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Encyclopedia Britannica Loses Information-Retrieval Patent Ruling 95

Posted by timothy
from the rent-seeking-behavior-thwarted-for-once dept.
angry tapir writes with a snippet from Good Gear Guide: "A notorious patent case about a technology that allows people to search multimedia content may finally be coming to a close. Earlier this week, a judge ruled that two patents initially awarded to Encyclopedia Britannica are invalid. The patents were built on the infamous 5,241,671 patent first unveiled by Compton's NewMedia in 1993 at the Comdex trade show. That patent, which covered the retrieval of information from multimedia content and is now owned by Britannica, would have been relevant to the many companies selling multimedia CD-ROMs at the time."
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Encyclopedia Britannica Loses Information-Retrieval Patent Ruling

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  • Re:Adios (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eric Smith (4379) <ericNO@SPAMbrouhaha.com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @03:02AM (#29008297) Homepage Journal
    but to say they made money on "monopolizing" information is completely unwarranted.

    Hardly! That is EXACTLY what they were trying to do with the Compton's patent.

  • Re:Why Britannica (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily@NETBSDgmail.com minus bsd> on Monday August 10, 2009 @05:16AM (#29008807)

    You can fix a broken situation by starting from scratch. You can't, however, fix a broken situation with lots and lots of money invested on all sides, by starting from scratch.

  • aelig (Score:4, Informative)

    by Svippy (876087) on Monday August 10, 2009 @05:17AM (#29008813) Homepage

    Am I the only one going to comment that it is spelt Encyclopaedia Britannica? While an US firm, Encyclopaedia Britannica still retains the British English spelling, as well in its look up, e.g. it prefers "colour" over "color" and so forth.

  • Re:aelig (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:09AM (#29008983)
    Yes. You are the only one going to comment. The rest of us have lives.
  • Re:Adios (Score:3, Informative)

    by Quothz (683368) on Monday August 10, 2009 @08:43AM (#29009473) Journal

    While Wikipedia is an amazing effort, it will not ever be Britannica, unless you pour a lot of money into it to hire writers and editors. They are both a luxury in the Internet media world, and the lack of them shows in the uneven writing and many factual errors Wikipedia suffers from.

    The error rate of Wikipedia versus Britannica is about the same [cnet.com]. While it has more errors per article, it has a lot more information per article. I would dare to guess that Wikipedia is much more accurate than newspapers. The experiment is over, and it worked.

    The belief that Wikipedia must be less accurate is purely religious zeal; print is not automatically more accurate than electrons, a small group of editors doing it all isn't better than the Wiki model, and paying for encyclopedic information doesn't buy accuracy. The latter thinking - "it costs more, so it must be good" - is also the bane of FOSS.

    In fairness, a Cornell study that escapes me at the moment once showed that Wikipedia's vandalism rate was getting marginally worse over time (by hundredths of a percent per month, based on actual page views of damaged pages, and with lots of disclaimers). The last serious, peer-reviewed study of the comparative error rate was in late '95; we're due for a new one.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:28AM (#29011207) Homepage Journal

    Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls.

    Microsoft bought the F&W encyclopedia in 1993 and rebranded it Encarta [wikipedia.org]. It finally lost to Wikipedia in 2009.

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