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Tech at night: Upcoming battle in copyright, Sad defeats in patent and taxation

Tech at Night

I remember when the Digital Millennium Copyright Act passed. It created a boatload of new rules and restrictions on Americans, in the name of tightening copyright online. One of the key provisions of the DMCA is the “safe harbor” rule, which effectively turns ISPs into agents of copyright, by making them honor so-called DMCA takedown notices in exchange for not being held responsible for what’s put by their customers on their public servers.

We were supposed to accept harsh limitations on basic practices like reverse engineering, in order to get what we were told were strong and effective copyright protections. So when I see new copyright criminalization proposed, I have to ask: Did the DMCA fail? Should we repeal it then? Or are we just throwing a bone to the RIAA and MPAA who don’t want to have to bother enforcing their own rights anymore, and get a subsidy from the DoJ to enforce it for them? Come on.

Sure, Some are saying it’s not as bad as it sounded, but if one policy failed, we can’t just keep adding new ones. Repeal and replace, don’t just create an ever-greater web of problems. Or better: just tweak the DMCA instead of adding whole new criminal provisions! Let’s not grow government more than we have to just because big business asks for it. I’m not anti-business, but I’m always wary when big business and big government work together.

So, two bits of bad news hit us lately. The House passed the abominable America Invents Act, which intentionally destroys the age-old principle that he who invents something first, gets the patent to that invention. Instead, the rule is now that he who has enough lawyers on staff to file first, gets the patent. The little guy can now say goodbye to any hope of competing with the big boys with patents, because the President has said he’ll sign the bill. Patents are now to be a tool for cross-licensed cartels. It’s a real shame. What’s the point in even having them anymore?

Second, California passed its own Amazon Tax. As I mentioned last week, I along with every other Amazon Associate in the state have lost that revenue stream. Overnight, an entire business model was killed in California, a move that will surely cost jobs and tax revenue. And for what? Nothing. Amazon knows it doesn’t have to pay that unconstitutional tax, and it won’t. How pointless this tax is.

And those were the big stories that came to my attention over the holiday weekend. Here are some other notes and interesting links:

It is folly to try to regulate or legislate online privacy when the real problem is people don’t protect themselves, as in the case of Fitbit users whose sexual habits are now plastered across the internet, thanks to their own settings choice.

If China gets a chance to buy a piece of Facebook, I would advise closing any accounts there, myself.

And on the flipside, Microsoft is going to work in China to provide search results in English. What Communist-dictated censorship they implement remains to be seen.

As an aside, wouldn’t it be truly sad if PROTECT IP passes, and America has state-mandated ISP censorship just like China?

An Afghanistan veteran spent $30,000 to develop an iPhone app to help the troops out in the field track enemy locations. For $6 you can buy Tactical NAV to help him recover his costs, plus get the identical functionality he designed for combat troops. “COMBAT TESTED. MILITARY GRADE. APP STORE APPROVED.”

Apple already beat Samsung to the point that Samsung dropped its countersuit to Apple’s suit over Samsung copying the iPhone and iPad designs. Now Apple’s going for the throat and trying to block Samsung imports. Ouch.

RedState diarist Bob Weeks has a nice post on regulation and who it really helps: large, established businesses that fear competition.

The AT&T/T-Mobile deal has been approved… in Arizona. Why states get so nosy these days when it comes to interstate commerce, I have no idea.

The WHO, aka the UN of medicine, says mobile phones cause cancer. Don’t necessarily believe it.

In the House, hearings continue on wireless spectrum, especially government use of same. Why it’s taking so long confounds me at first, then I imagine trying to explain to a politician just what spectrum is. That’s going to take time!

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