eldavojohn writes "Apparently the Samsung and Apple patent hoedown has received some uninvited guests that wish to troll with the big trolls — all over a built-in button for an emoticon. According to Varia Holdings (don't bother googling, you won't find anyone trying to license their patents to you) 'by asserting [its European] emoticon patent against Apple, Samsung has recognized the value of the type of invention embodied in [Varia's] '731 Patent.' And, thusly, Varia feels this provides grounds to sue Samsung and RIM. Techdirt provides commentary on the obviousness of said patent while raking the USPTO examiner over the coals (although, curiously, gives Samsung a free pass)."
suraj.sun sends this quote from an op-ed at Ars Technica: "Eight months ago, content owners and Internet service providers agreed to the Copyright Alert System, a 'six-strike' plan to reduce copyright infringement by Internet users. Under the system, ISPs will soon send educational alerts, hijack browsers, and perhaps even slow/temporarily block the Internet service of users accused of online infringement (as identified by content owners). At the time it was announced, some speculated that the proposed system might not be legal under the antitrust laws. ... If I had to explain antitrust in a single word, it would not be 'competition' — it would be 'power.' The power to raise prices above a competitive level; the power to punish people who break your rules. Such power is something society usually vests in government. Antitrust law is in part concerned with private industry attempting to assert government-like power. ... The Copyright Alert System represents a raw exercise of concerted private power. Content owners as a group have control over their product. They have leveraged this control to forge this agreement with ISPs, who need to work with content owners in order to offer content to their own users. ISPs, in turn, have power over us as users."
1sockchuck writes "The Pirate Bay says it plans to deploy servers on airborne drones several kilometers above international waters. The site said it was experimenting with servers using Raspberry Pi, a credit-card sized Linux computer. April Fools come early? Torrent Freak says the plan is real. It's apparently a literal approach to cloud computing."
An anonymous reader writes "It looks as if the Australian Government really doesn't want the public to know what's going on in its closed-door talks with ISPs and the content industry. The Attorney-General's Department has applied the black marker to almost all of the information contained in documents about the meetings released under Freedom of Information laws. The reason? It wouldn't be in the 'public interest' to release the information. Strange how the public seems to have a high degree of interest in finding out what's being talked about."
Nick Bilton, Lead Technology writer for The New York Times Bits Blog, called the FAA to complain about its gadget policies on flights and got an unexpected reply. Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs, said that it might be time to change some of those policies and promised they'd take a “fresh look” at the use of personal electronics on planes. From the article: "Yes, you read that correctly. The F.A.A., which in the past has essentially said, 'No, because I said so,' is going to explore testing e-readers, tablets and certain other gadgets on planes. The last time this testing was done was 2006, long before iPads and most e-readers existed. (The bad, or good, news: The F.A.A. doesn’t yet want to include the 150 million smartphones in this revision.)"
hackingbear writes "A group of 22 Chinese authors have filed a claim against Apple, alleging its App Store sells unlicensed copies of their books. The Writers Rights Alliance, founded by Han Han, a young popular Chinese author and the worlds' most popular blogger, who is known for his cynical criticism of the government, petitioned Apple last year to stop electronic distribution of the writers' books and had earlier persuaded Baidu, China's largest search engine, to stop publishing their material on its Baidu Library product."
SonicSpike writes in with a story about the latest state contemplating raising revenues by taxing the net. "Downloading music, movies, e-books and Apps could soon cost Connecticut residents more as lawmakers consider a tax on digital downloads. The bill, proposed by the General Assembly's Finance, Review and Bonding Committee, would have consumers pay the 6.35% sales tax on any electronic transfer. Supporters say the bill would level the playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers in the state who are already required to charge Connecticut sales tax to consumers who purchase these products in their stores. About 25 states around the country have already begun taxing digital downloads."
thomst writes "Cnet's Greg Sandoval reports that New Zealand police filed for the wrong kind of restraining order--the kind that didn't allow for DotCom to have a court hearing prior to the seizure — and that was a mistake, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald. A court has now ruled that the restraining order that enabled police to seize his assets is 'null and void,' and a review of the mistakes made will soon be conducted by New Zealand's attorney general, according to the Herald. The paper noted that there's no guarantee that DotCom will prevail. His lawyers must prove the absence of good faith when the procedural error was made."
theodp writes "English comedian Russell Brand could be facing a felony conviction for snatching an iPhone from a would-be paparazzi and tossing it through a window. Singer/parolee Chris Brown also found himself in iPhone hot water after being charged with 'robbery by snatching' in a similar DIY-paparazzi-thwarting incident, which could be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value placed on an iPhone. But in the world-of-crazy-pricing created by phone makers and wireless providers ($899 Nokia Windows Phone, anyone?), where the quoted price of an iPhone varies by a factor of 376 from the same company, should one really be charged with a felony for snatching an iPhone, especially when an iPad 2 can be had for $399 retail?"
New submitter bozman8 writes "Announced recently on social networking platform Twitter, Julian Assange has found a way to run for the Upper House of the Australian Senate, despite being detained under house arrest in Britain. Along with Julian's candidacy, WikiLeaks has announced that they are going to run a nominee against current Prime Minister Julia Gillard in her local electorate."
New submitter BSAtHome writes "People with a healthy interest in fundamental freedoms and basic human rights have probably heard about SABAM, the Belgian collecting society for music royalties, which has become one of the global poster children for how outrageously out-of-touch-with-reality certain rightsholders groups appear to be. This morning, word got out in Belgian media that SABAM is spending time and resources to contact local libraries across the nation, warning them that they will start charging fees because the libraries engage volunteers to read books to kids. Volunteers. Who – again – read books to kids."
New submitter srussia writes with this quote from Wired: "DARPA director Regina Dugan will soon be stepping down from her position atop the Pentagon's premiere research shop to take a job with Google. Dugan, whose controversial tenure at the agency lasted just under three years, was 'offered and accepted at senior executive position' with the internet giant, according to DARPA spokesman Eric Mazzacone. She felt she could not say no to such an 'innovative company,' he adds. ... 'There is a time and a place for daydreaming. But it is not at DARPA,' she told a congressional panel in March 2011. 'DARPA is not the place of dreamlike musings or fantasies, not a place for self-indulging in wishes and hopes. DARPA is a place of doing.' For an agency that spent millions of dollars on shape-shifting robots, Mach 20 missiles, and mind-controlled limbs, it was something of a revolutionary statement. The shift was only one of the reasons why Dugan was a highly polarizing figure within her agency, and in the larger defense research community."
An anonymous reader writes "One of the major unanswered questions about Bill C-30, Canada's lawful access/online surveillance bill, is who will pay for the costs associated with responding to law enforcement demands for subscriber information ('look ups') and installation of surveillance equipment ('hook ups'). Michael Geist recently obtained documents (PDF) from Public Safety under the Access to Information Act that indicates the government doesn't really have its own answer. But he reports that the police do — a new 'public safety' tax to be added to Internet and wireless bills."
theodp writes "Microsoft, reports GeekWire, is seeking a patent on monetizing the buttons of your TV remote. In its application for a patent on 'Control-based Content Pricing,' Microsoft explains how one can jack up the cable bill of those who dare fast-forward past a diaper commercial or replay a sports highlight. From the patent application: 'If a user initiates a navigation control input to advance past (e.g., skip over) an advertisement, the cost of a requested on-demand movie may be increased. Similarly, if a user initiates a replay of a sporting event, the user may be charged for the replay control input and for each subsequent view control input.'"