McGruber writes "The Associated Press is reporting that the U.S. Justice Department is suing eBay for allegedly agreeing with Intuit not to hire each other's employees. According to the article, 'eBay's agreement with Intuit hurt employees by lowering the salaries and benefits they might have received and deprived them of better job opportunities at the other company,' said acting Assistant Attorney General Joseph Wayland, who is in charge of the Justice Department's antitrust division. The division 'has consistently taken the position that these kinds of agreements are per se (on their face) unlawful under antitrust laws.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
cervesaebraciator writes "Regardless of how one feels about the GOP generally, it is always heartening to see current copyright and IP law questioned on a national stage. A Republican study committee, chaired by Ohio Representative Jim Jordan released a brief today titled Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it. Among other things, the brief attacks current copyright law as hampering scientific inquiry, penalizing journalism, and retarding the potential of the internet to allow the dispersion of knowledge through e-readers. In the briefs words, 'Current copyright law does not merely distort some markets – rather it destroys entire markets.' Four potential policy solutions are proposed: statutory damage reform, expansion of fair use, punishing false copyright claims, and limiting copyright terms. There may yet be hope for a national debate on the current oppressive copyright system, if just a fool's hope."
An anonymous reader sends this quote from the NY Times Bits blog: "If you want to know just how broken the patent system is, just look at patent D670,713, filed by Apple and approved this week by the United States Patent Office. This design patent, titled, 'Display screen or portion thereof with animated graphical user interface,' gives Apple the exclusive rights to the page turn in an e-reader application. ... Apple argued that its patented page turn was unique in that it had a special type of animation other page-turn applications had been unable to create." The article doesn't really make it clear, but this is for the UI design of showing a page being turned, not the actual function of moving from one page to another. That said, the patent itself cites similar animations in Flash from 2004.
itwbennett writes "Judge Susan Illston has said she will approve a $22.5 million settlement deal between Google and the FTC over the company's practice of circumventing privacy protections in Apple's Safari browser to place tracking cookies on user's computers. Judge Illston also expressed concern about what will happen to the tracking data Google collected, since the settlement doesn't call for Google to destroy the data."
The city of Freiburg, Germany adopted OpenOffice back in 2007, mostly replacing the Microsoft Office software it had been using previously. Now, an anonymous reader tips news that the city council is preparing to abandon OpenOffice and switch back. "'In the specific case of the use of OpenOffice, the hopes and expectations of the year 2007 are not fulfilled,' the council wrote, adding that continuing use OpenOffice will lead to performance impairments and aggravation and frustration on the part of employees and external parties. 'Therefore, a new Microsoft Office license is essential for effective operations,' they wrote. ... 'The divergence of the development community (LibreOffice on one hand Apache Office on the other) is crippling for the development for OpenOffice,' the council wrote, adding that the development of Microsoft Office is far more stable. Looking at the options, a one-product strategy with Microsoft Office 2010 is the only viable one, according to the council." The council was also disappointed that more municipalities haven't adopted OpenOffice in the meantime. Open source groups and developers criticized the move and encouraged the council to consider at least moving to a more up-to-date version of the office software suite.
stevegee58 writes "A tumblr blog entitled 'HelloThereRacists' is publicly identifying other online posters who make racist/assassination comments about President Obama. Beyond merely identifying online usernames, the blog's author is uncovering and publishing the real names and locations of offending posters. It's an interesting mess of legal issues. The outed posters are at risk of a Secret Service visit, but the trouble may not end there. The HelloThereRacists blogger himself may have some problems publicly identifying posters, who are frequently underage teenagers." Update: 11/16 19:17 GMT by S : The blog has already been taken down.
another random user sends this excerpt from the BBC: "U.S. net firm Verizon has declared war on illegal downloaders, or pirates, who use technologies such as BitTorrent to steal copyrighted material. Verizon has said it will first warn repeat offenders by email and voicemail. Then it will restrict or 'throttle' their internet connection speeds. Time Warner Cable, another U.S. internet service provider pledging to tackle piracy, says it will use pop-up warnings to deter repeat offenders. After that it will restrict subscribers' web browsing activities by redirecting them to a landing page. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which campaigns for digital freedom, is highly critical of the imminent campaign, saying: 'Big media companies are launching a massive peer-to-peer surveillance scheme to snoop on subscribers.' ISPs will be acting as 'Hollywood's private enforcement arm,' it added."
Kethinov writes "My Congresswoman, Zoe Lofgren, a prominent opponent of the infamous Stop Online Piracy Act, has introduced two bills to the U.S. House of Representatives designed to protect the free and open internet, expand the protections of the Fourth Amendment to digital communications, and protect against the introduction of any further SOPA-like bills. Since these are issues Slashdotters care deeply about, I wanted to open up the bills for discussion on Slashdot. The bills are: ECPA 2.0 and the Global Free Internet Act. Is my Congresswoman doing a good job? Is there room for improvement in the language of the bills? If you're as excited by her work as I am, please reach out to your representatives as well and ask them to work with Rep. Lofgren. It will take a big coalition to beat the pro-RIAA/MPAA establishment politics on internet regulation."
An anonymous reader sends this quote from an IDG News report: "A German couple are not liable for the filesharing activities of their 13-year old son because they told him unauthorized downloading and sharing of copyrighted material was illegal, and they were not aware the boy violated this prohibition, the German Federal Court of Justice ruled on Thursday. ... The ruling of the Federal Court of Justice reversed a ruling of the higher regional court of Cologne, which found the parents were liable for the illegal filesharing because they failed to fulfill their parental supervision. That court said the parents could have installed a firewall on their son's computer as well as a security program that would have made it possible to only allow the child to install software with the consent of his parents. Besides that, the parents could have checked their son's PC once a month, and then the parents would have spotted the Bearshare icon on the computers' desktop, according to the Cologne court. 'The Federal Court overturned the decision of the Appeal Court and dismissed it,' the court said."
alphadogg writes "A pair of brazen crooks punched another hole in the lax JFK security when they stole a trove of new Apple iPad minis — worth $1.5 million — from the same cargo building that was the site of the 1978 Lufthansa heist featured in GoodFellas, according to the New York Post. The crooks struck shortly before midnight on Monday and used one of the airport's own forklifts to load two pallets of the tablet computers into a truck, according to law-enforcement sources. It's been a crazy year for iPad/iPhone thefts in New York City and elsewhere."
OverTheGeicoE writes "The Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security held a hearing on TSA's recent decision to move X-ray body scanners from major airports to smaller ones, which the subcommittee refers to as a 'Scanner Shuffle.' John Sanders, TSA's assistant administrator for security capabilities, testified that 91 scanners recently removed from major airports were now in storage due to 'privacy concerns.' Although TSA originally planned to relocate the scanners to smaller airports, those plans have been shelved because smaller airports don't have room for them. The subcommitteee is also investigating allegations that the machines' manufacturer, Rapiscan, 'may have falsified tests of software intended to stop the machines from recording graphic images of travelers' (VIDEO). Coincidentally, shares of Rapiscan's parent company, OSI Systems Inc., dropped in value almost 25% today, its biggest intraday decline in about 12 years. If wrongdoing is proven, Rapiscan could face fines, prison terms and a ban on government contracting, according to a former head of federal procurement."
wbr1 writes "I just received an email from Amazon Payments, the Amazon competitor to PayPal, stating among other things, that they were changing and simplifying their policies. It should be no surprise then, that similar to what PayPal and many others have already done, they have added language removing the right to class action lawsuits. See specifically section 11.3 (edited for brevity): '1.3 Disputes. Any dispute or claim relating in any way to your visit to the Site or Seller Central or to products or services sold or distributed by us or through the Site or Seller Central (including without limitation the Service) will be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than in court, except that you may assert claims in small claims court if your claims qualify. The Federal Arbitration Act and federal arbitration law apply to this agreement... ... You and we each agree that any dispute resolution proceedings will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class, consolidated, or representative action. If for any reason a claim proceeds in court rather than in arbitration you and we each waive any right to a jury trial. You and we also both agree that you or we may bring suit in court to enjoin infringement or other misuse of intellectual property rights.' This is becoming more and more common, and while the end user normally doesn't make out well in a class-action suit, large settlements do provide a punishment and deterrent to corporations that abuse their power. The question becomes, what do we do to fix this so that consumers are truly protected?"
First time accepted submitter stanlrev writes "When is software, or content generated by software, 'speech' for First Amendment purposes? That is the question that Andrew Tutt seeks to answer in an article published today in the Stanford Law Review Online. He argues that the two approaches commentators and the Supreme Court have proposed are both incorrect. Software or software-generated content is not always speech simply because it conveys information. Nor is software only speech when it resembles traditional art forms. Instead, the courts should turn to the original purposes of the First Amendment to develop a new approach that answers this question more effectively."
concealment writes with this excerpt from an Associated Press story, as carried by the Houston Chronicle:"In Britain, hundreds of people are prosecuted each year for posts, tweets, texts and emails deemed menacing, indecent, offensive or obscene, and the number is growing as our online lives expand. 'Fifty years ago someone would have made a really offensive comment in a public space and it would have been heard by relatively few people,' said Mike Harris of free-speech group Index on Censorship. People take it upon themselves to report this offensive material to police, and suddenly you've got the criminalization of offensive speech. Figures obtained by The Associated Press through a freedom of information request show a steadily rising tally of prosecutions in Britain for electronic communications — phone calls, emails and social media posts — that are grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character — from 1,263 in 2009 to 1,843 in 2011. Justice Igor Judge said in his judgment that the law should not prevent 'satirical or iconoclastic or rude comment, the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, banter or humor, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it.'"
pev writes "After losing another laptop containing personal information, NASA wants to have all of its laptops encrypted within a month's time with an intermediate ban on laptops containing sensitive information leaving its facilities. Between April 2009 and April 2011 it lost or had stolen 48 'mobile computing devices.' I wonder how long it will be before other large organizations start following suit as a sensible precaution?"
angry tapir writes "The U.S. Air Force has decided to scrap a major ERP (enterprise resource planning) software project after spending $1 billion, concluding that finishing it would cost far too much more money for too little gain. Dubbed the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS), the project has racked up $1.03 billion in costs since 2005, 'and has not yielded any significant military capability,' an Air Force spokesman said in a statement. 'We estimate it would require an additional $1.1B for about a quarter of the original scope to continue and fielding would not be until 2020. The Air Force has concluded the ECSS program is no longer a viable option for meeting the FY17 Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) statutory requirement. Therefore, we are canceling the program and moving forward with other options in order to meet both requirements.'"
Psychotic_Wrath writes "The Salt Lake Police department will be much more transparent with their law enforcement. A program is being rolled out to require officers wear glasses equipped with a camera to record what they see. Of course, there are several officers opposed to this idea, who will resist the change. One of the biggest shockers to me is that the police chief is in strong support of this measure: 'If Chief Burbank gets his way, these tiny, weightless cameras will soon be on every police officer in the state.' With all the opposition of police officers being recorded by citizens that we are seeing throughout the country, it is quite a surprise that they would make a move like this. The officers would wear them when they are investigating crime scenes, serving warrants, and during patrols. Suddenly Utah isn't looking like such a bad place to be. Now we just need to hope other states and departments would follow suit. It sure will be nice when there is video evidence to show the real story."
sfcrazy writes "Samsung is clearly accusing Hogan in its recent filing of influencing the jury in favor of Apple. Samsung said in its filing: 'Mr. Hogan's own statements to the media suffice if such a showing is required. Once inside the jury room, Mr. Hogan acted as a "de facto technical expert" who touted his high-tech experience to bring the divided jury together. Contrary to this Court's instructions, he told other jurors incorrectly that an accused device infringes a utility patent unless it is "entirely different"; that a prior art reference could not be invalidating unless that reference was "interchangeable"; and that invalidating prior art must be currently in use. He thus failed "to listen to the evidence, not to consider extrinsic facts, [and] to follow the judge's instructions."'"
An anonymous reader writes "On the opening day of a patent trial between Microsoft and Google-owned Motorola Mobility, Motorola filed a brief (PDF) arguing that the WiFi tech central to the case is also critical to Microsoft's new Surface tablet. Motorola says royalties totaling 2.25% of all Surface revenues is a good starting point. They wrote, 'Microsoft's new Surface tablet will use only 802.11, instead of cellular or wired connections, to connect to the internet. Without 802.11 capability, the Surface tablet would be unable to compete in the market, because consumers can readily select tablet devices other than the Surface that have 802.11 capability.' Microsoft, of course, says this figure is outrageous, given 'Motorola's promise to standards bodies to offer access to the "standard essential" patents on fair and reasonable terms.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Certain iPhone and iPad applications from a Japanese company have broken software piracy detection mechanisms that are sending out tweets on the user's own Twitter account, saying, 'How about we all stop using pirated iOS apps? I promise to stop. I really will. #softwarepirateconfession.' The trouble is, it's sending these out on accounts of users who actually paid up to $50 or more for the software and who are legally using it. The app is asking for access to users' Twitter accounts, but does not give the reason why it is asking, so the author of the article concluded (rightly) that things were being done deliberately. Would you want your legally purchased software to send out messages to all of your contacts on Twitter or on other social networks saying that you were a software pirate? Would you excuse the writers of the software if it was just an error in their piracy detection measures?"