Archive for July, 2008

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Links 07/29/2008

July 29, 2008
  • In an article last week at Patently-O, law professor John Duffy warns that the Patent Office has staked out positions that, if accepted by the courts, would amount to the de facto abolition of software patents. He’s right that the Patent Office has become increasingly hostile to software patents in the last couple of years. However, it’s far from clear that the end of software patents is imminent. And Duffy is dead wrong to suggest that fewer software patents would be bad for innovation.

    tags: patents, standards

  • Microsoft’s OSP has been controversial in part because it’s basic covenant not to sue developers was crippled by its application only to noncommercial developers, as well as other ambiguities that have been resolved. With this update to the OSP, this restriction is gone, as Sam Ramji, Director of Microsoft’s Open Source Software Lab, confirmed:

    Microsoft is putting a wide range of protocols that were formerly in the Communications Protocol Program under the Open Specification Promise (OSP). This guarantees their freedom from any patent claims from Microsoft now or in the future, and includes both Microsoft-developed and industry-developed protocols.

    We have established a clarification to the OSP that guarantees developer rights to build software of any kind and for any purpose using these specifications, including commercial use.

    tags: standards, patents

  • This document describes the inner workings of IETF meetings and Working Groups,
    discusses organizations related to the IETF, and introduces the standards
    process. It is not a formal IETF process document but instead an informational
    overview.

    tags: standards

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Links 07/28/2008

July 28, 2008
  • When you turn on a high-definition broadcast, you assume that your TV will come to life with the crispest, sharpest picture imaginable. But the fact is, hi-def doesn’t always mean high quality.

    The standards for what qualifies as HD—the ones that go into effect with the big digital TV changeover in February—were set by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) back in the 1990s, and really only involved one major qualification: having a whole lot of pixels. In fact, there’s no real regulation over high-definition picture quality at all—”none whatsoever,” one industry consultant told me. And that’s part of the reason why different HD stations often have wildly varying levels of picture quality that change from one moment to the next. Behind the scenes, content producers, broadcasters and cable and satellite providers are engaged in a constant tug-of-war over bandwidth and video quality, with no hard metrics to even define what looks acceptable. Even officials at HBO, where Generation Kill looks pretty fantastic on my TV, bemoaned the lack of a silver bullet … for now.

    tags: standards