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Links 2/9/2016: GNOME 3.22 Beta 2, LLVM 3.9

Posted in News Roundup at 6:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Why open source remains key for NFV and SDN deployments

    Lenovo Networking discusses the importance of open source platforms for continued NFV and SDN deployments

    Open source platforms have been central to the rapid development and deployment of virtualized networking technologies like network functions virtualization and software-defined networking by telecommunications operators.

    Much of these efforts have come under the guidance of various organizations tied to the Linux Foundation, like the Open Platform for NFV project and OpenDaylight, as well as companies working with OpenStack.

  • Chinese Search Giant Baidu Open Sources Its Deep Learning
  • What Are Open Source Products?

    A lot has been written recently about open source products and services, namely the former doesn’t really exist and the latter is the exclusive way forward. As a self-proclaimed open source product expert, I have opinions and would like to share them. Firstly, the blending of enterprise software and services long predated the emergence of open source. And secondly, open source is a development model, not a business model, and it has very little actual impact on the ultimate delivery of products and services.

  • TravelSpirit aims to deliver ‘Mobility as a Service’ for the community

    TravelSpirit is a new enterprise that is fusing together disparate open source community projects linked to New Mobility Services (NMS), Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), Personal Data Stores (PDS), and public transit into a global architecture and commons of OSI-approved licensed code. By deploying the code, TravelSpirit’s goal is to create a new cooperative platform that will provide the public a “lifestyle enabler” called Mobility as a Service. Any new code projects incubated through the TravelSpirit community will be licensed under the Mozilla Public License 2.0 (MPLv2).

  • Events

    • Burgers 2016

      Me and Ana travelled to Cambridge last weekend for the Debian UK BBQ. We travelled by train and it was a rather scenic journey. In the past, on long journeys, I’ve used APRS-IS to beacon my location and plot my route but I have recently obtained the GPS module for my Yaesu VX-8DE and I thought I’d give some real RF APRS a go this time.

    • Coherent Accelerators, FPGAs, and PLD Microconference Accepted into LPC 2016

      It has been more than a decade since CPU core clock frequencies stopped doubling every 18 months, which has shifted the search for performance from the “hardware free lunch” to concurrency and, more recently, hardware accelerators. Beyond accelerating computational offload, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and programmable logic devices (PLDs) have long been used in the embedded space to provide ways to offload I/O or to implement timing-sensitive algorithms as close as possible to the pin.

      Regardless of how they are used, however, there exists a common class of problems which accompany the use of FPGAs, accelerators, and PLDs on Linux. Perhaps most important are the probing, discovery, and enumeration of these devices, which can be a challenge given the wide variety of interconnects to which they may be attached.

    • Arrival at FSFE Summit and QtCon 2016, Berlin

      The FSFE Summit and QtCon 2016 are getting under way at bcc, Berlin. The event comprises a range of communities, including KDE and VideoLAN and there are also a wide range of people present who are active in other projects, including Debian, Mozilla, GSoC and many more.

    • QtCon Opens in Berlin with Keynote by Raul Krauthausen
    • Plasma at QtCon

      QtCon 2016 is a special event: it co-hosts KDE’s Akademy, the Qt Contributor summit, the FSFE summit, the VideoLan dev days and KDAB’s training day into one big conference. As such, the conference is buzzing with developers and Free software people (often both traits combined in one person).

    • David Beazley’s Keynote Talk at PyData Chicago 2016

      This post-lunch screencast presentation by David Beazley is so entertaining, you can enjoy it without knowing any Python programming whatsoever. The aside comments alone are worth the price of admission. I won’t tell you the topic of the presentation. Suffice it to say — plenty funny.

    • Kickstarting conversations with lightning talks.

      A lot of people are coming to the Nextcloud conference to discuss ideas they have with others and I’ve been telling them to submit a lightning talk. As that is the idea of the lightning track on Saturday and Sunday: present yourself and the project you (want to) work on, inspire, share ideas. That way, others can then find you and talk to you afterward!

    • IoT and multi-cloud take center stage at upcoming Cloud Foundry Summit
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • OpenOffice, after years of neglect, could shut down

      OpenOffice, once the premier open source alternative to Microsoft Office, could be shut down because there aren’t enough developers to update the office suite. Project leaders are particularly worried about their ability to fix security problems.

      An e-mail thread titled, “What would OpenOffice retirement involve?” was started yesterday by Dennis Hamilton, vice president of Apache OpenOffice, a volunteer position that reports to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) board.

      “It is my considered opinion that there is no ready supply of developers who have the capacity, capability, and will to supplement the roughly half-dozen volunteers holding the project together,” Hamilton wrote.

      No decisions have been made yet, but Hamilton noted that “retirement of the project is a serious possibility,” as the Apache board “wants to know what the project’s considerations are with respect to retirement.”

    • Apache OpenOffice Proposed For Retirement, Still Being Debated
  • Education

    • Open Source Computer Club: Out of the trash, into the classroom

      The FLOSS Desktop for Kids initiative refurbishes surplus and discarded school computers, allowing students to learn hands-on about computers and technology by diagnosing, breaking down, and repairing hardware components. Students acquire, install and configure open source software including Linux operating systems, LibreOffice, GIMP, Pidgin, etc., and not just run apps on a tablet. The program is designed to teach engineering and technology by doing, failing, fixing, frustration, and finally achieving—that’s how Science, Technology, Engineering and Math really happen, and that aligns perfectly with STEM’s goals: “Knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD 6.0 lands

      OpenBSD developers might be keen on the 1980s in their artwork, but not in their operating system: Version 6.0 has just landed, and the maintainers have killed off VAX support.

      Apart from a logo that pays homage to the cover art for the iconic album The Wall, there’s a fair amount of new stuff landing in OpenBSD 6.0.

    • LLVM 3.9 Officially Released

      As expected, LLVM 3.9 was released today as the newest version of this widely-used and innovative compiler stack.

    • LLVM 3.9 Release

      This release is the result of the LLVM community’s work over the past
      six months, including ThinLTO, new libstdc++ ABI compatibility, support for all OpenCL 2.0 and all non-offloading OpenMP 4.5 features, clang-include-fixer, many new clang-tidy checks, significantly improved ELF linking with lld, identical code folding and initial LTO support in lld, as well as improved optimization, many bug fixes and more.


  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Supporting Competing APIs in Scala — Can Better Package Factoring Help?

      On and off over the last year, I’ve been working on a library of tree and map classes in Scala that happen to make use of some algebraic structures (mostly monoids or related concepts). In my initial implementations, I made use of the popular algebird variations on monoid and friends. In their incarnation as an algebird PR this was uncontroversial to say the least, but lately I have been re-thinking them as a third-party Scala package.

      This immediately raised some interesting and thorny questions: in an ecosystem that contains not just algebird, but other popular alternatives such as cats and scalaz, what algebra API should I use in my code? How best to allow the library user to interoperate with the algebra libray of their choice? Can I accomplish these things while also avoiding any problematic package dependencies in my library code?

    • GNU libc and Linux

      Some time ago, I built a static program that I wanted to run on an Android tablet. What was my surprise when I saw a message saying “FATAL: kernel too old”.

      After some investigation, it turns out that GNU libc may assume some Linux features are present during build time. This means that given a minimum Linux version, that built libc might only work on that version or newer.

      Since 2014, GNU libc itself requires 2.6.32 as the minimum. Previously, it was 2.6.16, changed in 2012.


  • Hardware

    • It Doesn’t Look Like We’ll See AMD ARM Development Boards This Year

      Things don’t appear to be looking up for AMD’s ARM efforts. It’s looking like we probably won’t be seeing AMD ARM development boards publicly available this year, if not the end of 2016, and there won’t be many of them going around.

      Last month I wrote about There’s Still No Sign Of AMD’s Low-Cost ARM Development Boards. While I’ve been quite excited to get my hands on some AMD ARM hardware, I haven’t been able to yet. This is while the AMD-powered 96Boards HuskyBoard was supposed to ship at the end of 2015 and the LeMaker Cello AMD A1120 board announced earlier this year was supposed to ship by the end of Q2. The Cello is a quarter late and it’s looking like it will be at least another quarter before we possibly see any AMD ARM hardware.

  • Security

    • Thursday’s security updates
    • Friday’s security updates
    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Tox Is Your New Secure Chat Application

      In a previous article, I talked about the Ring communication app. The article proved quite popular and aside from drawing a bit of attention — or maybe because of it — that article also drew some criticism, including “What about Tox?” That’s a totally fair question, so here we are.

    • Florida Computer Programmer Arrested For Hacking

      A South Florida-based computer programmer made an appearance in the Southern District of Florida today after being arrested Sunday on charges of hacking into computers operated by the Linux Kernel Organization and the Linux Foundation, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.

      The Linux Kernel Organization operates the www.kernel.org website from which it distributes the Linux kernel software. The Linux Foundation is a separate nonprofit foundation that supports the www.kernel.org website.

    • ​Florida Man Arrested for Allegedly Hacking Key Linux Servers

      A computer programmer from South Florida was arrested last week for allegedly hacking into servers related to the Linux operating system, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday. The case acts as a reminder that even the websites that host and distribute the operating systems our devices run on can be targeted by hackers.

    • Feds pin brazen kernel.org intrusion on 27-year-old programmer
    • Bloke accused of Linux kernel.org hack nabbed during traffic stop
    • Suspect arrested in 5-year-old kernel.org breach
    • Florida man arrested for hacking into Bay Area computer servers
    • Suspect Arrested for 5-Year-Old Linux Kernel Organization Breach
    • The Psychology of Report/Issue Templates

      The goal of a report template is two-fold. Firstly, it helps security teams to think about what specific pieces of information they require in a vulnerability report. Secondly, it provides a useful way of ensuring a hacker provides all of these different pieces of information when they submit a report.

    • FairWare Hackers May Take Ransoms, Keep Stolen Files [Ed: Lots of hot air over misconfiguration of Redis instances]
    • iguaz.io
    • How IT Departments Can Manage The Security Skills Shortage

      A lack of skilled cybersecurity talent is putting organizations at risk. Which skills are in highest demand, and how can IT managers secure the right people to protect their information?

    • Internet Of Things By The Numbers: What New Surveys Found

      Things are looking up for the Internet of Things. 80% of organizations have a more positive view of IoT today compared to a year ago, according to a survey of 512 IT and business executives by CompTIA. “This reflects greater levels of attention from the C-suite and a better understanding of how the many different elements of the IoT ecosystem are starting to come together,” says CompTIA. Here are the highlights from this and other recent surveys:

    • SMS Two-Factor Authentication Is No Longer Enough

      With the near-constant occurrence of highly organized and complex cybercrime attacks, effective digital authentication has never been more challenging. Businesses must verify who they’re transacting with by implementing additional security measures, but at the same time they need to minimize friction and provide seamless user experiences to avoid losing users to competitors.

    • Security Startup MedSec Shorts St. Jude Medical Stock To Punish It For Flimsy Pacemaker Security

      The one-two punch of incompetent IT administrators and botched connected device security has resulted in an unsurprising spike in ransomeware attacks across the medical industry. And while the rise in easily hacked “smart” TVs, tea kettles, and kids toys is superficially funny in the consumer internet of things space, it’s less amusing when you’re a patient relying on poorly secured pace makers and essential medical equipment. But much like the internet of things space these devices are not only poorly secured, they’re supported by companies that aren’t very good at releasing timely security updates.

      Case in point: a team of hackers working for cybersecurity startup MedSec found a bevy of flaws in medical devices sold by St. Jude Medical Inc, ranging from a lack of overall encryption to vulnerabilities letting unauthorized devices communicate with the company’s pacemakers and defibrillators. And while we’ve talked about the threat of hackable pacemakers for more than a decade, hackers are increasingly worming their way into poorly secured radiology equipment, blood gas analyzers and other hospital and nursing home equipment to steal data for identity theft, giving the threat an added dimension.

    • Dropbox User? Change Your Password As Soon As Possible

      Account details of 68 million Dropbox accounts has been leaked online. Here’s how to check whether you’re affected, and how to change your password.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Green Party: Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley elected as co-leaders

      Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley have been elected co-leaders of the Green Party of England and Wales in a job-sharing arrangement.

      They saw off competition from five others to succeed Natalie Bennett, who is stepping down after four years.

      Ms Lucas, the Greens’ only MP, was leader of the party between 2008 and 2012 while Mr Bartley is the party’s work and pensions spokesman.

      The two said the joint election showed the party was “not bound by tradition”.

      Their joint ticket took 13,570 – 88% – of the 15,467 votes cast.

      The announcement was made at the party’s autumn conference in Birmingham, at which Amelia Womack was also elected deputy leader.

    • Some Important Things That Really Do Matter About Hillary Clinton

      Even if everyone does it, that does not make it right. That excuse did not work for you in 6th grade when you were caught smoking in the girl’s room and it should not be accepted from a presidential candidate or her supporters in the media.

      Many politicians do crappy things. That is not an excuse for you to also do them. See above.

      “Well, at least I wasn’t indicted” is not a very high standard for the presidency.

      “There is no proof of quid pro quo.” What do you mean by proof? A notarized statement “This guy gave us money, so let’s sell him weapons?” Reality doesn’t work that way so spare us the strawman argument. Phone calls are made. Conversations happen. Minions learn quickly what their boss wants. People at the Clintons’ level rarely leave paper trails behind and when they do, they delete them before the FBI arrives to pick up the server.

    • Clinton emails wiped clean after NYT story

      A number of Hillary Clinton’s private emails were erased weeks after The New York Times published a story reporting on her use of a private email server while secretary of State, according to notes from the FBI’s investigation released on Friday.

      The notes include an entry that says that someone mistakenly deleted Clinton’s archived mailbox from her server and exported files.

      The deletion took place between March 25 and March 31, the FBI learned in a May 3 interview. The name of the person who deleted the emails was redacted from the FBI’s notes.

      “In a follow-up FBI interview on May 3, 2016, —— Indicated he believed he had an ‘oh s–t’ moment and sometime between March 25-31, 2015 deleted the Clinton archive mailbox from PRN server and used BleachBit to delete the exported .PST files he had created on the server system containing Clinton;s e-mails,” the FBI notes released on Friday stated.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • In Kashmir, Conspiracies Fester Under Internet Censorship

      There is a video on YouTube that shakes and hiccups through 11-and-a-half minutes of the last rites for Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Thousands of men and women stand in a clearing surrounded by trees, straining for a final glimpse, a chance for a picture, a last opportunity to touch the face of Wani, a 21-year-old militant shot dead by Indian forces on July 8, 2016 in Anantnag District in the Kashmir valley.

      The people sob and shout as Wani’s corpse, laid out on a cot, covered in an emerald green sheet, is jostled about. A hand reaches over from outside the frame to shove back the bandage wrapped around Wani’s forehead to reveal a still bloody wound. The crowd chants, “Azadi! Azadi!” An estimated 200,000 Kashmiris performed funeral prayers for Wani that day — 40 services, back to back.

    • Censorship in Virginia

      Greetings, brothers, sisters and comrades: I am a cadre of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter, currently incarcerated at Red Onion Prison in the southwest corner of Virginia.


      Prison officials claim without evidence that certain publications constitute a “threat to security.” In the 10 years that I have been incarcerated, I’ve witnessed and heard of many violent altercations, but never have I heard or witnessed prisoners fight over a newspaper.

    • “We don’t need a censorship of the press…

      we have a censorship by the press.” – G.K. Chesterton

      Behold! Two papers, both alike in dignity, in fair Austin where we lay our scene. Same paper, same date but pitched to different markets. One geared to help sway the Austin Liberals and the other pitched to a clearly more conservative market.

    • VidMe Releases Pro-Freedom Ad Mocking YouTube Censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • DHS’s New Election Cybersecurity Committee Has No Cybersecurity Experts

      The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) [yes, there's an association for everything] has just announced its selections to head up a DHS “working group” tackling “election infrastructure cybersecurity.” Like any committee formed in response to a hot-button topic, the appointees are better known for their years of tenure in government positions than their technical acumen, as the ACLU’s Chris Soghoian points out.

    • Snowden documents show NSA leak is real
    • USA spy agency’s hacking tools revealed on Internet
    • Snowden docs link NSA to Equation Group hackers
    • NSA cyber weapons ‘hacked’ by mysterious Shadow Brokers
    • Snowden: Exposure of Alleged NSA Tools May Be Warning to US
    • The Shadow Brokers Publish NSA Spy Tools, Demonstrating Possible Flaws in the NSA’s Approach to Security Vulnerabilities

      A group calling itself the Shadow Brokers recently released powerful surveillance tools publicly on the Web and promises to publish more dangerous tools for the price of one million bitcoin – or to whomever makes the best offer, if they can’t get to a million.1

      The Intercept has confirmed that at least one of the surveillance tools released online is “covered with the NSA’s virtual fingerprints,” making it all but certain that this tool and the others released by the Shadow Brokers came from within the agency. The SECONDDATE program, which the Intercept analyzed and compared to information in an NSA manual provided to them by whistleblower Edward Snowden, is designed to redirect a target’s browser to an NSA controlled server which then infects the target computer with malware.

    • We want GCHQ-style spy powers to hack cybercrims, say police

      Traditional law enforcement techniques are incapable of tackling the rise of cybercrime, according to a panel of experts gathered to discuss the issue at the Chartered Institute of IT.

      Last night more than a hundred IT professionals and academics, including representatives of the National Crime Agency and Sir David Omand, the former director of GCHQ, discussed what they saw as the necessity of the police acting more like intelligence agencies and “disrupting” cybercriminals where other methods of law enforcement failed.

      The perpetrators of cybercrime are often not only overseas, but in hard-to-reach jurisdictions. Evgeniy Bogachev, the Russian national who created the GameOver Zeus trojan, for instance, currently has a $3m bounty on his capture – but Russia does not want to hand him over to the US.

      In such situations, when arrests are not possible, disrupting criminal activities “may be the only response” suggested Sir David Omand, adding that “the experts in disruption are in the intelligence community.”

      Technical disruption, as the NCA practices it, can involve sinkholing, getting hold of the domains used by malware to communicate and so breaking its command and control network. Paul Edmunds, the head of technology at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, explained how Operation Bluebonnet took aim at the Dridex banking trojan, but said that sinkholing it and organising arrests required a concerted international effort – one that may need to be repeated with the “up-and-coming” exploit kit Rig.

    • Leaked Law Enforcement Supply Catalog Shows Souped-Up Cell Tower Spoofers, Tons Of Pervasive Surveillance Options

      The Intercept has obtained what appears to be another set of leaked documents — these ones originating from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The first document released (assuming that more are on the way) is a catalog of law enforcement-only tech products from UK firm Cobham, including Stingray-like devices capable of not only locating suspects, but also intercepting their phone calls and messages.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Women Say EPA Officials Sexually Harassed Them—and Their Bosses Did Nothing

      More than a year after troubling allegations of sexual harassment at an Environmental Protection Agency office were exposed in a congressional hearing, the agency’s watchdog says it will conduct an audit of how this office handles sexual-harassment complaints. The office under scrutiny? The same one embroiled in the Flint, Michigan, water crisis months ago.

      In a letter sent in August to the EPA’s Region 5 office in Chicago, the agency’s inspector general’s office said it plans to “determine whether Region 5 managers appropriately handled allegations of sexual harassment.” The audit was first reported by the Washington Examiner.

    • The Revenge of Roger’s Angels

      It took 15 days to end the mighty 20-year reign of Roger Ailes at Fox News, one of the most storied runs in media and political history. Ailes built not just a conservative cable news channel but something like a fourth branch of government; a propaganda arm for the GOP; an organization that determined Republican presidential candidates, sold wars, and decided the issues of the day for 2 million viewers. That the place turned out to be rife with grotesque abuses of power has left even its liberal critics stunned. More than two dozen women have come forward to accuse Ailes of sexual harassment, and what they have exposed is both a culture of misogyny and one of corruption and surveillance, smear campaigns and hush money, with implications reaching far wider than one disturbed man at the top.

      It began, of course, with a lawsuit. Of all the people who might have brought down Ailes, the former Fox & Friends anchor Gretchen Carlson was among the least likely. A 50-year-old former Miss America, she was the archetypal Fox anchor: blonde, right-wing, proudly anti-intellectual. A memorable Daily Show clip showed Carlson saying she needed to Google the words czar and ignoramus. But television is a deceptive medium. Off-camera, Carlson is a Stanford- and Oxford-educated feminist who chafed at the culture of Fox News. When Ailes made harassing comments to her about her legs and suggested she wear tight-fitting outfits after she joined the network in 2005, she tried to ignore him. But eventually he pushed her too far. When Carlson complained to her supervisor in 2009 about her co-host Steve Doocy, who she said condescended to her on and off the air, Ailes responded that she was “a man hater” and a “killer” who “needed to get along with the boys.” After this conversation, Carlson says, her role on the show diminished. In September 2013, Ailes demoted her from the morning show Fox & Friends to the lower-rated 2 p.m. time slot.

    • New York Times launches McCarthyite witch-hunt against Julian Assange

      The New York Times Thursday published an article entitled “How Russia Often Benefits When Julian Assange Reveals the West’s Secrets.” The 5,000-word piece, covering three columns of the top half of its front page, boasts three bylines. Presented as a major investigative news article, it is a piece of pro-government propaganda, whose style and outright character assassination against the WikiLeaks founder seems to have been cribbed from the vilest McCarthyite smear jobs of the 1950s.

      Stringing together half-truths, innuendos, totally unsubstantiated assertions presented as facts and vicious ad hominem attacks on a man who has been persecuted and is effectively imprisoned because of his exposures of the crimes of US imperialism, the article has essentially three related purposes.

    • Court Tosses Prestigious Pets’ $1 Million Defamation Suit Against Unhappy Customers

      Prestigious Pets, a Texas pet-sitting company, has done a severe amount of damage to the “prestigious” half of its name over the past several months. After front-loading its inevitable reputational ruin by adding a KlearGearian “non-disparagement clause” to its service contracts, the company doubled-down with a $1 million defamation lawsuit after losing out on its small claims court bid to extract $6,766 from an unhappy customer for “lost work opportunities” and “libelous and slandurous [sic] harm.”

      The unhappy customers, whose Yelp review only stated the pet sitter Prestigious Pets hired had overfed their fish, were forced to defend themselves against a clearly baseless lawsuit. Fortunately, Chris Dachniwsky of law firm Thompson & Knight stepped up to represent the couple on a contingency basis.

    • Texas Court Strikes Down Prestigious Pets’ Nondisparagement Clause Lawsuit

      A state District Court in Dallas (Judge Jim Jordan of the 160th District) has struck down a lawsuit over a non-disparagement clause in a form consumer agreement, holding that it could not be enforced against a consumer who expressed dissatisfaction about the service provided by a local business. Although we have won default judgments in Utah against Kleargear and in New York against Accessory Outlet, this case represents the first time a company defended its non-disparagement clause with a brief, and thus the first time we have had a judge’s ruling refusing to enforce such a clause.

    • School District Routinely Abused Access To Law Enforcement Database; Suspended Whistleblower Who Exposed It

      Give enough people access to sensitive information and abuse is inevitable. We’ve covered multiple incidents of law enforcement database misuse by police officers. Some have used their access to track former spouses. Others use it to harvest info on potential partners, supplementing the minimal personal data supplied by internet dating sites.

      But it’s not just law enforcement officers abusing this access. It’s also abused by public employees who have been granted access to these databases. Jose Gaspar of Bakersfield.com details the apparent routine misuse of database access by school administrators.

    • NYPD Suddenly Stops Making Disciplinary Documents Public; Cites ‘Saving Paper,’ 40-Year-Old Law

      The NYPD may not have time to update its Muslim surveillance policies or inform its officers of changes to its stop-and-frisk program, but it certainly has time to dig around for policies it can use to keep even more information out of the public’s hands.

      The New York Daily News reports the NYPD has been paging through old laws and has found something that will be useful in further reducing the department’s accountability.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Surprise! European Union Adopts Net Neutrality Guidelines That Don’t Suck

      As we noted last October, the European Union passed net neutrality rules that not only don’t really protect net neutrality, but actually give ISPs across the EU member countries the green light to violate net neutrality consistently — just as long as ISPs are relatively clever about it. Just like the original, overturned 2010 net neutrality rules in the States, Europe’s new rules (which took effect April 30) are packed with all manner of loopholes giving exemption for “specialized services” and “class-based discrimination,” as well as giving the green light for zero rating.

      Fortunately, the European Union’s Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) has been cooking up new guidelines to help European countries interpret and adopt the new rules. Under heavy pressure from net neutrality advocates overseas, the BEREC’s final guidelines have been published and they’re notably better than many people predicted. Much of the worst-offending loophole language has been trimmed back, despite earlier threats by European wireless providers that they’d withhold fifth-generation (5G) upgrades if the guidelines toughened up the rules (a common, empty bluff in telecom).

    • CBS Announces New Ad-Free More-Expensive Streaming Service…That Includes Ads

      Some terrestrial TV stations and cable stations are better at internet-ing than others. While Netflix has built an empire upon streaming ad-free shows, for instance, other services like Hulu have gone the route of a tiered structure, with a price point for streaming with ads and one for streaming without ads. One of the interesting things is seeing other traditional broadcast networks watch how these models play out and then go about offering their own. Take CBS, for instance. It’s very clear that CBS is enamored with the idea of streaming its content advertising free, but likes Hulu’s tiered structure better than that of Netflix.

      At CBS’ site, you can see that it is now offering two tiers of its “All Access” platform. The existing service is offered with “Limited Commercials”, while a service that costs $4 more is labeled “Commercial Free.” I’d like to focus on the commercial free offering for a moment, because it’s a bold step that includes giving viewers a way to stream CBS shows “commercial free”, except where there are both commercials and where CBS is choosing to call “commercials” by the term “promotional interruptions” instead.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • UT to doughnut shop: Yeast and desist

        Last month, Seng received a letter sent on behalf of the university citing a violation of trademark rights in relation to the Longhorn Donut and requesting that, when it comes to selling them, Seng yeast and desist.

        “It’s not fair. It’s not right,” Seng said. “This I created by myself, I’m not copying from them. I’m supporting them.”

        “It wasn’t very nice,” added her boyfriend, Fred Hart. “We felt kind of bullied.”

      • University Of Texas Bullies Pastry Shop Over Donuts Shaped Like ‘Hook ‘Em Horns’ Hands

        While the University of Texas is no stranger to being a trademark bully, and colleges in general have become overtly maximalist in intellectual property protectionism, it can still be stunning to see the lengths to which a school will go. The latest trademark dispute concerning UT involves donuts shaped in the ‘hook ‘em horns’ gesture, because apparently the school is now in the pastry business. Recently, the owner of Donut Taco Palace 1, Angel Seng, received a threat letter from the university insisting that she stop making donuts that look like horned-hands.

      • Business Promoting Children Reading Sues Schools Over Trademarks For Encouraging Reading

        We’ve occasionally seen instances in the past in which educational institutions are threatened with trademark lawsuits or actually go through them, though those suits usually feature the worst trademark bullies out there (hi, Olympics!). Rarer is seeing some small business owner pestering schools with trademark disputes. Still rarer are cases in which those businesses are actually involved in the business of trying to promote education.

        Yet that’s exactly what we have in the case of Springboards to Education, which has filed nine trademark suits against seven school districts, a non-profit, and a library.

      • Local business owner sues school districts for trademark violations

        The concept of incentivizing students to read across school districts in the Rio Grande Valley and around the state has recently taken an ambiguous turn as some districts are facing lawsuits claiming trademark infringement for using descriptions such as “Millionaire Reader” or “Millionaire Reading Club.”

    • Copyrights

      • Creative Commons Wants To Step Into Lawsuit Over Definition Of ‘Noncommercial’ In A CC License

        Two decades ago, there were a series of lawsuits against copy shops over whether or not it was fair use for them to be photocopying educational materials for college coursepacks. Unfortunately (and, some of us still think, incorrectly) the courts ruled that this was not fair use. The end result was that the price of coursepacks shot up to astronomical levels (this happened while I was in college, and I saw coursepacks increase in price from $20 – $30 to well over $100, and they’ve gone up more since then).

        Earlier this year, it appears that a new version of this kind of lawsuit was filed by Great Minds, an educational non-profit, against FedEx, the shipping giant who also took over what used to be known as Kinkos copy shops, now rebranded as FedEx or FedEx Office. At issue: these copy shops owned by FedEx were photocopying some of Great Minds’ works for educational entities. Great Minds says that FedEx is infringing on the copyright. If that was all there was to it, based on the cases back in the 90s, Great Minds would have a slam dunk of a case (unfortunately).

      • Hollywood Freaking Out That Europe Might Make It Marginally Easier For People To Legally Access Content

        Okay, we have some really serious concerns about the absolute mess of a draft copyright reform proposal that was leaked via EU regulators. The whole thing is basically a giant handout to legacy entertainment companies, pushing for things like taxing Google and other aggregators, and generally ignoring what’s best for the public.

        But apparently there’s one single part of the plan that the entertainment guys don’t like: the fact that a big part of the proposal is to knock out geoblocking, to create this “digital single market.” To hear Hollywood whine about this, you’d think it was the equivalent of forcibly making all their content available via BitTorrent.

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