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03.04.12

Revolving Doors: How Microsoft Essentially Bribes Prominent Google Critics

Posted in Antitrust, FUD, Google, Microsoft at 9:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. “Independent” analyst’s report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent” consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). “Independent” courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: Microsoft still pays Google-hostile people, sometimes paying them entire wages

THE DIRTY politics of revolving doors and gentle bribes are well understood and there is a lot of literature on the subject. In a nutshell, a company can promise a person a reward later (e.g. a job) provided particular acts in public office. Considering the fact that Microsoft pays Google bashers like Florian Müller, Ben Edelman, probably the Edelman-connected Consumer Watchdog and many more, it is not too shocking that a lot of Google backlash is organic, and it is coordinated from above by someone or someones. We are careful not to play along with AstroTurf, such as the Koch et al.-led Tea Party movement.

Microsoft also used to attack ODF through all sorts of people whom it later paid and people in the government were paid (hired) by Microsoft to later return favours (e.g. Barnett [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]). According to an article from CNET, “Microsoft hires FTC attorney and public critic of Google”. Judging by this, Microsoft is doing it again:

Randall Long, who led investigations into Google’s acquisitions of DoubleClick and AdMob, will become a lobbyist aiming to keep federal regulators on the search giant’s case.

As Mr. Masnick puts it: “Microsoft appears to be stepping up its “saddle Google with antitrust charges” battle by hiring Randall Long from the FTC. Long was the key “anti-Google” lawyer within the FTC, who led multiple antitrust investigations into Google, and recommended that the FTC block Google’s acquisition of AdMob (something he was outvoted on). Microsoft doesn’t even seem to want to hide the fact that his role will be to lobby politicians in DC to hit Google with antitrust charges.”

Considering the position Microsoft has been in, the revolving doors syndrome makes a lot of business sense. Microsoft is trying to misuse government intervention to interfere with competition. Apple does the same thing with patent systems around the world, but it’s not working out so far:

A spokesman for the Mannheim state court said judges had dismissed both cases involving ownership of the “slide-to-unlock” feature used on their respective smartphones.

We wrote about this not too long ago. Microsoft’s patents too — those that it quietly uses against Android — are currently being challenged. We’ll write about this tomorrow when we focus on patents.

Time to Dump Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft at 9:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If time is money…

Time

Summary: Microsoft still cannot code clocks correctly, showing rather clearly its inability to get the basics done, with very severe consequences

THE MICROSOFT meltdown we wrote about some days ago is a timely reminder that Microsoft does not grasp time. SJVN has another interesting take on it:

Everyone makes mistakes, but for Microsoft to make a killer leap day blunder with its Azure cloud service is inexcusable.

He continues:

Even after Microsoft had a fix in, faults continued to spread across the Azure cloud in America and Northern Europe. As some areas came back up Compute functionality in the North Central US, South Central US and North Europe regions, functionality was downgraded or even turned off on a range of Azure services.

It’s all because Microsoft cannot code and something similar happened to Zune some years back (clock issues, see our Zune Reality Log). Azure has just suffered the fate of Zune.

World’s Biggest Patent Troll, a Microsoft Offshoot, Takes Extortion Public Again

Posted in Patents at 9:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: An update on Intellectual Ventures and a few other trolling examples

THE biggest patent troll in the world came from Microsoft and it is extorting some more large companies. Then it covers things up. “This article is by Kenneth Lustig, the vice president and head of strategic acquisitions at Intellectual Ventures, an invention and patent firm that helps clients bridge the gap between the rights they own and the rights they need,” says the opening of this piece. What utter nonsense. In this passage, “patent firm” means “patent troll”.

Intellectual Ventures needs some PR because no longer does it operate just behind closed doors and via proxies:

After years of not suing anyone (but always threatening that it might, someday), Intellectual Ventures has become more and more aggressive of late in suing lots of companies. A few weeks ago it sued AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile over a bunch of patents that (of course) involved some of IV’s favorite shell companies. Just as it was preparing this lawsuit, a VP from IV went public with an attempt to argue that all this litigation is a sign of innovation at work. The article is rather shocking in how it presents its argument. It mainly relies on false claims that correlation means causation, concerning historical periods of innovation and lawsuits over patents. Of course, what it ignores is that the patent fights often come right after the innovation, not before. In other words, the patent battles aren’t a sign that innovation is working. Rather it’s a sign of patent holders freaking out that others are innovating. It’s entirely about hindering innovation, not helping move it forward.

Not so long ago it was suggested that the government should look into these activities. “By the way,” adds Masnick in the above piece, “you may have noticed that Verizon is conspicuously absent from the list of mobile operators being sued here. That’s because Verizon paid the entrance fee and is a “member” in the IV club… which apparently only cost the company $350 million. Oh yeah… and it then became an enabler. One of the patents in the new lawsuit… once was owned by Verizon.”

Needless to say, those costs are being passed to the customers, who pay to enrich trolls like the ones from Microsoft and their thuggish friends who work as patent lawyers.

There is this other new report about the impact of troll lawsuits on games and applications:

Over the last few years, wide swathes of the game industry, and the downloadable app industry in general, have been revolutionized by a single idea: letting people play for free while charging some of those players for in-game items. Now, it seems, a shell company is claiming that it has sole ownership of that idea, and is going to court to stop a wide range of game companies from using it.

In more positive news, patent lawyers too are being sued, albeit for other reasons: [via]

John Wiley, Physicists Sue Patent Lawyers Over Journals

In a sign the country’s intellectual property laws may be getting out of hand, copyright lawyers are suing patent lawyers for using scientific journals to prepare patent applications.

In lawsuits filed this week, publisher John Wiley & Sons and the American Institute of Physicists claimed that lawyers and their firms in Chicago and Minnesota wrongfully copied journal articles.

Patent lawyers — so who’s the real “thief”? Many patent applications can be characterised as a plot to “steal” what is already public knowledge, in essence privatising the Commons.

IRC Proceedings: March 3rd, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 8:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

Links 4/3/2012: Cory Doctorow on Code Visibility, Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.8

Posted in News Roundup at 2:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Windows 8 offers no management help for ARM devices

    Organizations looking to deploy Windows 8 on ARM-based (WOA) devices will have to do so without being able to manage them, according to a Microsoft advisory outlining the business benefits of the new operating system.

    While WOA scrimps on battery life, it falls short in management and compatibility with legacy applications, making it less than ideal for business.

  • Finance

    • Satyajit Das: Pravda The Economist’s Take on Financial Innovation

      The Economist sees financial innovation as positive; regarding it in the same sense as charity and goodwill to one’s fellow creatures. The reader is told that: “Finance has a very good record of solving big problems, from enabling people to realise the value of future income through products like mortgages to protecting borrowers from the risk of interest-rate fluctuations.” The definition of the “big problems” of our time is obviously subjective.

  • Censorship

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Dear Big Newspapers: Keep Putting Up Silly Paywalls And Clear The Internet Field For Us ‘Newcomers’

      Apparently it’s a week of paywalls for a bunch of big newspaper websites. Newspaper giant Gannett announced that all of its newspaper websites with the exception of USA Today, will go paywall by the end of the year. The system will allow between 5 and 15 article views before you’re locked out. And then, the news broke that next week, the LA Times will be launching its own paywall. Again, it will allow 15 “free” article views per month, but then require payment — with the price being a rather astounding $3.99/week.

    • Copyrights

      • Yes, Online And Offline Rules Are Different… Because Online And Offline Are Different

        In the past we’ve discussed the ridiculousness of claiming that the internet is some sort of “wild west” without laws just because some people don’t like the laws covering the internet. Clearly, there are plenty of laws that deal with the internet. What people really mean when they call the internet “the wild west” is that they simply don’t like the laws — and specifically that those laws don’t fit into the analogy they have crafted for the internet.

      • Inside Views ‘Balanced’ Copyright: Not A Magic Solving Word

        It was obviously a moment of some embarrassment for the US Department of Commerce and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Hardly two weeks after more than 100 NGOs and a few individuals, mostly located in the global South, requested that these two agencies postpone the upcoming Africa IP Summit, this is exactly what has happened to the session originally scheduled for Cape Town, South Africa in early April. But what about their substantive criticisms of the ideology, themes and speakers for this conference which were made in a 7 February open letter to WIPO Secretary General Francis Gurry? According to the NGOs, the original Cape Town event was promoting ‘an unbalanced IP agenda’ and they instead wanted a ‘balanced forum’ that would endorse a ‘balanced’ intellectual property agenda across the world. This article takes up the question: is balance the answer?

      • Kim Dotcom Gives TV Interview Where He Insists The Charges Against Him Are A Joke

        Generally speaking, if you’re facing criminal charges, it’s probably not a wise idea to give public interviews to the press, and I don’t see how doing this helps him in any way. He more or less lays out his expected argument concerning the copyright infringement claims, which are pretty much what you’d expect: that they followed the DMCA, took stuff down on request, and even gave copyright holders special access by which they could take links down themselves. Dotcom is clearly very well versed in the legal issues here, and he’s choosing his words extremely carefully, but it still seems a bit silly to reveal such arguments outside of court, and it could come back to haunt him later (you can bet US prosecutors are pouring over every word to figure out what they can hang him on.

      • UK Government Pressuring Search Engines To Censor Results In Favor Of Copyright Industries

        One of the most insidious aspects of recent Internet policy-making is that much of it is taking place behind closed doors, with little or no consultation — think of SOPA, PIPA, ACTA and TPP. But there’s another dangerous trend: the rise of “informal” agreements between the copyright industries and Internet service providers.

        With the implicit threat that tough legislation will be brought in if voluntary agreements aren’t drawn up promptly enough, governments are using this technique to avoid even the minimal scrutiny that consultations on proposed new laws would permit. This allows all kinds of bad ideas to be forced through without any evidence that they will help and without the chance for those affected to present their viewpoints.

      • TV Networks Gang Up To Sue Aereo; Do Copyright Rules Change Based On The Length Of A Cable?

        The TV networks hate, hate, hate this because they’ve been raking in oodles of cash from carriage fees from the cable and satellite guys. That’s how much cable and satellite has to pay to “retransmit” the local broadcast channels, and it’s become a huge, multi-billion dollar business that the TV guys have no interest in giving up in any way, shape or form. It’s the reason why you probably hear stories on a regular basis about some cable or satellite network will no longer carry a certain broadcast channel… leading to a lot of posturing and such before one side eventually backs down (often after a short blackout period).

      • EMI Sneakily Trying To Pretend Many Of Its Artists Can’t Reclaim Their Copyrights
      • Artist and Hacktivists Sabotage Spanish Anti-Piracy Law

        In an attempt to sabotage a new anti-piracy law that went into effect today, hundreds of websites in Spain are participating in a unique protest organized by a local hacktivist group. The websites all link to an “infringing” song by an artist loyal to the protest, who reported the sites to the authorities to overload them with requests.

      • Lawsuit Against US Copyright Group For Fraud & Extortion Moves Forward

        US Copyright Group was the first of the US-based copyright trolls, suing thousands of individuals in a single lawsuit, trying to get them to pay up (rather than going through an actual trial). US Copyright Group is really a front for a DC law firm, Dunlapp, Grubb & Weaver. One of its very first “big” lawsuits was against about 5,000 people for supposedly partaking in the sharing of Uwe Boll’s Far Cry. Of course, as we had noted, there was a pretty big problem in the Far Cry lawsuit, in that the US copyright registration was filed too late for many of the accusations of infringement.

      • Copyright kings are judge, jury and executioner on YouTube
      • ACTA

        • Time To Go: Why EU Commissioner De Gucht Has Disqualified Himself From Handling ACTA

          Even though the European Commission has referred ACTA to the European Court of Justice, the European Parliament continues to examine the treaty in its various committees. Earlier this week, the one dealing with International Trade met for a preliminary discussion. One of the key speakers was the Commissioner responsible for ACTA, Karel De Gucht, who naturally tried to make light of the many problems that have been raised in recent weeks.

          But as the text of his speech makes clear, he did a poor job. For example, in an apparent attempt to distract attention from the real issues, he brought up the irrelevant and widely-condemned DDoS attacks on the European Parliament, perhaps hoping to spread around a little guilt by association.

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