New Microsoft-Funded Push to Make Software Patents Stronger in the US, Backed by the Usual Suspects as Microsoft Increasingly Struggles as a Producing Company

Posted in IBM, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 12:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IBM too fits these criteria, on all counts (lobbying, funding, and layoffs, aspiration to become patent licensing-oriented)

Shady manipulations behind § 101

Summary: A look at the effort to bring about a software patents resurgence to the US (with clear Microsoft role in it) and Microsoft’s reliance on software patents as a weapon against Linux/Android because Windows profits dry up and Windows Phone is on the verge of collapse

“Concerted Effort to Push Congress to Eliminate the Eligibility Restrictions of Section 101″

THE TECHRIGHTS focus has shifted somewhat from EPO to § 101 (in the US) as of late*, in proportionate reaction to a new kind of assault on § 101 from former Director of the USPTO, David Kappos, and those who pay him to do so. It is too hard to ignore the lobbying from an increasingly greedy David Kappos, bankrolled by the software patents industry (Microsoft included) for and even others have noticed it.

“This is an effort to legalise software patents without any rigid exceptions.”As Professor Dennis Crouch put it the other day: “Concerted effort to push congress to eliminate the eligibility restrictions of Section 101.”

This is an effort to legalise software patents without any rigid exceptions. We are supposed to believe that large (mega) corporations are more important than the US Supreme Court and simply brush aside what the Supreme Court ruled on. “That is the suggestion,” Crouch added, “perhaps a limit on “abstract ideas as such”.”

Borrowing the loopholes of the EPO (“as such”)? As the FFII’s Benjamin Henrion put it, “no as such please.”

“Remember who is bankrolling Kappos to lobby for software patents.”

“It Does Look like Both IBM and Microsoft are on Manouevres”

Remember who is bankrolling Kappos to lobby for software patents. Even our longtime ‘friends’ at IAM wrote: “It does look like both IBM and Microsoft are on manouevres.”

This was said in relation to the above.

What we have here is further affirmation that (1) there is a “Concerted effort to push congress to eliminate the eligibility restrictions of Section 101.” (2) “It does look like both IBM and Microsoft are on manouevres.”

“Maybe the “we” isn’t IBM but IBM along with its former employee, who became USPTO Director and now an IBM-funded lobbyist against Alice.”It’s not just us who have been seeing this and writing about it then. A lot of these manouevres or “Concerted effort” are boosted by Gene Quinn and his pro-software patents circles at IP Watchdog. A few days ago they wrote about car-driving patents (putting in algorithms what people have done for generations), noting: “It’s in this atmosphere that Eagle Harbor Holdings, LLC (EHH), of Rolling Bay, WA, is looking to chart a course forward on the sale of a patent portfolio related to connected vehicles and autonomous cars. Beginning this week, EHH will be seeking out prospective buyers for a portfolio with 74 total assets, including 42 patents issued and 17 patent families.”

“What Should We Do About Alice?”

A more revealing article was titled “What should we do about Alice?” (we as in IBM?)

We wrote about this spiel from Schecter last week and here is what IP Watchdog writes: “On Tuesday morning, April 19, 2016, Manny Schecter, who is IBM’s chief patent counsel, gave a keynote presentation at the Innography Insights 2016 conference in Austin, Texas. The title of his presentation was simple and straightforward: What should we do about Alice?”

“There’s a strong and ever-growing corporations-funded lobby for software patents in the US right now.”Maybe the “we” isn’t IBM but IBM along with its former employee, who became USPTO Director and now an IBM-funded lobbyist against Alice. Judging by tweets related to this (Gene Quinn blocked me in Twitter not because I was rude but because he lost the argument, but I can still get around the block and see what he writes), these propagandists have created some kind of anti-Alice alliance and some are paid for it directly (Kappos for example), not just indirectly. It is worth remembering that Schecter and Quinn are also pretty close.

Watch how even Martin Goetz (longtime proponent of software patents, close to Quinn) joins this lobbying effort over at IP Watchdog. This can’t be a coincidence, can it? There’s a strong and ever-growing corporations-funded lobby for software patents in the US right now. More light needs to be shed on this campaign and we are happy to see that even Crouch (Patently-O) and IAM recognise this. The conglomerates of patent aggression (e.g. IBM and Microsoft) along with their patent lawyers obviously try to derail the SCOTUS decision against software patents, but they cleverly hide their role in order to avoid or minimise backlash.

“Protecting GUIs with Design Patents”

“The first in the series, interestingly enough, came from the former Chief Patent Counsel at Microsoft. That’s the same unreformed Microsoft which still lobbies and pays lobbyists to restore software patents’ teeth.”Over at MIP, just a few days ago, this article advised companies to pursue design patents (“protecting GUIs with design patents”) when software patents are denied. To quote the summary: “Utility patent protection for software inventions has been severely limited since the Alice decision. Tracy-Gene G Durkin considers an alternative: protecting GUIs with design patents” (just another kind of software patents, which might soon become invalid with SCOTUS intervention as well).

“These Key Cases Offer a Significant Opportunity to Establish Much-needed Clarifications”

Patently-O‘s Crouch acknowledged that there’s a “Concerted effort to push congress to eliminate the eligibility restrictions of Section 101″ and it looks as though his site has become a § 101 battleground, amid this new lobbying campaign, based on three very recent articles. This one about “the Meaning of § 101″ is a “Guest post by Jeffrey A. Lefstin, Professor, University of California, Hastings College of Law, and Peter S. Menell, Professor, University of California, at Berkeley School of Law.”

“Having too many patents actually has a negative effect on the industry, unless one speaks of the meta-industry of patent lawyers.”Another one about § 101 comes from a patent lawyers, namely “Bruce Wexler [...] and Edwin Mok [...] Their practice focuses on patent litigation and trials.” (in other words, they would profit from shooting down Alice and changing § 101).

The first in the series, interestingly enough, came from the former Chief Patent Counsel at Microsoft. That’s the same unreformed Microsoft which still lobbies and pays lobbyists to restore software patents’ teeth. It now gets a platform for this lobbying. To Patently-O‘s credit, there is at least a disclosure in all three articles. What the former Chief Patent Counsel at Microsoft said was: “We are at a critical juncture on defining the proper scope and application of Section 101. Unless the judiciary delineates a clearer framework for enabling meaningful patent protection in areas like biotech and software where America has been a technology leader, the U.S. could rapidly lose its competitive edge in these vital industries.”

“Their issue isn’t clarify; they’re just angry that they’re being denied patents either at the courts or at the patent office.”That’s nonsense. Having too many patents actually has a negative effect on the industry, unless one speaks of the meta-industry of patent lawyers. He also said: “While I don’t believe it is yet time to take legislative action, recent calls for the abolition of Section 101 entirely and dissatisfaction with application of the Mayo/Alice test is reaching a critical level. These key cases offer a significant opportunity to establish much-needed clarifications. Should this opportunity be missed, it is hard to see how Congressional action can be avoided.”

What they mean by “clarifications” (the strategy used by Kappos) is elimination. Their issue isn’t clarify; they’re just angry that they’re being denied patents either at the courts or at the patent office.

“Lumia, Has Its Sales Decreased by 73%, Selling Only 2.3 Million Units in Total”

“Windows in mobile is virtually dead.”Meanwhile, judging by the latest Microsoft news, the shares drop like a rock after disappointing results (also decline in patent taxation) which will lead to yet more layoffs, as we noted here on Friday. IAM went along with the headline “Microsoft reports Android royalties decline and may have to look to Asia to plug the gap”. “Microsoft does not release lined-out licensing numbers,” IAM wrote, “but some have estimated that the company could be making as much as $6 billion each year from monetising patent assets that it claims are read on by Google’s Android operating system.” These are purely speculations, as we have been saying here for years. Microsoft also uses patents for coercion, not just tax money, so there’s a hidden cost/gain from patent blackmail/extortion/racketeering (IAM defends this blackmail in spite of the RICO Act). It’s not hard to see why Microsoft resorted to these ugly tactics. As this new article puts it: “Based on the information provided in the company’s recent quarterly report, the company’s revenue from the mobile division saw a fall of 46%. Additionally, in the last three months, its smart phone, Lumia, has its sales decreased by 73%, selling only 2.3 million units in total.”

“Microsoft Headhunters Seek Linux Folk”

“Rather than make something of value Microsoft now operates like a parasite inside a ‘host’, be it Android or whatever.”Windows in mobile is virtually dead. It’s a dead ‘man’ walking. It’s only kept alive because of misguided speculations that there can be a rebound, but not even infiltrating and destroying Nokia contributed towards that. Rather than make something of value Microsoft now operates like a parasite inside a ‘host’, be it Android or whatever. When it comes to GNU/Linux on the desktop, Microsoft is trying to become the host of (devour) GNU/Linux. Microsoft’s extortion of Linux using software patents notwithstanding, there’s a new bunch of articles (based on Microsoft’s Channel 9) about how the devouring it achieved [1, 2, 3] and we also learn that Microsoft tries to devour employees of the competitor, just as it did to Borland (see the articles “Microsoft Is Hiring Linux Folks For A Secret Open Source Unit” and “Microsoft headhunters seek Linux folk for secret open source unit”). According to Microsoft’s mouthpiece (Ina Fried), all is well and Microsoft “comes in peace” (misleading coverage ensued). As a Microsoft-connected news network put it: “That notion comes from a couple of quotes given to re/code reporter Ina Fried this week.” Fried is more like Microsoft PR since her days at CNET, hardly am objective reporter and also a longtime proponent of Microsoft’s patent aggression. She used to be Microsoft’s main CBS mouthpiece, assigned the “Microsoft” section, where she also habitually badmouthed Linux. So this seems like another PR exercise.

While Microsoft pushes for antitrust action against Android and uses patents against Android we’re supposed to believe that there’s peace now. To quote: “Microsoft has long sparred with Google’s hardware partners regarding alleged software patent infringements associated with the use Android, a Google-fostered open source mobile operating system.”

“While Microsoft pushes for antitrust action against Android and uses patents against Android we’re supposed to believe that there’s peace now.”Has that ever stopped? No.

“Microsoft Has Been Poaching Entire Linux Distros Through “Partnerships” With the Companies”

Over at FOSS Force, Christine Hall asserts that “Microsoft’s Becoming the New, but Successful, Novell” (the comparison here is weak).

“Microsoft has been poaching entire Linux distros through “partnerships” with the companies,” Hall notes. Not much has changed since.

“Fraudulently Obtained Patents and Bullied Competitors to Dominate the Market”

“Microsoft may now be pursing Yahoo’s patents, years after affectively destroying the company (remember how Microsoft ‘stole’ Novell’s patents after demolishing the company).”Microsoft may now be pursing Yahoo's patents, years after affectively destroying the company (remember how Microsoft ‘stole’ Novell’s patents after demolishing the company). Buying these patents might not even be so expensive because, as this new article put it: “The US Supreme Court’s 2015 Alice decision, “gutted business method patents and damaged many software patents,” stated the firm.”

How many more projects and companies need to be destroyed before it’s widely understood that Microsoft is malicious and cannot be trusted? Historically, and especially over the past decade (since the Novell deal), Microsoft has used patents to intimidate rivals and monopolise the market, just like OptumInsight**. It shouldn’t be surprising that behind the scenes and behind proxies Microsoft has been pushing European regulators to put FRAND (essentially software patents) in standards, launch antitrust action against Android (which is killing the Windows monopoly), and is now paying Kappos to promote software patents in the US. Are we supposed to really believe Microsoft has changed?
* The news cycle too has responded to the shift in attention, with one new article noting that: “The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to review a federal appeals court’s decision to revive a $45 million patent infringement verdict against Limelight Networks Inc.” This is affecting also non-technology companies, as according to this: “The Genetic Technologies decision joins a long list of other cases demonstrating how the Supreme Court cases of Mayo and Alice are creating sweeping changes in the US patent system.” Using 35 U.S.C. § 101 to invalidate CBM and software patents, Samsung finds Alice useful. To quote: “Samsung initially filed a Petition to institute covered business method (CBM) patent review of claim 11 of U.S. Patent No. 8,033,458 based upon the assertion that claim 11 is directed to patent ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Later, Apple filed a Petition to institute CBM review of claim 11 based on the same ground, and Apple simultaneously filed a “Motion for Joinder” of their newly filed case with Samsung’s previously instituted case. The PTAB granted Apple’s Petition and consolidated the two proceedings.”

** See the new article titled “Fixes Needed in Medical Software Patent Spat”

A federal judge on Friday dismissed with leave to amend a lawsuit claiming a data analytics company fraudulently obtained patents and bullied competitors to dominate the market for medical claims organizing software.

Cave Consulting Group, or CCGroup, sued OptumInsight in July 2015, accusing the firm of antitrust violations, false advertising and malicious prosecution.

CCGroup says Symmetry Health Data Systems, acquired by OptumInsight in 2003, lied and omitted facts when it applied for and defended patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Symmetry and later OptumInsight came to control 85 to 90 percent of the medical claims grouper software market after suing two competitors for infringing its “ill-gotten patents”, CCGroup claims.

Patents Roundup: Marijuana Patents, Patent Satellites, Patent Trolls, Wars, and Merchants (Notably Lawyers)

Posted in Apple, HP, Patents at 9:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Various strands of news about patents, focused on issues raised in the latter half of last week

WE habitually publish outlines of news about patent injustice. While we’re not inherently against patents, there are some domains that oughtn’t have patents in them because collective goals are being impeded rather than advanced by them.

Patents on Marijuana Plants

We start this roundup with the eye-catching article about patents on marijuana. To quote Vice: “On August 4, 2015, US officials quietly made history by approving the first-ever patent for a plant containing significant amounts of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, according to the patent’s holders, their lawyers, and outside experts in intellectual property law.

“One has to wonder how this relates to already-controversial patents on plants, putting aside the controversy surrounding legalisation of cannabis.”“Patent No. 9095554, issued to a group of breeders in California, “relates to specialty cannabis plants, compositions and methods for making and using said cannabis plants and compositions derived thereof,” according to the 145-page document, which is filled with charts, graphs, and reams of scientific jargon describing a range of hybrid strains with distinctive ratios of cannabinoids.”

One has to wonder how this relates to already-controversial patents on plants, putting aside the controversy surrounding legalisation of cannabis.

Patent Misconceptions

An article by Terry Ludlow, CEO at Chipworks, recently referred to patents as something one “develops” (rather than applies for after actually developing something), which probably highlights a common misconception about what patents actually are (many conflate them with physical objects — things that have had patents applied to them).

“Johnson’s assertion that maintaining high patent quality is important should be commended.”

Hewlett Packard

Hewlett Packard (HP), as showed here in past years, promoted software patents even outside the US and MIP has this new interview with HP’s IP litigation counsel. “The California-based counsel shares her views on the state of the IP environment in the US and how professionals can contribute to improvements, particularly in the patent field,” wrote MIP. One part of the interview said this: ‘Johnson adds that “creating and maintaining a balanced patent system that promotes innovation and good, valid patents, while also ensuring that bad, low quality patents are not used to abuse the system and ultimately undermine its effectiveness” is one of the biggest challenges in patent law. She says: “There are three main US venues that address patent disputes – the ITC, PTO, and federal courts. IP litigation counsel in my position have to stay vigilant about understanding trends and the discourse around all three of these venues.”’

We don’t generally regard HP to be so bad on the patent front, either because it doesn’t attack companies using patents all that often or because it doesn’t lobby for software patents as often as companies like GE, Intel, Microsoft, and IBM (comparable in terms of scale). Johnson’s assertion that maintaining high patent quality is important should be commended. Later today we are going to show that Microsoft and IBM push in the opposite direction.

Marathon Patent Group and Satellite Strategies

“It’s important to understand that what we have here is a patent company (or troll) acting as a satellite for another — an increasingly-common loophole to ensure no reactionary lawsuits.”Regarding a case which was mentioned here recently, MIP writes a decent article and so does IP Kat, which said late on Friday: “Dynamic Advances parent company, Marathon Patent Group (a patent licensing company) , stated in its SEC filing that under the terms of the settlement Apple will be granted a licence for the patent and a 3-year covenant not to sue. In exchange, Apple will pay $24.9 million under the agreement, with $5 million of that sum payable upon dismissal of the litigation.”

It’s important to understand that what we have here is a patent company (or troll) acting as a satellite for another — an increasingly-common loophole to ensure no reactionary lawsuits. It’s an anti-deterrence tactic. This discredits the theory of “defensive” patents; how can patents be used defensively against entities which have no products at all? As the headline of this article from a trolls expert put it, “Apple pays $25M to a university—and the patent troll it cut a deal with” (summarised accurately and succinctly).

“So one can see that Marathon Patent Group is nothing but a new (ish) kind of troll.”“Apple has agreed to pay $24.9 million to a “patent troll”,” it says, in order “to end a lawsuit over its Siri voice system, according to documents filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Publicly traded Marathon Patent Group, whose business is focused on patent licensing and lawsuits, will split the settlement cash with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the New York technical university that provided the patents.”

So one can see that Marathon Patent Group is nothing but a new (ish) kind of troll.

‘Killing’ Patent Trolls

The Week has published a new article titled “How to kill patent trolls once and for all”. Composed by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, who describes himself as “a writer and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center,” the article starts with some useful background: “Why are patent trolls so deleterious? Well, these companies exist for no other reason than to gobble up patents and then file frivolous lawsuits over semantic patent violations against any target they can find, with the hope of cashing in with a big settlement. Needless to say, this can wreck the finances of startup companies. (If you want more details, listen to this brilliant This American Life investigation of patent trolls from 2011.)”

“Militarisation of the world’s patent systems isn’t new; a lot of weapons manufacturers want a monopoly on ‘innovative’ new ways to kill people.”A commonly-cited (but controversial) study is then cited: “Patent trolls cost defendant firms $29 billion per year in out-of-pocket costs, according to one study. But the drag on innovation is much bigger than that. Think of all the fledgling companies that miss crucial time-to-market opportunities, and whose products don’t reach their full potential, because they have to fight patent trolls. Some would-be entrepreneurs are surely so frightened of patent trolls that they don’t even bother trying.”

The concluding words are these: “Always, always stand up to the bully. It’s the right thing to do, and it also happens to be the smart thing to do.”

That’s what NewEgg has been doing. It can at least afford to.

Patent Wars

Militarisation of the world’s patent systems isn’t new; a lot of weapons manufacturers want a monopoly on ‘innovative’ new ways to kill people. A new article, “The Pentagon Turns to Intellectual Property to Protect U.S. Military Dominance”, wants us to believe that there’s something to be cheered for because ‘we’ (readers), supposedly as US citizens, are ‘protected’ by the patent system, which keeps ‘our’ military strong, as if rival armies (like China’s or Russia’s) will bow to some patent offices abroad and pay patent royalties to corporations that try to nuke their nation (if it wasn’t for mutually-assured destruction and other forms of deterrence).

“The excesses/abundance/saturations reduce productivity, waste resources, generally slow down development in various fields, and ultimately help nobody but patent lawyers and their largest clients (usually global monopolists).”

Patent Merchants

It’s not so unusual to find patent lawyers in the media. They keep spewing out their pro-war/feud (in the patent sense) propaganda and they try to ‘sell’ patents (applications, lawsuits and other such ‘products’), in the same way arms manufacturers do. An article which misses the point that not all patents are equal and similar, e.g. software patents, was published in the Canadian press a couple of days ago. “Patents are no barrier to innovation, despite the myths,” says the headline. Well, ask software engineers about it and see what they say. The author wrote that “Canadian entrepreneurs should be vigilant to protest against measures that would cripple our patent system to the disadvantage of innovators. This vigilance should extend to monitoring changes that may be proposed to our laws pursuant to international treaty negotiations.”

Well, actually, some patents may be good (we don’t deny this), but their breadth and number made them so shallow and impractical to keep track of. The excesses/abundance/saturations reduce productivity, waste resources, generally slow down development in various fields, and ultimately help nobody but patent lawyers and their largest clients (usually global monopolists). A Web site of lawyers in Indiana has just said “Indiana patent law delaying demand letters” and an Australian law firm celebrates “Growth, Growth & More Growth” in so-called ‘IP’ (growth for patent lawyers, not for the economy). The Australian, a paper owned by News Corp. (‘Conservative’), plays along with this type of agenda, having just published “Innovators miss the bus on filing home patents”. The Financial Express, in the mean time, calls “a market-oriented approach (corporate-leaning) to patent box regime. Because hey, who cares what the general public thinks, right?

“WIPO doesn’t care about development. It doesn’t care about people. It doesn’t even care about its own staff, which it sometimes drives to suicide.”In contrast to this, based on this report from Africa, there is some resistance from a minister. “A South African cabinet minister speaking at an international conference on intellectual property has challenged the view that protecting the rights of creators and inventors leads to innovation,” says this report. “Rob Davies, the country’s trade minister, raised eyebrows recently when he told the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – the global HQ of patents – that the role of patent protection in promoting innovation has been controversial.”

WIPO doesn’t care about development. It doesn’t care about people. It doesn't even care about its own staff, which it sometimes drives to suicide. It’s Gurry’s way or the highway, just like at the EPO where Battistelli (previously competed with Gurry for the WIPO position) believes he is a king, so no opposition — however minute — can be tolerated.

The EPO’s Departure From Truth and Entrance Into the Realms of Chinese Industrial-Grade Propaganda

Posted in America, Asia, Deception, Europe, Patents at 8:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

China patents

Summary: The entrapping delusion of patent maximalism, wherein artificially or superficially increasing the number of granted patents is assumed to be a desirable outcome

On December 13th a year and a half ago, The Economist, occasionally a critic of patent myths and Nemesis of patent lawyers’ propagandistic/self-serving views, published the above figure, from the article “Patent fiction”. It was one among several such articles which challenged the idea that patents and innovation are proxies/surrogates (we refuted this just a couple of days ago in relation to the US, where a new kind of patent was approved, heralding massive growth) and that China is suddenly super-innovative. We don’t wish to write again what was written in 2014 (and beforehand) but only to highlight that it’s widely recognised and well known that China’s newfound love of patents oughtn’t be mistaken for innovation. As The Economist put it (in relation to the figures/chart above): “The report highlights the astonishing increase in patents filed in the country. In 2010 Chinese firms filed roughly the same number of applications for “invention” patents (the most rigorous sort) as their counterparts in Japan and America. By 2013 the Chinese figure had nearly doubled even as the rates in the other two countries held steady (see chart).” The same thing happened in the US over the past decade, in spite of the economic meltdown; it doesn’t say anything other than lust for patents growing or examination becoming a lot more lenient.

“Nowadays, much to our regret, what the EPO has to offer is under-qualified management (friends of Battistelli and their family members), a yellow union that’s being ‘sold’ to the media, and bunk numbers which wrongly suggest that a rise in the number of patents means something (probably says the same as in China or the US).”This brings us back to the EPO because Battistelli, the clueless chief who quickly turned the once-respected Office into a laughing stock, seems to be blinded by numbers rather than quality. Classic ENA mentality. The Battistelli-leaning mini union (or minion [EN | ES]) has also become a laughing stock. As this comment put it as the weekend approached: “FFPE-EPO, the signatory of the MoU, has just elected a new committee. 5 candidates for 5 posts. And the winner, and new chairman, got 9 (nine) votes in total. And Battistelli seriously considers them a partner?? Laughable. 30 votes were cast. And yet BB insists that other unions must have 40% of ca. 7000 staff voting in strike ballots?? FFPE can barely muster a morning coffee round let alone a credible claim to representativeness.”

“Maybe some female candidates could help or have they learned something from SUEPO,” one person responded. “I WANT MY REPRESENTATIVES BACK!!!”

Nowadays, much to our regret, what the EPO has to offer is under-qualified management (friends of Battistelli and their family members), a yellow union that’s being ‘sold’ to the media, and bunk numbers [1, 2, 3] which wrongly suggest that a rise in the number of patents means something (probably says the same as in China or the US). Some say there is not even a translation for Chinese patents (Mandarin) at the EPO, yet patent lawyers’ sites say stuff like “China’s Filings of European Patent Applications in 2015 increases 22.2%”, echoing propaganda from China like this new article whose headline is “Invention patent applications rose 18.7% in 2015″ (“invention patent” is a misleading term which conflates invention with filing). According to this new article from the British press (The Guardian), “Atieva worked quietly to perfect batteries and drivetrains, filing more than 100 patents and building battery packs for electric buses in China” (building and patenting are different things).

“One needs to decide if the importance of patenting outweighs the importance of life and the public interest.”Not only the EPO is falling into this trap of patent maximalism (measuring the wrong thing, based on false premises). Here in the UK, lives of people seem to matter less than corporate profits, so the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) gets involved in high-profile US cases, complaining about Sequenom v. Ariosa because an invalidation jeopardises high prices/monopoly. This decision is good for life saving, but it is not so good for billionaires who want to make billions annually, claiming to develop “life-saving medicines” while only offering such medicines to the rich. Medicine would be developed without lots of patents as well; a lot of such development is already subsidised by taxpayers anyway.

One needs to decide if the importance of patenting outweighs the importance of life and the public interest. If the patent ‘industry’ gets its way, there will be more patents, for the same reasons that the prison/penal industry (infamously in the US) wants more people behind bars, private healthcare wants more illness (i.e. more patients), and arms manufacturers want to create and deepen armed conflicts.

[ES] La Fundación de Frontera Electrónica (EFF) Continua su Batalla por la Sanidad de Patentes en los Estados Unidos

Posted in America, EFF, Patents at 5:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Article as ODF

Publicado en America, EFF, Patentes at 8:40 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Al atacar el caso Lexmark la EFF trabaja para derechos de impresión/tinta/tóner en general


Sumario: Una mirada a las últimas actividades de la EFF en el área de patentes, donde probablemente habrá mayor énfasis en los daños de las patentes de software y la necesidad de eliminarlas completamente

LAFundación de Frontera Electrónica es un aliado potencial en la lucha contra las patentes de software. Hemos escrito sobre su papel en la batalla por casi una década (Novell pagó a la EFF hace casi una década) y seguimos de cerca su progreso. Fundada por Mark Cuban para hacer este tipo de activismo (Cuban, quién lee Techrights, esta sobre todo en contra las patentes de software), creemos que algo grande puede salir de lo que hace el EFF.

Julie Samuels de la EFFescribió hace cuatro dias que todavía está luchando “contra las patentes estupidas” (no demasiado útil elegir la palabra “estúpidas” por ella lucha contra las patentes de software). “A pesar de modesta, pero importante, el éxito del programa al eliminar a algunos de las peores patentes”, escribió, “que es atacada por aquellos que se oponen a la reforma de patentes y al parecer creer que un monopolio del gobierno de 20 años no debería tener que soportar ningún tipo de control. En concreto, los representantes de ciertas industrias (por ejemplo, las industrias farmacéuticas y biotecnológicas) afirman que los IPRs son “escuadrones de la muerte de patentes” y han estado trabajando duro en el Capitolio tratando de hacer retroceder la eficacia del programa por el embotellamiénto de sus procedimientos “.

La EFF básicamente se involucra en el caso de las patentes de Lexmark (tratando de arrastrar al Tribunal Supremo) y está atrayendo /recibiendo cobertura de prensa apoyándola.

Escribimos acerca del términoescuadrones de la muerte de patentesen el pasado, e.g. en [1, 2, 3, 4]. Ellos usan otros maliciósos términospara describir la invalidación de patentes falsas y usan eufémismos para sus propios abusos.

La última batalla de la EFF parece ser atacar una materia sobre la que escribimos hace unas semanas [EN | ES]. La EFF básicamente se envolvió en el caso de patentes de Lexmark (tratándo de envolver en ella a laCorte Suprema) y está atrayendo /recibiendo cobertura de prensa apoyándola.Public Knowledgeescribió temprano esta semana: “Ayer, Public Knowledge llenó un amicus curiae brief con la Corte Supremaen el caso Impression Products v. Lexmark International. Al brief se unió la the Electronic Frontier Foundation y la R Street Institute.

“El caso se refiere a cartuchos de tóner de impresora que se rellenan y revenden. Lexmark sostiene que la reventa de cartuchos de impresora viola sus derechos de patentes. Impresion Products, empresa que reconstruye los cartuchos, sostiene que sus actividades están permitidas legalmente, porque los derechos de patente de Lexmark se agotaron en el momento de la venta de los cartuchos a los consumidores. El escrito de amicus presentado apoya la opinión de Impresión de que los derechos de propiedad de los consumidores deben anular los intereses de patentes de Lexmark”.

El titular de Cory Doctorow dijo “que las guerras de tinta de impresora pueden hacer de la propiedad privada de dominio exclusivo de las corporaciones” y aquí la humilde declaración del EFF (“La EFF pide a la Corte Suprema anular este fallo peligroso permitiendo a los propietarios de patentes para socavar la propiedad”).

Esto también fue cubierto por WIPR, que escribió: “La Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) ha urgido a la Corte Suprema de los EE.UU. escuchar y rechazar una “decisión problemática” pasada a ella por una corte de apelaciónes que se centra en la exaustación de patentes.”
El titular de Cory Doctorow dijo “que las guerras de tinta de impresora pueden hacer de la propiedad privada de dominio exclusivo de las corporaciones” y aquí la humilde declaración del EFF (“La EFF pide a la Corte Suprema anular este fallo peligroso permitiendo a los propietarios de patentes para socavar la propiedad”).
Para citar a la EFF: “El caso de Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc. y se refiere a la cuestión arcana, pero importante, del agotamiento de patentes. Esta es la versión de la ley de patentes de “primera venta”, la doctrina de la ley de derechos de autor que dice que una vez que un consumidor compra una copia de una obra, que es el dueño y puede hacer lo que quiera con esa copia. La ley de patentes es similar. Una vez titular de una patente vende un producto, no puede más tarde demandar que el uso o la venta de ese producto infringe su patente.

Hemos sido críticos (a veces) del enfoque de la EFF, pero en general, lo que la EFF está haciendo es mejor que nada en absoluto.

Al mismo tiempo, EFF pelea por otra causa (“Tribunal confirma que la EFF pueda levantarse por el Acceso Público a Expedientes de la Corte”).
“El mes pasado, explicó,” la EFF decidió intervenir en un caso de patentes con el fin de levantar el secreto de registros que se han mantenido indebidamente para evitar accesso del público. Ayer, el tribunal accedió a la petición de la EFF para intervenir, y al hacerlo, rechazó un argumento preocupante que fue puesto por el titular de la patente.
“El caso es de Blue Spike v. Audible Magic. Como señalamos en nuestro post del mes pasado, numerosos documentos, entre ellos al menos tres opiniones judiciales, han sido completamente ocultados al público. Los documentos sellados son altamente sustantivos, y de lo que podemos recoger, ayudarían al público a entender mejor qué es, exactamente, lo que Blue Spike afirma haber inventado.”
Hemos sido críticos (a veces) del enfoque de la EFF, pero en general, lo que la EFF está haciendo es mejor que nada en absoluto. Sólo desearíamos que hiciera más para abordar directamente las patentes de software en los EE.UU., sobre todo ahora que muchos de los gigantes de patentes presionan al gobierno (más sobre esto más tarde hoy).

[ES] La Sociedad Regional de Economía Comprehensiva (RCEP) Amenaza Traer las Patentes de Software a la India

Posted in Asia, Patents at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Article as ODF

Publicado en Asia, Patentes at 7:45 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz

La RCEP amenaza con entorpecer/obstaculizar el desarrollo del (software) en la India

India Gate
India Gate

Sumario: La amenaza que arrastra otro acuerdo denominado de “comercio” cuyo impacto a favor de los MONOPOLIOS contra los intereses del pueblo de la India y por lo tanto debe ser rechazadas por ellos

LASociedad Regional de Economía Comprehensiva (RCEP) ha sido mencionada en conjunto con la TPP reciéntemente. Por un poco de información acerca de porqué es tan controversial vean la publicación tituladad “MSF Preocupada Acerca de la Nueva Amenaza a Medicines al Alcance en Negociaciones Comerciales con la India y la ASEAN”entre varios otros, incluyendo reportes periódisticos [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. Tiene todos los elementos de tratado de comercioliderado por las grandes multinacionales, donde ellas arriman sus deseos y tratan de hacer sus egoístas leyes multinacionales la norma en todo el mundo, todo en un tiro, usualmente después de negociaciones a puertas cerradas y a veces -leáse frecuentemente – el soborno de politicos (veanlos incidentes en Japon, sin mencionar a Latino América).

Tiene todos los elementos de tratado de comercioliderado por las grandes multinacionales, donde ellas arriman sus deseos y tratan de hacer sus egoístas leyes multinacionales la norma en todo el mundo, todo en un tiro, usualmente después de negociaciones a puertas cerradas y a veces -leáse frecuentemente – el soborno de politicos (veanlos incidentes en Japon, sin mencionar a Latino América).

Un elemento interesante de la cobertura sobre la RCEP son las “disposiciones TRIPS plus provisiones“. RCEP muestra que la India también se ve afectada por todo este golpe de patentes, siempre que el interés nacional de la India se ven socavados en secreto (ya que el público estaría furioso si se conocieran lo que ocurre a sus espaldas). Un dato aún más interesante es criado en relación con los sindicatos [1, 2] y la próxima semana habrá una reanudación de las conversaciones en Australia (esto adquisición corporativa del mundo parece ser de tendencia anglosajona).

Dado quelas reglas de la India acerca de patentes de software, que se parecen a algo como laEPO uno debe estar vigilánte por el impacto de la patentabilidad del software. Como el Economic Timeslo puso ayer, “las charlas de la RCEP afectarían a las startups al permitir la patentibilidad del software” y para citar al autor:

La Sociedad Regional de Economía Comprensiva (RCEP), un acuerdo comercial Mega siendo negociado entre 16 países, entre ellos la India, podría tener un impacto adverso en las industrias de servicios y tecnología startups, si se permite que una cláusula sobre las patentes de software sería obligada a ser aceptada.

“La cláusula propuesta en el Tratado de Libre Comercio está negociando podría resultar en compuertas están abiertas para las patentes en el campo del software,” dijo Software Freedom Law Centre en una carta al secretario de Comercio, de fecha 18 de abril.

“Esto va a hacer que la escritura de código y la innovación en el campo del software de una propuesta arriesgada similar a pisar un campo de minas, con el revelador al tanto de cuando podría ser accidental infringir una patente. Esto también podría dificultar el éxito del programa “Digital India’ y dañar a la industria/TI nacional de software, así como la iniciativa ‘Hecho en la India” iniciativa”, que la afectaría aún más.

Esto cita al Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), quien hizo un excelente trabajo en la India previo al rechazo (de nuevo) de las patentes de software.

Animamos a nuestros lectores de la India a presionar en contra de la RCEP en adelanto a la reunión de la próxima semana. Hay mucho riesgo en esto y los cabilderos y grupos de presión por las patentes de software nunca se cansan ni dejarán de joder, no importa cuántas veces sean derrotados, volverán a las andadas y mientras hayan políticos corruptos encontrarán una manera de infiltrárse de nuevo. !India no bajen la guardia!

[ES] Toma Menos de 10 Votos para ‘Ganar’ una Elección en la Mini Unión (Minion) de Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Article as ODF

Publicado en Europe, Patentes at 7:28 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Minion
Reference: The Minion

Sumario: Una mirada al minúsculo tamaño de la Unión apadrinada por Battistelli, la que parece tener una docena de miembros activos

La rama de la EPO, la FFPE, que se acuesta con la gerencia, fué mencionada aquí en varios artículos tales como:

  1. En la Foto Oficial de la EPO, “Sólo una de las Caras es Actualmente un Miembro de la FFPE-EPO”
  2. Más Evidencia que Sugiere y Muestra Evidencia que Battistelli Usa a la FFPE-EPO com ‘Unión Amarilla contra la SUEPO
  3. “La FFPE-EPO Fue Creada Hace Nueve Años Con Iniciativa de la Gerencia”
  4. Caída de la FFPE EPO por Su MoU Con el Círculo de Battistelli
  5. La Estrategia de la EPO trabajando: Peleas entre Sindicatos y Fracturación
  6. Caricatura del Díá: Reconociéndo a la FFPE EPO
  7. La Union Syndicale Federale Cachetea a la FFPE-EPO Por Encubrir a la Abusiva Gerencia de la EPO al Firmar un Malicioso Divisivo Documento
  8. La FFPE-EPO Dice que el MoU con Battistelli “Defendera las Condiciones de sus Empleados” (Actualizado)
  9. La Voz de Sus Amos (Quienes bloquean a Techrights): La FFPE-EPO Abiertamente Disuade a Sus Miembros de Leer Techrights
  10. Carta dice que la EPO MoU “Cuestiona la Credibilidad de la FFPE como Una Federation Genuina de Empleados”
  11. En el Dia de Huelga FFPE-EPO Reafirma de Su Amarillez (Falsa/en Camita con la Gerencia), Receive Regalos, etc.
  12. Urgente Se Necesita: Informacion Acerca de la Reunión Secreta del B28 con la Unión Amarilla de Pinocho, la FFPE-EPO

Asombrosos números para reconocidos interlocutores”!!!”

“Los resultados de las elecciones celebradas FFPE-EPO [esta semana] en La Haya,” una fuente nos dijo. “Para tener una idea”, agregó esta fuente, “aquí hay algunas figuras alucinantes sobre el FFPE-EPO y sus elecciones [esta semana] en La Haya. números sorprendentes para un “interlocutores sociales reconocidos” !!! “
No hay “ningún otro comentario se necesitan”, dijo nuestra fuente, citando sólo el texto a continuación:
Esto es un marco conveniente para abreviar cuando el tiempo es limitado (e.g. en una audiencia), pero vean cuán lejos Quinn llevó todo esto, defendiéndo las políticas de embargo de la ITC así como defender a los trolles de patentes al atacar a Darrell Issa, es decir, al mensajero. Estos son los esperados ataques personales contra él de parte de Quinn (de ‘hipocresía’), de la misma manera que atacó a Mark Cuban (por la inversión Vringo), que está tratando de demoler las patentes de software.

Queridos miembros de la FFPE EPO,

Hoy en día las elecciones para el nuevo comité FFPE EPO se llevaron a cabo. Los resultados de las elecciones son los siguientes:

· Participation rate: 41% ————> 76*0.41 = 31

· Valid ballots: 97% ——————> 31*0.97 = 30

Resultados por candidato:

1. Michiel Sonius: 29% —————->30*0.29 = 9

2. Aldert Jan de Haan: 23% ———->30*0.23 = 7

3. Samuel van der Bijl: 16% ———>30*0.16 = 5

4. Andrey Afanasiev: 16% ————>30*0.16 = 5

5. Gyorgy Vida: 13% —————–>30*0.13 = 4

Con tan sólo 76 miembros aparentemente queda claro que nadie probablemente se haya unido desde el acuerdo con Battistelli. Uno se queda pensando por qué más de la mitad de los miembros ni siquiera se molestan en votar; tal vez todavía están registradas (membresía anual), pero estaban entre aquellos a los que nos dijeron que saliéron enojados (como resultado directo de la MoU).

[ES] Di la Verdad Acerca del Sistema de Patentes de los EE.UU., Conseguiras Ser Atacado por la Máquina Propagandistica de Patentes (Disfrazada de Prensa)

Posted in America, Patents at 5:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Article as ODF

Publicado en America, Patentes at 6:17 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Darrell Issa

Sumario: El Sr. Darrell Issa (fotografiado arriba) cae bajo ataque de los proponentes de patentes de software patents, los apologistas de los trolles de patentes (quiénes los financian frecuéntemente), y los máximalistas de patentes porque correctamente insinuó que la (mayoría) de demandantes son como/casi trolles de patentes en los Estados Unidos

En los EE.UU, la mayoría de demandantes son trolles de patentes. Los mismos que usan patentes de software que serían declaradas inválidas en caso de que sean llevadas a corte. No se puede negar, simplemente miren a las ampliamente al alcanze estadísticas que lo demuestran y luego consideren el dinero extraído fuera de las cortes (como dinero de protección’) y sin que los medios de comunicación se enteren (secretividad es demandada conjuntamente por el extorsiónador: si abres la boca, te jodes). La USPTO continúa otorgandoel doble de patentes de las que otorgaba hace una década. Parece no haber un control de calidad, por lo menos unefectivo control de calidad (92% of aplicaciones terminan siendo aceptadas). Estasnuevos números de Patently-O, que cubren una clase particular de patentes, refuerza esta noción. Completamente reafirman o se acomodan al modelo y comoIP Kat lo ha puesto, “el sistema de patentes es incapaz de incentivar la innovación, en un tiempo en que esta (la innovación) esta en decline.”

Estos trolles de patentes usan patentes de software que serían declaradas inválidas si fuesen traídas ante las cortes.

El sistema de patentes de los EE.UU. esta ahora dominado más por parásitos que innovadores. Es un problema real. Pero aquellos que insinuen esto o se atrevana señalarlo vienen siendo objeto de ataques severos, especialmente si ellos tienen o son de gran influencia. El bocón Gene Quinn (a quién hemos llamado WatchTroll por varias razones) guía a la jauría en estos ataques.
“El Congresista Issa llama a los trolles de patentes y a los acusadores lo mismo durante una audiencia del ITC,” escribió en Twitter, uniéndolo a un artículo con el mismo titular. La totalidad de este artículo esta basado en una pequeña parte de su discurso que dijo, “por propósito de mi declaración inicial ‘acusador’ y ‘troll’ serán intercambiables.”
Esto es un marco conveniente para abreviar cuando el tiempo es limitado (e.g. en una audiencia), pero vean cuán lejos Quinn llevó todo esto, defendiéndo las políticas de embargo de la ITC así como defender a los trolles de patentes al atacar a Darrell Issa, es decir, al mensajero. Estos son los esperados ataques personales contra él de parte de Quinn (de ‘hipocresía’), de la misma manera que atacó a Mark Cuban (por la inversión Vringo), que está tratando de demoler las patentes de software.
El sistema de patentes de los EE.UU. esta ahora dominado más por parásitos que innovadores.

“Finalmente llegamos a la ´verdad´,” escribió IAM (al alabar a Gene Quinn revela a quienes IAM representa). “De acuerdo a los proponetes de una reforma un troll de patentes es cualquier entidad que busca el enforzamiénto/obligación de una patente” (porque para los máximalistas de patentes, sus propagandistas, y los proponentes de ellas tienen una agenda en común, la que incluye a los más acérrimos enforcers/interesados en patentes de software patents, llamelos trolles de patentes).

Pronto se uniría a lo de arriba un empleado de Bristows [1, 2] (UPC y software proponente de patentes) quien escribió: El SubComité es subdirigido por el CongresistaDarrell Issa (R-CA), quien ha estado abogando abiertamente por la necesidad de una reforma de patentes para proveer alivio en contra de aquellos que el cree estan sacando ventaja del sistema de litigación de patentes — aquellos a veces llamados trolles de patentes. Ciertamente, desde el comienzo de al audiencia el Jueves, el debate acerca de la infracción de patentes en la ITC fue enfatizado en el lenguajo del debate acerca del troll de patentes. Por ejemplo, el Congresista Issa dijo, por propósito de mi declaración inicial ‘acusador’ y ‘troll’ serán intercambiables.”

Existe una agenda para incluírexclusivamentepalabras que convienen a los antagonistas es una herramienta de uso común.

La estrategia de nitpicking una breve declaración (donde se logró la brevedad de la manera indicada anteriormente) es bastante común en estos días. Existe una agenda para incluír exclusivamente palabras que convienen a los antagonistas es una herramienta de uso común. Frecuéntemente lo vemos online para incitar en contra de Techrights (representando mal nuestros puntos de vista).

Incídentalmente y no sorprendió (era inevitable), ‘la revista’ IAM se une al nefasto cabildero David Kappos (financiado por la Sagrada Familia: IBM, Microsoft, Apple, etc.) en su ataque a los desafíos a las patentes de software en los EE.UU.. Para citar un artículo de este fin de semana (insistiendo en que “algo hay que hacer al respecto [sección] 101″:

A principios de esta semana, elex Director de la USPTO David Kappos dobló su continuo ataque a la jurisprudencia reciente y pidió la abolición de 101. En su intervención en la Conferencia Circuito Judicial de la Federación, según los informes comparó la situación en los EE.UU. con Europa y Asia. “Es hora de abolir la Sección 101 y la razón por la que digo esto es que Europa no tiene 101 y Asia no tienen 101 y parece que están haciendo muy bien en la limitación de patente materia susceptible”, comentó.

Tal es la incertidumbre en torno a 101 tanto en el campo de la biotecnología y alta tecnología, gracias a las decisiones del Tribunal Supremo en una serie de casos, incluyendo Alice Corp v CLS Bank y Mayo v Prometeo, que las preocupaciones de Kappos son compartidos por muchos propietarios de patentes. Sus preocupaciones alrededor de 101 han evolucionado en los últimos años. En un panel en la conferencia anual de la AIPLA en 2014 afirmó que la jurisprudencia había movido mucho más allá del significado original de la ley. Se reforzó sus argumentos en un discurso que pronunció en el evento de liderazgo en 2015 cuando señaló que a pesar de la incertidumbre, 101 la reforma no figuraba en los debates en torno a la legislación sobre patentes.

IAM es vocero de los abogados de patente, grandes multinacionales que se apoyan/sacan ganacia de las patentes de software (esparciéndo su dominación sobre el resto del mundo), quienes son básicamente los que financian a IAM. Son sus mecenas (y esta obligado a seguir lamiéndoles el trásero).Un altavoz por aquellos intereses es lo que IAM se ha convertido. No es un sitio de noticias. Es toda una agenda disfrazada denoticias’.



Links 24/4/2016: Google Summer of Code 2016, Year of the OpenBSD Desktop

Posted in News Roundup at 4:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • Device Tree Microconference Accepted into 2016 Linux Plumbers Conference

      Device-tree discussions are probably not quite as spirited as in the past, however, device tree is an active area. In particular, significant issues remain.

      This microconference will cover the updated device-tree specification, debugging, bindings validation, and core-kernel code directions. In addition, there will be discussion of what does (and does not) go into the device tree, along with the device-creation and driver binding ordering swamp.

    • Refactoring the open-source photography community

      Generally speaking, most free-software communities tend to form around specific projects: a distribution, an application, a tightly linked suite of applications, and so on. Those are the functional units in which developers work, so it is a natural extension from there to focused mailing lists, web sites, IRC channels, and other forms of interaction with each other and users. But there are alternatives. At Libre Graphics Meeting 2016 in London, Pat David spoke about his recent experience bringing together a new online community centered around photographers who use open-source software. That community crosses over between several applications and libraries, and it has been successful enough that multiple photography-related projects have shut down their independent user forums and migrated to the new site, PIXLS.US.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Is Firefox Search Worth $375M/Year to a Yahoo Buyer?

        That’s because Mozilla is highly dependent on a five-year contract with Yahoo, signed in December 2014, where it receives about $375m per year to make Yahoo the default search provider in the Firefox browser on the desktop. From 2004 to 2014, that contract was exclusively with Google; now it’s Yahoo in the US, Google in Europe, Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China.

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • Year of the OpenBSD desktop

      It is a common theme in the GNU/Linux community to tout the current year as the year of the linux desktop. Every year the same thing happens. The nay sayers nag that Linux is a tiny percentage of the desktop market and that Mac OS X/Windows is superior in so many ways.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • How to build a Linux router, Internet of Things devices, and more news
    • Aravena’s Small Step, Open Source’s Big Leap

      Aravena’s recent initiative to open-source four of his built projects goes a long way to promoting the public and social benefits of collaboration and information-sharing.

    • Open Data

      • CERN Makes 300TB of Large Hadron Collider Data Public

        CERN has recently released the data from the famous 2011 experiment probing the fundamental structure of the Universe to the public. These raw and processed data can be analyzed and verified using CERN Linux virtual environment on a virtual machine.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Lawsuit accuses PACER of milking the public for cash in exchange for access

        The federally run online court document access system known as PACER now finds itself listed on a federal docket. Its overseer, the US government, is a defendant in a proposed class-action lawsuit accusing the service of overcharging the public.

        The suit, brought by three nonprofits on Thursday, claims millions of dollars generated from a recent 25-percent increase in page fees are being illegally spent by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO). The cost for access is 10 cents per page and up to $3 a document. Judicial opinions are free. This isn’t likely to break the bank for some, but to others it adds up and can preclude access to public records. The National Consumer Law Center, the Alliance for Justice, and the National Veterans Legal Services Program also claim in the lawsuit that these fees are illegal because the government is charging more than necessary to keep the PACER system afloat (as is required by Congress).

      • Lawsuit Filed Over PACER Fees

        For many years we’ve pointed out that the fees charged by PACER were clearly outside what the law allows. If you don’t know, PACER is the electronic filing system for the federal court system. It is great that all filings in federal cases are available online, but the interface looks like it was designed in 1998, the search is ridiculous, and (worst of all) the system charges you 10 cents per page of download — excluding judicial opinions, but including HTML pages including search results and docket reports. There is a cap of $3 per document, but that means that every time I call up PACER on a big case — say the Apple/DOJ encryption battle, there are so many filings that just to look at the docket is basically $3. That adds up.

  • Programming/Development

    • Timezones for programmers

      Timezones are typically based on geographical locations. For example, we have the IANA timezone America/Chicago which can represent Central Time for the United States.

    • When to Rewrite from Scratch – Autopsy of a Failed Software

      It was winter of 2012. I was working as a software developer in a small team at a start-up. We had just released the first version of our software to a real corporate customer. The development finished right on schedule. When we launched, I was over the the moon and very proud. It was extremely satisfying to watch the system process couple of million of unique users a day and send out tens of millions of SMS messages. By summer, the company had real revenue. I got promoted to software manager. We hired new guys. The company was poised for growth. Life was great. And then we made a huge blunder and decided to rewrite the software. From scratch.

    • Doing things that scale

      In the software world, and with internet, we can do a lot of things that scale.


  • Local govt. pleased with Danish eGovernment services

    The increasing digitisation of society requires the stable and secure running of public IT solutions, the agency writes. Denmark’s public administrations expect DIGST to professionally manage the IT systems and to keep them involved. According to DIGST, the agency’s network partners contribute to the dialogue with public administrations.

  • St George’s Day: Who actually is Saint George?

    We all know the basic story of St George, right? English knight who slayed a dragon. Or, wait, there’s a dragon on the Welsh flag, so is that a different myth? Was the dragon Welsh? How do you get to be a saint for slaying a dragon? I thought saints tended to be suffering Christians? Or is that martyrs?

    OK, so maybe we don’t know the ins and outs of St George as much as we think.

    Here’s a quick guide to help you figure out why the George’s cross is George’s cross.

    He’s not even English!

    He was a Greek Christian, born in the third century in what was then Syria Palaestina. Yep, Saint George (or Georgios) was Middle Eastern. Don’t tell Nigel Farage.

  • The case for Europe, 2016

    In an interdependent world, nationalism offers no bolt-hole. The task for all progressives is to find effective ways to engage with continental partners, creating a new blend of national and European politics.

  • Science

    • The Ever-Tightening Job Market for Ph.D.s

      If you’re a grad student, it’s best to read the latest report from the National Science Foundation with a large glass of single-malt whiskey in hand. Scratch that: The top-shelf whiskey is probably out of your budget. Well, Trader Joe’s “Two Buck Chuck” is good, too!

      Liquid courage is a necessity when examining the data on Ph.D.s in the latest NSF report, “The Survey of Earned Doctorates,” which utilized figures from the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. The report finds that many newly minted Ph.D.s complete school after nearly 10 years of studies with significant debt and without the promise of a job. Yet few people seem to be paying attention to these findings; graduate programs are producing more Ph.D.s than ever before.

  • Hardware

    • Scientists can now make lithium-ion batteries last a lifetime

      Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) said that’s exactly what they were doing when they discovered how to increase the tensile strength of nanowires that could be used to make lithium-ion batteries last virtually forever.

      Researchers have pursued using nanowires in batteries for years because the filaments, thousands of times thinner than a human hair, are highly conductive and have a large surface area for the storage and transfer of electrons.

      The problem they have encountered, however, is that nanowires are also extremely fragile and don’t hold up well to repeated discharging and recharging, known as “cycling.” For example, in a typical lithium-ion battery, they expand and grow brittle, which leads to cracking.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Marijuana is kosher for Passover, leading rabbi rules

      Cannabis may be used for medical reasons during Passover, despite previously being forbidden

    • Colorado’s First Black Woman Pot Entrepreneur on Edibles, Incarceration & the Industry’s Whiteness

      We are broadcasting live from Denver, Colorado, where in 2012 the state voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Now 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for either medical or recreational use, and the cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing in the United States. But some have questioned who stands to cash in on the billions being generated by cannabis sales. Michelle Alexander, the best-selling author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” addressed the issue in a conversation with the Drug Policy Alliance, saying, “Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing?” We speak now to Wanda James, CEO of the Denver-based cannabis dispensary Simply Pure. She is the first African-American woman in Colorado to own a cannabis dispensary. She was inspired to start a dispensary by the experiences of her brother, who at 17 was locked up on a petty drug charge—and forced to pick cotton in Texas for four years to earn his freedom.

    • Celebrating 500 Years of German’s Beer Purity Law

      In Germany rules are rules—and they even apply to something as fun as beer. The Reinheitsgebot, Germany’s legendary beer purity law, turns 500 on April 23 in a sudsy celebration known as German Beer Day. Many Germans love the law, but others think it’s an outdated relic that should be chucked. Beer purity is only one part of the Reinheitsgebot story; protectionism, taxes, national pride and marketing all come into play.

    • Chart of the Day: Hillary and Bernie Duke It Out on Soda Taxes

      Finally we have a real difference between Hillary and Bernie. Hillary supports Philadelphia’s proposed tax on sugary drinks of 3 cents per ounce. Bernie doesn’t. “A tax on soda and juice drinks would disproportionately increase taxes on low-income families in Philadelphia,” he said on Thursday.

    • Flint is about how we treat the poor

      As you no doubt know, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, returned to the headlines last week with news that the state attorney general is charging three government officials for their alleged roles in the debacle. It makes this a convenient moment to deal with something that has irked me about the way this disaster is framed.

      Namely, the fact that people who look like you often get left out of it.


      As has been reported repeatedly, Flint is a majority black city with a 41 percent poverty rate. So critics ask if the water would have been so blithely poisoned, and if it would have taken media so long to notice, had the victims been mostly white.

    • The Creepy Way Processed Food Packaging Messes With Your Hormones

      A new study shows common plastic packaging steeps food in industrial chemicals.

    • Flint woman suing over poisoned water crisis found shot to death in home

      On Tuesday, police found the bodies of two women inside of a townhouse, where they also found a one-year-old who was unharmed. Both women were shot, and have been identified as Sasha Bell and Sacorya Reed, though police only said their ages are between 18 and 20 years old, WJRT reported. The child was taken into protective services.

    • Slain Woman Among People To File Lawsuits Amid Water Crisis

      One of two women found shot to death in a Flint apartment was among dozens of people who earlier filed lawsuits over lead-tainted water in the city.

      The Flint Journal reports Thursday that Sasha Bell’s case was one of 64 lawsuits filed by law firms on behalf of 144 children.

      Bell had said her child was poisoned by lead.

      Flint was under state control in 2014 when it switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River to save money. The corrosive river water wasn’t properly treated and caused lead to leach from old pipes into homes and businesses.

  • Security

    • Friday’s security updates
    • Why I gave your paper a Strong Reject

      Writing a bunch of wordy bullshit that doesn’t mean anything. Trust me, you’re not going to wow and amaze the program committee by talking about dynamic, scalable, context-aware, Pareto-optimal middleware for cloud hosting of sensing-intensive distributed vehicular applications. If your writing sounds like the automatically-generated, fake Rooter paper (“A theoretical grand challenge in theory is the important unification of virtual machines and real-time theory. To what extent can web browsers be constructed to achieve this purpose?”), you might want to rethink your approach. Be concise and concrete. Explain what you’re doing in clear terms. Bad ideas won’t get accepted just because they sound fancy.

    • Computer System Security Policy Debate (Follow-up)

      The challenge is that political people see everything as a political/policy issue, but this isn’t that kind of issue. I get particularly frustrated when I read ignorant ramblings like this that dismiss the overwhelming consensus of the people that actually understand what needs to be done as emotional, hysterical obstructionism. Contrary to what seems to be that author’s point, constructive dialogue and understanding values does nothing to change the technical risks of mandating exceptional access. Of course the opponents of Feinstein-Burr decry it as technologically illiterate, it is technologically illiterate.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘The Japanese Were Already Defeated and Were Seeking Peace’

      Media reports noted that Secretary of State John Kerry was the highest-ranking sitting US official to visit the war memorial in Hiroshima. US ambassadors have shown their respects, and Jimmy Carter went there when he was out of office. But from non-blame-assigning references to “one of the most destructive acts of World War II,” as a New York Times article had it, to an obliviously ethnocentric focus on how these commemorations have, as the Times said, “long troubled American diplomats,” nothing suggests that US media find much to grapple with.

    • New Push for Military Intervention in Libya: Who Will Control the Libyan Central Bank?

      The emails of the former Secretary of State and current Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton exposed to the world the principal reasons for the NATO intervention and destruction of Libya in 2011. We are informed by one writer who had examined these emails on the traffic between the USA and France over the imperatives for intervening in Libya. In one e mail dated April 2, 2011 Sidney Blumenthal, then an aide to Clinton informed her ‘that sources close to one of Gaddafi sons were reporting that “Qaddafi’s government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver” and the hoard had been moved from the Libyan Central Bank in Tripoli closer to the border with Niger and Chad. “This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).”Blumenthal then added that “According to knowledgeable individuals, this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya.” The email added: “According to these individuals, Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues:

    • Hillary ‘the Hawk’ Clinton

      Mark Landler has an interesting extended article in the New York Times about how Hillary Clinton came to views about the use of military force that have made her, in Landler’s words, “the last true hawk left” in this year’s presidential race.

      Landler poses the question of Clinton’s motivations as a traditional dichotomy between “calculated political maneuver” and “deeply felt core principle,” and suggests that in the case of Clinton’s hawkishness it is more the latter than the former. But much of what the article describes is less a matter of principle than of sociology.

    • Twenty civilians killed in air strikes in Iraq, Syria: U.S. military

      Twenty civilians were likely killed and 11 others injured in nine U.S. air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria between Sept. 10, 2015, and Feb. 2, 2016, the U.S. military said on Friday.

    • ISIS executes 250 women for refusing to become sex slaves

      The Islamic State, known for its brutality, has reportedly executed 250 girls in northern Iraq for refusing to become sex slaves , according to a media report.

      The girls had been ordered to accept temporary marriages to the terrorists and were murdered, sometimes alongside their families, for their refusal to be sex slaves in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul.

      ISIS began selecting women of Mosul and forced them into marrying its militants, calling it temporary marriage since it has taken control over Mosul, and the women who refused to submit to this practice would be executed, said Kurdish Democratic Party spokesman Said Mamuzini.

    • The real reason the British government refuses to call Isis’s killings genocide

      George Osborne announced at a parliamentary reception this week that the Government will increase its support for the Holocaust Educational Trust by £500,000. There will also be funding, he added, for a statue of Frank Foley, a British intelligence officer who helped thousands of Jews to escape from Nazi Germany.

      The Chancellor spoke of the horrors of genocide, of taking his family to see the concentration camp at Dachau last month, and praised the courage of those who had helped the refugees at a time of peril. He raised a few smiles saying that some of the money pledged “would come from fines paid by those who fixed the Libor rates – people who showed the worst of values to those who have the best of British values”.

    • Andrew Bacevich and America’s Long Misguided War to Control the Greater Middle East

      Nothing undermines the American belief in military force. No matter how often its galloping about results in resentment and mayhem, the U.S. gets up again to do good elsewhere. Failure to improve life in Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya stiffens the resolve to get it right next time. This notion prevails among politicized elements of the officer corps; much of the media, whether nominally liberal or conservative; the foreign policy elite recycled quadrennially between corporation-endowed think tanks and government; and most politicians on the national stage. For them and the public they influence, the question is less whether to deploy force than when, where, and how.

    • Military Spending is the Capitalist World’s Fuel

      Not least is this the case with the United States, which by far spends the most of any country on its military. The official Pentagon budget for 2015 was $596 billion, but actual spending is far higher. (Figures for 2015 will be used because that is the latest year for which data is available to make international comparisons.) If we add military spending parked in other portions of the U.S. federal government budget, we’re up to $786 billion, according to a study by the War Resisters League. Veterans benefits add another $157 billion. WRL also assigns 80 percent of the interest on the budget deficit, and that puts the grand total well above $1 trillion.

    • Six Year Anniversary of WikiLeaks Collateral Murder; A Celebration of Free Speech

      On April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks published classified military footage of a July 2007 attack by a US Army helicopter gunship in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad. The video titled Collateral Murder depicted the killing of more than a dozen men, including two Reuters staffers. At the time of release, the WikiLeaks website temporarily crashed with a massive influx of visitors, while versions popped up on YouTube, reaching millions.

      The importance of The Collateral Murder video has often been talked about from the perspective that it provided visual evidence of unaccounted US military power and brutality. Now, on the 6th anniversary of its publication, we will revisit the emergence of WikiLeaks in the public consciousness and explore the significance of this video release for the advocacy of free speech.


      The smothering of free speech has cost the public access to the real images of war. Back in the 1960’s, during the Vietnam War, pictures of wounded soldiers and dead civilians flooded through televisions into American homes. Unlike the current situation, the government had not yet learned to keep the press out of war zones, where all could see the horrific images of what in many cases amounted to war crimes.

    • Defending Democracy To the Last Drop of Oil

      The Saudis, who are also petrified of Iran, threw a fit, threatening to pull $750 billion of investments from the US. Other leaders of the Gulf sheikdoms sided with the Saudis but rather more discreetly.

      Ignoring the stinging snub he had just suffered, Obama assured the Saudis and Gulf monarchs that the US would defend them against all military threats – in effect, reasserting their role as western protectorates. So much for promoting democracy.

    • What’s Left of Palmyra — and Syria

      By pouring weapons and money into the Syrian war, the West and its Gulf state allies share in the guilt for the Islamic State’s partial destruction of Palmyra’s historic ruins, which Jeff Klein visited.

    • Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine: Home Demolitions on the Rise

      According to the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, an Israeli NGO, the Israeli government has demolished 28,000 Palestinian structures since the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began in 1967, resulting in the homelessness and suffering of untold numbers of people. There is little ambiguity about the morality of this form of ethnic cleansing, and even most Israeli legal scholars agree that it is in contravention of international law. Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states:

    • Drone Warfare and the Kill Chain

      In the current movie, starring Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman, the human toll and moral dilemma of drone warfare are portrayed in a compelling drama of life and death.

    • After drones: the indelible mark of America’s remote control warfare

      Nabila’s favorite memories of her grandmother come from weddings. It didn’t matter who was getting married – relative or neighbor – her grandmother, Mamana, was an active participant, owing to her matriarchal perch above their village.

      Mamana was as responsible as she was festive. An uneducated woman, she was the local midwife, and served as an impromptu primary care physician, even a veterinarian, when the need arose.

    • Islamic State claims it killed Bangladeshi academic

      Prof Rezaul Karim Siddique, 58, hacked to death in Rajshahi in attack similar to murders of other secular and atheist activists

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Navajo Fight Coal Strip Mine in Four Corners

      A Navajo environmental group sued the federal government this week for allowing a New Mexico coal plant and strip mine to operate for another 25 years without assessing clean-energy alternatives.

    • Looking Back on Deepwater With Journalism as Usual

      It’s standard stuff, as if the paper forgets its own reporting (9/4/14) on the ruling on Deepwater in which US District Court Judge Carl Barbieri cited not a lack of rules but a failure to respect them, calling out the entire industry as “motivated by profit” to operate with “conscious disregard of known risks.” In a case where business as usual is the problem, journalism as usual can’t be the response.

    • The Earth Doesn’t Need To Worry, But The Things That Live On It Do

      When is it time to rebrand? Fortune magazine just ran an Earth Day story “Earth Day 2016 Freebies and Deals.”

      The business magazine wants us to know that “Earth Day, historically, hasn’t been thought of as a retail holiday. But as more and more people become environmentally aware, many major stores are jumping on the bandwagon.” Now while we are nowhere near the over-commercialization that, say, Christmas has achieved, I’m still thinking that Earth Day is probably a good day not to buy anything and instead step back from hypermaterialism.

    • Five Planet-Changing Consequences of Global Warming to Consider on Earth Day—and Every Day

      The entire human population is vulnerable to the threats posed by climate change brought about by global warming, because everyone is susceptible to the effects of drought, flood, heat wave, disease, and famine. No one is immune from the risks posed by climate change.

    • Unprecedented global warming as 2016 approaches 1.5 °C mark

      Global surface temperatures could get close to the 1.5 °C-above-preindustrial limit before the Paris climate agreement even comes into effect.

      That’s alarming news, considering that the deal aspires to limit global warming to no more than this.

      Last week Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, estimated that the average global temperature in 2016 could range from about 1.1 °C above preindustrial to only slightly below 1.5 °C, based on GISS’s temperature record and its definition of pre-industrial (other records and definitions vary).

    • Fracking Executive Says Rich Neighborhoods Safe from Drill Sites

      An executive from a top shale drilling firm told attendees of a fossil fuels seminar in Pennsylvania earlier this month that fracking companies deliberately avoid setting up shop near the “big houses” of the wealthy, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

      Two environmental groups, the Sierra Club and the Center for Coalfield Justice, last week sent a letter to the state Office of Environmental Justice to review Range Resources’ practices to see if it has indeed avoided rich neighborhoods and targeted low-income areas for shale gas development. Attorneys from both organizations were present at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Environmental Law Forum on April 7.

    • Fracking a Possible Cause of Disturbing Birth Defects and Deaths Found in Horses

      The vets are conducting their own study of what may be causing the epidemic of horse birth defects. The veterinary team cite the presence of a gas well adjacent to Gural’s land that was drilled by Chesapeake Appalachia LLC as the “prime suspect” in the Gural farm problems. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection confirmed that the farm’s water is contaminated, although they failed to cite Chesapeake as the cause.

    • Fabulous Win for Anti-Fracking Movement as Another Major Pipeline Bites the Dust

      For the second time in less than a week, climate activists and fracking opponents in the northeast find themselves celebrating.

      The latest applause comes after a state regulatory agency on Friday—which happened to be Earth Day—announced it was denying a permit for a major fracked-gas pipeline in the state. Just days earlier, another similar project was halted in New England.

      Calling it “amazing news” and a “huge victory” for New York residents and the planet as a whole, the decision by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to reject the controversial Constitution Pipeline project was welcomed as a timely gift by Frack Action, a state coalition opposed to hydraulic drilling and further expansion of fossil fuel projects in the state.

    • Alongside 174 Nations And Holding His Granddaughter, John Kerry Signs Paris Climate Accord

      “More countries have come here to sign this agreement today than any other time in human history, and that is cause for hope,” Leonardo DiCaprio, U.N. Messenger of Peace, said during the opening ceremony which marked the beginning of the signing. DiCaprio also called climate change the “defining crisis of our time,” and called for fossil fuels to remain in the ground in an effort to cut carbon emissions.

    • A Young American Reminds Us How Badly We Are Failing Children on Climate Change

      If Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh didn’t have the look and sound of a 15-year-old, one could easily assume he was twice his real age. The indigenous environmentalist talks like a seasoned activist and well-educated adult, rather than the teenager he really is. Perhaps it is because he is so driven by passion for his cause of climate justice.

      In an interview on Rising Up With Sonali, Tonatiuh revealed that he started his political activism at age 6. He explained that it was natural for climate change to be the cause dearest to his heart because “being involved in the climate movement is protecting everything that I love.”

  • Finance

    • Apple should pay more tax, says co-founder Steve Wozniak

      Apple should pay more tax, according to Steve Wozniak, the company’s co-founder.

      Speaking to the BBC, Wozniak expressed discomfort with reports that Apple avoids tax, saying that paying taxes was just “part of life” – something that “every company in the world” should do.

    • Clinton doubling down on transcripts

      Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is doubling down on a strategy of not releasing transcripts of speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs and other investment banks.

      Clinton has refused to release any of the transcripts in the face of a pressure campaign from rival candidate Bernie Sanders, who has relentlessly attacked the Democratic front-runner as being too closely tied to Wall Street.

      “She’s not going to basically create a standard that isn’t applied to anyone else in this race,” said one longtime Clinton ally and confidante of her position on releasing the transcripts.

      The issue has been an effective line of attack from Sanders, who has closed the gap with Clinton in national polls.

      It also appears to have hurt Clinton, who has seen her favorability rating in polls drop below 50 percent. Just as bad, Clinton has seen her marks fall with Americans when they are asked whether they trust her or see her as honest.

    • Elizabeth Warren’s Big Win: The New, Much-Needed Rule that Could Rein in Wall Street Slime

      Are you in the market for some good news? While everyone is being told to follow the excitement of the 2016 campaign to the exclusion of all else, out of the spotlight but not far away, the Obama administration is calmly trying to enact lasting progressive change. In the Labor Department earlier this month, consumer advocates won a big battle, as the vast middle class was “gifted” with a new requirement being placed on the financial services industry. As Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren explained, a glaring conflict of interest has been resolved in the favor of people saving for retirement. No longer can investment advisers recommend funds to their clients that reward them or their firms; instead, they must, without exception, direct customers into the best financial products, with lower or, sometimes, zero fees.

    • “Free Love – Not Free Trade”: With Obama En Route, 90,000 March Against TTIP

      Protesters wearing Obama and Merkal masks were among the tens of thousands who marched against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in Hannover, Germany on Saturday. (Photo: Helga Reimund / Attac.de)

      On the eve of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Germany on Saturday to voice emphatic opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement (TTIP), a deal they argue benefits global capitalism and corporate elites at the expense of the public good and local democracy.

      With a 1960′s “Summer of Love” theme informing the march, many participants grooved under banners reading “Freie Liebe – Statt Freihandel” (Free Love – Not Free Trade) as organizers estimated 90,000 people in attendance.

    • One of the nation’s largest pension funds could soon cut benefits for retirees

      More than a quarter of a million active and retired truckers and their families could soon see their pension benefits severely cut — even though their pension fund is still years away from running out of money.

      Within the next few weeks, the Treasury Department is expected to announce a crucial decision on whether it will approve reductions to one of the country’s largest multi-employer pension plans.

    • Greece’s Former Finance Minister Explains Why A Universal Basic Income Could Save Us

      Next time you’re having an fight with somebody who doesn’t like the idea of a universal basic income, you might employ some of these arguments from Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s former finance minister. In an interview with the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger, he not only refutes the usual arguments against the concept that the government should give everyone a minimum check every month, but he makes them sound quite ridiculous.


      Varoufakis agrees with one problem—with $2,500 a month on the table, wouldn’t everyone move to Switzerland? He advocates for regulation, which is almost certainly what will happen.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • BUSTED: Pro-Clinton Super PAC Caught Spending $1 Million on Social Media Trolls

      A Super PAC headed by a longtime Clinton operative is spending $1 million to hire online trolls to “correct” Bernie Sanders’ supporters on social media.

      Correct The Record (CTR), which is operated by Clinton attack dog and new owner of Blue Nation Review David Brock, launched a new initiative this week called “Barrier Breakers 2016” for the purpose of debating supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders — or “Bernie Bros,” as they’re referred to in Correct the Record’s press official release — on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms.

      The “Barrier Breakers” will also publicly thank Hillary Clinton’s superdelegates and fans for supporting her campaign. The paid trolls are professional communicators, coming from public relations and media backgrounds.

    • Clinton’s Image Among Democrats at New Low

      Recent activity in the presidential election campaign is clearly taking a toll on the images of the leading presidential candidates, as Hillary Clinton drops to her lowest net favorable rating among Democrats since Gallup began tracking her in July, and as both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump return to near their all-time lows among Republicans.

      We can start with the Democratic side of the ledger, where Clinton’s current net favorable rating of +36 among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents is based on 66% who give her a favorable rating and 30% who give her an unfavorable rating.

    • Trump’s Campaign Manager Admits His Boss Has Been Playing a ‘Part’ the Whole Time

      “Fixing personality negatives is a lot easier than fixing character negatives. You can’t change somebody’s character, but you can change the way a person presents himself.” – Paul Manafort

      The above quote is from Donald Trump’s new campaign manager. Along with Rick Wiley, Manafort was hired recently to “professionalize” Trump’s operation. What he says here is both revealing and profoundly wrong. How a person presents himself, or more to the point, how far a person is willing to go in order to project an image of himself, says a lot about who he is.

      If a man is willing, as Trump clearly is, to say or do anything in the name of self-promotion, if he shape-shifts and contradicts himself on a whim, if he says things he knows to be untrue and dangerous because he thinks it will win him the news cycle, does that not reveal his character? Trump is either a nihilist or a fraud. In either case, his personality and character are inextricably bound.

    • Sanders: I’ve lost because ‘poor people don’t vote’

      Confronted with poor performance in states with higher populations of low-income people, Bernie Sanders said his losses are due to those people not voting.

      “Well, because poor people don’t vote. I mean, that’s just a fact. That’s a sad reality of American society,” Sanders said in an interview with MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” set to air in full on Sunday.

      Host Chuck Todd had asked about rival Hillary Clinton’s victory in 16 of 17 primary contests in states with the highest levels of income inequality.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Satellite TV is helping Iranians bypass internet censorship

      People who live in countries with a strict nationwide internet filter always come up with ways to get around it. In Iran, according to Wired, people are using satellite TV and a free anti-censorship system called Toosheh. While Iranians do use VPN to bypass the filter, their crippling internet speeds make it hard to stream videos or download bigger files. The system gives them a way to get 1GB of data within 60 minutes. Users simply have to plug a USB stick into the set-top box, access Toosheh’s channel that doesn’t show anything besides text instructions and set the receiver to record.

    • Berwick MP strongly rejects Facebook censorship claims

      Prior to that, her tweets were automatically published onto her public Facebook page, but she had received complaints due to ‘some very offensive comments’ and the idea was to publish fewer updates to Facebook to make it easier for her or her team to keep track of what was being posted by others.

      However, some Facebook users claim that their comments were hidden, not due to their being offensive, but because they were expressing political views opposed to Mrs Trevelyan’s own, for example, on the EU referendum.

    • Utah Lawmaker Says Internet Porn Violates First Amendment

      The Utah lawmaker who introduced a state resolution declaring pornography a “public health crisis” has taken his opposition a step further. During a conservative talk radio appearance on Friday, state Rep. Todd Weiler (R) said that the internet, essentially, violates a person’s First Amendment rights by “delivering pornography” to people who don’t want to view it.

      “Someone may have the First Amendment right, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, to view pornography,” Weiler told Tony Perkins, host of “Washington Watch” radio show. “But what about my First Amendment right not to view it?”

    • California GOP Blathers About Freedom, But Mostly Backs ‘Secrecy Lobby’

      Politicians from the party of Reagan and Lincoln should instinctively know the dangers of giving government officials unaccountable power.

    • A paean to censorship

      It takes a certain mindset for a person to believe that he or she has the right to determine what information, otherwise lawful, that the citizens of Guyana should receive.

    • Donald Trump and His ‘Micropenis’ Expose Problems With Facebook’s Censorship Policies

      California-based artist, Illma Gore, has gotten quite a bit of attention after painting Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump in the nude with a very, very, small penis. Gore told LawNewz.com she’s received nasty threats from Trump supporters, and this week she says Trump’s team even told her she would be getting a cease and desist letter in the mail. Gore says the painting, which is titled Make America Great Again, was not even meant as a political statement per se.

      “The idea was to invoke a reaction from audience to inspire discussion about what is in our pants…our physical being,” she told LawNewz.com.

    • Is censorship bad for business? How trade laws could break through China’s Great Firewall

      The United States has now opened a new line of attack against China’s censorship regime. Human rights arguments aside, could China’s internet controls constitute a trade barrier? In its annual National Trade Estimate Report, the Office of the United States Trade Representative included the Chinese internet filters and blocks in a list of impediments foreign businesses face in China.

    • Does it really mean a free trade?
    • China seizes biggest share of global exports in almost 50 years
    • Chinese censorship fears over Chariots sequel about Liddell
    • Leader comment: Censorship would dishonour Liddell’s memory
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • How Facebook plans to take over the world

      Social network went from digital directory for college kids to communications behemoth – and it’s planning for prosperity with its global takeover

    • Facebook usage over Tor passes 1M per month

      The number of people using the Tor anonymizing browser to access Facebook has passed the one million mark this month for the first time, Facebook has announced.

      Tor (aka The Onion Router) is a network technology designed to increase the privacy of web users by encrypting and randomly routing Internet connections via a worldwide network of volunteer relays — thereby making it harder for individual web connections to be traced back to a particular user.

      Facebook created a dedicated onion address for Tor access back in October 2014, aimed at making it easier for users to connect via Tor, given that the way the network routes traffic can be flagged by site security infrastructure.

    • Lawmakers ask National Intelligence director, ‘How many citizens have you spied on?’

      American lawmakers are getting frisky when it comes to digital frisking. In a recent letter from 14 top members of Congress (including eight Democrats and six Republicans), Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was asked to estimate the number of Americans affected by various surveillance techniques, including email surveillance and other forms of spying. Data espionage remains one of the few issues over which there is bipartisan concern, and the letter comes as part of an ongoing examination into potential surveillance program reforms.

    • Dispatches: US Surveillance Court Opinion Shows Harm to Rights
    • U.S. administration refuses information about spying on Americans
    • Secret court takes another bite out of the 4th Amendment
    • Congress asks the NSA how often it spies on Americans
    • Spy Chief Pressed for Number of Americans Ensnared in Data Espionage
    • DOJ’s Awesome New Trick to Break into Apple Phones

      Use the sentencing process, rather than the All Writs Act, to open up a phone captured two years ago (which probably has even less usable evidence than Syed Rizwan Farook’s phone did.

      These prosecutors are really using some amazing tools these days.

    • ISP Vows to Protect Users From a Piracy Witch Hunt

      Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof says it will do everything in its power to prevent copyright holders from threatening its subscribers. The provider is responding to a recent case in which a competing ISP was ordered to expose alleged BitTorrent pirates, reportedly without any thorough evidence.

    • Facebook is going to start showing you pieces people actually read

      Facebook is changing its algorithm yet again, and this time it wants to show you more things that you’ll actually spend time reading or watching.

      The social network looks at a wealth of data when deciding which posts you actually see on News Feed, but until now it hasn’t cared too much about what you actually do when you click away from Facebook. It says that’s going to change.

    • EFF and ACLU Expose Government’s Secret Stingray Use in Wisconsin Case

      Thanks to EFF and the ACLU, the government has finally admitted it secretly used a Stingray to locate a defendant in a Wisconsin criminal case, United States v. Damian Patrick. Amazingly, the government didn’t disclose this fact to the defendant—or the court—until we raised it in an amicus brief we filed in the case. In the government’s brief, filed late last week, it not only fails to acknowledge the impact of hiding this fact from the defendant but also claims its warrantless real-time location tracking didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment.

      We first learned about this case when it was already on appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and filed an amicus brief arguing the Fourth Amendment protects all of us from warrantless, real-time location tracking. The government suggested to both Patrick and the trial court that it had relied on location information obtained directly from Sprint. However, we suspected they had instead used a Stingray.

    • The Government Admits 9 Defendants Spied On Under Section 702 Have Not Gotten FISA Notice

      As I noted, in his opinion approving the Section 702 certifications from last year, Judge Thomas Hogan had a long section describing the 4 different kinds of violations the spooks had committed in the prior year.

      One of those pertained to FBI agents not establishing an attorney-client review team for people who had been indicted, as mandated by the FBI’s minimization procedures.

    • Former Top Holder Aide Says Back Door Searches Violate Fourth Amendment; FISC Judge Thomas Hogan Doesn’t Care

      When I first realized that FISA Court Presiding Judge Thomas Hogan picked her to serve as amicus for the review of the yearly 702 certifications last year, I complained that she, not Marc Zwillinger, got selected (the pick was made in August, but Jeffress would later be picked as one of the standing amicus curiae, along with Zwillinger). After all, Zwillinger has already argued that PRISM (then authorized by Protect America Act) was unconstitutional when he represented Yahoo in its challenge of the program. He’s got experience making this precise argument. Plus, Jeffress not only is a long-time national security prosecutor and former top Eric Holder aide, but she has been involved in some actions designed to protect the Executive. I still think Zwillinger might have done a better job. But Jeffress nevertheless made what appears to be a vigorous, though unsuccessful, argument that FBI’s back door searches of US person data are unconstitutional.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Court: Border Search Warrant Exception Beats Riley In The ‘Constitution-Free Zone

      The Supreme Court declared in 2014 that law enforcement could no longer perform searches of cellphones incident to arrest without a warrant. The exceptions to this ruling are making themselves apparent already.

      The area of the United States where the Constitution does not apply — while still being fully within the borders of the US — apparently exempts law enforcement from following this ruling in regards to cellphone searches. The Southern District of California has come to the conclusion that border searches are not Fourth Amendment searches and that the government has no need to seek a warrant before searching a cellphone.

    • VIDEO: Spoken Word Artist Saul Williams Extended Interview on His New Album, “MartyrLoserKing”

      Williams also discusses his appreciation for hacking, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and the late net neutrality activist, Aaron Swartz.

    • Washington Launches Its Attack Against BRICS

      Washington has always blocked reform in Latin America. Latin American peoples will remain American serfs until they elect governments by such large majorities that the governments can exile the traitorous elites, close the US embassies, and expel all US corporations. Every Latin American country that has an American presence has no future other than serfdom.

    • Students block Sather Gate on Cal Day in protest of treatment of undocumented UC students

      A group of roughly 30 student demonstrators gathered in front of Sather Gate on Saturday afternoon, protesting UC President Janet Napolitano’s treatment of undocumented students within the UC system.

      The protest was held on Cal Day, a day when the campus opened its grounds for prospective students accepted to the class of 2020.

    • Suicide Rates Are Up, But the Most Obvious Explanations Are Probably All Wrong

      For my money, we flatly don’t know what’s causing the increase in suicides over the past decade. Based on the size of the numbers and the evidence at hand, if you put a gun to my head I’d probably guess opioid abuse was the biggest cause. But I don’t know, and I’m not sure anyone else knows either.

    • Landmark Ruling Will Finally Allow Victims to Hold CIA ‘Torturers to Account’

      Ladin called it “a historic win in the fight to hold the people responsible for torture accountable for their despicable and unlawful actions.”

    • Child Brides ‘Tolerated’ In European Asylum Centres

      Some child brides are living with older husbands in asylum centres in Scandinavia, triggering a furore about lapses in protection for girls in nations that ban child marriage.

      Authorities have in some cases let girls stay with their partners, believing it is less traumatic for them than forced separation after fleeing wars in nations such as Afghanistan or Syria.

    • Open Borders? EU Commission May Pave Path to Millions of Ukrainian Migrants

      The dream of the Maidan revolutionaries -for Ukrainians to be able to travel to Europe without visas, has moved one step closer to reality, with the European Commission proposing to lift visa restrictions on Ukrainians. What might a visa-free regime between Ukraine and the European Union look like for Ukrainians and Europeans? Sputnik investigates.

    • What Happens When Asylum Seekers Are Too Poor to Make Bail

      On April 6, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class action lawsuit against the federal government for detaining immigrants who remain in jail simply because they are too poor to pay their bond.

    • Fed Up With Officer Violence, San Francisco Residents Go On Hunger Strike Against Police Chief

      “I’ve reached 48 hours now. After the 24-hour mark, you kind of get over the pain of hunger. We get distracted, kind of, with the people that are visiting. We’re trying to stay dry. It was raining last night,” Edwin Lindo told ThinkProgress by phone Friday morning. “I’m hanging in there.”

      Lindo is one of six hunger strikers currently sitting in front of the Mission Police Station in San Francisco, alongside local rapper Equipto, preschool teacher Maria Cristina Gutierrez, local resident Ike Pinkston, and two others. Lindo, who is also running for District 9 supervisor, is one of the four people who initiated the action on Wednesday in protest of Police Chief Greg Suhr, the embattled leader of the San Francisco Police Department.

      Under Suhr’s leadership there’s been a spate of fatal police shootings of residents of color, including Mario Woods, Alex Nieto, and Amilcar Perez-Lopez. Last year, racist and homophobic text exchanges between officers were made public, and similar messages were revealed earlier this month.

      Activists believe Suhr has failed to discipline the officers and allowed police violence to remain the status quo. In addition to Suhr’s resignation, they want the community to have a hand in vetting prospective officers and holding cops accountable. Lindo, Gutierrez, Pinkson, and Equipto wanted to take drastic action, seeing no other way to get the city leadership’s attention.

    • When we mourn the passing of Prince but not 500 migrants, we have to ask: have we lost all sense of perspective?

      Has something gone adrift within the moral compass of our ‘news’ reporting? In the past week, 64 Afghans have been killed in the largest bomb to have exploded in Kabul in 15 years. At least 340 were wounded. The Taliban set off their explosives at the very wall of the ‘elite’ security force – watch out for that word ‘elite’ – which was supposed to protect the capital. Whole families were annihilated. No autopsies for them. Local television showed an entire family – a mother and father and three children blown to pieces in a millisecond – while the city’s ambulance service reported that its entire fleet (a miserable 15 vehicles) were mobilised for the rescue effort. One ambulance was so packed with wounded that the back doors came off their hinges.

    • Amidst Civil War Ghosts, Sanders says: ‘I Worry about Future of Democracy in America’

      While campaigning in Pennsylvania on Friday ahead of next week’s primary in that state, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took time to visit the Civil War memorial at Gettysburg and invoked the spirit of Abraham Lincoln as he expressed concern about the troubling direction the nation is now heading.

      Standing near where Lincoln, in 1863, gave one of the most famous political speeches in U.S. history about the fundamental importance of unity and democracy, Sanders expressed to reporters his deep concerns about the disintegration of those key pillars amidst surging income inequality and a sustained assault on the people’s right to have their voices heard and wishes honored by elected lawmakers.

    • Truthdiggers of the Week: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s Fame

      Among the 1,400 activists arrested during the recent Democracy Awakening and Democracy Spring protests were two very familiar faces and even more recognizable names: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, co-founders of the international ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s.

    • Bill Moyers: Campaign Finance Reform — It’s Not Just Liberals Anymore

      Bill sits down with former Bush administration lawyer Richard Painter to discuss why conservatives should care about the influence of money in politics — and how they can fight to get it out.

    • Disturbing New Ad Reveals The Future Of The GOP Under Trump

      Mike Pape, a Republican running for Kentucky’s first Congressional district, released a new TV ad filled with ugly stereotypes about Latino immigrants, complete with huge Mario Bros.-like mustaches, fake accents, and subtitles for the actors, even though they’re speaking in English for the vast majority of the ad.

    • Breaking Through Power: Historic Civil Mobilization Now

      Ever wonder why Presidential and Congressional election campaigns fail to meaningfully connect with civil society? Candidate rhetoric is designed to attract voters and campaign contributions. Candidates go out of their way to ingratiate themselves to their corporate paymasters, whose monetized minds want nothing to do with the civil society. Civil society leaders at the national and local levels and their nonprofit citizen groups form the bedrock of democracy. These civic leaders have significant expertise and experience and are meticulous and precise in their written and oral presentations. They do not traffic in false statements that are unfortunately routine for many candidates for federal office. And unlike most major party candidates who receive round-the-clock coverage for every campaign utterance, the civic stalwarts are too often left on the sidelines by the media during the campaign season.


      These Americans did speak up in unprecedented numbers in 2002-2003 against the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq but had no infrastructure to increase their numbers and reach to the American people and the cowardly politicians in Congress.

    • More than 10.35 million people are in prison around the world, new report shows.

      There are more than 2.2 million prisoners in the United States of America, more than 1.65 million in China (plus an unknown number in pre-trial detention or ‘administrative detention’), 640,000 in the Russian Federation, 607,000 in Brazil, 418,000 in India, 311,000 in Thailand, 255,000 in Mexico and 225,000 in Iran.

    • The Film ‘In an Ideal World’ Offers a Glimpse Inside Our Broken Prison System

      Prisons “make you a racist,” even if that’s not how you were originally, one corrections officer says in the film. In fact, at one point in the movie, the warden of the prison actually describes the segregation as a tool for keeping order—though he adds that prison officials may have shot themselves in the foot by perpetuating racial divisions that aggravate tensions and can lead to violence.

    • Israeli Arab Lawmaker Refuses Holocaust Day Invite: Israel Today Is Like Germany in 1930s

      Joint Arab List MK Zoabi says that she respects the memory of those killed in the Holocaust, but that the ‘Holocaust obligates us not to be silent when racist laws are legislated.’

    • Bernie’s Most Valuable Lesson: The Democratic Party Does Not Do Enough to Represent the Values of Progressive Americans

      Over the past year, the insurgent political campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders has revealed quite a bit about the reasoning of partisan Democrats, and thus separated the progressives from the liberals. As a populist candidate who has refused support from Super PACs and big monied interests, Sanders has shined a light on the unpleasant reality that the Democratic party — and its likely presidential nominee — is almost as reliant on funding from billionaires and Wall Street as the detested Republican party is.

    • Shifty antisemitism wars

      So why is it wrong to equate anti-Zionism and antisemitism?

      First, it is comparing apples and oranges. Indeed, there have always been Jews opposed to Zionism, for different reasons. See, for example, the current work of the International Jewish Anti-Zionism Network (IJAN), or the new book by US professor Dov Waxman, which, among other things, shows how it was only after the Six-Day War in 1967, “some two decades after Israel’s founding”, that “the American Jewish pro-Israel establishment was built.”

      For Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a group with more than 200,000 online members and 60 chapters across the US, “equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism obscures the long history of Jewish anti-Zionism and diasporism.” According to the UK-based group Jews for Justice for Palestinians, fusing “Jewishness/Israel/Zionism” enables antisemitism to become “a weapon for imposing conformity on dissidents within the Jewish community.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • An Open Letter to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam

      Last week, I took a drastic step. Instead of going in to work at Verizon, I stood outside with a picket sign. I’m on strike because it’s time for you to listen to us.

      I’m a cable splicing technician in Roanoke, Va., which means I install and fix Internet, cable and phone service. I’m proud to say I’ve volunteered to serve wherever the need is greatest. I went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and Central Florida after bad storms there.

      Yet on a work call the other day, one of the managers said technicians like me were “tools to accomplish a task.”

      Maybe that manager chose those demeaning words poorly, but that comment stung with more truth than I can easily admit.

    • Saying the Internet makes librarians obsolete is like saying the plague makes doctors obsolete
    • Upside-Down-Ternet

      My neighbours are stealing my wireless internet access. I could encrypt it or alternately I could have fun.

    • Consumer Complaints About Broadband Caps Are Soaring

      Consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission about broadband data caps rose to 7,904 in the second half of 2015 from 863 in the first half, notes a new report by the Wall Street Journal. The Journal filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the agency to obtain the data on complaints, which have spiked as a growing number of fixed-line broadband providers apply caps and overage fees to already pricey connections.

    • The Average Webpage Is Now the Size of the Original

      The web is Doomed.

      Today the average webpage is about the same size, data-wise, as the classic computer game Doom, according to software engineer Ronan Cremin.

      A compressed copy of the installer for the shareware version of Doom takes up about 2.39MB of space. Today’s average webpage, meanwhile, requires users to download about 2.3MB worth of data, according to HTTP Archive, a site that tracks website performance and the technologies they use.

  • DRM

    • EFF to FCC: Consumers Need Strong ‘Unlock the Box’ Rules That Bring Competition, Innovation to Set-Top Boxes

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt robust, consumer-friendly “Unlock the Box” rules that will give Americans access to more innovative, useful, and creative devices and software for watching pay cable and satellite television.

      The FCC’s proposed “Unlock the Box” rules will allow any manufacturer to create and market devices or apps that will connect consumers to their cable or satellite TV feeds. The proposal will lead to a new generation of navigation devices that let viewers search and play shows on cable, online services, or over-the-air broadcasts from a single clicker, app, or box.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Book Review: Shakespeare’s Cultural Capital

        In government, the UK uses Shakespeare to promoting regional tourism and a sense of ‘Britishness.’ As part of the government’s ‘Great’ campaign, which apparently contributes £1.6 billion annually to the UK, Shakespeare as a global icon enhances the UK’s cultural diplomacy. Shakespeare’s home of Stratford-upon-Avon, “attracts over five million visitors each year, generating revenues worth over £335 million for the local economy.”

      • UK dead-set on 10-year sentences for P2P pirates

        The UK government has confirmed that it wants to bring in legislation increasing the maximum sentence for online copyright infringement to 10 years of imprisonment, despite widespread objections and doubts about its feasibility.

        Baroness Neville-Rolfe, parliamentary under-secretary of state and minister for intellectual property, writes in her foreword to the document responding to the consultation held at the end of last year: “we are now proposing changes that include increasing the maximum sentence, but at the same time addressing concerns about the scope of the offence. The revised provisions will help protect rights holders, while making the boundaries of the offence clearer, so that everyone can understand how the rules should be applied.”

        As the UK government’s summary of responses reveals, 1,032 submissions were received, of which 938 came through the Open Rights Group. Concerns raised included the fact that there was no requirement to prove that an infringer had intent to cause harm for them to be considered guilty. That meant the proposed offence had an element of “strict liability,” which would result in somebody being held liable even if they had no intention of causing harm.

      • Kim Dotcom hints at Mega shutdown as he warns punters to pull out

        BERET-WEARING copyright controversy courter Kim Dotcom has told his Twitter users to start backing up any data and documents they might have on storage option Mega, because it looks like it is going from mega to micro following a range of problems.

        Dotcom said that the firm has suffered from the withdrawal of support by PayPal, presumably at the behest of the law or the copyright cartels. This had a significant impact on the business that was showing positive signs of growth in the storage market.

      • Why did Prince change his name to a symbol?

        When Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, it was regarded as both rebellious and foolhardy. Why did he do it?

        For a generation too young to remember his debut in the late 1970s or the impact of Purple Rain in 1984, Prince – who died yesterday – was perhaps best known as the musician who changed his name to a symbol.

        In 1993, Prince announced that he would no longer go by the name Prince, but rather by a “Love Symbol” which was a mash-up of the gender symbols for man and woman.

        “It is an unpronounceable symbol whose meaning has not been identified. It’s all about thinking in new ways, tuning in 2 a new free-quency,” he wrote in a statement at the time.

        According to Neal Karlen, a former Rolling Stone writer who was one of the few journalists the late musician gave access to, together they wrote up a full explanation for the name change to bury in a time capsule at Prince’s Paisley Park estate in Minnesota.

        “So he said,” cautions Karlen. “I never went for any ground break.”

        The controversial decision was derided as “crazy” and “ridiculous”. Record sales declined. It presented all kinds of logistical challenges for the media, resulting in the clumsy title, “Artist Formerly Known As Prince”.

        So why did he do it?

        The symbol was a rebellion against Prince’s record label, Warner Bros. He first signed with the company back in 1977 when he was still a teenager, and together they produced some of his most famous titles, including Purple Rain and Sign O the Times.

        But after inking a new deal in the early 1990s, Prince chafed under the company’s rigid production schedule. A prolific songwriter, he wanted to release material as soon as it was ready – he had 500 unreleased songs in his famous studio vault. But Warner Bros refused, believing it would saturate the market and dilute demand for the artist’s music.

        “He felt the contracts at the time were onerous and burdensome,” says John Kellogg, assistant chair of the music business management department at Berklee College of Music. “He rebelled against that.”

        Prince compared his contractual obligations to slavery, and began performing with the word “SLAVE” on his cheek. He saw his own name as a part of his contractual entrapment.

        “Warner Bros took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing took to promote all of the music I wrote,” Prince once said in a press release. “The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros.”

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