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12.23.10

Links 23/12/2010: FOSS is Not “Non-commercial”, Firefox 4 Beta 3 for Mobile

Posted in News Roundup at 10:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

  • Kernel Space

    • Removing the big kernel lock. A big deal?

      There’s a lot of hubbub recently about removing the big kernel lock completely in Linux 2.6.37. That is it’s now possible to compile a configuration without any BKL use. There is still some code depending on the BKL,
      but it can be compiled out. But is that a big deal?

      First some background: Linux 2.0 was originally ported to SMP the complete kernel ran under a single lock, to preserve the same semantics for kernel code as on uni-processor kernels. This was known as the big kernel lock.
      Then over time more and more code was moved out of the lock (see chapter 6 in LK09 Scalability paper for more details)

      In Linux 2.6 kernels very few subsystems actually still rely on the BKL. And most code that uses it is not time critical.
      The biggest (moderately critical) users were a few file systems like reiserfs and NFS. The kernel lockf()/F_SETFL file locking subsystem was also still using the BKL. And the biggest user (in terms of amount of code) were the ioctl callbacks in drivers. While there are a lot of them (most drivers have ioctls) the number of cycles spent in them tends
      to be rather minimal. Usually ioctls are just used for initialization and other comparatively rare jobs.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Embedded GPUs On Linux Remain A Great Big Mess

        For anyone that happens to be on holiday this week (or just have excess time otherwise), there is another lively and polarized discussion that’s been taking place for the past several days on the DRI mailing list. What does it involve if it’s not about developer disagreements amongst themselves? Embedded GPU driver support on Linux, of course. This mailing list thread just reaffirms how the situation is a great big mess.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Elementary’s new Wingpanel in action

        What is nice about Wingpanel is that it saves real-estate without compromising the functionality of the indicators.

      • GTK+3 Now Uses X Input 2 By Default, New Back-End Caps

        Due out today is the latest GNOME 3.0 development snapshot, GNOME 2.91.4, and because of that in recent days there’s been a slew of GNOME package check-ins. Landing yesterday was GTK+ 2.91.7, the latest version of the GTK+ 3.0 tool-kit that plays one of the most important roles on the GNOME desktop. While it’s getting late in the release cycle and this GNOME tool-kit has already delivered lots of new features, the changes keep rolling.

      • Window Applets 0.2.10, Released
  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Working Together To Get Unity Ready For Natty

          As many of you will know, we have been working hard in the Ubuntu world to ensure that the transition to Unity is not only smooth and painless, but also provides the best possible user experience. To do this the DX team, Ayatana community, desktop team, and my team have been working closely to ensure we are not only getting plenty of testing for Unity, but helping to ensure the community is an open and accessible as possible.

        • Free Fonts Forever

          When you think open source, chances are you think software. You may not know that there are open-source fonts as well. Today, Google and Ubuntu have released a new free, open font to the Web: the Ubuntu Font Family.

          [...]

          To add the Ubuntu Font Family to your pages go to the Google Font Directory Select “Ubuntu” and insert the two lines of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) code provided as instructed into your page The full font source code can be downloaded from the Ubuntu font page.

        • Getting the Ubuntu font working on your own website
        • Helping out Compiz

          In case you’ve missed out, smspillaz has started working fulltime at Canonical on working on Compiz.

          Sam’s been shuffling getting things fixed in the code and needs a bit of help, so I asked him to put together a list of things Compiz could use help with.

        • Sound Indicator news and updates
        • Flavours and Variants

          • Fonts in Edubuntu

            Every now and again, educators ask me where they can get more fonts for Edubuntu. We include great desktop publishing software (scribus-ng, inkscape, gimp, etc) in Edubuntu, but our default font selection is rather dry and uninspiring. A few weeks back I looked whether there are some nice fonts in the Ubuntu archive that we could include. I figured that even if there’s one or two good ones available that we could ship, then it would at least be some improvement. The results were quite surprising, there are a wealth of fonts available in the archives.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Community and Context: Thoughts on Closing Comments

      Google has asked a number of TV and set-top box makers to delay plans to release new Google TV products at the beginning of next year. According to a New York Times report, Google plans to revamp the software due to its “lukewarm reception” and decidedly ho-hum reviews.

      The Google TV concept seemed promising, in particular the application of search to tie together the various sources of content—broadcast, cable, satellite, online—and bypassing many of the frustrating listing guides. However, many networks have so far blocked Google TV access to their online content. Additionally, the push to include full access to the Web required a keyboard and mouse for navigation, resulting in some awkward and bulky remotes.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • IBM releases open source version of TranslationManager/2

    A reference implementation of a fully open translation environment is available to integrate the OpenTM2 CAT system with the free Joomla CMS and the equally free GlobalSight translation management system by Welocalize.

  • NX Compression Technology To Go Closed Source
  • ☆ FOSS is not “non-commercial”

    I keep seeing people contrasting “free/open source software” with “commercial software”. This is a really bad contrast, as in my experience almost all open source software is commercial. It’s just commercial in a different way.

  • The CENATIC Foundation’s OSS report

    The CENATIC Foundation, a public foundation based in Spain, has announced the release of a report on “the international status of open source software 2010.”

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle

    • Oracle VM VirtualBox 4.0 Has Arrived

      Oracle’s VM VirtualBox virtualization software just went into beta two weeks ago, but since then they have put out four beta releases. Now though Oracle is already ready to announce the official release of VM VirtualBox 4.0.

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD chief believes contractor tried to write backdoors

      The lead developer of the OpenBSD operating system says that he believes that a government contracting firm that contributed code to his project “was probably contracted to write backdoors,” which would grant secret access to encrypted communications.

      Posting to an OpenBSD discussion list Tuesday, Theo de Raadt said that while he now believes that a company called Netsec may have been involved in backdoors, he doesn’t think that any of this software made it into the OpenBSD code base.

    • Update on the OpenBSD IPSEC backdoor allegation

      Theo de Raadt has summarized what is known, so far, about the allegation that OpenBSD’s IPSEC stack had a backdoor inserted into it by contractors at the behest of the US FBI. Some code auditing has been done, and found some problems, but no “smoking gun” has been found.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSF Fall 2010 bulletin articles start to appear

      In the first article, operations manager at the FSF, John Sullivan talks about how the lending problem is an artificial scarcity in the digital age.

      In the second, Benjamin Mako Hill — a member of the FSF’s board of directors — confronts the fact that free software is sometimes not as high quality or featureful as proprietary alternatives and that most free software projects aren’t particularly collaborative.

    • Lending: A solved problem

      Lending and borrowing are not desirable activities. They are things we do when we have to, when there isn’t enough of something to go around. Not to say that lending something like a book to a friend is without benefits beyond access to the material; it can create a shared experience that makes for good conversation, or provide an excuse to see each other.

  • Licensing

    • Software Licensing – Don’t Complain If You Don’t Like The License

      Free Software licenses are designed to ensure that the source code cannot be taken proprietary, and to attempt to maintain the user’s freedom to do whatever they want. The General Public License (GPL) is the most common Free Software license. It was recently updated to Version 3 to cover situations that didn’t exist when Version 2 was written.

      A common complaint is that Free Software licenses are communistic, which they aren’t. They are communalistic, in the same tradition as a North American school or church raising.

      The GPL is considered restrictive by a lot of organizations which would like to use software that uses it as a license. For one example, I was told that if the Linux Kernel moved to GPL V3 it would kill the use of the Linux Kernel in mobile phones. When I asked why they didn’t just switch to one of the BSD kernels like Apple did, the response was that the Linux Kernel was more suitable.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Language Harmonization at Creative Commons

      One of the most important values at Creative Commons is the usability of our tools. We strive to make all of our tools human-readable, often bridging dissonant vocabularies and frameworks to ensure our tools are compatible and understandable the world over. The challenge of localization is balancing legally sound terminology with culturally palatable translations. Sometimes the terms in which lawyers and courts communicate are unfamiliar or alienating to users outside of the legal profession. Moreover, even within the legal field, there can be a range of opinions about which terms are most appropriate.

    • How Creative Commons saved Ficlets

Leftovers

  • 11 Free Tools to Test the Speed of your Website
  • Humour

  • Science

    • Google Scholar Spam

      In a previous paper we provided guidelines for scholars on optimizing research articles for academic search engines such as Google Scholar. Feedback in the academic community to these guidelines was diverse.

    • Blackawton bees [written by schoolchildren]
    • Border collie takes record for biggest vocabulary

      IN THE age-old war between cats and dogs, canines might just have struck the killer blow. A border collie called Chaser has been taught the names of 1022 items – more than any other animal. She can also categorise them according to function and shape, something children learn to do around the age of 3.

      Chaser follows in the footsteps of Rico, who trained at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Rico had a “vocabulary” of 200 words and could identify new objects in a group of familiar objects by a process of elimination, according to a study published in 2004.

    • Another case of early human interbreeding confirmed in Siberia

      It’s been a busy year in research on recent human ancestry. Back in the spring, scientists completed a draft of the Neanderthal genome, which provided clear evidence that these now-extinct humans left some of their genes behind by interbreeding with some human ancestors. A bit earlier in the year, DNA sequencing revealed an even larger surprise: there seems to have been another population of premodern humans present in Asia that were genetically distinct from modern humans and Neanderthals. Now, the team behind both of these discoveries is back with a draft genome of this population that suggests it was genetically distinct from both humans and Neanderthals, and a single tooth that suggests it was physically distinct. And that it also interbred with the ancestors of a modern human population.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • John Pilger – The War You Don’t See

      John Pilger says in the film: “We journalists… have to be brave enough to defy those who seek our collusion in selling their latest bloody adventure in someone else’s country… That means always challenging the official story, however patriotic that story may appear, however seductive and insidious it is. For propaganda relies on us in the media to aim its deceptions not at a far away country but at you at home… In this age of endless imperial war, the lives of countless men, women and children depend on the truth or their blood is on us… Those whose job it is to keep the record straight ought to be the voice of people, not power.”

    • SIU charges Toronto police officer with assault during G20

      The G20 protester whose violent arrest was caught on video and caused controversy when no officers were initially held responsible said he’s glad a police officer has been charged.

      But protester Adam Nobody and his lawyers called on Toronto’s police chief on Tuesday to help identify other officers who were involved in the case.

      Toronto police Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani was charged Tuesday with assault with a weapon in the takedown of Nobody at the Ontario legislature during the June summit.

    • WikiLeaks: imperial precedent

      In December 1917 British imperial troops occupied Jerusalem, ending four centuries of Ottoman rule. Earlier that year, the British Empire also took control of Baghdad, and was advancing across the middle east. In Asia and the West, the British government spread the message that they were bringing a new age of national freedom to the Arabs. Unfortunately for Whitehall, however, the newly installed Bolsheviks in Russia had their own message to tell the world. A couple of weeks before General Allenby, the chief of British forces in Palestine, made his official entrance on foot through the Jaffa Gate of the old city of Jerusalem, the Bolsheviks published the secret agreements that they had just discovered in the Russian archives.

      This was the first major leak of international diplomatic documents, the scale of which has never been surpassed. If Julian Assange and his associates had access to the inner sanctum of the White House and the Pentagon, they might get close to documentation that was of similar significance. Pride of place amongst the material published by the Russians was a plan by the British and French governments in 1916 to carve up the middle east between themselves after the war.

    • Audio Podcast #72: Byron Sonne is Still in Prison

      The strange, suppressed story of Byron Sonne, the G-20 security hacker who has been held, unconvicted, for 6 months and counting.

    • White House Drafts Executive Order For Indefinite Detention

      The White House is preparing an Executive Order on indefinite detention that will provide periodic reviews of evidence against dozens of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, according to several administration officials.

    • Insurgency Movements in India

      Wikipedia lists 16 belligerent groups and 68 major organization as terrorist groups in India, which include: nine in the northeast (Seven Sisters), four in the center & the east (including Maoist/Naxalites), seventeen in the west (Sikh separatist groups), and 38 in the northwest (Kashmir).

    • G20 protests: Don’t let charge be end of story

      There is a lesson in the laying of charges Tuesday against a police officer in connection with the beating of a G20 protester: we don’t have to acquiesce when the authorities circle the wagons.

      Many allegations of police misconduct were made following the G20 summit in Toronto last June, where more than 1,000 people were arrested, most of them without charge. But in the immediate aftermath of the summit, officialdom excused and even lauded the police overreaction. Toronto City Council passed a motion commending “the outstanding work” of the police. Then councilor — now mayor — Rob Ford went further and said “our police were too nice.” The Toronto Police Services Board, which is supposed to exercise civilian oversight over the force, issued a press release thanking the police for “the manner in which they conducted themselves.”

    • Lone policeman identifies colleague charged with assault in G20 arrest

      After nearly six months, several videos and a showdown between Toronto’s police chief and a provincial watchdog that played out in front of the national media, an officer has been charged with beating a man during the G20 demonstrations.

  • Cablegate

    • WTF? OMG, LOL! CIA gives WikiLeaks taskforce naughty name

      The CIA has launched a taskforce to assess the impact of 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables. Its name? WikiLeaks Task Force, or WTF for short.

      The group will scour the released documents to survey damage caused by the disclosures. One of the most embarrassing revelations was that the US state department had drawn up a list of information it would like on key UN figures – it later emerged the CIA had asked for the information.

    • How Wikileaks killed Spain’s anti-P2P law

      Spain last night killed a controversial anti-P2P bill that would have made it easier to shut down websites that link to infringing content. The move was a blow to the ruling Socialist government, but it may be of even bigger concern to the US, which pushed, threatened, and cajoled Spain to clamp down on downloading. And Wikileaks can take a share of the credit for the defeat.

    • Spain’s House rejects new copyright law; #cablegate showed it had been written by the US government

      The Spanish House of Representatives has rejected a new copyright law that would have made the nation’s file-sharing sites and services illegal. Some of the leaked #cablegate cables affirmed what many had suspected: the law had been pushed by the US government on behalf of the Hollywood studios. Local activists told me that they believed the legislation would pass despite broad national condemnation; however, El Pais accelerated its schedule in oder to release the relevant cables before the House voted — and it seems that this did the trick.

    • Video on MSNBC [Assange]
    • Bank of America Shares Defy WikiLeaks Reports

      Several of them related to WikiLeaks, whose founder Julian Assange, has said he has major revelations that may cause the head of a large U.S. bank to resign. There has been widespread speculation, drawing on earlier comments made by Assange, that Bank of America is Assange’s target.

    • WikiLeaks cables: McDonald’s used US to put pressure on El Salvador

      McDonald’s tried to delay the US government’s implementation of a free-trade agreement in order to put pressure on El Salvador to appoint neutral judges in a $24m (£15.5m) lawsuit it was fighting in the country. The revelation of the McDonald’s strategy to ensure a fair hearing for a long-running legal battle against a former franchisee comes from a leaked US embassy cable dated 15 February 2006.

    • WikiLeaks cables: Bangladeshi ‘death squad’ trained by UK government
    • WikiLeaks cables: Vatican vetoed Holocaust memorial over Pius XII row
    • WIKILEAKS NEWS & VIEWS for Tuesday, the Day 24 Blog [still being updated]

      5:15 Don’t know what to make of this—the French may be claiming something that, in fact, was not true (the usual problem with these cables)—but Mondoweiss calls this a “smoking gun” showing US secretly backed Israeli settlement growth even as Obama denied that.

      5:05 The Guardian in its usual late-afternoon move with half dozen stories on new cables with wild range: from UK training death squads in Bangladesh and Halliburton involved with “mafia” in Iraq to Anna Nicole Smith in the Bahamas, a vetoed memorial to a Pope, and “burger giant” McDonald’s getting US aid in lawsuit. The death squad story will be huge in UK—story notes that even the US would not help because of their “extra-judicial killings.” We did provide “human rights” advice….

    • Transcript: The Assange interview [BBC propaganda]
    • Julian Assange: ‘I feel at peace’
    • [Michael Moore talks about WikiLeaks]
    • Assange’s “already assassinated” comment, clarified

      A Wikileaks volunteer points to this as the source of that reference: a report of Wikileaks writers in Kenya having been killed in 2009. I cannot yet confirm the content of the article, but I’m updating the blog to note that this is what Assange was referring to.

    • Wikileaks: Manning’s attorney on the laws he’ll use to fight inhumane treatment

      David House, a personal friend of Manning, visited him in the brig over the weekend, and plans to blog about the conditions on Firedoglake.

    • My Exclusive Interview with WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

      ASSANGE: Well, I have been a member of the Australian press union for many years. I co-authored my first book when I was 25 and have been involved in setting up the — the very fabric of the Internet in Australia since 1993 as a publisher.

      So quite interesting that this is something that is being raised.

      It’s — it’s actually a quite deliberate attempt to split off our organization from the First Amendment protections that are afforded to all publishers.

      You know, as time has gone by and our journalism has increased, I’ve been pushed up into senior management, into a position where I manage other journalists. I now even am in a — in a position where I’m managing the interrelations between “The Guardian,” “Spiegel,” “The New York Times,” “Al Jazeera” and so on, which were used in — in our last production.

      So, yes, unfortunately, I don’t write that much anymore, because I’m busy being editor-in-chief, coordinating the actions of other journalists. But a quite deliberate attempt to split us off in the mind of the public from those “good” traditions of the United States, protecting the rights of the press to publish, to split us off from the support of the press in the United States, the support of journalists.

      Some of those journalists have fallen for that.

      And why?

    • Freedom is Sexy: Julian Assange
    • Issues and challenges for the post-Cablegate world

      Already the birds are chirping (they’re not tweeting anymore) about WikiLeaks and its Cablegate affair, how it came to be, how it got blocked, how it got filtered, DDoS’ed, removed from Amazon’s cloud service, PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, how its founder became wanted by the Interpol and arrested for sex crimes, how a 16-year old boy was arrested for DDoS’ing etc. etc., so I won’t bother you with this. Also I am not really interested much in what the cables say and whether they should have leaked or not.

      No, this post is about what I think we have to watch out after Cablegate.

      In all honesty, I think that traditional media and the general public will get bored with WikiLeaks and forget about it in about a months’ time. That is unless WikiLeaks has some pretty well-planned and well-timed tricks up his sleeve (which still may be the case).

      [...]

      And let us not forget that ACTA is still hanging above our heads. This is not the time to get sidetracked. In fact, we should fight harder to stop ACTA! Chances are that governments might try to pass it as soon as it can in the wrong fate it would prevent future such affairs.

      We need to remember that this problem was not triggered by Cablegate, it merely put it in the limelight.

    • Community and Context: Thoughts on Closing Comments

      This afternoon, several of our readers questioned our decision to close the comment thread on Jaron Lanier’s post about WikiLeaks, “The Hazards of Nerd Supremacy.” The discussion transformed into an extended Twitter conversation with some of my favorite writers, professors, and readers about the ethics and strategy of that decision. I’d like to walk through my thinking with you all here.

    • Jaron Lanier’s Virtual Reality

      What the Wikileaks cables show is precisely that those sanctioned “secretive spheres” are not currently accountable to the civilian sphere. They show all the shady deals made in backrooms, the outright lies told to the public to keep us quiet, the connivance with big business to ensure that profit comes before ethics.

      Lanier’s logic seems to be that everything’s fine and the revelations of Wikileaks will only mess things up. And until Wikileaks’ revelations, people might have gone along with that analysis, since that was the story that governments were feeding us. But in the wake of Wikileaks, that is simply not a tenable position: as the words of diplomats delineate time and again, everything is not fine, and the social pact of accepting those “secretive spheres” in return for a responsible use of the advantage they bring has been broken.

    • Julian Assange’s All-Star Legal Team: the Starting Lineup

      It seems that with every new story about the plight of Julian Assanage, we are introduced to another member of the WikiLeaks leader’s legal team. Let’s remake the acquaintance of these accomplished attorneys before he hires another one and we lose track again.

    • Lawmakers Must Respect Freedom of Expression in Wikileaks Debate

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a broad coalition of advocacy organizations sent an open letter to U.S. lawmakers today, calling on government officials to respect freedom of expression in the debate over the whistle-blower website Wikileaks.

    • American Soldiers Should Be First in Line To Defend Bradley Manning

      If average soldiers were to operate under this assumption, moreover, political and military elites would be forced to take the time to actually hide any truly sensitive documents from the view of hundreds of thousands of people, as they should have been doing from day one.

    • WikiLeaks Joins Forces With Lebedev’s Moscow-Based Newspaper Novaya Gazeta

      President Dmitry Medvedev said the documents published by WikiLeaks don’t hurt Russia’s interests and that the Russian authorities don’t care what’s being discussed in diplomatic circles.

      “When people communicate, they sometimes use very harsh language and if such a leak had happened from our Foreign Ministry or secrete services, many of our partners, including Americans, would have got an emotional charge after reading ‘kind words’ about themselves,” Medvedev said during a meeting with students in Mumbai today.

      WikiLeaks was condemned by the U.S. government for posting thousands of classified U.S. diplomatic and military documents. Assange was released from a London prison on bail on Dec. 16. He turned himself in to British authorities Dec. 7 after Sweden issued a warrant for his extradition on counts of sexual molestation and rape.

    • WikiLeaks partners with Russian paper for Kremlin corruption dump
    • Wikileaks – The Movie (“The social leak”)
    • Three-Strikes “Typhoid Mary” Identified Via Wikileaks

      While official channels want us to focus on Julian Assange, the real meat of Wikileaks is not the leader but the leaks. And news from Spain suggests we should be learning from those leaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • UK’s infrastructure will struggle to cope with climate change, report warns

      Britons might have to get used to power blackouts and disrupted travel plans as the country struggles to cope with the long-term effects of climate change, a report for the government has warned.

      Consumers will have to learn they cannot expect cheap heating and lighting and to go where or when they want as floods, rising temperatures and higher sea levels threaten the UK’s road, rail, water and energy networks, it says.

      If that warning was not sombre enough in a month when air, rail and road travel has been badly hit by the weather, mighty storms and changes in wind direction could threaten some of the country’s busiest ports and airports. That would mean the abandonment of coastal docks and increasing pressure for the building of new runways throughout southern Britain.

  • Finance

    • CONFIRMED: Bank Of America Is The Wikileaks Target

      Update: The interviewer claims that Assange never personally said Bank of America was a target, and that the news was falsely reported by AFP.

      Update: Everyone has suspected it, but it was never officially confirmed by Julian Assange: Bank of America is the bank he has tons of documents on.

      He made the comments in his Times of London interview, but that interview was behind a paywall, so nobody really noticed the news

      Now we can stop presuming that it’s the bank. Now it’s just a question of what he has, and whether it’s as damaging as he thinks it is.

    • Confirmed (?) Wikileaks’ next target is Bank of America (UPDATE)

      Buried in that Times of London article you didn’t read because it was behind a paywall was confirmation by Julian Assange that Wikileaks will release a very large cache of documents about Bank of America, to be released in early 2011.

      “We don’t want the bank to suffer unless it’s called for,” Assange told The Times. “But if its management is operating in a responsive way there will be resignations,” he said, without giving details about the material.

      Oh, and,

      Assange compared WikiLeaks’ “persecution” to that endured by Jews in the US in the 1950s.

    • Bankster robberies: Bank of America and friends wrongfully foreclose on customers, steal all their belongings

      The NYT reports on a growing phenomenon of wrongful foreclosure by US banks on homeowners who are caught up on their mortgage payments — and on homeowners who have no mortgage at all. In some cases, homeowners return from vacation to discover their locks changed and their every earthly possession sent to the dump (one woman lost her dead husband’s ashes when her bank burgled her ski chalet).

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Conservative links to Murdoch under scrutiny as private meeting revealed

      Rupert Murdoch’s close links to the Conservative party were thrown into the spotlight today after it emerged that the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, held a private meeting with the tycoon’s son, James, at which no civil servants were present.

      The meeting took place on 28 June, shortly after News Corp said it had made an offer to buy the 61% of BSkyB it does not already own.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Who is behind the porn-block campaign?

      Who is Ms Suit?

      Well, intrepid reader Sugar The Pill sent us a link to this page which shows Ms Suit previously stood as a candidate for the Christian People’s Alliance.

      Want to know more? Here are her views:

      We must not forget the influence of the media: it needs much stronger regulation so that our young people are not constantly conditioned by violent films, video games and lyrics; pornography must be outlawed so that it cannot undermine marriage and the dignity of women and encourage sex crime. All schools should teach Christian values.

      In 2000 co-founded Mediamarch, a peaceful protest group “seeking stronger obscenity laws and restoration of basic decency to all media”.

      And now she has co-founded Safer Media, which has come out nowhere to be extensively quoted everywhere by the media. This is the BBC’s idea of balance.

      Compare that to the other side of the debate, the Open Rights Group, which has thousands of supporters and years of experience in evidence based campaigning.

    • BAA accused of banning passengers from filming travel chaos

      It seems that UK airport bosses are not content with keeping passengers in the dark as to when they will ever leave the ground. Angry passengers who’d rather be swilling their eggnog in foreign climes have told El Reg that British Airports Authority (BAA) staff are stopping passengers stranded at Heathrow – and other airports – from filming the ensuing chaos on their mobiles.

    • Judge Makes Feds Pay Pocket Change To Two Lawyers It Wiretapped Without A Warrant

      Yes, if you share a a few songs you love with others, you may get fined millions of dollars, but if you’re the US government, and you violate the 4th Amendment by spying on people without a warrant, you get fined $100 per day. And only for the two people who were able to bring a lawsuit because you screwed up and sent them the details of how you wiretapped them without a warrant. For everyone else who was wiretapped (or is still being wiretapped) without a warrant, you’re out of luck, unless the government makes the same mistake with you, and then you go through years of trials to get $100 per day of wiretapping for your troubles.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • The FCC’s weak new “open Internet” rules

      Republicans and their house organ, Fox News, talk about Tuesday’s vote as a “plan to regulate the Internet,” and they’re half-right. They mouth platitudes about freedom and liberty. They end up with a free-fire zone for corporations — an oligopoly of content and services for captive consumers.

      But they’re right to be wary of regulation, because we’ve seen the corrosive effect of regulation in so many other arenas already. The FCC is already a captive of telecom companies in its traditional operations. Why would anyone expect this to be any different when it comes to the Internet? And the law of unintended consequences tells us that any regulations would be sure to have effects we can’t foresee today. That’s the issue the network-neutrality advocates also usually fail to address.

      What wasn’t on the table in the FCC’s deliberations was actual competition. Unlike many other countries, the United States doesn’t require Internet providers to share their lines and networks. By “share” I don’t mean “give away” — this is essentially about renting capacity to other companies that want to be ISPs. That’s how the Internet got so big so fast in the first place: Phone companies were not allowed to prevent other ISPs from offering service on phone lines, but now they’re allowed to prevent similar competition, and the market is a stifling oligopoly as a result.

      If you think the Internet should be an enhanced form of cable television, you should be happy where we’re heading. If you think it should be the messy and complex result of what innovators want to create, and what customers at the networks’ edges want to do with the creations, you should worry.

    • The neutering of the Net: what the FCC ruling means

      Net Neutrality is a concept like ‘transparency’ — something that most people are vaguely in favour of without realising what it really means. One consequence of this is that they are not motivated to defend it when it’s threatened: it’s hard to fight for something that you only vaguely understand. And yet, in principle, it’s not that complicated. Dan Gillmor articulates net neutrality as “the notion that end users (you and me) should decide what content and services we want without interference from the ISPs”. In other words, they provide the pipes (for which they get paid) and leave us free to choose what we want to pull down through them.

    • MYTH – we need a tiered internet

      The telcoms are already feeding from both ends of the trough.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Debunking The ‘But People Just Want Stuff For Free’ Myth

      One of the popular myths we always hear about content-based business models these days is that “but people just want stuff for free.” This has been debunked so many times, it’s silly, but it’s worth debunking again. One of the easiest ways to debunk it is to show examples of people being more than happy to pay, even if the content at the core of what they’re paying for is available for free. We saw this, a few years back, when Trent Reznor sold out of his $300 “Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package” of the Ghosts I-IV album, even though all of the tracks were available as a free download under a Creative Common license. To some extent, we saw this ourselves, when we offered our own CwF+RtB packages, and the more expensive packages outsold the cheaper ones.

    • Copyrights

      • Spanish Legislature Rejects Hollywood-Backed Copyright Law Changes

        We’ve discussed in the past how Spain actually has somewhat more reasonable copyright laws than other parts of the world. It says that personal, non-commercial copying is not against the law and also says that third parties should not be liable for copyright infringement done by their users. This seems perfectly reasonable but, of course, Hollywood hates it.

      • Where Record Labels Ran Into Trouble: Monoculture

        In summary, farming theory suggests that anytime you rely on a single crop (monoculture) over a long enough period of time, you can expect something really awful to come along that will ruin you. Why? Because of the common genetic code that results when you have a single crop in a single location for so long. What inevitably happens is that there is a change in the environment: disease, new wildlife, slight or great variances in the temperature or amount of sunlight, etc. And because your crops are all essentially the same, they’re all affected. So, instead, the theory suggests that you should always have multiple crops in production. That way, if something comes along that wipes out all of your rice crops, you still have your corn and wheat. Multiple streams of income, so that there is no single point of failure.

      • Movie Group Will DDoS The Courts To Have File-Sharing Laws Weakened

        A movie interests association has just announced an interesting new strategy. Having previously focused on having The Pirate Bay blocked in their home country, ACAPOR – which recently had its emails leaked by Operation Payback – says it will now make legal history by reporting unprecedented numbers of file-sharers to the authorities. Their aim? To have the law for infringements made less severe.

      • Harvard Newspaper Staff Apparently In Need Of A Lesson On Copyright Basic

        Copycense points us to an editorial in the Harvard Crimson apparently supporting the MPAA’s new demands to universities that they need to police their local networks to stop students from file sharing. The editorial has tons of problems — starting with the fact that it ignores that the MPAA lied to get the law passed in the first place. But the editorial has much more serious problems, and makes you wonder what they’re teaching students at Harvard these days.

      • Judge Orders Hearing To Deal With All ACS:Law File-Sharing Cases

        Following last month’s failed attempt by ACS:Law to have default judgments handed down to 8 individuals accused of illegal file-sharing, the company’s allegations have again been heard in court. Detailing a case where ACS failed to get the defendant’s name right, a judge has now rounded up all of the company’s outstanding cases for a hearing next month. Things are about to get interesting.

      • RIAA, MPAA recruit MasterCard to help them police the Internet

        Two weeks ago, MasterCard felt the wrath of Anonymous Operation Payback-style DDoS attacks after refusing to process payments that were intended to fund WikiLeaks, the website which began leaking confidential US diplomatic cables last month. Now, the company is preparing to head down another controversial path by pledging to deny transactions which support websites that host pirated movies, music, games, or other copyrighted content.

      • Pirate Bay’s Carl Lundstrom appeals appeal

        Carl Lundstrom, often tagged as the financier to The Pirate Bay, has “formally appealed to the Swedish Supreme Court against the denial of the party’s previous appeal in late November”, says Deutches Welle.

        “In an interview with Sveriges Radio’s P3 news program, Lundstrom’s attorney, Per E Samuelsson, said that his client does not accept the sentence of four months of jail time for himself, and a collective fine for him and the three other defendants of 46 million Swedish kronor (5.1 million euros)”, says the story.

      • ACTA

Clip of the Day

Wikileaks – The Movie (“The social leak”)


Credit: TinyOgg

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