All Your Pixels Are (Probably Not) Belong To Pantone

There’s a piece of news floating around the open IP and allied communities at the moment which appears to have caused some consternation. It comes from Adobe, who have announced that due to an end of their licensing deal with Pantone LLC, PSD images loaded into Photoshop will have pixels containing unlicensed Pantone colours replaced with black. What, Pantone owns colours now? Are we expected to pay a royalty every time we take a picture of a blue sky? It’s natural to react with suspicion when hearing a piece of news like this, but for once we think this might not be the unreasonable intellectual property land grab it may first appear. To illustrate this, it’s necessary to explain what Pantone does, and what they don’t do. Continue reading “All Your Pixels Are (Probably Not) Belong To Pantone”

Your Console, Your Cartridge, You Choose? Nintendo Faces A Challenge

If you read our articles, you’ll notice that we will usually feature images related to the subjects we talk about. If they came from another source and they’re not CC-licensed or similar then they are the property of someone else but we are using them under a doctrine known as fair use. Excerpts of copyrighted material may be used under fair use for the purposes of such things as journalistic reporting, so for example we can use a copyrighted picture of Captain America were we to write about Marvel superheroes. Some content owners still try to stop this, and it’s one of them that [Linus Tech Tips] has in their sights as they have published a guide to running Nintendo Switch games on a Steam Deck without they believe giving any justifiable cause for the notoriously litigious game giant to take action. It’s full of carefully blurred Nintendo IP, and there is no coverage of pirate software downloads.

On one hand it’s about a heavy-handed console developer taking down small online content producers, but there’s another angle which is far more relevant to the hardware community who read Hackaday. It also has application in the field of software emulation, because while the console manufacturer would prefer to stop all but their own unmodified hardware running a game there should be nothing to stop a legally owned piece of software or hardware being run in any way its owner chooses. This is the central thesis explored at the end of the video, and the gimmick of trying to draw Nintendo into the open on the matter is their way of bringing publicity to it.

Even though [Linus Tech Tips] is probably one of the most viewed technology YouTube channels, it’s clear that Nintendo will have the deeper pockets should they choose to rise to the bait. So we’re sure their lawyers are all over this as we write, but we’d be interested to see whether the claims made in the video are enough to see it stay up. It would be nice to think that it might cause Nintendo to reconsider some of their policies, but we’re not holding our breath. Continue reading “Your Console, Your Cartridge, You Choose? Nintendo Faces A Challenge”

Will The Real Commodore Please Stand Up?

The Commodore 64 is a much-loved 8-bit retro computer that first appeared in 1982 and finally faded away around a decade later. The Commodore company started by [Jack Tramiel] went on to make the Amiga, and eventually ceased trading some time in the late 1990s. All history, now kept alive only by enthusiasts, right? Well, not quite, as the C64 has been the subject of a number of revivals both miniature and full-sized over the years. The latest came in the form of a Kickstarter for the C64x, a seemingly legitimately-branded Commodore 64-shaped PC, but it seems that has now been paused due to a complaint from an Italian company claiming to be the real heirs of Commodore. So will the real Commodore please stand up?

The origin of the Kickstarter C64x breadbin C64 PC is well enough documented, having its roots in a legitimate 2010 offering for which the person behind the C64x appears to have gained the rights. The Italian company is also called Commodore and uses the familiar branding from the glory days to sell some Commodore-themed games, novelties, and a tablet computer, but its website is a little tight-lipped about how it came by the use of that IP. Could it have come upon those rights through the 1990s German owner of the brand, Escom? We’d be fascinated to know.

Continue reading “Will The Real Commodore Please Stand Up?”

The Honda Takedown: How A Global Brand Failed To Read The Room

Perhaps the story of the moment in the world of 3D printing concerns a Japanese manufacturer of cars and motorcycles. Honda has sent a takedown notice requesting the removal of models starting with the word “Honda” to the popular 3D printing model repository site Printables. It’s left in its wake puzzlement, disappointment, and some anger, but what’s really going on? Perhaps it’s time to examine what has happened and to ponder what it means for those who put online printable parts and accessories for cars or any other item manufactured by a large corporation.

If You Make Something, What Rights Do You Have?

Soichiro Honda with his 1964 Formula 1 car
Soichiro Honda, famous for being an engineer rather than a serial litigator. Roderick Eime, CC BY 2.0.

The story is that as far as we can glean from reports online, the takedown notice was sent only to Printables by the European arm of Honda, and was pretty wide-ranging with any Honda-related model in its scope. Printables complied with it, but as this is being written there are plenty of such models available from Thingiverse and other model repository sites.

Anyone who makes a career in content creation has by necessity to have a working knowledge of copyright and intellectual property law as it’s easy for the unwary to end up the subject of a nasty letter, so here at Hackaday while we’re not lawyers this is a subject on which we have some professional experience. What follows then is our take based on that experience, our view on Honda’s motivation, and whether those of you who put up 3D models have anything to worry about. Continue reading “The Honda Takedown: How A Global Brand Failed To Read The Room”

E3D On Patents And Not Being Evil About Them

In our community it’s certain that there will be many people with very strong views about patents. It’s fair to say that the patents system is at times not fit for purpose, with such phenomena as patent trolls, submarine patents, and patent war chests doing nothing but leading it into disrepute. So it’s interesting to read the words of 3D printer hotend manufacturer E3D, as they talk about why they feel the need to patent some of their inventions, and how they intend to proceed with them.

The result is a no-nonsense explanation of why their work being reproduced by overseas competitors has brought them to this point, and in short: they’re patenting very specific inventions rather than broad catch-alls, they are making what they call a legally binding promise not to enforce the patents against non-commercial or academic experimenters, and they will continue to open-source as much as they can.

Will it work for them, or is it the start of a slippery slope? We can see why the E3D folks have taken this step, and we hope that they will continue to act in a responsible manner. If not, as those who have followed the maker-oriented 3D printing business for a long time will know: treading the line between open-source and closed-source can be fraught with danger.

Arm Gives Gift To Startups: Zero Cost

Who hasn’t dreamed of pulling together some gadget in their garage and turning it into a big business? Of course, most gadgets today have a CPU in them, and Arm CPUs power just about any kind of embedded device you can think of. If you just want to use a chip, that’s easy. You buy them from a licensee and you use their tools for development. But if you want to integrate ARM’s devices into your own chips, that’s a different story. You have to pay fees, buy tools, and pay licenses on each chip you produce. Until now. Arm’s flexible access for startups program will let you apply to get all of that free.

To qualify, you have to be an “early stage silicon startup with limited funding.” Normally, flexible access costs about $75,000 to $200,000 a year and that doesn’t cover your license fees and royalties. The plan offered to qualifying startups is the $75,000 package, but that still includes access to nearly all Arm products, technical support, a few introductory training credits, and development tools. After your first tape-out, though, it looks as though you’ll have to pony up.

Continue reading “Arm Gives Gift To Startups: Zero Cost”

Brute-Forced Copyrighting: Liberating All The Melodies

Bluntly stated, music is in the end just applied physics. Harmony follows — depending on the genre — a more or less fixed set of rules, and thereĀ  are a limited amount of variation possible within the space of music itself. So there are technically only so many melodies possible, making it essentially a question of time until a songwriter or composer would come up with a certain sequence of notes without knowing that they’re not the first one to do so until the cease and desist letters start rolling in.

You might well argue that there is more to a song than just the melody — and you are absolutely right. However, current copyright laws and past court rulings may not care much about that. Aiming to point out these flaws in the laws, musician tech guy with a law degree [Damien Riehl] and musician software developer [Noah Rubin] got together to simply create every possible melody as MIDI files, releasing them under the Creative Commons Zero license. While their current list is limited to a few scales of fixed length, with the code available on GitHub, it’s really just a matter of brute-forcing literally every single possible melody.

Admittedly, such a list of melodies might not have too much practical use, but for [Damien] and [Noah] it’s anyway more about the legal and philosophical aspects: musicians shouldn’t worry about getting sued over a few overlapping notes. So while the list serves as a “safe set of melodies” they put in the public domain, their bigger goal is to mathematically point out the finite space of music that shouldn’t be copyrightable in the first place. And they definitely have a point — just imagine where music would be today if you could copyright and sue over chord progressions.
Continue reading “Brute-Forced Copyrighting: Liberating All The Melodies”