Content Hosting API in 170

2 08 2006

Almost there, One thing that I dont know if its a good idea or not, but the Groups attributes associated with entities inside content hosting are stored in content hosting. So if you want to let Content Hosting manage its security underneath, by talking to AuthZGroups, then you have to stop it asking itself.

‘Is it ok to look at this node to find out if I can look at this node to find out if I can look at this node to find out if I can look at this node to find out if I can look at this node….’

Fortunately there is a thing called a Security Advisor which can be used to remove security constraints below a certain point in the request cycle. Its also a really good way to make the whole thing go much faster and remove the load on the AuthZGroups resolution.

More on Patents

2 08 2006

Turns out Blackboard lawyers have stated they have no intention of going after opensource since they are not commercial (oS that is). But then they have commercial partners.

Interestingly on one of the claims Sakai falls wide, since it doesn’t have static sets of roles. Rather they are fluid through the whole system. Moodle does have more static sets but not for long. And once we all get Shibbed, that part of Blackboards patent is really old hat.

But whatever, there is lots of prior art about way back to 1960, and even Blackboards original system came out of Higher Ed….. unless they believe they have a patent on general Internet Groupware ?

Blackboard Patent

1 08 2006

It doesn’t come as any surprise that Blackboard has a number of patents. Some of the them granted in places like Australia, NZ, and US and some pending in the EU and other places.

They have also declared their intent to pursue these patents by filling against Desire2Learn, so they are going to attack their competitors, soft targets in supportive jurisdictions first. Lets hope that in countries outside the US, these patents will be seen as software patents and not be granted. I think that in the UK at least, most patents have to show that there is no prior art and that the patent is not a pure implementation patent of a pre-existing invention.

Some European Universities go back to the 1400’s or earlier, and some were doing distance learning back in the 1960’s, so perhaps that counts as prior art? There are certainly a number examples of Online Course management systems (CMS) in the US prior to the claims, and the roles of Administrator, TA, Instructor and Student have existed in most Universities for a few decades. I can only assume that those who granted these Patents did not see any of this as relevant, granting and leaving the arguments to court?

If granted, will Blackboard file against Open Source communities ? Will they file against their customers who happen to use or develop Open Source ? If they are granted their patents in many countries and they aggressively execute them, we may see the end of software development for educational purposes in Higher Education, except,Blackboard building blocks…. but then lets not worry to much, Blackboard has been known to make IPR claims on Building Blocks developed by their customers…. perhaps they should do all the “thought leading research” for us in the future, anyway, who cares about innovation in higher ed, clearly not the patent offices or anyone who thinks that pure Software Patents are defensible.

The problem for Blackboard may be that most Open source communities don’t have any commercial model, and don’t have a single point of focus, so Blackboard might have to file against each University or individual developer in turn.

And what will happen to all research environments, or Web based communities, are they also in Blackboards sights?

Dont get me wrong, I’m not against Patents, just ones that try an claim innovation and invention where implementation is closer to the truth.