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Acacia’s Case Against GNU/Linux is Dead

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 6:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Troll in the garden

Summary: The patent troll known as Acacia loses its case against Red Hat and against Novell

ONE vigilant reader has just sent us a heads-up regarding the decision announced below. GNU/Linux wins and Acacia loses in a patent case which is important. The press release from Red Hat is as follows and we will cover this in more detail later on.

Red Hat Prevails in Federal District Court

RALEIGH, N.C., Apr 30, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Red Hat, Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!rht/quotes/nls/rht (RHT 29.87, -0.91, -2.96%) , the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, announced that today a jury in federal court in Marshall, Texas, returned a verdict in favor of Red Hat, Inc. and Novell, Inc. in a case alleging patent infringement brought by IP Innovation LLC, a subsidiary of Acacia Research Corporation and Technology Licensing Corporation.

The patents at issue were found to be invalid and worthless.

“The patents at issue were found to be invalid and worthless.”“This is the result we expected and we are gratified that the jury recognized the tremendous innovative value of open source software. The jury knocked out three invalid patents that were masquerading as a new and important inventions, when they were not,” said Michael Cunningham, Executive Vice President at Red Hat. “We appreciate the jury’s wisdom and remain committed to providing value to our customers, including through our Open Source Assurance program. We also remain stalwart in resisting bogus shakedown tactics.”

For more information about Red Hat, visit www.redhat.com. For more news, more often, visit www.press.redhat.com.

About Red Hat, Inc.

Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions and a component of the S&P 500, is headquartered in Raleigh, NC with over 65 offices spanning the globe. CIOs ranked Red Hat as one of the top vendors delivering value in Enterprise Software for six consecutive years in the CIO Insight Magazine Vendor Value survey. Red Hat provides high-quality, affordable technology with its operating system platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, together with virtualization, applications, management and Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) solutions, including Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and JBoss Enterprise Middleware. Red Hat also offers support, training and consulting services to its customers worldwide. Learn more: http://www.redhat.com.

Does Android’s Chief Compare Steve Jobs to North Korea’s Dead Leader (Kim Il-sung)?

Posted in Apple, Asia, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Security at 6:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A bit of a stretch from AndroidGuys, but an interesting analogy nonetheless

Andy Rubin, photo by Yoichiro Akiyama (Tokyo, Japan)

Chairman Jobs

Summary: Apple is going too far in its fight against fair competition and freedom, so more people and organisations begin to publicly denounce Apple

SOMETIMES, when a company feels invincible, Hubris takes over. Apple’s legal case against Android/Linux is yet another sign that Apple has given up on being reasonable. Apple has become a rather blatantly freedom-hostile company which is now even threatening Ogg. In addition, Apple has returned to threatening bloggers whose only sin is that they derailed Apple’s hype machine.

CNET has some more updates about a blogger’s case:

Journalist shield law may not halt iPhone probe

Prosecutors defend Gizmodo search in iPhone probe

Stephen Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney, told CNET on Tuesday evening that prosecutors had considered whether reporter shield laws applied to the search and seizure aimed at the gadget blog–and decided to proceed after carefully reviewing the rules.

“My prosecutor who is handling it considered this issue right off the bat when it was being brought into him and had some good reasons why he and the judge felt the warrant was properly issued,” Wagstaffe said.

Not only the prosecutors defend Gizmodo; the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has come up with yet another post on the subject:

Last week’s police raid on Gizmodo blogger Jason Chen’s house, in response to a request from Apple Inc., has led many to wonder why government resources are being spent on a spat between Apple and Gizmodo.

But here at EFF, we are also wondering if we’ve just seen the future of copyright enforcement. Although the Gizmodo seizure doesn’t appear to be rooted in copyright, having cops kicking in doors over what seems like a private dispute reminded us of recent efforts by the big content industries to get law enforcement to go after “copyright thieves.”

We also wrote about this Gizmodo story in posts such as:

According to this report, Android’s founder/leader “likens Apple to North Korea”:

The NY Times has a great little interview with Google VP Andy Rubin where he talks about Android’s future among other things. When asked his thoughts on the recent Steve Jobs comments about Android offering porn, Andy says he doesn’t quite get where Jobs was coming from. “I don’t really have a rationale for that,” he said. “It’s a different style of interacting with the public and the media.”

Does that make Steve Jobs and Kim Il-sung long-lost twins? Probably not, but anyway, Rubin’s words are taken slightly out of context.

We covered this particular incident in [1, 2]. In the South African press, a journalist now labels Apple “a threat to innovation and freedom.”

Things need to change and Apple needs to be seen for what it really is: a threat to innovation and freedom.

For as long as anyone can remember Microsoft has been seen as the primary enemy of free and open source software (FOSS). Free software advocates over the years have held Microsoft up as the pre-eminent example of how software should not be produced and distributed; an example of how they did not want it to be.

It wasn’t without good reason that Microsoft was seen as enemy number 1. The company has done everything in its power over the years to undermine Linux and free software. CEO Steve Ballmer has even gone so far as to label free software anti-American and he never misses an opportunity to take a swipe at Linux.


There was a time when Microsoft was seen as the enemy of software freedom and Apple, by virtue of being seen as the “underdog”, was given far more leniency. Things need to change and Apple needs to be seen for what it really is: a threat to innovation and freedom.

Apple will probably receive increased attention from Techrights simply because the company is detrimental to technology (for instance, it prevents rivals from implementing particular features, due to patents) and careless when it comes to people’s freedoms and rights.

One particularly amusing item that we found in yesterday’s news is McAfee’s attempt to sell “anti-malware” software for Android using snake oil marketing. It’s a tad insulting because McAfee is hostile towards the GPL (or Free software in general) and it breaks operating systems rather than secure them. Android users don’t need McAfee.

Microsoft Patent Tax on Linux-powered Televisions

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Kernel, LG, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 6:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TV restrictions

Summary: What Samsung’s rumoured entry into the market of ‘Google TVs’ (running Android) actually means to Microsoft

IT is no longer a secret that Microsoft pressures companies to pay Microsoft for Android. One of those companies is Samsung, the company which is said to be working on Android-based TVs. [via]

Samsung Electronics, the world’s top TV maker, is considering developing “Google TVs” which run Google’s Android operating system, its executive told The Korea Herald yesterday.

The move came as Samsung’s rival, Sony, is reportedly working with Google and Intel to offer Internet-connected, Android-based TVs, seeking to allow viewers to download and enjoy a wealth of Web content and software as they do on computers and smartphones.

Apple and Google are seeking to take a bite out of the TV market, hoping to expand their influence beyond the mobile arena. Such moves herald a repetition of a race over operating systems and applications, as is currently seen in the smartphone market, analysts said.

LG is the other Korean company which must already be paying Microsoft for Linux and with new LG phones running Android, this cannot be good news.

The Android TVs being speculated above are not to be confused with Sony’s. Sony too is reported to be on the case and in Sony’s case it’s even confirmed with certainty. [via]

Sony Corp., trying to reverse sales declines in its TV division, will announce home-entertainment devices next month that use Intel Corp. chips and Google Inc. software, said two people familiar with the matter.

The companies plan to discuss the new products at a conference sponsored by Google in San Francisco on May 19 and May 20, said the people, who asked not to be identified because details are still being worked out. Intel is contributing a customized version of its Atom chip that will run a new version of Google’s Android operating system called Dragonpoint.

TechDirt points out that Microsoft is being very cheeky by taxing Google products without any details given and without Google’s consent.

Seems a bit strange, right? Why should Microsoft have any say in whether or not HTC can put Google’s Android operating system on its phones. The whole thing seems even odder when you realize that HTC was, for a long time, one of the major makers of smartphones running Windows Mobile operating system. But, the complicating factor here might be Apple. Apple, of course, famously went on the patent offensive and sued HTC over its Android phones a couple months ago. So now, with Microsoft doing this deal, it seems to very publicly be entering the patent fight between Apple and Google, which for bizarre reasons is playing out with HTC as the pawn getting bounced around between them all.

Someone in this comment thread shrewdly points out a “solution: make the software free to download and sell the phones with no operating system installed. would this work?”

HTC is bringing out more new phones running Android, despite Microsoft’s pressure to tax Android or simply discourage Android use as means of promoting Windows/Kin.

Why, hello there, little HTC Android phone with a nice, fat keyboard.

We strongly encourage readers to avoid HTC products. HTC lets Microsoft harm Android and Linux without even putting up a fight. In Apple’s case, HTC expects to at least fight. This will partly be the subject of the next post.

Out-of-Cycle Patches for Vista 7 (Not Stable), Security Issues Noted by Google

Posted in DRM, Microsoft, Security, Vista 7, Windows at 5:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Digital bubble number 7

Summary: Latest versions of Windows suffer from instability problems which Microsoft is trying to resolve even without waiting for the monthly patching cycle; fake “anti-virus” software targets Windows increasingly

Microsoft has just released a bunch of patches outside Patch Tuesday. These patches mostly address bugs in Vista 7, as well as bugs found in close relatives of Vista 7.

Those issues are presented by the Microsoft boosters as “stability” “fixes”* as though they indicate that there are no security issues in Vista 7 (that’s part of the spin), but as we saw before, Vista 7 is full of holes, more so than predecessors perhaps. To name some older posts:

Also in the news, we are now hearing from Google that fake “anti-virus” software for Windows is being used to hijack people’s computers and their data.

“Social engineering attacks scaring users about false insecurities are not new,” the report noted. “As early as 2003, malware authors prompted users to download fake AV software by sending messages via a vulnerability in the Microsoft Messenger Service … More recent fake AV sites have evolved to use complex JavaScript to mimic the look and feel of the Windows user interface. In some cases, the fake AV detects even the operating system version running on the target machine and adjusts its interface to match.”

The MSBBC insinuates that not only Windows is affected by this:

More than half of the fake software – which predomianntly targets Windows machines – was delivered via adverts, Google said.

Unless it can be proven that fake “anti-virus” software is being delivered to platforms other than Windows (and also reported in this way by Google), the word “predominantly” (the BBC can’t even spellcheck) should really be removed. More reporters should call out Windows.
* Notice the use of positive language and compare with “instability bugs” or “crash errors” for example; it’s somewhere along the lines of Digital “Rights” Management (DRM).

Keeping Mono Out of Ubuntu 10.04 and Android; HTC Sued Again for Software Patents

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Ubuntu, Windows at 3:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

Summary: Reminder of Mono’s promotion of proprietary software and attempts at Android inclusion; Klausner takes his trolling tour to HTC

UBUNTU 10.04 has been out for about a day now and reviews of this GNU/Linux distribution have been mostly positive so far. For those who wish to keep Mono out of it, there are new instructions too.

Over at Novell’s de Icaza’s blog, it’s all about Microsoft and Apple this week. This Microsoft MVP announced the use of “Mono’s C# Compiler as a Service on Windows.”

It’s great, isn’t it?

Mono is enriching Windows. That’s partly what it’s intended to achieve [1, 2]. With MonoTouch, which Apple is now blocking [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], Mono also promotes .NET, but Apple won’t let it be. Novell’s de Icaza writes about that very same issue a little more (no change in policy at Apple) and The Source has posted this strongly-worded response:

That’s how I feel about Mono: don’t give me that shit about Microsoft being selective in enforcing ECMA or non-ECMA coverved parts. Or that as long I get the software from a pre-approved source I’m covered by a “covenant”, as long as I am careful to stay within the lines of the covenant of course.

The bottom line is you have to be insanse to risk large amounts of time and effort that Microsoft won’t choose to enforce its “IP” if your project competes with them. No sane developer would voluntarily add risk to an already risky proposition if they can at all avoid it.

The FSF has already explained why C# is not safe. Microsoft’s patent racket is reaching Android and it doesn’t help that Novell pushes to include C# in Android [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].

As we mentioned in previous coverage about Microsoft vs Android, there seems to have been some connection between Apple and Microsoft all along. They do compete against one another, but they also share a common enemy that they see in Free/libre software. The big funders of the world’s biggest patent troll are Microsoft, Apple, and Bill Gates (who loves patents in almost every area of life).

Dana Blankenhorn puts forth this baffling analysis:

There are three ways to speculate about Microsoft’s latest Linux patent cross-license, this time with HTC:

1. Microsoft is pushing its weight around (again).
2. Microsoft is aligning with Google against Apple.
3. Microsoft is making peace with everyone.

2 and 3 are ludicrous spin. They are probably not worth commenting on. Blankenhorn asks about Microsoft’s claims: “But what patents? How much? What’s in the fine print? This we are never told. The game has been going on for over three years now — since the first deal with Novell — and the public is still being kept in the dark.”

It all started with Novell (and Novell initiated this) and the latest victim is HTC.

The sad news is that HTC has just been sued again, possibly for its Android handsets. The plaintiff is Klausner, who is somewhat of a patent troll whom we wrote about in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] (more links in TechDirt).

Inventor Judah Klausner added HTC Corp to the list of big phone makers against which he has filed lawsuits alleging infringement of technology patents related to visual voicemail.

LG is also a victim of Klausner and LG — like HTC — pays Microsoft for Linux. Klausner is a patent troll that we wrote about many times before and it is possible that Android will suffer some more from such trolls (e.g. caller ID being removed due to intimidation from a software patent holder), including from those giants who sometimes fund them, namely Microsoft and Apple, which also sued HTC.

Steve Jobs: “A Patent Pool is Being Assembled to Go After Theora and Other “Open Source” Codecs Now.”

Posted in Apple, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents, Standard at 2:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple no longer a patent pussy, now a provocative tiger

Summary: Apple’s threat not only to Free/libre software but also to standards everyone can use is made more apparent because of new mail

APPLE’S legal attacks against Android and Linux go quite a way back when Apple used legal threats and sabotaged APIs to prevent access to its platform/s; Last month Apple took it up a notch and actually launched a legal attack. Hugo Roy from the FSFE has contacted Steve Jobs and received a nauseating response which he posted in full with maximal proof of authenticity


From: Steve Jobs
To: Hugo Roy
Subject: Re: Open letter to Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Flash
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2010 06:21:17 -0700

All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now. Unfortunately, just because something is open source, it doesn’t mean or guarantee that it doesn’t infringe on others patents. An open standard is different from being royalty free or open source.

Sent from my iPad

Based on some other messages from him, it sure seems like his style (the signature for example). What Jobs has sent from his hypePad seems to suggest that he knows something that others do not. Apple already invests in the world’s biggest patent troll and Apple is a key opposer when it comes to Ogg Theora as part of HTML5. Perhaps that explains it. Apple was also accused of ‘poisoning’ HTML with some patents it refused to relinquish control of.

Florian Müller’s interpretation of the letter from Jobs (which he mailed us a short while ago) was as follows:

According to an email of today, Steve Jobs wrote that a patent pool is being assembled to go after Ogg Theory and other open-source video codecs (codec = encoder/decoder software, such as a video player program).

While I can’t ascertain the authenticity of Steve Jobs’ email published on http://hugoroy.eu/jobs-os.php , the person who published it (along with the email delivery record) is a credible source. He’s a core activist of the Free Software Foundation Europe and received Steve Jobs’ email in reply to this open letter he had published on the web and sent to him by email: http://blogs.fsfe.org/hugo/2010/04/open-letter-to-steve-jobs/comment-page-1/#comment-72

As the founder of the European NoSoftwarePatents campaign and author of the “FOSS Patents” blog (FOSS = Free and Open Source Software), I hope you will find my following comments useful in your analysis of this matter:

1) Steve Jobs’ email doesn’t say who the patent holders are who will contribute to the patent pool that is going to be used against those codecs. Therefore it’s unclear whether Apple would contribute any patent(s) to that pool or not.

2) In connection with Microsoft’s patent licensing deal with HTC, a maker of mobile phones running Google’s Android open source (Linux-based) operating system, I believe there hasn’t been enough attention to an important fact: While Microsoft doesn’t try to force any Android phone vendor out of the market, Apple uses some of its own patents very aggressively in order to prevent such companies as HTC from providing certain functionality at all. I’s important to see the difference from the perspective of competitors and consumers: the worst thing that can happen with patents is if vendors, especially leading ones, use their patents for exclusionary purposes.

Should Apple be a contributor to the patent pool Steve Jobs mentioned, that would be very bad news because then the objective may very well be to prevent any commercial use and distribution of Ogg Theora and other open-source video codecs.

3) Multimedia codecs are one of the worst patent minefields out there, enforcement is aggressive and there’s no such thing as a video standard 100% unencumbered by patents. There are too many software patents out there to perform reliable clearance and patent offices often grant new patents on old ideas.

I wrote about these issues 10 days ago on my FOSS Patents blog:


That blog post starts with the story that Google might release its VP8 codec (which it acquired as part of On2 Technologies) on open-source terms. My blog post argues that even Google with all its knowledge and resources won’t be able to guarantee that any such codec software is 100% unencumbered by patents. The post discusses the impossibility of reliable patent clerance and also talks about the aggressive enforcement of such patents (the confiscation of MP3/MP4 product samples is part of the annual routine at the CeBIT trade show).

4) This is not the first incident this month of patents threatening open source. IBM’s threat letter to TurboHercules, which I published and discussed on my blog ( http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/04/ibm-breaks-taboo-and-betrays-its.html ), shows that even a vendor claiming to be a friend and protector of open source (something that Apple never claimed) is determined to assert patents in order to protect a lucrative turf.

Florian’s words deserve a level of skepticism not because of IBM’s position (which we never supported anyway) but because of him standing up for the company that sidles with Microsoft. His history of fighting against software patents in Europe and also standing up against Microsoft lobbyists makes his analysis worthy of attention though.

Earlier today we showed more evidence connecting Apple’s attack on Android/Linux to Microsoft (more on that later today). Several months ago, former Microsoft evangelist Michael Gartenberg claimed that Apple was moving towards Microsoft, but Gartenberg too should be treated with extreme skepticism for reasons we gave in, e.g.:

Other Patent News from Europe

The president of the FFII, Benjamin Henrion, highlights this new page about UPLS (United Patent Litigation System). This comes from an FSF-backed project. Henrion tracks the UPLS as it may serve as a back door to software patenting in Europe (and Microsoft front groups already lobby for it). The following new ruling that he points to shows a software patent being revoked in France (around the same time Germany does the opposite). A site called Tangible IP (it’s like saying “solid solidity” about water) writes:

One of our interests on Tangible IP is the never ending story of software patents. Just to recap: the European Patent Office is currently considering the degree to which computer-implemented inventions are patentable. On the other side of the Atlantic the US Supreme Court has head arguments in the re Bilski case and we’re waiting for a decision.


The EPO Examiner initially rejected the patent on the grounds that it was not possible to determine the technical problem which was to be solved by the invention. The Applicant’s attorneys responded that the technical problem has been clearly described in the description and that this problem was solved by the claims. The EPO granted the patent.

“French Court TGI rejects search engine software patent EP1182581 based on subject matter exclusion (art52 EPC),” claims Henrion (information in French) who also found evidence [PDF] of what he claims to be “5.000.000 EUR for violation of a software patent.” Aren’t software patents already illegal in Europe? Well, there are loopholes that are being exploited.

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway”, —Marshall Phelps, IAM: Microsoft to have 50,000 patents within two years, Phelps reveals

Links 30/4/2010: *Ubuntu 10.04 Release

Posted in News Roundup at 1:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • Open Source Conferences Are Big Businesses

      Granted, Buytaert does cite nearly $700,000 in expenses related to the conference, but he also estimates $1,004,470 in revenues. DrupalCon makes clear why open source conferences continue to flourish. There are organic reasons why they do well, of course. Among those, open source projects are by nature community driven, and members of communities like to mingle and share ideas.

    • About the LFNW Videos

      The videos were recorded at 720×480 resolution and where transcoded with a combination of Handbrake and ffmpeg2theora… with the final results being in Ogg Theora (.ogv) format.

      The videos were uploaded to archive.org and are streaming (and downloadable) from there.

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox powers research

      Mozilla’s Firefox is a pretty good browser. But, thanks to a number of add-ons, it can also be an essential research tool for anyone working online. We look at some of the best add-ons available for improving Firefox’s research capabilities.

    • Account Manager coming to Firefox

      The Account Manager makes it incredibly easy for users to create new accounts with optional randomly generated passwords, and log into and out of them with just a click. As a web developer, adding support for this feature could take as little as fifteen minutes of hacking (in fact, we’ll mention the first 5 people to add support – read below to learn more.).

  • Databases

    • A Few Words About ‘NoSQL’ and Other Unstructured Databases

      No one likes this term. Attempting to describe something by what it isn’t typically doesn’t work — and, to make matters worse, this is about data-store relationships and not about SQL at all. Yet NoSQL databases have significant advantages, including:

      * Seemingly infinite scalability (Facebook is using Cassandra to store and query 50TB of user inbox data).
      * Extraordinary fault tolerance.
      * High availability.
      * A design-friendly lack of schema.
      * Integration of both RESTful and cloud computing technologies.


    • The German Medal of Honour for founder of FSFE

      Georg Greve has been awarded the German Medal of Honour for his contributions to open standards and free software. Born in 1973, the physicist founded Free Software Foundation Europe in 2001 and served as its president up to last year.

  • Programming

    • The Quality of Code is not strained…

      A proprietary vendor supplied us with their code and details of performance for one of our teams to integrate with our existing systems. No news there, happens every day across the enterprise. However, as the implementation scaled it exposed fatal flaws in the proprietary code when under load – bringing everything to a grinding halt.

    • KXStitch delivers cross-stitch wizardry for Linux

      As KXStitch grew, so did Allewell’s skill as a developer. “I originally started the development process with KDevelop using KDE2/Qt, as I was new to developing graphics applications and new to developing on Linux. I found KDevelop was easy to use and provided a wealth of tools to aid the development process. Since then I have moved away from KDevelop and just maintain my own build files as I have gained more knowledge of Linux and the development process.”


  • Comcast ‘wins’ Consumerist worst-company tournament

    The votes are in, and Comcast has won Consumerist’s uncoveted “Worst Company in America” award.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Goldman Sachs Knows How to Get ‘Er Done!

      This has to be the best detail from the emails published as exhibits for the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations hearing on Goldman Sachs. (The “Timberwolf C.D.O. squared” refers to a hybrid cash/synthetic collateralized debt obligation Goldman Sachs derived from other mortgage-backed securities, naturally.)

    • Huge drop in crimes solved by costly CCTV

      The number of crimes solved by the Metropolitan Police using CCTV has fallen by more than a half in five years.

    • TfL signs £22.6m CCTV contract with Easynet

      Transport for London has awarded a 10-year, £22.6 million contract to Easynet Global Services to provide digital telecommunications network services for its CCTV system upgrade.

    • NHS data revelations bode badly for NPfIT

      Today that fear has been confirmed as – for at the least the second year running – the NHS has topped the list of UK organisations subject to the highest number of data breaches. As reported by the Health Service Journal:

      More serious data breaches have taken place within the NHS than any other UK organisation, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

      A total of 2897 breaches were reported, accounting for more than 30% of the total number, deputy commissioner David Smith told the Infosec security conference.

      The NHS, which is currently introducing digital patient records, said that 113 incidents occurred due to stolen data or hardware, with a further 82 cases of lost data or hardware.

    • Is there a quota system for New Mexico’s state police?

      Eyewitness News 4 has uncovered documentation that indicates some police officers have been mandated to write a certain number tickets per month or face possible punishment.

  • Finance

    • Republicans Allow Debate on Financial Overhaul

      With political pressure mounting, Senate Republicans relented on Wednesday and agreed to let Democrats open debate on legislation that would impose the most far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system since the aftermath of the Depression.

    • Obama plans to nominate 3 Fed governors

      If all three were confirmed, the Fed would have its first full slate of seven governors in four years. There are currently two vacant Fed positions, for which Raskin and Diamond are to be nominated, and Fed Vice Chairman Donald L. Kohn plans to retire in June, to be replaced by Yellen.

    • Obama nominates two for key administration posts

      Prior to joining CIGNA Insurance, he held various positions in the areas of IT, engineering, marketing and general business management at Monsanto, Quaker Oats, General Dynamics, and Shell Oil Company.

    • Major source of money for big banks may get exemption from regs

      A major source of revenue for big banks may ultimately be exempt from new regulations under financial reform legislation in Congress.

      Lawmakers are looking to crack down on the multitrillion-dollar derivatives market that some blame for worsening the financial crisis.

    • Greek’s debt troubles raise contagion worries

      The Greek debt crisis sent a shudder through global financial markets and served as a dramatic reminder of how vulnerable the world economy remains to the threat of a fast-spreading financial panic.

    • To Save The Eurozone: $1 trillion, European Central Bank Reform, And A New Head for the IMF

      When Mr. Trichet (head of the European Central Bank, ECB) and Mr. Strauss-Kahn (head of the International Monetary Fund, IMF) rushed to Berlin this week to meet Prime Minister Angela Merkel and the German parliament, the moment was eerily reminiscent of September 2008 – when Hank Paulson stormed up to the US Congress, demanding for $700bn in relief for the largest US banks. Remember the aftermath of that debacle: despite the Treasury argument that this would be enough, much more money was eventually needed, and Mr. Paulson left office a few months later under a cloud.

    • Frank Luntz Hasn’t Read 13 Bankers (And That’s A Good Thing)

      This is about the “arc of the fraud”. The financial system committed fraud during the boom (liar loans and misrepresentation to customers of all kinds); fraud during the bailout (“if you ruffle our feathers, we will collapse”); and now fraud during the serious attempts at reform (e.g., the astroturf/fake grassroots nonsense.)

    • Goldman Sachs adds to its ranks of lobbyists

      But now, faced with fraud charges, investigations, a firestorm of criticism and a regulatory overhaul bill that could seriously damage its profitability, the venerable Wall Street firm is assembling a team of veteran lobbyists, well-connected former Hill staffers and top public relations strategists to confront what is arguably the most traumatic moment in its 140-year history.

    • Organized Labor Puts a Bull’s-Eye on Wall Street

      Activists are expecting 10,000 people to vent their rage Thursday against the giants of the financial system from within the belly of the beast — on Wall Street itself — while another 8,000 will participate virtually.

    • Ex-Goldman Trader Bought Major Stake in ACA, Shorted Subprime CDOs

      The Goldman-Paulson fraud suit threatens to throw a spotlight on a realm of Wall Street that has escaped most scrutiny throughout the financial crisis: the hedge fund industry. Top hedge fund managers profit from Wall Street’s business model of fraud and collusion more than any CEO at the big banks, but tend to evade accountability because of the opacity of their industry and their extraordinary power.

    • Goldman Not Talking Settlement, Yet

      Will Goldman Sachs (GS) settle the now-famous civil fraud case over its disclosures (or lack thereof) to a German bank that bought from the firm a batch of toxic investments?

      Yes, of course. There’s not a person on Wall Street, including at the senior levels of Goldman, who isn’t predicting a settlement.

    • In Goldman’s Defiance, a Hint of Truce

      That destination is likely to be a negotiated truce. In the hearing before the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Chairman Carl Levin punishingly interrogated Goldman traders and top executives over the morality of their actions. Senate Republicans, possibly seeing political peril in siding with Wall Street, the next day stopped blocking floor debate on the financial regulatory overhaul bill.

    • How the SEC and Congress Can Bring Down Goldman Sachs and Expose the Financial Coup

      Not only did Goldman Sachs profit on betting against CDOs they designed to fail; more importantly, they insured them through AIG which led to a $182 billion taxpayer bailout.

    • Goldman Sachs Crossed Ethical Lines in Selling CDOs, Levin Says
    • Goldman Sachs deal in fraud case involved unsophisticated investors

      The doomed deal at the heart of the government’s civil fraud suit against Goldman, Sachs & Co. was designed for sophisticated investors.

    • Goldman Trader ‘Hedging’ Means ‘Conflict’ to Senator

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. trader Josh Birnbaum had recommended betting against the stock of Bear Stearns Cos. in July 2007, just four months after his colleagues sold a $300 million piece of “one shitty deal” to hedge funds controlled by Bear Stearns, according to e-mails obtained by the Senate through a subpoena.

    • Goldman Sachs, Goldfish Eat Their Young

      In one sense, Goldman Sachs is no different from other investment banks. Junior employees are expendable. Like goldfish, investment banks eat their young when brand-protection and self-interest make cannibalism seem rationale.

    • The Death of Goldman Sachs

      This was a very painful event to watch, not just because death is tragic and not because this death was intentional rather than accidental.

    • Comparing Goldman Sachs to a Casino Is an Insult to Casinos

      Running a gambling casino is actually a pretty simple, straightforward and honest business. You’re closely regulated by the state gambling commission who would throw you in prison if you were caught loading the dice, stacking the deck or making side bets for your own account against your customers. All your customers know that you skew the odds slightly in favor of the house, so that cumulatively the house always wins and you make healthy profits on the margin by which the odds are slightly skewed in your favor.

    • Wall Street Comparison Offends Las Vegas, Ensign Says

      Most people in Las Vegas would “take offense” at being compared with Wall Street, according to the Nevada senator who represents the gambling capital.

    • Political Wisdom: Arizona, Goldman Sachs Stir the Pot

      Political theatrics are plentiful on two quite different fronts today: Arizona’s new immigration law and Goldman Sachs’ performance leading up to the economic meltdown of 2008.

    • Arizona’s new ‘papers, please’ law may hurt H-1B workers

      H-1B workers in Arizona that can’t immediately prove they’re working in the U.S. legally may find themselves detained by police or even jailed under the state’s new immigration law.

    • Self-Evaluations Pose New Concern After Goldman Sachs Hearing

      At a 10-hour congressional hearing this week, senators pointed to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. employees’ self-evaluations, which included boasts about making “extraordinary profits” by betting against the subprime market, as proof the company misled investors into a mortgage-linked investment.

    • Fabulous Fab Shows Managers Oblivious to E-Mail Peril (Update1)

      His messages left lawyers asking: What was he thinking?

      “It is shocking how people are oblivious to the fact that e-mails are a treasure trove for lawyers,” said Jacob Frenkel, a partner at Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Eckerin in Potomac, Maryland. “It’s a combination of not thinking, ignorance and arrogance.”

    • Goldman Sachs banker facing fraud charges bags share of mega £3.2bn payout
    • ‘Fabulous Fab’ Goldman Sachs exec Fabrice Tourre, Wall Street sext king, is a nervous weenie

      Fabrice Tourre, who calls himself Fabulous Fab, is not so much.

      Actually, the 31-year-old Frenchman of the racy e-mails came across like a weenie when he appeared before a Senate subcommittee to be grilled about Goldman Sachs’ role in a deal the SEC says wasn’t kosher.

      There he was in his Stanford school tie along with his Goldman Sachs colleagues, ducking, dodging and looking none too comfortable as politician after politician teed off on the giant investment bank.

    • Accused Goldman Sachs Exec Crowed Of Pending ‘Collapse’ -SEC

      Fabrice Tourre, the Goldman Sachs (GS) executive accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of making misleading statements about toxic investments, had a grandiose view of his own position in the financial system, according to emails the SEC said he wrote.

    • Goldman’s Viniar, Sen. Levin Agree: Don’t Say Securities ‘Crap’

      Senator Carl Levin and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Financial Officer David Viniar agreed on at least one thing during his testimony today before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations: Investment bankers shouldn’t call the securities they sell “crap.”

      Levin asked what Viniar felt when he read e-mails in which Goldman Sachs employees described mortgage-linked securities as “crap” or “shitty.”

    • Goldman Case Is Just ‘the Beginning’ for Banks, Malmgren Says

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Senate grilling may be the start of a series of inquiries into banks in the wake of the global crisis, said Pippa Malmgren, George W. Bush’s former chief financial-markets adviser.

    • Goldman Armed Salespeople to Dump Bonds, E-mails Show

      The e-mails, including communications from Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein, show that employees discussed how to “arm” salespeople to shed bonds the firm found too risky to hold. The e-mails were released yesterday by Senator Carl Levin in connection with a hearing where current and former managers testified about the firm’s role in the financial crisis.

      Levin, the Michigan Democrat who heads the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, grilled the executives about the firm’s bets against the housing market and its disclosure to clients.

    • Whitman Flips on Goldman Sachs

      Former eBay CEO and current candidate for governor of California Meg Whitman now regrets participating in a now-banned transaction several years ago when she served on the board of disgraced Goldman Sachs.

    • Goldman Sachs’ Long Day In Washington
    • Congress berates Goldman Sachs
    • Enron law firm sues Goldman Sachs

      The law firm that won Enron investors $7.2 billion in what was one of the largest class action suits in the history of securities law filed charges against Goldman Sachs on Monday.

    • Goldman Sachs Suffers The Perils Of PR Spin
    • What’s Next for Goldman Sachs?
    • Probe: Goldman Eyed Profits from Housing Bust

      Top Goldman executives misled investors in complex mortgage securities that became toxic, investigators for a Senate panel allege. They point to e-mails and other Goldman documents obtained in an 18-month investigation. Excerpts from the documents were released Monday, a day before a hearing that will bring CEO Lloyd Blankfein and other top Goldman executives before Congress.

    • Viniar Says Firm Didn’t Negotiate With Treasury on AIG Payments

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. received a 100 percent payout on its collateral from American International Group Inc. because “it was what they owed us,” Chief Financial Officer David Viniar said.

    • Will their bite match their bark? Obama advisor rails against Goldman Sachs, but bill’s in limbo

      Democrats blasted Goldman Sachs Sunday for conflicts of interest after internal emails showed company officials cheering the crash of the housing market that devastated the lives of millions of Americans.

    • Bloomberg Scoop Has Implications for Geithner, Ex-Goldman Chair

      Bloomberg Markets breaks some major news today in a magazine profile of TARP Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky, who says his investigation of New York Federal Reserve, then headed by Tim Geithner, “could result in criminal or civil charges”…

    • Wall Street Compensation Is Much More Complex Than It Needs To Be. Let’s Take Goldman For Example…
    • Letter from Rep. Kaptur to the DOJ demanding a requesting investigation of Goldman
    • Kendall Law Group Plans Class Action on Behalf of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Shareholders

      A class action complaint has been filed on behalf of investors for failure to fully disclose the facts relating to ABACUS 2007-AC1 transaction, even after receiving notice from the SEC about the deal. If you wish to serve as a lead plaintiff in this case you must move the court by June 25, 2010. A lead plaintiff is a class member who acts on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation. Your ability to share in any recovery is not affected by the decision to serve as a lead plaintiff.

    • Gordon Duff: The Gop And Goldman Sachs, Economic Terrorism

      Nearly every pension fund and 401k, every college fund in America dropped dramatically because of these fraudulent and unethical acts. Millions of Americans will have to work into their 70s and 80s because of Goldman Sachs, work if they can still find jobs. Goldman Sachs helped take those away too. Not just major employers but governments, cities and states, all can no longer pay the pensions they have guaranteed their workers. The money is gone. It was taken, and not without alot of help.

    • The devil in Goldman Sachs
    • Goldman Sachs Said to Meet U.K. FSA Today Over Probe
    • Dead money lives: Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein gets $2.8M richer – by testifying
    • Goldman Death Fight May Explain Lloyd’s Words: Jonathan Weil

      If we are to take Lloyd Blankfein’s word for it, and that’s always a big if, then there must be a lot worse behavior by Goldman Sachs that has yet to be discovered, beyond what was publicly unearthed at this week’s Senate hearing.

    • Did Goldman’s Ex-Mortgage Guru Lie Under Oath?

      As it was making those deals, Goldman was taking a far more negative view of the mortgage markets. So the issue is, what did Sparks know and when did he know it? More precisely, did he—could he—really expect these deals to do well when Goldman was peddling them to customers?

    • Criminal Probe into Goldman Sachs

      For some bizarre reason, the WSJ has this filed under “Politics.” (I guess this means the Foxification of the WSJ is continuing apace).

    • Goldman in Talks Over Fund Settlement: Report

      Goldman Sachs Group is in talks over a possible settlement with an Australian fund that said it became defunct after it bought into a $1 billion subprime mortgaged-linked security, the FT reported on Thursday.

    • Legislators suggest fraud, request Goldman inquiry

      A group of 62 House lawmakers is asking the Justice Department to conduct a criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Senators complain about Facebook privacy changes

      Facebook’s latest privacy policy update has once again gotten the company in hot water, this time with four US senators. Senators Al Franken, Charles Schumer, Michael Bennet, and Mark Begich wrote an open letter to Facebook on Tuesday, urging the company to take “swift and productive steps” to make user information more private and warning that the Federal Trade Commission may get involved if certain concerns aren’t addressed soon.

    • Timeline of Facebook privacy policy: from reasonable (2005) to apocalyptic (2010)

      Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Kurt Opsahl has gone spelunking in the history of Facebook’s privacy policies over the past five years, presenting a timeline that starts with something fairly moderate and reasonable in 2005 and moves to the current 2010 version which basically says, “By using Facebook, you agree to let us film your life 24/7, sell it to advertisers, ridicule it, or make a reality show from it.”

    • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

      • Why Is Michael Geist In Favour Of Digital Rights Management/Technical Protection Measures?

        I’d like to remind Michael that there was more agreement than disagreement that blacks were an inferior species in North America late into the 1900s, and that there is still a strong belief that Native Canadians are inferior in parts of Canada even today. Just because there is some agreement on something doesn’t mean that it’s right.

      • Canadian Politics, Copyright Law, Lawyers, WIPO, Etc.

        Why am I doing this? Easy. It’s called documentation. I’ve dealt with government departments a lot in the past. Before my body gave out, and I was no longer capable of working, I was fairly well known in Washington DC, and also in Sacramento. Part of my work involved dealing with the large American law firms, firms far larger than McCarthy Tetrault or Stikeman Elliot. I’ve given testimony to government agencies in the United States in the past, and probably will again, once my surgery is complete.

    • Intellectual Monopolies

      • U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Releases Latest Bogus Study Pushing For More Draconian IP Enforcement

        The report is a joke, based on a series of faulty assumptions. Tragically, the US Chamber of Commerce still gets attention, despite the fact that its claims pushing for stronger IP laws would do a lot more harm than good for most US business and innovation.

      • Feds celebrate Intellectual Property Day with more IP cops

        Yesterday was World Intellectual Property Day. Though not usually thought of as a gift-giving holiday, the US did take the opportunity to give something to IP rightsholders: 35 new federal officials focused on domestic and international IP crimes.

      • Copyrights

        • “Fair use” generates trillions in the US alone

          When pressing Congress to ratchet up the legal screws on infringers, copyright holders are fond of touting apocalyptic reports about how piracy is destroying their industries—and the US economy.

        • Copyright Defenders Don’t Realize That New ‘Fair Use’ Report Mocks Their Own Study

          Last year, we had written about how the CCIA had taken the same methodology used by entertainment industry lobbyists to claim how “big” the “copyright industry” was and applied it to the “fair use” industry, to show that it was actually much bigger than the copyright industry. Both numbers are clearly bogus — which is effectively the point that CCIA was making. The point that is clear, however, is that if you accept the methodology that claims that “copyright” brings $1.52 trillion into the economy, then weaker copyright/exceptions to copyright (such as fair use) bring in $2.2 trillion. Lots of folks have been submitting the news that the CCIA just recently updated the report to show that we’re now talking about $4.7 trillion contributed by the “fair use industries.” Again, this number is bogus — but it’s main point is to show just how silly the copyright lobbyist’s argument that copyright contributes $1.52 trillion to the economy is, because it uses the same methodology — a point recently confirmed by the GAO.


          And guess who one of the biggest abusers of this bogus $1.52 trillion number is? You guessed it! It’s Patrick Ross! He tosses the number around like it’s going out of style and is regularly quoted in the press using that number as well.

        • Random House Cedes Some Digital Rights to Styron Heirs

          After publicly staking a claim to the right to publish electronic versions of books that already have a long history in print, Random House appears to be letting go of digital rights to several works by one prominent author without a fight, potentially opening the way for other authors to take their e-books away from traditional publishers.

        • AFP Sues Photographer Whose Photographs It Used Without Permission

          Where to start on the mess here? First, let’s start with AFP. This is the same organization that once sued Google for merely linking to AFP stories with the AFP’s headline in Google News. So for the AFP to pretend it’s on the moral high road here for blatantly using a photo without licensing it is pretty damn hypocritical, even if you believe it had the right to do so. Given its own actions on copyright issues, the AFP seems to think that any use is infringing.

        • Anti-Piracy Group Says: ‘Child Porn Is Great’ Since It Gets Politicians To Block File Sharing Sites

          Of course, those filters don’t actually work, and using them to force entire sites to be blocked, despite them having a relatively tiny proportion of such content isn’t just dishonest and underhanded, but dangerous. We’re all in favor of trying to stop child porn, but you do that by focusing on the source, not by putting up filters willy-nilly in a misguided attempt to get politicians to also protect your business model.

          Either way, it’s incredibly disgusting to have anyone claim that child porn is “great,” just because it can be improperly exploited for the sake of protecting another industry’s business model. That he’s basically admitting that he doesn’t remotely care about stopping child pornography, but prefers to use it to his advantage is downright sickening.

        • RIAA Missing The Point About Record Store Day
        • IFPI’s Latest Report On Music Sales Shows Growth In Some Markets

          Of course, what the IFPI totally ignores (not surprisingly, since they only represent record labels) is that while the sales of music directly may have declined in some markets, the overall market for music grew tremendously. In other words, the decline in sales of recorded music has not done harm to the music industry, but just to a few record labels.

        • In Shanghai, Hiding Bootlegs Before the World Visits

          The latest mystery in Shanghai, complete with sliding bookshelves, secret passageways and contraband goods, is this: Why are all the popular DVDs and CDs missing from this city’s shops?

        • The ethics of piracy

          On the other hand: I already paid for these books legitimately. They’re my books. The shoplifting analogy is specious, because in that case, I’m depriving the rightful owner — the owner of the bookstore — of their copy of the book. If I download a copy of the e-book, nobody else is deprived of their copy.

        • Canadian Copyright Consultation Opposed By A Little Known Canadian Lawyer Richard Owens

          Richard is using the term ‘modchip distributors’ in a perjorative manner. He’s deliberately trying to inflame the discussion, to try and prevent the members of the CCER and those who used the CCER’s form letter from being heard. Now this might be allowed in a court of law, but it is frowned on in the court of public opinion.

      • ACTA

        • Guest Post – ACTA Text Released: Impact On India and Other Developing Countries

          The metaphorical ‘season-finale’ of the ACTA negotiations, after relentless calls for transparency and public consultation, revealed the much awaited official draft text of the agreement, generating significant issues for not only participating nations but also developing countries that have been curiously overlooked during the discussions. In this post, I intend to bring out the political and diplomatic factors for such exclusion, and the impact of the substantive provisions contained in the draft text on developing countries, including India.

        • The tail wagging the dog

          The “copyright” industry consisting of a technologically obsolete Hollywood studios; music recording companies; and publishers of books is minuscule . To protect this pipsqueak industry, the Obama administration proposes both through the Department of Justice and the ACTA to impose draconian steps that will threaten many other not so pipsqueak industries, including the IT industry. Michele and I have pointed out the problem before.

Clip of the Day

Don’t Custom build that site! The many uses for Drupal by Jakob Perry

Adobe Trash Player and Novell/Microsoft Mono

Posted in GNU/Linux, Mandriva, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 6:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

KDE 4.4 - small

Summary: Rant about Adobe Trash [sic] and what it teaches us about Mono/Moonlight

I have been upgrading to KDE 4.4.2 since last night (not decided on which distribution of GNU/Linux yet) and one thing that ought to be said is that I spent more time getting gnash/flash to function than I spent installing GNU/Linux (current desktop shown above). Gnash is not most trivial to install and some sites that I use strictly require Adobe Trash [sic] Player. Adobe’s installer did not work properly and needed a workaround (command line hack) that I came up with after struggling with it for 1.5 hours. Shame on Adobe.

This morning I also received the following mail from one of our readers, whose message could not come at a better time. Here it is:

What is true for Apple about Flash is true for GNU/Linux about Mono(=Microsoft .Net)

This is in regard with Steve Jobs post yesterday explaining Apple’s position respect Adobe’s Flash.

Notice that Apple took a more radical approach which is to apply a full ban on flash for their platform (except Mac).

In GNU/Linux there is no problem with the existence/availability of Mono:there is problem with those pushing it making it a dependency by default, yet the Mono apologists and Microsoft revisionists cry foul when someone objects that including Mono by default is a really dumb idea and a loosing strategy.

Imagine Apple making parts of its OS for smartphones dependent on Flash?

I think many of Steve’s motives for rejecting flash are very much valid for GNU/Linux and Free Software to reject dependency on Mono and technologies whose direction is not decided nor lead by the community (in fact it is lead by an entity that is set to disrupt and destroy the FOSS environment).

From Apple’s Web site:

“Sixth, the most important reason.[...]

We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.

This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms.”

One more thing: It would also be good to substitute the notion of “Mono” by “Mono/Moonlight”: In fact, Silverlight is very much an “attack” from Microsoft to Macromedia/Adobe’s flash in order to try to reclaim their good ol’ Explorer 5/6 times chokehold on the web…

The moral of this matter is that Web standards and not proprietary ones ought to be promoted. We always try to spread Ogg in Techrights (where possible). As more services and even applications become Web based, the risk of a proprietary Web becomes greater; Mono and Moonlight also have Microsoft patent issues.

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