[svfig-open] [Ed Foster's GripeLog] The GripeLog Column: "A Defining Moment"

Kevin Appert forther at attbi.com
Thu May 29 15:00:41 PDT 2003

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>Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 10:00:35 -0700
>From: Ed Foster <foster at gripe2ed.com>
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>Subject: [Ed Foster's GripeLog] The GripeLog Column: "A Defining Moment"
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>The Reader Advocate Column
>Thursday, May 29, 2003
>By Ed Foster
>Once all the lawyers have finished having their fun with the SCO vs. IBM 
>madness, what will they do for an encore? After a long look in my crystal 
>ball, here's my prediction for the next episode of intellectual property 
>BELLEVUE, WA, July 15, 2004 -- Semi-Unabridged Webster Corp., publishers 
>of the Semi-Unabridged Webster Dictionary of 1923, today announced it has 
>granted a license of English language intellectual property rights to 
>Microsoft Corporation. The licensing deal makes Microsoft the first 
>company to ensure its products and services will be in copyright 
>compliance with the use of English.
>"We are very grateful for Microsoft's acknowledgement of our intellectual 
>property rights and for their support in our efforts to make English 
>available to all for a reasonable licensing fee," said Preston Gates 
>Ellis, CEO and General Counsel for the recently-formed Semi-Unabridged 
>Webster (SUW).  Ellis acknowledged that Microsoft received a particularly 
>favorable licensing due to its "small investment" in his company, but 
>declined to provide detailed numbers.
>A Microsoft spokesman said the company will not participate in the lawsuit 
>SUW recently filed against AOL/Time-Warner for copyright infringement over 
>its use of English in various media properties. "This move is just 
>representative of Microsoft's commitment to respecting intellectual 
>property and its healthy exchange through licensing," the spokesman said.
>Ellis reiterated his earlier statements that SUW does not claim to have 
>intellectual property rights to the entire English language, but that 
>"crucial words and usages have been appropriated in clear violation of our 
>rights." He declined to give specific examples of such infringement, as 
>that might aid in helping the infringers disguise their culpability. "The 
>best guideline we can offer at this point is that, if you want to use 
>English, you need a license."
>Legal observers have pointed out that other dictionary publishers also 
>have rights to use the Webster name, but SUW is in a unique position 
>because its dictionary was published in 1923.  Due to the Sonny Bono 
>Copyright Term Extension Act, all previous dictionaries have entered into 
>the public domain, leaving the long out-of-print Semi-Unabridged Webster 
>tome with priority as the oldest copyrighted lexicon.
>SUW Corp., which acquired rights to the dictionary shortly after forming 
>earlier this year, plans no legal actions against individual users of 
>English until after its lawsuits with AOL/Time Warner and possibly other 
>media conglomerates are settled. "We would suggest, however, that everyone 
>be mindful of today's announcement in that regard," Ellis added. "At this 
>point, for example, it should be understood that MSN is the only on-line 
>service that is legally authorized to send or receive e-mail messages 
>written in English."
>Ellis also reacted angrily to critics who've suggested his company is just 
>a legal stalking horse for Microsoft and not actually a dictionary 
>publisher. "We are in the dictionary business, and we will prove that by 
>putting out an update of the 1923 edition in the near future to further 
>extend our intellectual property rights." He also refuted claims that SUW 
>is threatening lawsuits only against those who are critical of it or 
>Microsoft. "We absolutely believe in everyone's right to speak their mind 
>freely," he stated. "But those who are unwilling to acknowledge of rights 
>of legitimate copyright holders shouldn't use our language to do so."
>In the GripeLog weblog this week at http://www.gripe2ed.com:
>Microsoft Licensing Changes
>Do the new benefits Microsoft has added to Software Assurance represent a 
>victory for customers?
>Licensing and Copyright
>What do Microsoft, Intuit and Cisco have in common? They are all pushing 
>copyright laws further than they are meant to go.
>Norton Expiration
>Readers are complaining about nagware for Norton Antivirus.
>If you have any comments, questions, problems or gripes about this 
>newsletter, please write me directly at foster at gripe2ed.com. Thanks for 
>your interest.
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