Friday, April 24, 2009

Obama will appoint Copyright Czar - Stakeholders make their arguments

It's been reported widely that Obama is taking a more pro-industry stance than Bush did - which is alarming some groups.

A recent Cnet article states that: "Under a law approved by the U.S. Congress last October, Obama is required to appoint someone to coordinate the administration's IP enforcement efforts and prepare annual reports."

Here is a letter supporting a pro-copyright enforement czar:

Here is a letter supporting a more balanced approach: "In selecting these officials, we ask you to consider that individuals who support overly broad IP protection might favor established distribution models at the expense of technological innovators, creative artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and an increasingly participatory public."

MSU scholars to try to reform education in Pakistan

From MSU today:
"A team of education experts from Michigan State University will play a key role in a $75 million, U.S.-funded effort to improve basic education in Pakistan by improving teachers’ training and skills over the next five years."

I recently submitted a journal article for review on the topic of the Axact v. SNR case. That case involves an international dispute between Pakistani-based Axact, and New Jersey-based SNR. Each company alleges the other sells student term papers, each company vehemently denies this. The evidence is very compelling against Axact - and the New Jersey District Court awarded over $300,000.00 in a default judgment against Axact and in favor of SNR. The cultural differences though between Pakistan and the US with respect to education, is worth further exploration (in the context of selling student papers).

The article states:
“It’s unfortunate, but in Pakistan teaching is one of the least-respected professions,” Mabokela said. “And so the level of training and the quality of students that enter the profession is considered to be on the lower end of the spectrum.”

And the article further states:

"Mabokela will lead two small teams of scholars and administrative staffers – one based at MSU and one in Islamabad, Pakistan. The first task is collecting data and determining the needs to create the curriculum for secondary-level teachers. Eventually Mabokela plans to tap College of Education faculty members in math, science and other subjects to help shape the curriculum. Mabokela and her team also will conduct research stemming from the initiative."

“It is challenging in that we are working in an environment that socially and culturally is not particularly hospitable to U.S. foreign policy,” Mabokela said. “But I think people, without being hysterical, are being very prudent in making sure the security details are being attended to.”

"Mabokela said Pakistan’s poor teacher training is reflected in the country’s literacy rates: Only 46 percent of the population is literate, while only 26 percent of females are literate, according to Pakistan’s Ministry of Education."

This will be a big job for the MSU scholars. The differences between these two countries go very deep, as evidenced in the Axact v. SNR case.

Internet2 argues that universities should give shape to national broadband strategy, and they want $$ to do it

In an interesting turn of events, higher ed is making a play for some of the 4.7$ billion that will be paid out by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). This agency is under the Commerce Department, and the money is from a new grant program.

According to today's Chronicle of Higher Ed, the purpose of these grant funds are to provide broadband to all communities in the US. (I live in a rural area where there is no broadband available - so this idea is appealing, but I've heard it discussed for several years now with no apparent progress).

[begin quote] "Several higher-education information-technology groups are now working to influence the national broadband strategy through private conversations with agency officials and a white paper, "Unleashing Waves of Innovation: Transformative Broadband for America's Future," filed with the NTIA.

One of those groups is Internet2, a high-speed networking consortium with more than 200 universities as members. Its vice president for external relations, Gary R. Bachula, reminded The Chronicle this week that universities helped give birth to the Internet and were instrumental in its development. For those and other reasons, he said, "the right way to construct a national broadband strategy is to have higher ed lead it." [end quote]

I am very interested in how higher ed gets its ideas in the public agenda, and how higher ed finds ways to shape law and policy. Therefore, this story is interesting and one to follow.

I am going to DC . . .

Quote: "Obama Administration Lock(e)s And Loads Against Movie Piracy"

From the Intellectual Property Watch:By Liza Porteus Viana for Intellectual Property Watch @ 12:41 am

[being quote]WASHINGTON, DC - The Obama administration will fight for the movie industry and work to aggressively enforce its intellectual property protections both at home and abroad, United States Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said here Tuesday.

Locke offered almost unabashed support for the industry, which, according to a report released Tuesday [pdf] by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), created 2.5 million American jobs in 2007, paid an average production worker US$74,700 a year in salary, paid out $41.1 billion in salaries to American workers, paid $13 billion in income and sales tax and was responsible for $13.6 billion in trade surplus.[end quote]

I am really concerned about the one-sidedness of Locke's perspective. Where are the voices of the NCTE lobbyists? Do they even know what is at stake here?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Obama Puts Science on the Agenda

"Today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation. It’s time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America’s place as the world leader in science and technology." - President Barack Obama

On the topic of integrity in science, the executive office is taking comments until May 13, 2009.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Antidumping Activity

Antidumping, not what you think.

What do circular welded carbon steel pipes and tube from Taiwan, hot-rolled carbon steel flat products from India, and wooden bedroom furniture from China all have in common? They were this week subject to antidumping evaluation by the US Department of Commerce, along with Vietnam frozen fish fillets (catfish) and honey from Argentina.

According to wikipedia, "dumping" can refer to any kind of predatory pricing. "However, the word is now generally used only in the context of international trade law, where dumping is defined as the act of a manufacturer in one country exporting a product to another country at a price which is either below the price it charges in its home market or is below its costs of production. The term has a negative connotation, but advocates of free markets see "dumping" as beneficial for consumers and believe that protectionism to prevent it would have net negative consequences. Advocates for workers and laborers however, believe that safeguarding businesses against predatory practices, such as dumping, help alleviate some of the harsher consequences of free trade between economies at different stages of development (see protectionism)."

Wikipedia goes on to state:

"A standard technical definition of dumping is the act of charging a lower price for a good in a foreign market than one charges for the same good in a domestic market. This is often referred to as selling at less than 'fair value.' Under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement, dumping is condemned (but is not prohibited) if it causes or threatens to cause material injury to a domestic industry in the importing country."

Anyway, in the federal register, which I read somewhere is like the newspaper for the US government, they have been listing the results of several administrative reviews this week on the items aforementioned. Basically it appears that the purpose of these adminstrative evaluations is to determine tariff amounts, or assessments on producers of the iterms that could be "dumped" into the US economy.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Smart People Really Do Think Faster: I Don't Think So!

Well this is an interesting story that just aired on NPR. It contains some beautiful visualizations of the brain. But, I have to say that my initial reaction is that speed alone is not what makes people smart, although I'm sure smart people do think faster.

Think about it. If you have just the tiniest bit of craziness in your brain, and you think faster, that has to exponentially increase your chances of being totally crazy. It cannot be speed that makes one intelligent, because speed would just create a mass of chaos in your head.

Instead, it has to be the right kind of speed with the right kind of information. There has to be the ability to sort information, slow some of it down, and stop some of it completely.

So now I'm wondering if, like, bi-polar individuals and/or schizophrenics are people whose brains have great speed without the ability to slow or stop or erase the information we need to in order to not have hallucinations and/or paranoia. I've read lots of stuff that says artistic and/or creative people have been known to also be a little bit crazy. (I mean crazy in a loving way, not a derogatory way).

Probably, the creative crazies are just really smart people, with fast brain speeds, who don't enjoin certain kinds of information from traveling throughout their heads.

It reminds me a lot of the Internet, because the Internet lets good stuff proliferate, but it also lets crazy, bad, insane, wrong, and illegal stuff proliferate too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

JK Rowling leads fight against free books site Scribd

From, "The publishers of bestselling authors JK Rowling, Aravind Adiga and Ken Follett have been shocked by the news that their authors' latest books are available to read for free on a US website. Internet users can not only read free copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, The White Tiger and World Without End at, but also download the text onto their computers to edit as they see fit."