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Battistelli is Lying About Patent Quality While It Continues to Nosedive at the EPO as Part of His Neo-liberal ‘Production’ Strategy

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent quality? That’s the old EPO. Now it’s all about quantity!

The Leader of the Luddites
The Leader of the Luddites, engraving of 1812

Summary: Battistelli, who tries to automate and streamline everything so as to maximise patent grants rather than examine applications properly, is making incredible claims that will almost certainly backfire on him

AMID EPO crisis, which undoubtedly continues to deepen, more and more people start to compare it to the USPTO, where patent quality has been rather notorious for quite some time (they almost just rubberstamp applications, with a 92% acceptance rate).

For weeks now (if not a whole month and a half!) the EPO has been 'spamming' universities in Europe on a daily basis, in order to help Battistelli's lobbying campaign (today was no exception [1, 2]). Both time and money may be running out. Talented workers are already leaving, causing brain drain that’s unprecedented in the EPO’s history. What will perhaps be left is just the job skill of using a rubber stamp, causing a copious lump of patents to come through with no quality assessment/control. That’s a nightmare scenario for the EPO’s reputation, on which has been based for decades. For the third time in one week the EPO does the unthinkable by inviting software patents. “At the EPO,” it wrote today, computer-implemented inventions must fulfil special patentability criteria. Learn more here!”

This is the third time in just a few days that the EPO tacitly promotes software patents in Europe. Remember that these are not legal in Europe (political decisions were made on patent scope more than a decade ago), but then again, under Battistelli the EPO is above the law anyway. Or so it claims. It just ignores court decisions against it, flaunting immunity. Is there any credibility left to lose? Is the EPO’s Twitter account signaling that the EPO will likely rubberstamp just about anything, including software patents (provided they’re written in some misleading fashion, as per the EPO’s advice)? This could become a threat to the very existence of the EPO. People won’t pay to receive (or renew) patents. The demand may go down. Prices (fees) likewise. What might be the impact on salaries?

“You should see the new issue of the Gazette,” one person told us, “a piece of Pravda-type propaganda…. interview with Battistelli, Lisbon with Battistelli… what is also interesting is that they have employed two more “investigators”…” (a subject we shall expand on another day).

So the EPO is apparently the embodiment of just one person, Battistelli, examiners that are treated like machine operators in an assembly line, and daily propaganda to keep those operators chugging along. No wonder a lot of smart people have decided to leave or retire early. They see the writings on the wall. Battistelli is just a liquidator, not a leader.

A new article by Andrew Chung, who wrote a highly misleading headline (unless his editor types the headlines, as is quite common) that we noted last night using a screenshot, is repeating Battistelli’s latest propaganda in a new puff piece (published 24 hours ago). It’s again misleading and we can’t help but wonder what Chung has been drinking (maybe more of that aforementioned Kool-Aid). Basically, Battistelli is riding the coattails of older patents. He ruins EP (European Patent) quality while hiding it using the accomplishment of his predecessors. This guy is so clueless about patents (his workers know far more than he will ever know), but Chung acts like some kind of Battistelli stenographer (reposted in other news sites) and the editor went with the headline “Europe issues better patents than U.S. – Europe patent boss” (as if the US is a good yardstick these days).

As realised by EPO insiders, Battistelli is demolishing the EPO as they once know it and he now lies to everyone, much to the pleasure of those who lie for him (here he is propped up by CIPA and other interest groups or publishers that are in bed with the EPO [1, 2, 3, 4]).

The article itself will probably help Battistelli’s lobbying (he likes to cite his paid “media partners” for support of his claims) and here is what it says:

Amid growing concerns by some U.S. lawmakers that federal officials may be granting patents that fuel abusive litigation, the head of the European Patent Office says his agency is producing better-quality patents than its American counterpart.

EPO President Benoît Battistelli said his office scrutinizes patent applications more closely than the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which he said results in patents that are more legally sound going out the door.


Battistelli, a French national who has led the EPO since 2010, said his agency has developed databases and search engines that allow it to perform the most comprehensive research on prior inventions that could lead to a rejection of a patent.

Unlike in the United States, he added, all patent applications are scrutinized by three officials, known as patent examiners, rather than just one.

This leads to a lower rate of granted patents, he said, but they are legally solid.

On the other hand, it costs roughly twice as much to obtain a patent in Europe, around 5,000 euros ($5,625), than in the United States.

Fact-checking Battistelli’s claims? Not needed. Just write down what a chronic liar says and call yourself a “Reuters journalist”.

This article was sent to us by several EPO insiders although we actually noticed it an hour after it had been published (we have an alerting system for all things EPO). Here is what a patent attorney wrote in response to a related discussion today:

On how to trade off quality and productivity, the USPTO and the EPO cannot meaningfully be compared. That’s because the EPO is master of its own house and the USPTO is not. Who makes the law of patent validity in Europe? The EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal. Who in the USA? The Supreme Court of the USA and it makes law that i) frustrates any USPTO drive towards productivity and quality and ii) encourages Applicants and their lawyers to obfuscate and work diligently away from clarity in the claims.

So of course Mr Spigarelli sees it all as very simple. Pure self-interest drives Applicants at the EPO to draft clearly. EPO separation of search and examination, and strict enforcement of EPC Rules by DG1, makes it imperative that i) from the outset, Applicant presents an exhaustive set of dependent claims and ii) DG1 searches them all, at the outset, exhaustively. That way lies both quality and productivity. Simples. But not yet at the USPTO.

Now that the USA is on a First to File system however, Applicant self-interest in that country will kick in, gradually to improve drafting in the USA and, in its wake, will come better quality and productivity. How so? Because the US will now find it has to ratchet up its “written description” requirement to somewhere near the EPO’s exacting Gold Standard for disclosure, in order fairly to judge issues of novelty, priority and added matter.

In response to this, one person wrote:

Improving patent quality flows both ways, with the quality of the drafted claims submitted for examination being an equally important aspect in the equation. The article mentioned situations where the examiners don’t understand the invention – that’s a clear indictment of the patent attorney who drafted the claims, isn’t it? A strategy of drafting overly broad claims and seeing what sticks is not helpful for anyone (other than the attorney charging fees to his client).

The examiners in the USPTO need more time, better IT support and investment to help improve the quality of their work. They are working hard in less than perfect circumstances and we should all support them. Sharing lessons learned with the EPO is a good start, but attorneys need to do their part too, IMHO.

Also in response to the above:

“The U.S. speakers mostly assumed a trade-off between the two goals of productivity and quality…snip…Alfred Spigarelli, European Patent Office (EPO), disagreed with the trade-off premise, and stated that at the EPO, a focus on quality results in productivity. He argued the ultimate goal is always quality, from which productivity flows.”

At the EPO, “Early Certainty” equals quality with timeliness. And timeliness increases productivity, since examiners are given targets on that. The trade-off is merely hidden and fully loaded onto the individual examiners’ shoulders.

“Professors Melissa Wasserman and Michael D. Frakes discussed their study which indicates that promoted USPTO examiners may generally grant more patents because of less examination time as they are promoted.”

At the the EPO, promoted and non-promoted examiners have the same examination time, but promoted examiners likely grant more.

Same here, same there, same everywhere …

Looking at another thread, this one new comment on “Early Certainty” reveals how insiders feel about the patent quality and overcapacity:

- Overrecruitment is discussed in internal FAQ’s on Early Certainty, but not in the external one, of course.

- Production demands for newcomers have always been inflating, as they doe for all other examiners on a yearly basis.

- Contracts for examiners: the numbers are in the Social Report published by the EPO.

We shall expand on that another day, possibly this weekend, due to lack of time. The above comments (the first three) were posted in response to coverage from an event that was mentioned here a few days ago. David Kappos, as we expected, used it to lobby for software patents again (he’d paid for that lobbying). Being like a corrupt official-turned-lobbyist, here is what he did: “Finally, David Kappos, former head of USPTO and current partner at Cravath, Swain and Moore, reviewed how the USPTO has historically worked on patent quality. He pointed out that the USPTO has been applying the changing standards and rules set by the courts. He stated that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice test is not a helpful flexible rule, but arbitrary and vague. He believes that the courts and USPTO are placed in a position of having to apply an impossible standard and should not be blamed for their application of said standard.”

This utter nonsense from Kappos, calling for decline in patent quality (like it was under his reign), comes at an interesting/strategic time when software patents are pretty much dead. There are few exceptions to that, as we mentioned here before, but in the vast majority of cases software patents drop like flies, even in bulk. Last night we mentioned articles like this one (cherry-picking of cases by the patent microcosm) and here we have a Microsoft advocacy site, citing Microsoft’s lobbying site, showing that Microsoft props up illusions of software patents resurgence, pretending they’re fine (they’re not). Remember that Microsoft is among the companies that pay Kappos to lobby along those lines. Here is what Microsoft has to say: “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit yesterday issued an important decision strengthening the law related to software patent eligibility under Section 101 of the Patent Act. This ruling gives us useful guidance for determining which software innovations qualify for protection and helping provide greater stability to the U.S. patent system, a foundation for our digital economy. Erich Andersen, vice president and deputy general counsel of Microsoft’s IP (Intellectual Property) Group wrote a blog post expressing his views on this ruling.”

Well, as expected right from the start, patent law firms yank out their misleading jubilations because of McRO (one single patent!) [1, 2] and Gene Quinn generalises at Watchtroll, having ignored pretty much all the recent decisions which invalidated software patents (the cherry-picking or selective coverage tactic).

“What we see in the US is a dodgy system wherein the patent office is inclined to just grant everything, courts reject a lot of patents, and if Battistelli gets his way the EPO will be the same, inviting a lot of patent trolls, software patents that hamper innovation, and a lot more money for the patent microcosm.”In other news regarding patent scope in the US, “patented software” became the subject of an antitrust lawsuit, a drug patent of Teva got invalidated by PTAB [1, 2, 3], and USPTO examiners awarded another software patent (which courts would likely invalidate if ever scrutinised properly).

What we see in the US is a dodgy system wherein the patent office is inclined to just grant everything, courts reject a lot of patents, and if Battistelli gets his way the EPO will be the same, inviting a lot of patent trolls, software patents that hamper innovation, and a lot more money for the patent microcosm. So, are EPO patents better than US patents? Well, the old ones probably are, but Battistelli is going to change that. As a Conservative Neo-liberal he’s likely to just abuse science, just like his 'master' Sarkozy, who is now publicly denying climate science.

Battistelli and His Circle — Not Just Team UPC — Still Delusional About the Prospects of a Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Long nose

Summary: The crazy theory or baseless belief that somehow, somewhere, by some truly miraculous means, UPC will suddenly become a reality, damaging the whole of Europe for the sake of patent law firms

IT IS TRULY SAD to see that Team UPC and the EPO‘s President are still living in a delusional world, surrounding themselves only with equally delusional people (echo chamber/choir). They want us too to live in a fantasy, and maybe even believe that the UPC still has a chance. We refuted/debunked this fairy tale many times in July (after Brexit) and to quote a comment we’ve received this week, “Germany will not ratify the UPC treaty. Thus the project is dead.” It seems rather obvious, but when one has an agenda, reality has a distortion field. Unlike Team UPC, yours truly has no financial stake when it comes to the UPC. It’s just that the UPC is unjust, it is undemocratic, and it would render many patent examiners (i.e. scientists) redundant. The UPC is very harmful to Europe, even though it will never happen anyway. It’s just a lot of effort and resources down the drain.

Madman in chief Battistelli is still lobbying for the UPC. He never gets tired of this, having done so since before he was even a President at the EPO. “European Patent Chief Wants Post-Brexit UK In Unified Court” is the headline of a new article from Law 360 and some people are distorting this headline to suit their agenda (“EPO wants UK to ratify Unified Patent Court agreement despite Brexit” is not what the original said), equating the “EPO” with Battistelli as if it’s a one-person organisation (Battistelli has 0% approval rating at the EPO, so clearly his own workers strongly disagree with him). To quote Law 360: “The European Patent Office is urging the U.K. to ratify an agreement to create a Unified Patent Court system for the European Union, even though voters in the country passed a referendum to leave the bloc, EPO President Benoît Battistelli said Tuesday.”

Team UPC is desperately trying to float this dead project (Germany won’t ratify it) and Italian elements of this team speak up amid new reports like this one (“Changing places: why Milan should host a UPC central division court”). We have heard it before (about Milan as a theoretical substitute for London), but it’s not so suitable a substitute and it requires a massive overhaul of the UPC and what it stands for (not even renaming Milan “London” would shift all the skilled people to Milan). Found via Twitter was this firm of “Intellectual Property Consultants” (their own description) trying to convince us that the UPC is somehow coming because, in their own words:

Italian Parliament’s lower house passes ratification of Unified Patent Court Agreement

The lower house of the Italian Parliament has approved a bill on ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement, a passage through the upper house is necessary for final approval.

Yesterday the Italian Parliament’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, approved the draft law on ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPC Agreement), with 302 votes in favour, 108 against and 25 abstentions.

The Unified Patent Court is the supranational tribunal that will eventually have exclusive jurisdiction on both European and unitary patents.


The Committee for EU Policy asked the government to consider the opportunity, within the United Kingdom’s Brexit process, of requesting that Italy forward its candidacy for the seat of the Unified Patent Court’s central division originally assigned London.

The bill must pass through the Italian Senate before final approval.

Several other Italian patents-centric firms want the UPC and spoke about it today. Why? Because it would pass Europe’s wealth into their pockets while retarding science, technology, medicine, etc. The Unified Patent Court is not about Europe but about some European lawyers. Not even all of them…

For reasons we laid out before, the UPC is almost certainly dead and unlike some others who deny it here’s one firm which at least acknowledges the role of Brexit in burying the UPC, probably in the whole of Europe if not just in the UK. “Netherlands ratifies #UPC agreement with press release noting uncertainty over Brexit,” says this tweet, linking to a Dutch article. Watch what Bristows (probably the most vocal among Team UPC) wrote about it a short while ago. Certainly, especially in the UK, the UPC is a dead (Trojan) horse and Bristows speaks of a “Great programme from BBC radio4 on Brexit’s impact on the #law including the #upc”

All this UPC lobbying is intended for Team UPC “to get what they want – the UPC in operation asap,” said a new comment today. This rightly speaks of “delusions of grandeur”:

I fear that delusions of grandeur abound. Much of the analysis (but not all) is based on how to get what they want – the UPC in operation asap. That seems to require the UK to sign up quickly, while the UK government is dealing with a Brexit scenario! There seems to be a lot of yes, yes but we are more important so the UK will act against its citizens’ mandate as that’s in our best interest. They may be surprised to hear that the UK government, irrespective of its personal opinion, is facing a new reality and may have reasons not to help them on this matter.
It astounds me that there is such a lack of appreciation for the changed framework. All those pushing for change and acceptance of change appear to be the least able to accept change when it involves them.

No matter what self-serving patent law firms are saying, the UPC (or the unitary patent) is basically dead in the water. They try to mislead the public and confuse politicians. They tried this on David Davis here in the UK (Bristows). It’s rude if not just pathetic. “UPC will not replace EPO patent opposition procedure,” one person wrote, “further view from pharma industry” in the Managing IP UPC advocacy events in France and Germany last week [1, 2, 3, 4]. These lobbying events with the EPO inside were filled to the rim with Team UPC. To quote one person: “Thanks @ManagingIP for an excellent #patent forum http://bit.ly/2bUxYpI including key updates from @EPOorg on #UPC + industry perspective” (lawyers are not an industry but a meta-industry).

These patent law firms are trying to perturb patent law to increase their profits (more damages, more lawsuits) and one such firm published Unitary Patent, Unified Patent Court, and “Brexit”, having noted (from the lobbying events) that “British EP patent attorneys probably in better position to represent at #upc than English solicitors!”

We expect the conspirators behind the UPC to rename and restructure it, maybe start from scratch or try to patch the whole thing in vain. They won’t know the impact/outcome of Brexit for years to come, so this is tremedously premature and they don’t even know whether to include the UK or not. It’s almost a non-starter.

Remember. Mark our words. The UPC will never happen, not under this name and not in this current form. It’s just reality distortion.

Links 15/9/2016: CUPS 2.2, Copyright Undermines European Internet Users

Posted in News Roundup at 1:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Opens Doors for Comms Startups

    Open source can break down barriers to startups and innovation in the comms industry, which can often be resistant to new ideas.

    “Our industry as a whole has a high barrier to entry for startups, and new small companies,” Tom Anschutz, distinguished member of the AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) technical staff, said, speaking on a panel about the future of the data center. “With open source, SDN and NFV, one of the roles and responsibilities of innovating and bringing new things to the industry has opened up.”

    However, while open source provides great value, somebody’s got to provide packaged support, Trey Hall, vice president of marketing and technology for Walker and Associates, said. Barriers to entry are low, but support is still challenging.

  • What Open-Source Software Could Mean For Agriculture

    A lot of computer software is proprietary – you have to buy it, and modifying the code is strictly off-limits. But another type of software – called “open-source software” – performs as its name implies. Anyone is free to inspect, modify or enhance it.

    Over the years, this method of coding has led to some useful innovations, primarily for a variety of everyday computing tasks that pretty much anyone using the Internet today unknowingly takes advantage of. Now, open-source software is bleeding into the agriculture industry.

  • TaxBrain: Open source economic forecasting

    As economic policy becomes more complex, it grows less transparent.

    To bring some insight into the data and forecasts, the American Enterprise Institute’s Open Source Policy Center (OSPC) has developed a new approach to policy analysis.

    The TaxBrain web application lets users simulate and study the effect of tax policy reforms using open source economic models. Developed and launched in April by OSPC, TaxBrain aims “to make economic policy analysis more transparent, accessible and scientific,” AEI officials said.

  • Top 10 Google Open Source Projects You Must Know

    Google is a titan in the technology industry. Google has contributed to nearly every front of technology, and, since the Alphabet restructuring, has become the single most valuable company in the world. Google has also made some notable contributions to the open source community in the form of Android, Chromium OS, Go, Material Design Icons etc.

  • CloudBees Announces First Enterprise Distribution of Jenkins, Combining Open Source Innovation with Enterprise-Class Reliability and Stability
  • From MIT to MapR, Big Data Training is Becoming Easily Accessible
  • 3 open source alternatives to PowerPoint

    PowerPoint is one of those programs whose use has become so ingrained in the corporate world that it is probably running the risk of becoming completely genericized, in the same way that some people use Kleenex to refer to all tissues, or BAND-AIDs to refer to all bandages.

    But presenting a slideshow doesn’t have to mean using PowerPoint. There are a number of totally capable open source alternatives to PowerPoint for giving visual presentations. In many cases, the features of these “alternatives” are so compelling that, unless you’re absolutely forced to use PowerPoint, I don’t know why you still would.

  • Global group communication and culture tips
  • SaaS/Back End

    • Mirantis Acquires TCP Cloud to Advance Kubernetes Ambitions

      Based in Prague, TCP Cloud provides managed services around deployments of OpenStack, OpenContrail and Kubernetes technologies. Mirantis CEO Alex Freedland says the addition of technology developed by TCP Cloud will reduce the amount of time it would have taken Mirantis to move OpenStack to Kubernetes by six to nine months. As a result, he says, Mirantis expects to show the first fruits of a joint development effort involving CoreOS, Google and Intel in the first quarter of 2017.

    • Marrying Ephemeral Docker Containers to Persistent Data

      Docker containers are ephemeral by design. They come and they go like a herd of hyperactive squirrels, which is great for high availability, but not so great for preserving your data. Kendrick Coleman of EMC {code} demonstrated how to have both ephemeral containers and persistent data in his talk called “Highly Available & Distributed Containers” at ContainerCon North America.

      As container technologies become more complex, using them becomes easier. Coleman gave a wonderful presentation using a Minecraft game to demonstrate persistent data storage with ephemeral containers, and did it all live. This setup requires two technologies that were not available as recently as a year ago: Docker SwarmKit and REX-Ray.

    • Docker + Golang = Heart

      This is a short collection of tips and tricks showing how Docker can be useful when working with Go code. For instance, I’ll show you how to compile Go code with different versions of the Go toolchain, how to cross-compile to a different platform (and test the result!), or how to produce really small container images.

      The following article assumes that you have Docker installed on your system. It doesn’t have to be a recent version (we’re not going to use any fancy feature here).

    • Docker Partner Program Unlocks DevOps, ALM Opportunities

      When Docker unveiled a formalized channel program today, partners gained a new springboard that could launch them deeper into DevOps, application lifecycle management and various managed services.

      The partner program launch was nearly three years in the making. To understand the journey, rewind to January 2014. That’s when the software container company hired former Red Hat Channel Chief Roger Egan as senior VP of sales.

      At the time, Egan told me Docker’s influence across the IT market could eventually eclipse Linux’s impact. Sure, Linux freed the world from expensive Unix servers and enabled data center consolidation projects. But containers, he reasoned, could speed application deployments across all types of on-premises and cloud systems.

    • Front Ends and Extensions Take Hadoop in New Directions

      Across the history of data analytics, marquee-level applications have always given rise to useful front ends and connectors that extend what the original applications were capable of. For example, the dominance of the spreadsheet gave rise to macros, plugins, and extensions. Likewise, the rise of SQL database applications ushered in database front ends, plugins, and connectors. Now, Big Data titan Hadoop is inspiring its own ecosystem of powerful extensions and front ends.

      To explain what a difference these extenders and connectors can make, here are some examples of how Hadoop can be taken in new directions with these tools.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • It’s time to make LibreOffice and OpenOffice one again

      Let’s talk about OpenOffice. More than likely you’ve already read, countless times, that Apache OpenOffice is near the end. The last stable iteration was 4.1.2 (released October, 2015) and a recent major security flaw took a month to patch. A lack of coders has brought development to a creeping crawl. And then, the worst possible news hit the ether; the project suggested users switch to MS Office (or LibreOffice).

      For whom the bells tolls? The bell tolls for thee, OpenOffice.

      I’m going to say something that might ruffle a few feathers. Are you ready for it?

      The end of OpenOffice will be a good thing for open source and for users.

    • Oracle happy to let Apache Foundation adopt NetBeans

      The IDE allows development in Java and in other languages and runs operating systems that can fire up a JVM. As the Foundation explains in its proposal, “NetBeans has approximately 1.5 million active users around the world, in extremely diverse structures and organizations.” Students, teachers, “large organizations who base their software on the application framework beneath NetBeans” and many others use the tool.

      But the Foundation points out that “NetBeans has been run by Oracle, with the majority of code contributions coming from Oracle.”

      Moving the project to the Foundation is therefore seen as a way “to expand the diversity of contributors and to increase the level of meritocracy in NetBeans.”

      The Foundation seems to be betting that things can’t get worse with the potential for more contributors that would come with its stewardship. The proposal therefore says that “… though Oracle will relinquish its control over NetBeans, individual contributors from Oracle are expected to continue contributing to NetBeans after it has been contributed to Apache, together with individual contributors from other organizations, as well as self-employed individual contributors.”

  • Healthcare

    • Yes, We’ve Migrated!

      Since March, 30 2000 Linux Medical News has been on the Zope-based Squishdot blog before there was blogs software. After 16 years and 1963 articles (has it been that long?) we’ve finally moved to WordPress. As always, for 16 years, your announcements your news your opinions are welcome at http://linuxmednews.com

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • GNU Guile 2.1.4 released (beta)

      We are delighted to announce GNU Guile release 2.1.4, the next pre-release in what will become the 2.2 stable series.

      This release fixes many small bugs, adds an atomic reference facility, and improves the effectiveness of integer unboxing in the compiler. See the release announcement for full details and a download link.

  • Public Services/Government

    • MEP: publicly funded software should be public

      Software developed with public funds should be made available as free and open source software, says Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda. Sharing source code should become a standard in IT procurement across the EU, the MEP says.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Copyleft and data: databases as poor subject

      Open licensing works when you strike a healthy balance between obligations and reuse. Data, and how it is used, is different from software in ways that change that balance, making reasonable compromises in software (like attribution) suddenly become insanely difficult barriers.

    • What the rise of permissive open source licenses means

      This FUD about open source software is mainly about open source licensing. There are many different licenses, some more restrictive (some people use the term “protective”) than others. Restrictive licenses such as the GNU General Public License (GPL) use the concept of copyleft, which grants people the right to freely distribute copies and modified versions of a piece of software as long as the same rights are preserved in derivative works. The GPL (v3) is used by open source projects such as bash and GIMP. There’s also the Affero GPL, which provides copyleft to software that is offered over a network (for example as a web service.)

      What this means is that if you take code that is licensed in this way and you modify it by adding some of your own proprietary code, then in some circumstances the whole new body of code, including your code, becomes subject to the restrictive open source license. It was this type of license that Ballmer was probably referring to when he made his statement.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Dutch public agencies fail to register open data on national portal

        Less than one in ten Dutch public agencies has registered any open data on the national open data portal. For municipalities, this falls to only one in twenty. These are the main results of an assessment performed by the Open State Foundation.

        According to the foundation, from 1,069 government organisations only 89 have datasets that can be found via the central government’s open data portal: Although all ministries and provinces have registered one or more datasets, datasets from only 21 of a total of 395 municipalities, seven of 246 regional cooperation bodies, 12 of 155 Self-Governing Bodies and four of the 23 water boards can be found. High Councils of State and Public Bodies have not registered any open datasets yet.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Meet Hyperledger: An “Umbrella” for Open Source Blockchain & Smart Contract Technologies

      It’s hard to believe I’ve been working at The Linux Foundation on Hyperledger for four months already. I’ve been blown away by the amount of interest and support the project has received since the beginning of the year. As things really start to take off, I think it’s important to take a step back to reflect and recapitulate why and what we’re doing with Hyperledger. Simply put, we see Hyperledger as an “umbrella” for software developer communities building open source blockchain and related technologies. In this blog post, I’m going to try to define what we mean by “umbrella,” that is, the rationale behind it and how we expect that model to work towards building a neutral, foundational community.

    • Hitchhiker’s Guide to IoT Standards and Protocols

      The framework of course depends on if your deployment is going to be internal, such as in a factory, or external, such as a consumer product. In this conversation, we’ll focus on products that are launching externally to a wider audience of customers, and for that, we have a lot to consider.

    • Standards Move at Snail’s Pace for the NFV Community

      There’s a general consensus among people working on telco virtualization that open source groups are replacing traditional standards groups.

      “In open source, code is the coin of the realm; express yourself with something that is useful,” said Tom Anschutz, distinguished member of AT&T’s technical staff, speaking yesterday at Light Reading’s 2016 NFV & Carrier SDN event.


  • Gmail hit by global outage

    A global Gmail outage that began at 1.16am AEST this morning has affected millions of users across the world.

    Nine hours later, at 10.45am AEST, the company was still claiming that the service had been restored for “some users” as it did four times earlier after the initial announcement of the breakdown of the service.

    The first message at 1.16am said there were indications that the issue only affected Google for Work Gmail users.

    Subsequent messages did not clarify whether this was correct or not.

    About 40 minutes later, Google said it had identified the root cause of the issue and was implementing a “potential fix”.

  • Science

    • A ‘Memory Hacker’ Explains How to Plant False Memories in People’s Minds

      We tend to think of memories as perfect little time capsules—important records of past events that matter to us and made us who we are, as unchangeable as a dragonfly stuck in amber. Well, they’re anything but. I recently met with Julia Shaw, a criminal psychologist who specializes in the science of memory. “I am a memory hacker,” Shaw told me. “I use the science of memory to make you think you did things that never happened.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Alcohol Industry Bankrolls Fight Against Legal Pot in Battle of the Buzz

      The fight against legalized pot is being heavily bankrolled by alcohol and pharmaceutical companies, terrified that they might lose market share.

      On the heels of a filing last week that revealed that a synthetic cannabis company is financing the opposition to legal marijuana in Arizona comes a new disclosure this week that a beer industry group made one of the largest donations to an organization set up to defeat legalization in Massachusetts.

      The Beer Distributors PAC, an affiliate that represents 16 beer-distribution companies in Massachusetts, gave $25,000 to the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, tying it for third place among the largest contributors to the anti-pot organization.

    • UN High-Level Panel On Access To Medicines Issues “Landmark” Report

      The long-awaited report by the United Nations High Level Panel on Access to Medicines was released today, making many recommendations. The panel calls for countries to embrace the policy space available in the World Trade Organization intellectual property rules, and invest more in health. It also calls for negotiation of a binding international treaty on research and development, delinking prices from R&D costs, greater transparency in drug pricing, public health impact assessments in free trade agreements, and encouragement to better use international legal tools available to countries to ensure affordable medical products. And it lays out the path ahead, calling for several new bodies to be created to take recommendations forward.

    • Pharma Company Funding Anti-Pot Fight Worried About Losing Business, Filings Show

      Pharmaceutical executives who recently made a major donation to an anti-marijuana legalization campaign claimed they were doing so out of concern for the safety of children — but their investor filings reveal that pot poses a direct threat to their plans to cash in on a synthetic cannabis product they have developed.

      On August 31, Insys Therapeutics Inc. donated $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, becoming the single largest donor to the group leading the charge to defeat a ballot measure in Arizona to legalize marijuana.

      The drug company, which currently markets a fast-acting version of the deadly painkiller fentanyl, assured local news reporters that they had the public interest in mind when making the hefty donation. A spokesperson told the Arizona Republic that Insys opposes the legalization measure, Prop. 205, “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.”

      A Washington Post story on Friday noted the potential self-interest involved in Insys’s donation.

      Investor filings examined by The Intercept confirm the obvious.

    • Slovakia food producers call on govt to reject TTIP to stop the EU “being flooded” with GMOs

      EXCERPT: TTIP has met resistance from the public, governments and parliaments of both Austria and France. The controversial deal will reduce consumer protection as well as the safety of foodstuffs.

    • MSF Report Calls On Governments To Repair, Remodel Biomedical R&D

      Governments are urged to do more to promote the development of desperately-needed new medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics at affordable prices and address the failures of research and development (R&D) in a new report by Médecins Sans Frontières.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • DevOps and the Art of Secure Application Deployment

      Secure application deployment principles must extend from the infrastructure layer all the way through the application and include how the application is actually deployed, according to Tim Mackey, Senior Technical Evangelist at Black Duck Software. In his upcoming talk, “Secure Application Development in the Age of Continuous Delivery” at LinuxCon + ContainerCon Europe, Mackey will discuss how DevOps principles are key to reducing the scope of compromise and examine why it’s important to focus efforts on what attackers’ view as vulnerable.

    • Sept 2016 Patch Tuesday: Microsoft released 14 security bulletins, rated 7 as critical

      Microsoft released 14 security bulletins for September, seven of which are rated critical due to remote code execution flaws. Microsoft in all its wisdom didn’t regard all RCEs as critical. There’s also an “important rated” patch for a publicly disclosed flaw which Microsoft claims isn’t a zero-day being exploited. But at least a 10-year-old hole is finally being plugged.

      Next month marks a significant change as Microsoft says it intends roll out “servicing changes” that include bundled patches. Unless things change, not all Windows users will be able to pick and choose specific security updates starting in October.

    • Microsoft Patches Zero Day Flaw Used In Two Massive Malvertising Campaigns [Ed: Microsoft, as usual, told the NSA about this months before patching]

      Microsoft was first notified about the so-called information disclosure bug in September 2015, security vendor Proofpoint said in an alert this week. But a patch for it became available only after Trend Micro and Proofpoint reported the bug again to Microsoft more recently when researching a massive malvertising campaign being operated by a group called AdGholas, the alert noted.

    • Finnish police: Keep your car keys in the fridge

      If there’s a car in your yard that has automatic, so-called ‘smart’ keys, you should consider keeping the keys in the fridge. That’s the message from Finnish police, who say that high-tech criminals could hack cars with such systems.

      “It sounds strange, but it makes sense,” said Jari Tiiainen of the National Bureau of Investigation.

      These so-called smart keys work by emitting a signal when the driver touches the door handle. The lock opens when it recognises the key’s signal. Criminals have technology that can strengthen that signal even from a hundred metres away—well inside the residential property where most owners keep their keys, according to Eero Heino of the If insurance company.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Putin-Bashing Fuels Hard-line Russian Reaction

      Last week, Hillary Clinton told reporters on her campaign plane that the Russians are trying to disrupt the U.S. elections to discredit the process and sow discord among Americans. This goes one step further than her previous charges of Russian influence through the “Kremlin’s candidate,” Donald Trump, or still earlier, the claim that the Democratic National Committee’s server had been hacked by intelligence services reporting to Vladimir Putin. Of course, all these charges were made without proof.

    • Donald Trump’s Not Anti-War, He Just Wants the U.S. Military to Focus on Stealing Oil

      Donald Trump’s attempt to present himself as an anti-war candidate is based on his perfect 20/20 hindsight of the disastrous consequences of regime change in Iraq and Libya — military campaigns he publicly supported when they were popular, and only turned against after they went wrong.

      To better understand that Trump really is, as he insisted during the Republican primary campaign, “much more militaristic” than even George W. Bush, it helps to look at how often he has presented his bizarre plan to use the United States military as the muscle in a global protection racket, aimed at extorting oil from countries we destroy.

    • Philippine president calls for US special forces to leave Mindanao

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in a speech before newly sworn-in government officials on September 12, called for US special forces to leave the southern island of Mindanao. The next day, in an address to the Philippine Air Force, he said the Philippines would no longer stage joint patrols with the United States in the South China Sea.

      Duterte also declared he was looking to secure arms from China and Russia, saying he would send Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to these countries to see what they had to offer.

      The statements mark a further souring of ties between Manila and Washington under the new president. The US State Department responded by saying it had received no formal notice from the Philippines regarding its special forces in Mindanao and thus would not pull the troops out.

    • Getting Fooled on Iraq, Libya, Now Russia

      A British parliamentary inquiry into the Libyan fiasco has reported what should have been apparent from the start in 2011 – and was to some of us – that the West’s military intervention to “protect” civilians in Benghazi was a cover for what became another disastrous “regime change” operation.

      The report from the U.K.’s Foreign Affairs Committee confirms that the U.S. and other Western governments exaggerated the human rights threat posed by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and then quickly morphed the “humanitarian” mission into a military invasion that overthrew and killed Gaddafi, leaving behind political and social chaos.

    • Pressure Mounts to Punish Russia For Hacking Without Evidence And Before Investigations Are Concluded

      While it’s certainly possible Russia has been busy using hackers to meddle in (or at least stoke the idiot pyres burning beneath) the U.S. elections, we’ve noted how actual evidence of this is hard to come by. At the moment, most of this evidence consists of either comments by anonymous government officials, or murky proclamations from security firms that have everything to gain financially from stoking cybersecurity tensions. Of course, transparent evidence is hard to come by when talking about hackers capable of false flag operations while obfuscating their footprints completely.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • BBC climate coverage is evolving, but too slowly

      For years, the BBC has been criticised for the false balance of its climate change coverage. And for years, the BBC has apparently been doing “ongoing work” to fix it. So far, however, this ‘reform’ has been more like a triumph of the middling. Yes, the BBC may broadcast less outright misinformation, but as a scientist and a citizen, I still feel let down by its continually careless handling of climate denial – most recently two weeks ago. This nod to mediocrity is a disservice to science, to public trust, and to the biggest news story in the world. And it is a huge, missed opportunity.

      As a young PhD graduate working on climate change solutions, I am confronted daily by a world where the warnings of science are undercut by Fox ‘News’ and its ilk. It is a very different world to the trustworthy BBC broadcasts of David Attenborough and the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures that I grew up with, which helped inspire me to become a scientist. But as a recent BBC News segment by Science Editor David Shukman sadly reminded me, those worlds can too easily collide.

    • Compassion Isn’t a Crime: Giving Thirsty Pigs Water Isn’t a Crime

      On the summer day of June 22, a Van Boekel Hog Farms slaughterhouse transportation truck headed to Fearman’s Pork Inc. was stationary, Anita Krajnc, the co-founder of Toronto Pig Save, and another activist stopped to give the pigs water and document their experience. The driver confronted the two women and told them to stop giving the pigs water. While Krajnc asked the driver to show compassion, he threatened her with physical assault and called the police.

      Now Krajnc is being charged with criminal mischief — interference with the use, enjoyment of and operation of property — under $5,000 for showing thirsty pigs compassion. Although there are reports that she’s willing to go to jail.

      Compassion is NOT criminal! Why do inmates on death row get a last meal, but innocent pigs are denied water? Why are praised for helping thirsty dogs and cats, but charged as criminals for helping pigs?

    • UK to ban fishing from a million square kilometres of ocean

      The UK is to ban commercial fishing from a million square kilometres of ocean around British overseas territories, the government said on Thursday.

      In total, the government is creating marine protected areas around four islands in the Pacific and Atlantic, including the designation this week of one of the world’s biggest around the Pitcairn Islands.

      A 840,000 sq km (320,000 sq mile) area around Pitcairn, where the mutineers of the Bounty settled, becomes a no-take zone for any fishing from this week. St Helena, around 445,000 sq km of the south Atlantic ocean and home to whale sharks and humpbacks, is now also designated as a protected area.

      The foreign office said it would designate two further marine protection zones, one each around two south Altantic islands – Ascension by 2019 and Tristan da Cunha by 2020.

      Sir Alan Duncan, minister of state for Europe and the Americas, said: “Protecting 4m sq km of ocean is a fantastic achievement, converting our historic legacy into modern environmental success.”

    • Standing Rock Sioux on the front lines of the climate emergency

      The fight by the Standing Rock Sioux to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline has emerged as one of the defining climate justice fights in the United States.

      It has also become a central focal point of the ongoing worldwide struggle by indigenous peoples to have their treaty and land rights respected by other governments and corporations. (The fact that corporations operate as de facto government is a galling example of the need for the Green Party).

      Representatives of more than 280 Native American tribes have now participated in the occupation, an unprecedented gathering of indigenous peoples after centuries of war, genocide, and land theft.

      Indigenous people are among the most vulnerable communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, and are leading the fight. Corporations have repeatedly used force to extract fossil fuels from their lands with approval from government attorneys and military forces. Major pipeline projects invariably cut across Native lands while bypassing white suburban communities.

      We must follow the lead of indigenous communities that have protected their land for countless generations, and work together in solidarity to ensure a thriving planet for future generations and all living beings.

      Ajamu Baraka, my Vice Presidential running mate, and I visited the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s occupation last week. We went to demonstrate Green Party solidarity with their struggle. The silence of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on this issue is deafening.

  • Finance

    • Juncker’s CETA support undermines pledges on climate and citizens’ rights

      European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker today reaffirmed his commitment to CETA – the EU-Canada trade deal – calling it as “the best and most progressive agreement that we have ever entered into.”

      His comments came during the annual State of the European Union address, where he also spoke about his regret at the slow pace of the ratification of the Paris climate agreement (“Dragging our feet on ratification affects our credibility and makes us look ridiculous”) and promised to protect farmers (“The Commission will always stand by our farmers”) and citizens’ rights (“In Europe, consumers are protected against cartels and abuses by powerful companies”).

    • September 15, 2016 Publication

      TiSA is often considered the “little” brother of the two “big” trade agreements TPP or TTIP – but this view seems more and more inappropriate, as the global economy is shifting towards a service-oriented/based economy. According to the World Bank, world-wide trade in services in 2015 was around 13% of the global GDP; for the EU it is even twice that figure (around 24% of its total GDP). But it is not just these numbers alone that prove that the TiSA negotiations deserve a much higher attention in the public discussion as they currently have:

    • Former DWP disabilities minister set to be suspended from Parliament for leaking payday loan report to Wonga

      A former DWP minister with responsibility for disabled people is set to be suspended from the House of Commons for leaking a parliamentary report to a payday lender.

      Justin Tomlinson shared the findings of a draft report into regulating payday loans with an employee of Wonga.

    • Justin Tomlinson faces suspension for Wonga report leak

      A former DWP minister with responsibility for disabled people is set to be suspended from the House of Commons for leaking a parliamentary report to a payday lender.

      Justin Tomlinson shared the findings of a draft report into regulating payday loans with an employee of Wonga.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A Busy Day for the Bears

      Finally, there was the “appearance” at a security conference by Guccifer 2.0, the guy who has released the DNC emails that gave the Democrats an excuse to force Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s to resign, though they had been looking for an excuse for some time.

      In point of fact, Guccifer 2.0 didn’t appear in person at the conference. Rather, he sent a speech which got read at the conference, with the transcript released to journalists. The speech focused on the negligence of software companies in security. Guccifer went on for several paragraphs about the power and sloppiness of tech companies, arguing they were to blame for hacks.

    • Trump’s Call for a Flood of Poll Watchers Could Disrupt Some Voting Places

      Donald Trump’s campaign website implores voters to “Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!” by signing up as observers. He warned people at an Aug. 12 campaign event in Altoona, Pennsylvania, that Clinton could win the state only by cheating, and he asked supporters to “go down to certain areas and watch and study, and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times.” Less than a week later, Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, encouraged a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire, to help ensure a fair election by serving as poll watchers because “you are the greatest vanguard for integrity in voting.”

    • Here’s Where the Candidates Stand on 3 Crucial Science Topics

      In August, the presidential campaigns of Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and Libertarian Gary Johnson were sent 20 crucial science topics to consider. The questions for each topic were determined by leading American scientific institutions and what they felt were today’s most pressing issues in science and technology.

    • Guccifer 2.0 strikes again: DNC chair blames ‘Russian agents’

      The Democratic National Committee chairwoman said the DNC was the victim of a Russian cyberattack after the infamous hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 — who leaked internal Democratic documents ahead of the party’s convention this summer — released more apparent DNC documents Tuesday.

      The most recent leak includes information about the DNC’s finances, donors’ personal contact information and the DNC’s network infrastructure, according to CNN. The leak also includes vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s cell phone number and the contact information for several top White House officials, NBC News reported. No emails appear to have been included.

    • How a Harmless Frog Became a ‘Nazi Symbol’: Pepe’s an Issue in US Election

      Additionally, the first link Google provides when searching for Pepe the frog is a new page on the Clinton website explaining how the popular meme, dating to 2008, is now a symbol of white supremacy.

      Over on Wikipedia, editors have been engaged in an edit war, after the page was changed to say that the anthropomorphic frog is associated with Trump, white nationalism, and the alt-right.

    • Colin Powell calls Trump ‘national disgrace’ in hacked emails

      Former secretary of State and retired four-star general Colin Powell called Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “a national disgrace” and “international pariah,” and said “Hillary’s mafia” was trying to drag him into Clinton’s email scandal in personal emails that were leaked by hackers, according to online news organizations BuzzFeed and The Daily Caller.

      Powell made the remarks about Trump in a June 17, 2016, email to Emily Miller, a journalist who once worked under Powell as a deputy press secretary at the State Department. In the email Powell said Trump, “is in the process of destroying himself, no need for the Dems to attack him,” according to BuzzFeed. “Paul Ryan is calibrating his position again,” Powell said of the speaker of the House who had only recently decided to endorse Trump at the time of the email.

      An aide to Powell confirmed the hack Wednesday, telling The New York Times “they are his emails.”

      Around 30,000 stolen Powell emails were given to DCLeaks.com by unnamed hackers, The Daily Caller reported. There is speculation among some computer experts and Democratic politicians that DCLeaks has ties to Russian intelligence services, according to The Wall Street Journal. There is concern that leaks from the site are intended to influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential election.

    • Five dramatic revelations from Powell’s leaked emails

      Candid emails from former Secretary of State Colin Powell are causing a stir across the country with their blunt assessment of a host of Washington’s stars.

      The emails, released by hackers behind a WikiLeaks-type website believed to have ties to Russian intelligence, show Powell criticizing Donald Trump, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Dick Cheney.

      The remarks, made by Powell in private to friends and colleagues, contrast with the statesmanlike image cultivated over a long military and political career.

      Powell served under President George W. Bush and endorsed Barack Obama in his two White House bids, and has generally avoided controversy in and out of office.

      The emails, first reported by BuzzFeed and The Intercept, were posted under password protection at DCLeaks. A spokesperson for Powell confirmed to media outlets that the emails were his.

      The website that leaked the emails reportedly has a relationship with Guccifer 2.0, who leaked damaging emails from Democratic groups earlier this summer, according to security experts.

      Here are five of their most eyebrow-raising revelations.

    • Research Proves Google Manipulates Millions to Favor Clinton

      In this exclusive report, distinguished research psychologist Robert Epstein explains the new study and reviews evidence that Google’s search suggestions are biased in favor of Hillary Clinton. He estimates that biased search suggestions might be able to shift as many as 3 million votes in the upcoming presidential election in the US.

      Biased search rankings can swing votes and alter opinions, and a new study shows that Google’s autocomplete can too.

      A scientific study I published last year showed that search rankings favoring one candidate can quickly convince undecided voters to vote for that candidate — as many as 80 percent of voters in some demographic groups. My latest research shows that a search engine could also shift votes and change opinions with another powerful tool: autocomplete.

    • Colin Powell, in Hacked Emails, Shows Scorn for Trump and Irritation at Clinton

      Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has long been one of the high priests of the Washington establishment, staying quiet in this year’s raucous presidential campaign while tending to his reputation as a thoughtful officer and diplomat.

      But a hack of Mr. Powell’s email this week has ripped away the diplomatic jargon and political niceties to reveal his unvarnished disdain of Donald J. Trump as a “national disgrace,” his personal peeves with Hillary Clinton and his lingering, but still very raw, anger with the Republican colleagues with whom he so often clashed a decade ago.

      There has been an expectation that Mr. Powell, who waited until the final weeks to endorse Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, would do the same for Mrs. Clinton this year. But in one 2014 email released online, Mr. Powell lamented that while he respected Mrs. Clinton, he would “rather not have to vote for her,” describing the Democratic presidential nominee as having “a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational.”

      The emails make clear that if Mr. Powell endorses Mrs. Clinton, he will be motivated by intense feelings about Mr. Trump, whom he also called an “international pariah.”

    • Foreign Spending on U.S. Elections Threatens National Security, FEC Commissioner Says

      Calling foreign influence on U.S. elections “a matter of national security,” FEC commissioner Ellen Weintraub is joining her colleague Ann Ravel in calling for the full commission to plug the flow of foreign money into American political campaigns.

      In a new memo to her five fellow commissioners, Weintraub writes that the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision created “new avenues for corporate political activity would make our democracy vulnerable to foreign individuals, corporations, and governments that seek to manipulate our elections.” Weintraub will ask the full FEC at its meeting on Thursday to begin the process of writing new regulations to deal with Citizens United and foreign money.

      Weintraub cites recent reporting by The Intercept on a $1.3 million donation by a U.S. corporation owned by Chinese citizens to a Super PAC backing Jeb Bush as evidence that this is not a “hypothetical” issue. “A person would have to be wearing some very rose-colored glasses,” Weintraub writes, “to think there are not foreign operatives interested in exploiting any vulnerability to influence our elections.”

      Her fellow commissioner Ann Ravel called on the FEC to take action in August, in the wake of The Intercept’s story.

      The Citizens United decision opened up a peculiar loophole for foreign money. Federal law prohibits “foreign nationals” — a legal term encompassing foreign individuals, corporations and governments — from putting money into the U.S. political process. But federal law also states that any company legally incorporated in the U.S., no matter its ultimate ownership, is a U.S. national.

    • 2016 Election Lawsuit Tracker: The New Election Laws and the Suits Challenging Them

      There are 15 states with new voting laws that have never before been used during a presidential election, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. These laws include restrictions like voter ID requirements and limits on early voting. Many are making their way through the courts, which have already called a halt to two laws in the past month — one in North Carolina and one in North Dakota.

    • Another Unrealistic Trump Policy Proposal: Homeschool Vouchers

      GOP nominee Donald Trump has said he plans to spend billions of dollars on so-called school choice programs. The $20 billion in federal funds would be available only to what he says are 11 million children living in poverty who are also “trapped in failing schools.” Families will be eligible for vouchers to send their children to charter, magnet or even private religious schools. Last Friday, he announced the policy would include homeschooling as well.

      “School choice is at the center of this civil rights agenda, and my goal is to provide every single inner-city child in America that is trapped in a failing government school the freedom to attend the school of their choice,” he said at a conservative voters conference. “School choice also means that parents can homeschool their children. Hundred percent.”

      But there’s one problem with Trump’s homeschooling plan: Impoverished homeschoolers mostly don’t exist.

    • The Green Party’s Jill Stein goes on the trail, packs a tent

      Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, stepped out of her small tent at the edge of the Missouri River here, where she’d slept in an encampment of protesters the night before. The tent and tarps of her small entourage had been procured second-hand right before this visit, and the plan was to leave the items behind as a donation to the cause.

      It was still early in the day, and a warrant had not yet been issued for her arrest — that would come much later. For the moment, this least known and most quixotic of the presidential candidates was but one of thousands of people who’d gathered to try to stop the construction of a planned $3.8 billion, 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, which they fear will desecrate sacred burial lands and potentially poison the water source for millions downstream.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Deadspin Mocks New Owners Univision By Cleverly Reposting Deleted Mitch Williams Story As New Story About The Lawsuit

      Right, so remember how over the weekend the spineless execs at Univision decided to delete six articles from various Gawker properties? The reasoning made very little sense. The company claimed that since it had only agreed to acquire the assets of Gawker, but none of the liabilities, it felt that it needed to delete the six articles that were part of existing lawsuits (they also changed an image in one that was the subject of a copyright dispute). As we (and basically everyone else) pointed out, this was ridiculous on multiple levels. First, due to the single publication rule, any liability likely would be only for that initial publication. But, more importantly, the lawsuits in question were all pretty obviously bogus.

      Univision has been trying to go into damage control mode, including a long interview with JK Trotter at Gizmodo, answering a bunch of questions from angry Gawker reporters. Univision continues to stand by the line that this was solely and 100% about the terms of the transaction, in which they were not acquiring any liabilities, no matter how ridiculous those liabilities might be. They insisted there was no editorial analysis or First Amendment analysis — it was just about the liabilities. Gawker’s reporters are still not happy and have apparently discussed the possibility of a walkout. They’ve also directly posted their unhappiness about the decision.

      But Timothy Burke at Deadspin (one of the former Gawker properties) took things one step further. Somewhat brilliantly, he’s written a brand new article about the latest happenings in a lawsuit involving former Major League Baseball pitcher Mitch Williams. If you don’t know, two of the articles that were taken down were about Williams, and he had sued Gawker over them. Of course, the court had already tossed out the claims against Gawker, since the statements made in the earlier Deadspin articles were all either substantially true or protected opinion. But the overall case continues. Williams is suing MLB Network, which fired him after Deadspin’s original posts. So, in this new article about the lawsuit against MLB Network, Burke uses the opportunity to effectively repost every bit of content that was taken down by Univision management. And this is why it’s clever: he’s not just reposting it, but reposting it from the lawsuit.

    • Censorship Gets Lost In Translation

      It may be the most famous photo of the Vietnam War: A 9-year-old girl flees naked down a highway with other frightened children after American warplanes dropped napalm on their village in an action targeting Viet Cong guerillas.

      Associated Press photographer Nick Ut snapped the Pulitzer Prize-winning shot of Kim Phuc and the other children in 1972. Nearly every daily newspaper in the world ran the photo at the time and in the years that followed. For Americans and our allies, it brought home the suffering of the war and the unanticipated consequences of what we presumed were our good intentions; for our Cold War adversaries, the shot was propaganda manna from the Communist equivalent of heaven.

    • Opinion: Why editors were wrong to damn Facebook for censorship

      Facebook’s initial argument that posting the iconic photo would make it more difficult subsequently to refuse to post other photos of naked children was arguably disingenuous but also just plain faulty. Surely a company with the obvious, indeed mindboggling, technical chops that Facebook possesses, has the ability to create an algorithm to take such markers as Pulitzer Prizes into account when making publication calls. Although there are bigger issues here related to letting algorithms make such editorial judgements in the first place, with or without human assistance, the problem in this particular case really should not have arisen at all.

      But editors also are on shaky ground in trying to dictate to Facebook what it should or should not publish. It is in fact ironic that they should think doing so is appropriate, let alone righteous, behaviour.

    • The Big Read: Facebook is a prissy censor

      Don’t you just hate it when this happens? As content curator for one of the world’s largest social media platforms, you delete a picture you consider obscene. Then some Norwegian woman writes an angry post. So you delete her post, too.

    • Sega Takes Potshots At DMCA-Happy Nintendo While Being Cool About Fan Games

      While Nintendo has been making waves for some time with its overly aggressive DMCA takedowns of any fan-work that includes its intellectual property, the company has really ramped things up lately. Recent actions include the takedown of a Mario fan game, a remake of a 25-year-old Metroid title, and engaging in all kinds of craziness over its Pokemon Go title. It was enough that one of Nintendo’s biggest rivals couldn’t help but take a subtle potshot at it, while simultaneously treating Sega fans like human beings.

      Daniel Coyle, on Twitter as SuperSonic68, headed up a team of Sonic the Hedgehog fans in the development of a fan-made 3D Sonic game. Their work has been received rather well as of late, including on gaming blogs and YouTube channels. When one YouTube channel, GameGrumps, did a “let’s play” of the fan game, it appears that Sega noticed and reached out in the comments section with a poke at Nintendo’s aggressive nature and some encouragement.

    • Facebook denies it’s a media company despite censorship decisions

      Facebook makes value judgements about what can appear in News Feed and what’s censored, but insists its a tech company not a media editor.

      At TechCrunch Disrupt SF, writer Josh Constine sat down with Adam Mosseri, a VP at Facebook and head of News Feed, to hear more about how policies control what you see.

      The talk started with Constine asking Mosseri much content people consume daily on their News Feed. Mosseri shared a new statistic, which is that the average Facebook users reads a little over 200 stories a day on their feed, which is about 10 percent of the 2,000 possible stories Facebook has to show them each day.

    • Director stood against censorship at Cal State Long Beach: Letters

      Cal State Long Beach President Jane Close Conoley effectively canceled the performance of “N*gger Wetb*ck Ch*nk” at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. Center Director Michele Roberge resigned, in protest calling the cancellation a form of censorship, but Conoley said she did not intend censorship and said the canceled performance lacked educational value. No matter that the show played at CSULB last year and no student complained. Conoley did say that unnamed professors and sponsors complained.

      Conoley has every right to critique the performance. But canceling something because it lacks educational value is censorship that goes beyond the academic pale. Her censorship policies, if left to stand, will suffocate the creative imagination at CSULB.

      Roberge stood up for academic values. The president should not accept her resignation. If she accepts it, then she should be the one who is resigning. In that case, I hope that faculty, students and all members of the Long Beach community who value freedom of expression call for the president’s resignation.

    • How Chinese Censorship Affects You

      Under the Communist Party, China remains a culturally suppressive society defined by censorship rather than free speech.

      Yet Chinese censorship stifles not only the Chinese citizenry, but also the American public. As globalization accelerates and state-sponsored firms commit to private investment in the West, the Communist Party grows increasingly influential beyond its own borders.

    • Action against sexual harassment in schools is more about protecting the male orgasm than girls

      How much pain and suffering is the male orgasm worth? Is there ever a time when a man’s right to access hardcore pornography is outweighed by the rights of young women to feel safe?

      I am wondering this in light of today’s Women and Equalities Committee Report into sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools. The way in which young men see their female peers is tainted, poisoned by broader cultural narratives about what female bodies are for. Boys are not born with a need to hurt and humiliate for pleasure, but they are acquiring it, and fast.

    • Education, Not Censorship, Is The Key To Addressing Children’s Access To Porn
    • Kick sex education out of schools
    • Schools ‘should teach pupils about porn’: report
    • Facebook ‘censors’ Dakota Access pipeline protest livestream – activists
    • Facebook censored a live stream video posted by Dakota pipeline protesters
    • Dakota Pipeline Protesters Claim Facebook Censored Video of Mass Arrest
    • Anti-pipeline activists claim Facebook censored their live video
    • Dakota Pipeline Activists Accuse Facebook of State Collusion
    • At Least 20 Dakota Pipeline Protesters Arrested
    • Armed Police in Riot Gear Arrest 22 During #NoDAPL Lockdown
    • Bulgaria: Regional media outlets dependent on local governments
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Obama to Welcome Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi for Talks on Sanctions

      President Barack Obama welcomes Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to the White House Wednesday, where he is eager listen to her views on how far the U.S. should go in lifting sanctions on the southeast Asian country.

      It will be her first visit to the U.S. as State Counselor and Foreign Minister – a position she assumed after her party’s decisive win in last November’s elections. The country’s military era constitution bars her from holding the title of president because her late husband and children are foreign citizens.

      Aung San Suu Kyi spent more than 20 years under house arrest in the country formerly known as Burma. Her meeting with Obama in the Oval Office is viewed as another clear indication that she is Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader.

    • Chelsea Manning will undergo gender transition surgery, lawyer says

      Imprisoned former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has learned that she will receive gender transition surgery, her lawyer told CNN, in what could make her the first US prison inmate to undergo such a procedure.
      Manning, a transgender woman, was convicted of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to WikiLeaks.

      The former US Army soldier is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, an all-male Army prison in eastern Kansas, despite her request to transfer to a civilian prison. Her lawyers say she has been denied medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, a condition in which there is a conflict between a person’s physical sex and the gender he or she identifies with.

    • Chelsea Manning Ends Hunger Strike, Will Get Gender Affirming Surgery

      U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning will receive gender affirming surgery, and is ending her hunger strike after five days, her lawyers have confirmed.

      “I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing,” Manning said in a statement. “I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted — for them to let me be me. But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long.”

      Until her surgery, the military will still require Manning to keep her hair short.

    • Romeo and Juliet and Sexting: 17-Year-Old Faces Child Porn, Assault Charges for Consensual Sex with Girlfriend

      “After being arrested, I was suicidal and hopeless,” Austin Yabandith, a 17-year-old from Superior, Wisconsin, recalls. “As of right now, I am just hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.”

      The “worst” would be pretty bad. After discovering indecent photos of Austin’s 15-year-old girlfriend on his cell phone—as well as a video of the couple having sex—authorities charged him with sexual assault of a child, sexual exploitation, and possession of child pornography. The sexual assault charge is considered a Class C felony, and carries a maximum (though unlikely) sentence of 40 years in prison.

    • Two dead in water riots in India’s Silicon Valley

      Relative calm has been restored to the Indian city of Bangalore following the deaths of two men amid riots over an ongoing water dispute.
      Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to protesters to exercise restraint and follow the law as a heavy paramilitary presence was deployed Wednesday. Protests began earlier this week over a water sharing deal between the Indian states of Karnataka and neighboring Tamil Nadu.

      One demonstrator was shot dead by police, Karnataka chief minister S Siddaramaiah said in a press conference Tuesday. Another died in hospital following injuries sustained from a fall while fleeing police during Monday’s clashes.

    • Why Uzbekistan’s Jews already miss the iron fist of their late ruler

      Driving through this dusty desert city of many ornate and ancient mosques, Shirin Yakubov recalls the ruthlessness of her country’s recently deceased president of 25 years.

      “He killed all of them, every last one,” she says of Islam Karimov’s role in the 2005 police massacre of hundreds of suspected Islamists in the eastern city of Andijan following unrest.

    • New fires leave cars ‘destroyed’ in Copenhagen

      One car was burnt in the Amager district and another was torched four hours later in Nørrebro.

      “Both cars are completely destroyed, and we are investigating the fires as arson,” Copenhagen Police spokesman Carsten Reenberg told news agency Ritzau.

      The incidents marked the fourth consecutive night of car fires in the Copenhagen area and bring the total of vehicles burnt since mid-August to over 50.

    • MPs slam ‘national scandal’ of FGM- Britain’s hidden crime

      FGM is typically carried out on girls aged between five and eight. It involves total or partial removal of or injury to female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is often performed without anaesthetic or by someone without medical qualifications

    • Tyree King, 13, Fatally Shot by Police in Columbus, Ohio

      A police officer in Columbus, Ohio, fatally shot a 13-year-old boy he was trying to detain following reports of an armed robbery, officials said.

      Authorities identified the teenager as Tyree King. The Columbus Division of Police said in a statement that King “pulled a gun from his waistband” when officers attempted to take him and another male into custody Wednesday night.


      This is an extremely significant victory for all faculty, be they tenured, contingent, tenure-track or adjunct. Be they at LIU or elsewhere.

      We all owe a great thanks to the stalwart faculty at LIU–and to their student supporters. They have demonstrated the limits of institutional fiat, for the good of all faculty everywhere.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • New EU rules promise 100Mbps broadband and free Wi-Fi for all

      The European Commission has promised free Wi-Fi in every town, village, and city in the European Union, in the next four years.

      A new grant, with a total budget of €120 million, will allow public authorities to purchase state-of-the art equipment, for example a local wireless access point. If approved by the the European Parliament and national ministers the cash could be available before the end of next year.

    • ‘High Noon’ Showdown Hearing In US Over Internet Control

      Former US Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz today used a 3.5 hour hearing of a Senate subcommittee he chairs to attempt to scare the US Commerce Department National Telecommunications and Information Administration away at the last minute from its plans to transition out of its stewardship role for the internet root zone system.

    • Gizmodo Completely Misses The Point Of Cord Cutting

      Roughly every month or so I’ll see a story proclaiming that cord cutting is a bad idea because you need to subscribe to multiple services to mirror the same overall volume of content you receive from pay TV. There are a few problems with that logic, first being that cord cutters aren’t looking to precisely duplicate cable TV. They’re looking to get away from paying a small fortune for hundreds of unwatched channels, including an ocean of religious programming, infomercials, whatever the Weather Channel is up to these days, and C-grade channels focused on inherently inane prattle.

      Writers of these pieces always seem to forget that broadcasters dictate the pricing of content on both platforms, so any surprise that the pricing of television remains somewhat high (when you pile on multiple streaming services) is just kind of silly. All told, “cord cutting is really expensive when I subscribe to every streaming service in the known universe” is just a weird narrative that just keeps bubbling up across various media outlets despite not really making much sense.

    • New York City Threatens To Sue Verizon For Failure To Meet Fiber Deployment Promises

      We’ve noted for years now how Verizon’s modus operandi is to promise uniform fiber deployment to a city or state in exchange for all manner of subsidies and tax breaks, then walk away giggling to itself with the job only partially complete. This story has played out time and time again thanks to city and state contracts struck behind closed doors without public transparency, allowing Verizon to bury numerous loopholes in the contract language. Other times, Verizon can lobby to weaken oversight so that there’s simply nobody left to hold Verizon accountable when it decides to laugh off the contract requirements.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • WIPO Committee Approves Forbin As New Top Copyright Official [Ed: the abusive WIPO put the copyright monopoly (industry) in charge of copyright]

        The nomination of Sylvie Forbin of France to be the next head of copyright issues at the World Intellectual Property Organization was finalised yesterday as the WIPO Coordination Committee approved her appointment. Forbin is set to start work at WIPO on Monday.

        Forbin would be the deputy director general for copyright and the creative sector at WIPO.

        She is a corporate lobbyist for media giant Viacom in Paris, and worked with French foreign service in the past.

      • WiFi Providers Can Be Forced To Require Passwords On Rightsholder Request, ECJ Rules

        The European Court of Justice today ruled that a shop offering WiFi is not liable for copyright infringements on its network but may be forced by rightsholders to require passwords to use the network.

      • EU Announces Absolutely Ridiculous Copyright Proposal That Will Chill Innovation, Harm Creativity

        This is not a surprise given the earlier leaks of what the EU Commission was cooking up for a copyright reform package, but the end result is here and it’s a complete disaster for everyone. And I do mean everyone. Some will argue that it’s a gift to Hollywood and legacy copyright interests — and there’s an argument that that’s the case. But the reality is that this proposal is so bad that it will end up doing massive harm to everyone. It will clearly harm independent creators and the innovative platforms that they rely on. And, because those platforms have become so important to even the legacy entertainment industry, it will harm them too. And, worst of all, it will harm the public greatly. It’s difficult to see how this proposal will benefit anyone, other than maybe some lawyers.

        Not surprisingly, the EU Commission is playing up the fact that this package does knock down some geoblocking in setting up more of a “single market” for digital content, but after Hollywood started freaking out about it, that proposal got watered down so much that plenty of content will still be geo-blocked. And there’s so much other stuff in here that’s just really, really bad. As expected, it includes a ridiculous ancillary copyright scheme, which should really just be called the “Google tax” for linking to copyright-covered content.

        The proposal does away with the liability limitations for platforms, effectively requiring any tech platform that allows user-generated/user-uploaded content to build or license their very own ContentID system. This is ridiculous. If the idea was to punish Google, this will do the opposite. Basically no startup will be able to afford this, and it will just lock in platforms like YouTube as the only option for content creators wishing to upload video. Protecting intermediary liability has been shown, time and time again, to enable new innovation and also to enable greater creativity and free speech — and the EU Commission basically just tossed it in the garbage because some Hollywood interests think (incorrectly) that internet companies “abuse” the protections.

      • Prenda’s Paul Hansmeier Loses His Law License; Won’t Be Filing Bogus ADA Lawsuits For Now

        Of course, when we last checked in with Hansmeier he was aggressively filing questionable ADA lawsuits, basically shaking down small retail stores for any possible violation of the ADA he could find. I’m guessing that’s going to need to stop — but I do wonder if he’ll find someone else to keep doing the legal work on that kind of scam.

        Anyway, Hansmeier has now had his assets liquidated in bankruptcy and his law license taken away. What’s next? Well, last we’d heard, it sounded like criminal charges were getting closer, so perhaps he has that to look forward to as well.

      • Scientists Realizing That EU Ruling On Copyright & Links Just Made Science Much More Difficult

        A recipe for disaster indeed.

        This is, of course, not the first time we’ve noted the problems of intellectual property in the science world. From various journals locking up research to the rise of patents scaring off researchers from sharing data, intellectual property keeps getting in the way of science, rather than supporting it. And that’s extremely unfortunate. I mean, after all, in the US specifically, the Constitution specifically says that copyrights and patents are supposed to be about “promoting the progress of science and the useful arts.”

        Over and over again, though, we see that the law has been twisted and distorted and extended and expanded in such a way that is designed to protect a very narrow set of interests, at the expense of many others, including the public who would benefit from greater sharing and collaboration and open flow of data among scientific researchers. Having the CJEU make things worse in Europe isn’t going to help Europe compete — and, unfortunately, it does not look like those in Europe looking to update its copyright laws understand any of this yet.

      • EU digital copyright reform proposals slammed as regressive

        The European Commission’s proposals to reform the region’s copyright rules, published in draft form today, have been criticized by tech companies and digital rights groups as regressive and a missed opportunity to modernize hopelessly outdated rules.

        The Open Rights Group accused the EC of ignoring EU citizens responses to an earlier consultation on the reform, and trying to bring in regressive rules that will force private companies to police the Internet.

        “The Commission’s proposals would fail to harmonise copyright law and create a fair system for Internet users, creators and rights holders. Instead we could see new regressive rights that compel private companies to police the Internet on behalf of rights holders,” said its executive director Jim Killock in a statement.

        A big point of concern for many critics is the EC seeking to shift the responsibility for identifying copyrighted content by requiring Internet companies that host user uploaded video, such as YouTube and Facebook, to proactively check for copyrighted material, rather than waiting to receive a take down request from a rights holder, as is the case now.

      • EU Commission Proposes Mandatory Piracy Filters For Online Services

        Today, the European Commission published its long-awaited proposal to modernize the EU’s copyright law. Among other things, it will require online services to install mandatory piracy filters. While the Commission intends to strengthen the position of copyright holders, opponents warn that it will do more harm than good.

      • European Commission introduces copyright on links; presents worthless copyright harshening proposal for the EU

        The European Commission has finally presented its long-awaited copyright reform proposal. It ignores everything positive the European Parliament demanded in the earlier Reda report, and doubles down on introducing copyright for links.

      • 10 Years in Prison For Online Pirates a Step Closer in the UK

        The UK Government’s Digital Economy Bill has moved a step closer to becoming law after its second reading in Parliament. With unanimous support, the current two-year maximum custodial sentence for online piracy is almost certain to increase to a decade. However, the reading also covered other familiar ground – pressure on Google to do something about piracy.

      • CJEU says that free Wi-Fi provider is not liable for third-party copyright infringements but may be required to password-protect its network to terminate infringements

        This reference for a preliminary ruling was made in the context of proceedings between Sony and a person (Tobias Mc Fadden) who operates a business selling and renting lighting and sound systems for various events.

        Mc Fadden owns a Wi-Fi connection that is open to anyone to use as it not protected by any password. The main reason why McFadden provides password-free free internet access is to drive traffic to his website and encourage customers to visit his shop.

        In 2010 that connection was used by someone other than Mc Fadden to download unlawfully a musical work to which Sony owns the copyright. Following Sony’s formal notice, Mc Fadden sought a negative declaration from the referring court.

        This dismissed it and upheld Sony’s counterclaim, granting an injunction against Mc Fadden on the ground of his direct liability for the infringement at issue and ordering him to pay damages, the costs of the formal notice, and costs.

        Mc Fadden appealed that decision, arguing that the provisions of German law transposing Article 12(1) of the ECommerce Directive would shield him from liability for third-party infringements.

      • Judge’s Opinion That EU Is Competent To Ratify Marrakesh Treaty Might Break Standstill

        The European Union has exclusive competence to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty on copyright exceptions for visually impaired people, the advocate general of the Court of Justice of the EU has found. This conclusion, which was well-received by representatives of the visually impaired, could speed up the ratification of the treaty by the EU.

      • Commission unveils new copyright package

        Further to the proposal for a regulation on cross-border portability of online content services in late 2015, the European Commission has just unveiled its new set of proposals to ameliorate EU copyright and achieve a fully functioning digital single market.

        These – among other things – include proposals for a new directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market and a regulation on certain online transmissions of broadcasting organisations and retransmissions. Both instruments, if adopted in their current form, will have a deep impact on the EU copyright framework, particularly with regard to online uses of copyright works, responsibilities of hosting providers, users’ freedoms, and authors’ contracts.

      • EU copyright plans a big win for old media, but public concerns ignored

        EU proposals for the “modernisation of copyright to increase cultural diversity in Europe and content available online” turn out to be an implementation of the old copyright industries’ wishlist, with little that addresses online users’ needs.

        As expected, the proposed Copyright Directive will give news and magazine publishers—described by the EU as “press publishers”—a new 20-year “ancillary copyright” over and above the normal copyright. Although it is not yet clear how this will work in practice, the intent is to enable press publishers to control the use of online snippets drawn from “daily newspapers, weekly or monthly magazines of general or special interest and news websites.”

      • European Commission Copyright Reform Proposal Sparks Many Jeers, Some Cheers [Ed: paywall]
      • Commission Proposal to Reform Copyright is Inadequate

        Today the EU Commission released their proposal for a reformed copyright framework. What has emerged from Brussels is disheartening. The proposal is more of a regression than the reform we need to support European businesses and Internet users.

        To date, over 30,000 citizens have signed our petition urging the Commission to update EU copyright law for the 21st century. The Commission’s proposal needs substantial improvement. We collectively call on the EU institutions to address the many deficits in the text released today in subsequent iterations of this political process.

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