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If code is not property, are software patents invalid?

An appeals court has ruled that code is not property and therefore cannot be stolen. Wow! The potential ramifications are huge. The RIAA could find themselves unable to sue over copied media. More directly, this appeals court may have just invalidated every software patent ever filed. I personally despise software patents. Now, I’m not a lawyer as such I suspect my presumptions are very wrong. The undeniable result is that if you copy custom created software from your employer, you have not committed theft.

The 2nd Circuit Appeals Court ruled that since computer code cannot be physically obtained, it doesn’t fit the legal description of a stolen good. … The court was quick to point out that this decision should not be interpreted for all cases of electronic theft, however the legal recognition that code isn’t physical property (which people have been saying for years) is sure to make this case a focal point in future MPAA/RIAA wranglings.

[Source, Gizmodo, Appeals Court Rules Computer Code Is Not "Property" and Can’t Be Stolen]

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My child’s safety is more important than your schedule

Update 31 Aug 2009: Mr. Roy Mullins contacted me today to say the stop will be returned to Aspen Drive and Huntington Road. My many thanks to Mr. Roy Mullins, Knox County Schools, and the Transportation Department!

Dear Knox County Schools,
Today is my anniversary. The present that you gave me is a rejection letter with a line of bull regarding my child’s bus stop. See, 8 years ago you and I spent 3 years establishing a new bus stop for the elementary students that gets them safely away from S Northshore Drive and adds no time to your route. I’ll grant you an added 30 seconds to 2 minutes depending on traffic. For 5 years the bus route was run without problem safely within our neighborhood on a road parallel to S Northshore. Now you’d have my children stand on the edge of a 40 mph road with a blind corner and a blind hill. Already once this first week of school, I had to move a child from the left side of the road where he was standing in the path that cars use to whip from 40 mph down to the 25 mph neighborhood road. The corner is blind with overgrown bushes and had a car turned in the child would have been dead long before the driver saw him. Is that what will have to happen for you to see this stop as dangerous? Will a child have to die? You also seem to have a stop prior to ours. I am not yet sure how that is possible because anything before us is supposed to be in the parent responsibility zone which means all the other children in our neighborhood should now be granted busing. It’s a shame that you and I both have to put resources into this needless battle (a 2nd time) when our time could be spent doing something productive for our school system.
Doug McCaughan

ps. You know. I really had hoped that KCS had reached a point of wanting to work together to improve our education system instead of playing games and fighting.

(you’ll have my official letter soon)

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TN Continues to Make Dumb Laws

Michael Silence notes that Sen. Jim Tracy is trying to pass legislation that would make it illegal to read or send text messages while driving. These nanny state laws treat symptoms and not problems. My comment on No Silence Here:

We don’t need a nanny state! We need better education. IF we would teach people how to use T-9 then they could text without looking at the phone! er, I mean if we taught people the importance of not texting behind the wheel. You know..give a man a fish..well if he were eating fish while driving that would probably be bad too. Maybe we need a law to ban eating fish behind the wheel. Yes! Definitely. And fishing licenses. When the police pull cars over they should check for fishing licenses because he might be planning on catching a fish to eat while driving and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen. That’s important. Important enough that we need to set up road blocks and check everyone’s fishing licenses!! But then people might send text messages warning about the road blocks. No, we outlawed text messaging behind the wheel so that would never happen of course neither would the eating fish behind the wheel because we outlawed that too so why do we need the road blocks? You know, the radio stations will pick up on these quickly. We should outlaw radios in the cars. Wait a minute, wasn’t there a time when legislatures feared car radios would cause too many accidents and deaths. What happened to outlawing radios? Wait another minute. At least 2 people died in his district while text messaging behind the wheel. I wonder how many died tuning their radio?

Things we need to outlaw to keep people alive:
spiders, aids, diving, earthquakes, buildings, sports, suicide (wait, that’s already illegal), alcohol, lightning, steps, cold, heat, cancer, tall places, bees, surgery, and sharks.

The problem with these types of laws is that it does nothing to prevent the happening but only punishes if and when it is caught. To educate people to pull over, have a passenger do the texting, or just plain ignore the phone is a better use to time and tax dollars than more laws:

Republican Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet opposed the bill because of provisions in the current law.
"I really don’t see the need for the bill," she said. "I’ve said time after time, I don’t think we can legislate against stupidity."

Furthermore, driving is a skill and not everyone has the same abilities. That is not a statement to justify one person texting behind the wheel while another doesn’t but to point out the people who are crossing the center line while texting may just as well be doing the same thing while reading a billboard, talking to a passenger, tuning the radio, or daydreaming. We have all done stupid things while driving. I bet everyone at one point has turned the wrong way down a one way street. I did in Memphis as a teenager. It scared me silly to see 3 lanes of lunch hour traffic barreling down on me. A law preventing me from going the wrong way on a one way street would have done nothing to prevent me from making that silly mistake..wait a is against the law to drive the wrong way on a one way street….oh.

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My day in court

Tomorrow I get to spend the day in Civil Sessions Court. Just a little bit of my past coming back to haunt me. So today I thought I’d call down to find out the procedure. It went something like this:

Me: I am calling to find out what I need to bring to court tomorrow.
Them: I’m sorry sir that would be giving legal advise.
Me: Okay. How long will this take?
Them: I don’t know how many people are on the docket.
Me: How long does it normally take?
Them: Can’t say.
Me: Since I have never done this, can you explain the procedure to me?
Them: No that would be giving legal advice.
Me: You mean to tell me the process, the way your court works, is legal advice?
Them: I cannot give you legal advice. You need to consult a lawyer.
Me: I cannot afford a lawyer. Can you provide one for me?
Them: We don’t do that.
Me: Do you have a webpage that explains what I can expect in court tomorrow?
Them: I’m sorry sir. We cannot give legal advice.
Me: Feeling a little crotchety today aren’t we?
Them: *Click*

Yea! Tax dollars at work. Guess I should have gone to law school. I’ll just channel Alan Shore tomorrow and hopefully not learn what a holding cell feels like.

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Congress Is Under Martial Law!

I said martial law was coming October 1st. I was wrong. Apparently the Speaker of the House declared martial law on Saturday night (September 27th) according to Rep Burgess.

Anyone have any clarification on Rep Burgess’ statement? Ah! Apparently Congressional Martial Law is different than Martial Law from the Executive Branch. Explanation:

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Comparative Justice

To put this in perspective, a woman is billed $222,000 for making songs available breaking copyright (and if I read the judgment correctly it was “for making them available” not actually distributing anything—that’s like arresting me for possibly providing beer to children because I have a 6 pack in the fridge and people under 21 walk through my house) BUT a school bus driver gets busted for drinking on the job and is fined $482. (see also)

Glenn Reynolds sums it up “One offends a powerful interest group. The other just puts kids at risk.” while summarizing James Lileks.