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Lots of people have experimented with ways to annotate web pages. Most of those experiments have failed, simply because the web is so darn big. The chance that someone else uses the same annotation software I do, visits the same pages that I do, and then bothers to make a useful comment about those pages becomes vanishingly small.
The Liquid Information demo takes another approach. It has a fixed set of annotation resources -- dictionaries, search engines, and so forth -- and makes them available for any page. This link applies the technology to this page. Hover your mouse over interesting words to see the annotation menu.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled (PDF file) against Grokster and StreamCast, holding that they could in fact be held liable for copyright infringement by their users.
The Court did not, however, revisit the Sony Betamax decision. The Betamax case held that Sony was not liable for copyright infringement: even though VCRs could be used to duplicate copyrighted materials, they have substantial noninfringing uses. That rule stands. The current decision instead finds that Grokster and StreamCast deliberately sought to profit from copyright infringement, and therefore are liable for it.
In other words, the Court drew a line between legal technology that happens to have illegal uses (Sony) and business models that depend on illegal acts (Grokster). Extremists on both sides will probably hate this decision, but it seems to me to create an environment that's good for both content creators and technological innovators.
This could get interesting. AMD is suing Intel, claiming the MPU giant's pricing and marketing practices violate antitrust laws.
(Wall Street Journal, paid subscribers only.)
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