bargainsale writes with an account at Ars Technica of "the inspiring story of Newegg vs the patent troll. Perhaps the system does work after all." Newegg's lawyer Lee Cheng has some choice words for the business model employed by Soverain Software, the patent troll which tried, with some success, to exact money from online retailers for using online shopping carts. Newegg has prevailed, though, and Soverain's claims are toast. From Ars: "The ruling effectively shuts down dozens of the lawsuits Soverain filed last year against Nordstrom's, Macy's, Home Depot, Radioshack, Kohl's, and many others (see our chart on page 2). All of them did nothing more than provide shoppers with basic online checkout technology. Soverain used two patents, numbers 5,715,314 and 5,909,492, to claim ownership of the "shopping carts" commonly used in online stores. In some cases, it wielded a third patent, No. 7,272,639."
The TV show Glee may have borrowed Jonathan Coulton's arrangement of "Baby Got Back" without asking him first, but he's got a response of the kind that it'd be hard for the show's makers to criticize without looking churlish. Borrowing it back, and using it to raise money for charity. As CNET puts it, "Coulton has foxily tossed up on iTunes his own version of the song and titled it 'Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee).' He terms it 'my cover of Glee's cover of my cover.'"
Now that unlocking a new phone is under many circumstances illegal in the U.S. (!), Digital Trends has collected a useful set of answers outlining just what that means. As they put it, a "quick guide to answer all your why, how, and WTF questions." Among them, some explanation of the rule-making process, the reasoning that led to the end to the unlocking exception to the DMCA (including the Ninth Circuit's 2010 Vernor v. Autodesk decision), and illustrations of situations in which it is not illegal to unlock your phone.
CowboyRobot writes "Once the 'Second City' of the British Empire, scrappy Glasgow — whose now-demolished Gorbals was once known for urban grimness on a par with Chicago's South Side or New York's Hell's Kitchen — has the chance for a whole new lease on life as the UK's first 'smart city.' The UK's government has just announced a $38 million (£24 million) grant to fund pilot projects in the city that show how mass deployment of sensors and real-time information can help local government run more efficiently while also boosting the quality of life for its 600,000 citizens. Glasgow won the prize in a competition among 30 British towns and cities for state help in looking at the possible contribution of smart technology."
theodp writes "Late Friday, Violet Blue reports, the U.S. Sentencing Commission website was hacked and government files distributed by Anonymous in 'Operation Last Resort.' The U.S. Sentencing Commission sets guidelines for sentencing in United States Federal courts, and on the defaced ussc.gov website Anonymous cited the recent suicide of Aaron Swartz as 'a line that has been crossed.' Calling the launch of its new campaign a "warhead," Anonymous vowed, 'This time there will be change, or there will be chaos.'" Adds reader emil: "Anonymous has not specified exactly what files they have obtained. The various files were named after Supreme Court judges. At a regular interval commencing today, Anonymous will choose one media outlet and supply them with heavily redacted partial contents."
An anonymous reader writes "The H.265 codec standard, the successor of H.264, has been approved, promising support for 8k UHD and lower bandwidth, but the patent issues plaguing H.264 remain." Here's the announcement from the ITU. From the article: "Patents remain an important issue as it was with H.264, Google proposing WebM, a new codec standard based on VP8, back in 2010, one that would be royalties free. They also included it in Chrome, with the intent to replace H.264, but this attempt never materialized. Mozilla and Opera also included WebM in their browsers with the same purpose, but they never discarded H.264 because most of the video out there is coded with it. MPEG LA, the owner of a patent pool covering H.264, promised that H.264 internet videos delivered for free will be forever royalty free, but who knows what will happen with H.265? Will they request royalties for free content or not? It remains to be seen. In the meantime, H.264 remains the only codec with wide adoption, and H.265 will probably follow on its steps."
Damien1972 writes "The Brazilian government has begun fixing trees in the Amazon rainforest with a wireless device, known as Invisible Tracck, which will allow trees to contact authorities once they are felled and moved. Here's how it works: Brazilian authorities fix the Invisible Tracck onto a tree. An illegal logger cuts down the tree and puts it onto a truck for removal, unaware that they are carrying a tracking device. Once Invisible Tracck comes within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of a cellular network it will 'wake up' and alert authorities."
chicksdaddy writes "The U.S. Department of Defense has stopped updating its main reference list of vital defense technologies that are banned from export, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), The Security Ledger reports. The Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL) is used to identify technologies that are critical to national defense and that require extra protection — including bans on exports and the application of anti-tamper technology. GAO warned six years ago that the Departments of State and Commerce, which are supposed to use the list, found it too broad and outdated to be of much use. The latest report (GAO 13-157) finds that the situation has worsened: budget cuts forced the DOD to largely stop updating and grooming the list in 2011. Sections on emerging technologies are outdated, while other sections haven't been updated since 1999. Without the list to rely on, the DOD has turned to a hodgepodge of other lists, while officials in the Departments of State and Commerce who are responsible for making decisions about whether to allow a particular technology to be exported have turned to ad-hoc networks of subject experts. Other agencies are looking into developing their own MCTL equivalents, potentially wasting government resources duplicating work that has already been done, GAO found."
FunPika writes "Jonathan Coulton, who is known for songs such as "Code Monkey", is claiming that his cover of "Baby Got Back" was used without permission on Glee, a television show aired by Fox Broadcasting Company. When the Glee version appeared on YouTube last week, Coulton suspected that it sounded similar to his cover, and several of his fans confirmed this by analyzing the two tracks. Despite Coulton contacting Fox, they continued with airing the episode and have placed the song on sale in iTunes."
dcblogs writes "A bipartisan group of Senators is planning to introduce a bill that allows the H-1B visa cap to rise automatically with demand to a maximum of 300,000 visas annually. This 20-page bill, called the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 or the 'I-Squared Act of 2013,' is being developed by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.). It may be introduced next week. Presently, the U.S. has an H-1B visa cap of 65,000. There are another 20,000 H-1B visas set aside for advanced degree gradates of U.S. universities, for 85,000 in total. Under the new bill, the base H-1B cap would increase from 65,000 to 115,000. But the cap would be allowed to rise automatically with demand, according to a draft of the legislation."
theodp writes "Explaining that it believes 'the most important questions are the ones that will come from the MIT community,' MIT announced that it won't be accepting questions from outsiders for its President-ordered 'review' of the events that preceded the suicide of Aaron Swartz. But if you feel the 25 questions asked thus far don't cover all the bases, how about posting additional ones in the comments where MIT'ers can see them and perhaps repost to the MIT site some that they feel deserve answers? Do it soon — MIT President Rafael Reif will be returning any day now from Davos, where he sat on a panel with Bill Gates, who coincidentally once found himself in hot water over unauthorized computer access. 'They weren't sure how mad they should be about it,' Gates explained in a 2010 interview, 'because we hadn't really caused any damage, but it wasn't a good thing. Computer hacking was literally just being invented at the time, and so fortunately we got off with a bit of a warning.'" Related: text has been published of public domain advocate Carl Malamud's remarks at Swartz's memorial. Quoting: "Aaron wasn't a lone wolf, he was part of an army, and I had the honor of serving with him for a decade. Aaron was part of an army of citizens that believes democracy only works when the citizenry are informed, when we know about our rights—and our obligations."
Tyketto writes "Referencing a decision outlined in the Federal Register, Tech News Daily has published an article noting that the window to unlock your new mobile phone in the U.S. is closing. 'In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress, who determines exemptions to a strict anti-hacking law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), decided that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be allowed. But the library provided a 90-day window during which people could still buy a phone and unlock it. That window closes on January 26.' While this doesn't apply to phones purchased before the window closes, this means that after 1/26/13, for any new mobile phone you purchase, you'll have to fulfill your contract, or break the law to unlock it." It will still be perfectly legal to purchase an unlocked phone, which many carriers offer. This change removes the exemption for buying a new phone under contract (and thus, at a discount) and then unlocking it.
tsamsoniw writes "Dozens of privacy advocates, Internet activists, and journalists have issued an open letter to Skype and Microsoft, calling on the companies to finally get around to being clear and transparent as to who has access to Skype user data and how that data is secured. 'Since Skype was acquired by Microsoft, both entities have refused to answer questions about exactly what kinds of user data can be intercepted, what user data is retained, or whether eavesdropping on Skype conversations may take place,' reads the letter, signed by such groups as the Digital Rights Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation."
waderoush writes "Engineers and hackers don't think much about tax policy, but there's a bizarre development in California that they should know about, since it could reduce the pool of angel-investment money available for tech startups. Under a tax break available since the 1990s, startup founders and other investors in California were allowed to exclude or defer their gains when they sold stock in California-based small businesses. Last year, a California appeals court ruled that the tax break was unconstitutional, since it discriminated against investors in out-of-state companies. Now the Franchise Tax Board, California's version of the IRS, has issued a notice saying how it intends to implement the ruling — and it's a doozie. Not only is the tax break gone, but anyone who claimed an exclusion or deferral on the sale of small-business stock since 2008 is about to get a big retroactive tax bill. Investors, entrepreneurs, and even the plaintiffs in the original lawsuit are up in arms about the FTB's notice, saying that it goes beyond the court's intent and that it will drive investors out of the state. This Xconomy article takes an in-depth look at the history of the court case, the FTB's ruling, and the reaction in the technology and investing communities."
An anonymous reader writes "The Government of Antigua is planning to launch a website selling movies, music and software, without paying U.S. copyright holders. The Caribbean island is taking the unprecedented step because the United States refuses to lift a trade 'blockade' preventing the island from offering Internet gambling services, despite several WTO decisions in Antigua's favor. The country now hopes to recoup some of the lost income through a WTO approved 'warez' site."
twoheadedboy writes "Two members of the Anonymous hacking collective have been handed a total of 25 months in prison. Christopher Weatherhead, a 22-year-old who went under the pseudonym Nerdo, received the most severe punishment — 18 months in prison. Another member, Ashley Rhodes, was handed seven months, whilst Peter Gibson was given a six-month suspended sentence. They were convicted for hitting a variety of websites, including those belonging to PayPal and MasterCard."
Sockatume writes "The UK's information protection authority, the ICO, has fined Sony for failing to adequately secure the information of PlayStation Network users. The investigation was triggered by a 2011 security breach, during which personally identifying information (including password hashes) was recovered from a Sony database where it had been stored without encryption. In the ICO's view Sony's security measures were inadequate, and the attack could have been prevented. The £250,000 (ca. $400,000) fine, the largest the ICO has ever imposed, is equivalent to a few pennies per affected user. Sony disagrees with the ICO's decision and intends to appeal."
Virtucon writes "Ars technica has an interesting article on how Google is handling requests from law enforcement for access to Gmail accounts. With the recent Petraeus scandal where no criminal conduct was found, it seems that they're re-enforcing their policies and standing up for their users. 'In order to compel us to produce content in Gmail we require an ECPA search warrant,' said Chris Gaither, Google spokesperson. 'If they come for registration information, that's one thing, but if they ask for content of email that's another thing.'"
netbuzz writes "Spurred by the mark holder's cease and desist letter to Reddit's subreddit r/gaymer, the Electronic Frontier Foundation today officially petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to rescind its grant of a trademark registration on the word "gaymer". 'This registration should never have been granted,' said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. 'Gaymer is a common term that refers to members of this vibrant gaming community, and we are happy to help them fight back and make sure the term goes back to the public domain where it belongs.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Internet activists in Finland, upset with the country's strict copyright laws, are ready to take advantage of the country's promise to vote on any citizen-proposed bill that reaches 50,000 signatures. Digital rights group Common Sense in Copyright has proposed sweeping changes to Finland's Lex Karpela, a 2006 amendment to the Finnish copyright law that more firmly criminalized digital piracy. Under it, 'countless youngsters have been found guilty of copyright crimes and sentenced to pay thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands, of euros in punitive damages to the copyright organizations.' The proposal to fix copyright is the best-rated and most-commented petition on the Open Ministry site."