What's Left 2016-08-21 Volume 70

Tell Your University: Don't Sell Patents to Trolls ; Topless Trudeau is a dangerous distraction for Canadians and the media ; Rally: Justice for Abdirahman Abdi; Report questions need for mass surveillance ;Trump can still win; LEFT NOISE

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Tell Your University: Don’t Sell Patents to Trolls

In the current economy, laws that regulate patents play a central roll in sustaining private investment and bringing products to consumers. Patents are the monopoly rights for companies over production of a product so they may make a profit – a central theme in the “innovation economy”. However, most academics studying intellectual property acknowledge that the majority of technology “innovation” covered by private patents has been either directly financed by the public sector or is highly subsidized. Much of the technology found in mobile phones was actually invented by publicly financed university researchers and government labs.

Unfortunately, all this public subsidy is still not enough for some companies who have purchased these monopoly patent rights. The ecosystem of patent owners include companies who are not interested in using the patent to bring technology to consumers, they simply want to own them so other companies have to pay to rent the technology in the patents. These companies are widely regarded as “trolls” in the technology community. Essentially, they use the unregulated market in patents to drive costs up for new technologies others might try to bring into the marketplace.

It is true irony then that universities – institutions largely funded by the public and developing these technologies – are selling their patents to patent trolls.

For socialists, this activity is ridiculous. Publicly funded technology development should be released to the public who funded it for free. The very notion that universities should generate revenue by making the last stages of production more difficult and expensive undermines the very purpose of publicly funded research. That these institutions have now turned to selling public technology rights to patent trolls – yet again increasing the cost of research and development – is ludicrous.

Luckily, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (the defender of everything good about freedom on the internet) has launched a campaign to stop universities from selling their patents to patent trolls. A similar campaign should be launched here in Canada in conjunction with defending the principles of public-financed technology: publicly-funded research should be free for the public to take advantage of.

Tell Your University: Don’t Sell Patents to Trolls



Topless Trudeau is a dangerous distraction for Canadians and the media

Ten months into Trudeau’s mandate and the Prime Minister continues to be treated as a celebrity to be swooned over. There have been countless shirtless encounters and selfies this summer (all of which have made bold headlines) but in terms of policy or any sort of political content, there has not been a whole lot the media has reported on.

In the meantime, Canada has become the second largest arms dealer in the Middle East, promises on post-secondary education, Indigenous rights, electoral reform, stopping corporate cronyism, and marijuana legalization are on the back burner. Members of the Prime Minister’s office have even threatened journalists. Sometimes it seems that the only serious attempt to correct the damage that was done under the previous Conservative government has been to put a fresh coat of paint on the government’s public relations machine.

Progressives have to talk more about the political issues and how those responsible (i.e. our celebrity Prime Minister) are doing little, if anything at all, to help communities get back on their feet. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in order to restore the funding Harper’s Conservatives cut from women’s organizations, to address climate change, to preserve and restore the environment, to put funding back into public services, to reverse dangerous anti-union and anti-worker policies, to repeal the racists and xenophobic immigration agenda that Harper cemented … the list goes on.

Closer attention needs to be paid to the federal government. If not, more and more things will pass by without notice or consequence for those in power. Canadians wanted a different, more progressive government. What we have now is a prettier more hip version of regressive right-wing politics.

Contrast Between Photo-Op Justin And Policy Trudeau Is Night And Day

Rally: Justice for Abdirahman Abdi

This Wednesday activists will gather outside the Ontario Special Investigations Unit headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario, to demand Justice for Abdirahman Abdi. Abdi is yet another Black person who has been killed by police with no cause.

Justice for Abdirahman Abdi - Not Another Black Life



Report questions need for mass surveillance

A new UK report has undermined almost all of the reasons the Conservative government has put forward in expanding mass surveillance of the UK public. Released by the government’s own independent review panel of terrorism legislation in the UK, the report looks at the case made by the intelligence services for the expansion of mass collection of digital communications. The review panel points out that, while the use of current intrusive surveillance methods have been useful to the intelligence agencies, there is little reason to expand power and reduce legal oversight.

UK’s mass-surveillance draft law grants spies incredible powers for no real reason – review

Trump can still win

Hillary Clinton is up in the polls, but with the election months away, Donald Trump could definitely still win and nothing should be taken for granted. The media would love nothing better than to build-out a narrative of Trump coming from behind.

Election Update: Why Clinton Doesn’t Have This Race Locked Up



1. The Tragically Hip played their last concert on Saturday night, with Justin Trudeau in attendance.

Lead singer Gord Downie subtly set Trudeau up to either address the deplorable conditions on First Nations’ reserves or look like a total failure.   • The Politically Hip Gord DownieGord Downie calls out Trudeau at the Hip’s last concert

2. G-Eazy and Macklemore - FDT (Fuck Donal Trump) - Remix!

A few weeks ago we heard the original on Left Noise, now there is a remix – check out the white dudes face at the very end – priceless.

3. Adil Al-Mshiti - Sawfa Nabqa Huna (We Will Remain)

Al-Mshiti wrote this song after spending five years in a Libyan prison. The song went viral during the Arabic revolution. The BBC has a nice little piece on the song.

The Arabic revolution song that went viral

4. Vivien Goldman at Pitchfork compiles 33 classic feminist punk songs for your listening pleasure.

The Story of Feminist Punk in 33 Songs

5. The STRANGER THINGS soundtrack is out.

But, it doesn’t include some of the best tracks from the show, including Elegia by New Order. But alas, hearing it in the show is a reminder of the brilliant anti-capitalist and Academy-Award nominated animated short-film “More” by Mark Osborne that uses the same song. WARNING: This 6 minute video might just ruin your day - it is that depressing. • More - Directed by Mark Osborne (with the song “Elegia” by New Order)