An anonymous reader writes "Last week, in a blow to the content industry, the Ninth Circuit granted Veoh a pyrrhic victory against Universal Music Group and clarified the scope of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor provisions for online service providers. By adopting a position taken by the Second Circuit in Viacom v. YouTube, the decision harmonized the law in two intellectually influential jurisdictions and set the standard in New York and California, national hubs for content creation and technological innovation. Going forward, tech startups will have more room to innovate while facing decreased risk of crippling financial liability. An article by two IP lawyers published today in TechCrunch simplifies and explains the scope of safe harbor protection in light of these rulings.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
CNET reports that a British businessman named Jim McCormick is facing charges now for fraud; McCormick "charged 27,000 pounds (around $41,000) for devices that weren't quite what he said they were." That's putting it mildly; what he was selling as bomb detecting devices were actually souped-up (or souped-down, with non-functional circuitboards and other flim-flammery) golf-ball detectors. The Daily Mail has some enlightening pictures.
schwit1 writes "Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) wants to create a 'virtual Congress,' where lawmakers would leverage videoconferencing and other remote work technology to conduct their daily duties in Washington from their home districts. Under a resolution Pearce introduced on Thursday, lawmakers would be able to hold hearings, debate and vote on legislation virtually from their district offices. The big loser would be the DC area and K Street in particular. The change would also be a double-edged sword for security."
New submitter RougeFemme writes with news of Friday's announcement that FCC chairman Julius Genachowski will step down in the next several weeks (also at Politico), and asks "Obama promised us the continuation of a free, open Internet. Will the resignation of the FCC chairman have any affect on that 'net neutrality'?"
crankyspice writes "The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed, in Columbia Pictures Industries v. Fung (docket no. 10-55946), the summary judgment and injunctions against Gary Fung and his IsoHunt (and 3d2k-it) websites, finding liability for secondary copyright infringement for the sites' users' BitTorrent (and eDonkey) file sharing, under the 'inducement' theory (set forth by the Supreme Court in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster Ltd. , 545 U.S. 913 (2005)). The injunctions were left largely intact, with modifications required to make it more clear to the defendants what BitTorrent (etc) related activity they're enjoined from." Bloomberg has a short article on the case, too.
An anonymous reader writes "Google just settled video codec patent claims with MPEG LA and its VP8 format, which it wants to be elevated to an Internet standard, already faces the next round of patent infringement allegations. Nokia submitted an IPR declaration to the Internet Engineering Task Force listing 64 issued patents and 22 pending patent applications it believes are essential to VP8. To add insult to injury, Nokia's declaration to the IETF says NO to royalty-free licensing and also NO to FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing. Nokia reserves the right to sue over VP8 and to seek sales bans without necessarily negotiating a license deal. Two of the 86 declared IPRs are already being asserted in Mannheim, Germany, where Nokia is suing HTC in numerous patent infringement cases. A first VP8-related trial took place on March 8 and the next one is scheduled for June 14. In related Nokia-Google patent news, the Finns are trying to obtain a U.S. import ban against HTC to force it to disable tethering (or, more likely, to pay up)."
An anonymous reader writes According to the AP, the IRS is being "scolded for spending $60,000 dollars on an elaborate parody video that played at a 2010 conference. 'The video features an elaborate set depicting the control room, or bridge, of the spaceship featured in the hit TV show. IRS workers portray the characters, including one who plays Mr. Spock, complete with fake hair and pointed ears. The production value is high even though the acting is what one might expect from a bunch of tax collectors. In the video, the spaceship is approaching the planet 'Notax,' where alien identity theft appears to be a problem.' You can find the hilarious and/or nausea-inducing video on YouTube."
SonicSpike writes with the news that the U.S. Senate yesterday "passed a nonbinding proposal to allow states to collect sales tax on Internet sellers that have no presence within their borders. The proposal was an amendment to a 2014 budget bill that the Senate debated Friday. It was pushed by Senators Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and was designed to give backers a sense of whether they had enough votes to push forward with final legislation to impose an Internet sales tax. The vote showed they have plenty of backing to overcome any filibuster seeking to block a final sales tax bill."
squiggleslash writes "Concerned about their use as fronts for gambling operations, the Florida legislature passed a law banning Internet cafes. The law appears to be a reaction in part to the recent stepping down of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, embroiled in a scandal involving a company that operates Internet Cafes. More ordinary cafes with Wi-fi, where you supply your own computer (such as Starbucks), are not affected by the ban." The nomenclature here is confusing; the bill (PDF) (summary) is clearly aimed only at "cafes" that are essentially gambling venues; an Internet cafe wouldn't violate the proposed rule merely by providing computers. Whatever you think of prohibitions on gambling among consenting adults, the bill itself is sort of amusing for its very specific loopholes for bingo and "reverse vending machines."
helix2301 writes with this snippet from NBC News: "The U.S. government is expanding a cybersecurity program that scans Internet traffic headed into and out of defense contractors to include far more of the country's private, civilian-run infrastructure. As a result, more private sector employees than ever before, including those at big banks, utilities and key transportation companies, will have their emails and Web surfing scanned as a precaution against cyber attacks." Further on, the story notes that "By using DHS as the middleman, the Obama administration hopes to bring the formidable overseas intelligence-gathering of the NSA closer to ordinary U.S. residents without triggering an outcry from privacy advocates who have long been leery of the spy agency's eavesdropping."
itwbennett writes "Do you know what data the 1300+ tracking companies have on you? Privacy blogger Dan Tynan didn't until he had had enough of being stalked by grandpa-friendly Jitterbug phone ads. Tracking company BlueKai and its partners had compiled 471 separate pieces of data on him. Some surprisingly accurate, some not (hence the Jitterbug ad). But what's worse is that opting out of tracking is surprisingly hard. On the Network Advertising Initiative Opt Out Page you can ask the 98 member companies listed there to stop tracking you and on Evidon's Global Opt Out page you can give some 200 more the boot — but that's only about 300 companies out of 1300. And even if they all comply with your opt-out request, it doesn't mean that they'll stop collecting data on you, only that they'll stop serving you targeted ads."
redletterdave writes "After a French civil court ruled on Jan. 24 that Twitter must identify anyone who broke France's hate speech laws, Twitter has since refused to identify the users behind a handful of hateful and anti-Semitic messages, resulting in a $50 million lawsuit. Twitter argues it only needs to comply with U.S. laws and is thus protected by the full scope of the First Amendment and its free speech privileges, but France believes its Internet users should be subject to the country's tighter laws against racist and hateful forms of expression."
Newsubmitter davek writes with news that the U.S. will be applying money-laundering laws to Bitcoin and other 'virtual currencies.' "The move means that firms that issue or exchange the increasingly popular online cash will now be regulated in a similar manner as traditional money-order providers such as Western Union Co. WU +0.17% They would have new bookkeeping requirements and mandatory reporting for transactions of more than $10,000. Moreover, firms that receive legal tender in exchange for online currencies or anyone conducting a transaction on someone else's behalf would be subject to new scrutiny, said proponents of Internet currencies. 'I think it's inevitable that just like you have U.S. dollars used by thieves and criminals, it's sadly inevitable you will have criminals use a virtual currency. We want to work with authorities,' said Jeff Garzik, a Bitcoin developer. Still, law enforcement, regulators and financial institution have expressed worries about the hard-to-trace attributes of virtual currencies, helping trigger this week's move from the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCen."
coondoggie writes "Researchers at DARPA want to take the science of machine learning — teaching computers to automatically understand data, manage results and surmise insights — up a couple notches. Machine learning, DARPA says, is already at the heart of many cutting edge technologies today, like email spam filters, smartphone personal assistants and self-driving cars. 'Unfortunately, even as the demand for these capabilities is accelerating, every new application requires a Herculean effort. Even a team of specially-trained machine learning experts makes only painfully slow progress due to the lack of tools to build these systems,' DARPA says."
tsamsoniw writes "Hoping to strike a blow against sexism in the tech industry , developer and tech evangelist Adria Richards took to Twitter to complain about two male developers swapping purportedly offensive jokes at PyCon. The decision has set into motion a chain of events that illustrate the impact a tweet or two can make in this age of social networking: One the developers and Richards have since lost their jobs, and even the chair of PyCon has been harassed for his minor role in the incident."
skade88 writes "Ars is reporting that GoPro, the company that makes cameras used in extreme sports such as sky diving and swimming with dolphins has issued a DMCA take down notice on a review at DigitalRev that they do not like. See DMCA notice here. From the article: 'DigitalRev has a blog post up about the takedown, suggesting that most DMCA takedowns are "abusive" in nature. "We hope GoPro is not suggesting, with this DMCA notice, that camera reviews should be done only when they are authorized by the manufacturers," writes DigitalRev. "GoPro (or should we call you Go*ro instead?), we'd be interested to hear what you have to say" about the infringement notice.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Cyber-attacks are much in the news lately, thanks to some well-publicized hacks and rising concerns over malware. Many of these attacks are likely backed in some way by governments anxious to seize intellectual property, or simply probe other nations' IT infrastructure. But do nations actually have a right to fire off a bomb or a clip of ammunition at cyber-attackers, especially if a rival government is backing the latter as part of a larger hostile action? Should a military hacker, bored and exhausted from twelve-hour days of building malware, be regarded in the same way as a soldier with a rifle? Back in 2009, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (which also exists under the lengthy acronym NATO CCD COE) commissioned a panel of experts to produce a report on the legal underpinnings of cyber-warfare. NATO CCD COE isn't funded by NATO, and nor is it a part of that organization's command-and-control structure—but those experts did issue a nonbinding report (known as "The Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare") exploring the ramifications of cyber-attacks, and what targeted nations can do in response. It's an interesting read, and the experts do suggest that, under circumstances, a nation under cyber-attack can respond to the cyber-attackers with "kinetic force," so long as that force is proportional. Do you agree?"
Trepidity writes "The extensive NASA Technical Report Archive was just taken offline, following pressure from members of U.S. Congress, worried that Chinese researchers could be reading the reports. U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) demanded that 'NASA should immediately take down all publicly available technical data sources until all documents that have not been subjected to export control review have received such a review,' and NASA appears to have complied. Although all reports are in the public domain, there doesn't appear to be a third-party mirror available (some university libraries do have subsets on microfiche)."
SonicSpike excerpts from CNet's coverage of the latest in the seemingly inevitable path toward consistently applied Internet sales taxes for U.S citizens: "Internet tax supporters are hoping that a vote in the U.S. Senate as early as today will finally give them enough political leverage to require Americans to pay sales taxes when shopping online. Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) are expected to offer an amendment to a Democratic budget resolution this week that, by allowing states to 'collect taxes on remote sales,' is intended to usher in the first national Internet sales tax." There goes one of the best ways to vote with your dollars.
psykocrime writes "The crazy kids at Fogbeam Labs have started a discussion about Google and their relationship with the Open Web, and questioning who will step up to defend these principles, even as Google seem to be abdicating their position as such a champion. Some candidates mentioned include Yahoo, IBM, Red Hat, Mozilla, Microsoft and The Wikimedia Foundation, among others. The question is, what organization(s) have both the necessary clout and the required ethical principles, to truly champion the Open Web, in the face of commercial efforts which are clearly inimical to Open Source, Open Standards, Libre Culture and other elements of an Open Web?"