May was pretty busy, my twin daughters graduated from college. They were both accepted to graduate school so now we are busy getting prepared for that. From the perspective of bringing some sanity back to copyright law and patent law, there have been some positive developments.
TechDirt reported on May 8, 2009 that: "Court Rejects Online Terms Of Service That Reserve The Right To Change At Any Time". The underlying article from JD Supra: "District Court in Texas Rejects Online Terms of Service as Illusory and Unenforceable". In looking these articles up, I also ran across this old TechDirt article: "Court Pushes Back A Bit On Unilateral EULA Changes". The underlying court decision can be read here.
Against Monopoly also picked up on this story: "Canada rules against business method patents". Michael Geist has this write-up: "Canadian Patent Appeal Board Rules Against Business Method Patents".
In reading these posts I also thought of Ed Foster who died in 2008 and wrote the Gripe Line column for Infoworld. Christina Tynan-Wood has since taken over the column. For good or bad, the theme of the Gripe Line has returned to its original concept of working to resolve consumer complaints with computer vendors. With Ed (the column over-time) increasingly focused on abusive corporate practices, such as the ever changing EULA which has made contract law a farce. His exposure of abusive corporate practices and abusive legislation will be missed by those seeking to put sanity back into copyright law.
The Economist in May ran an online "debate" titled "Copyright and Wrongs". The premise of the debate was whether copyright law was beneficial to society or detrimental to society. A lot of good points were made. But what was unfortunate about this so-called debate is that it seemed to be between two people who support copyright and were only arguing the point of how onerous copyright law should be! Hardly a real debate.
A breath of fresh air in this debate were the comments by Ms. Jessica Litman. Ms. Litman wrote "In the past 30 years, technology has made printing presses, paper, ink, warehouses, trucks and shelf space optional. Mass dissemination need be expensive no longer. Authors can communicate directly with huge audiences. ... Technology, thus, offers an opportunity to rebalance copyright law to ensure that a larger share of the copyright bargain can be enjoyed by creators and by readers, listeners and viewers." Ms Litman goes on to say that: "Instead, we have seen the conventional distributors of 20th-century works stampeding each other into a copyright panic, and running to lawmakers with demands for greater control over both distribution and consumption. Lawmakers, for their part, have been happy to oblige them, since copyright-affected industries have a record of generosity to politicians."
As a final casual observation, the Washington Post reports: "Trump to Miss California: You're Fired". I have not followed this story that closely, but it seems that Ms. Carrie Prejean has become the victim of a character assassination whisper campaign because she actual said something she meant. What is amusing with this, in a perverse way, is that I came home and my wife was watching a show where a contestant was making her pitch before a panel of judges. The contestant said, in a typical politically correct fashion, that if she won, that she would give her money to the UN. Unexpectedly one of the judges asked her: "When was the last time you did community service?" Stunned silence followed. The look on the contestant's face said it all, concerning her hypocrisy. Its unfortunate that Ms. Prejean is paying a price she should not be paying.