Digital rights Law & Freedom

Youtube Copyright School video

This video is horrible! It reminds me of the 50’s anti socialism/communism propaganda with the voice, tone and the graphic tactics used in it.

And while it doesn’t omit the topic of Fair Use, it does try to avoid it, or so it seems, by speeding up the audio and moving the letters so you can’t read the text about it comfortably.

What’s funny is that all the examples mentioned as a copyright violation are examples of maybe about 90% of the videos in YouTube.

I remember those days where you could “freely” make a cassette tapes with romantic dedicated tracks for your girlfriend. I think things like this make it clear that those days are over…just when you could send video instead of audio and instantly instead of waiting to deliver the tape.

Digital rights Law & Freedom GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source

Gave DRM talk at UANL

Today I gave a talk about DRM technologies and how they affect everyone that consumes products with them. It took place at the UANL physics and mathematics faculty.

It interests me very much the fact that its the second time they invite me to give this talk (and I hope to get invited many more) because typically at schools and universities, at least in general in Mexico, this topic never shows up on anyone’s radar. Probably software licensing, but not DRM technologies and issues.

I hope more universities follow this trend and call people to talk to them about current topics and not just stick to the education program and teach how to be code monkeys.

Maybe it has something to do with the mathematics (cryptography) on the DRM technologies and that’s why I got invited by the physics and mathematics faculty instead of the computer science faculty. I thought about that so I updated my talk and slides to explain a bit more on the cryptography side (very basic stuff) this time.

The talk went very well and got good response from the audience. I even gave out stickers!

Digital rights Law & Freedom GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source News

More ugly stories about depending on cloud computing

Depending on “the cloud” to provide all software has increasingly shown some of its issues. What’s strange is that not many people are concerned about it.

Google marking all sites as unsafe

Google marked all search results as unsafe websites, and when you clicked on the link, it warned you again and you had to agree to go to the website. This might not cause a big issue for computer savvy people that know where they’re going, but for other people (and that actually read warning messages) this might scared them away. Probably a lot of business was lost from users going for the first time to a site and got this warning.

You can read more about this at:

Youtube’s fair use massacre

Warner music and Youtube have been taking down videos with copyrighted music on this service. If you have a video of your kid dancing to a Warner music song, so someone is whistling one or if its in the background of your birthday video, it might be taken down.

The EFF has called this “The fair use massacre” since these videos are righfully using the material under fair use terms but they are being taken down anyway.

You can read more about this with these links:

It is becoming more and more evident that support for free networking service software is needed before we loose our data and specially our freedom. Support projects like Laconica with Identica being its biggest implementation (follow me on identica”), Wikipedia, Launchpad (now that it will be AGPL licensed), Elgg and many others listed here. Learn more about free network services at the website.

“Before the storm” image is Creative Commons by Steve Wall.
Digital rights Law & Freedom GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source

Facebook terms for your uploaded content


Maybe this is old news, but I was checking Facebook’s terms of service to see if something had changed since the last time I saw them. But everytime I read this, I keep getting surprised and annoyed. The following is the exact quote from the terms of use that makes me think twice about uploading any pictures to my photo gallery.

I’ve highlighted the parts you should watch out for:

When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.

And the other day I found some local TV advertising studio photographs, from the biggest TV network in latinamerica, posted on the photographer’s photo gallery. He could get sued by his client!

Good think Flickr exists and provides us with our own licensing terms. And even more for providing the option of Creative Commons licensing.

It would be interesting and a huge challenge, to come up with a social networking site like Facebook that follows the Franklin Street statement.

Digital rights Law & Freedom GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source personal

About Non Disclosure Agreements


Lately I’ve been asked to sign these documents called Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). While the companies that want me to sign them try to protect their <irony>super highly secret and very successful “intelectual property” </irony> the statements they claim on the document are very restrictive and ambiguous. The mistakes I’ve seen lately in various companies in Monterrey, Mexico are:

  • Lack of defining the company’s activities
  • Prohibiting to work with a competitor or freelancing for a period of time
  • Prohibiting to share what is actually public domain or open information, making you believe its private
  • Lack of quoting the exact applicable law
  • Avoiding to mention the relationship between the worker and the company (job description and details)
  • Using ambiguous words and phrases, just in case you are not a careful reader

How can any serious business copy/paste documents found around the web and use them without even proof-reading what they’re handing out? The way these documents are written basically makes them useless and have no legal value. Even then, I don’t want my signature on any paper, legal or not, that says something I don’t agree with.

I cannot understand what’s the paranoia about. We’re talking about web sites and web pages using known external open source technology. There’s no innovation, no internal ‘intellectual property’, nothing but simple CRUD operations. What are they afraid of?

While the companies, when asked about the issue, always claim that its not a harmful document and most even claim that “its just a formality, and we’ll never use this”, I still won’t sign it if its badly written. What I’ve noticed is that what they want to accomplish is some competitive secrecy, and I understand that, but they are trying to solve the problem in the worst possible way. They go overboard limiting and prohibiting too much to be acceptable (and even legal).

Although I would like to say that I won’t be signing any NDA’s in the future, right now I don’t have a career weight to establish my own conditions. I will continue to be very careful of these documents and avoid signing them if they’re not well written or I don’t agree with the terms.

Image is creative commons provided by flat-outcrazy on Flickr.
Digital rights Law & Freedom Emacs GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source News Programming & Web Development

Make Emacs yasnippet work with html-helper-mode

Yasnippet is a great emacs minor mode that lets you have lots of code snippets easily at hand. Also you can create your own snippets in a very easy way without needing to write them in emacs lisp. Basically, like textmate shortcuts for emacs.

I use html-helper-mode to edit all my html code, but yasnippet works with html-mode only out-of-the-box. To make it work with html-helper-mode, add ‘html-helper-mode-hook’ to yasnippet.el on line 121:

It should look like this:

'(ruby-mode-hook actionscript-mode-hook ox-mode-hook python-mode-hook html-helper-mode-hook))

Then make a symlink to html-mode on the snippets folder. Assuming you are on yasnippets snippets/text-mode/ directory, type:

ln -s html-mode/ html-helper-mode

And now all html snippets will be available on html-helper-mode too.

Image is Creative Commons byitspaulkelly