Saturday, January 21, 2012

DARPA Creates Time Cloak That Can Mask Events by Distorting Light

I am always intrigued by DARPA, because it is the government's "mad scientist" wing that comes up with all types of crazy inventions. The latest one is a "time-cloak" which can mask an entire event. This differs from an invisibility cloak which will causes an object to disappear from optical view, but is still detectable by other methods. The time-cloak causes the entire event to simply disappear from detection. Although it is currently only available on a small scale, if the Pentagon ever perfects the technology, it will be able to create the ultimate secret spy.

In movie magic, people and objects can appear or disappear or move from place to place in an instant. Just stop the camera, move things around and start it again. Now, Cornell researchers have demonstrated a similar "temporal cloak" -- albeit on a very small scale -- in the transport of information by a beam of light.

Source: Cornell Chronicle

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Congress Can Allow Certain Public Domain Works to be Restored to Copyright

Golan v. Holder (Congress Can Pass Legislation to Copyright Works in the Public Domain)

This particular Golan v. Holder ruling is the result of the U.S. coming into compliance with various international intellectual property treaties including the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (as a part of The Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA)). As a result of these treaties, Section 514 of URAA (Section 104A in the Copyright Act) grants copyright protection to works protected in their country of origin, but lacking protection in the United States for any of three reasons: (1) The United States did not protect works from the country of origin at the time of publication; (2) the United States did not protect sound recordings fixed before 1972; or (3) the author had not complied with certain U.S. statutory formalities.

In 1996, copyright was automatically restored in certain foreign works that were then in the public domain in the United States but were protected by copyright or neighboring rights in the source country. Owners of a restored work were directed to notify reliance parties if the owner of the rights planned to enforce the rights. One means of notification was filing with the Copyright Office a Notice of Intent to Enforce (NIE) a Restored Copyright.

Works encompassed by §514 are granted the protection they would have enjoyed had the United States maintained copyright relations with the author’s country or removed formalities incompatible with Berne. As a consequence of the barriers to U. S. copyright protection prior to §514’s enactment, foreign works “restored” to protection by the measure had entered the public domain in this country. To cushion the impact of their placement in protected status, §514 provides ameliorating accommodations for parties who had exploited affected works before the URAA was enacted.

The potential danger of this ruling is that it provides an additional precedent for Congress to "re-copyright" works that may have fallen in the public domain. While this ruling applies to foreign works, there may come a time where Congress attempts to pass (or actually passes) legislation to re-copyright public domain works by American authors. If so, the constitutionality of any such law will have to be judged versus the Copyright Clause. Until then, this ruling will govern.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Has Your Doctor Received Money from the Pharmaceutical Industry?

The money in the pharmaceutical industry is staggering at times. I've had friends who used to work as sales reps in the pharmaceutical industry pushing various medicines and it was big money at its finest. The best reps received trips and lavish getaways at choice destinations around the world, and these perks were reserved for the reps who generated the most sales in their respective territories. Sales were based on the number of prescriptions that were written by the doctors in the territories.

Needless to say, some of the sales reps did whatever was necessary to get the doctors in their territories to write more prescriptions for the drugs the reps were pushing - including offering things of consideration such as meals, trips, gift certificates or even ca$h.
Just like payola in the music industry, except this was payola for people's health.

Perhaps your doctor has received monies from the pharmaceutical industry and you want to know this information. If so, you can check the
ProPublica database to see if your doctor is listed as being a recipient of pharmaceutical monies. Please note that this database is not an exhaustive search, but rather, it is the information that has been disclosed by twelve (12) companies.

For decades, drug companies kept the names of their speakers -- and how much they paid them -- secret. But over the past two years, companies have begun posting this information on their web sites, some as the result of legal settlements with the federal government. ProPublica took these disclosures and assembled them into a single, comprehensive database that allows patients to search for their physician.

Source: ProPublica