Summary: TechBytes video debugging and special coverage about SeaMonkey, the extensive software suite; we also cover Minecraft and few other topics
THIS is still somewhat of a prototype, but it is also our first episode of TechBytes Video, which required us getting a lot of technical difficulties resolved. The content was not coordinated and we hope people enjoy it nonetheless. We ought to stress that the audio show will continue separately as usual (this weekend, however, is a special one because of the Royal Wedding and Bank Holiday). We will produce audio shows at least once a week as visual element is not needed for a lot of the issues we cover, such as copyrights, patents, and songs that are freely (and legally) shareable.
Bytenotes: unusually, since we were still working on technical matters rather than anything like content for the show (it is not scripted or prepared really), just before recording the first episode of their new show Roy and Tim were experimenting with video as they attempted to debug an audio-video synchronisation issue, as well as screen size issues. The tests involved us going through SeaMonkey as proof of concept.
Summary: A new opinion piece about AttachMSFT’s strategy so far
NOW that SUSE is being wrapped up like a fur ball and treated like a separate entity (from AttachMSFT), people start to echo our predictions, nearly insisting that Novell’s restructuring of its divisions over a year ago (SUSE isolated), followed by public bragging about operating in the green there, is a sign of sale to come. It’s essentially a reversal of what happened following the S.u.S.E. acquisition. As Glyn Moody put it minutes ago, “does Attachmate really care about pursuing a free software strategy at all? And if it doesn’t, what will happen to SuSE Linux? Interestingly, Dave Neary was pondering this back when the deal was first announced. As he noted then:
“If you are a Dark Hand type of guy, the financier who wants a return on investment and doesn’t really care about innovation or changing the world, then your goal is to buy assets, perhaps sell a subsidiary or two to recoup some of the costs of the deal, perhaps change the management team, and keep the profitable business for a 5 year horizon before selling it on to make a profit. Your anticiated ROI for this type of deal would need to be around 8% to 10% per year.
“So you sell on some patents & copyrights that you’re not really interested in (presumably with a free license to use said patents for a period of time), you split your business up into the cash cow moneymaker (Old Novell) and the new, growing business that can sell at a high valuiation relative to its earnings (Suse Linux), and you line up a buyer for the speculative Linux business.
“It’s worth reading the rest of the post, where Neary fills in some of the details and numbers. But here I’d like to build on his analysis and ask: assuming for the moment that SuSE will indeed be sold at some point, where would be a good home for it?
“There are actually two answers to that question. The first is the one that will get answered by the market: who will see the acquisition of SuSE as making good business sense. That might include all kinds of crazy options that you and I might not want to contemplate – for example, how about Oracle buying its own distro? What about Microsoft…?” █
Since Microsoft is a rogue company increasingly unable to compete, core people from this company created profitable entities outside of Microsoft and their impact on the world is immensely damaging for reasons we explained before. They want more and more patent monopolies in every walk of life — from the environment to agriculture and even software, obviously. It is about restoring scarcity in the age of Internet-enabled abundance and equality.
According to this new article which was cited by Groklaw:
“Everyone is worried about the Windows numbers,” said Brent Thill, an analyst at UBS AG in San Francisco. “That’s the cash cow and everyone is worried the cow is running out of milk.”
Groklaw then cites this one which says “Microsoft confirmed Thursday its Windows cash machine is under threat.” (warning: behind paywall)
Reading further down the article, Groklaw remarks: “Let’s define our terms. What does it mean that “Microsoft can limit the speed of such incursions”? How exactly? What does the Wall Street Journal mean by that? Using litigation? What?”
That’s rhetorical. And as we have shown before, Gates, Allen, and Myhrvold are all extorting and suing Linux, amongst other entities or efforts. That’s their next big plan for making money. They can disguise it all they want using expensive PR campaigns, but people are not dumb enough to fall for it. An increasing number of bloggers and publications speak openly about the truth, which places Gates, Allen, Myhrvold down at the bottom alongside villains like Edison and Rockefeller (he too has been trying the whole PR spiel).
“What does it mean that “Microsoft can limit the speed of such incursions”? How exactly? What does the Wall Street Journal mean by that? Using litigation?” –Pamela Jones, GroklawOver at Groklaw, Pamela Jones links to some whitewashing of Microsoft and notes that her friend “Todd Bishop wonders why so little attention is being paid [to Microsoft antitrust/oversight expiry]. I think it’s because the compliance required is to the Final Judgment, not to any other issues since. If you look at page 11 of the PDF, the status report, you’ll see that. It says, “As of April 18, 2011, Microsoft had received 32 complaints or inquiries since the March 2011 Joint Status Report. None of these complaints is related to any of Microsoft’s compliance obligations under the Final Judgments.” So this is old stuff. The court isn’t about anything that wasn’t ordered by the Final Judgment. The world has moved on. And the second reason no one cares is we’ve seen this court at work, and our expectations are low for anything meaningful.”
Todd Bishop is still promoting Microsoft in his new site, GeekWire. At his previous employer, the Microsoft-paid TechFlash, there is some more Microsoft PR, this time in HTC flavour. Jones quotes the following from an HTC interview:
So are patents good or bad for the industry? It’s a difficult balance, I think, between protecting the hard work that people have done to design innovative products and, of course, offering the best products and experience to customers. I think there probably does need to be some reform in the way patents are granted, the way the patent office works, but I’m not a lawyer.
According to one source that we found at the time, Microsoft was about to sue HTC for using Android, but HTC decided to avoid the lawsuit and instead it made it look like it had signed an amicable patent deal with Microsoft, agreeing to pay Steve Ballmer and fellow thugs for Linux. Later on HTC also agreed to pay Myhrvold. The threat of the burden of litigation was a weapon. It’s called racketeering, blackmail, or extortion when this type of thing is done. That’s the ‘New Microsoft’. It’s worse than ever and regulators ought to step in.
Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak has no love for the US patent system, and prefers split-pea soup to “that patent-troll thing” as practiced by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen in his current patent-infringment lawsuit against Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, and others.
“A lot of patents are pretty much not worth that much,” Wozniak told his keynote audience at the Embedded System Conference Silicon Valley (ESC) taking place this week in San José, California.
“In other words, any fifth-grader could come up with the same approach.”
When asked about patent-trolling, Wozniak had two personal stories to tell: one about Allen, and one about an early experience that soured him on patents held and enforced by deep-pockets companies.
Dr. Glyn Moody added: “confused? he was, you will be”
Jones wrote about the same article: “I recall Justice Stevens in the i4i v. Microsoft oral argument asking if it was a really big problem or a little one. What someone should probably do is make a list of really stupid patents that have already issued. You’d need to explain how and why it’s silly, of course.”
Microsoft is not against software patents. It opposes only software patents which can be used against Microsoft. Meanwhile it is bragging about taking payments from Volkswagen and guess what for:
Microsoft licensing patent over “Quick Filename Lookup Using Name Hash” to VW
Sounds familiar? It ought to. Microsoft uses filename lookup to extort the most popular kernel, Linux. Yes, Microsoft is completely distorting the market with its lawsuits, patent trolls, and lobbyists. To quote a well-known critic of zealous intellectual monopolist: “CNET News reported that Google was asked to pay $5 million for the infringement, a relatively small amount for the internet search and video giant. But a Google spokesperson remarked that the company would “continue to defend against attacks like this one on the open-source community,” and that “the recent explosion in patent litigation is turning the world’s information highway into a toll road, forcing companies to spend millions and millions of dollars defending old, questionable patent claims, and wasting resources that would be much better spent investing in new technologies for users and creating jobs.”
“Google profits from making things abundant and available to everyone; Microsoft is the exact opposite and only one can be described as a democratising force.”That’s what makes Microsoft so unique and by no means a scapegoat; what a disgusting company it must be in comparison to Google, for example. Google profits from making things abundant and available to everyone; Microsoft is the exact opposite and only one can be described as a democratising force.
Watch what “Microsoft IP&L” (The official Twitter account for Microsoft’s Intellectual Property and Licensing at Redmond, WA) is doing in Twitter right now. This is what these people publish: “Tips for prosecuting a successful IP Portfolio: set goals for creating patent hits; invest more $ in High level patents & watch your plan”
Microsoft is “creating patent hits”. Impressive, eh? Who would defend such abusive attitudes and litigious minds?
Be the first to share your knowledge on this application! #patent #priorart http://fb.me/YRNnRiS8
In order to stop Microsoft’s attacks on Linux (in addition to the attacks it has other companies launch against Linux) we must get rid of software patents altogether, as a whole. Tacking patents one by one is not the best approach to deal with the issue. It’s mostly ineffective in fact, just like a nuclear ‘defense system’ which is easily defeated by increasing the number of simultaneous targets. █
“Fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitoes will eliminate malaria.”
Summary: Now that the USPTO is managed by none of the people whose interest is science and technology this establishment is, by definition, corrupted
Red Hat is trying to gather opinions about the patent system using a poll, which is obviously warped in favour of the readership of a blog called opensource.com (site address picked by Red Hat). 92.7% (506 votes) of the respondents so far think that software patents do not encourage innovation. Where is the USPTO? Is it listening at all? It is clear that the US patent system is broken. Even people inside this system say so. The USPTO is terminally ill and nonetheless, it is unwilling to heal itself because of greed. Greed. Boundless greed. This shameful establishment is run by the wrong people and it keeps getting worse with improper appointments that assume the USPTO exists for lawyers, not for science. Yes, instead of scientists being at the top, it is just a bunch of people who carve out derivatives from other people’s work. This latest report says: “The upper management of the USPTO is now solidly in the hands of patent law professionals with extensive experience in corporate patent law and management practice.”
This has got to be revealing. So “patent law professionals” run this place; these are the people whose family and friends make money from granting monopolies for people who actually do little thinking, sometimes even patent trolls. Chicken and fox spring to mind.
This sort of story is more common than you might imagine. I recently had a conversation with a serial entrepreneur who told a similar story. One of his previous companies had been quite successful, and was on the verge of being acquired for upwards of $70 million. Days before the deal was to be closed, one of their competitors got wind of the deal, and filed a patent infringement lawsuit against them, leading the acquirer to drop the deal. Without the funds to fight the lawsuit, the entrepreneur had no other option but to sell his company to the company who sued him for less than $5 million.
The USPTO needs a hard reboot. The people who manage the USPTO are like predators in a hen house. They don’t care about innovation, they care about patent revenue. They do nothing to address issues that they definitely acknowledge, so they can’t plead ignorance. █
“[Y]ou’re creating a new 20-year monopoly for no good reason.”
“After the Opinion of the Advocates General of July 2, 2010 in the case 1/09 which had come to the conclusion that the Proposal for an Agreement on a combined court system for EPC and EU patents is incompatible with the EU Treaties , now the European Court of Justice (CJ) has spoken.
The solution for software patents in Europe: ECJ outside of the law, the Benelux court hack: http://ur1.ca/42xyv
To quote the original[PDF]: “The Opinion comes to the conclusion that The envisaged agreement creating a unified patent litigation system (currently called ‘European and Community Patents Court’) is not compatible with the provisions of the EU Treaty and the FEU Treaty.”
Good! But as usual, just like in the case of pollution, there are usually loopholes that permit the unacceptable activity to carry on (secretly at home or legally abroad). █
With bindings for C, Python, and Mono, you can integrate your app into the Unity desktop quickly and easily.
Upon the news about Monocalypse, she wrote: “Maybe they’d prefer to develop it in a country where patent laws haven’t gone stark raving mad, as in the US? If so, that would show some astuteness.”
“Would not be surprised at all if MSFT picks up Mono employees…” –Bob Sutor, IBM’s Vice President of Open SourceBradley Kuhn tries to pretend that he is the good guy in all of this and that other Mono critics somehow feel happy about the layoffs rather than the end of Mono funding (a red herring for sure as we do not celebrate loss of jobs). Jones also did not like Kuhn’s post and she wrote in response: “I disagree with this reasoning. Strongly. If you suspect, or know, that something violates somebody’s patent, it’s not actually wise to violate it. Kuhn acknowledges that. But then he argues it’s useful for it to exist. So it’s all right to violate the patent to get the benefits? It will come back to haunt you later, when you are accused of willfulness, from all I know about patents. If those programmers end up working for Microsoft, at least they won’t be violating anyone’s patents. And besides, what makes us assume that they don’t have jobs waiting for them already at Microsoft, part of a bigger plan? Alternatively, if Attachmate prefers to develop in Germany, maybe that is patent-related strategizing, which isn’t a bad thing.”
Bob Sutor’s immediate response in Twitter was: “Would not be surprised at all if MSFT picks up #Mono employees per http://bit.ly/l0nzUy Perfect fit, except for the open-sourcey part” (that would make sense). “But,” says GNU/Linux champion Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, “without its corporate backer, what happens now to Mono? I really hadn’t expected this. Microsoft sponsored Attachmate’s purchase of Novell. I had presumed they’d be happy to see Mono keep going. I was wrong.” The last words are grand: “As for Novell? Well, I’m just glad its founder, the brilliant and cantankerous Ray Noorda is no longer to see the end of his company. It would have broken his heart.”
Sutor is IBM’s Vice President of Open Source and he never trusted Mono. Needless to say, the Mono boosters gave him flak for it.
It is not clear if Miguel has been sentenced to Nuremburg, but pulling apart his team like that must miff him somewhat.
Stephane Rodriguez once told us about “Microsoft persons who take a pride not to be on their payroll. (DeIcaza told me in the past that he’s rich).” Nobody needs to cry for Miguel de Icaza, who is already a Microsoft MVP. Will he also become a Microsoft employee to be paid directly by Microsoft? He was already involved in steering CodePlex. We shall find out soon if it’s taken further. He is not blogging about the news yet.
Paul Cutler, who only joined Novell quite recently (after he had helped some Mono projects) is among those who leave. From his blog:
Yesterday was my last day at Novell. I enjoyed the 1+ year I spent working there – helping to ship SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop to millions of end users through OEM partnerships was a fulfilling experience in knowing it helped Linux on the desktop grow.
People who did PR for Novell are also axed with the rest, which may help decrease the AstroTurfing from the company (they have abused this Web site under pseudonyms):
Social media, particularly Twitter, had comments running all day about the layoffs. Even the person who ran the NovellTalks Twitter account posted this farewell message, “To all those who have followed me, I’m sad to say that this account is being retired as I am leaving Novell. Best to all!”
Groklaw is left wondering what will happen next in Novell’s case against Microsoft. Has AttachMSFT decided to also cut down Novell’s legal team? Hopefully not, as it is also necessary for the SCO case. From Groklaw:
Novell has prevailed in its appeal against Microsoft in the antitrust case about WordPerfect! Here’s the Order [PDF], hot off the presses. The lower court’s order dismissing Novell’s claim on summary judgment essentially on a technicality is “reversed and remanded.” That means it goes to trial. Novell has the opportunity to tell a jury just what it believes Microsoft did wrong.
I have a special treat: I also have the audio of the oral argument before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and when you hear how skillfully Novell’s attorney, Charles Cooper, presents Novell’s case, I think you will understand very well why Novell prevailed.
Ultimately, there is not much love for Novell, but some of its court cases are still important. SUSE is a complicated subject because it helps Microsoft get richer and a lot of what Novell does is just putting a price tag or proprietary software on top of GNU/Linux. Jason Brooks reviews Novell’s Red Hat ripoff [1, 2], saying that it has “hiccups”. So who needs SUSE Manage anyway? It adds nothing new.
Trentg has posted to let us know that Monster RPG 2 is now compatible on other linux distros, and so is not exclusive to the Ubuntu Software Centre. It is priced at $2.99 and is available for digital download.
It’s nice to see at least someone letting us know they aren’t actually dead, makes me wander what game they are porting at the moment and if they are actually doing it themselves rather than just publishing it as they did with Shadowgrounds/Survivor.
The GNOME Foundation, which has overseen the development of the default graphical environments for the Linux- and Unix-based operating systems from Red Hat, Novell, Canonical, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and others, has diverged from the consistent look and feel that marked its namesake desktop environment for years, with its new GNOME Shell interface.
With the release of GNOME 3.0 and Ubuntu 11.04, the face of the Linux desktop environment is changing. This eWEEK review finds there’s a lot to like in both the GNOME Shell and Ubuntu Unity desktop environments, although both will take some getting used to.
With GNOME 3.0, the GNOME Foundation has diverged from the consistent look and feel that marked its namesake desktop environment for years. The new GNOME Shell interface represents a new desktop approach intended to make applications easier to access, limit workspace distractions, and make more use of modern desktop and notebook hardware.
If the more popular Linux desktop environments out there are the cushy sport sedans of the open source world, think of Xfce as a rugged, reliable Jeep. It’s a feature-rich yet lightweight desktop environment that’s anything but underpowered. It’s a long-haul computing workhorse whose only noticeable shortcoming is a very forgivable lack of eye candy.
If you’ve been in the IT industry for a couple of decades you might well remember when thin-client technology was big news. In particular you might remember when Oracle chief Larry Ellison sang the praises of thin-client technology. You might also remember when, in the late 1990s, Ellison again proclaimed the virtues of thin-client computing.
Today thin-client computing is no longer sexy. Many companies use it successfully but there aren’t that many vendors that will trumpet thin-client systems as a way to sexy-up their sales material.
Now Red Hat is hoping to give Linux on the desktop a boost with its new virtual desktop infrastructure plans.
If you’ve been reading my Virtualization section, you know that my focus so far has been mostly on VMware and VirtualBox, with a tad bit of cloud stuff and image remastering. Well, time to branch out. Today, I’d like to formally begin a whole new era of tutorials with KVM. Later on, there will be Xen and other weird beasts, but for now, our topic is KVM.
By incorporating comprehensive application lifecycle management, Red Hat CloudForms allows organizations to benefit from the elasticity and flexibility of cloud computing while retaining the ability to control and govern their application portfolio in the cloud.
So, most of my recent use of Linux has been on Linux Mint, a distribution based on Ubuntu. I currently have a dual-boot set up, and installed the new Fedora 15 (beta) to give it a spin. I have not used Fedora very much. I am used to the GNOME 2 desktop but the upcoming Fedora – which will be released on May 24 – is using the brand new GNOME 3 with no ability to return to GNOME 2. This is something Windows users wouldn’t be expecting – the same “desktop” but implemented differently. In Ubuntu and Fedora, the main taskbar is at the top. In Mint, and some other distributions of Linux, it is at the bottom, as Windows users usually see it.
I was much more impressed with the new Fedora than I expected.
I’ve taken some screenshots of the MEPIS-based antiX M11 release that came out yesterday. This is an extremely lightweight distribution designed to run on as little as 64MB of RAM. I found using the live cd, installing antiX and performing basic tasks to be a breeze. Here are some screenshots of antiX M11. You can download antiX here or buy Linux CDs in our cart.
This is the latest line used by people some people in the free software community in Venezuela to talk down on Ubuntu. This is not just a casual comment.This comes from the people that organize a nation wide 12 city tour to talk about free software.
I have already commented on how we have been excluded by censoring us, they require us to say ubuntu is propietary software just like mac and windows, they claim ubuntu users are as naive as those using the previous mention propietary systems.
Ubuntu 11.04 is one of the most expected releases this year. Yes, there were lots of pre-release discussions, reviews, controversy and so on. Finally, it was released.
As you may know, my laptop is quadro-boot. One of the systems I had there was Ubuntu 10.10, which was upgraded from 10.04.
Of course, such an event like Ubuntu 11.04 release could not be bypassed by me. This time I decided to go through fresh install route and replace my Ubuntu 10.10 with Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity desktop. Before going for final installation, I ran it in Live mode from Live USB. First impression was positive, so decision was made to go on.
Ubuntu 11.04, code-named Natty Narwhal, is the latest version of the popular Linux distribution. Released on April 28, 2011, Natty Narwhal is the first Ubuntu release to ship with the Unity desktop interface, replacing the GNOME 2 desktop. This release also marks the end of a separate Ubuntu Netbook Edition (UNE). So if you are running Ubuntu 10.10 Netboot Edition, you will, like every other Ubuntu user, be using Ubuntu 11.04 Desktop.
Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal has been a revelation of sorts in terms of UI improvements it brought to the table. One of the highlights of the new Unity UI is the launcher that sits on the left side of Ubuntu 11.04 Unity desktop. Now I can access my most favorite apps much more faster and my desktop will remain clean at the same time. But I didn’t noticed the limitations of Unity launcher until I implemented the following quicklists which further enhanced the Ubuntu Unity launcher functionality. I am pretty darn sure that you are also going to love these awesome Unity launcher improvements as I did.
We all like a bit of desktop bling on our otherwise standard looking desktops, and despite the recently-revived Screenlets project boasting a noble, if belated, entry there is still no competitor to style and variety of KDE’s “Plasma widgets”.
Last week, Canonical — the open-source development firm — released a new version of its Ubuntu Linux operating system, seemingly aimed at offering casual Windows and Mac users a feature-rich alternative.
Although it is certainly a bit of hyperbole to say that Ubuntu 11.04 will send Apple and Microsoft packing, ecommerce merchants may find that this new desktop operating system — which is free — is a viable alternative that may save money, improve security, and even provide a better environment for some kinds of web development and maintenance.
Victor Palau, Platform Services Manager at Canonical, announces a new open hardware validation program being developed at the upcoming UDS-O in Budapest called “Ubuntu Friendly”.
“We are planning substantial change to our Self-testing hardware validation programme at UDS-O. Mainly, we are discontinuing the commercial Ubuntu Ready programme and replacing it with a community programme that has the working title “Ubuntu Friendly”,” writes Palau.
Advanced or manual disk partitioning is available for those that want to create a custom set of partitions for installing Ubuntu 11.04. For whatever reason or reasons you choose to use the advanced disk partitioning tool, this article gives a step by step guide, with detailed explanations, on how to do it.
Abstract: When using mailing lists as a collaboration tool, (open source) software developers are following various usage patterns. In order to improve the efficiency of open source collaboration, this thesis tries to identify these existing patterns by analyzing the mailing lists of popular open source projects, then proposes an annotation schema to codify these patterns. A mailing list archiver application is also implemented, which applies the codifications to handle email messages, provides tool supporting for the improvement.
The Linux operating system is 20 years old, and the Open Source Focus Group for public administrations will run a dedicated event on May 9 at FORUM PA 2011, a workshop hosted by IBM to talk with experts and enthusiasts about Linux’s history and the state of the art.
I attended the latest briefing at the White House complex, where Federal CIO Vivek Kundra, Federal Chief Performance Officer Jeff Zients, and other Executive Branch officials reported on implementation of the Administration’s IT Reform Agenda.
Want to store your digital songs, movies, TV shows, books and video games on a computer or mobile device? No problem. The real trick these days is pushing all that content onto the Internet so it can follow you from device to device, eliminating the need for storage altogether.
Oracle is donating the Hudson open source code that came with Sun Microsystems to the Eclipse Foundation Wednesday. Hudson stirred up controversy in late January when the project’s founder declared that it should be forked to create a branch free of Oracle’s control.
The project’s founder, Kohsuke Kawaguchi, while at Sun created what’s called a continuous-integration tool in order to simplify agile Java development. A continuous integration tool automatically manages all the changes to a software system as it’s developed. Hudson became a Duke’s Choice award winner for top Java software at the 2008 JavaOne Conference, and was widely adopted by Java programmers. Kawaguchi still has a claim on some developers’ loyalty and they have followed him into his next project, Jenkins.
The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has received a [United States District Court subpoena] requiring the production of documents related to the use of Apache Harmony code in the Android software platform, and the unsuccessful attempt by Apache to secure an acceptable license to the Java SE Technology Compatibility Kit.
One possibility to spur people on to save energy: people punish selfishness more when their group is in competition with others
That which motivates a football team to committed teamwork could also benefit climate change. The members of a group act in a particularly selfless manner and for the benefit of the group, especially when their community is in competition with others. They are then more likely to accept disadvantages themselves in order to punish members of their group who behave selfishly. A research group headed by the economics researcher Lauri Sääksvuori at the Max Planck Institute of Economics in Jena has gained this insight by conducting investigations involving game theory. This could result in a way of spurring people on to save energy.
Employees may be prosecuted under a federal antihacking statute for taking computer files that they were authorized to access and using them in a manner prohibited by the company, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The case decided 2-1 Thursday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concerned the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Congress adopted the CFAA in 1986 to enhance the government’s ability to prosecute hackers who accessed computers to steal information or to disrupt or destroy computer functionality.
It’s a joyful spring in corporate America thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court. It has ruled that companies can stop customers or employees from banding together to sue. But as directors celebrate, consumer advocates and trial lawyers are mobilizing to overturn the decision. One of their best hopes of an ally may be Elizabeth Warren’s new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
The decision came in a challenge to AT&T’s requirement that cellphone customers resolve claims one-by-one in private arbitration. Lower courts struck down the class-action ban, but the high court reversed, saying federal law favors arbitrations over litigation and class actions make them too costly and slow.
China formed a new State Internet Information Office on Wednesday, consolidating its disparate offices that oversee the Internet into a single agency.
The office will “direct, coordinate and supervise online content management and handle administrative approval of businesses related to online news reporting,” the government said in a notice posted to the official government Web site.
Leading the office will be officials from the State Council’s Information Office as well as two vice ministers, Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology Xi Guohua, and Vice Minister of Public Security Zhang Xinfeng.
By virtually every measure, 2010 was a remarkably successful year for Canadian privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. Riding the wave of high profile investigations into the privacy practices of Internet giants Facebook and Google, Stoddart received accolades around the world, while garnering a three-year renewal of her term at home.
“Facebook, Google, Yahoo, all these major US organizations have built-in infaces for US intelligence,” he said. “It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena, they have an interface they have developed for US Intelligence to use. Now, is the case that Facebook is run by US Intelligence? No, it’s not like that. It’s simply that US Intelligence is able to bring to bear legal and political pressure to them. It’s costly for them to hand out individual records, one by one, so they have automated the process.”
Well, that certainly was an exciting election! Not many people expected a Conservative majority to emerge and even fewer saw the NDP forming the official opposition. I’ll save the general political punditry for the… er… political pundits, but I can add some thoughts on what this might mean for tech, science and telecom in Canada over the next four years.
Back in March we exclusively were the first to report that AT&T would be imposing usage caps and overages on their terrestrial broadband users. Those caps have officially arrived, with DSL users now facing a 150 GB monthly cap, and U-Verse users now facing a 250 GB monthly cap. Both DSL and U-Verse users must pay $10 per every 50GB above the cap they travel. As our original report noted, only users who exceed the new usage cap three times — across the life of your account, not per month — will be forced to pay these new per byte overages.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the U.S. has again placed Canada on its Special 301 Priority Watch List, implausibly claiming that Canada’s intellectual property laws are seriously deficient and on par with countries such as China and Russia. The U.S. “analysis” is short and to the point:
Canada remains on the Priority Watch List. The United States continues to urge Canada to implement its previous commitments to improve its legal framework for IPR protection and enforcement. Unfortunately, Canadian efforts in 2010 to enact long-awaited copyright legislation were unsuccessful. The United States encourages Canada to make the enactment of copyright legislation that addresses the challenges of piracy over the Internet, including by fully implementing the WIPO Internet Treaties, a priority for its new government. The United States encourages Canada to provide for deterrent-level sentences to be imposed for IPR violations, as well as to strengthen enforcement efforts, including at the border. Canada should provide its Customs officials with ex officio authority to effectively stop the transit of counterfeit and pirated products through its territory. U.S. stakeholders have also expressed strong concerns about Canada’s administrative process for reviewing the regulatory approval of pharmaceutical products, as well as limitations in Canada’s trademark regime. The United States appreciates the high level of cooperation between the Canadian and U.S. Governments, and looks forward to continuing engagement on these important issues.
This development is not surprising. I don’t think the position adopted by the US is a more moral position or an objectively better balance between free market competition and patentee’s results, nor do I think the amendment is warranted. I see this as simply an example of US protectionist bullying.
Given its apathetic nature, the report doesn’t make the logical jump that any intellectually curious person would instantly make: if the “duty to police” might be driving trademark owners to be (over)zealous in their enforcement efforts, maybe we should fix the duty to police. After all, this “duty” isn’t in the statute at all; it’s barely in the caselaw; and it could be easily remedied with a statutory clarification that might very well be welcomed by both trademark owners and secondary trademark users because it might eliminate ambiguity plaguing both communities. C’mon, guys–that conclusion isn’t exactly rocket science.
As anyone who has followed the area for a while learns, the copyright industry has an extraordinary sense of entitlement. It seems to think that it has a right to demand that governments around the world preserve its outdated business models and existing profit margins – and that it should be granted any kind of extraordinary legal protections for its monopolies to ensure that, whatever the concomitant cost to society.
Even though controversial copyright enforcer Righthaven has already lost two lawsuits on fair use grounds, not every defendant that chooses to fight back is going to get a quick win. A lawsuit against an Urdu-language web forum over its copy of the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s “Vdara death ray” illustration will move forward, following a judge’s ruling.
Righthaven sued Azkar Choudhry back in December, saying that an image at his website, GupShup forums, was illegally copied from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper that sells its copyrights so that Righthaven can file lawsuits. Choudhry responded, arguing that his site’s use of the image—which was an “in-line link” automatically added via an RSS feed—is fair use.
CBS Interactive, the owner of CNET, is being sued for facilitating “massive copyright infringement” for distributing the LimeWire software, a file sharing service a federal judge ruled illegal last year.
A lawsuit brought by rappers and others accuses CBS of profiting from distributing 220 million copies of LimeWire on CNET’s download.com site since 2008, or 95 percent off all LimeWire downloads.