An anonymous reader writes "Seed giant Monsanto has won more than $23 million from hundreds of small farmers accused of replanting the company's genetically engineered seeds. Now, another case is looming – and it could set a landmark precedent for the future of seed ownership. From the article: 'According to the report, Monsanto has alleged seed patent infringement in 144 lawsuits against 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in at least 27 U.S. states as of January of 2013. Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta together hold 53 percent of the global commercial seed market, which the report says has led to price increases for seeds -- between 1995 and 2011, the average cost of planting one acre of soybeans rose 325 percent and corn seed prices went up 259 percent.'"
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An anonymous reader writes "With the launch of Office 2013 Microsoft has seen fit to upgrade the terms of the license agreement, and it's not in favor of the end user. It seems installing a copy of the latest version of Microsoft's Office suite of apps ties it to a single machine. For life. On previous versions of Office it was a different story. The suite was associated with a 'Licensed Device' and could only be used on a single device. But there was nothing to stop you uninstalling Office and installing it on another machine perfectly legally. With that option removed, Office 2013 effectively becomes a much more expensive proposition for many."
Beeftopia writes "The relationship between regulator and regulated is once again called into question as industry pressure leads to a scientist's removal from an EPA regulatory panel. From the article: 'In 2007, when Deborah Rice was appointed chair of an Environmental Protection Agency panel assessing the safety levels of flame retardants, she arrived as a respected Maine toxicologist with no ties to industry. Yet the EPA removed Rice from the panel after an intense push by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry lobbying group that accused her of bias. Her supposed conflict of interest? She had publicly raised questions about the safety of a flame retardant under EPA review.'"
"It uses a totally different process called Stereolithography," says Max Lobovsky, while other low-cost 3D printers use a process called FDM (fused deposition modeling). Max explains the differences between the two processes in the video, but what it comes down to in the real world is that his process can "do features down to 0.3 mm," which, he says, is much finer than you can get with FDM. It also seems that structures made with Stereolithography can be made stronger and can be machined more accurately than those made by the FDM process. So this is another step toward fully-useful home fabrication of... almost anything. So Formlabs and the company's initial product, the Form 1, are interesting. And surely there will be other "consumer" Stereolithography machines in the market before long, and prices for both the machine and the chemicals they use as raw materials will come down. Meanwhile, a company called 3D Systems is suing Formlabs for patent infringement. This isn't a nickel and dime deal; Formlabs raised $2,945,885 through Kickstarter, says TechCrunch in a story about the suit. And since their 3D printer is an order of magnitude less expensive than earlier Stereolithography machines and the company's future looks bright, 3D Systems might be better off taking a stock settlement than going for cash. They've settled with other alleged infringers before, so there's a precedent for that idea. Suit or no suit, Formlabs is going forward, building and shipping 3D printers as fast as they can -- and President Obama mentioned 3D printing in his State of the Union speech last night, which will surely help boost the entire industry, including Formlabs.
An anonymous reader writes "Last night before the State of the Union speech, President Obama signed an executive order for improving cybersecurity of critical infrastructure (PDF). The highlights of the order are: 'information sharing programs' for the government to provide threat reports to industry; an overarching cybersecurity framework developed by NIST to figure out best practices for securing critical infrastructure; and reviews of existing regulations to make sure they're effective. The ACLU supports the Order, as does the EFF. '"A lot of what this shows is that the president can do a lot without cybersecurity legislation," said Mark Jaycox, policy analyst and legislative assistant for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who points out that the executive order satisfies the need for information sharing without the privacy problems that existed under legislative proposals where loopholes would have allowed companies to dump large amounts of data on the government in an effort to obtain legal immunities. Without those immunities, companies will by nature be more circumspect about what they provide the government, thus limiting what they hand over, Jaycox said.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Finnish copyright lobby TTVK Ry (which earlier ordered the artist promotion site The Promo Bay to be censored as 'thepiratebay subpage' before later admitting that it's legal, and also got the police to confiscate a 9-year-old's Winnie-the-Pooh laptop on suspicion of having illegally downloaded a single album) launched an anti-piracy website: http://piraattilahti.fi./. The site closely resembles The Pirate Bay, and if you take a closer look, you'll notice that CSS has been directly copied from thepiratebay.se, complete with the original site name in comments (http://piraattilahti.fi/css/css.css, pastebin mirror). Of course, one interesting question is: how on Earth did they manage to pirate The Pirate Bay content, considering that they managed to get court orders for major ISPs to censor access to The Pirate Bay?"
astroengine writes "President Barack Obama called for 'meaningful progress' on tackling climate change in his State of the Union speech in Washington, DC on Tuesday night. While acknowledging that 'no single event makes a trend,' the President noted that the United States had been buffeted by extreme weather events that in many cases encapsulated the predictions of climate scientists. 'But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods — all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it's too late,' Obama added." Other significant statements from Obama's speech: 34,000 troops coming back from Afghanistan over the next year; new gun regulations "deserve a vote"; rewards for schools that focus on STEM education; increases in tech research; a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9.00/hr and tie it to inflation; and a proposal to use oil and gas revenues to fund a move away from oil and gas,
coondoggie writes "The asteroid NASA says is about the half the size of a football field that will blow past Earth on Feb 15 could be worth up to $195 billion in metals and propellant. That's what the scientists at Deep Space Industries, a company that wants to mine these flashing hunks of space materials, thinks the asteroid known as 2012 DA14 is worth — if they could catch it."
An anonymous reader writes "The Supreme Court of the Philippines has put an indefinite hold on a controversial law that would, among other things, ban cybersex and porn. A host of groups, particularly journalists, had resoundingly criticized the law, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, as broad and out of touch with how the Internet works. The Philippines' National Union of Journalists, for example, called its definition of libel 'a threat not only against the media and other communicators but anyone in the general public who has access to a computer and the Internet.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced yesterday that the government will not be proceeding with Bill C-30, the lawful access/Internet surveillance legislation. Yet despite the celebration of the Canadian Internet community, Michael Geist notes that the law could return. On the same day the government put the bill out its misery, it introduced Bill C-55 on warrantless wiretapping. Although the bill is ostensibly a response to last year's R v. Tse decision from the Supreme Court of Canada, much of the bill is lifted directly from Bill C-30. Moreover, there will be other ways to revive the more troublesome Internet surveillance provisions. Christopher Parsons points to lawful intercept requirements in the forthcoming spectrum auction, while many others have discussed Bill C-12, which includes provisions that encourage personal information disclosure without court oversight. Of course, cynics might also point to the 2007 pledge from then-Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day to not introduce mandatory disclosure of personal information without a warrant. That position was dropped soon after a new minister took over the portfolio."
An anonymous reader writes "Last August, BitTorrent tracker Demonoid was taken down by law enforcement in the Ukraine. This followed raids in Mexico to arrest the people who ran the site. Panama is somehow involved, too. However, a recent review filed by the U.S. Trade Representative reveals that the criminal case against the main (alleged) operator of Demonoid has stalled, and the person has been released from imprisonment. 'For how long the alleged Demonoid operator was imprisoned is not mentioned. However, the criminal case is ongoing according to the copyright holders, who further mention that it's now proceeding in Ukraine. Demonoid, meanwhile, has moved to Hong Kong where it found a new hosting company and a new .HK domain name. Whether the BitTorrent tracker will ever return to its full glory has yet to be seen.'"
In December, we mentioned the attention that Prenda law bigwig John Steele has drawn for some questionable business practices; now reader rudy_wayne writes with news (excerpted from Ars Technica) of more scrutiny of Prenda from a California district court: "A federal judge in Los Angeles has suggested serious penalties for Brett Gibbs, an attorney at porn copyright trolling firm Prenda Law. Facing allegations of fraud and identity theft, Gibbs will be required to explain himself at a March 11 hearing. And if Judge Otis Wright isn't satisfied with his answers, he may face fines and even jail time. The identity theft allegations emerged late last year, when a Minnesota man named Alan Cooper told a Minnesota court he suspected Prenda Law named him as the CEO of two litigious offshore holding companies without his permission. Worried about exposing himself to potential liability for the firms' misconduct, Cooper asked the court to investigate the situation. Cooper's letter was spotted by Morgan Pietz, an attorney who represents 'John Doe' defendants in California. He notified Judge Wright of the allegations."
isoloisti writes "An article by some Microsofties in the latest issue of Computing Now magazine claims we have got passwords all wrong. When money is stolen, consumers are reimbursed for stolen funds and it is money mules, not banks or retail customers, who end up with the loss. Stealing passwords is easy, but getting money out is very hard. Passwords are not the bottleneck in cyber-crime and replacing them with something stronger won't reduce losses. The article concludes that banks have no interest in shifting liability to consumers, and that the switch to financially-motivated cyber-crime is good news, not bad. Article is online at computer.org site (hard-to-read multipage format) or as PDF from Microsoft Research."
An anonymous reader writes "Software giant Adobe has bowed to public pressure and slashed the price of some of its products for Australian customers a day after being ordered to front a parliamentary committee hearing to explain its excessive charges."
Qedward writes "Glyn Moody looks at the proposed EU directive on Data Protection — and how some of the proposed amendments seem to be cut and pasted directly from the American Chamber of Commerce — that well-known European organisation... You might ask, Glyn writes, who are these MEPs representing — some 500 million EU citizens that pay their salary or a bunch of extremely rich U.S. companies intent on taking away our privacy?" Lobbyplag lets you look at which lobbyist wrote each part of the bill. Fears of the U.S. exerting undue influence seem to be justified.