07.20.10

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Links 20/7/2010: Beyond Software, Lots of ACTA News

Posted in News Roundup at 3:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Judge Rejects Attempt To Fine Family For Picking Up Discarded Air Conditioning Unit

    That’s what led to a woman and her son getting charged with a $4,000 fine for picking up a discarded air conditioner. The Consumerist lets us know that, thankfully, a judge has tossed this fine. There are so many ridiculous angles to this case, even if you believe the law is reasonable. First, two people were fined. The guy who picked up the air conditioning unit… and his aunt, who owned the car, but was not in it at the time. That seems pretty questionable as well. It’s a bad application of liability. Just because the nephew put the AC unit in the car, why should the aunt be subject to the fine?

  • IP Justice Comments on ICANN Accountability & Transparency Concerns: Lack of Accountability to Non-Commercial Users Remains Problematic for ICANN’s Promise to Protect the Public Interest
  • Government outlines new libel law plans

    The UK Government will overhaul libel laws in the new year. It said that it will publish a Defamation Bill early next year in an attempt to give publishers more rights and clamp down on ‘libel tourism’.

    All the major political parties pledged to reform the laws of libel in the run up to this year’s general election. Libel laws in England and Wales are widely seen as being very favourable to people suing for libel to protect their reputations.

  • Kindle Books Outselling Hardcover Books. “Tipping Point” Reached, Amazon Says

    Amazon’s Kindle eReader has long been a great device. Unfortunately, for much of its life, it has been far too expensive. And now with Apple’s iPad out there, it seems a bit too, well, monochrome. But Amazon did a smart thing recently, they slashed the price of the device, down to $189. As a result, growth is accelerating once again, Amazon says.

  • The Mail’s online miracle: or how to get paid without a paywall

    In short, it doesn’t necessarily matter that the Mail is different. Perhaps its success merely prompts other news sites to be different as well. Not one site covering all, but many sites offering alternative things. Not one site ruling the world, but many sites carving up the globe.

    And once we’re dealing in niches and targeting – for readers, for ads – then paywalls become merely part of the debate: not Rupert’s (or David’s) last weapon of every resort.

  • Quicken Online Users Saw The Bait, Took The Switch To Mint.com, And Are Left With Nothing
  • “Pay what you want” benefits companies, consumers, charities
  • A Farewell to Scienceblogs: the Changing Science Blogging Ecosystem

    It is with great regret that I am writing this. Scienceblogs.com has been a big part of my life for four years now and it is hard to say good bye.

    Everything that follows is my own personal thinking and may not apply to other people, including other bloggers on this platform. The new contact information is at the end of the post, but please come back up here and read the whole thing – why I feel like I must leave now.

  • Physicists, brace yourselves for a revolution! Faster than light travel discovered!
  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment

    • Recycled Island will be created from plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean

      Recycled Island is a great idea for getting rid of the floating plastic dump in the Pacific. The island would be built where the trash is located and would convert the waste onsite cutting down on cleanup and building costs. It would be between Hawaii and San Francisco in the heart of the Pacific Ocean’s currents.

    • Gulf coast fishermen angry over oil claims ruling

      Fishermen in Mississippi say they are angry that under the terms of BP’s $20 billion oil spill fund, money they earn doing clean-up will be subtracted from their claim against the company.

    • Poachers kill last female rhino in South African park for prized horn

      South African wildlife experts are calling for urgent action against poachers after the last female rhinoceros in a popular game reserve near Johannesburg bled to death after having its horn hacked off.

      Wildlife officials say poaching for the prized horns has now reached an all-time high. “Last year, 129 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. This year, we have already had 136 deaths,” said Japie Mostert, chief game ranger at the 1,500-hectare Krugersdorp game reserve.

    • BP launches effort to control scientific research of oil disaster

      Scientists from Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University and Texas A&M have “signed contracts with BP to work on their behalf in the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) process” that determines how much ecological damage the Gulf of Mexico region is suffering from BP’s toxic black tide. The contract, the Mobile Press-Register has learned, “prohibits the scientists from publishing their research, sharing it with other scientists or speaking about the data that they collect for at least the next three years.”

  • Finance

    • How Brokers Became Bookies: The Insidious Transformation Of Markets Into Casinos

      One of the dire unintended consequences of that maneuver, however, was that municipal governments across the country have been saddled with very costly bad derivatives bets. They were persuaded by their Wall Street advisers to buy municipal swaps to protect their loans against interest rates shooting up. Instead, rates proceeded to drop through the floor, a wholly unforeseeable and unnatural market condition caused by rate manipulations by the Fed. Instead of the banks bearing the losses in return for premiums paid by municipal governments, the governments have had to pay massive sums to the banks – to the point of pushing at least one county to the brink of bankruptcy (Jefferson County, Alabama).

    • Hedge funds accused of gambling with lives of the poorest as food prices soar

      Financial speculators have come under renewed fire from anti-poverty campaigners for their bets on food prices, blamed for raising the costs of goods such as coffee and chocolate and threatening the livelihoods of farmers in developing countries.

      The World Development Movement (WDM) will issue a damning report today on the growing role of hedge funds and banks in the commodities markets in recent years, during which time cocoa prices have more than doubled, energy prices have soared and coffee has fluctuated dramatically.

    • Food speculation: Shop Goldman Sachs to the regulator

      Food speculation is one of the ways bankers’ greed harms the poor and puts us all at risk, and the huge investment bank Goldman Sachs is one of the biggest culprits.

      Our financial regulator, the Financial Services Authority or FSA, is charged with keeping the financial system stable and safe. We should look to them to rein in the irresponsible food gambling of Goldman Sachs and banks like them.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Feds look for Wikileaks founder at NYC hacker event

      Federal agents appeared at a hacker conference Friday morning looking for Julian Assange, the controversial figure who has become the public face of Wikileaks, an organizer said.

      Eric Corley, publisher of 2600 Magazine and organizer of The Next HOPE conference in midtown Manhattan, said five Homeland Security agents appeared at the conference a day before Wikileaks Editor in Chief Assange was scheduled to speak.

      The conference program lists Assange–who has been at the center of a maelstrom of positive and negative publicity relating to the arrest of a U.S. serviceman and videos the serviceman may have provided to the document-sharing site–as speaking at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday.

    • Academics must check contracts’ effects on user rights

      The use of contracts and technologies to bypass copyright law and users’ rights must be investigated by academics, a review of contract and copyright law by a government advisory body has said.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Greens Endorse BT-TalkTalk Opposition to Digital Economy Act

      Adrian Ramsay, deputy leader of the Green Party, has endorsed TalkTalk and BT’s challenge of the recently ratified Digital Economy Act. The two Internet Service Provider (ISP) companies are seeking a judicial review of the legislation.

      The Digital Economy Act places an obligations on ISPs to block sites accused of hosting copyrighted material. ISPs are also being asked to retain and manipulate data on its subscribers’ internet activity.

    • Is Famed Trademark Troll Leo Stoller Trying To Stealthily Reclaim Bogus Stealth Trademarks?

      Back in 2005, we wrote about the rather crazy case of Leo Stoller, the “trademark troll,” who claimed incredibly broad trademarks on single words (sometimes through questionable means) and then tried to shakedown pretty much anyone who used those words for cash. The key trademark he claimed to hold was on the word “stealth” for “all goods and services.” Among those he demanded money from were Columbia Pictures for the movie Stealth, baseball player George Brett for selling a “Stealth” brand baseball bat and (my favorite) Northrup Grumman for making the stealth bomber.

    • Could Bolivia Opt-Out Of Berne And WIPO And Forge A New Path On Copyright?

      One of the biggest problems we have with copyright policy today is the simple fact that it’s almost entirely “faith-based,” with no real evidence showing that current copyright laws benefit society. In fact, most specific studies show the opposite — that copyright laws, as they exist today, tend to do more harm than good (except, potentially for middlemen). That’s why international agreements that lock in certain forms of copyright law around the globe are so problematic. They don’t allow countries to experiment with different types of copyright law to see if they work better. That, of course, is one reason why ACTA is so troubling. However, before ACTA there were other such international agreements, such as WIPO and, most famously, the Berne Convention.

    • The doom of the telecomms carriers

      Forward-thinking technologists, including me, have been predicting for some time that adaptive mesh networking would be the doom of the telecomms-carrier and broadband oligopoly. Now comes a scientist from Australia with an idea so diabolically clever that I’m annoyed with myself for not thinking of it sooner: put the mesh networking in smartphones!

    • BitTorrent Makes Twitter’s Server Deployment 75x Faster

      Some of the biggest Internet brands have declared their love for BitTorrent in recent months. Both Facebook and Twitter are using BitTorrent to update their networks and not without success. In Twitter’s new setup the BitTorrent-powered system has made their server deployment 75 times faster than before.

    • Lawsuit Dropped; Claimed That Copyright-Filtering Violates Copyright

      Lawyers have abandoned a closely watched lawsuit against the document-sharing site Scribd that alleged the site’s copyright filtering technology is itself a form of copyright infringement.

    • A World Without Intellectual Property

      Even without copyright laws, programmers would continue to produce software. They might engineer the software to work only with permission from the software firm, requiring the consumer to pay for it.

      A second profitable business model is to allow consumers to use to the software for free, courtesy of advertisers. Google follows this model.

      A third option, and probably most preferable from the consumer’s perspective, is the open-source freeware/shareware model, or software written by volunteers/hobbyists and made freely available without difficult licensing restrictions. Users may copy, edit, modify, sell, or pretty much do anything with the software. (For-profit entrepreneurs are able to take a piece of shareware, add useful features, and sell copies with tech support.)

    • Human Rights Groups Complain About Special 301 Process

      We’ve talked in the past about what a complete joke the USTR’s “special 301″ process is. That’s when a bunch of industry lobbyists say which countries are the most annoying to them on intellectual property issues. Then, the USTR sums it all up and says “these countries are problems” and tells US diplomats to go browbeat those countries to have better intellectual property laws and enforcement. Of course, the problem is that there’s no objective research being done. All of the information is heavily biased, and it doesn’t take into account either the actual laws or enforcement in a country (just what industry reps say is going on) or the rights of those countries to make their own decisions when it comes to IP laws.

    • File Sharing Is Not Pollution, And You Don’t Need An ISP ‘Tax’ To Deal With It

      I like Will Page, the chief economist for PRS for Music (a UK collection society), quite a bit. We’ve had a number of fun conversations about the music industry and music industry economics — some of which we’ve published here. While there are plenty of things I agree with him about, there are still many points on which we disagree. His most recent paper, advocating a mandatory ISP fee for file sharing (pdf) is a point where we completely disagree. Page’s paper is getting some attention, and he presented it at the same event where Peter Jenner just called for a blanket license as well. But I fear that Page’s paper, while it digs into some economic concepts, includes a few mistaken assumptions that drives the entire paper offline (though, in fairness to Page, he clearly states that for you to accept his thesis, you need to accept his assumptions).

    • SABIP

      Before anyone else excitedly emails the IPKat to tell him, let him announce on this weblog of record that the new UK Business Secretary Vince Cable has today axed a number of Department for Business quangos — the top of the list being the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property policy (SABIP). The body — along with everyone else — must have foreseen its demise, since it has already posted this statement on its own dissolution:

      “On 19 July the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced changes in order to streamline its partner organizations by reducing the number of ‘Arm’s Length Bodies’. This includes the dissolution of the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy (SABIP).

    • Copyrights

      • France’s Three-Strikes Law for Internet Piracy Hasn’t Brought Any Penalties

        In the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands, the referee, Howard Webb, handed out a record 14 yellow cards. Nonetheless, the game turned nasty, as the players apparently concluded that Mr. Webb was all bark and no bite.

        Is something similar happening in the French government’s high-profile battle against digital piracy of music, movies and other media content?

        Nearly three years ago President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed what was to have been the world’s toughest crackdown on illegal file-sharing. After two years of political, judicial and regulatory setbacks, the legislation was approved last September, authorizing the suspension of Internet access to pirates who ignored two warnings to quit. Early this year, the government set up an agency to implement the law.

      • File sharers targeted with legal action over music downloads

        Solicitors for dance music label Ministry of Sound have sent letters to thousands of internet users it believes have illegally downloaded music and says it is determined to take them to court – and extract substantial damages – unless they immediately pay compensation, typically around £350.

      • Anti-Piracy Group Stuns The World With Torrent Site Massacre

        An anti-piracy group has revealed that when it comes to shutting down torrent sites, it is the undisputed king of the Internet. BREIN, which works on behalf of the Hollywood movie studios, says that not only has it shut down several Usenet indexers and streaming sites already in 2010, but hundreds of torrent sites too. There is torrent site carnage going on in The Netherlands and we’ve failed to report on any of it.

      • Court Bans The Pirate Bay From The Netherlands

        In a full trial the Amsterdam Court has confirmed an earlier judgment and ordered The Pirate Bay to stop all their activities in The Netherlands. The Court ruled that the site’s operators were assisting copyright infringement. If the three ‘operators’ fail to ban Dutch users, they will have to pay penalties of 50,000 euros per day.

      • Dutch ISPs Don’t Have to Censor The Pirate Bay

        A Dutch court has ruled that two of the largest ISPs in the Netherlands don’t have block customer access to The Pirate Bay. According to the court, there is no evidence that the majority of the ISPs’ users are infringing copyright through The Pirate Bay, so a block would not be justified.

      • Thousands More BitTorrent Users To Be Sued In The U.S.

        The troubles for U.S. based BitTorrent users who share movies without permission is far from over. The United States Copyright Group (USCG) has called in the help of 15 law firms to file lawsuits against BitTorrent users who refuse to settle. For those who are willing to pay, the USCG has set up a portal where alleged file-sharers can conveniently pay their settlements online.

      • Westminster eForum: Peter Jenner on digital content consumers

        “It seems to me that in the online world, the marginal cost of a digital file is essentially zero,” he says, making it an “inescapable reality” that the digital world is pushing the price of music towards zero.

      • MP James Moore Has Blocked Me From Following Him On Twitter – I Wonder Why?

        You’ve got to love it when you find out you are making a difference. And you know you are making a difference when after you write an article critical of a politician, the politician in question blocks you from following them on Twitter. Seriously. I’m a Canadian citizen, interested in Canadian Heritage, who’s Mother-In-Law is Poet Laureate for her city, who’s wife is a Canadian singer-song writer, who’s daughter is a Canadian photographer, who’s son is a Canadian videographer, who’s brother-in-law is a graphics artist/novelist, who’s sister-in-law is a graphics artist, and who has a lot of friends who are artists.

        [...]

        In my opinion his best option at this point is to issue an apology to everyone who doesn’t agree with Bill C-32, all of whom he insulted by calling them radical extremists. Of course because this is his best option, it doesn’t mean that he will do it. I suspect that he’s really annoyed with me at present, and that I made the suggestion will annoy him further.

      • Composer Jason Robert Brown Still Standing By His Position That Kids Sharing His Music Are Immoral

        And, again, no one is saying that creators shouldn’t get paid or shouldn’t make a living. They’re just saying that it’s your responsibility to find the right business model, and to adapt when the market changes. That’s not “amazing.” It’s basic economics.

      • Vampire Weekend Sued Because Photographer Might Have Falsified Model Release

        She claims that her image is one of the main reasons the album sold so well, so she wants $2 million. Does she really think that if the band had put a different image of a girl staring off into space on the cover, there would have been noticeably different sales?

      • The RIAA wants your Fear more than your Money

        The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) claims it’s the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. No, it’s not. It’s designed to support a broken, old business model of selling CDs to frightened music lovers. No where do you see that more than the RIAA spending $17.6 million in 2007 to recover a mere $391,000.

    • ACTA

      • U.S. Caves on Anti-Circumvention Rules in ACTA

        Before examining the changes, it should be noted that there remain doubts about whether this chapter even belongs in ACTA. Both Canada and Mexico have reserved the right to revisit all elements of this chapter at a later date, suggesting that both countries have concerns about the digital enforcement chapter. Moreover, there are still disputes over the scope of the Internet chapter, with the U.S., Australia, NZ, Canada, Singapore and Mexico seeking to limit the chapter to trademark and copyright, while Japan, the EU, and Switzerland want to extend it to all IP rights. Without resolving this issue, there is no digital enforcement in ACTA.

      • Continuing secrecy on ACTA is unacceptable

        The main progressive group in the European Parliament today complained to EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, that Euro MPs have been denied the documents on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations.

        Mr De Gucht today held a one-hour discussion with members of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs at the European Parliament. But S&D MEPs said there could be no serious debate since members do not know the content of the negotiations.

      • ACTA Coming Down to Fight Between U.S. and Europe

        With yesterday’s leak of the full ACTA text (updated to include the recent round of talks in Lucerne) the simmering fight between the U.S. and the E.U. on ACTA is now being played out in the open. During the first two years of negotations, both sides were at pains to indicate that there was no consensus on transparency and the treaty would not change their domestic rules. Over the past four months, the dynamic on both transparency and substance has changed.

        The turning point on transparency came as a result of two events in February and March. First, a Dutch government document leak that identified which specific countries were barriers to transparency. Once identified, the named European countries quickly came onside to support release of the text, leaving the U.S. as the obvious source of the problem. Second, the European Parliament became actively engaged in the ACTA process and demanded greater transparency. As the New Zealand round approached, it was clear that the Europeans needed a resolution on transparency. The U.S. delegation used the transparency issue as a bargaining chip, issuing a release at the start of the talks that it hoped that enough progress could be made to allow for consensus on sharing the text. The U.S. ultimately agreed to release the text, but subsequent events indicate that it still views transparency as a bargaining chip, rather than as a commitment.

      • How will ACTA affect UK copyright law?

        Thanks to La Quadrature Du Net we now have a leak of the consolidated text for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) after the Luzern round of negotiations. It is always difficult to analyse texts that are in the drafting process, but we can now get a better idea of possible changes to national legislation. If the most restrictive aspects of the text were passed tomorrow, what would it change in UK law? This is a wide-ranging agreement, so I will try to concentrate on the copyright aspects. When there are different options in the text, I will choose the one that seems more restrictive, so this analysis is a worst-case scenario. I am also going not going to go in detail into the changes brought about by the Digital Economy Act, as some of the most substantive issues are under consultation.

      • ACTA: new (leaked) text, new issues…

        What a surprise! Despite the best efforts of at least one negotiating party, the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) text has leaked, again. This post looks at last night’s leak, and at the negotiations. In short, though: the text is an improvement that continues to have significant problems. The negotiations face some significant obstacles right now – but continue at break-neck speed, and I have this sinking feeling that ACTA could be spawning at least one evil little mini-me already…

      • ACTA 20100713 version consolidated text

Clip of the Day

CLUG Talk – 11 Mar 2008 – BackupPC with rdiff-backup (2008)


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