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12.16.12

IRC Proceedings: December 9th-December 15th, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: December 9th, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: December 10th, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: December 11th, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: December 12th, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: December 13th, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: December 14th, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: December 15th, 2012

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Enter the IRC channels now

Links 16/12/2012: Wrapping Up 2012, Many Leftover Links

Posted in News Roundup at 12:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[I will be away until after Xmas]

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Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • A Pillar Of The Indian FOSS Community, Raj Mathur, Passes Away

    Raj Mathur (aka OldMonk), one of the leading figures of the Indian FOSS (free and open source software) community, passed away on 12.12.12. The cause of his death was a massive heart attack. This is the second major loss for the Indian FOSS world another notable figure, Kenneth Gonsalves passed away in August this year.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla in 2012

        2012 was an incredible year for Mozilla. We mobilized. We did a better job than I have ever seen us do identifying the places where we needed to have impact, and then we focused and delivered. There’s a lot for us all to be proud of in 2012; I’ve gathered up a few of my favourites.

  • Project Releases

Leftovers

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

  • Cablegate

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • China and US hold the key to a new global climate deal
    • Shale gas: a burning carbon issue
    • Texas Energy Institute Head Quits Amid Fracking Study Conflicts

      The head of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin resigned following an investigation that found conflicts of interest in a study on the risks of natural gas drilling.

      Raymond Orbach, 78, resigned as director of the institute last month, the university said in a statement released today. The study’s lead investigator, Charles Groat, 72, also retired from his faculty position, according to the statement.

    • Illegal wildlife trade ‘threatening national security’, says WWF

      Group says organised crime syndicates are ‘outgunning’ governments, leading to sharp rise in elephant and rhino deaths

    • Mother Nature belongs at bargaining table

      Throwing the nation over the climate cliff will make our current fiscal challenges look like a minor bump in the road.

      As the highly scripted stagecraft of the presidential campaign fades from the headlines, there’s a new show in Washington. ”Fiscal Cliff” stars President Barack Obama, who urges Republicans and Democrats to agree on a ”grand bargain” that would soften the economic shock of the impending across-the-board tax and spending cuts. But that bipartisan handshake would be nothing to celebrate.

    • Fracking for shale gas gets green light in UK

      The government has lifted restrictions on the controversial practice of fracking, a method of extracting gas from shale rock, giving a green light to drilling that could produce billions of pounds worth of gas.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Saudi-Led Oil Lobby Group Financed Dark Money Attack Ads

      The “American” in American Petroleum Institute, the country’s largest oil lobby group, is a misnomer. As I reported for The Investigative Fund and The Nation in August, the group has changed over the years, and is now led by men like Tofiq Al-Gabsani, a Saudi Arabian national who heads a Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) subsidiary, the state-run oil company that also helps finance the American Petroleum Institute. Al-Gabsani is also a registered foreign agent for the Saudi government.

  • Censorship

    • India awakes

      This TV program is a breakthrough. CNN IBN, a leading English-language channel, started a campaign for the freedom of Sanal Edamaruku. “Does a rationalist deserve to be jailed for questioning a religious miracle?”, asked firebrand moderator Sargarika Ghose on 4th December in CNN IBN’s flagship program Face the Nation, calling upon the public to take a stand. The response was impressive: people from all walks of life expressed unequivocal support for Sanal, on camera, on twitter and on facebook. The wave keeps running… And 87% of the viewers who participated in a public internet ballot answered the question “Are blasphemy laws out of place in a secular democracy?” with a clear Yes! The blasphemy law should go.

    • Israel must explain targeting of journalists in Gaza

      The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned that Israeli airstrikes targeted individual journalists and media facilities in the Gaza Strip between November 18 and 20. Journalists and media outlets are protected under international law in military conflict.

    • Possible censorship of Putin and Medvedev’s names on Russian television

      Here’s a somewhat curious story: The Russian TV channel NTV showed a performance by the rock band “Leningrad”, which is famous for incorporating many Russian expletives in its lyrics. The expletives were censored by beeping, which is the usual and expected practice, comparable to beeping on words like “fuck” in American TV. The surprise in this performance, however, was that the names of president Putin and prime minister Medvedev, who were mentioned in the song, were censored the same way. The name of the the Church of Christ the Savior, which recently became famous as the stage of Pussy Riot’s notorious performance, was partly censored as well, although the name “Pussy Riot” itself was not censored.

    • Peers vote to remove law banning insulting language
    • ANC tries to muzzle media coverage of leadership conference

      Security will be rigid at the African National Congress’s (ANC) elective conference in Mangaung. Most sessions are closed to the media and the party has said it will use phone-jamming technology to prevent interruptions. Journalists who stray where they shouldn’t will be given short shrift.

    • Son of Anna Politkovskaya criticises murder trial deal for policeman
  • Privacy

    • Heart Gadgets Test Privacy-Law Limits

      A recent swell of digital-medical data collected on devices outside of a doctor’s office is raising some thorny questions: Who owns the rights to a patient’s digital footprint and who should control that information? WSJ’s Linda Blake reports.

      The small box inside Amanda Hubbard’s chest beams all kinds of data about her faulty heart to the company that makes her defibrillator implant.

    • Private By Default

      Depending which browser you’re using, you should see a little lock or some such in the address bar. On the right are readouts from (top down) Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. You can click on that readout to get some information on the privacy/security settings.

  • Civil Rights

  • DRM

    • Sony’s New German Ebookstore Features Thousands Of DRM-Free Books

      DRM is becoming less and less prevalent these days as more companies are realizing that the backlash from crippling the purchases of paying customers far outweighs any perceived prevention of infringement. It’s not a wholesale conversion, but new DRM-free converts are appearing more frequently, including some surprising holdouts.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Are The Old Enablers Becoming The New Gatekeepers?

      We’ve argued, for a long time, that just railing against “middlemen” misses the point. There are always middlemen. But not all middlemen are created equal. The distinction, that we’ve discussed multiple times, is the difference between enablers and gatekeepers. That is, historically, many middlemen came to power because they were gatekeepers. If you wanted to do something — be a musician, write a book, sell a new product — you effectively had to get “approval” and support from a gatekeeper who had access to those markets. Being a gatekeeper gave them enormous power, such that the gatekeepers often became central to the market, rather than the people/companies they were working with and it also allowed them to craft ridiculous deals that were incredibly favorable to themselves, at the expense of those they were working with. That, of course, is why there tends to be so much inherent antipathy towards traditional gatekeepers.

    • Copyrights

      • French Hadopi Scheme Gutted; Other Bad Ideas To Be Introduced Instead

        France’s Hadopi graduated response approach, also known as “three strikes”, occupies a special place in the annals of copyright enforcement. It pioneered the idea of punishing users accused of sharing unauthorized copies of files, largely thanks to pressure from the previous French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who seems to have hated most aspects of this new-fangled Internet thing. Sadly, other countries took up the idea, including the UK with its awful Digital Economy Act, New Zealand, Spain and, more recently, the US.

        Hadopi hasn’t been going too well. Despite putting out some dodgy statistics, the Hadopi agency hasn’t really been able to show that the three-strike approach is doing anything to reduce the number of unauthorized downloads. In the two years that Hadopi has been running, only one person has been brought to court — and he was innocent, but fined anyway.

      • How Copyright Criminalization Threatens Online Innovation

        I’m excited that my friend Jerry Brito has pulled together an edited collection of copyright reform essays by libertarians (and one from a pair of libertarian-leaning conservatives) called Copyright Unbalanced. Several recent developments have suggested growing sympathy for copyright reform on the political right. Jerry’s book promises to be a handbook for free-market copyright reformers, pointing to some of the most serious problems with the present system and explaining how Republicans could capitalize on public dissatisfaction with the status quo.

      • It’s Not “Getting” Or “Downloading” A Copy. It’s “Making” Or “Manufacturing” One.

        In the political fight for civil liberties and sharing culture, language is everything – which can be observed by the copyright industry’s consistent attempts at name-calling, hoping the bad names will stick legally. Therefore, all our using precise language is paramount for our own future liberties.

Patent Trolls Face More Opposition as Their Share of Lawsuits Increases

Posted in America, Apple, Law, Patents at 6:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TrollSummary: Action against patent trolling seems imminent, but the behaviour of companies like Apple is largely overlooked for now

Parasitical elements in a government-backed scheme are being tackled by the government, which is still investigating the matter. Apple has been suing Android, which it views as a top rival. The aim is to tax (make more expensive) or castrate Android. As one report put it last week:

At the end of August, Apple Inc seemed on top of the world. Fresh off a resounding $1.05 billion U.S. legal victory over arch-foe Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the company was gearing up to launch the fifth iteration of its iconic iPhone. Just a week prior, its market value had surpassed Microsoft Corp’s and it became the most valuable technology company in history.

Things have gotten worse for Apple since then. Samsung phones easily outsells Apple ones and Apple’s public identity, that of somewhat of a troll, did its reputation a lot of damage. Trial misconduct [1, 2] does not help, either. As Groklaw put it:

Yet in a later media event at Gizmodo where anyone could ask him questions, Hogan was asked a question about whether he had considered if the patents should have issues, which he answered by contradicting the above instructions:

Demon-Xanth: Did you have the opportunity to ask “Is this something that should be patentable?” during the trial?

Velvin Hogan: @Demon-Xanth No, however it was not the function of this jury to ask that. We were bound to use the law as it is today. The patents were issued the judge instructed us not to second guess the current patent system.

Samsung said he was “deliberately dishonest”.

The Federal Trade Commission, which we wrote about in [1, 2], misses the point; it should know by now that the problem is not trolls, it’s the system. But addressing the problem by debating it would be a good start:

The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice will hold a joint public workshop on Dec. 10, 2012, to explore the impact of patent assertion entity (PAE) activities on innovation and competition and the implications for antitrust enforcement and policy.

“Professor Chien relates (at around 33:55) that in 2012, 61% of all new patent litigation was brought by trolls, that is by entities that don’t make anything,” remarks Pamela Jones. Here is a new article about the cost of patent trolls:

Patent trolls drain businesses of billions of dollars a year. And if you have a website–any website–you are a potential target. Here’s what you need to know if they come after your business.

Here is another article:

For the first time, individuals and companies that do not themselves make anything – commonly known as “patent trolls” – are bringing the majority of U.S. patent lawsuits, according to a study by a California law professor.

The Federal Circuit is said to have another chance to change course and do the right thing:

Federal Circuit Declines Chance to Eliminate Split Involving Standard of Review, Prompting Blistering Dissent

[...]

“Not surprisingly,” Judge Moore explained, “given the clear direction from the Supreme Court, the regional circuits are unanimous that the issue of objective reasonableness under Rule 11 is to be reviewed deferentially by the appellate courts.”

The software patents booster calls it a troll turning point:

On Friday, December 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential opinion in Raylon v. Complus Data that gives hope to defendants everywhere who face objectively baseless patent infringement claims.

It seems like the FTC and some high courts still have an opportunity to change course. Let’s wait and see. The problem is, there are patent lawyers everywhere, at all levels. They try to guard the status quo and make things worse by assimilation, e.g. in Europe and New Zealand.

The Aftermath of ‘Unitary’ Patent

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The European Patent Office is a Corrupt, Malicious Organisation Which Should Not Exist”

Richard Stallman

Estimated Point of Obsolescence

Summary: A roundup of coverage about loophole for software patents and trolls being created in the EU

Internet giants seemingly oppose software patents in The Valley, based on what Google and Facebook are doing as covered in technology news sites. But don’t expect this to prevent misguided or malicious EU politicians such as Barnier (recently seen here). They repeatedly use “Silicon Valley” as a talking point in their propaganda for the Unitary Patent. The topic and those talking points can be found in a lot of lawyers’ sites, which are spinning EU approval for Unitary Patent as good news, not a disaster like ACTA. Here is some coverage:

In the above reports too much attention is paid to cost of filing and languages while too little attention is paid to the real impact of patents on development. Here is better coverage:

Here is another timely reminder of patent scope going awry. Joe Mullin, a patents sceptic, wrote about the latest development. Unitary Patent passed [1, 2] and Pamela Jones wrote: “Here’s one problem that leaps off the page. If there is a unitary patent, if I am a patent troll in a country that doesn’t allow software patents, I file in a country that is less restrictive, and now it’s EU-wide legit. No? What am I missing?”

She linked to Open Forum Europe, a lobby with backers like IBM, which said “Unitary Patent – the EU should take more time to get it right

To quote further: “After decades of impasse it now appears that lawmakers are trying to rush through a poor compromise in the last minute that may make matters worse, not better, for innovators in Europe, especially for those in the technology industry.”

Here is the official babble from the press room. They don’t address the issues we raised. Many of those involved are lawyers, so we are hardly surprised real stakeholders get ignored.

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