[Ed Foster's GripeLog] The GripeLog Column: "A Defining Moment"
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Thu May 29 15:00:41 PDT 2003
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>ED FOSTER'S GRIPELOG
>The Reader Advocate Column
>Thursday, May 29, 2003
>By Ed Foster
>A DEFINING MOMENT
>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.
>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
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