04-27-11 - Things we need

Things that the world needs :

1. A real privacy law in America.

It should be illegal to give my personal information away without my express permission. It's absolutely sickening that my banks and credit cards are selling information about me.

Furthermore, it should be illegal to require personal information for marketting purposes in exchange for discounts. eg. stores that ask for your phone number when you check out, stores that use "club cards" to compell you to give your personal info, etc.

Nobody should be able to check your credit report without your explicit permission. eg. when some credit card company goes to ping your credit info, it should email you and say "is this allowed?" and you can just say no.

2. An academic journal that's free, peer reviewed, and gives the writers full ownership of their own work.

2.A. Information should be free. There's no reason for technical papers to be anything but online, so the costs are near zero, so there is absolutely no excuse for charging money for it. The only paid position is the editor, and that could easily be supported through donations.

2.B. Peer review is important to weed out junk. I would go further actually, I don't think the typical academic peer review structure is good enough. I'd like an organized way for other experts to post official counter arguments or addenda. The best journal I've ever seen is the Physical Review, in which you would frequently see a paper, and then a small counter-paper right after it.

2.C. It's absolutely sickening that major publishers take away the rights of the author. Authors would retain all rights to reproduce, distribute, whatever they want (however, the full free access to the paper could never be revoked).

2.D. I would like to see every paper start with a declaration of whether the authors or their organization have (or will try to get) patents on the described technique. This would also be a spot where they could state that they will not ever patent the work described, or they could donate the work to the defensive patent collection described next.

3. A viral defensive patent collection. I've written about this before, but the idea in brief is to create a pool of patents which is "viral" like the GPL is. That is, you can use absolutely any patent in the pool, if and only if you do not own any patent that is outside the pool. If you don't comply, then the patents in the pool cost money, and that money pays for administration of the pool and law suits against violators and so on. This is probably not realistic due to the necessity of corporations to cross-license, eg. even if someone like Google wanted be altruistic and do this, they can't because they need a patent portfolio to make cross-license arrangements with the other fuckers.


rizzuhjj said...

Why should information be free? The cost to obtain that information is not free. One must pay academics or programmers to generate that information.

I generally agree that more academic papers -- especially ones funded with government money -- should be made freely available, but information is property like anything else

cbloom said...

"We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request."

I am going to fuck kill you Google. Seriously.

cbloom said...

Sigh. Trying again with less enthusiasm.

The issue of whether information should be free in general is really a side track.
My point was supposed to be that people who want their paper to be free need a
place to publish.

Mainly in my old age I don't try to convince people of anything, I just want there
to be an alternative place.

In games,graphics, & compression, the IEEE & ACM currently have a strangle-hold on
publication. I personally would never publish with them, and I know many other
people who would prefer not to if there was a free information alternative.

As for the issue of information freedom I believe there are several points to
consider :

1. Just because information costs money to gather in no way means it should be owned,
that's a red herring.

2. Information ownership is a matter of law and laws should be created for the common
good ; therefore the question is whether information ownership is beneficial overall

3. I believe that information is "discovered" not "invented" ; eg. Volta does own the
idea of electricity, electricity always existed. You don't get to own scientific
fact that is part of the universe. And algorithms are scientific fact.

4. All scientific advances are built on 100's of predecessors, therefore the attribution
of ownership of the last step to the single publication at the end of the chain is a major
distortion. You should really give partial owernship to everyone who did work that they
built on.

5. Many publications & patents are of ideas that other people already had, sometimes they
are common knowledge that nobody bothered to write down because it was so obvious, so
giving ownership to one party is rife for abuse.

cbloom said...

And anyway, that's all beside the point.

Even if you believe in information ownership, you must believe that it should be owned by the *inventor* not the *publisher* which is what this post is all about.

Current publishers take the rights to the article, which I believe is preposterous.

niezmierniespokojny said...

You may be interested in Defensive Patent License. It's badly named, it's a patent pool like you described in the works.

BTW, requiring people to log in is wrong.

cbloom said...

"BTW, requiring people to log in is wrong."

Yeah I agree but there are too many spam-comment-bots out there to disable it.

castano said...

I love the idea of the viral patent collection. The problem is that filing a patent costs from $5000 to $9000, so that makes it very difficult for amateur developers to file a patent and license it with such a license, especially if they don't expect to earn any money from it.

Maybe one could setup a non-profit that sponsors the inventors and sells the patents to corporations that do not wish to cross-license them, sharing some of the profits with the inventors.

cbloom said...

"Maybe one could setup a non-profit that sponsors the inventors and sells the patents to corporations that do not wish to cross-license them, sharing some of the profits with the inventors."

Yeah, that's exactly the idea.

In fact ideally the inventor doesn't have to do anything. All you do is publish your paper in a free journal and put a one line note on it saying something like "this work is released under the viral patent license".

Then one of the administrators of the viral fund takes the work and does the patent application for you. All the administration is paid for by licensing to corps that don't agree to put all their patents under the viral license.

old rants