means the end of the doctrine of first sale for commercial software. Speaking of the limited monopoly power granted by copyright law to a copyright holder, the 9th Circuit decision reads:

The exclusive distribution right is limited by the first sale doctrine, an affirmative defense to copyright infringement that allows owners of copies of copyrighted works to resell those copies. The exclusive reproduction right is limited within the software context by the essential step defense, another affirmative defense to copyright infringement that is discussed further infra. Both of these affirmative defenses are unavailable to those who are only licensed to use their copies of copyrighted works.

A fair bit of a fuss is being made over the restrictions imposed by this interpretation of the applicability of the first sale doctrine. Wired offers an article that focuses quite a bit of attention on the subject: Guess What, You Don’t Own That Software You Bought.

(from Court decision clamps down on our rights to software that we ‘own’, TechRepublic)

Wednesday, 2010-04-28

Hexographer update

Filed under: Gaming,Software — bblackmoor @ 23:30

HexographerThe author of Hexographer, Joe, has revised the “lifetime” license of Hexographer so that it no longer self-destructs after one year. The flaws in the “free” and “one year” versions remain, however, so those should be avoided. However, if you like the software and feel it is worth paying for (and it certainly does seem worth paying for), the “lifetime license” now appears to be what it says it is: a lifetime license. I have updated my original Hexographer article to reflect the revised license terms.

I also bought the software.

Thursday, 2010-04-01

New Zealand patent reform bill says no to software patents

Filed under: Intellectual Property,Software — bblackmoor @ 19:10

I view this as good news:

New Zealand’s parliament is preparing to vote on a major patent reform bill that will tighten the country’s standards of patentability. One of the most significant changes in the proposed bill is a specific patentability exclusion for software. If the bill receives parliamentary approval in its current form, it will broadly eliminate conventional software patents in New Zealand.

(from New Zealand patent reform bill says no to software patents, Ars Technica)

You may also find this interesting:

Are Software Patents Evil?

Thursday, 2010-02-25

Digital Rights Mafia condemns open source

Filed under: Entertainment,Intellectual Property,Software — bblackmoor @ 23:38

Never content to twist US law into pretzels, the media robber barons also attempt to use their power to make other nation’s laws as bad as those we have here….

In accordance with US trade law, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) is required to conduct an annual review of the status of foreign intellectual property laws. This review, which is referred to as Special 301, is typically used to denounce countries that have less restrictive copyright policies than the United States.

The review process is increasingly dominated by content industry lobbyists who want to subvert US trade policy and make it more favorable to their own interests. […] One of the organizations that plays a key role in influencing the Special 301 review is the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a powerful coalition that includes the RIAA, the MPAA, and the Business Software Alliance (BSA). The IIPA, which recently published its official recommendations to the USTR for the 2010 edition of the 301 review, has managed to achieve a whole new level of absurdity.

University of Edinburgh law lecturer Andres Guadamuz wrote a blog entry this week highlighting some particularly troubling aspects of the IIPA’s 301 recommendations. The organization has condemned Indonesia and several other countries for encouraging government adoption of open source software. According to the IIPA, official government endorsements of open source software create “trade barriers” and restrict “equitable market access” for software companies.

[…]

The Indonesian government issued a statement in 2009 informing municipal governments that they had to stop using pirated software. The statement said that government agencies must either purchase legally licensed commercial software or switch to free and open source alternatives in order to comply with copyright law. This attempt by Indonesia to promote legal software procurement processes by endorsing the viability of open source software has apparently angered the IIPA.

In its 301 recommendations for Indonesia, the IIPA demands that the government rescind its 2009 statement. According to the IIPA, Indonesia’s policy “weakens the software industry and undermines its long-term competitiveness” because open source software “encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations [and] fails to build respect for intellectual property rights.”

The number of ways in which the IIPA’s statements regarding open source software are egregiously misleading and dishonest are too numerous to count.

(from Big Content condemns foreign governments that endorse FOSS, Ars Technica)

“The IIPA — destroying your cultural future to line our pockets today!”

Thursday, 2010-02-11

OpenOffice.org 3.2

Filed under: Software — bblackmoor @ 21:17

OpenOffice.org 3.2 is now available, with a handful of new features and improved ODF compatibility.

If you haven’t migrated from MS Office to OpenOffice… what are you waiting for? Hello? It’s 2010!

Monday, 2009-11-23

Hexographer

Filed under: Gaming,Intellectual Property,Software — bblackmoor @ 14:45

Hexographer

I recently encountered a mapping program intended for role-playing games, called Hexographer. It is an easy to use application that makes colorful game maps. There is a “free” version (not free as in speech — free as in beer), and a pay version. The free version is pretty nifty. However, if you use Hexographer, I do not recommend that you rely on the “free” version.

The online (free) version is a Java app. Under ordinary circumstances, you can simply download a Java app like this, and run it on your own computer. Why would you want to do this? Because web sites go down. They go away. (Remember Ar-Kelaan Hexmapper? Their Hexmapper software is available elsewhere, but the Ar-Kelaan site itself is no more.) It is a fact of life. If you want to be able to open your maps a few months from now, it is important that you be able to run the app locally. Unfortunately, the author of Hexographer has written the “free” app so that it can only be run on his server.

Do not rely on the “free” version. The paid license version does not have this problem, and that’s what I would recommend. (I bought it myself.)

However, if Hexographer does not suit your needs, here are some viable alternatives, which may or may not fit your own particular situation:

P.S. The Welsh Piper has a nifty article on using hex maps to facilitate world building. Check it out.

Thursday, 2009-10-08

On-demand webinar: tips and strategies for moving to OpenOffice.org

Filed under: Software — bblackmoor @ 12:03

If you are considering migrating from another office productivity suite to OpenOffice (and if you are not considering that, you should), check out this Sun Microsystems on-demand webinar: tips and strategies for moving to OpenOffice.org.

Saturday, 2009-10-03

Red Hat makes a strong case against software patents

Filed under: Intellectual Property,Software — bblackmoor @ 11:22

Red Hat has filed an amicus curiae brief in a major Supreme Court case. In the brief, Red Hat makes a strong case against software patents, arguing that the legal reasoning that led to software patents was flawed and that the pending Bilski case provides the Supreme Court with an important opportunity to rectify this long-standing problem with the patent system.

[…]

“Far from encouraging innovation, this proliferation of patents has seriously encumbered innovation in the software industry. Software is an abstract technology, and translating software functions into patent language generally results in patents with vague and uncertain boundaries,” wrote Red Hat VP Rob Tiller in the brief. “Under the Federal Circuit’s previous erroneous approach, the risk of going forward with a new software product now always entails an unavoidable risk of a lawsuit that may cost many millions of dollars in legal fees, as well as actual damages, treble damages, and an injunction that terminates a business. Only those with an unusually high tolerance for risk will participate in such a market.”

(from Red Hat tells Supremes: software patents stifle innovation, Ars Technica)

The issuing of patents was an experiment. That experiment has unequivocally failed. Getting rid of software patents is a good start.

Tuesday, 2009-08-11

Firefox tabs opening new windows

Filed under: Software — bblackmoor @ 18:24

I discovered why the tabs in Firefox suddenly started moving themselves to new windows — and I found an addon to disable this annoying new feature.

Tuesday, 2009-08-04

OpenOffice Calc – odd roots of negative numbers

Filed under: Software — bblackmoor @ 17:45

We all learned in grade school that the odd root of a negative number is also negative. The cube root of -8 is -2, for example.

Mathematicians will tell you that -8 has two more roots, but these are not “real” numbers, and unless you are a mathematician, you will never need to know what they are. If you are a real person using real numbers, the answer you want is -2.

Unfortunately, if you try to find the odd root of a negative number in OpenOffice Calc, it returns an error, because of a bug which has been present in OpenOffice since its creation: it uses logarithms to determine the root, which is perfectly fine, but it does not take into account the sign of the base, which is the bug.

This is a ridiculously easy to fix bug, and it mystifies me that the OpenOffice folks have let it stay broken for so long. However, there is a workaround:

SIGN(A1)*(ABS(A1)^(1/3))

What this does is find the cube root of the absolute value, and then applies the sign of the base against the result. Be careful with your parentheses.

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