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01.26.11

Links 26/1/2011: Mageia Comes Soon, Fedora Hack Explained

Posted in News Roundup at 7:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Next Stop: OpenSim!

    The CEO of virtual world hosting service ReactionGrid, Gomboy and his team currently operate more than 100 private regions for educators in the ascendant virtual environment platform OpenSimulator, and, Gomboy says, are renting out space to three to five new schools each week.

    Why all the new settlers converging on OpenSim?

    They’re part of a wave of K-12 educators packing up their 3D content and moving away from Second Life, long the dominant virtual world. The mass migration was prompted by parent company Linden Lab’s announcement in August that it would be closing the Teen Grid, an area within Second Life reserved for 13- to 17-year-olds and home to hundreds of learning projects belonging to teachers intent on engaging their students through the 3D environment. A second blow came in the fall–the ending of the half-off educator discount, meaning property rates in Second Life would be doubling for K-12 institutions, from $150 a month per region to $300 a month.

  • Reflections on one year of opensource.com

    Dozens of you contributed articles–from students leading open source in their schools to luminaries like Gary Hamel, Tim O’Reilly, and Simon Phipps. These articles were read a combined 1.3 million times by over 500,000 different people.

  • Lower the barriers to entry

    Getting new users actively involved in your open source project is one of the most important aspects of community development. A healthy open source project welcomes new contributors of all kinds and makes it easy for them to contribute. Prospective contributors feel welcome and are guided towards their first contribution, whatever their skills are. My OSS Watch colleague Steve Lee pointed out the website of LibreOffice; they managed to do this very well.

  • Preparing for the Future of Open Source

    The presentation of North Bridge Ventures’ Future of Open Source survey has long been one of the highlights of the Open Source Business Conference, keeping attendees up to date with the views of open source users and vendors alike, and providing details about the trends that will shape open source in the future.

  • Human Love, Probe – Two New Short Films Using Blender for VFX[Video Trailer]

    Here comes even more movies and short films made using Blender for visual effects. For starters, Blender is a free and open source 3D content creation application. If you have seen the brilliant collection of Blender made videos we have featured here before, you probably don’t need any more lecturing on the abilities of this incredible open source tool called Blender.

  • Events

    • Second batch of FOSDEM 2011 speaker interviews

      Here is the second batch of interviews with our main track speakers.

      * Martijn Dashorst (Wicket)
      * David Fetter (PL/Parrot)
      * Andrew Godwin (Django)
      * Soren Hansen (OpenStack)
      * Lennart Poettering (systemd)
      * Spike Morelli (devops)
      * Kenneth Rohde Christiansen (Qt WebKit)

    • Linux.conf.au 2011 Day Two

      The second day of Linux.conf.au in Brisbane, Australia, opened with keynote speaker Vinton Cerf, vice president of Google. Vint Cerf is often spoken of as one of the ‘fathers of the internet’, having been one of the co-designers of the tcp/ip protocol.

    • Linux.conf.au 2011 kicks off: photos

      This year’s Linux.conf.au kicked off with a bang yesterday, with hundreds of delegates from all over the world converging on Queensland University of Technology, despite the flood crisis which threatened to can the annual conference.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • What’s up with SUMO – Jan. 24
      • ECMAScript 5 strict mode in Firefox 4

        Developers in the Mozilla community have made major improvements to the JavaScript engine in Firefox 4. We have devoted much effort to improving performance, but we’ve also worked on new features. We have particularly focused on ECMAScript 5, the latest update to the standard underlying JavaScript.

      • Mozilla Releases Firefox 4 Beta 10

        According to Mozilla’s latest platform meeting minutes, the final beta (11) is scheduled for a final build this Friday afternoon.

  • Databases

  • Oracle

    • Oracle Nominates Bruno Souza of SouJava to JCP EC

      Oracle is nominating SouJava, the Brazilian Java User Group, to a seat in the JCP Executive Committee. SouJava is one of the oldest and largest Java User Groups in the world with 40,000 members and based in a region where Java and open-source software is prominent. The organization will be represented by its former president Bruno Souza, a well-known independent Java and open source advocate, and earlier member of the OSI.

    • Oracle, LibreOffice: ideally a co-opetition, not competition

      Choice is great. It’s one of the key selling points of open source — a guarantee that no one company can monopolize a software category, at least illegally.

      It’s what enabled the first official release today of LibreOffice 3.3, a version of OpenOffice sponsored by the recently formed Document Foundation. The foundation was formed in September by many leaders of the OpenOffice project, who were not too happy with the way megacorporation Oracle was running the show.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Annual Free Software Foundation Fundraiser

      The Free Software Foundation is in the last week of its annual fundraiser and has still has a bit of ground to make up. The FSF needs members and donations to merely sustain its basic activity protecting free software and engaging in minimal outreach. So as I’ve done in the last couple years, I’ve written a fundraising appeal for the organization. That why today my face is plastered, Jimmy Wales style, all over the FSF website. (For the record, the last bit was not my idea and I find it a little embarrassing.)

  • Government

    • Basque Government will make other institutions benefit from its successful Open Source experience

      Ms. Mendia said that in the field of free software, her Government “seeks to contribute and share results” with their environment, “starting with the rest of the Basque administrations, in particular for developments that may be in the public interest.”

    • FI: Municipalities increasingly interested in open source software

      According to a survey of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities (AFLRA), more than 80 % of the Finnish municipalities use open source software. Four years ago [2006], only 57 % of them invested in open source software.

      With open source software, the Finnish municipalities seek to achieve costs savings on licence fees. For example, in Helsinki alone desktop computers and office software licence fees are nearly €5 million a year; licence fees come on top of this for various computer systems and servers. Hence, in November 2010, the Municipal Council of Helsinki decided that the city will try open source software on the client side (desktops).

    • FR: City of Rennes opens up its data to the public

      A French communication agency in partnership with Rennes Metropolitan District (Rennes Métropole), the City of Rennes and public transports operator Keolis Rennes released under GNU Project’s General Public License version 3 (GNU/GPL v3) an OpenData platform. The platform has served as a base through which Rennes Metropolitan District/City and Keolis Rennes made their data public, at www.data.rennes-metropole.fr and http://data.keolis-rennes.com respectively.

    • IT/EU: Emilia Romagna Region shares findings on open source usage in public administrations

      The administrative region of Emilia Romagna (Northern Italy), has recently participated in the first international conference ‘OSEPA’ (Open Source usage by Public Administration), an EU-supported project.

      The OSEPA project establishes a regional network at European level for the promotion and further spread of open source software within public administrations. The project is intended to conduct a systematic debate among European public administrations, supported by analysis and exchange of experience, on the issue of free and/or open source software (FOSS). Consequently, the exploration of the main benefits /disadvantages and cost effectiveness of FOSS adoption and use by public authorities will be critical for the project.

    • EU to Get Feedback on Its Public Procurement Policy

      The European Commission will launch a consultation Thursday to get feedback on modernizing the European Union’s public procurement policy

  • Licensing

    • Brazil’s New Trademark License

      I’m in Brazil for a few days, having given lectures several times at the start of the week, most notably for the extraordinary Campus Party event. There have been several news items here of interest to open source followers:

      * a decree by the new President of Brazil that open source software is preferred by the government,
      * controversy surrounding the expectation that the new Minister of Culture and music industry insider Ana de Hollanda will put a stop to the hard-won copyright law reform that’s in progress, and
      * news that the government will be requiring submissions to its public software portal to grant broad trademark licenses in addition to open source licenses for the copyrights.

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • China plans city ‘twice the size of Wales’

    It’s official: the inexorable rise of China has rendered meaningless ancient units of area such as the square mile, as reporters struggle to express the extent of the country’s megacities in terms the average reader can understand.

    [...]

    This, of course, is properly expressed as 35,636,280 linguine, 541,173 double-decker buses laid bumper-to-bumper or 36,078 brontosauruses/brontosauri, give or take the odd tail.

  • People’s Medical Publishing House: to build a media group with 10 billion RMB in assets and sales (China)
  • Why TripAdvisor is getting a bad review

    In quiet moments, Jared Blank likes to kick back by looking at reviews of the world’s greatest hotels on TripAdvisor. Specifically, the terrible reviews. Blank is a long-time analyst of the travel industry, and a user of TripAdvisor – the consumer review site that has become one of the world’s biggest travel resources, attracting 41.6 million users a month, and featuring 40m reviews of hotels and restaurants worldwide. But the pettiness and hysteria of some of the complaints never fail to astonish.

  • Google to hire 1,000 in Europe

    The outgoing chief executive of Google, Eric Schmidt, has announced a plan to hire more than 1,000 staff over the coming year to boost its European operation.

  • Cuba continues to provide Venezuela with electricity know-how

    Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas met with Electric Energy Minister Alí Rodríguez Araque Monday in Caracas to assess the state of 23 one-year old cooperation agreements on electricity, and to announce new projects.

    Cabrisas was accompanied by Vicente Delaó, general director of Cuba’s Unión Eléctrica.

  • Berlusconi’s “Rubygate” in Italy: Private Vices, Public Virtues

    Of course they refer to the Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, and his endless squalid story with underage girls, professional paid escorts, TV stars who become deputies and government officials, all thanks to his protection.

    “Rubygate” they call it in the Italian press: it’s named after his biggest and weirdest sex-scandal yet, with an illegal, thieving, juvenile delinquent belly dancer from Morocco.

  • TV show stings Berlusconi into action

    Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi rang a TV show discussing his alleged prostitution scandal, exchanged insults with the host and said the programme was like a “brothel”.

  • Clarence Thomas failed to report wife’s income, watchdog says
  • Unix dynamic duo awarded Japan Prize

    Gray beard Bell Labs scientists and Unix operating system co-creators Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson have been awarded the 2011 Japan Prize for information and communications.

  • Science

    • The Fantastical Promise of Reversible Computing

      The world of computing is in transition. As chips become smaller and faster, they dissipate more heat, which is energy that is entirely wasted.

      By some estimates the difference between the amount of energy required to carry out a computation and the amount that today’s computers actually use, is some eight orders of magnitude. Clearly, there is room for improvement.

    • What is it with researchers and peer review? or; Why misquoting Churchill does not an argument make

      I’ve been meaning for a while to write something about peer review, pre and post publication, and the attachment of the research community to traditional approaches. A news article in Nature though, in which I am quoted seems to have really struck a nerve for many people and has prompted me to actually write something.

    • ‘Darwin talk’ at Turkish school goes to court, sparks new debate

      A warning issued to a primary school teacher for talking about Darwinian evolutionary theory during class has sparked a debate over whether education in Turkey is becoming more religious.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • More troops lost to suicide

      For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    • Terrorists, technology and fighting back

      Firstly, the explosives were hidden inside a laser printer toner cartridge. Furthermore, it was reported the bomb contained a detonator connected to a mainboard and battery taken from a regular mobile phone.

      According to various accounts, the bombs could have been set off by calling the phone and subsequently activating the vibrating motor. A calendar alert set in the phone could also have triggered the vibrator and therefore the bomb as well.

    • Protests in Egypt and unrest in Middle East – as it happened

      Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have clashed with police in Cairo and other cities in the largest demonstration in Egypt in a generation. Demonstrators want an end to the authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak’s near 30 years of power.

    • Revolution Day in Egypt

      Egyptians will be demonstrating today in solidarity with Tunisia and in hope for change within their own government. An Egyptian national holiday in honour of the police, has been renamed ‘The Day of Wrath’, ‘Revolution Day’, and the ‘Koshari Revolution’, the latter referring to a rice, lentils and pasta dish frequently eaten by lower income Egyptians.

    • Will Tunisia’s ‘Internet revolution’ endure?

      There has been a great deal written online about how much of a positive role the Internet played in recent events in Tunisia (if you’d like to catch up, Alex Howard’s link round-up provides a good summary of the many sides, both for and against). At CPJ, our focus is on slightly different questions: How did the repression of the Internet hamper the ability to safely gather news, report and analyze such events? Did that repression grow worse in the dying days of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s government? Will it improve in the future?

    • Police officers guilty of assaulting disabled man

      Two Toronto police constables have been found guilty of assault causing bodily harm during the arrest of a disabled, verbally abusive man in Cabbagetown.

      Edward Ing and John Cruz were stone-faced and had no comment on after Justice Elliott Allen gave his verdict in Brampton court Tuesday morning.

    • Jesse Ventura slams TSA with lawsuit

      Count Jesse Ventura among fliers who don’t want their “junk” touched by Transportation Security Administration agents.

      The former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Minnesota against the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA.

      The suit alleges enhanced airport security procedures, including pat-downs and full body scanning, violate Ventura’s rights under the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures.

    • Ventura sues over body scans, pat-downs

      Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura sued the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration on Monday, alleging full-body scans and pat-downs at airport checkpoints violate his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

    • Met counter-terrorism chief to take over protest spy unit

      Britain’s most senior police officer in charge of counter-terrorism will next week take over a secretive unit that deploys undercover police officers in the environmental protest movement.

      John Yates, an assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, will take command of the operation to monitor climate change campaigners in a move that police chiefs hope will bring greater accountability.

      However, the move, which was confirmed in parliament today, is likely to cause controversy among activists who complain that their peaceful movement is being equated to terrorism.

      Tim Godwin, the acting head of the Met, and another senior Scotland Yard officer, Bob Broadhurst, were today brought before parliament to apologise for misleading MPs over the presence of undercover police at the G20 protests two years ago.

    • US child appeals against being tried for murder as an adult

      Jordan Brown, who was 11 when he allegedly killed his father’s pregnant fiancee, could face life sentence with no parole

  • Cablegate/Leaks

    • Swedish PM denies political role in Assange extradition case

      We know from the cables and other sources (see the summary in section 7, 92-96, of the “skeleton” legal argument) that Swedish courts have in the past been complicit in the illegal kidnapping of refugee claimants by US agents. More broadly, the role of diplomacy as mediator between law and politics has arisen repeatedly in many of the cables released by its major media partners and WikiLeaks.

    • PdF presents: A symposium on WikiLeaks and Internet freedom (II)
    • PdF Presents: A Symposium on Wikileaks and Internet Freedom (II)
    • Bradley Manning and Mohamed Bouazizi

      Activists David House and Jane Hamsher tried to visit Pfc. Bradley Manning, who stands accused of leaking classified US government documents, at Quantico on Sunday. They allege that while still outside the base, they were given a run-around, threatened with having their car towed, and then essentially detained for two hours, until the 3:00 pm end to visiting hours arrived. They were not on the base, and House is on an approved visitor list. They were trying to see Manning, whose health they say has deteriorated because of the harsh terms of his detainment, and to deliver to the base commander a petition with 40,000 signatories asking that the terms be eased.

    • Inhumane Treatment of WikiLeaks Soldier Bradley Manning

      US authorities must alleviate the harsh pre-trial detention conditions of Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking information to Wikileaks.

      The US army private, 23, has been held for 23 hours a day in a sparsely furnished solitary cell and deprived of a pillow, sheets, and personal possessions since July 2010.

      Amnesty International last week wrote to the US Defence secretary, Robert Gates, calling for the restrictions on Bradley Manning to be reviewed. In the same week, the soldier suffered several days of increased restrictions by being temporarily categorized as a ‘suicide risk’.

    • WikiLeaks, hackers and conspiracy theories

      At the time, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, a staunch supporter of WikiLeaks, tweeted “the point of the Quantico episode was to deny Manning his only real visitor: more likely solitary will crack him & induce anti-WL testimony.”

      Greenwald’s claim — for which of course there’s no evidence, only the logic that that’s exactly how law enforcement frequently operates — echoes Julian Assange’s comments about Manning. He recently told John Pilger “cracking Bradley Manning is the first step. The aim clearly is to break him and force a confession that he somehow conspired with me to harm the national security of the United States.”

      But while there’s more than a touch of the conspiracy theorist about these claims, it’s hard to avoid seeing a pattern in a number of recent events around WikiLeaks and its supporters.

      First there was the claim, advanced with virtually no evidence, that WikiLeaks might have obtained information by hacking, rather than receiving material from whistleblowers. Last week, Bloomberg ran a piece on claims made by the Pennsylvania company Tiversa that “it discovered that computers in Sweden were trolling through hard drives accessed from popular peer-to-peer networks such as LimeWire and Kazaa. The same information obtained in those searches later appeared on WikiLeaks.”

      One assumes Bloomberg meant “trawling”, but anyway. “Trolling” sounds worse.

    • Palestine papers reveal MI6 drew up plan for crackdown on Hamas

      British intelligence helped draw up a secret plan for a wide-ranging crackdown on the Islamist movement Hamas which became a security blueprint for the Palestinian Authority, leaked documents reveal. The plan asked for the internment of leaders and activists, the closure of radio stations and the replacement of imams in mosques.

      The disclosure of the British plan, drawn up by the intelligence service in conjunction with Whitehall officials in 2004, and passed by a Jerusalem-based MI6 officer to the senior PA security official at the time, Jibril Rajoub, is contained in the cache of confidential documents obtained by al-Jazeera TV and shared with the Guardian. The documents also highlight the intimate level of military and security cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli forces.

    • New York Times, Al-Jazeera Do An End-Run Around WikiLeaks

      The New York Times is considering creating an electronic tip line so that leakers of classified documents can go direct instead of having to use a middleman like WikiLeaks, according to executive editor Bill Keller. Keller said the plan is still in its formative stages, but the idea is to create a “kind of EZPass lane for leakers,” to make it easier for them to contact the paper and deliver information. And the Times isn’t the only one doing this; Al-Jazeera has already launched its own drop-box for leaks called the Transparency Unit, and recently released thousands of documents related to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

    • NYC Installs Virtual Suggestion Box

      New York City is harnessing the power of employee-based collaborative filtering to solicit new ways to save money and improve city government.

      The city has set up what is in effect a virtual suggestion box, called IdeaMarket, where eventually all 300,000 of the city’s employees will be able to give the city their ideas about how to improve operations.

    • Blow the Whistle!

      On December 22nd, in the face of seemingly unanimous bipartisan support, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (Bill S.372) was killed at the last minute when a mystery Senator placed what’s called an anonymous hold on the bill. This bill had already been passed by the Senate earlier in December and by the House earlier that same day, but in the final vote on the reconciled bill, which is designed to protect government workers from being punished – as they usually are – for exposing illegality, waste and corruption – it was shut down by a lone anonymous hold.

    • The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Tuesday, Day 59!

      4:50 Assange tells AP in London that WIkiLeaks now seeking SIXTY media partners to spread the release of the almost 99% of cable still not published. Would be dramatic expansion of its collaborative efforts and in line with much else happening this week. But outlets would have to agree to full redaction of names. “Sometimes, that could mean doing what Assange called ‘triangulating the politics of a country’ — giving documents to a left-wing paper in a country with a right-wing government, or offering cables to conservative titles in countries with a left-leaning administration.”

    • AP Interview:WikiLeaks seeking more media partners

      WikiLeaks hopes to enlist as many as 60 news organizations from around the world in a bid to help speed the publication of its massive trove of secret U.S. diplomatic memos, the site’s founder said Tuesday.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Rolling Stone names 12 politicians and executives blocking progress on global warming

      1. Rupert Murdoch: No one does more to spread dangerous disinformation about global warming than Murdoch. In a year of rec­ord heat waves in Africa, freak snowstorms in America and epic flooding in Pakistan, the Fox network continued to dismiss climate change as nothing but a conspiracy by liberal scientists and Big Government. Glenn Beck told viewers the Earth experienced no warming in the past decade — the hottest on record. Sean Hannity declared that “global warming doesn’t exist” and speculated about “the true agenda of global-warming hysterics.” Even Brian Kilmeade, co-host of the chatty Fox & Friends, laughed off the threat of climate change, joking that the real problem was “too many polar bears.”

      Murdoch’s entire media empire, it would seem, is set up to deny, deny, deny….

      Murdoch knows better. In 2007, he warned that climate change “poses clear, catastrophic threats” and promised to turn News Corp. into a model of carbon neutrality. But at his media outlets, manufacturing doubt about global warming remains official policy. During the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, the Washington editor of Fox News ordered the network’s journalists to never mention global warming “without immediately pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.” Murdoch may be striving to go green in his ­office buildings, but on air, the only thing he’s recycling are the lies of Big Coal and Big Oil.

    • Was Genghis Khan history’s greenest conqueror?

      In other words, one effect of Genghis Khan’s unrelenting invasion was widespread reforestation, and the re-growth of those forests meant that more carbon could be absorbed from the atmosphere.

    • Newt Gingrich proposes abolishing EPA

      Gingrich has long been just another pro-pollution conservative eco-fraud pretending to care about the environment while adopting the anti-regulation, pro-technology rhetoric suggested by GOP strategist, Frank Luntz, and popularized by his protege, George Bush (see Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook: “Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah” and “Eco-fraud Gingrich has always opposed clean energy, climate action“).

  • Finance

    • [Satire] Gap Between Rich And Poor Named 8th Wonder Of The World

      At a press conference Tuesday, the World Heritage Committee officially recognized the Gap Between Rich and Poor as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” describing the global wealth divide as the “most colossal and enduring of mankind’s creations.”

    • Banks Return With a Goal: Pushing Back

      Bankers at last year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, played the roles of bogeymen. French President Nicolas Sarkozy lashed out at their “indecent behavior” and “morally indefensible” pay packages.

      The bankers aren’t likely to win any popularity contests at this year’s gathering at the Swiss ski resort. But they are hoping some of the stigma of having helped plunge the world into a financial crisis has faded.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • UK gives Murdoch last chance to avoid BSkyB probe

      Britain will give News Corp (NWSA.O) a final chance to avoid a prolonged investigation into its $12.5 billion buyout of BSkyB (BSY.L), a move likely to draw flak for the government’s relations with Rupert Murdoch.

    • Hunt and Cameron’s extraordinary decision on Murdoch/BSkyB

      Just 11 days ago I speculated that a judicial review was a near-certainty when the Culture Secretary made his decision on whether to refer Murdoch’s News Corporation bid to take full control over broadcaster BSkyB to the competition commission over concerns of media plurality in the UK.

      Ofcom’s widely-leaked recommendation was confirmed today: the bid should be sent for competition review. Whether the full Ofcom report will be unveiled is at this stage unclear, and in my guess unlikely.

      But the extraordinary part is Jeremy Hunt’s decision to grant a stay of execution and allow News Corp extra time to address concerns over media plurality if Murdoch’s group controlled news output from Sky, along with a raft of newspapers and news websites it already owned.

    • Chevron, under pressure for destruction Of Amazon, was top oil lobbyist last quarter

      Chevron, responsible for a multi-billion-dollar environmental disaster in Ecuador, is instead spending millions to shore up political support and to evade the clean up. Brad Johnson has the story.

      Senate disclosure forms reveal that oil giant Chevron spent $2.9 million lobbying the federal government last quarter, eclipsing even Exxon ($2.6 million) and BP ($2.2 million). Chevron’s 2010 lobbying totaled $12.89 million, following a tremendous outlay in 2009 of $20.8 million.

    • People trust search engines says PR company

      Whether people trust PR firms is another question

    • Pat Sajak says he’s profoundly sorry for infecting the country with Keith Olbermann

      Pat Sajak is finally taking full blame for giving Keith Olbermann his start on national television. Historians note that civil discourse has never been the same in American politics.

      Sajak clearly feels guilty about launching the liberal lamenter into the nation’s thought process like a virus.

  • Censorship

    • Hungary’s New Media Law Faces Opposition in the EU

      Just three weeks after Hungary took over the European Union’s presidency, the Hungarian government is already facing protests over a newly passed media law in the nation. According to Digital Civil Rights in Europe, the approved legislation gives the government the right to “unilaterally judge content material on the basis of broad and unclearly defined criteria,” including protection of the “public order.” The law gives Prime Minister Viktor Orbàn’s party the right to take down media outlets in the country. Furthermore, it also requires media sources to register before publishing.

    • Twitter Is Blocked In Egypt Amidst Rising Protests

      Inspired by the recent Tunisian demonstrations against corruption, protesters are filling the streets of Cairo. And like the protests in Tunisia, the Egyptian ones were partly organized on Facebook and Twitter. And now Twitter appears to be blocked in Egypt, according to various Tweets and tips we’ve received. However, so far only the Twitter website itself is blocked (including the mobile site), but people in Cairo are still using Twitter third-party clients to keep on Tweeting. There are also reports of the entire mobile Web being blocked through mobile carriers, but at least one carrier, Vodafone Egypt, denies that it is blocking Twitter, attributing the problem to overloaded networks instead. Update: one tipster says Twitter apps are blocked as well and that the only way to Tweet is by using Web proxies. Update 2: Asked to confirm that Twitter is blocked in Egypt, Google PR points to this Herdict Report, which indicates that it is in fact inaccessible in that country.

    • Tunisian State Secretary Says Censorship Is Fine Because The West Does It Too

      Both the US and the EU are obviously failing to be a rolemodel when they should be. Many politicians in the EU have embraced the idea of an internet filter to block child pornography. As for the US, they could be seen seizing domain names of ‘rogue websites’. On the one hand, politicians of the west love talking about the principles of freedom, but on the other hand they hate to actually live up to their own standards when something like WikiLeaks or a music blog comes along. The problems of this for the US and the EU have been discussed here in detail before.

  • Privacy

    • Justice Department seeks mandatory data retention

      Criminal investigations “are being frustrated” because no law currently exists to force Internet providers to keep track of what their customers are doing, the U.S. Department of Justice will announce tomorrow.

      CNET obtained a copy of the department’s position on mandatory data retention–saying Congress should strike a “more appropriate balance” between privacy and police concerns–that will be announced at a House of Representatives hearing tomorrow.

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Will our Internet Rates Suddenly Climb?

      Met an interesting couple at Mayor Cowan’s Levee. In this small world, turns out they are in-laws of a guy I went to school with. In any case, they have a blog about the CRTC approving a change that could put our internet rates through the roof, particularly if you use something like Netflicks or WOW.

    • Two-thirds of U.S. Internet users lack fast broadband

      Two-thirds of U.S. Internet connections are slower than 5 Mbps, putting the United States well behind speed leaders South Korea and Japan.

    • Don’t Take Digital Innovation for Granted

      For example, Over 22,000 people and counting have signed the Stop The Meter petition, demonstrating widespread discontent with big telecom companies who are attempting to hogtie competing indie Internet service providers (ISPs) and make the Internet much more expensive to use.

    • A damaged process and a damaged community

      Here’s the big news from the world of Internet governance world: some vague details of a meeting between the ICANN Board and governments, in the form of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), have emerged. But adding concern to the the general vagueness is the inclusion of precise wording that means something specific, although no one is quite sure what. It is this:

      This meeting is not intended to address the requirements/steps outlined in the Bylaws mandated Board-GAC consultation process.

      This wording is indecipherable to any but the greatest of insiders. And that fact, combined with the reality that this Board-GAC meeting is one of the most significant Internet governance meetings in the past five years, makes it all the more frustrating. Despite the global impact, and the open processes, and the much-vaunted bottom-up multi-stakeholder model, here is a very, very small group of people making crucial decisions about the future of the Internet and they are using arcane and indecipherable terminology in order to keep everyone else out.

    • France Telecom To Buy 49% of Video-Sharing Site Dailymotion

      France Telecom’s Orange has announced plans to buy a 49% stake in video sharing site Dailymotion for €58.8 million ($79.9 million).

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Publishing

    • Newspapers Try to Reimpose Scarcity on News With Ongo

      In what feels like another attempt to put the Internet genie back in the bottle, three traditional media companies — the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Gannett chain, publisher of USA Today — have launched a new service called Ongo that they hope will convince readers to pay for their content, even though much of that content is already available for free. Although it has some interesting features aimed at compensating readers for sharing content, Ongo seems like yet another Hail Mary pass aimed at trying to rewind the clock and impose scarcity on media content, and one that will likely fail just as quickly as others have.

    • This is the Big Society, you see. It must be big, to contain so many volunteers.

      In the world I know about, the world of books and publishing and bookselling, it used to be the case that a publisher would read a book and like it and publish it. They’d back their judgement on the quality of the book and their feeling about whether the author had more books in him or in her, and sometimes the book would sell lots of copies and sometimes it wouldn’t, but that didn’t much matter because they knew it took three or four books before an author really found his or her voice and got the attention of the public. And there were several successful publishers who knew that some of their authors would never sell a lot of copies, but they kept publishing them because they liked their work. It was a human occupation run by human beings. It was about books, and people were in publishing or bookselling because they believed that books were the expression of the human spirit, vessels of delight or of consolation or enlightenment.

      Not any more, because the greedy ghost of market madness has got into the controlling heights of publishing. Publishers are run by money people now, not book people. The greedy ghost whispers into their ears: Why are you publishing that man? He doesn’t sell enough. Stop publishing him. Look at this list of last year’s books: over half of them weren’t bestsellers. This year you must only publish bestsellers. Why are you publishing this woman? She’ll only appeal to a small minority. Minorities are no good to us. We want to double the return we get on each book we publish.

    • Copyrights

      • Obama nominates former RIAA lawyer for Solicitor General spot

        President Barack Obama on Monday nominated former Recording Industry Association of America lawyer Donald Verrilli Jr. to serve as the nation’s solicitor general.

        If confirmed by the Senate, Verilli, now the White House deputy counsel, would assume the powerful position left vacant by Elena Kagan, who was elevated to the Supreme Court. Obama said he was “confident” that Verrilli, one of five former RIAA attorneys appointed to the administration, would “serve ably.”

      • ACS:Law Can’t Take The Pressure, Quit Chasing File-Sharers

        ACS:Law, the law firm that has terrorized untold thousands of alleged file-sharers in the UK, has quit the anti-piracy business. The company made the announcement in a hearing at the Patents County Court yesterday set to a backdrop of scathing comments by a senior judge who said he found their cases “mind boggling”.

      • Law firm ACS: Law stops ‘chasing illegal file-sharers’
      • Mysterious Non-Company ‘Helping’ ACS:Law Collect Fines Now Says Forget The Whole Thing

        As ACS:Law’s legal mistakes mount, there was a recent story about how the company had passed on some collections efforts to a firm called GCB, but the details suggested another total screwup. People tracked GCB back to an accounting firm, which quickly put on their website that while GCB was formed by it, it “appears to be being misused by some third party,” and that it was “taking urgent steps” to end this

      • How many Internet pirates are there, anyway?

        For US numbers, we can turn to Warner Music, one of the world’s largest music labels and a company that devoted plenty of time to researching the audience for its products. Last year, Warner execs stopped by the offices of the Federal Communications Commission to brief the agency on its findings—and what it found was that 13 percent of Americans were music pirates.

      • Why Tyler Cowen’s new book will be on Kindles, not bookstore shelves

        Cowen is a noted libertarian economist at George Mason University who writes for The New York Times and other esteemed publications — but he’s probably best known as the coauthor, with Alex Tabarrok, of Marginal Revolution, the very popular economics blog they’ve run for approaching a decade.

      • Google/Coadec Copyright Report: We Want Your Case Studies

        In early November, the government announced that it was launching a review in the country’s intellectual property laws, with a view to spurring technological innovation and “to see if we can make them fit for the Internet age.” The review, which is being chaired by Professor Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff University, has now called for evidence on how the current IP regime affects innovation.

      • Law to Shutdown P2P Sites Resurrected By Spanish Coalition

        In recent months a controversial piece of legislation aimed at shutting down file-sharing sites has resulted in massive opposition from the public in Spain. In December the protests appeared to have been successful as the House of Representatives rejected the proposal. However, yesterday the Spanish Government resurrected the law with some minor changes, a move that has outraged the public.

        Traditionally, Spain has been one of the few countries where courts have affirmed that P2P-sites operate legally. This, to the disappointment of the United States who behind closed doors helped the Spanish Government to come up with new laws to protect the interests of copyright holders.

      • Will New Solicitor General Take Harder Line On Copyright?

        To fill the key legal post of Solicitor General, the Obama administration has turned to a lawyer with deep entertainment-industry roots who has taken on some of the industry’s toughest copyright battles. The nominee, Donald Verrilli, is best known for having buried the Grokster file-sharing service at the Supreme Court. Verrilli is one of several lawyers with recording-industry backgrounds who were brought into senior positions in the Department of Justice under Obama.

        The Grokster win is without a doubt one of the most significant entertainment-industry legal victories in the internet age. It created a new copyright doctrine of “inducement” that has allowed other peer-to-peer services, such as Limewire, to be shut down under the theory that even though the services didn’t handle copyrighted material themselves they went too far in encouraging users to illegally share.

      • China Authorities Threaten BitTorrent Sites with Prison Time

        Country’s Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and Ministry of Public Security jointly announce that anybody guilty of illegally distributing copyrighted material that reaches 50,000 hits will face between 3 and 7 years in prison.

        Chinese authorities are stepping up their anti-P2P efforts with news of a joint declaration made by the country’s Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and Ministry of Public Security earlier this month that anybody caught sharing copyrighted material without authorization will face criminal penalties of between 3 and 7 years in prison.

      • ACTA

        • LQDN at the EU Commission’s Ad Hoc Meeting on ACTA

          Today, La Quadrature du Net is attending the European Commission’s meeting on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

          Now that the negotiations on ACTA have come to an end, the Commission wants to “inform and consult civil society” about ACTA. That’s something that should have been done years ago.

          We will be distributing a one-page memo explaining why ACTA — which seeks to establish extremist enforcement measures for copyright, patent and trademarks — runs counter to fundamental rights and innovation. As suggested by dozens of academics across the EU in their common analysis, ACTA is a fundamentally flawed international agreement that needs to be rejected by lawmakers.

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