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Four short links: 1 June 2011

Fair Use, Equation UI, Startup Numbers, and Data Search Engine

  1. Putting Fair Use Forward (Chronicle of Higher Education) — lawyer and academic collaborating on guidelines for academic fair use, intended to remove the chilling effect of the fear of being sued. Great quotes: People deal with fuzzy laws all the time, she argues. “Obscenity is impossible to define, and yet people have some idea of when they’re committing an obscenity or not. You could walk through your life being haunted by the specter of litigation in every aspect of it. But people don’t usually do this in their other free-speech rights.” (via David Adler)
  2. Scrubbing Calculator — clever UI for solving equations without needing to know how to solve equations. Imminent death of mathematics skill in the US predicted, film at 11. (via Dan Meyer)
  3. Startup Genome — a report, written from research into 650 startups. Investors who provide hands-on help have little or no effect on the company’s operational performance. But the right mentors significantly influence a company’s performance and ability to raise money. (However, this does not mean that investors don’t have a significant effect on valuations and M&A) Balanced teams with one technical founder and one business founder raise 30% more money, have 2.9x more user growth and are 19% less likely to scale prematurely than technical or business-heavy founding teams.
  4. Zanran — search engine for graphs, charts, and data. (via Pia Waugh)
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  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Regarding “Obscenity is impossible to define, and yet people have some idea of when they’re committing an obscenity or not. You could walk through your life being haunted by the specter of litigation in every aspect of it. But people don’t usually do this in their other free-speech rights”

    This is a horrible analogy.

    1) Most people have NO IDEA about the legal standard for obscenity. And of those who do, many have it wrong.

    2) It’s nigh-impossible to commit legal obscenity with pure text

    3) Prosecutions are virtually non-existent for noncommercial cases

    4) Prosecutions are extremely rare even for commercial cases

    Much of that is completely reversed for copyright, in that a causal user of file-sharing can find themselves facing a multithousand or even multimillion dollar civil lawsuit.