Posted on October 30, 2008 in IP by Brian RoweComments Off

Today I spoke at Seattle Central Community College to a Media Ethics class regarding Creative Commons and the Free Culture movement.  This was a refreshing experience the students were very engaged in the discussion.  This was one of the more receptive groups I have spoken to in Seattle, which is usually very frosty towards CC and FC in general. The realization that everyone is a creators bring to a discussion of FC an important element of how easy it is to create content.  The previous coach potato generation does not understand how easy it is to create a work, but this younger generation sees the world as an active canvas for creations.

Here are the slides from the talk:

At the end of the class we started to broach the topic of Girl Talk and fair use.  There were strong feelings on both sides due to the finical gain from selling CD’s and the impossibility of clearing all rights.  GT has exposed a real tension in the law that is breaking traditional notions of control and creativity.

Posted on October 30, 2008 in Bilski, IP, patents by Brian RoweComments Off

A very important case was decided today Bilski.  Read the desision here.

Therefore, we also conclude that the “useful, concrete and
tangible result” inquiry is inadequate and reaffirm that the machine-or-transformation
test outlined by the Supreme Court is the proper test to apply.19

Foot note :
19 As a result, those portions of our opinions in State Street and AT&T
relying solely on a “useful, concrete and tangible result” analysis should no longer be
relied on.

I soo want to skip my afternoon classes and read the 130 pages… hmmm more to come later.

Past articles:

ACLU, Patent Lawyers of Washington and End Software patents on Bilski before the decision.

Posted on October 26, 2008 in Fair Use, Free Culture by Brian RoweComments Off

Here is my second column on SFFC for the Seattle Univeristy Law Prolific Reporter:

If you have tried to set up a movie viewing at [Seattle University Law] for a student organization lately you have probably run into the new copyright compliance policy.  Before showing a move at the school outside of a structured class you must gain copyright clearance from the copyright owner.  The reason the school is doing this is fear of lawsuit, copyright comes with stiff statutory damages, an unauthorized public viewing of a copyrighted could come with penalties up to $150,000. What has been the effect of this policy; most student organizations have stopped showing films due the the transactional cost of having to clear rights.  The time need to clear rights can take hour or days, time that is better spent studying for evidence or legal writing.

Is this policy good for student orgs? No, it makes it tougher for orgs to share information or rally students around a cause.  Is this good for film makers?  No less students see their work and less people will hear their message. Is this good for the rights holder? No, rights holders are not likely make any money off student org that have an annual budget of $200. Simply put the blanket policy is not good for anyone.

I am not one to complain, unless I am willing to change things.  The school should consider implementing a fair use policy related to student orgs use of films.  Fair use is the part of the copyright act that protects users from infringement claims. Another way to look at fair use is the codification of the first amendment in the copyright act. The use of a film for educational, noncommercial purposes in a way that promotes a public interest cause is very likely considered fair use. Here is a first draft of a suggested policy:

Student orgs may show films as long as they meet the following criteria:
1.  The film showing must be noncommercial in nature: no charging admission, taking donations or exchanging money in any way.
2.  The film showing must be for an educational purposes that is directly related the the student orgs mission.
3.  The film showing must not take place if the film are currently being shown in a commercial venue within 20 miles of Seattle.
4.  The film showing should be accompanied by other educational activities, such as a discussion of the films subject mater and how it relates the the student orgs mission.

If you have interest in learning more about how copyright creates problems Students for Free Culture’s showing of:

GOOD COPY BAD COPY - a documentary about the current state of copyright and culture.
The documentary features interviews with many people with various perspectives on copyright, including copyright lawyers, producers, artists and even the MPAA.  The point of the documentary is the thesis that “creativity itself is on the line” and that a balance needs to be struck, or that there is a conflict, between protecting the right of those who own intellectual property and the rights of future generations to create. The showing is Tuesday October 28th at 7:30pm in Room: C7.

PS: I did not have clear rights on Good Copy Bad Copy the film was released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license which encourages public use.  To read more about fair use and creative commons follow my blog at and join Student for Free Culture.  If we do not use our rights they are lost.

Attribution: The description of the documentary was remixed from Wikipedia and the image was taken from the intro screen of the film.

Posted on October 21, 2008 in IP by Brian RoweView Comments

Microsoft has just launched a new Anti-Piracy Day Campaign (quote from

Meanwhile, in the US, Microsoft has announced that it’s taking legal action against 20 software resellers in nine states, which it says ‘allegedly sold pirated copies of Microsoft Windows XP Professional and multiple versions of Office.’ Microsoft’s attorney, Sharon Cates, explained that ‘it is important to take the economic advantage out of pirating and counterfeiting in order to protect partners and customers.’ She also added that ‘Microsoft will continue to work to protect the channel, through resources and initiatives, from businesses that operate dishonestly.’

Microsoft says that ‘the collective impact of piracy in the U.S. is serious,’ and cites the findings of the Fifth Annual BSA/IDC Global Software Piracy Study, claiming that ‘software piracy and counterfeiting cost the U.S. economy more than $8 billion US in 2007 — roughly the equivalent of paying for the entire National School Lunch Program.’

They even have a great video with Rob Mckenna the Attoney General for Washington State is acting as a sock puppet for MS propaganda by making weak claims based on unvetted statistics. (the video is on the bottom of the article)  I know Washington loves MS, but can we please stop shilling for outdated business models through fear mongering and start supporting alternatives for the future of this state. I expect MS lawyers to shill but not our AG.

Arcticstoat on slashdot makes a good point it is Microsoft’s old products that are killing their new products:

Interestingly enough, unauthorized copies of Vista might not be harming the company all that much: reader twitter was among several to contribute links to a related story at Computer World which highlights Microsoft attorney Bonnie MacNaughton’s acknowledgement that pirates prefer Windows XP over Vista and Office 2003 over 2007.

Maybe the issue is the quality of the new products and the unavailability of the old products that is causing the problem.

Michael Masnick also has a great point on how this day of propaganda is inconsistent with Microsoft’s own claims about piracy:

Microsoft announce that today it’s celebrating “antipiracy day”,… Odd, then, that this would be the same company that in the past has admitted that it greatly benefits from piracy of its own products, in establishing worldwide standards and in competing against open source alternatives. The company, apparently, is a bit conflicted.

Read More at: Microsoft announces global anti piracy day


Posted on October 21, 2008 in FC, SU Law by Brian RoweComments Off

This is the beginning of a series of short articles I am writing for the Seattle Univeristy Law Prolific Reporter (PR). The publication is a weekly news paper for the law school, it is only available offline at this point.

In late fall of last year Seattle University School of Law became one of the few law schools in the nation to have a Students for Free Culture (SFFC) chapter. At the time, only Harvard Law School and George Mason Law School had law students involved in the movement.  All other chapters were undergrad chapters.  Since starting the SFFC chapter, the board members have noticed that there is some opposition to and confusion about SFFC.  I joined Seattle University because of the focus on public interest and social justice. During my first year of law school, the public interest paradigm did not appear to extend to extra circular activities focused on intellectual property.  However, I was able to connect with some amazing faculty including Margaret Chon and the visiting professor Elizabeth Townsend-Gard (whose copyright class I sat in on as a 1L).  These next few articles are designed to explain what SFFC is and why we need to care about public interest in the realm of copyright, patents and technology.

The second national Free Culture conference was held on October 11th and 12th at Berkley, it was attend by 270 students from through the US and abroad.  The focus for the conference was to set a national agenda had identified four areas of focus for the organization.  Before the conference students engaged in a nation discussion online and identified 4 areas of interest to SFFC.  They are best summarized by my summer roommate and fellow intern at Creative Commons, Tim Hwang: 1) Create a preemptive ultimatum around creative works to defend fair use 2) Connect with the development community (including access to essential medicine) 3) Encourage open access 4) Promote data portability.  By the end of the first day we had heard speakers on each of these main topics and were ready to take action.

The second day of the confernce was an un-conference (like barcamps) where the participants created there own panels.  One full track was dedicated to creating a campaign where students could take action. Students chose to focus on open access due to the broad reach and the focus on public interest generally.  This campaign gives student the opportunity to engage universities on topics ranging from how we use patents to access to information and knowledge.  SFFC believes that education and knowledge should be available to everyone regardless of social or economic position, this campaign is focused on opening up access to a broader audience.  The day ended with a written declaration of our values around open access and a commitment to run a 1 year campaign bring these issues up at all universities. Here is the text of the declaration:

The Wheeler Declaration

An open university is one in which

  1. The research the university produces is open access.
  2. The course materials are open educational resources.
  3. The university embraces free software and open standards.
  4. If the university holds patents, it readily licenses them for free software, essential medicines, and the public good.
  5. The university network reflects the open nature of the Internet.

Note: “university” includes all parts of the community: students, faculty, and administration.

This campaign with be used to grade and rank universities based on the above criteria.  After universities are graded, SFFC will develop action plans for dialogue with the universities to improve their scores and help move the universities to a more open model of education.
Final note: I am an IP geek. If you ever see me on campus in my black hat and kilt feel free to approach me and talk talk about IP issues I am always willing to engage in banter.  I also write daily at and

Brian Rowe

PS: I will be trying to get the PR to print online also.

Posted on October 21, 2008 in IP by Brian RoweComments Off

I just set up my new account.  All levels of donation for the Creative Commons fundraising campaign come with a CCNetwork account.  This account provides 3 things:

  • A profile page at to tell your story, with a link back to your personal site
  • An Open ID account with a great privacy policy
  • A central place to keep track for your CC works a registry of types

These are some nice perks for a fundraiser check it out and join the community:

Posted on October 15, 2008 in CC by Brian RoweComments Off

CC has just launched its annual giving campaign.  This year’s campaign has two major components. First a call for videos and second a donation drive. The call for videos is truly within the nature of participatory culture:

Tell us why you support CC in a short video, up to 90 seconds. Be creative!
Creative Commons is not just about the tools we create — the heart and soul of what we do lies in the incredible work that you, our community, are able to inspire and produce with the help of those tools.

Learn more about the call for videos.

On the donation side of things CC is now offering a hosted open ID account for any of the network donation level, which start as low as $25 for students. The open ID account comes with a good Privacy Policy which includes a human readable summary of the main points:

Creative Commons has established a Data Usage Policy as part of its Privacy Policy that covers how CC uses information about persons who use our Websites and when they log into a website using a Creative Commons Open ID. Among other things:

  • No Linking: CC does not link information from our OpenID server logs to the personal information you submitted to us to establish an OpenID (or otherwise).
  • No Sharing, Selling or Third Party Analytics: Except in the unique situations listed in the CC Network Privacy Policy, Creative Commons does not voluntarily provide information about your OpenID usage to third parties. In addition, we will never use a third party analytics provider to collect or analyze any information through our operation as an OpenID service provider.
  • No Access: Just as any OpenID provider could, CC is able to technically access your website account tied to our services and login on behalf of its OpenID users. Creative Commons will never do so.
  • No Retention: Creative Commons discards non personal information from our OpenID server logs once we have used the information to improve our websites and OpenID services, and for system administration purposes (such as debugging).
  • Notice: CC will use reasonable means to notify you if we are ever required to provide a third party with your non personal information, unless prohibited by law.

This is just a summary of our Data Usage Policy. You should read our entire CC Network Privacy Policy, including the Data Usage Policy that it includes, before using Creative Commons as your OpenID service provider.

To give to the commons make a video or join the network:
Support CC - 2007

Posted on October 14, 2008 in open access by Brian RoweComments Off
Open Access Day

October 14, 2008 is the world’s first Open Access Day.  The founding partners are SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), Students for FreeCulture, and the Public Library of Science.  Open Access Day will help to broaden awareness and understanding of Open Access, including recent mandates and emerging policies, within the international higher education community and the general public.

SPARC has released 6 videos on why Open Access matters:

* Barbara Stebbins, science teacher at Black Pine Circle School in Berkeley
* Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, London, U.K.
* Sharon Terry, CEO and President of the Genetic Alliance, Washington, DC
* Ida Sim, Associate Professor and a practicing physician at the University of California, San Francisco
* Diane Graves, University Librarian for Trinity University, San Antonio
* Andre Brown, PhD student, University of Pennsylvania

The videos are available for the public to view, download, and repurpose under a CC-BY license at

Posted on October 14, 2008 in A2K, Social Justic by Brian RoweView Comments

Live blogging from the first social justice week brown bags. Professor Margaret Chon is giving an introduction to A2K (Access to Knowledge) and the relationship of Intellectual property and social justice. We had about 10 students attend the event. After a short presentation about the role of standard there was a Q&A with discussion. Here are my notes:

What disciplines affect access to knowledge?

Access to KnowledgeStandards

Innovation Systems – Open Source

Digital education – CC Licenses

Climate change – Clean development mechanisms (CDM)

Public health – Food safety standards

Human rights – Social performance standards

Normative Pluralism

On one end is Regulatory Entrepreneurs and on the other side is regulatory Oligopolists. Another way to view this scale is soft law or recommendations on one end and hard laws on the other end. Soft laws examples include seals of approval or fair trade; while hard law includes TRIPS the DMCA each with enforceability.


Who are the stake holders and are they involved in the process?
Who watches the standard setting orgs?
How expensive is it to get involved in setting standards?
Can companies set fair standards over themselves?
Is there transparency in the system?
Too many standard can cause consumer confusion.

Where to go next

Gain awareness about other movements and learn from them.
Create soft law norm and push
A2K can be A2J

Q: Do soft law solutions prevent hard law solutions?
Yes and they can cause consumer confusion.
Light labeling
Green Washing
Private regulation also

Q: Are standards new? (in the social justice realm)
A: yes ISO really took off in the 80′s then the ISO 9000 standards came about in the 90′s. This has been followed by large scale standard proliferation.

Q: How does the economic crisis effect soft standards?
A: The crisis is affecting some companies like Whole Foods where you pay a premium for organic. We hope the standards are her to stay but do not know. It is a good question and we do not know. Often the fair trade prices are not higher.

Direct trade – eliminating the middle man
Counter culture direct trade – 25% above market for fair trade products

Q: How do we make the standards more transparent?
A: add human readable code and more disclosure

Q: What beyond transparency is needed?
A: How many details do we want to make available.

This was a great event thanks to the whole social justice coalition for making this happen! If you have a chance I strongly recommend attending one of the professor brown bags this week.