USA's Finest Supreme Court Ruling for Reuse

One of the places where the USA truly is a guardian of freedom and a defender of opportunity is the US Supreme Court and defenders of patent exhaustion policy.  The USA's defense of Jazz Camera in the seminal "first use" law case says....  If you buy it you own it.  If someone doesn't want you to own it, they have to offer you a LEASE, and there is a contract.   When the manufacturer has no lease agreement, and tries to claim that because of their patent or trademark, that you don't really own it and cannot resell it, the Supreme Court has ruled unanimously in the buyer's favor.

Congress I'm not so sure of.

Electronic Fronterier Foundation needs an international office...

Stay in the company, Willie
China's courts, like Japanese courts, are extending patents to OEMs in a payola scheme which takes advantage of most people's ignorance of the issue.  Japanese law was bought by OEMs decades ago, and established many of the "cash for clunker" and anti-refurbishment, anti-reuse policies which are spreading to Korea and other countries.

"Judiciating Obsolescence" worries me more than anything else... but seems like tin-foil hat paranoia to most of my friends and co-workers.  But that is exactly what is happening in other countries, and we have had some close calls here in the USA.
Jazz Photo Corp. v. United States International Trade Commission264 F. 3d 1094 (Fed. Cir. 2001), was a case in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit clarified the law of repair and reconstruction (permitting the owner of a patented item to fix the item when it breaks, but not to essentially build a new item from the parts of an old one), holding that it was not a patent infringement for one party to restore another party's patented "one-use" camera to be used a second time.
The USA is not immune. Corporations are chipping away at your right to own what you bought. Look at the steady extension of trademark law by Congress.  Steamboat Willy (the original Micky Mouse) keeps getting extended as a copyright for Disney.  If the rights to a trademark can be quietly extended for decades, why not patents on reuse and refurbishing?  Is there a 'right to repair', a "right to reuse"?  Or is it a privilege granted by government?
The film has been the center of some attention regarding the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act passed in the United States. Steamboat Willie has been close to entering the public domain in the U.S. several times. Each time, copyright protection has been extended. It could have entered public domain in 4 different years; first in 1956, renewed to 1984, then to 2003 by the Copyright Act of 1976, and finally to the current public domain date of 2023 by the Copyright Term Extension Act (also known pejoratively as the "Mickey Mouse Protection Act")[10] of 1998. The U.S. copyright onSteamboat Willie will be in effect through 2023 unless there is another extension of the law.
Perhaps we are moving into a world of corporate royal families, where everyone accepts that Disney never enters the corporate domain, where EULA agreements on software are auto-agreed, and where ink cartridges have paper agreements not to resell or refill the stuffed in the box?

Electronic Frontier Foundation of San Francisco gets less press than the 99 percenters occupying Wall Street.  Some on Occupy Wall Street seem to think that tax law is key, that taking money away from rich people and giving it to poor people is the solution.  The problem with that is it doesn't reward hard work and intelligence.  Reuse and Tinkering does. We should not really be as concerned about whether corporations have more money than we do.  We should be concerned that they are taking money away from our children and grandchildren, through copyright and patent extensions, and by making obsolescence laws aimed at the poorest people in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

If only Disney could convince us that bootlegged copies of Mickey Mouse cause cancer, that Tiggers have mercury switches, and that uploading film to youtube was exploitation of children.   If you want to be a green environmentalist millionaire, start a non-profit protesting the conditions of workers in the youtube upload market.  You'll find a lot of willing "Stewards" of responsible copyright laws.

File:Steamboat Willie.jpgTCL Corporation is one of the largest manufacturers of televisions in the world.  As explained in the wikipedia article, it has an awkward parentage, a kind of partnership between the Chinese Communist Party (it's government owned) and some stockbrokers from Hong Kong who got it listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange.  TCL is behind a "cash for clunkers" campaign to take "toxic ewaste" off the secondary market in China.  Prediction:  TCL will come to "rescue" Guiyu, just as HP is trying to "rescue" us from toner cartridge refilling in 2002.  But TCL may do it better, in a spiffier way.  What if TCL comes in and "cleans up" Guiyu? will chip harvesting and reuse markets survive?  Or will we applaud and roast weenies at 451 degrees Fahrenheit?

This is the most important thing I write about, perhaps.  But the posts on patent extention and patent exhaustion doctrine get blank stares from the internet audience.  I don't suspect that the posts are being blocked, blackballed or hidden, though that will happen someday in the future as dictators and corporations learn to censor internet commerce technologically, rather than with lawsuits.  There will be a law passed against the questioning of patents.  Just like when the royal family of England "owned" all the deer in the forest, and hunting was outlawed without expensive permission from the king, corporations will in effect "own the copper" inside your electronics, and you'll have to check off an "agreement button" which basically converts you to a lease.

Robin Hood, today, would be stealing copyrighted images from Disney, and using them to entertain children, or refilling ink cartridges for sustainable reuse.  But Disney might own Robin Hood.

Below is an excerpt from last month's Diane Rehm show.   Samantha McBride, author of Recycling Reconsidered, dares to hold out the possibility of fairly traded electronics overseas.  But see how NRDC watchdog Allen Hershkowitz jumps in to defend the crushing of HP ink cartridges, and export only of raw materials, to define "true stewardship" as warranty repair and crushed parts.  He makes an exception, for 'warrany'.   That means that the contract manufacturer, like Wistron, can only repair the make they manufactured for Apple if Apple says so.  The activity is exactly the same, this is about ownership of the "discarded".


And I think in the scheme of everything that we're talking about we need to recognize, as Bruce pointed out, that you do have to have some export markets right now for certain items. And let's try and see if we can't build responsible export markets, rather than damning export completely.


Right. We're not talking about banning export for warranty repair. And we're certainly not talking about banning the export of the disassembled components of electronic waste. What we're concerned about is the wholesale dumping into containers of e-waste, which then, under the guise of recycling, gets ship to the developing world where it is improperly handled.


Okay. So I have a printer at home. And every time I order a new ink I ship back my used ink product to the company. What does the company do with it?


The company extracts the residual ink to recover it for recycling. And depending on the company, but generally the large consumer electronics companies...




Right. H.P. is a good one. They will direct that electronic waste to a domestic processor in the United States for disassembly for the first stage in recycling. The plastic components or the metal components then may wind up being exported, but H.P. in particular, is an environmentally responsible electronics company which has been progressive on the e-waste issue. They got ahead of the curve. And they do work with e-Steward certified companies.
Some may not recall the traumatic experience I had visiting the empty city blocks in Nanhai and Foshan, in Southern China, in 2002.  HP and AGMA had given a grant to the Chinese EPA to seize counterfeit ink cartridges... but the "team" went a little overboard, arresting anyone fixing a printer, refilling a cartridge, anything, put them all in the streets and burned them, a la Fahrenheit 451.

I wrote an article for Recycling Today that year, titled "Setting a Higher Standard"  It has been ten years. The environmentalists who would sell the secondary market out from under the feet of poor and emerging tinkerers just didn't understand then.  Now I wonder, if they do understand, what they are getting paid.  I'm curious, does Allen get some of the money from the E-Steward Campaign, like Jim and Sarah at BAN do?  Or does he consult directly for companies in that program?

Lead poisoning of children is a serious problem.  It is so series, that it should be a crime to attempt to link it to ink cartridges, when it actually comes from raw material zinc and lead smelters.

Reporters need to follow the poison upstream, and follow the money downstream.  If CBS is to get a Polk Award for getting a tour of Guiyu from Jim Puckett, CBS needs to show they asked him who was paying him, and how the percentage of profits from recyclers who don't reuse funnels into our environmental movement.  I'm not a cynic, but environmentalists are at the same risk as the Catholic Church, if we allow ourselves to evolve into the Ayatollahs of E-Waste, and start to think of ourselves as special, as immune to corruption... that's how it starts.

What I've noticed most is that the Watchdogs who criticized Unicor, Michael Dell, Exporters, etc., are uniquely thin skinned.  If they are accused of being in it for the money, they scream that is an ad hominem attack.   The confusion over an accusation of conflict of interest and a personal insult (slut) is common in the religiously privileged or royal leader classes.  People who are so used to thinking themselves as "noble" that they find an accusation of less-than-noble motives to be the same thing as a personal slur... are... _________________

Books are dangerous, they corrupt one's mind.

No comments: