Friday, March 21, 2008

Princeton professor reportedly threatened

Ed Felten, professor at Princeton University, my alma mater, reports that he has received a letter from Sequoia Voting Systems threatening to stop people like him from investigating their voting machines, threatening him with the law. Are you starting to see why I'm so concerned about the future? of universities... of our constitutional republic? Can I get more shrill? I cannot think of a more striking example of how intellectual monopoly grants may prove our downfall. Other examples can be more subtle, even though they, too, threaten our viability as a relatively successful experiment in freedom. It's hard to explain "patent thickets" and how they had to be cleared, for example, in wartime out of sheer necessity. They got in the way of progress. This one, this letter, is simple and clear. Anyone can understand it and its relationship to the core of our government. This is why I, for one, risk spouting the heresies I do.

Here is the reported letter -

Sender: Smith, Ed [address redacted]
Subject: Sequoia Advantage voting machines from New Jersey
Date: Fri, Mar 14, 2008 at 6:16 PM

Dear Professors Felten and Appel:

As you have likely read in the news media, certain New Jersey election officials have stated that they plan to send to you one or more Sequoia Advantage voting machines for analysis. I want to make you aware that if the County does so, it violates their established Sequoia licensing Agreement for use of the voting system. Sequoia has also retained counsel to stop any infringement of our intellectual properties, including any non-compliant analysis. We will also take appropriate steps to protect against any publication of Sequoia software, its behavior, reports regarding same or any other infringement of our intellectual property.

Very truly yours,
Edwin Smith
VP, Compliance/Quality/Certification
Sequoia Voting Systems

[contact information and boilerplate redacted]

Let's free Popper's world 3, the world of objective knowledge. We're not abolishing the constitution and ignoring the declaration; we're fulfilling them, particularly the spirit of the first amendment.

Hat tip:

Update (Mar 21, 2008): It just doesn't add up. My mother once warned me that someday 2 + 2 might equal 5. Has that day come? Move along.

No comments: