Nerval's Lobster writes "The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claims that Google has failed in its attempt to lower the search-results rankings of so-called 'pirate' Websites. "We have found no evidence that Google's policy has had a demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy," read the report's summary (PDF). 'These sites consistently appear at the top of Google's search results for popular songs or artists.' Last August, Google indicated that it would start lowering the search-result rankings of Websites with high numbers of 'valid' copyright removal notices. 'This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily—whether it's a song previewed on NPR's music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed on Spotify,' Amit Singhal, Google's senior vice president of Engineering, wrote in a corporate blog posting at the time. Google, which receives millions of copyright removal notices every month, also offers a counter-notice tool for those who believe their Websites have been unfairly targeted for copyright violations."
Trust the World's Fastest VPN with Your Internet Security & Freedom - A Lifetime Subscription of PureVPN at 88% off. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. ×
concealment writes "Three independent bookstores are taking Amazon and the so-called Big Six publishers (Random House, Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan) to court in an attempt to level the playing field for book retailers. If successful, the lawsuit could completely change how ebooks are sold. The class-action complaint, filed in New York on Feb 15., claims that by entering into confidential agreements with the Big Six publishers, who control approximately 60 percent of print book revenue in the U.S., Amazon has created a monopoly in the marketplace that is designed to control prices and destroy independent booksellers."
New submitter OhSoLaMeow writes with a story at The Daily Caller with unpleasant news from the Illinois state Senate, where a state senator has introduced a bill that "would require anonymous website comment posters to reveal their identities if they want to keep their comments online." From the article (warning — obnoxious ads with sound): "The bill, called the Internet Posting Removal Act, is sponsored by Illinois state Sen. Ira Silverstein. It states that a 'web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless the anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate.'"
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The courts are finally starting to get it, that the subscriber to an internet access account which has been used for a copyright infringement is not necessarily the infringer. In AF Holdings v. Rogers, a case in the Southern District of California, the Chief Judge of the Court has granted a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim where the only evidence the plaintiff has against defendant is that defendant appears to have been the subscriber to the internet access account in question. In his 7-page opinion (PDF), Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz noted that 'just because an IP address is registered to an individual does not mean that he or she is guilty of infringement when that IP address is used to commit infringing activity.'"
SpaceGhost writes "The Washington Post reports that the United States Postal Service has contracted with Wahconah Group, Inc. to produce a line of USPS-branded smart clothing. Per USPS Licensing manager Steven Mills 'This agreement will put the Postal Service on the cutting edge of functional fashion... The main focus will be to produce Rain Heat & Snow apparel and accessories using technology to create 'smart apparel' — also known as wearable electronics.' USPS Spokesman Roy Betts reports that the line will be found in premium department stores and specialty stores starting in 2014. The Washington Post points out that the USPS had done a similar retail line in the 1980s sold exclusively at Post Offices, but the line was discontinued after lobbyists complained of competition with the private sector." I hope it has hidden pockets for lost letters, and a loop for the package smashing mallet.
New submitter sc30317 writes "My house got robbed on Friday, and all of our electronics got stolen. Everything. Now, I have to go out and buy all new electronics with the insurance money. We had five TVs (don't ask), three laptops, a Bose Sound dock with iPod, a digital camera, and a desktop stolen. It's looking like I am going to get around $10K from the insurance company to replace everything. What would you do if you had to replace ALL of your technology in your house at once? I'm thinking: replace TVs; nice Desktop; new speakers; and new, cool stuff I don't know about (suggestions welcome). I already added a DVR security system, so hopefully the new things won't get burgled! Looking for suggestions to utilize my money in order to get the best stuff. Also, no Windows computers allowed in my house."
An anonymous reader writes "A White House petition to make unlocking cell phones legal again has passed the 100,000 signature mark. Passing the milestone means the U.S. government has to issue an official response. On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S. Just before that went into effect, a petition was started at whitehouse.gov to have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision. 'It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked.'"
codegen writes "The Ontario Court of Appeal has just ruled that the police can search your cellphone if you are arrested without a warrant if it is not password protected. But the ruling also stated that if it is password protected, then the police need a warrant. Previous to this case there was no decision on if the police could search your phone without a warrant in Canada."
New submitter Nyder writes "In a move that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of kids everywhere, Connecticut State Senator Toni Harp proposed a bill in January that would ban anyone younger than 18 from playing 'violent point-and-shoot' video games in arcades or other public establishments. 'The bill also called for research into the effects of violent video games on young minds, through a committee called the Violent Video Game Task Force within the Department of Children and Families. The task force would advise the Governor and General assembly on state programs that "may reduce the effects of violent video games on youth behavior," suggesting before the research was done that violent video games have an effect on children's actions.' Hopefully this won't pass; I guess the video game lobby hasn't paid this Senator enough 'funds' for her campaign."
angry tapir writes "The European Parliament's industry committee has approved more than 900 amendments to proposed new data protection laws. Civil liberties groups and consumer organizations were quick to accuse members of the Parliament (MEPs) of caving in to pressure from big business and the U.S. 'The Conservative and Liberal parties in the Parliament have voted against the interests of European consumers, who expect MEPs to ensure existing E.U. data protection standards are not diluted,' said Monique Goyens, director general of the European consumer organization, BEUC."
On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S. Just before that went into effect, a petition was started at whitehouse.gov to have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision. "It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked." The 30 days time limit on the petition is almost up, and it's about 11,000 signatures shy of the amount necessary to ensure a response from the Obama administration (100,000 total, recently increased from 25,000). The creator of the petition received a Cease & Desist letter from Motorola in 2005 for selling software that would allow users to unlock their phones, and he thinks it's only a matter of time before such legal threats begin again. This is part of a larger battle to protect the way consumers can use their devices. While it's still legal for people to root their phones, the Librarian of Congress failed to expand that legal protection to tablets, even though the devices are incredibly similar. The Librarian's decision (PDF) needs further review, and if the White House petition doesn't get enough signatures by February 23, such a review may not happen.
coondoggie writes "Communications and effective system control are still big challenges unmanned aircraft developers are facing if they want unfettered access to U.S. airspace. Those were just a couple of the conclusions described in a recent Government Accountability Office report on the status of unmanned aircraft (PDF) and the national airspace. The bottom line for now seems to be that while research and development efforts are under way to mitigate obstacles to safe and routine integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace, these efforts cannot be completed and validated without safety, reliability, and performance standards, which have not yet been developed because of data limitations." The FAA and others seem mostly concerned about the drones hitting things if their GPS and ground communications are both disrupted.
New submitter BetterThanCaesar writes "The Swedish Pirate Party and their ISP Serious Tubes have received a letter from 'The Rights Alliance' (formerly Antipiratbyrån, The Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau), demanding they cease supplying Internet access to The Pirate Bay. Referring to the final sentence on the four Pirate Bay profiles, they threaten with legal action if access is not removed by February 26. On her blog, party leader Anna Troberg calls the letter 'extortion,' pointing out that (translated from Swedish) '[i]t is not illegal to provide The Pirate Bay with Internet access. There is no list of illegal sites that ISPs cannot provide access to.' (google translation to English)." The letter sent (in Swedish). Update: 02/20 14:58 GMT by U L : richie2000 notes that hosting isn't quite right; they're just routing traffic to TPB: "We're not hosting TPB, we're just routing traffic to them. Just like an ISP. Serious Tubes routes traffic to the Pirate Party, so they're even more removed. But, last night, Portlane, one of the ISPs that routes traffic to Serious Tubes, was pressured into cutting their transit to ST, even if they were just a provider to a provider to a provider to TPB."
An anonymous reader writes "We've watched patents slow down the smartphone and tablet markets. We've seen patent claims thrown against Linux, Android, and countless other software projects. Now, as 3-D printing becomes more capable and more affordable, it seems a number of patents threaten to do the same to the hobbyist and tinkerer crowd. Wired has highlighted some of the most dangerous ones, including: a patent on soluble print materials that support a structure while it's being printed; a ridiculously broad patent on distributed rapid prototyping, which could affect "every 3-D printing service that has launched in the past few years"; and an 18-year-old patent on 3-D printing using a powder and a binding material, held by MIT."
pigrabbitbear writes "It's the most modern lament in retail: Brick-and-mortar shopping has gone the way of the dodo as everyone buys their junk online. But for the once-booming online gambling market, salvation may require a reversal of that trend. For one online gaming giant, buying a casino in Atlantic City is the first step to bring Internet poker back to the U.S. In 2006, playing online poker for real cash was deemed illegal. While that didn't stop more serious players from playing, especially once the big hosts started funneling cash offshore, the FBI and DoJ's crackdown on April 15, 2011 did. The big trio of online poker – PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker – were all shut down, domains seized, and executives arrested on charges related to fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. While PokerStars and others continued operations in foreign, legal markets, the U.S. poker craze pretty much collapsed. That doesn't mean the lucrative market has gone away. Now, the Rational Group, which owns both PokerStars and Full Tilt, may be hinting at a workaround: the company is looking to buy a struggling casino in Atlantic City. Rational faces a rather large mess of regulatory hurdles, but if it does end up acquiring the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, it would have a huge foothold in New Jersey's young market for internet gambling."
theodp writes "'The lack of interest, the disdain for history is what makes computing not-quite-a-field,' Alan Kay once lamented. And so it should come as no surprise that the USPTO granted Google a patent Tuesday for the Automatic Deletion of Temporary Files, perhaps unaware that the search giant's claimed invention is essentially a somewhat kludgy variation on file expiration processing, a staple of circa-1970 IBM mainframe computing and subsequent disk management software. From Google's 2013 patent: 'A path name for a file system directory can be "C:temp\12-1-1999\" to indicate that files contained within the file system directory will expire on Dec. 1, 1999.' From Judith Rattenbury's 1971 Introduction to the IBM 360 computer and OS/JCL: 'EXPDT=70365 With this expiration date specified, the data set will not be scratched or overwritten without special operator action until the 365th day of 1970.' Hey, things are new if you've never seen them before!"
ananyo writes "Monsanto and other biotechnology firms could be looking to bring back 'terminator' seed technology. The seeds are genetically engineered so that crops grown from them produce sterile seed. They prompted such an outcry that, as Slashdot noted, Monsanto's chief executive pledged not to commercialize them. But a case in the U.S. Supreme Court could allow farmers to plant the progeny of GM seeds rather than buying new seeds from Monsanto, making the technology attractive to biotech companies again. Some environmentalists also see 'terminator' seeds as a way of avoiding GM crops contaminating organic/non-GM crops." Reader 9gezegen adds that Monsanto is getting support, oddly, from parts of the software industry. From the NY Times: "BSA/The Software Alliance, which represents companies like Apple and Microsoft, said in a brief that a decision against Monsanto might 'facilitate software piracy on a broad scale' because software can be easily replicated. But it also said that a decision that goes too far the other way could make nuisance software patent infringement lawsuits too easy to file." The case was heard today; here is a transcript (PDF), and a clear explanation of what the case is about.
judgecorp writes "The Chinese government has been accused of backing the APT1 hacking group, which appears to be part of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), according to the security firm which worked with the New York Times when it fell victim to an attack. The firm, Mandiant, says that APT1 is government sponsored, and seems to operate from the same location as PLA Unit 61398." Unsurprisingly, this claim is denied by Chinese officials. You can read the report itself online (PDF), or skim the highlights.
An anonymous reader writes "Hollywood crime dramas are infamous for the scene when an accused is taken to a local police station and permitted a single phone call to contact a relative or lawyer. While the storyline is myth — there is no limit on the number of phone calls available to an accused or detainee — Michael Geist reports on a recent Canadian case establishing a new, real requirement for law enforcement. After a 19-year old struggled to find a lawyer using the telephone, the court ruled that police must provide an accused with Internet access in order to exercise their right to counsel."
Last week, a Finnish anti-piracy agency copied the CSS and HTML of The Pirate Bay. Today, TPB announced that they have filed a police report and are preparing to sue for copyright infringement: "The Pirate Bay, the world’s largest site for cultural diversity and file sharing, has today (Monday 2013-02-18) reported a suspected crime to the Finnish police. The suspected criminals are the Finnish anti-piracy organization CIAPC (locally known as TTVK). The reason is that CIAPC have copied files from which The Pirate Bay is built, to produce a fraudulent parody site. While The Pirate Bay may have a positive view on copying, it will not stand by and watch copyright enforcing organizations disrespect copyright." The Pirate Bay is also arguing that parody laws do not apply thanks to recent legal precedent.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Decades after the space race pitted the United States against Russia, a new race has emerged: the race to map the human brain. The New York Times reported Feb. 18 that the Obama administration is gearing up to announce the Brain Activity Map project, an effort to map an active human brain that could give new insight into how neurons interact with each other, providing new avenues of research for diseases such as Alzheimer's. The U.S. will apparently pit itself against a collection of European research agencies that have announced similar projects. The U.S. effort, however, will apparently involve U.S. businesses, which would naturally benefit from the high-profile nature of the effort; in theory, the latter could also apply the resulting discoveries to their own computing efforts. The Times reported that representatives from Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm met with government representatives at the California Institute of Technology to try and figure out whether or not there are sufficient computing resources to process the vast amounts of data that the experiments are expected to produce, or whether new ones would need to be built."
sfcrazy writes "Mark Shuttleworth has for the first time talked about the privacy issues in Ubuntu Dash after being criticized by EFF and FSF. He mentioned some changes in the way use can 'disable' the search results. However the company has showed that under no circumstances they will disable the online search by default as demanded by EFF and FSF. Shuttleworth was simply spinning the wheel moving things around to give an impression that something has been done where as the core problem remains — Dash sends keystrokes by default and legally every user agrees to send such keystrokes to PRODUCT.canonical.com server to be shared with partners like Facebook."
rbrandis writes "Google is in discussions with payment companies including Visa, MasterCard and PayPal to put illegal download websites out of existence by cutting off their funding. If Google goes ahead with the radical move, it would not mark the first time that illegal websites have been diminished or driven out of business by having a block put on their source of money."
An anonymous reader writes "After a huge meteor recently exploded over Chelyabinsk (population 1,130,132), Russia, NASA has approved $5 million for funding for ATLAS project (Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System). From the article: '"There are excellent ongoing surveys for asteroids that are capable of seeing such a rock with one to two days' warning, but they do not cover the whole sky each night, so there's a good chance that any given rock can slip by them for days to weeks. This one obviously did," astronomer John Tonry of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii told NBC News Friday.'"
whoever57 writes "Patent trolls like to claim that patent laws provide a way that small inventors can create products and benefit financially from their invention. One such inventor faces selling his house, despite inventing a product that has sold tens of millions worldwide. From the article: 'Inventor Trevor Baylis says he faces having to sell his house after failing to make money from his wind up radio and is now calling for the government to step into to protect inventors. “I’ve got someone coming around in the next couple of weeks to do a valuation on my house,” says Trevor Baylis, as he walks into the sitting room of his home on Eel Pie Island, in Twickenham, south-west London. “I’m going to have to sell it or remortgage it – I’m totally broke. I’m living in poverty here.”'"
McGruber writes "The Chronicle of Higher Education has the news that Herbert Richardson, founder of Edwin Mellen Press is suing McMaster University and University Librarian Dale Askey for $3 Million over Mr. Askey's posts on a personal blog. In 2010 Mr. Askey wrote a blog post about Edwin Mellen Press on his personal Web site, Bibliobrary. Mr. Askey referred to the publisher as 'dubious' and said its books were often works of 'second-class scholarship.' For a few months afterward, several people chimed in in the blog's comments section, some agreeing with Mr. Askey, others arguing in support of the publisher. In a February 11 statement, the McMaster University Faculty Association (MUFA) stated that The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) 'and the MUFA Executive agree that this case represents a serious threat to the freedom of academic librarians (pdf) to voice their professional judgement and to academic freedom more generally.'"
hypnosec writes "Kevin Mitnick, who was one of the most wanted computer hacker in the US at one time, is now heading a security consultancy firm – Mitnick Security Consulting, and is entrusted with the task of securing Sunday's presidential elections in Ecuador. Mitnick tweeted, '18 years ago I was busted for hacking. I do the same thing today but with full authorization. How cool is that?' His company will focus on protecting the Net Lock computer system tasked with tabulating Ecuador's elections."
parallel_prankster writes "Amazon users are addressing the drone controversy with sarcasm. Maisto International Inc.'s model Predator drones are selling out on Amazon.com Inc.'s website as parody reviews highlight how the toys can help children hone killing skills, mocking a controversial U.S. practice. The toy is a replica of the RQ-1 Predator, an unmanned aircraft that the U.S. Air Force has used in combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Serbia, Iraq and Yemen, according to the product description on Amazon. Only one of the $49.99 military-style toy jets is available for purchase on Amazon's site, which is brimming with assessments laced with dark humor. 'You can't spell slaughter without laughter,' one pithy joker wrote."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Suzanne Goldenberg reports that conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120 million to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, helping build a vast network of think tanks and activist groups working to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarizing 'wedge issue' for hardcore conservatives. 'We exist to help donors promote liberty which we understand to be limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,' says Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust. Ball's organization assured wealthy donors that their funds would never by diverted to liberal causes with a guarantee of complete anonymity for donors who wished to remain hidden. The money flowed to Washington think tanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions, even to buy up DVDs of a film attacking Al Gore. 'The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It's also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing,' says Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records. 'These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable.'"
Frosty Piss writes "Despite earning more than $1 billion in profits last year, social media juggernaut Facebook paid zilch when it came to federal and state taxes in 2012. In fact, the website will actually be getting a refund totaling $429 million thanks to a tax reduction for executive stock options. In the coming years, Facebook will continue to get monster tax breaks, totaling about $3 billion. 'The employees cash in stock options, and at that point there is tax deduction for the company,' Robert McIntyre, of watchdog group Citizens for Tax Justice, said. 'Because even though it doesn't cost Facebook a nickel, the government treats it as wages and they get a deduction for it.'" (That's not to say that Facebook employees' salaries didn't get taxed.)
First time accepted submitter trellz writes "My sister and brother-in-law are self employed, and run a small business with a storefront. It was broken into about a year ago, and since then they have reinforced physical security; bars on the doors and windows, better locks, etc. Unfortunately, their store was broken into and vandalized again last week, in spite of the added security measures. Being technically savvy, I'm trying to come up with inexpensive ways to add deterrence, monitoring, and alerting to their business. They run an extremely lean lifestyle and profit margin, so the solution needs to be almost free. They do have an internet connection at the store, so motion detection, web cameras, Arduino devices, and the like are certainly an option. Ideally I would like a rock-solid alerting method. Something like an email or text to a laptop at home, or a dedicated prepaid phone, but without the pitfalls of such a solution (i.e. random wrong numbers, solicitors, email spam, etc). I'd also prefer not to poke holes in their firewall at the shop if at all possible. I was considering an email with some sort of long code or hash in the body, and then could white list that on the receiving end to key off of. The goal is to never have a false alarm based on the transmission/reception method." What advice, beyond ZoneMinder?
An anonymous reader writes "Netcraft confirms a recent increase in the number of malicious proxy auto-config (PAC) scripts being used to sneakily route webmail and online banking traffic through rogue proxy servers. The scripts are designed to only proxy traffic destined for certain websites, while all other traffic is allowed to go direct. If the proxy can force the user to keep using HTTP instead of HTTPS, the fraudsters running these attacks can steal usernames, passwords, session cookies and other sensitive information from online banking sessions."
Dangerous_Minds writes "The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) is demanding a number of countries be placed back on the special 301 piracy watchlist. One country being recommended for inclusion is Canada (PDF). Apparently, even though Canada passed copyright reform laws, any compromise to protect consumers is reason for inclusion. Michael Geist offers some analysis on this move. Meanwhile, the IIPA is also recommending that Spain be included in the watchlist. In a separate filing, the IIPA makes a host of reasons why Spain should also be included. One of the main reasons seems to be that even though Spain passed the Sinde Law in spite of protests, the courts aren't simply rubberstamping any takedown requests and that cases that were dismissed due to lack of evidence is cause for concern. Freezenet offers some in-depth analysis on this development while noting towards the end that the Special 301 report suffers from credibility problems."
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook can stick with its real name policy in Germany, and doesn't have to allow nicknames on its platform for now. The regulator that ordered Facebook to change its policy based its orders on inapplicable German law, a German court ruled."
An anonymous reader writes "In a real life Prisoner's Dilemma taking place in the French city of Marseille, twin brothers have been arrested for a string of sexual assaults. While say they are sure that one of them committed the crimes (corroborated by a standard DNA test), police were told that it would cost upwards of €1m euros (£850,000, $1.3m USD) to distinguish between them using DNA evidence."
An anonymous reader writes "Dutch Member of Parliament (MP) Henk Krol was fined 750 (US$1,000) by the district court of Oost-Brabant on Friday for breaking and entering the system of the Dutch medical laboratory Diagnostics for You. Krol said he entered the system as an ethical hacker to show that it was easy to access and download confidential medical information. Krol, leader of the Dutch 50plus party, accessed the systems of the laboratory with a login and password he had obtained from a patient of the clinic, who in turn had overheard the information at the laboratory from a psychiatrist that worked there ... In April last year, Krol used the login information to enter the company's Web server and subsequently viewed and downloaded medical files of several patients. He did this to prove how easy it was to get access to the systems, according to the ruling (PDF in Dutch).'"
New submitter dmfinn writes "While his union address covered a wide range of topics, President Obama made sure not to skip over the U.S.'s space program. The talking point was nearly identical to the one he gave in 2009, in which he called for space R&D spending to be increased past the levels seen during the the original cold war space race. Now, 4 years after that speech, it appears things have gone the opposite way. Since 2009 NASA has seen some serious cuts. Not only has the space-shuttle program been deactivated, but the agency was forced to endure harsh funding cuts during the presidents latter term. Despite an ominous history, it now seems that Obama is back on the space objective, pushing congress to increase non-defensive R&D spending to 3% of the U.S. GDP. It's important to keep in mind that not all of this money goes directly to space related programs, though under the proposed budget the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Laboratories will have their budgets doubled. There will also be an increase in tax credits towards companies and organizations working on these R&D projects. Should the U.S. go back to its 'Let's put a man on the moon' ideology, or is the federal government fighting an uphill battle against newly emerging private space expeditions? Either way, the question remains whether or not Obama will act on any of the propositions."
g01d4 writes "According to the LA Times, 'California's computer problems, which have already cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, have mounted as state officials cut short work on a $208-million DMV technology overhaul that is only half done. The state has spent $135 million total on the overhaul so far. The state's contractor, HP Enterprise Services, has received nearly $50 million of the money spent on the project. Botello said the company will not receive the remaining $26 million in its contract. ... Last week, the controller's office fired the contractor responsible for a $371-million upgrade to the state's payroll system, citing a trial run filled with mishaps. More than $254 million has already been spent.' It's hard not to feel like the Tokyo man in the street watching the latest round of Godzilla the state vs. Rodan the big contractor."
Juha Saarinen sends news that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has proposed a fix for software patents in general and patent trolls in particular: requiring applicants to provide specifics about their solution. They say the applications should include working code, or at least "detailed, line-by-line notations explaining how their code works." "And if they do get a patent, they should be limited to the invention they claimed. We think software patents are bad news, and incredibly harmful to our society and economy. We wish we didn’t have to deal with them at all. But by fixing the functional claiming problem, and limiting patentees to a narrow invention that they actually came up with, we would also limit the amount of harm those patents could cause. The Patent Office does not (yet) have the power to get rid of software patents entirely, but it can fix the functional claiming problem."
mvar writes "A company in the UK is trying to trademark the 'Python' term for all things computing. The Python Software Foundation is asking for help. According to the PSF, they contacted the company in order to settle the matter but 'They blew us off and responded by filing the community trademark application claiming the exclusive right to use "Python" for software, servers, and web services — everywhere in Europe.' They now seek help from the community in several ways: By sending a letter to the EU council if you happen to work on a company that uses the Python programming language, by providing EU-published material regarding the Python language (articles etc) and/or financially supporting the PSF in the upcoming legal battle."
head_dunce writes "A bill introduced Thursday by a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers seeks to make it easier for states to collect sales taxes stemming from online purchases. Amazon is among the e-retailers supporting the proposal, while a lobbying group representing eBay and Overstock.com stands opposed. From the article: '"Small businesses and states alike are suffering from the inability to collect due -- not new -- taxes from purchases made online," said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., adding the legislation is a "bipartisan, bicameral, common-sense solution that promotes states' rights and levels the playing field for our Main Street businesses."'"
Bulldust writes "The Federal Court in Australia has ruled in favor of U.S. biotechnology company Myriad Genetics, enabling them to continue to hold the patent over the so-called breast cancer gene BRCA1. The same patent is also being reconsidered by the U.S. Supreme Court in the current session. From the article: 'Federal court Justice John Nicholas has ruled that a private company can continue to hold a patent over the so-called breast cancer gene BRCA1, in a decision that has devastated cancer victims.The decision is the first in Australia to rule on whether isolated genes can be patented, and will set a precedent in favor of commercial ownership of genetic material.'"
rogue-girl writes "Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg showcases portrait sculptures from genetic material collected in public spaces. DNA extraction and processing are done in a DIYbio-compliant fashion at the DIYbio hackerspace Genspace in Brooklyn, the collected information is then given as input to a 3D printer. The software developed and used for this project is awkwardly dubbed 'friendware', that is it is neither open nor closed, but only available to friends. Reconstructing faces from DNA is not new: scientists already successfully reconstructed Neanderthal man's face from ancient DNA back in 2008. At first sight, the artist's project may seem fun and quite impressive as high-voltage science proves once more feasible at home, but all the data one can have access to from totally banal samples leaves open worrying perspectives about how easy it is to use DNA collected in public spaces for "fingerprinting" people against their will and without their consent."
Several readers have passed on news of a privacy hole in the Google app store. Reader Strudelkugel writes with the news.com.au version, excerpting: "Every time you purchase an app on Google Play, your name, address and email is passed on to the developer, it has been revealed today. The 'flaw' — which appears to be by design — was discovered this morning by Sydney app developer Dan Nolan who told news.com.au that he was uncomfortable being the custodian of this information and that there was no reason for any developer to have this information at their finger tips."
Onymous Hero writes "With the printing and distribution of pornography already banned in Iceland, further measures to stop internet porn are being considered by Iceland's Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson. From the article: "Iceland is taking a very progressive approach that no other democratic country has tried," said Professor Gail Dines, an expert on pornography and speaker at a recent conference at Reykjavik University. "It is looking a pornography from a new position — from the perspective of the harm it does to the women who appear in it and as a violation of their civil rights.""
Republican staffer Derek Khanna was thrust into the spotlight in December for being fired after submitting a controversial brief titled: Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it. In the brief Khanna said: "Current copyright law does not merely distort some markets – rather it destroys entire markets," a view not very popular with Republicans in the House of Representatives. Since the firing, Khanna has continued to speak out on the need for copyright reform and most recently on the law against unlocking cellphones. Derek has graciously agreed to take some time to answer your questions about copyright reform and IP law. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
GovTechGuy writes "A number of lawmakers are using the death of Internet activist Aaron Swartz to speak out against the Justice Department's handling of the case, and application of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The controversy surrounding the Swartz case could finally give activists the momentum they need to halt the steady increase in penalties for even minor computer crimes."
Seeteufel writes "Nadim Kobeissi, security researcher, describes the Do Not Track standard of the W3C as dangerous. 'In fact, Google's search engine, as well as Microsoft's (Bing), both ignore the Do Not Track header even though both companies helped implement this feature into their web browsers. Yahoo Search also ignored Do Not Track requests. Some websites will politely inform you, however, of the fact that your Do Not Track request has been ignored, and explain that this has been done in order to preserve their advertising revenue. But not all websites, by a long shot, do this.' The revelations come as Congress and European legislators consider to tighten privacy standards amid massive advertiser lobbying. 'Do not track' received strong support from the European Commission."