another random user sends word of a case in Pennsylvania District Court in which Judge Michael Baylson has ordered a trial to resolve the issue of whether an IP address can identify a particular person. The plaintiff, Malibu Media, has filed 349 lawsuits against groups of alleged infringers, arguing that getting subscriber information from an ISP based on an IP address that participated in file-sharing was suitable for identification purposes. A motion filed by the defendants in this case explains "how computer-based technology would allow non-subscribers to access a particular IP address," leading Judge Baylson to rule that a trial is "necessary to find the truth." "The Bellwether trial will be the first time that actual evidence against alleged BitTorrent infringers is tested in court. This is relevant because the main piece of evidence the copyright holders have is an IP-address, which by itself doesn't identify a person but merely a connection. ... Considering what's at stake, it would be no surprise if parties such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are willing to join in. They are known to get involved in crucial copyright troll cases, siding with the defendants. We asked the group for a comment, but have yet to receive a response. On the other side, Malibu Media may get help from other copyright holders who are engaged in mass-BitTorrent lawsuits. A ruling against the copyright holder may severely obstruct the thus far lucrative settlement business model, meaning that millions of dollars are at stake for these companies. Without a doubt, the trial is expected to set an important precedent for the future of mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the U.S. One to watch for sure."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader sends this quote from The Guardian: "Doctors and government health officials should set limits, as they do for alcohol, on the amount of time children spend watching screens – and under-threes should be kept away from the television altogether, according to a paper in an influential medical journal published on Tuesday. A review of the evidence in the Archives Of Disease in Childhood says children's obsession with TV, computers and screen games is causing developmental damage as well as long-term physical harm. Doctors at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which co-owns the journal with the British Medical Journal group, say they are concerned."
theodp writes "A newly-granted Microsoft patent for Variable Formatting of Cells covers the use of 'variable formatting for cells in computer spreadsheets, tables, and other documents', such as using the spectrum from a first color to a second color to represent the values in or associated with each cell. Which is really not a heck of a lot different from how Baron Pierre Charles Dupin created what's believed to be the first choropleth map way back in 1826, when he used shadings from black to white to illustrate the distribution and intensity of illiteracy in France. By the way, beginning in March, the U.S. will switch from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system of granting patents. Hey, what could go wrong?"
dsinc writes that Russia's "Communications and Press Ministry has proposed banning children from using Wi-Fi networks in public, potentially making cafes, restaurants and other locations providing the service responsible for enforcing the law. An official with the ministry's Federal Mass Media Inspection Service, known as Roskomnadzor, said the ban should apply to people under 18 years old. Locations providing Wi-Fi access would be held legally responsible for implementing the rule, and failing to meet the proposed measure would result in a fine ranging from 20,000 rubles to 50,000 rubles ($640 to $1,600), Vedomosti reported Thursday." The law, ostensibly to "shield" children, would apply to a fairly broad definition of child — anyone under 18.
tsu doh nimh writes "Brian Krebs follows up on a recent Slashdot discussion about a cybercrime gang that is recruiting botmasters to help with concerted heists against U.S. financial institutions. The story looks at the underground's skeptical response to this campaign, which is being led by a criminal hacker named vorVzakone ('thief in law'), who has released a series of videos about himself. vorVzakone also is offering a service called 'insurance from criminal prosecution,' in which miscreants can purchase protection from goons who specialize in bribing or intimidating Russian/Eastern European police into scuttling cybercrime investigations. For $100,000, the service also claims to have people willing to go to jail in place of the insured. Many in the criminal underground view the entire scheme as an elaborate police sting operation."
concealment writes "A new lawsuit targets Google for reading e-mails to target ads, according to TechCrunch. But the issue isn't that Google is reading e-mails from registered users; rather, the company is using e-mails sent from other services to Google users to target ads as well. Google has gotten the side-eye a few times in the past for using e-mail content to serve context-based ads to its Gmail users. And for those Gmail users, Google's hide is covered: the terms of service explicitly state that users' e-mail content determines what ads they see."
Jafafa Hots writes "The Supreme Court is set to decide, in the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, whether or not First Sale Doctrine applies to products made with parts sourced from outside the United States. If the Supreme Court upholds an appellate ruling, it would mean that the IP holders of anything you own that has been made in China, Japan or Europe, for example, would have to give you permission to sell it. Your old used CDs, cell phone, books, or that Ford truck with foreign parts? It may not be yours to sell unless you get explicit permission and presumably pay royalties. 'It would be absurd to say anything manufactured abroad can't be bought or sold here,' said Marvin Ammori, a First Amendment lawyer and Schwartz Fellow at the New American Foundation who specializes in technology issues."
mask.of.sanity writes "New privacy threats have been uncovered by security researchers that could allow every device operating on 3G networks to be tracked. The vulnerabilities could be exploited with cheap commercial off-the-shelf technology to reveal the location of phones and other 3G-capable devices operating on all 3G compliant networks. It was similar, but different, to previous research that demonstrated how attackers could redirect a victim's outgoing traffic to different networks."
redletterdave writes with an excerpt from IB Times that should be met with a bit of skepticism: "A new study released by international law firm DLA Piper Monday morning shows that among technology companies and their executives, Republican nominee Mitt Romney is the preferred presidential candidate for improving and advancing the technology industry. The study surveyed thousands of entrepreneurs, consultants, venture capitalists, CEOs, CFOs, and other C-level officers at technology companies, asking them their opinions about the 2012 presidential election and the issues facing their particular industry. The majority of respondents said Mitt Romney would be better with the technology industry, with 64 percent favoring the former governor from Massachusetts, and only 41 percent favoring the incumbent president. This is a complete turnaround from 2008 when the numbers were heavily in favor of Obama, with 60 percent of respondents saying then-Sen. Obama would be better for the sector than the Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain." There's a whole lot of number stretching going on: the results more or less indicate only a slight preference for Romney; a healthy chunk of responses were that his policies would be "neutral" and Obama's would at worst be slightly bad. Would you like six politicians, or half a dozen? One thing is universal: everyone hates SOX.
concealment writes "Luckily, the Fire's low price and popularity relative to other Android tablets has made it a common target for Android's bustling open-source community, which has automated most of the sometimes-messy process of rooting and flashing your tablet. The Kindle Fire Utility boils the whole rooting process down to a couple of steps, and from there it's pretty easy to find pretty-stable Jelly Bean ROMs. A CyanogenMod-based version is actively maintained, but I prefer the older Hashcode ROM, which is very similar to the interface on the Nexus 7."
parallel_prankster writes "NYTimes has an interesting article about how patents are really stifling innovation in the tech industry. Today, almost every major technology company is involved in ongoing patent battles. Of course, the most significant player is Apple, industry executives say, because of its influence and the size of its claims: in August in California, the company won a $1 billion patent infringement judgment against Samsung. Former Apple employees say senior executives made a deliberate decision over the last decade, after Apple was a victim of patent attacks, to use patents as leverage against competitors to the iPhone, the company's biggest source of profits. At a technology conference this year, Apple's chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said patent battles had not slowed innovation at the company, but acknowledged that some aspects of the battles had 'kind of gotten crazy.' It is a complaint heard throughout the industry. The increasing push to assert ownership of broad technologies has led to a destructive arms race, engineers say. Some point to so-called patent trolls, companies that exist solely to sue over patent violations. Others say big technology companies have also exploited the system's weaknesses. 'There are hundreds of ways to write the same computer program,' said James Bessen, a legal expert at Harvard. And so patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology. When such applications are approved, Mr. Bessen said, 'the borders are fuzzy, so it's really easy to accuse others of trespassing on your ideas.'"
Discussions about ethics and technology are perennial Slashdot staples. But if you want to frequent a site that is about ethics and technology and almost nothing else, with a strong science fiction bent to it, you might want to check out the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET.org) website. Here to introduce us to IEET and tell us what it's about, we have IEET Managing Director Hank Pellissier in a remote video interview we made through Skype.
another random user writes "Previously redacted documents presented in the Apple-Samsung case seem not to offer actual evidence that Samsung told its designers to copy the iPhone. Documents that have now been unredacted seem to show that there was never any 'copy apple' instruction. There was a push towards things that would be different, such as what is now seen in the Galaxy S3: 'Our biggest asset is our screen. It is very important that we make screen size bigger, and in the future mobile phones will absorb even the function of e-books.' Groklaw suggests, rather shockingly, that Apple's lawyers might have been a little selective in how they presented some of this evidence to the court, by picking little parts of it that offered a different shade of nuance."
concealment writes "At the end of August this year, the US Department of Transport's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new standards to significantly improve the fuel economy of cars and light trucks by 2025. Last week, we took a look at a range of recent engine technologies that car companies have been deploying in aid of better fuel efficiency today. But what about the cars of tomorrow, or next week? What do Detroit, or Stuttgart, or Tokyo have waiting in the wings that will get to the Obama administration's target of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025?"
An anonymous reader writes "A tasteless joke posted on Facebook saw a man arrested in the UK under section 127 of the Communications Act, for sending a public electronic communication which is 'grossly offensive'. Matthew Wood, 20, of Eaves Lane, Chorley, UK will appear before Chorley Magistrates' Court on Monday."
tomhath writes with this exerpt from a Reuters story: "The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear an Indiana farmer's appeal that challenges the scope of Monsanto Co.'s patent rights on its Roundup Ready seeds. Mr. Bowman bought and planted 'commodity seeds' from a grain elevator. Those soybean seeds were a mix and included some that contained Monsanto's technology. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case over the objections of the Obama administration, which had urged the justices to leave the lower court rulings in place."
Techmeology writes "Microsoft has sent automated DMCA notices to Google demanding the removal of several legitimate URLs from its search results that Microsoft claims were facilitating the distribution of illegal copies of Windows 8, including links to BBC news articles, Wikipedia pages, U.S. government websites, and even Bing! The erroneous DMCA notices are being sent automatically by rights holders, who are increasingly using such techniques."
First time accepted submitter menno_h writes "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he has hired lawyers to investigate how to sue Prime Minister Julia Gillard for defamation." Assange "says comments made by Ms Gillard in 2010 that WikiLeaks acted illegally in releasing US diplomatic cables have affected the viability of his organisation. 'Mastercard Australia, in justifying why it has made a blockade that prevents any Australian Mastercard holder donating to WikiLeaks, used that statement by Julia Gillard,' he said."
First time accepted submitter AlphaWolf_HK writes "Ars Technica has a story about a 52 year old man who was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail for shining a high powered green laser at a helicopter along with an interesting video showing how he was tracked down. The FBI says that laser strikes are becoming epidemic, saying that they expect to see reports of 3,700 of them this year."