Archive for May, 2009

Policy Docs on Access to Public Sector Info etc

Policy Docs on Access to Public Sector Info etc

Over the years I’ve put together a number of submissions on topics related to innovation and access to public sector information, some for OSIA.  I thought it would be  a good idea to stop for a moment and collect them into one place.  This is that place (at least for the moment).  Please email me if you would like to engage me to help you put your own policies together.

PSI Inquiries:

OSIA Submission to DBCDE

OSIA Submission to Victorian Inquiry into PSI

Other Innovation related inquiries:

OSIA submission to National Innovation review

OSIA Submission to Gershon review

Other, copyright related:

Why non-commercial licences are bad (ie not optimal)

My post on ACTA and its precursor, the Australia-US FTA

Obvious copyright counter-arguments

My copyright tag

My policy tag

Open Access related

Supercharging innovation paper

FSF-Cisco announce settlement

FSF-Cisco announce settlement

As I guessed earlier, there was a settlement in the offing between Cisco and the FSF and now one has been announced.  Very similar terms to what we’ve been seeing in other settlements.

Michael DeHaan on Open Source Pitfalls

Michael DeHaan has written an interesting post on open source pitfalls.  Worth a look.

More Patent Foolery

CNet reports an award of $200 million against Microsoft for patent infringement in relation to “custom XML tagging features of Word 2003 and Word 2007”. Exactly what that is I’m not sure.

ASEAN Free Software Wishlist

ASEAN Free Software Wishlist

Brendan Scott May MMIX

If someone was throwing money around to support the Free, Libre and Open Source Software community in the Australia and South East Asian Nations area (and I happened to be in the line of fire) I would probably use it to set up an ASEAN FLOSS Strategic Policy Centre  (AFSPC doesn’t sound like the best acronym in the world, so I’d probably have to first hire a consultant to come up with a better name).

The functions of AFSPC would include:

  • providing FLOSS related compliance assistance for local businesses;
  • providing FLOSS related education services for local businesses;
  • engaging in strategic thinking relating to FLOSS – had such an organisation been set up three years ago it would have had an excellent climate provided by the GFC for marketing the advantages of FLOSS;
  • responding to government inquiries on FLOSS related topics;
  • formulating FLOSS related policy best practice recommendations;
  • creating and maintaining a FLOSS scorecard;
  • establishing alliances and communities of interest with stakeholders having similar objectives;
  • the provision of a FLOSS liaison officer to assist government on an ongoing basis in relation to FLOSS;
  • provide governance assistance to free software projects – how to establish one, how to run one, how to navigate transitions in structure as more people get involved in a project;
  • educating law makers on free software related policies.

Other initiatives which could be established are:

  • a FLOSS clearing house funded by a levy on government IT procurement.  Traditionally, Government is happy to pay exorbitant marketing costs for closed source (albeit hidden in licence fees) while discriminating against providing similar funding for FLOSS marketing.   The clearing house would partially redress this government discrimination by marketing FLOSS solutions to government.  See sections 9.4ff here;
  • a FLOSS demonstration centre, with a shopfront (this has been done in Western Australia);
  • creating FLOSS related solutions for SMEs – eg standard server implementation that resellers could preload/sell
  • supporting networking between FLOSS related businesses and FLOSS using customers (already being done by OSIA).
  • particularly important for Australia is to pursue removal of  the immunity enjoyed by closed source software from anti-competitive practices under Part IV of the Trade Practices Act.

But, so far as I am aware no one actually is throwing money around.  Which is disappointing, given that the Australian government donates $100 million a year to the copyright lobby and even more to the closed source lobby.

Astoundingly Stupid Harris Technology Catalogue

Astoundingly Stupid Harris Technology Catalogue

I wanted to have a look at prices for flash drives at the moment, so I had a look at the Harris Technology website.  In big letters it announces that the “May 2009 Catalogue Out Now – Click here to view and download”.  Great I think, I’ll click and have a look.  So I click.  And it tells me that since I don’t have flash player I can’t read the catalogue.  Imagine refusing to give a person a price in a store because they weren’t wearing a (choose your item of clothing) scarf.  Exactly what do they have to gain from keeping me ignorant?

It is all the more annoying because, having a look at the html source, the flash player is just a front end to a pdf which they’re happy for people to download.  The relevant line is

document.write(‘<p><a href=”javascript:OpenWindow(\’HTOC\’,\” + ‘/pdf/promotion/catalogue/20090504_may_catalogue/20090504_may_catalogue.pdf’ + ‘\’, 1000, 600, \’no\’);”>View online now (PDF)</a> <img src=”/images/icons/ico_external_link.gif” alt=”This link will open a pop-up window” align=”absmiddle” /></p>’);

A more extensive extract:

<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">


			var hasRightVersion = DetectFlashVer(requiredMajorVersion, requiredMinorVersion, requiredRevision);

			if(hasRightVersion) {  // if we've detected an acceptable version

					var sURL = '/flash/catalogue/20090504/default.asp?nCartQty=0&nCartTotal=0.00';		

					var nPage = GetQueryVariable('Page');
					if (nPage != undefined) {
						sURL = sURL + '&nPage=' + nPage;
					} else {
						sURL = sURL + '&nPage=1';

					//var oWindow =, 'HTOC', 'width=1000,height=600,resizable=no,scrollbars=no');

					// window name is referenced from Flash Catalogue
					// = "Parent";

					//if (oWindow == null || typeof(oWindow) == "undefined") {

					//	document.write('<p style="font-size: 11px; color: #FF0000; margin: 10px 0px; clear: both;"><img src="/images/icons/ico_important.gif" alt="Important" align="absmiddle" style="padding-right: 2px;">Your browser is currently configured to block pop-up windows. Click the link below to launch our online catalogue.</p>');

					document.write('<p><a href="javascript:OpenWindow(\'HTOC\',\'' + sURL + '\', 1000, 600, \'no\');">View online now (Flash)</a> <img src="/images/icons/ico_external_link.gif" alt="This link will open a pop-up window" align="absmiddle" /></p>');

					document.write('<p><a href="javascript:OpenWindow(\'HTOC\',\'' + '/pdf/promotion/catalogue/20090504_may_catalogue/20090504_may_catalogue.pdf' + '\', 1000, 600, \'no\');">View online now (PDF)</a> <img src="/images/icons/ico_external_link.gif" alt="This link will open a pop-up window" align="absmiddle" /></p>');

				} else {  // flash is too old or we can't detect the plugin
					var alternateContent = '<p style="font-size: 11px; margin: 10px 0px; clear: both;"><img src="/images/icons/ico_important.gif" alt="Important" align="absmiddle" style="padding-right: 2px;"> Our Online Catalogue requires Flash Player 8 to be viewed correctly. <a href="" target="_blank">Click here</a> to download the latest Flash Player.</p>';

					document.write(alternateContent);  // insert non-flash content

		// -->



The URL, for anyone who wants to download the catalogue is:

Although why I should help them is beyond me.

MPAA Disrepectful to Everyone’s Intelligence

MPAA Disrepectful to Everyone’s Intelligence

Boingboing reports that the MPAA are arguing against an educational exception to the DMCA.   Apparently conceding the need to circumvent the defective-by-design DMCA, they argue that that should happen through teachers recording the output with a video recorder pointed at the television screen.  Ideology, ideology ideology.

Progress on Cisco?

Progress on Cisco?

Not publicised yet, but apparently on 21 April  the US District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an order to dismiss the Cisco-FSF case with prejudice after a 30 day grace period (ie until 21 May).   Either party may apply in that period to restore the action.  I’m not familiar with US court practice, but would guess this means that a settlement has been or is just about to be reached.

Market Bottoming? – I doubt it

Market Bottoming? – I doubt it

Ben Bernanke thinks we’re turning a corner.  As does Goldman Sachs.  Paul Krugman, on the other hand, calls it the inventory bounce.  It’s the period after existing inventories have been run down, and production starts up again, but it doesn’t reflect a solution to the underlying problem – excess debt that needs to be retired, and in retiring it, a lot of money which would otherwise be fuelling growth isn’t.*

* Actually, it isn’t twice – or more than twice – because previously people were taking that money and then using it to incur debt (“leveraging”) and that leveraged amount has been contributing to growth.

Honest Pharma – Not!

Michael Geist reports that a pharmaceutical company paid a publisher to print marketing material as a peer reviewed journal. If true, all I’d say is that I’d expect nothing more of this industry.

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