Another byte of news

This post will give you a look at my wide-ranging interests: from trademark wins by the little guy and copyright education to non-anonymous anonymised data and Google's attempt to frame collaboration in terms of computing strengths.

EFF takes a stab at copyright education
If competition is what we look to for economic markets, why can't it work for education as well? The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created a set of classroom resources (very U.S. centric) in response to "Think First, Copy Later" - the curriculum drawn up by the Copyright Alliance.

As the Ars Technica article notes, the EFF's material contains the inverse emphasis to the Copyright Alliance resources. While not perfect, it does attempt to present a balanced view of copyright, focusing on creativity and the issues that surround the current laws. The main point of the EFF's documents seems to be that while copyright is important and should be respected, there are exceptions and limits in place for a reason: future creativity requires access to previous works.

Think First, Copy Later puts the rights of copyright owners front and centre, brushing over and downplaying public rights. On that site there is an "Educators Guide to Copyright". It begins well, talking about the need for clarification and the fact that all works build on previous works. Then, in The History of Copyright section, it laments the achievements of the printing press for allowing unauthorised copying, ignoring its part in advancing the spread of knowledge.
Anonymity of geo-location data: it's not, if you have other data.
By combining census information and commuting patterns, two researchers at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) managed to identify individuals. It's good that these data sets are available for research, but like the Netflix data, it's disconcerting that they can be put back together. The data is still needed, though. How can we get the datasets needed for research, yet still maintain some level of privacy?
Google Wave - collaboration using new technologies
This is one to watch: it's looking to be a way to easily create widgets, and enable them to talk between websites. It also has a playback feature, although I'm not sure how that will work.
KFC not the only "Family Feast"
Apparently KFC thought that a trademark on "Family Feast" meant they are the only ones who can use it. So, here we go: trademarks are for the protection of the consumer, not the company. They identify a company, and reassure a customer that they are dealing with who they think they are. The Titanic Pizza Co in Carnoustie, Scotland received a letter from KFC, telling them to stop using "Family Feast" on their menu. The shop decided not to give in, telling KFC "we refuse to be bullied by a global conglomerate such as yourselves". And KFC said they wouldn't pursue it any further. As a pleasant side-effect, the shop has received world-wide news attention.


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Here's what they had to say about it all (on May 21, 2009):