WrongSizeGlass writes "Ars is reporting that the 'inventor' of the concept of 'providing individual online presences for each of a plurality of members of a group of members,' claims that four million Facebook business account holders, including at least three major presidential candidates, are guilty of infringing his patent. He's suing Facebook for infringing on his patent as well as the three candidates. A Patent Office examiner rejected the patent claims, but the rejections have been appealed."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
hey! writes "On February 18 of this year, global giant payment processor PayPal sent eBook publisher Smashwords an ultimatum: if Smashwords didn't remove all eBooks with certain erotic content from its catalog in the next several days, PayPal would immediately stop handling payments. Smashword's TOS already precluded child pornography, but now PayPal wants them to also censor depictions of consenting, non-related adults acting out incest fantasies. Likewise, fantasy novels in which human characters transform into non-humans are affected if those characters have sex. ZDNet has a summary of the impact of these changes, which would among other things ban Vladmir Nabokov's Lolita. As outrage mounts, finger pointing is in full swing. Smashwords blames PayPal, and PayPal blames the banks it deals with. The crux seems to be that erotica buyers have a higher rate of 'chargebacks' — customers who buy stuff then demand their money back. Fair enough, but is a customer really more likely to return a book because it depicts one kind of fantasy between consenting adults vs. another? Perhaps the problem is just the quality of writing." Note: as you can probably tell from the summary, the linked articles (while factual in nature) discuss subjects that may not be suitable for workplace reading.
coondoggie writes "Natural gas has never been much of an option for U.S. car drivers, and it's going to take a lot of effort by the government and auto manufacturers to make it a viable alternative to gas. But that's just what a $10 million program from the Department of Energy's advanced project development group The Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy (ARPA-E) aims to start anyway. ARPA-E's Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE) program wants to develop a system 'that could enable natural gas vehicles with on-board storage and at-home refueling with a five-year payback or upfront cost differential of $2,000, which excludes the balance of system and installation costs.'"
theodp writes "'Hate to see something happen to that multi-billion IPO of yours,' is essentially the IPO-threatening message Yahoo sent to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook investors on the eve of the social networking giant's IPO. Yahoo, unlike the Sopranos, is using IP as its muscle to collect its IPO-protection money: 'We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement [for 10-20 Yahoo-owned patents] or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights,' Yahoo explained in a statement alerting the NY Times to its demand. Yahoo issued a similar last-minute threat to Google on the eve of its 2004 IPO, prompting Google to pony up 2.7 million shares to settle Yahoo's patent lawsuit. BTW, should Facebook also be concerned that Amazon has been beefing up its PlanetAll social networking patents from the '90s, including the one issued Tuesday covering a Social Networking System Capable of Notifying Users of Profile Updates Made by Their Contacts?"
beaverdownunder writes with news from The Age that "Leaked e-mails from private U.S. intelligence agency Stratfor indicate that American prosecutors have had a sealed, secret indictment drawn up against Julian Assange as early as January, 2011." From the article: "The news that U.S. prosecutors drew up a secret indictment against Mr. Assange more than 12 months ago comes as the WikiLeaks founder awaits a British Supreme Court decision on his appeal against extradition to Sweden to be questioned in relation to sexual assault allegations. Mr. Assange, who has not been charged with any offence in Sweden, fears extradition to Stockholm will open the way for his extradition to the U.S. on possible espionage or conspiracy charges over WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked classified U.S. reports."
suraj.sun writes with an excerpt from an article over at Ars Technica: "Los Alfaques, a bucolic campground near the Spanish town of Tarragona, isn't happy with Google. That's because searches for 'camping Alfaques' bring up horrific images of charred human flesh — not good for business when you're trying to sell people on the idea of relaxation. The campground believes it has the right to demand that Google stop showing 'negative' links, even though the links aren't mistakes at all. Are such lawsuits an aberration, or the future of Europe's Internet experience in the wake of its new 'right to be forgotten' proposals? Legal scholars like Jeffrey Rosen remain skeptical that such a right won't lead to all sorts of problems for free expression. But in Spain, the debate continues. Last week, Los Alfaques lost its case — but only because it needed to sue (U.S.-based) Google directly. Mario Gianni, the owner of Los Alfaques, is currently deciding whether such a suit is worth pursuing."
An anonymous reader writes "ScienceInsider got hold of a threatening letter that lawyers for the mining industry sent to various scientific journals (PDF) concerning data from the U.S. 'Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study.' Many occupational health researchers believe the study will show a link between diesel exhaust and cancer. A handful of scientists have commented on the letter and its implications."
quantr writes "Facebook is being accused of snooping on its users' text messages, but the social network says the accusations are inaccurate and misleading. The company is among a wide-ranging group of Web entities, including Flickr and YouTube, that are using smartphone apps to access text message data and other personal information, according to a Sunday Times report (behind a paywall). The newspaper said Facebook 'admitted' to reading users' text messages during a test of its own messaging service. The report also says information such as user location, contacts list, and browser history are often accessed and sometimes transmitted to third-party companies, including advertisers."
An anonymous reader writes "ESR, one of the finest engineers behind the open source movement and much of the software we use everyday, writes an open letter to U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd. ESR points out the concerns of 'the actual engineers who built the Internet and keep it running, who write the software you rely on every day of your life in the 21st century' about politicians attempts to lock down our Internet or our tools. A portion of the letter reads: 'I can best introduce you to our concerns by quoting another of our philosopher/elders, John Gilmore. He said: “The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” To understand that, you have to grasp that “the Internet” isn’t just a network of wires and switches, it’s also a sort of reactive social organism composed of the people who keep those wires humming and those switches clicking. John Gilmore is one of them. I’m another. And there are some things we will not stand having done to our network.'"
An anonymous reader writes "My university only provides access to the web, via a restrictive content filter and proxy service. There is no access to the wider internet. I was wondering if this is common, and if anyone has any suggestions on how to go about protesting the issue. I've spoken to the lecturers and they have the same frustrations I do. I've also spoken to the head of the IT department who spouted lines about 'protecting the network.' This is very frustrating, I've seen a number of students making use of 3G/4G dongles to get access to the net and this just seems crazy. The restrictions applied to the web are draconian, with sites such as hackaday, hypberbole and a half, somethingawful, etc being blocked." What would you do to get better access?
owenferguson writes "WikiLeaks has begun leaking a cache of over 5 million internal emails from the the Texas-headquartered 'global intelligence' company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal's Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. The associated news release can be found on pastebin."
New submitter eeplox writes "I make nature videos for my YouTube channel, generally in remote wilderness away from any possible source of music. And I purposely avoid using a soundtrack in my videos because of all the horror stories I hear about Rumblefish filing claims against public domain music. But when uploading my latest video, YouTube informed me that I was using Rumblefish's copyrighted content, and so ads would be placed on my video, with the proceeds going to said company. This baffled me. I disputed their claim with YouTube's system — and Rumblefish refuted my dispute, and asserted that: 'All content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their claims to some or all of its content: Entity: rumblefish; Content Type: Musical Composition.' So I asked some questions, and it appears that the birds singing in the background of my video are Rumblefish's exclusive intellectual property."
An anonymous reader writes "Google+ has recently been unblocked in China and Chinese netizens have found their way to President Obama's G+ page. The result is that topic after topic has hit the limit of 500 comments, most of them in Chinese. Some express political views, but many are just everyday banter or showing off."
theodp writes "After a 17-month wait, 20-year-old Dharun Ravi went on trial Friday for using a remote webcam to spy on an encounter between his roommate and another man in their Rutgers dorm room. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, killed himself days later, jumping off the George Washington Bridge and igniting a national conversation on cyberbullying and gay teen suicide. Ravi is charged with multiple counts of bias intimidation as a hate crime, invasion of privacy and hindering apprehension; he faces up to 10 years in prison and deportation. Defense lawyers on Friday argued that Ravi's actions were the mark of an ignorant teenager, not a hateful homophobe. 'He may be stupid at times,' said Ravi's lawyer. 'He's an 18-year-old boy, but he's certainly not a criminal.' The New Yorker recently offered an in-depth look at the case and the questions it raises. BTW, this might be a good time for Microsoft to retire that Hallway commercial ('Jason gets stranded in the hallway when his roommate is 'tutoring' lady friends in their dorm room. Luckily, with Windows 7, his laptop can now work like an HD DVR. So Jason can entertain himself while waiting. And waiting. Aaand waiting some more.')."
suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from the Wall Street Journal: "The Supreme Court's recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a 'sea change' inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann. Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called 'Big Brother in the 21st Century' on Friday, said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use. These devices were often stuck underneath cars to track the movements of the car owners. In U.S. v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that using a device to track a car owner without a search warrant violated the law. After the ruling, the FBI had a problem collecting the devices that it had turned off, Mr. Weissmann said. In some cases, he said, the FBI sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly – only in order to locate and retrieve them."