Deputy U.S. CTO Andrew McLaughlinraised hackles just before Thanksgiving by suggesting to an audience at the University of Nebraska law school that moral equivalence exists between an Internet Service Provider blocking what a customer can see and/or do on the Internet and, say, China blacking out Google searches for "Falun Gong." AT&T was understandably a bit miffed at being compared to censorious and repressive regimes, but their response threatens to cloud McLaughlin's otherwise reasonable point. They shade a distinction which is going to hover over the whole net-neutrality debate going forward.
Seasoned observers took the wise cracks heard in the Supreme Court this week as a sign that the nine are doubting the wisdom of business methods patents. Sounds bland, but it's really quite provocative stuff. U.S. patent practice has evolved so that inventors win monopolies over ways of doing business, even when there's no tangible invention involved. That's likely to stop in short order. The court practically mocked the very idea of patenting creative ways of making a buck. What's extra intriguing, though, is that the Supreme Court went even further and threw into sharp relief the questionable thinking behind software patents, too.
Cory Doctorowpasses along word that a draft version of an international agreement on copyright law has leaked, as have earlier documents from the hush-hush negotiations over what's called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
The upshot of the Washington Post's revelation that a copy of the House's ethics committee's weekly status report was found floating around on a peer-to-peer file-sharing network is that (a) we suddenly know the names of a few more members of Congress on whom Zoe Lofgren's committee has its sights and (b) the prospects for passing legislation restricting file-sharing software have probably just gotten somewhat rosier.