An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Lawyers representing Artem Vaulin have filed their formal legal response to prosecutors' allegations of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, among other charges. Vaulin is the alleged head of KickassTorrents (KAT). KAT was the world's largest BitTorrent distribution site before it was shuttered by authorities earlier this year. Vaulin was arrested in Poland, where he now awaits extradition to the United States. "Vaulin is charged with running today's most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials," Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a July 2016 statement. The defense's new 22-page court filing largely relies on the argument that there is no such thing as secondary criminal copyright infringement. While secondary copyright infringement as a matter of civil liability was upheld by the Supreme Court in MGM v. Grokster in 2005, Vaulin and his associates have been charged criminally. "The fundamental flaw in the government's untenable theory of prosecution is that there is no copyright protection for such torrent file instructions and addresses," [the brief's author, Ira Rothken,] argued in his Monday motion to dismiss the charges against Vaulin. "Therefore, given the lack of direct willful copyright infringement, torrent sites do not violate criminal copyright laws." "The extradition procedures have formally been started by the US in Poland," Rothken told Ars. "We are in a submissions or briefing period, and our Polish team is opposing extradition." Rothken also said that he has yet to be allowed to meet or speak directly with his client. For now, Rothken has been required to communicate via his Polish counterpart, Alek Kowzan. "Maybe they are afraid that Artem's extradition defense will be enhanced if American lawyers can assist in defending against the US extradition," Rothken added. No hearings before US District Judge John Z. Lee have been set.
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Bookworm09 quotes a report from New York Times (paywalled, alternate source): A man identified as a Russian hacker suspected of pursuing targets in the United States has been arrested in the Czech Republic, the police announced Tuesday evening. The suspect was captured in a raid at a hotel in central Prague on Oct. 5, about 12 hours after the authorities heard that he was in the country, where he drove around in a luxury car with his girlfriend, according to the police. The man did not resist arrest, but he had medical problems and was briefly hospitalized, the police said in a statement. The FBI said in a statement that the man was "suspected of conducting criminal activities targeting U.S. interests. As cybercrime can originate anywhere in the world, international cooperation is crucial to successfully defeat cyber adversaries." ABC News reports: "Prague's Municipal Court will now have to decide on his extradition to the United States, with Justice Minister Robert Pelikan having the final say. Russian officials, however, are demanding that the suspect be handed over to them. Spokeswoman Marketa Puci said the court ruled on Oct. 12 that the man will remain in detention until the extradition hearing. No date has yet been set. U.S. authorities have two months to deliver to their Czech counterparts all of the documents necessary for the Czech authorities to decide on the extradition request."
Europe's top court has ruled that dynamic IP addresses can constitute "personal data," just like static IP addresses, affording them some protection under EU law against being collected and stored by websites. ArsTechnica UK adds: But the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) also said in its judgment on Wednesday that one legitimate reason for a site operator to store them is "to protect itself against cyberattacks." The case was referred to the CJEU by the German Federal Court of Justice, after an action brought by German Pirate Party politician Patrick Breyer. He asked the courts to grant an injunction to prevent websites that he consults, run by federal German bodies, from collecting and storing his dynamic IP addresses. Breyer's fear is that doing so would allow the German authorities to build up a picture of his interests. Site operators argue that they need to store the data in order to prevent "cybernetic attacks and make it possible to bring criminal proceedings" against those responsible, the CJEU said.
An anonymous reader writes: Spain's Ministry of the Interior has announced the first ever arrest of an eBook pirate. The suspect is said to have uploaded more than 11,000 literary works online, many on the same day as their official release. More than 400 subsequent sites are said to have utilized his releases. The investigation began in 2015 following a complaint from the Spanish Reproduction Rights Centre (CEDRO), a non-profit association of authors and publishers of books, magazines, newspapers and sheet music. According to the Ministry, CEDRO had been tracking the suspect but were only able to identify him by an online pseudonym. However, following investigations carried out by the police, his real identity was discovered.
An anonymous reader writes: When a Galaxy Note 7 caught fire in China, its owner started filming the damage. That's to be expected. What was less expected was how Samsung reacted to news that one of its phones caught on fire. According to The New York Times, Samsung didn't rush out to try to find out why this user's phone exploded, it tried to bribe him to keep the video private. From the New York Times report; "Two employees from Samsung Electronics showed up at his house later that day, he said, offering a new Note 7 and about $900 in compensation on the condition that he keep the video private. Mr. Zhang angrily refused. Only weeks before, even as Samsung recalled more than two million Note 7s in the United States and elsewhere, the company had reassured him and other Chinese customers that the phone was safe. 'They said there was no problem with the phones in China. That's why I bought a Samsung,' said Mr. Zhang, a 23-year-old former firefighter. 'This is an issue of deception. They are cheating Chinese consumers.'"
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 troubles are continuing -- the company was just hit with a class action lawsuit in New Jersey focused on recovering cell phone contract fees for customers who were left with an unusable phone for several weeks. The suit has three initial plaintiffs, who say that they were left without a phone for the several weeks between when Samsung and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission originally issued a recall and told consumers to "power down" their devices (September 9), and when the company began offering replacement devices (September 21). It also notes that Samsung didn't make enough replacement devices immediately available -- which is probably a good thing considering that the company ultimately had to recall those as well. "Samsung informed consumers they would have to wait several days, and even weeks in many cases, before receiving a replacement smartphone," the suit alleges. "During this time, and as a result of Defendant failing to provide consumers with an adequate replacement, consumers continued to incur monthly device and plan charges from their cellular carriers for phones they could not safely use." The total recall and destruction of Galaxy Note 7 phones is unprecedented for a modern smartphone, so there isn't much to look at in order to project whether the case will succeed. "Samsung has agreed to recall and reimburse the cost of the device, but their customers have had to continue to pay on their data and voice plans during the time they had to make their device inoperative until they received their replacement device," Richard McCune, one of the lawyers representing the class, told me. "That is the loss that the case is focused on."
An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Back in 2013 Comcast began charging customers what it called the "Broadcast TV Fee." The fee, which began at $1.25 per month, has jumped to $6.50 (depending on your market) in just three years. As consumers began to complain about yet another glorified rate hike, the company in 2014 issued a statement proclaiming it was simply being "transparent," and passing on the cost of soaring programmer retransmission fees on to consumers. There's several problems with Comcast's explanation. One, however pricey broadcaster retransmission fees have become (and keep in mind Comcast is a broadcaster), programming costs are simply the cost of doing business for a cable company, and should be included in the overall price. Comcast doesn't include this fee in the overall price because sticking it below the line let's the company falsely advertise a lower rate. Inspired by the banking sector, this misleading practice has now become commonplace in the broadband and cable industry. Whether it's CenturyLink's $2 per month "Internet Cost Recovery Fee" or Fairpoint's $3 per month "Broadband Cost Recovery Fee," these fees are utterly nonsensical, and inarguably false advertising. And while the FCC can't be bothered to take aim at such misleading business practices, Federal class action lawsuit filed this week in California is trying to hold Comcast accountable for the practice. Plaintiffs from seven states -- including New Jersey, Illinois, California, Washington, Colorado, Florida and Ohio -- have sued Comcast alleging consumer fraud, unfair competition, unjust enrichment and breach of contract. What's more, the fee has consistently skyrocketed, notes the lawsuit. Comcast initially charged $1.50 when the fee first appeared back in 2013, but now charges upwards of $6.50 more per month in many markets -- a 333% increase in just three years.
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: A U.S. federal appeals court has found that law enforcement can, without a warrant, swipe credit cards and gift cards to reveal the information encoded on the magnetic stripe. It's the third such federal appellate court to reach this conclusion. Last week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of the government in United States v. Turner, establishing that it was entirely reasonable for Texas police officers to scan approximately 100 gift cards found in a car that was pulled over at a traffic stop. Like the previous similar 8th Circuit case that Ars covered in June 2016, the defendants challenged the search of the gift cards as being unreasonable. (The second case was from the 3rd Circuit in July 2015, in a case known as U.S. v. Bah.) In this case, after pulling over the car and running the IDs of both men, police found that there was an outstanding warrant for the passenger, Courtland Turner. When Turner was told to get out of the car and was placed in the patrol car, the officer returned to the stopped car and noticed an "opaque plastic bag partially protruding from the front passenger seat," as if someone had tried to push it under the seat to keep it hidden. The cop then asked the driver, Broderick Henderson, what was in the bag. Henderson replied that they had bought gift cards. When the officer then asked if he had receipts for them, Henderson replied that they had "bought the gift cards from another individual who sells them to make money." Turner's lawyers later challenged the scanning, arguing that this "search" of these gift cards went against their client's "reasonable expectation of privacy," an argument that neither the district court nor the appellate court found convincing. The 5th Circuit summarized: "After conferring with other officers about past experiences with stolen gift cards, the officer seized the gift cards as evidence of suspected criminal activity. Henderson was ticketed for failing to display a driver's license and signed an inventory sheet that had an entry for 143 gift cards. Turner was arrested pursuant to his warrant. The officer, without obtaining a search warrant, swiped the gift cards with his in-car computer. Unable to make use of the information shown, the officer turned the gift cards over to the Secret Service. A subsequent scan of the gift cards revealed that at least forty-three were altered, meaning the numbers encoded in the card did not match the numbers printed on the card. The investigating officer also contacted the stores where the gift cards were purchased -- a grocery store and a Walmart in Bryan, Texas provided photos of Henderson and Turner purchasing gift cards."
Apple's product launches are notoriously secretive, but the Cupertino, California tech giant is sure to do one thing ahead of a big reveal: file trademark paperwork in Jamaica. From a Quartz report: It did this for Siri, the Apple Watch, macOS, and dozens of its major products months before the equivalent paperwork was lodged in the United States. Likewise, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft routinely file trademarks for their most important products in locales far flung from Silicon Valley and Seattle. These include Jamaica, Tonga, Iceland, South Africa, and Trinidad and Tobago -- places where trademark authorities don't maintain easily searchable databases. The tech giants are exploiting a US trademark-law provision that lets them effectively claim a trademark in secret. Under this provision, once a mark is lodged with an intellectual property office outside the US, the firm has six months to file it with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When the firm does file in the US, it can point to its original application made abroad to show that it has a priority claim on the mark.
The Federal Trade Commission is worried that it may no longer be able to regulate companies such as Comcast, Google, and Verizon unless a recent court ruling is overturned, ArsTechnica reports. From the article: The FTC on Thursday petitioned the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals for a rehearing in a case involving AT&T's throttling of unlimited data plans. A 9th Circuit panel previously ruled that the FTC cannot punish AT&T, and the decision raises questions about the FTC's ability to regulate any company that operates a common carrier business such as telephone or Internet service. While the FTC's charter from Congress prohibits it from regulating common carriers, the agency has previously exercised authority to regulate these companies when they offer non-common carrier services. But the recent court ruling said that AT&T is immune from FTC oversight entirely, even when it's not acting as a common carrier. It isn't clear whether the ruling sets an ironclad precedent preventing the FTC from regulating any company with a common carrier business.
British security agencies have secretly and unlawfully collected massive volumes of confidential personal data, including financial information, on citizens for more than a decade, top judges have ruled. The Guardian adds:The investigatory powers tribunal, which is the only court that hears complaints against MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, said the security services operated secret regimes to collect vast amounts of personal communications data, tracking individual phone and web use and large datasets of confidential personal information, without adequate safeguards or supervision for more than 10 years. The ruling said the regime governing the collection of bulk communications data (BCD) -- the who, where, when and what of personal phone and web communications -- failed to comply with article 8 protecting the right to privacy of the European convention of human rights (ECHR) between 1998, when it started, and 4 November 2015, when it was made public. It said the holding of bulk personal datasets (BPD) -- which might include medical and tax records, individual biographical details, commercial and financial activities, communications and travel data -- also failed to comply with article 8 for the decade it was in operation until its public avowal in March 2015.
An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report: London's transport bosses said on Monday that all drivers of private hire vehicles must speak, listen to, read and write English to a set level, intensifying a battle with taxi app Uber which says the expected standard is too high. Earlier this year, the capital's transport authority said it would introduce the measure as part of a series of stricter rules on apps such as Uber and private hire firms like Addison Lee whilst supporting the city's iconic black cabs. The move prompted San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to book journeys on their smartphone, to take legal action arguing that the written component was too demanding. But on Monday, regulator Transport for London (TfL) said drivers will have to take either an English proficiency test or provide proof, such as a British school qualification, that they can meet the required level.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: Google revealed Wednesday it had been released from an FBI gag order that came with a secret demand for its customers' personal information. The FBI secret subpoena, known as a national security letter, does not require a court approval. Investigators simply need to clear a low internal bar demonstrating that the information is "relevant to an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities." The national security letter issued to Google was mentioned without fanfare in Google's latest bi-annual transparency report, which includes information on government requests for data the company received from around the world in the first half of 2016. Google received the secret subpoena in first half of 2015, according to the report. An accompanying blog post titled "Building on Surveillance Reform," also identified new countries that made requests -- Algeria, Belarus, and Saudi Arabia among them -- and reveals that Google saw an increase in requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But Google in its short blog post did not publish the contents of the actual letter the way other companies, including Yahoo, have done in recent months. Asked about plans to release the national security letter, a Google spokesperson told The Intercept it will release it, though it wouldn't say when or in what form it will do so. Google hasn't previously published any national security letters, though it's possible gag orders for prior demands are still in place. It's also unclear why Google wouldn't immediately publish the document -- unless the gag is only partially lifted, or the company is involved in ongoing litigation to challenge the order, neither of which were cited as reasons for holding it back
If you've purchased a "fat" PlayStation 3 before April of 2010, you can now claim up to $55 as part of the settlement over the removal of the console's "Other OS" feature. PS3 owners with proof of purchase or evidence of a PSN sign-in from the system can receive $9 from the company. However, if you've used the "Other OS" feature to install Linux on your PS3, you can receive $55. The online claim form can be found here. Ars Technica reports: The opening of claims after a long legal saga that began in March of 2010, when Sony announced it would be removing the "Other OS" feature from the PS3. Sony claimed it was a security concern, but many class-action lawsuits filed in 2010 alleged the company was more worried about software piracy. While one lawsuit over the matter was dismissed by a judge in 2011, another worked its way through the courts until June, when Sony finally decided to settle. Though the company doesn't admit any wrongdoing, it puts itself on the hook for payments to up to 10 million PS3 owners. Note to those affected: "Claims are due by December 7, and payments should be sent out early next year pending final approval of the settlement."
Reader AmiMoJo writes: In its continued quest to keep the Internet piracy-free, the RIAA has seized the domain name of yet another MP3Skull site. However, it appears that their most recent target has nothing to do with the original service. Earlier this year a Florida federal court issued a permanent injunction which allowed the RIAA to take over the site's domain names. Despite the million dollar verdict MP3Skull continued to operate for several months, using a variety of new domain names, which were subsequently targeted by the RIAA's legal team. Now MP3Skull.onl, an unrelated YouTube converter, has also been seized.
A group of investors, mostly foreign institutions, are suing Toshiba in a Tokyo court for 16.7 billion yen ($162.3 million) in damages, over a $1.3 billion accounting scandal uncovered last year. Reuters adds: Toshiba said in a statement on Thursday that the 45 unnamed shareholders were seeking compensation for damages caused by its "inappropriate accounting". It will take an unspecified provision to cover any eventual payout, Toshiba said. The laptops-to-nuclear conglomerate has been sued by 15 groups and individuals since it first admitted to reporting inflated profits going back to 2008, including Japan's public pension fund. GPIF, the world's biggest pension fund, has been shifting into shares to attempt to boost returns. Thursday's case, however, is the largest - the remaining suits are seeking a combined 15.3 billion yen in compensation. Toshiba is still overcoming the reputational and share price hit of an investigation last year that found widespread accounting errors throughout its sprawling business, blaming a corporate culture in which employees found it difficult to question their superiors.
Scientists and legal experts have unveiled plans for the "first nation state in space." The state is called "Asgardia" after one of the mythical worlds inhabited by the Norse gods, and it will eventually become a member of the United Nations -- complete with its own flag and anthem. The Guardian reports: According to the project website, Asgardia "will offer an independent platform free from the constraint of a land-based country's laws. It will become a place it in orbit which is truly 'no man's land.'" Initially, it would seem, this new nation will consist of a single satellite, scheduled to be launched next year, with its citizens residing firmly on terra firma. Speaking to the Guardian through an interpreter, the project lead Igor Ashurbeyli, said: "Physically the citizens of that nation state will be on Earth; they will be living on different countries on Earth, so they will be a citizen of their own country and at the same time they will be citizens of Asgardia." "When the number of those applications goes above 100,000 we can officially apply to the UN for the status of state," he added. According to the project website, "Any human living on Earth can become a citizen of Asgardia," with the site featuring a simple registration form. At the time of writing more than 1000 individuals had already signed up. At present, the Outer Space Treaty that underpins international space law states that responsibility and liability for objects sent into space lies with the nation that launched them. But the project team claims that Asgardia will set a new precedent, shifting responsibility to the new "space nation" itself. "The existing state agencies represent interests of their own countries and there are not so many countries in the world that have those space agencies," said Ashurbeyli. "The ultimate aim is to create a legal platform to ensure protection of planet Earth and to provide access to space technologies for those who do not have that access at the moment."
Lucas123 writes: A class-action lawsuit against Ford and its MyFord Touch in-vehicle infotainment system -- originally based on a Microsoft platform -- has brought to light corporate documents that show engineers at the Dearborn carmaker referred to the problematic technology as a "polished turd" that they feared would be "unsaleable." The documents even reveal that Henry Ford's great grandson experienced significant problems with MyFord Touch. In one incident, Edsel Ford was forced to wait on a roadside for the system to reset and could not continue to drive because he was unable to use the IVI's navigation system. The lawsuit describes an IVI screen that would freeze or go blank; generate error messages that wouldn't go away; voice recognition and navigation systems that failed to work, problems wirelessly pairing with smartphones, and a generally slow system. Ford's CEO Mark Fields even described his own travails with the SYNC IVI, referring to it as having crashed on several occasions, and that he was so frustrated with the system he may have damaged his car's screen out of aggravation. The civil suit is expected to go to trial in 2017.
New submitter Shimbo writes: Foodles Production (UK) Ltd was fined 1.6 million British pounds (almost $2 million) at Aylesbury Crown Court today after pleading guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act at an earlier hearing. Judge Francis Sheridan said, "The greatest failing of all on behalf of the company is a lack of communication, a lack because, if you have a risk assessment and you do not communicate it, what is the point of having one?" The fine is a result of an unfortunate incident while filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Harrison Ford was reportedly knocked to the ground and crushed beneath a heavy hydraulic door when he walked on to the set of the Millennium Falcon -- not believing it to be live. The 71-year-old actor suffered a broken left leg. Prosecutor Andrew Marshall said, according to Britain's Press Association, the door acted like a "blunt guillotine," coming down "millimeters from his face." The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that Ford was hit with a force similar to the weight of a small car.
An anonymous reader writes: French freedom of information law now treats source code as disclosable in the same way as other government records. The new "Digital Republic" law took effect Saturday, with its publication in France's Official Journal. It adds source code to the long list of government document types that must be released in certain circumstances: dossiers, reports, studies, minutes, transcripts, statistics, instructions, memoranda, ministerial replies, correspondence, opinions, forecasts and decisions. But it also adds a new exception to existing rules on access to administrative documents and reuse of public information, giving officials plenty of reasons to refuse to release code on demand. These rules already allow officials to block the publication of documents they believe threaten national security, foreign policy, personal safety, or matters before court or under police investigation, among things. Now they can oppose publication if they believe it threatens the security of government information systems.