Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.


Zo(te)ro annoys Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters, maker of the EndNote bibliographic software, is suing George Mason University and the State of Virginia, see Courthouse News (via DigitalKoans). The issue is Zotero, an open source bibliographic tool that appears to rapidly increase its market share, as it is much lighter, platform independent, browser plugable and free. Of course, this is not the official reason, Thomson Reuters rather argues that Zotero developers reversed engineered EndNote to allow Zotero to import EndNote files.

This is a very serious issue for Thomson Reuters. Indeed, its clientele is essentially locked in, as researchers have built their bibliographic databases over the years and cannot export them. With Zotero this is suddenly possible, and they can drop EndNote for another product, including the free Zotero. Thomson Reuters must be especially annoyed as its product has become less and less practical, from what I hear, and very bloated. But customers had no choice but buy new versions. Reminds me of Microsoft products, on which EndNote relies heavily.


The good news in this is that open source software is not so easy to suppress. Even if they win, there will be many copies around, researchers can rescue their bibliographies into an open format, and software that uses the open format will be unproblematic as long as it doesn't do the conversion.
This has been a long standing irritant with me. Companies, while they have a right to have a proprietary product, do not have a right to stop someone from accessing/utilizing the data.

Do Cars Get An Anti-Circumvention Exemption?

StorageTek's Maintenance Code

Court Slaps Down Lexmark For DMCA Misuse

Mike Masnick wrote,in regards to Lexmark => "The court clearly understood the larger issues: "If we were to adopt Lexmark's reading of the statute, manufacturers could potentially create monopolies for replacement parts simply by using similar, but more creative, lock-out codes. Automobile manufacturers, for example, could control the entire market of replacement parts for their vehicles by including lock-out chips. Congress did not intend to allow the DMCA to be used offensively in this manner, but rather only sought to reach those who circumvented protective measures "for the purpose" of pirating works protected by the copyright statute.""

Not quite on-topic, but still an abuse of technology.

Man files antitrust lawsuit over printer ink

The suit by Thomson Reuters appears absurd, without knowing additional information. Even if their software is patented, data is data, 1's and 0's, and a program built to access 1's and 0's would seem to me to find difficulty in infringing software.

As I have pointed out repeatedly, one option for companies to protect their business is to be more clever about how they encode data and the secrets they keep. However, reverse engineering, as long as it does not violate a valid patent, is perfectly legal and, in fact, would be considered a desirable outcome by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

I believe strongly in intellectual property, but not in the repeated abuse of intellectual property laws by individuals and corporations.

Aha! Lonnie, you've taken the first step, which is admitting that there is a problem.

Now all you need to realize is that all so-called "intellectual property laws" are abusive by their very nature, and that artificially forcing the price of a 3 cent CD full of zero-cent 1s and 0s to $15 is abusive, and Bob's your uncle.

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Don't be ridiculous. Reverse engineering for interoperability is explicitly (as in, written in the law somewhere) fair use.

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