This site is devoted to copyright and issues of 'intellectual property,' particularly the issue's analytical aspects. It also concerns itself with the gap between public perception and the true facts, and with the significant lag time between the coverage on more technical sites and the mainstream press. For site feed, see: To see the list of sites monitored to create this site, see:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Content will be free? Gives new context to the recent "free" pricing experiments by bands (which are in some ways selfish because long-term they're likely not sustainable but in the short term are incredibly clever since they've only ever kept a few cents on the dollar of CD sales anyway).


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tim Wu is great, but the really interesting part of this article isn't the article itself, it's the parallels to other fields he talks about in the series.

Magic tricks as "IP."


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

VA to no longer release cancer data. Not exactly a typical topic for here, but it does relate to openness. Epidemiologsts are notorious for hoarding data. Do one study, sit on the data, and release a trickle of papers. Your career is made after that without much work. The incredibly important Framingham study is just being opened up, which is a good step. Death data by county is still being hoarded, though, and has been closed off since 2001. The excuse is always "privacy," but magically, if you work with one of their researchers you can always manage to find a way.

Increasingly, I think the Open Access fight is being won, but the open data and open code fights are not even on the radar. There are examples to the contrary, but they are few and far between, at least in the basic sciences and public health.

Part of the problem is that privacy claims still have a veneer of legitimacy. Mind you, I think they're incredibly important, but they're becoming a catch-all excuse for hoarding. There need to be standards--both technical and behavioral--to ensure privacy. Maybe someone could even come up with a super-secure box, a server filled with hard drives that would be hardened against attack and could be used to store secure data, with all analyses requiring non-anonymized data being run before they leave the box. Want to do research on our data? Buy an ISOxxxx-compliant box and make sure the data never leaves it in non-anonymized form.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

There's been lots of talk of Health 2.0, but this is the first thing I've seen that might actually do something useful with the gobs of data that's collected. Even talk of using national health record data (e.g. having the anonymized charts of every patient nationwide vs. currently only having administrative data from insurance companies) for serious research has been scarce. The one caveat with this is that if the data comes from a biased sample or if they are confounded in the bajillions of ways epidemiologists have discovered things go wrong, it could easily be worse than giving no patients any information, as the conclusions patients come to would be false. Unfortunately, numbers tend to give a veneer of trustworthiness to almost any evidence.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Trackback for photos?

The CC Attribution license is brilliant, but I wonder how much more so it would be were there metadata embedded in it with the attribution information, or a system like Trackback that would notify the creator when it was used. Think how much more motivating the chance of being published somewhere important would be were there a non-zero chance of actually knowing about it when it happened.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I knew I liked Joel. Two more examples more germane to my world:
1) Bike parking. Want to pay for monthly secured parking in Harvard square? No problem. Want to pay to park your bike in the same garage below your building? Sorry, the rack's for residents only. Currently battling with this work after a year of happily parking my daily commuter indoors.
2) Pharmaceutical markets. Dr. Waldfogel mentions drugs as in the much-ballyhooed genomics revolution, but that's years off and going to be incredibly costly given current drug development costs. What we do know about drugs is that they are targeted towards the problems of the developed world, despite the vast majority of the world's disease burden residing elsewhere. We pour hundreds of millions into Anthrax, but virtually nothing into developing a Malaria vaccine.

Nothing much to say about the XO/OLPC, except that I held one before I left for Ghana and found it cute and well-designed. Given that they're building an infrastructure around it, I think they'll do just fine on their own merits.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Radiohead != Metallica