Seamless Computing Microsoft and Bill Gates – plus Seamless Lawyering and Seamless Blogging

Seamless Computing Microsoft and Bill Gates – plus Seamless Lawyering and Seamless Blogging

The Future: Seamless Computing

Seamless Computing
Seamless Computing

ZDNet just ran a story in German about Microsoft’s Bill Gates and his new vision of “seamless computing” which was recently reported in English e.g. at the Guardian Unlimited and first presented by Bill Gates in November, 2003 as a concept at the 2003 Comdex in Las Vegas. The Microsoft website writes, quoting Bill Gates:

“Gates said the next great opportunity for the technology industry is to create software that breaks down the barriers between people, systems and information. Gates described this technology vision as Seamless Computing, and to realize it, Gates says the industry must deliver key software breakthroughs that create a platform and standards to allow digital information and systems to more easily work together.[emphasis added]

In this decade, we’re engaged on delivering the final level of infrastructure, which is a software connecting infrastructure that connects all your different information together, that lets you work in a very natural way, connects you up to your speech, and your ink, and your photos, all those natural things. And so we talk about this as Seamless Computing, the idea that we, through advanced software, will be able to eliminate those things.

The word “seamless” appears to be “in”. Indeed, the LawPundit blawg with its tagline “The Law is a Seamless Web” was founded on October 1, 2003. Is this one of those cases of collective consciousness or have the Microsofties been reading this blawg?

We are of course just kidding about that.

The Origin of the Term: Seamless Computing

Although “Seamless Computing” may become a “Microspeak” phrase of choice for the coming decade, as Mary Jo Foley suggests in her November 21, 2003 Microsoft-Watch article on On ‘Seamless Computing’ and Other Microspeak,

“[t]here are early public references to the term from Microsoft nemesis The Object Management Group.”


As written at ENT News:

“Gates proclaimed the decade the era of ‘Seamless Computing.’ It’s a term that students of history will remember was originally adopted by the Object Management Group in the mid- to late-’90s to describe its work in developing CORBA; Microsoft wasn’t among the 700 or so companies that formed the OMG consortium.”

The earliest article online we could find about “seamless computing” is The Seamless Computing Environment, a paper by Timothy J. Sheehan (Oak Ridge National Lab), Robert Pennington (Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center), Pillip M. Papadopoulos, George A. Geist and Richard Alexander (Oak Ridge National Lab) presented at the Intel Supercomputers Users Group, June 11-13, 1997, Albuquerque, New Mexico. See The Program, The Abstract of the Paper and The Paper.

If Microsoft were to register “Seamless Computing” as a trademark in the future, would it stand?

Foley writes at Microsoft-Watch:

“Microsoft execs first began talking about seamless computing (no “TM,” but Microsoft is using initial caps when referring to the term) back in 2001, when the company rolled out Windows XP.

Microsoft seems to be equating Seamless Computing with interoperability. But Redmond’s kind of Seamless Computing isn’t focused interoperability among heterogeneous systems and software from different vendors (which is what most folks mean when they talk interoperability). Instead, Seamless Computing, according to Microsoft, is all about interconnecting Windows-based systems, from the Auto PC, to the Media Center PC, to the data-center hub.”

Beyond Seamless Computing: Seamless Lawyering and Seamless Blogging

From the standpoint of the legal profession and law bloggers, the next steps forward in the evolution of “Seamless Computing” – in the spirit of the Eolas patent applications – are of course foreseeable to us all.

We can in the future probably expect to have the following two terms – sorry, we could not resist these. The first is:

Seamless Lawyering

Seamless Lawyering
Seamless Lawyering

“Seamless Lawyering” (TM) – the term is hereby coined and trademarked by LawPundit today, January 31, 2004, as we found no listings whatsoever when we entered this term in the Google search box. Under “Seamless Lawyering” we understand the seamless interoperable and ubiquitous digital process which extends


1) client acquisition through websites, blogs or similar online resources

to 2) client correspondence by blogs, e-mail and other digital media

to 3) speech communication via voice mail and comparable digital technologies

to 4) client representation through online resources, e.g. electronic filings – excluding of course any required personal appearances before courts, regulatory bodies or other government offices, and

to 5) execution of online legal tasks by legal professionals in the exercise of their responsibilities, including of course online research, contract negotiation through networked online meetings, and so on

– all such “seamless lawyering” to be achieved via the internet or similar digital means.

A “seamless client” would be one whose legal requirements would be fulfilled by a “seamless lawyer” who would never meet the client personally. As strange as this sounds, we are sure this will one day in fact be a digital reality.

and the second term:

Seamless Bloggiing

Seamless Blogging
Seamless Blogging

“Seamless Blogging” (TM) – the term is hereby coined and trademarked by LawPundit today, January 31, 2004. Under “Seamless Blogging” we understand the seamless interoperable and ubiquitous digital process of the creation of blogs, whether as text, graphics, photography (both blogging or moblogging) or mixed media – all combined with the seamless digital distribution (e.g. by Atom or RSS, or similar existing or future technologies) of their content on state of the art digital media, such as computers, pda’s, mobile phones, and future derivative technologies, etc. An optimized “seamless blogger” will cover the bandwidth of every possible digital technology and a “seamless blog” will be accessible by syndication at any time, anywhere, on any media by anyone.

Better Microsoft than Eolas

Are we kidding? Now why would we do that? We simply did not want Eolas to beat us to the punch.

In the spirit of good faith, however, we now thus throw the terms “Seamless Lawyering” and “Seamless Blogging” into the public domain, to be used gratis by anyone who finds them useful. As for “Seamless Computing” we will see what Microsoft and Bill Gates bring us in the future. Listen, the Law Pundit is a great fan of Bill Gates. What a bright guy and what a tremendous positive impact he has made on our age. Wonderful. Makes you glad to be here in this era.

Compulsory singing of Japanese "Kimigayo" anthem legally challenged by teachers

Compulsory singing of Japanese “Kimigayo” anthem legally challenged by teachers

Is Forced Singing Legal?

The process of nationalistic indoctrination is a problem everywhere, as manifested by a recent legal challenge by teachers to the compulsory singing of the Kimigayo anthem at school ceremonies in Japan. See Japan Today – News – 228 teachers sue over compulsory singing of anthem.

Particularly of interest at that Japan Today page are also the ca. 70 comments (at this date) of readers.

The Law Pundit posted previously on the pledge of allegiance in American schools here and here.

Indigenous intellectual property, art, architecture, cultural icons and modern copyrights

Indigenous intellectual property, art, architecture, cultural icons and modern copyrights

The concept of indigenous intellectual property is one of the stranger notions floating around in the intellectual property world.

The Artwork of Prince Harry

Ayers Rock
Ayers Rock

A BBC News report as well as an August 19, 2003 Guardian article by Peter Shadbolt and Peter Collins entitled Harry paints his way into outback row raised the issue of “indigenous intellectual property” with regard to some artwork of the British Royal family’s Prince Harry. This artwork was clearly “inspired” by Australian Aboriginal Art, especially the use of the symbol of a lizard.

Indeed, we looked at the work and found it be quite good for a young man.

But as written in the Guardian:

“Anne Loxley, a Sydney-based curator specialising in Aboriginal art, said she expects a large test case about indigenous intellectual property in the near future.

‘With the law going the way it is, even Prince Harry could spark something off,’ she said, adding that the prince had made the fatal error of appreciating the aboriginal works for their aesthetic value alone.”

Robert Eggington, Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation, has investigated alleged cases of artistic “cultural exploitation” and is quoted as saying:

“When we see our symbols – important symbols for us that represent lightning, stars and waterways and other important religious entities – being used on underwear or toilet seat covers, it can be very disappointing. The only thing we’ve got left is our culture and when we see this it strips our work of its integrity and its dignity,” he said.

It appears to us as if the above critical comments stem from people whose profession involves Aboriginal art in some way. It is hard to see how the average Aboriginal is being “culturally exploited”, as if the artistic depiction of e.g. Eskimo igloos or American Indian “totem poles” was somehow culturally demeaning. Perhaps there is a fine line between “business” and alleged “indigenous rights”?

All Art is Based on Something Previous

Totem Pole
Totem Pole

A lizard painted in a certain art style can not be viewed as “indigenous intellectual property”. Such a standard would prohibit depiction of almost anything at all coming out of man’s civilizational history. Art is a manifestation of society as it is and has been. All art is inextricably entwined in the milieu from which it arises. Who in art has ever created anything totally new which was not based on things that existed before? What artwork did not take its motive force from the artist’s world at the time of the creation of the artwork?

Who Owns What ?

In addition to the above problems, we have the legitimate question of who owns what?

Does the fact that someone comes – or alleges to come – from a given cultural heritage give him ownership rights to any kind of cultural icons in a particular society? For example, one Aboriginal might approve of Prince Harry’s art, another might be against it. So who is to decide? Does mere “belonging” to a cultural group give one rights over the cultural works of one’s long passed ancestors? That would be a most unique legal concept.

pyramids egypt
Pyramids of Egypt

Much of the history of civilization is art in its broadest sense. Who owns the cultural heritage of Lascaux or Chauvet? Do we have any evidence that the Magdalenians – who painted these cave paintings – were the direct ancestors of the French of today ? and if so, which group of French – those in Bordeaux or those in Alsace? Indeed, who were the cave painters of Europe? What about the cultural ownership of rock art at Valcamonica in Italy? There are well over 100,000 prehistoric art figures represented at this prehistoric site. Would all of these figures be protected by so-called indigenous intellectual property rights?

On another cultural level, we could then also ask: who were the architects that actually built the Pyramids of Egypt in ancient days? Were they the ancestors of today’s Egyptians, or of another people, as a study of the features, hair color and genetic information – such as DNA and blood type – of the pharaohs might indicate? These issues in the history of art and architecture are surely not completely resolved.

Cross on a Goblet
Cross on a Goblet

What about religious feelings and art ?

As for the injury to religious feelings caused by art, just imagine if the Christian cross were regarded to be “indigenous intellectual property” of e.g. the Roman Catholic Church and that pictures of the cross – even in art – could only be used as the Church permitted. We would be back in the dark ages of mankind when religious ignorance, intolerance and superstition ruled the earth. Indeed, this kind of abject primitivism is still a portion of the belief system of certain cultures in which artistic depiction of various kinds is prohibited. Such belief systems are trying to take mankind back to the days before art – and that is maybe about 20,000 to 30,000 years ago. These are the forces against civilization.


What about music ?

As for the “proper use” of art, imagine if the music of e.g. Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Brahms, or Strauss were suddenly limited to people who played that music “properly”, i.e. with the “proper respect” as determined by some government or other musical authority. One can always find willing censors to tyrannize artists and the public.

From our perspective, the question is easy to decide when we deal with indigenous symbols of great antiquity. NO ONE really has a better legal claim to that property than another person.

What about modern art and architecture ?

How about the Statue of Liberty, for example? The Statue of Liberty was a gift of France to the United States, based on an original idea by Edouard de Laboulaye, a Professor of Law. If “indigenous intellectual property” actually existed, who would own the indigenous intellectual property rights to this Grand Old Lady?

The issue gets a bit more complicated as we reach the modern period.

Coca Cola Warhol
Coca Cola ®
Warhol Art
and Copyright

Campbell's Soup
Andy Warhol
focused on
cultural icons

Ponder if Andy Warhol’s famous rendition of a Campbell’s Soup ® can or of Coca-Cola ® bottles is copyright infringement per se? Not only was Warhol’s art intended to be “art”, but it was also extremely successful financially and thus was surely a “commercial exploitation” of a trademark.

On the other hand, it was an honest attempt to portray artistically the age and society in which Warhol was living and in which we all still live. It is an age marked by tin cans and Coke bottles ®.

[Personally, the LawPundit is a Campbell’s Soup ® and Coca-Cola fan ®.]

Cultural Icons

The legal issue of the intellectual property status of “cultural icons” is not a hypothetical one and is found discussed in 1 J. INTELL. PROP. 61 by Alyson Lewis, J.D. 1999, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in “Playing around with Barbie ® : Expanding Fair Use for Cultural Icons“.

Barbie Example
Standard Barbie Doll Style

Malted Barbie
“Malted Barbie”
Is the Photo a
Infringement ?

A 9th Circuit decision recently dismissed the case in which Mattel had sued a photographer for making photos of Barbie dolls in “unusual” poses, one of which we have pictured here. The doctrines of free speech, fair use and copyrights collided in that case, with copyrights clearly losing.

Control over Artistic Creations

Obviously, there are limits to the amount of control anyone has on their artistic creations and what the world does with those creations. The legal issue is: how much control is and should there be? As written at the ArtsJournal quoting the Los Angeles Times (Newsday) 01/08/03:

“A Great Threat To Modern Culture: “The current artistic culture, which is replete with references, borrowings and parody, has collided with a corporate and legal culture that is bent on protecting intellectual property. If Andy Warhol were working today, he would be facing litigation from Campbell’s soup, Church & Dwight (the makers of Brillo pads) and every corporation whose logo he appropriated. ‘Virtually all art builds on previous work, either overtly or covertly’.” Los Angeles Times (Newsday) 01/08/03

True, true, but ponder that Warhol’s most famous Campbell’s Soup painting was later auctioned for over $1 million at Sotheby’s. Warhol could, after all, have pictured an “unknown” soup, could he have not? So, Warhol WAS in fact “capitalizing” on “cultural icons”.

Copyright Issues in the Internet Age

Copyright Issues in the Internet Age

Library Research
Copyright Issues in the
Internet Age

In The Tyranny of Copyright?, a January 25, 2004 New York Times article, Robert S. Boynton, director of the graduate magazine journalism program at New York University, presents a report on the discussion of modern copyright problems and the internet.

Boynton writes quoting Professor Yochai Benkler of Yale Law School :

”We are at a moment in our history at which the terms of freedom and justice are up for grabs,” Benkler says. He notes that each major innovation in the history of communications — the printing press, radio, telephone — was followed by a brief period of openness before the rules of its usage were determined and alternatives eliminated. ”The Internet,” he says, ”is in that space right now.”

The article quotes numerous personalities and legal authorities in the field. It is a very good read here.

Research Skills are not everything – but close

Research Skills are not everything – but close

Library Research
Research Skills in Academia FAIL according to Berkeley study

Berkeley studies have confirmed what we have known and argued for years as a teacher of “legal research” – that very few people out there in academia have learned how to do research properly, and this includes the professors, where failing research skills are often mirrored in the incompleteness or even falsity of their articles in peer-reviewed journals.

We have been battling against this for years. See, StarsStonesScholars and LexiLine.

The Law Pundit was lucky in his younger days on this score, laboring as a research assistant for professors throughout undergraduate and law school days and knowing the library inside and out.

In her article of January 21, 2004, Wendy Edelstein of the UC Berkeley News in Improving undergraduate research skills writes about some remarkable findings at Berkeley:

“[I]n a five-year survey of information-literacy competency conducted by Berkeley’s Teaching Library in the 1990s …results indicated that graduating Berkeley seniors were perplexed by elementary tasks involving organizing and accessing information. More specifically, the survey found, the median result in information-literacy competency among the surveyed seniors was a failing score.”[emphasis added by LawPundit]

Worse, in a follow-up study, professors themselves were tested and found that they were equally inept in research:

“Last summer, a number of Berkeley professors from a variety of disciplines were asked to research a group of Jewish chicken farmers in Petaluma, a topic well outside their respective academic purviews. Much like students might, they became overwhelmed, turning to databases they regularly use (and even, it can now be told, to Google) for help.”

Note that the study – in finding that professors when overwhelmed, turn to known resources – mirrors what we have found to be rampant in academia. When the mainstream is confronted with NEW ideas outside of what they think they know, they retreat to old well-trodden paths and ignore the new material. This is NOT science.

Worse than even that, in the course of these studies it was discovered:

“The humanities faculty were thrilled to learn that their teaching goals weren’t different from those of their counterparts in the sciences,” Tollefson continued. ‘They both prefer teaching concepts over facts.'”

We agree that it is more fun to teach “concepts”, but a review of the humanities in particular shows that they have often FORGOTTEN the facts. Each academic teaches his or her “concepts” – which is fine – but those concepts must be checked and researched AGAINST the facts and abandoned if the facts do not agree with the concepts. Many academics still have not learned this lesson.

To the credit of the Berkeley professors above, they subsequently changed their teaching to deal with the weaknesses found in the study.

Now, what about all the other academics out there who do not know that they have these weaknesses and are passing these research inabilities on to new generations of academics? We speak here particularly about academic disciplines outside of law.

Copyright Essentials for Librarians and Educators

Copyright Essentials for Librarians and Educators

Copyright Essentials for Librarians and Educators


The Copyright Management Center at IUPUI (Indiana University – Purdue University – Indianapolis) has an excellent basic overview of “Copyright Essentials for Librarians and Educators” organized into the categories of

Copyright Quickguide!

Fair-Use Issues

Permissions Information and

Copyright Ownership.

Reference is made to a book by attorney and librarian Kenneth D. Crews, Copyright Essentials for Librarians and Educators (Chicago: American Library Association, 2000), which of course requires some update work in view of the rapid developments in copyright which have occurred since then.

The Law, Civil Rights, Integration, Affirmative Action, and Diversity

The Law, Civil Rights, Integration, Affirmative Action, and Diversity

Adam Cohen in his January 18, 2004 article The Supreme Struggle in the New York Times writes about the course of US Supreme Court decisions on civil rights, integration, affirmative action and diversity ever since Brown v. Board of Education was decided nearly 50 years ago. It is an interesting read.

According to Cohen’s article, and comparing that with this article at, will the much hated school busing of children to achieve integration again be a political issue down the road?

School Busing
Will school busing again be an issue?

In the view of Law Pundit, forcing the “pledge of allegiance” on young school children – this from the right wing – is in the same category of tyranny as “school busing” – this from the left wing. Both use children as pawns in the ADULT’s political game. See this same political game in Northern Ireland. It is a highly offensive, reprehensible way to push one’s political goals by using children as the weapons of choice.

If adults want to achieve certain social goals, then it is up to them to push the “pledge of allegiance” at THEIR places of work – and if they want to achieve integration, then it is up to them to achieve it in THEIR institutions. As Pink Floyd correctly sings in “The Wall (Part II), albeit in another context with which we do not agree, but we do here: “Leave the Kids Alone”. Do not force your children (and especially not the children of OTHER people) to try to achieve what YOU as adults have not achieved. Rather, serve by example – then, and only then, will the children learn to do otherwise.