[syndicated profile] butterflies_wheels_feed

Posted by Ophelia Benson

Originally a comment by Holms on “White Feminism”

I’m noticing a trend here. Apparently, it’s bad when activists campaigning against [X] social ill to fail to consider the intersection of [X] with [being black in America], i.e. it’s bad for a [feminist] to fail to consider [black feminism in America]. The fact that [X] is being fought in another nation doesn’t seem to change this; it all needs to consider the social climate in America.

I first noticed this years ago when an Australian KFC ad was running. As you may or may not know, Australia is a major cricketing nation, and as Americans probably don’t know, cricket is very international. The teams that have what is called ‘test status’ (basically meaning the best of the national teams) are:



New Zealand




Sri Lanka

West Indies (a bunch of Caribbean nations grouped together to field a single combined team)

South Africa


Notice that most of the teams come from nations that are not white? In fact the predominantly white teams are outnumbered by African / south asian. This means more often than not, an international cricket match will have at least one non-white team participating.

So, on to the ad I mentioned:


This ad is entirely reasonable. One of the teams involved is Australia of course, because it ran in Australia; the other team is the West Indies because there was an Australia / West Indies match coming soon; and as mentioned, most matches will involve at least one non-white team anyway. A lone Australian fan is surrounded by Windies fans, that’s a bit awkward, let’s fix that awkwardness by sharing food. The Australian fan is white because Australia is predominantly white, the Windies fans are black equivalently, and the food being shared is fried chicken because the company that made the ad is KFC.

Nothing out of the ordinary there aside from contrived acting, but apparently ads running anywhere in the world need to have American social issues in mind at all times (including racist stereotypes that don’t exist outside of America).

American activists, you may be doing good work on American issues, but please pull your fucking head out of your arse, the world is broader than just your nation.

Not the worst wave ever

Oct. 10th, 2015 12:27 am
[syndicated profile] butterflies_wheels_feed

Posted by Ophelia Benson

Penny White has a shout-out to those pesky second-wave feminists everyone hates so much.

Second wave feminists fought to make marital rape a crime and won. They fought for tougher domestic violence laws and for state funding for shelters where women could go to escape violent partners. They fought for the passing of rape shield laws, which protect rape victims from the cruelest form of slut-shaming: being cross-examined on the witness stand about their sexual histories. They fought to define and enforce sexual harassment laws, which gave women the tools to fight harassment at work and in school. Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program; Title X, a federal grant program dedicated to providing low income women with family planning services; and Roe v Wade all came to pass under their watch.

The activists of feminism’s second wave transformed our culture into a bigger, safer, and freer space for women than I had ever dreamed possible.

As one of millions of survivors who were saved by this movement, I am stunned and heartbroken when young women who have reaped so many benefits from the second wave dismiss key components of their elders’ hard work as “carceral” and/or “sex-negative.”

They don’t understand about the benefits because they don’t grasp what it was like without them. They take the benefits for granted, while taking the perceived shortcomings as conclusive signs of systemic badness.

These individuals stand in opposition to “carceral feminists” such as U.S. Representative Gwen Moore, who bravely stood before her colleagues in Congress and told her devastating story of living through child molestation, rape, and battering. She revealed these horrors, publicly, in order to support the passage of the “carceral” Violence Against Women Act. The bill was opposed not only by anti-carceral feminists, but by conservative groups such as the Family Research Council, the Eagle Forum, the US Council of Bishops, and Concerned Women For America — all of whom claimed that VAWA was a feminist attack on family values.

Despite apparent political commonalities, those opposed to so-called “carceral feminism,” because of their pro-sex work stance, actually have more in common with libertarians than they do with traditional conservative Republicans. Libertarians, like “sex-positive” feminists, view prostitution as the voluntary sale of goods, with women being the “goods” in question. Since you cannot sell or rent anything you do not own, when a woman rents out her bodily orifices, she is “claiming ownership” of her body.

Is that a real argument? I’m not familiar with it. If it is…I’m gobsmacked.

A few months ago I watched an anti-carceral/pro-sex work feminist on MSNBC defend the inherent harmlessness of prostitution. This woman has a doctorate in Hollywood romcoms (I’m not kidding) but seems to have mistook Pretty Woman for a documentary. She opposed the Nordic model, which decriminalizes prostituted women but criminalizes their exploitation by pimps and johns. Feminists like her oppose the Nordic model even though it has led to a 50 per cent decrease of sex trafficking in Sweden. And in Norway, where the Nordic Model was also adopted, rape and physical violence against prostituted women has been cut by half, and emergency room visits by the prostituted has been cut by 70 per cent.  (This is based on research done by ProSentret, a Norwegian pro-legalization group). And as always happens with the Nordic model, sex trafficking in Norway has rapidly declined. By contrast, the decriminalization of pimps and johns, has led to an explosion of sex trafficking in countries like Germany, Finland, and the Netherlands, with no corresponding reduction of violence against prostituted women. Tragically, pro-sex industry/anti-carceral feminists refuse to allow concern for trafficking victims to get in the way of their enthusiasm for “sex work.” Depressing statistics and the shared experiences of trafficking victims are spoiling the fun for those who benefit from the industry.

Just as the fossil fuel industry attacks those who speak out on climate change, the multi-billion dollar sex industry attacks those who speak out against sex trafficking. Author and activist, Rachel Moran, recently made public her horrific experiences as a prostitution survivor, only to be “defamed, slandered, threatened, physically confronted and screamed at” by the pro-legalization lobby. As Moran stated, “I’ve had my home address, bank details and personal email circulated amongst some of the most seemingly unhinged people, who have tweeted me portions of my home address in a clear we-know-where-to-find-you style threat.” The silencing tactics used by pro-sex industry activists are strikingly similar to those used by MRAs (who also support decriminalizing pimps and johns).

And some other kinds of “activists” I can think of.

It’s all pretty unhealthy, if you ask me.

When she tried to escape

Oct. 9th, 2015 11:48 pm
[syndicated profile] butterflies_wheels_feed

Posted by Ophelia Benson

If Allah is merciful…why are foreign servants treated so horribly in Saudi Arabia? Why doesn’t Allah’s mercy make all Saudis kind and compassionate?

An Indian servant was trying to leave her employer’s house, so the employer allegedly cut off her arm.

India’s foreign ministry has complained to the Saudi Arabian authorities following an alleged “brutal” attack on a 58-year-old Indian woman in Riyadh.

Kasturi Munirathinam’s right arm was chopped off, allegedly by her employer, when she tried to escape from their house last week, reports say.

Ms Munirathinam was working as a domestic help. She is recovering in hospital.

She’s not recovering her arm though. That’s gone.

The family of Ms Munirathinam in the southern Indian city of Chennai said that her employers had been “angered” after she complained about the “harassment” she was facing at her employer’s home, where she had begun working three months ago.

“Ever since she went to work with this family in July, things were not alright. My mother was not even allowed to speak to us over the phone, she was not given proper food and was forced to work long hours,” her son S Kumar told BBC Hindi.

“When she tried to escape the harassment and torture, her right arm was chopped off by the woman employer. Now my sister can’t even sit and do simple things on her own, as her spinal cord has also been injured,” her sister S Vijayakumari added.

Ms Vijayakumari said her sister had been hospitalised in Riyadh and was “in a serious condition”, adding that although they were relieved she was getting proper medical attention, they were unable to afford the expenses.

Maybe she burned the potatoes.


runpunkrun: lex luthor biting into an apple, text: A is for appetite (a is for appetite)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
How exciting! [archiveofourown.org profile] lisabart translated my Smallville story Curator of the Life & Death Museum into Chinese: 生与死博物馆馆长!

In the past when I received requests to translate my work, I didn't like the idea that I'd have no way of seeing what the translator did to my story or if they even gave me credit as the original author, so I took the easy way out and didn't respond.

Years later, when I was considering giving blanket permission to transform my fannish works, I decided to get over it. I realized I don't want individual control over what people do with my stuff. Now I no longer have to judge each request based on how paranoid I feel that day, and instead I get to be pleasantly surprised when someone liked my work enough to transform it and is kind enough to let me know. Fandom. ♥

Inbox/Outbox : fall break edition

Oct. 9th, 2015 06:09 pm
writerlibrarian: (poppies)
[personal profile] writerlibrarian
My fall break started this afternoon. I'm almost pass the beyond tired point. I have plenty of work that are still in holding pattern at the library but I don't have the energy to clear them all out. I need to recharge the batteries. One week is not a lot but it's still a week plus two week-ends. 10 days to sleep some, get some air and make in ways in packing my summer clothes and take out my fall/winter clothes.

The book count was small but fun since the last post.

Inbox (Books acquired)

One historical romance rec from SmartB : Maya Rodale's What a Wallflower wants

Three mysteries were on sale in ebook format : Philip Margolin's Ties That Bind ; The newish Poirot that is not that good more of a curiosity really  and Steven Saylor's Roman Blood that I have read but didn't keep in paper.

One contemporary romance : Pick me by Erika Marks which was free (ebook)

Two ebooks were not from the deal of the day type of buy: the first Rivers of London graphic novel Body Work and Murder Your Darlings (which I'm considering for the library reading circle on the 28th)

One was a pre-order : Keira Marcos' is publishing Fall for You (Law of the Pack #1) on the 15th. I read the first draft of it during one of the Evil Author or some other writing month at her site. I want to know the rest of the story. Hence the pre-order.

That a lot of books for 2 weeks. All ebooks.

Outbox (Books finished)

Foxglove Summer. Ben Aaronovith' fifth in his Rivers of London series. We get Peter out in the country side. I went through the book in 4 days and that's because I was working like mad and I rationed myself so it would last a little longer since I thought that the next one was only gonna be available next June. But..... no.... it's going to be here for Christmas. I ordered Hanging Tree at Amazon UK way back in the summer because the publishing date was somewhere in later November and had planned to read Foxglove this fall as not to be too in a gimme the next one, gimme the next one" condition. The November date was pushed to June 2016. So I conditioned myself to be without a next one in that series (except for the graphic novels which I had planned to read really slowly until next June) but.... miracle... the publishing date is back for November. (doing a little happy dance). So Foxglove Summer. Not enough. It was slow to start but once it started, it started and kept going. So little Nightingale but we learn a few new things (through Hugh mostly), we learn an important Molly thing, Beverley rocked, I liked Victor and Dominic. The police force out there in the country wasn't used for jokes and made fun of (which I liked). I like that Peter is smart but not a genius, I like the small insides or blink and you miss the reference to tv, Who, fandom. I think I like that it's a smart series but not in a flashy, look how clever I am way but in a  "hey, if you know the reference cool, if not it's okay'. Architecture was still a tiny part of the plot, so was what I've named Water mythology. Overall it was a fun read, too short and I can't wait to see what happens next.

In the Queue (Books I'm reading now)

Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars. I've gone pass Claudius. I'm gonna read I, Claudius during Xmas break because I want to read all the juicy, drama and murder in a fictional format too. I'm about 1/4 into Nero and well... you know it's going to be even worse than with Caligula. Which was worst than Tiberius. Still it's fascinating to read.

I'm reading in between chapters of Suetonius :  La nuit du carrefour (The Night at the Crossroads) the next Maigret in the series. Also for the reading circle. It's classic 1930's Maigret. Comfort reading. Simenon is good comfort reading.

[ SECRET POST #3201 ]

Oct. 9th, 2015 07:39 pm
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[personal profile] case in [community profile] fandomsecrets

⌈ Secret Post #3201 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.

[Scream TV series]

More! )


Secrets Left to Post: 00 pages, 000 secrets from Secret Submission Post #457.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 1 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 1 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.
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[personal profile] icon_uk in [community profile] scans_daily

Courtesy of CBR

For those who might think the Jem comic book is too bright and shiny, well the third arc is going in completely the other direction as we meet

Dark Jem )

[syndicated profile] eff_feed

Posted by Jeremy Malcolm

Today's release by Wikileaks of what is believed to be the current and essentially final version of the intellectual property (IP) chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) confirms our worst fears about the agreement, and dashes the few hopes that we held out that its most onerous provisions wouldn't survive to the end of the negotiations.

Since we now have the agreed text, we'll be including some paragraph references that you can cross-reference for yourself—but be aware that some of them contain placeholders like “x” that may change in the cleaned-up text. Also, our analysis here is limited to the copyright and Internet-related provisions of the chapter, but analyses of the impacts of other parts of the chapter have been published by Wikileaks and others.

Binding Rules for Rightsholders, Soft Guidelines for Users

If you skim the chapter without knowing what you're looking for, it may come across as being quite balanced, including references to the need for IP rules to further the “mutual advantage of producers and users” (QQ.A.X), to “facilitate the diffusion of information” (QQ.A.Z), and recognizing the “importance of a rich and accessible public domain” (QQ.B.x). But that's how it's meant to look, and taking this at face value would be a big mistake.

If you dig deeper, you'll notice that all of the provisions that recognize the rights of the public are non-binding, whereas almost everything that benefits rightsholders is binding. That paragraph on the public domain, for example, used to be much stronger in the first leaked draft, with specific obligations to identify, preserve and promote access to public domain material. All of that has now been lost in favor of a feeble, feel-good platitude that imposes no concrete obligations on the TPP parties whatsoever.

Another, and perhaps the most egregious example of this bias against users is the important provision on limitations and exceptions to copyright (QQ.G.17). In a pitifully ineffectual nod towards users, it suggests that parties “endeavor to achieve an appropriate balance in its copyright and related rights system,” but imposes no hard obligations for them to do so, nor even offers U.S.-style fair use as a template that they might follow. The fact that even big tech was ultimately unable to move the USTR on this issue speaks volumes about how utterly captured by Hollywood the agency is.

Expansion of Copyright Terms

Perhaps the biggest overall defeat for users is the extension of the copyright term to life plus 70 years (QQ.G.6), despite a broad consensus that this makes no economic sense, and simply amounts to a transfer of wealth from users to large, rights-holding corporations. The extension will make life more difficult for libraries and archives, for journalists, and for ordinary users seeking to make use of works from long-dead authors that rightfully belong in the public domain.

Could it have been worse? In fact, yes it could have; we were spared a 120 year copyright term for corporate works, as earlier drafts foreshadowed. In the end corporate works are to be protected for 70 years after publication or performance, or if they are not published within 25 years after they were created, for 70 years after their creation. This could make a big difference in practice. It means that the film Casablanca, probably protected in the United States until 2038, would already be in the public domain in other TPP countries, even under a life plus 70 year copyright term.

New to the latest text are the transition periods in Section J, which allow some countries a longer period for complying with some of their obligations, including copyright term. For example, Malaysia has been allowed two years to extend its copyright term to life plus 70 years. For Vietnam, the transition period is five years. New Zealand is the country receiving the most “generous” allowance; its term will increase to life plus 60 years initially, rising to the full life plus 70 year term within eight years. Yet Canada, on the other hand, has not been given any transition period at all.

Ban on Circumventing Digital Rights Management (DRM)

The provisions in QQ.G.10 that prohibit the circumvention of DRM or the supply of devices for doing so are little changed from earlier drafts, other than that the opposition of some countries to the most onerous provisions of those drafts was evidently to no avail. For example, Chile earlier opposed the provision that the offense of DRM circumvention is to be “independent of any infringement that might occur under the Party's law on copyright and related rights,” yet the final text includes just that requirement.

The odd effect of this is that someone tinkering with a file or device that contains a copyrighted work can be made liable (criminally so, if wilfullness and a commercial motive can be shown), for doing so even when no copyright infringement is committed. Although the TPP text does allow countries to pass exceptions that allow DRM circumvention for non-infringing uses, such exceptions are not mandatory, as they ought to be.

The parties' flexibility to allow DRM circumvention also requires them to consider whether rightsholders have already taken measures to allow those non-infringing uses to be made. This might mean that rightsholders will rely on the walled-garden sharing capabilities built in to their DRM systems, such as Ultraviolet, to oppose users being granted broader rights to circumvent DRM.

Alongside the prohibition on circumvention of DRM is a similar prohibition (QQ.G.13) on the removal of rights management information, with equivalent civil and criminal penalties. Since this offense is, once again, independent of the infringement of copyright, it could implicate a user who crops out an identifying watermark from an image, even if they are using that image for fair use purposes and even if they otherwise provide attribution of the original author by some other means.

The distribution of devices for decrypting encrypted satellite and cable signals is also separately proscribed (QQ.H.9), posing a further hazard to hackers wishing to experiment with or to repurpose broadcast media.

Criminal Enforcement and Civil Damages

On damages, the text (QQ.H.4) remains as bad as ever: rightsholders can submit “any legitimate measure of value” to a judicial authority for determination of damages, including the suggested retail price of infringing goods. Additionally, judges must have the power to order pre-established damages (at the rightsholder's election), or additional damages, each of which may go beyond compensating the rightsholder for its actual loss, and thereby create a disproportionate chilling effect for users and innovators.

No exception to these damages provisions is made in cases where the rightsholder cannot be found after a diligent search, which puts the kibosh on ideas for the introduction of an orphan works regime that would cap remedies available against those who reproduce these otherwise-unavailable works.

One of the scariest parts of the TPP is that not only can you be made liable to fines and criminal penalties, but that any materials and implements used in the creation of infringing copies can also be destroyed (QQ.H.4(12)). The same applies to devices and products used for circumventing DRM or removing rights management information (QQ.H.4(17)). Because multi-use devices such as computers are used for a diverse range of purposes, this is once again a disproportionate penalty. This could lead to a family's home computer becoming seized simply because of its use in sharing files online, or for ripping Blu-Ray movies to a media center.

In some cases (QQ.H.7), the penalties for copyright infringement can even include jail time. Traditionally, this has because the infringer is operating a business of commercial piracy. But under the TPP, any act of willful copyright infringement on a commercial scale renders the infringer liable to criminal penalties, even if they were not carried out for financial gain, provided that they have a substantial prejudicial impact on the rightsholder. The copying of films that are still playing in movie theaters is also subject to separate criminal penalties, regardless of the scale of the infringement.

Trade Secrets

The severity of the earlier language on trade secrets protection has not been abated in the final text. It continues to criminalize those who gain “unauthorized, willful access to a trade secret held in a computer system,” without any mandatory exception for cases where the information is accessed or disclosed in the public interest, such as by investigative journalists or whistleblowers.

There is no evident explanation for the differential treatment given to trade secrets accessed or misappropriated by means of a computer system, as opposed to by other means; but it is no surprise to find the U.S. pushing such a technophobic provision, which mirrors equivalent provisions of U.S. law that have been used to persecute hackers for offenses that would otherwise have been considered much more minor.

Top-Down Control of the Internet

ICANN, the global domain name authority, provoked a furore earlier this year over proposals that could limit the ability for owners of domain names to shield their personal information from copyright and trademark trolls, identity thieves, scammers and harassers.

The TPP has just ridden roughshod over that entire debate (at least for country-code top-level domains such as .us, .au and .jp), by cementing in place rules (QQ.C.12) that countries must provide “online public access to a reliable and accurate database of contact information concerning domain-name registrants.”

The same provision also requires countries to adopt an equivalent to ICANN's flawed Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), despite the fact that this controversial policy is overdue for a formal review by ICANN, which might result in the significant revision of this policy. Where would this leave the TPP countries, that are locked in to upholding a UDRP-like policy for their own domains for the indefinite future?

The TPP's prescription of rules for domain names completely disregards the fact that most country code domain registries have their own, open, community-driven processes for determining rules for managing domain name disputes. More than that, this top-down rulemaking on domain names is in direct contravention of the U.S. administration's own firmly-stated commitment to uphold the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. Obviously, Internet users cannot trust the administration that it means what it says when it gives lip-service to multi-stakeholder governance—and that has ramifications that go even even deeper than this terrible TPP deal.

ISP Liability

The provisions on ISP liability (Appendix Section I), as we previously found in the last leaked text, are not quite as permissive as we hoped. It will still require most countries to adopt a version of the flawed U.S. DMCA notice-and-takedown system, albeit with a few safeguards such as penalties for those who issue wrongful takedown notices, and allowing (but not requiring) a Japanese-style system of verification of takedown notices by an independent body of ISPs and rightsholders.

It is true that Canada's notice-and-notice regime is also allowed, but effectively only for Canada—no other country that did not have an equivalent system as of the date of the agreement is allowed to benefit from that flexibility. Even in Canada's case, this largesse is only afforded because of the other enforcement measures that rightsholders enjoy there—such as a tough regime of secondary liability for authorization of copyright infringement.

Similarly Chile's system under which ISPs are not required to take down content without a judicial order is explicitly grandfathered in, but no other country joining the TPP in the future will be allowed to have a similar system.

In addition, although there is no explicit requirement for a graduated response regime of copyright penalties against users, ISPs are still roped in as copyright enforcers with the vague requirement (Appendix Section 1) that they be given “legal incentives…to cooperate with copyright owners to deter the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials or, in the alternative, to take other action to deter the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyright materials”.

Good Points?

Quite honestly there are no parts of this agreement that are positively good for users. Of course, that doesn't mean that it's not improved over the earlier, horrendous demands of the U.S. negotiators. Some of the areas in which countries rightly pushed back against the U.S., and which are reflected in the final text are:

  • The exhaustion of rights provision (QQ.A.11) that upholds the first sale doctrine of U.S. law, preventing copyright owners from extending their control over the resale of copyright works once they have first been placed in the market. In particular, this makes parallel importation of cheaper versions of copyright works lawful—and complementing this is an explicit authorization of devices that bypass region-coding on physical copies of such works (QQ.G.10, though this does not extend to bypassing geoblocking of streaming services).
  • A thoroughly-misguided provision that would have extended copyright protection to temporary or "buffer" copies in a computer system was one of the earliest rightsholder demands dropped by the USTR, and rightfully so, given the damage this would have wreaked to tech companies and users alike.

But we have struggled to come up with more than two positive points about the TPP, and even then the absence of these tragic mistakes is a pretty poor example of a positive point. If you look for provisions in the TPP that actually afford new benefits to users, rather than to large, rights-holding corporations, you will look in vain. The TPP is the archetype of an agreement that exists only for the benefit of the entitled, politically powerfully lobbyists who have pushed it through to completion over the last eight years.

There is nothing in here for users and innovators to support, and much for us to fear—the ratcheting up of the copyright term across the Pacific rim, the punitive sanctions for DRM circumvention, and the full frontal attack on hackers and journalists in the trade secrets provision, just to mention three. This latest leak has confirmed our greatest fears—and strengthened our resolve to kill this agreement for good once it reaches Congress.

[syndicated profile] eff_feed

Posted by Michael Barclay

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a significant decision rejecting an absurd copyright claim in yoga poses. The decision is pretty entertaining, but its implications are important for technologists as well as yogis.

That’s because the opinion offers a close analysis of one of the crucial limits of copyright: Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act, which forbids protection of ideas, processes, systems, methods of operation, and similar concepts. Relying on Section 102(b), the court concluded that a “Sequence” of 26 yoga poses and two breathing exercises, performed in a particular order, was not subject to copyright protection. Bikram Choudhury had sued a competitor who also used the same Sequence. Simply put, Choudhury was claiming copyright in an idea or process for improving one’s health by practicing certain yoga poses in a specific order.

Writing for the court, Judge Wardlaw first observed that the purpose of copyright is to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,” so that “copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work.” Copyright thus recognizes a “vital distinction” between ideas and expression, so “the copyright for a work describing how to perform a process does not extend to the process itself.”

In this case, Choudhury himself described his Sequence as a “system” or “method” to use yoga to optimize the body’s health and function. The “system” used 26 yoga poses in a particular arrangement as a healing art. Given that, Judge Wardlaw had little difficulty concluding that the idea/expression dichotomy, codified in Section 102(b), precluded copyright protection of the sequence.

Significantly, the Ninth Circuit stated that it made “no difference that similar results could be achieved through a different organization of yoga poses and breathing exercises.” Choudhury argued that he could have chosen hundreds of different yoga postures, with “countless” arrangements of those postures. Judge Wardlaw rejected that argument, holding that “the possibility of attaining a particular end through multiple different methods does not render the uncopyrightable a proper subject of copyright.”

That analysis matters for software, because it suggests that a recent computer copyright opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Oracle v. Google, completely misread the Copyright Act. In that case, Oracle accused Google of infringing 37 “packages” of the Java programming language. The packages included specifications for part of the Java Application Programming Interface (API). APIs enable computer programs to communicate with each other, or allow a program to communicate with a human being.

The Federal Circuit used different reasoning to achieve the opposite result from yesterday’s Ninth Circuit opinion. Specifically, the Federal Circuit held that because Oracle had “unlimited options” and “alternative expressions” of how to write its Java packages, Oracle’s particular choice was copyrightable expression—the exact opposite of what the Ninth Circuit held.

Appeals courts disagree with each other all the time. But in this case, that disagreement shouldn’t exist. The Oracle v. Google appeal went to the Federal Circuit because of a procedural quirk—that court hears patent appeals, and Oracle had sued on a patent claim in the district court. But where the appeal is over non-patent issues, the Federal Circuit is supposed to apply Ninth Circuit copyright law, since the case started out in a Ninth Circuit district court.

Yesterday’s opinion makes clear, as we’ve argued before, that Oracle’s claim would have failed under Ninth Circuit law. Perhaps the only meaningful difference between Choudhury’s 26 yoga poses and Oracle’s 37 Java packages is that the latter involved a functional computer program. But that difference even more strongly shows that the Federal Circuit got it wrong. There are dangerous implications of treating computer APIs as copyrightable, including negative impacts on interoperability and innovation. 

The Federal Circuit’s decision has been harshly criticized for its misunderstanding of both computer science and copyright law. Now that the Ninth Circuit has explained (again) how Section 102(b) works, future courts will hopefully ignore the Federal Circuit’s bad decision.

[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

“Markan priority” is the high-falutin’ term for the fact that the Gospel of Mark was the first of the four New Testament gospels to be written. We don’t have to get into all the reasons why we’re confident that’s true, but the main clues are pretty obvious. One such clue is the fact that both Matthew and Luke copy huge chunks of Mark in their own gospels — sometimes verbatim, sometimes with small changes, and sometimes with big changes.


The earliest, most reliable manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark do not include the introduction written by post-punk rocker Nick Cave. Most biblical scholars believe that introduction is a late-20th-century interpolation. But it’s still kind of cool.

Another clue is that Mark kind of reads like a first draft. It’s rougher, rawer, blunter and generally sketchier than the other Gospels. Matthew, Luke and John all read like their authors had some larger plan or outline in mind. Mark reads like somebody racing to get everything down on paper as quickly as possible.

So, then, if Mark came first chronologically, why didn’t we put it first in the New Testament? Well, again, because it’s kind of a rough draft and the guys back in Nicea or wherever apparently wanted to start the canon with one of the more polished, more carefully constructed gospels. Plus, Mark is a lot shorter than the others and, because of that, it leaves out a lot of the story. There’s no Nativity story in Mark — no Christmas. You gotta have Christmas. And there’s only the first hint of Easter in Mark. The first Gospel arrives at Easter morning, Mary finds an abandoned tomb, and then it just stops.

That abrupt ending was so frustrating for some later Christians that they felt compelled to give the book a proper conclusion. Several conclusions, actually, and now the Gospel of Mark has more endings to it than Peter Jackson’s Return of the King.

First there’s the original ending. According to our oldest and most reliable manuscripts, Mark’s Gospel concludes with Chapter 16, verse 8:

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Then there’s the long ending, composed much later and appended to the Gospel. This is included in the King James Version, the Catholic Vulgate, and in many popular English translations today as “Mark” 16:9-20.

There’s also an even-longer ending, which adds those 11 verses, plus this, tucked in the middle of it:

And they excused themselves, saying, “This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the truth and power of God to prevail over the unclean things of the spirits. Therefore reveal your righteousness now” — thus they spoke to Christ. And Christ replied to them, “The term of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was handed over to death, that they may return to the truth and sin no more, that they may inherit the spiritual and imperishable glory of righteousness that is in heaven.”

And then there’s a shorter longer ending that stops where Mark stopped, but then adds this after verse 8:

And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.

It’s important to remember here that Mark is the earliest “Gospel,” but not the earliest account of this story. Sometimes people ignore that, arguing that the clipped ending of Mark — with no mention of any of the other witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection — must be the most authentic version of the story, and that the other gospels’ longer description of Easter and the days that followed must therefore be later inventions.

That won’t do. Mark may be the earliest Gospel, but it was likely written decades after Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, where Paul offers a longer ending to the story than Mark includes. After Jesus’ death and burial, Paul writes, he “appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”

Paul was probably writing around 20 years after Jesus’ death, but he had met these witnesses in person. The key point, though, is that he wasn’t telling the Christians of Corinth anything they hadn’t already heard. This was already what Christians believed (they would say “knew“) decades before Mark sat down to write his first draft of a Gospel. So we can’t infer that Mark didn’t include the Easter stories that the other gospels include because they hadn’t been invented yet.

The more intriguing — and kind of fun — speculation about the abrupt non-ending of Mark’s Gospel is the theory that it may have originally included a longer ending, but that we simply lost the rest of the book. If you know anything about the precarious nature of first-century written documents, this is all too plausible. Given that three-fourths of Mark is reproduced in Matthew and Luke, and that most of the rest is copied in either one or the other, that could well mean that the “lost ending” to Mark — if there is one — was retained in Matthew and/or Luke. Could be. That’s probably my best guess.

But there’s another line of thinking about the ending of Mark — one that’s far less plausible but weirdly fun. That line of thinking, surprisingly, links fans of The Da Vinci Code with KJV-only fundamentalists and other proponents of “biblical inerrancy.” And that’s what we’ll turn to next, in part 2.


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[personal profile] conuly
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rachelmanija: (Default)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
…is live in a sexist society which does not care if women are harmed.

But let's narrow that down a little.

The most dangerous person to a woman - the person most likely to attack, murder, or sexually assault her - is a man that she knows. Strangers do occasionally attack, murder, or sexually assault women. But this is rare. In my professional experience counseling people who have been assaulted, the rate of attacks by known persons vs. attacks by strangers is approximately 200-1. And keep in mind that people are way more likely to report stranger attacks than they are to report attacks by people they know.

With rare exceptions, these are the people who deliberately harm women: Their husbands. Their boyfriends. Their significant others of any nature or gender. Their friends. Friends of their friends. Their relatives. Friends or significant others of their relatives. Their bosses. Their co-workers. Their acquaintances.

I very rarely encounter women who don't know the name of the person who assaulted them. It happens. But it's not the norm.

Dangerous things a woman can do: Have relatives, especially male ones. Get married, especially to a man. Have a romantic or sexual relationship of any kind, especially with a man. Have relatives who have friends. Work. Socialize. Go to college. Stay at home with her family. Go anywhere with anyone she knows.

Things a woman can do which carry a low risk of rape or assault: Go places by herself. Be alone where nobody knows her. Walk alone. Travel alone.

And yet, what are women told not to do? Be alone! We are told that being alone is reckless, dangerous, tempting fate. Walking alone at night is asking to be raped. Camping alone is the height of stupidity. Women must keep people they know around them at all times, because otherwise they'll be assaulted by strangers.

We are safer with strangers.

A lonely street at night is often safer than one's own home, if that home is shared.

This message is brought to you via Blairmcg, who took the terrifying, reckless, foolhardy risk of... camping alone.


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April 2013


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