Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, University of New South Wales
Unlocking IP  |  About this blog  |  Contact us  |  Disclaimer  |  Copyright & licencsing  |  Privacy

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Automated Copyright Infringement?

Andres Guadamuz recently noticed that articles from his blog are being republished in their entirety on apparently purpose-built websites. Now, this wouldn't normally be a problem, because Andres has licensed his whole blog under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK: Scotland License.

But in this case, (a) they're not relicensing their web pages, and more importantly (b) they seem to be doing this solely for commercial advantage - the pages are glossed with prominent Google ads. In fact, in Andres' case, I don't think they even realise the content they're stealing is licensed. If you look at some of the other content they've (most likely) stolen (e.g. or they do link back to the original. In fact, this is the only reason Andres found out his posts were being so copied.

So what's going on here? It looks to me like these people have an automated system to download new posts (via. RSS, most likely), and then republish them on random subdomains of Andres suggested that it was a link farm, but I don't agree - I don't think you need content for a link farm, you can just create heaps of pages with no (or random) content and link them to each other. But if it's not a link farm, that raises two questions: If they're doing it for ad revenue, who are they expecting to read the page? And why are they bothering to link back to the originators of the posts, especially given that in doing so they're advertising they're copyright infringement?

I don't know the answer to these questions. In the mean time, it looks like Andres is going to try to enforce his licence, which is to say that he's going to try to get the infringing copies removed from Like I said, I don't think bgtoyou was willfully breaking the licence - I think they were willfully infringing the copyright, but it will be interesting if they do realise, and then try to use the licence as a defense.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Microsoft v. Wikipedia

Wikipedia is not happy with Microsoft after Microsoft offered to pay Australian blogger, Rick Jelliffe, to 'correct inaccuracies' on Wikipedia pages relating to Microsoft Office Open XML. It has been reported that Microsoft asked Jelliffe to disclose the deal on his blog.

On his blog, Jelliffe states:

"I think I’ll accept it: FUD enrages me and MS certainly are not hiring me to add any pro-MS FUD, just to correct any errors I see."

Why is Microsoft doing this?
"Brooker said Microsoft had gotten nowhere in trying to flag the purported mistakes to Wikipedia's volunteer editors, so it sought an independent expert who could determine whether changes were necessary and enter them on Wikipedia." [SMH]
Is Microsoft doing the wrong thing? Well it seems the issue is neutrality which is one of the 'five pillars' of Wikipedia. Is there going to be a conflict of interest now Jelliffe is on the payroll? Considering the transparency and the amount of media attention this story is getting I am sure the ever vigilant Wikipedia editors will be all over any changes that are remotely slanted in Microsoft's favour.

Microsoft paying an impartial expert to edit Wikipedia pages is ok because:

Microsoft paying an impartial expert to edit Wikipedia pages is not ok because:

I am inclined to wait and see what happens before throwing up my arms in disgust.

In the meantime, enjoy the lovely cartoon from xkcd.

(Pictured: "The Problem with Wikipedia", Randall Munroe - via his excellent webcomic xkcd, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 license)

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Wikileaks In the Media

Late last week I blogged about Wikileaks - see that post here. A quick read of the online version of The Sydney Morning Herald today revealed an article about this new collaborative forum. According to a spokeswoman for Wikileaks quoted by the article's author, Asher Moses, the involvement of Australian volunteers in the project shows Australia's "support for the underdog and for a fair go is showing through. " Read the Sydney Morning Herald article in full here.

Labels: ,

Friday, January 19, 2007


So long, Tux

Well, all good things must come to an end and 2007 must too. There has been a definite open source-vibe on the University of New South Wales Kensington campus this week and so, to commemorate this event, I've compiled a list of 5 ways to tell that has arrived...

1) Everyone you see is carrying a laptop...

2) Said laptops and laptop bags are covered in stickers, displaying the owner’s software affiliations

3) You see more people wearing baseball caps and t-shirts with obscure software company logos (as opposed to the more usual obscure streetwear logos often found on a university campus)

4) Occasionally, from anywhere in the campus, you hear Jeff Waugh proclaim, "Good afternoon, freedom lovers!"

5) Instead of people on the bus coming to university talking about what happened on last night's episode of Lost or 24, the conversation is abuzz about Tivoisation: a big bad or something that's actually pretty useful?

And to finish off, in the words of Jeff Waugh, so long freedom lovers! I'll be posting about the excellent Open Day within the next couple of days (stay tuned for Robopuppies, segways and how to solder using a toaster oven in order to create your own aircraft - kids, don't try this at home.)

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Second Life/Open Source Analysis at TechnoLlama

Last week we posted about Second Life releasing its viewer application under the GNU GPL (see that post here). Andres Guadamuz at TechnoLlama has done a fantastic analysis of what this actually means and comes to the conclusion that the FLOSS exception that Linden Labs included as part of the release may in fact make "the software incompatible with other GPL software." Read it here and keep an eye on the comments section as well.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Tricky Wiki

It's been a bit quiet here at the House of Commons recently. Housemates Ben and Abi are both away and I've been spending my days under piles of books and articles by Lessig, Benkler, Boyle and Samuelson, writing up my thesis. This means I've been dedicating a lot of time reading the ultimate public domain scholarship, "Tales from the Public Domain: BOUND BY LAW?" by Boyle, Aoki and Jenkins. Find it here...if you've never seen this before, it's definitely worth a look.

It's a given that any thesis on the commons has to mention Wikipedia, so I've been spending a lot of time there, too. So when UIP associate Roger Clarke sent through to us at the House of Commons an article asking whether 2007 was going to be the "year of the expert wiki", I had to take a look. Find it here.

The article's author, Nate Anderson, points out that there's been a lot of debate over the reliability of Wikipedia in recent months and two new projects, Citizendium and Scholarpedia, seek to combat any reliability controversy by using teams of experts to polish up content (although Citizendium is quick to state on it's main page that it's "expert-led", not "expert-only".) Some readers will be familiar with Roger Clarke's post on Citizendium vs. Wikipedia last year, and Larry Sanger's response. The main pages for both Citizendium and Scholarpedia are worth a look at and it becomes very apparent that there are some big differences between the two.

Anderson also briefly discusses WikiLeaks, which, if you are unfamiliar this wiki, aims to "develop an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leasing and analysis." A brief read of the WikiLeaks front page shows that this group means business. The WikiLeaks group will probably be following the pending Electronic Frontier Foundation/Eli Lilly litigation. The EFF is currently defending the "First Amendment rights of a citizen-journalist" who linked from a wiki to internal Eli Lilly company documents concering a prescription drug. (See more here and Lessig's brief post here.)

Update: See the Freedom to Differ post about Wikiseek, a new search engine company, here. I can't keep track of all this wiki news...

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Goodbye Weatherall's Law, Hello World!

When we tagged Kim Weatherall with the 'five things you didn't know about me' meme we weren't quite expecting her to reveal the fifth 'thing':
"And here's the last thing you didn't know about me: I am now writing my last ever post on Weatherall's Law. Yes, I've decided (and I've told a few people this recently) that it's time for Weatherall's Law to retire."
This is sad news for the IP Blogosphere. Kim has been blogging since 2004 with depth and quality that is rare in the blogging world. Weatherall's Law was essential reading for anyone interested in Australian intellectual property issues. Kim's recent analysis of the Australian Copyright Amendment Act 2006 has produced some of her best posts ever and she must be credited for her tireless dedication to ensuring that Australian consumers, educators and researchers received a better bargain under the recent amendments. Without Kim's critiques, submission and appearance before the Senate LACA Committee, the Australian copyright commons would undoubtedly be worse off.

We understand that Kim is moving on to bigger and better things now (that's right, academics do need to do publications once in a while). The House of Commons wishes Kim all the best in her future endeavours.

Kim mentions that she hopes that one day, someone will teach her programming. Ben and I will happily oblige next time she is in town. However, for the time being, let's send Kim out in style (and begin her programming tutelage) with an adaptation of the first thing every programmer learns, "Hello World" (C++):

#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
int main()
cout << "Goodbye Weatherall's Law, Hello World!" <<endl;
std::cout<<"Goodbye Weatherall's Law, Hello World!"\n;

return 0;

Update: I am told that the use of "endl" in this program will lead to certain disaster so the program has been revised upon the advice of a "C++ language paralegal". See the comments for more info.

(Pictured: "Copyright", Randall Munroe - via his excellent webcomic xkcd, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 license)


Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Open Second Life

The online virtual world Second Life has been in the news quite a bit recently. Earlier this week it hit the headlines when land owner Anshe Chung requested that YouTube take down a clip of an interview she conducted within Second Life, where a number of other in-world avatars harassed Chung using some...uh...interesting tactics. Read more at CNet news here and Peter Black has picked it up here too with an Australian perspective.

Now Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, has announced that it will release the code of Second Life's "viewer application to the open source software development community." (See the press release here .) The code will be available under the GNU GPL v2 (interesting that they chose not to wait until version 3 is out?) See Lessig's blog here, the Sydney Morning Herald here and then find the actual source code here, plus information about the licensing here. Interestingly, they have also included an additional FLOSS exception - see it here.

This is a big step for the company who seems to be one of the more user-friendly gaming companies when it comes to intellectual property issues. Second Life also seems to be a common international meeting place - Creative Commons had one of its many birthday parties in there and Judge Richard Posner gave a seminar there late last year.

So this is one small step for an avatar, one giant leap for the open source community.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 08, 2007


Five Things You Didn't Know About Us

We were recently tagged by Andres Guadamuz of TechnoLlama with this meme, which we've taken as applying to us collectively. So here's five (or fifteen) things you didn't know about us:
  1. Some alternate names for the House of Commons were 'Ode to a Coffee', 'Stenchblossoms' and 'UIP Unlocked'.
  2. Hidden talents: Catherine was a child singer and was accepted into the Australian Youth Choir; At the ripe age of 8 Abi was a contestant on Boomerang, a children's television game show created in Hong Kong. She never received her prize; Ben is a black belt in karate.
  3. We all dream of very different alternate careers: Catherine would like to be the editor of US Vogue; Abi would like to take over the world; Ben would like to be a professional go player.
  4. Ben has dual citizenship. In Australia, his name is registered as Benjamin Mark Bildstein. In Canada, it is Benjamin Mark Noble Bildstein; Abi's full name is Abirami Paramaguru, with no middle name; Catherine's full name is Catherine Michelle Bond.
  5. Abi grew up in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and Sydney; Ben grew up in Hobart; Catherine grew up in Sydney and Adelaide.
And to complete the meme, we're tagging Kim Weatherall, Nic Suzor, Robin Boyd, Peter Black, and Jeff Waugh.

Labels: ,


Lawrence Lessig On The West Wing (Well, Sort of...)

This may be old news to some, but here Down Under we're only just getting to see Season 6 of the TV show The West Wing, so I thought this would be a good post for local readers. In tonight's (January 8, 8.30pm, ABC) episode actor Christopher Lloyd portrays Lessig in a Constitutional-drafting storyline. Turns out a student from Lessig's Constitutional Law class at Harvard ended up writing for The West Wing...Lessig told the story in class...and the story appeared on The West Wing.

See the details on Wikipedia here and at Lessig's blog here (the fact that Lessig's blogpost about the episode was written in February 2005 serves to further illustrate how far behind we really are.) The ABC also has a description here, with Lessig getting a mention. How surreal it must be to see your name intermixed with fictional characters...

Just in case you’re wondering, if the housemates were ever portrayed by actors, I believe these fine artists would do us justice: Sarah Michelle Gellar (myself), Johnny Depp (Ben) and Australia’s own Bollywood queen Tania Zaetta (Abi).

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


New Year, Same Issues, New Perspectives

Here at the House of Commons we're still recovering from all the holiday festivities, but we are into the New Year and there's still much to be done for the commons!

With this in mind, there are a number of good copyright and commons-related conferences coming up over the next few months that will undoubtedly give us some new perspectives on the many issues that we are all grapping with as copyright protection continues to increase. - Sydney, January 2007 - I don't think I've read one bad word about this or any of the previous's. About 500 hackers will descend on the University of New South Wales in mid-January to attend this conference, with registration still open. The jam-packed programme featuring an all-star lineup can be found here. Pia Waugh and her crew have paid incredible attention to every detail - and how could you not want to attend talks called "How to Herd Cats and Influence People?" or "Sexy Single Source Design (Your Tool Chain of Love)." Even those of us with limited programming knowledge can appreciate that!

Copyright: From The Da Vinci Code to You Tube - Brisbane, February 2007 - This conference, held by the University of Queensland's Australian Centre for Intellectual Property and Agriculture, promises to be very interesting, with the Attorney General Mr. Philip Ruddock giving the opening address and Unlocking IP associates Matthew Rimmer and Rusty Russell also speaking. (Perhaps the first question that might be asked?: Mr. Ruddock, what's your opinion on the Copyright Amendment Blob?)

Creative Commons ISummit - June 2007 - It's in Dubrovnik, Croatia. In a beautiful coastal town. In a beautiful location called the tower Revelin. And you get to talk about building the copyright commons. That's all you need to know.

And, while it may not be a copyright conference it certainly deserves a mention:

Australian Blogging Conference - Brisbane, March 2007 - pioneered by Peter Black, QUT law academic and all-round-excellent blogger, this Australian-first conference is set to be held on 8 March 2007. Given the number of comments that Peter has received on his blog for this up-and-coming conference, it looks like there are many eager Australian bloggers who are looking forward to attending!

If you are organising or attending a conference that you think should be added to this list, then get in touch and we'll happily make any additions.



This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?