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02.20.17

EPO Caricature: Battistelli’s Wall

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Animal Office - The Wall

Summary: Battistelli’s solution to everything at the EPO is exclusion and barriers

The ‘New’ Microsoft is Still Acting Like a Dangerous Cult in an Effort to Hijack and/or Undermine All Free/Open Source Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements.”

Microsoft Confidential

Summary: In an effort to combat any large deployment of non-Microsoft software, the company goes personal and attempts to overthrow even management that is not receptive to Microsoft’s agenda

IN LIGHT of the news (also the Microsoft-leaning fake news) from Munich, and also in light of Microsoft’s attempts to cause me trouble with my employer (that is their modus operandi apparently), now is a good time to share this story, which we learned about some months ago. Over the years we have covered examples of Microsoft retribution against individuals and organisations that were viewed as “enemies” of Microsoft. To Microsoft, competition is “enemy”, standards are an “enemy”, and even fair competition is an “enemy”. Less than a decade ago a government delegate compared Microsoft's methods to those of “Scientology cult”. That comparison was apt.

“I’ve been looking for Tim Bray’s blog post about how Microsoft went after his job; when they couldn’t get him fired, crushed his wife’s business.”
      –Anonymous
The latest example of it happened in the UK and is still happening (we might have some updates on this at a later time). We have shared this information with some Techrights members and studied the patterns before publishing anything.

“I’ve been looking for Tim Bray’s blog post about how Microsoft went after his job,” one member wrote, “when they couldn’t get him fired, crushed his wife’s business.”

“Also,” this member noted, “Microsoft has been after you before, do you have a blog entry about it? If not, it might be a good idea.”

I learned some more about it a few months ago in my employer’s Christmas dinner, but that might be an interesting subject which would be better left aside for another day.

Today we would like to focus on a bigger story which has been long coming. We waited before writing about this, as Microsoft is evidently back to these dirty tricks that many assumed had already ended. It is pretty serious and lawyers along with police are involved (in the UK). In the mean time, in order to not compromise any ongoing processes, we shall refrain from naming people and companies.

“Life for my friend and I has been pretty horrific. Still dealing with the aftermath…”
      –Anonymous
A person we spoke to said something “isn’t quite right at the moment” in some local authorities in the UK. These local authorities are in England. It has gotten so severe that relocations were needed. “A friend/former colleague,” we were told, “is in similar situation, but is skeptical of larger issues…”

Several key groups in the UK, those professing to promote Free/Open Source software, are now “in the hands of someone influenced by some very Microsoft-friendly people,” we got told. It’s too early/premature to name the culprits, but we might do so one day. “Microsoft’s “open source” staff contacted my boss,” I told the person, and they “tried to get me fired or something…”

The matter of fact is, this isn’t so uncommon. “Nothing surprises me,” this person told me. “Just remember Microsoft acts like a cult,” I explained, and it “always did,” based on people who knew Microsoft as officials. Look what happened in Munich recently, including the politics preceding it all the officials involved. “Life for my friend and I has been pretty horrific,” the person explained to me. “Still dealing with the aftermath…”

We are afraid we cannot say much more at the moment. “Still just dealing with complaints,” the person told me, who will “will make little progress until solicitors return from leave…”

Whether we can proceed to naming and shaming some of the parties involved only time will tell. What we know for sure, however, is that Microsoft still plays dirty and people who are in denial about it do so at their own peril.

“I figure that even if Microsoft goes bankrupt, there will be a very long tail due to its cult-like nature and the spread of its minions throughout industry and, now, even academia.”
      –Anonymous
“I know someone non-technical who considers Microsoft mostly dead,” a member told us. “From my perspective, I don’t count them gone until the office furniture is auctioned off and the officers past and present brought to justice before the courts of law.

“I figure that even if Microsoft goes bankrupt, there will be a very long tail due to its cult-like nature and the spread of its minions throughout industry and, now, even academia. The big breakthrough needed there will be a court decision rendering anti-disparagement clauses invalid so that those that have had a change of heart can speak out.”

This isn’t so rare and unusual an incident. “About Microsoft,” one member told us, “my dad now came to the conclusion on his own that Microsoft put pressure on the administration in my old job to force me out, first removing my boss, then me, then harassing the hell out of my former students. I have no opinion on his conclusion in that area due to lack of data aside from the harassment, the removal of my boss with no warning or reason given, and the discontinuation of my contract with the excuse of the lie of no more teaching. I had not suggested Microsoft as a cause at all to him because I have no data other than that the new managers gave the appearance of being both incompetent and assholish. There was something going on though with or without Microsoft involvement. Anyway, it looks like that whole institution may close soon.”

This is similar to something that happened to a potential client of ours in the UK. They get rid of people’s entire role, in order to get rid of the people who occupy these roles. It’s quite obvious that Microsoft and its resellers do this intentionally and consciously.

“I was going to meet someone who had widely deployed GNU/Linux and was using it for nearly 100% of their machines. While I was physically en route to their site, they got a panicked call from the top regional Microsoft sales representative who kept them on the phone a long while, trying all kinds of methods to get them to purchase Microsoft, even trying to wheedle a meeting agreement when a sale could not be reached.”
      –Anonymous
“Another time,” told us a member, “I was going to meet someone who had widely deployed GNU/Linux and was using it for nearly 100% of their machines. While I was physically en route to their site, they got a panicked call from the top regional Microsoft sales representative who kept them on the phone a long while, trying all kinds of methods to get them to purchase Microsoft, even trying to wheedle a meeting agreement when a sale could not be reached. They thought it was coincidence, I did not. Fortunately he had a good working relationship with his boss and his boss’ boss so when Microsoft went over his head, he survived unscathed. However, that site really wishes to remain very low profile some years more to further build up their position.”

I have come to witness this sort of “low profile” policy myself; Microsoft likes to keep a sort of “naughty list” of institutions or companies (to convert to Microsoft). There’s nothing they won’t do to derail the competition, even just for the sake of driving it out of business.

If you too have a similar story to share, even if pertinent details like names must be omitted, please get in touch with us. The world needs to understand what Microsoft is still up to.

PTAB Petitioned to Help Against Patent Troll InfoGation Corp., Which Goes After Linux/Android OEMs in China

Posted in Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 1:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Google uses IPRs to eliminate everything that’s left of this parasite

InfoGation Corp.Summary: A new example of software patents against Free software, or trolls against companies that are distributing freedom-respecting software from a country where these patents are not even potent (they don’t exist there)

InfoGation Corp. [sic] (corporations typically make things) is not a real company. Maybe it used to actually do something in the distant past, but now it’s just a pile of patents. Their Web site is a one-page stop, the classic troll-themed Web site, referring to “technology” (for so-called ‘licensing’) rather than actual products. Search the Web for the term “InfoGation Corp.” and just about every single result will be about some lawsuit, which is rather telling.

“Search the Web for the term “InfoGation Corp.” and just about every single result will be about some lawsuit, which is rather telling.”Under the “Patent Trolling Archives” section, the Patent Investor described InfoGation Corp. as an “assertion entity” (fancy name for troll), noting that after it had gone after Taiwan’s HTC (the first time we wrote about InfoGation Corp.) it also attacked other Google partners, mostly in China, e.g. ZTE and Huawei. Google stepped in to defend these partners.

Watchtroll is bashing PTAB, essentially by calling the patent holder, InfoGation Corp., “small software developer” (yes, software patents) and saying that those challenging the patents merely “gang up”. This is quite a lot of Watchtroll FUD in quick succession, e.g. after it had published a piece we debunked this morning. We don’t want to start a line-by-line rebuttal; instead we’ll just say that Watchtroll has been grooming this troll for quite some time (it wrote quite a lot about it in the past). It also exploits it for PTAB bashing — an old tradition at Watchtroll. Is PTAB going to trash some more software patents, thus taking InfoGation out of business once and for all? We sure hope so. This would help deter trolls and discourage further litigation such as this.

Links 20/2/2017: Linux 4.10, LineageOS Milestone

Posted in News Roundup at 12:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • When Open Source Meets the Enterprise

    Open source solutions have long been an option for the enterprise, but lately it seems they are becoming more of a necessity for advanced data operations than merely a luxury for IT techs who like to play with code.

    While it’s true that open platforms tend to provide a broader feature set compared to their proprietary brethren, due to their larger and more diverse development communities, this often comes at the cost of increased operational complexity. At a time when most enterprises are looking to shed their responsibilities for infrastructure and architecture to focus instead on core money-making services, open source requires a fairly high level of in-house technical skill.

    But as data environments become more distributed and reliant upon increasingly complex compilations of third-party systems, open source can provide at least a base layer of commonality for resources that support a given distribution.

  • EngineerBetter CTO: the logical truth about software ‘packaging’

    Technologies such as Docker have blended these responsibilities, causing developers to need to care about what operating system and native libraries are available to their applications – after years of the industry striving for more abstraction and increased decoupling!

  • Pieter Hintjens In Memoriam

    Pieter Hintjens was a writer, programmer and thinker who has spent decades building large software systems and on-line communities, which he describes as “Living Systems”. He was an expert in distributed computing, having written over 30 protocols and distributed software systems. He designed AMQP in 2004, and founded the ZeroMQ free software project in 2007. He was the author of the O’Reilly ZeroMQ book, “Culture and Empire”, “The Psychopath Code”, “Social Architecture”, and “Confessions of a Necromancer”. He was the president of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), and fought the software patent directive and the standardisation of the Microsoft OOXML Office format. He also organized the Internet of Things (IOT) Devroom here at FOSDEM for the last 3 years. In April 2016 he was diagnosed with terminal metastasis of a previous cancer.

  • Events

    • foss-gbg on Wednesday

      The topics are Yocto Linux on FPGA-based hardware, risk and license management in open source projects and a product release by the local start-up Zifra (an encryptable SD-card).

      More information and free tickets are available at the foss-gbg site.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • What will we do when everything is automated?

      Just translate the term “productivity of American factories” into the word “automation” and you get the picture. Other workers are not taking jobs away from the gainfully employed, machines are.

      This is not a new trend. It’s been going on since before Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. Industry creates machines that do the work of humans faster, cheaper, with more accuracy and with less failure. That’s the nature of industry—nothing new here. However, what is new is the rate by which the displacement of human beings from the workforce in happening.

    • Want OpenStack benefits? Put your private cloud plan in place first

      The open source software promises hard-to-come-by cloud standards and no vendor lock-in, says Forrester’s Lauren Nelson. But there’s more to consider — including containers.

    • Set the Agenda at OpenStack Summit Boston

      The next OpenStack Summit is just three months away now, and as is their custom, the organizers have once again invited you–the OpenStack Community–to vote on which presentations will and will not be featured at the event.

    • What’s new in the world of OpenStack Ambassadors

      Ambassadors act as liaisons between multiple User Groups, the Foundation and the community in their regions. Launched in 2013, the OpenStack Ambassador program aims to create a framework of community leaders to sustainably expand the reach of OpenStack around the world.

    • Boston summit preview, Ambassador program updates, and more OpenStack news
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Programming/Development

    • NVIDIA Makes Huge Code Contribution To Qt, New Qt 3D Studio

      The Qt Company today announced Qt 3D Studio, a new 3D UI authoring system, thanks to NVIDIA providing Qt with hundreds of thousands of lines of source code making up this application.

    • Cavium ThunderX Support Added To LLVM

      Cavium’s ThunderX ARM 64-bit processors are now formally supported by the LLVM compiler stack.

    • How copying an int made my code 11 times faster

      Recently, after refactoring some Rust code, I noticed that it had suddenly become four times slower. However, the strange part is that I didn’t even touch the part of the code that became slower. Furthermore, it was still slower after commenting out the changes. Curious, I decided to investigate further.

      The first step was to use git diff to display all changes since the previous commit, which was normal speed. Then I started removing them one by one, no matter how inconsequential, and testing to see if it was still slow after the change.

      [...]

      Adding the print statement causes the code to go from 0.16 seconds to 1.7 seconds, an 11x slowdown (in release mode). Then, I posted it in the rustc IRC channel, where eddyb and bluss suggested a workaround and explained what was going on.

      The fix was to the change the print line to the following, which does indeed fix the slowdown.

Leftovers

  • Cars

    • Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber

      As most of you know, I left Uber in December and joined Stripe in January. I’ve gotten a lot of questions over the past couple of months about why I left and what my time at Uber was like. It’s a strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying story that deserves to be told while it is still fresh in my mind, so here we go.

      I joined Uber as a site reliability engineer (SRE) back in November 2015, and it was a great time to join as an engineer. They were still wrangling microservices out of their monolithic API, and things were just chaotic enough that there was exciting reliability work to be done. The SRE team was still pretty new when I joined, and I had the rare opportunity to choose whichever team was working on something that I wanted to be part of.

      After the first couple of weeks of training, I chose to join the team that worked on my area of expertise, and this is where things started getting weird. On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.

    • Former engineer says Uber is a nightmare of sexism

      A former Uber engineer has published an explosive account of sexism and power struggles in the workplace, with allegations beginning from her very first official day with the company. The engineer, Susan Fowler (who left Uber in December and now works for Stripe), posted the account to her blog on Sunday, calling it a “strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying story.” It is indeed horrifying.

      Sexism is a well-documented problem in Silicon Valley, but the particulars of Fowler’s account are astounding. She says problems began on day one, when her manager accosted her with details of his sex life:

    • Tesla Owner Who Sacrificed His Model S To Save Another Driver Gets Surprise From Elon Musk

      For those who may have missed the story, here’s the deal. Manfred Kick was driving his Model S on the German Autobahn near Munich and noticed that a person in a Volkswagen Passat was driving erratically on the highway, German publication Munchen Merkur reported. The Passat hit the guardrail several times and swerved suspiciously, so Kick realized that something was wrong.

      He didn’t know whether the Passat driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or whether some other issue was at stake, but he nonetheless decided to intervene to avoid a more serious accident. Kick accelerated to reach the Volkswagen Passat and when he looked over, he saw that the driver appeared unconscious.

    • Why buying used cars could put your safety at risk

      Charles Henderson sold his car several years ago, but he still knows exactly where it is, and can control it from his phone.

      The IBM researcher leading X-Force Red, the firm’s security testing group, wasn’t researching car security when he discovered a major privacy issue. He simply sold his car.

      “The car is really smart, but it’s not smart enough to know who its owner is, so it’s not smart enough to know it’s been resold,” Henderson told CNNTech. “There’s nothing on the dashboard that tells you ‘the following people have access to the car.’”

  • Proprietary Nightmares

    • SAP license fees are due even for indirect users, court says

      SAP’s named-user licensing fees apply even to related applications that only offer users indirect visibility of SAP data, a U.K. judge ruled Thursday in a case pitting SAP against Diageo, the alcoholic beverage giant behind Smirnoff vodka and Guinness beer.

      The consequences could be far-reaching for businesses that have integrated their customer-facing systems with an SAP database, potentially leaving them liable for license fees for every customer that accesses their online store.

      “If any SAP systems are being indirectly triggered, even if incidentally, and from anywhere in the world, then there are uncategorized and unpriced costs stacking up in the background,” warned Robin Fry, a director at software licensing consultancy Cerno Professional Services, who has been following the case.

    • “Active Hours” in Windows 10 emphasizes how you are not in control of your own devices

      No edition of Windows 10, except Professional and Enterprise, is expected to function for more than 12 hours of the day. Microsoft most generously lets you set a block of 12 hours where you’re in control of the system, and will reserve the remaining 12 hours for it’s own purposes. How come we’re all fine with this?

      Windows 10 introduced the concept of “Active Hours”, a period of up to 12 hours when you expect to use the device, meant to reflect your work hours. The settings for changing the device’s active hours is hidden away among Windows Update settings, and it poorly fits with today’s lifestyles.

      Say you use your PC in the afternoon and into the late evening during the work week, but use it from morning to early afternoon in the weekends. You can’t fit all those hours nor accommodate home office hours in a period of just 12 hours. We’re always connected, and expect our devices to always be there for us when we need them.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Michigan civil rights panel: Flint water crisis rooted in ‘systemic racism’

      The Flint drinking water crisis has its root causes in historical and systemic racism, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission said Friday in a hard-hitting report that calls the public health catastrophe ” a complete failure of government” and recommends a rewrite of the state’s emergency manager law and bias training for state officials.

      The report, unanimously adopted at a meeting of the commission in downtown Flint, also calls for the creation of a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” a model that was used in South Africa after apartheid as a way of rebuilding government trust and credibility by listening to and addressing specific concerns raised by Flint residents.

      It calls on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to invite experts to provide training on “implicit bias” to his cabinet, his team responding to Flint, and to require all state departments, including the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Health and Human Services, to do the same for their staff. Implicit bias is unconscious bias that can be directed toward historically disadvantaged groups, influencing decision-making.

    • Commission report: ‘systemic racism’ played role in Flint water crisis

      The 129-page report does not claim there were any specific violations of state civil rights laws, but says “historical, structural and systemic racism combined with implicit bias” played a role in the problems, which still linger in the city’s drinking water almost three years later.

      “The presence of racial bias in the Flint water crisis isn’t much of a surprise to those of us who live here, but the Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s affirmation that the emergency manager law disproportionately hurts communities of color is an important reminder of just how bad the policy is,” state Sen. Jim Ananich, a Democrat from Flint, said.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Finance

    • EVA: 79,000 prime working-age men are permanently outside labour force in Finland

      The Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA) has expressed its concern about the nearly 79,000 men in the prime working-age group who are not in employment, not in education and not eligible for disability pension.

      “Finland is home to 78,657 prime working-age men who can be labelled as missing workers. Not much is known about the activities of these 25–54-year-old men – except that they have disappeared from the labour force, apparently permanently,” EVA states in a report published on Thursday.

    • A Corporate Defender at Heart, Former SEC Chair Mary Jo White Returns to Her Happy Place

      Mary Jo White, whose tenure as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission under President Obama bitterly disappointed those who hoped she would aggressively enforce banking laws, is rejoining the corporate defense team at Debevoise & Plimpton, marking her sixth trip through the revolving door between various government jobs and the white-collar defense law firm she calls home.

      Debevoise represents numerous major financial institutions under federal investigation, and White will now help those corporate clients manage their legal exposure.

      White got the call to return to Debevoise on Inauguration Day, her last day at the SEC. As Debevoise presiding partner Michael Blair told the Wall Street Journal, “We had been waiting to make that phone call for several years.”

      This latest trip through the revolving door is particularly disturbing because White declared in ethics disclosure forms before becoming SEC chair that she was retiring from her partnership at Debevoise, receiving a lump sum retirement payment of over $2 million. Instead of staying retired, she immediately went back to Debevoise after her government service ended, pocketing the money.

      It is not, however, surprising.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • ‘Life is a campaign’: After a difficult first month, Trump returns to his comfort zone

      As President Trump descended the stairs from Air Force One on Saturday evening, with a patriotic country song playing and thousands cheering, the 2020 election season officially began.

      Although the past several presidents have waited more than two years before jumping back onto the campaign trail, Trump’s first four weeks in office have shown that he just can’t stand too much time in Washington. One adviser calls political rallies the president’s “oxygen” — and Trump seemed to direly need a deep inhalation following a week that included his national security adviser resigning and his top replacement pick turning him down, his nominee for labor secretary withdrawing from consideration and accusations involving his campaign and Russia.

      “Life is a campaign,” the president told reporters aboard Air Force One. “Making our country great again is a campaign. For me, it’s a campaign.”

    • Presidential Impeachment, Explained

      Shortly following new revelations from the New York Times that President Donald Trump’s campaign team was in “repeated” contact with Russian officials ahead of the 2016 election, #TrumpImpeachmentParty began trending on Twitter in a call to take Trump out of office. But while the hashtag might be gaining steam, the process of impeaching a president is a lot easier said than done.

      What does it mean for a president to be impeached, what does the process look like, and is it even possible for Donald Trump to be impeached less than a month into his presidency? Here’s what you need to know.

    • Trump’s apparent security faux-pas-palooza triggers call for House investigation

      Representative Ted Lieu, a congressman from Los Angeles County, California, led fourteen other House Democrats on Friday in urging the House Government Oversight Committee to investigate “troubling reports” of President Donald Trump’s apparently poor security practices and the potential danger to national security posed by them—including his continued use of an unsecured Android device to post to Twitter, discussion of sensitive information (including nuclear strategy) in the restaurant at his Mar-A-Lago resort, and leaving classified material unlocked while visitors were in the Oval Office.

    • Trump attends private Mar-a-Lago event without telling press corps

      President Trump attended a private fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Saturday evening, without informing the press corps that follows him and reports on his movements.

      Trump made an unexpected stop at a fundraiser for Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute held at his resort in Palm Beach, Fla., the Washington Post reported.

      The event was not on his schedule.

      A video posted on Instagram shows Trump arriving at the private fundraiser, where he was met with cheers. More than 800 people attended the event, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Sunday.

    • Donald Trump invited golf club members to help choose his cabinet, leaked audio suggests

      Donald Trump invited wealthy members of one of his golf clubs to help interview candidates for posts in his administration, leaked audio recordings have revealed.

      The Republican was taped telling guests to “come round” and help interview potential “generals and dictators”, claiming it would be “fun”.

      Audio recordings from a party hosted by Mr Trump at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey in November – just two weeks after his election win – reveal comments he made to members.

    • Ralph Nader – Breaking Through Power Event
    • ACTION ALERT: WaPo’s Post Live Series Is a Love Letter to Corporate Conflicts of Interest

      Since 2010, the Washington Post has been banking on its pedigree and prestige by putting on Q & A sessions with influential Beltway personalities—sponsored by corporations directly involved in the topics of discussion. Event sponsors include Bank of America, Eli Lilly, Qualcomm, WGL Energy, AFLAC, GlaxoSmithKline and UnitedHealth, among others.

      These events, billed as “Post Live,” are generally fluffy, non-combative industry hype sessions sponsored by a relevant corporation and quarterbacked by a Washington Post columnist or reporter to lend it gravitas. The ideological scope, as one would expect based on who funds them, ranges from “how capitalism and the US military can be more awesome” to “capitalism and the US military are already awesome.” This ideological capture is seen most starkly in Post Live’s coverage of healthcare and war.

    • Event at University of La Verne – Fighting Fake News: 21st Century Global Critical Media Literacy

      Mickey Huff (Director of Project Censored, professor of social science and history, Diablo Valley College), Andy Lee Roth (associate director of Project Censored, instructor in sociology, Citrus College) and Elizabeth Blakey, (lawyer, sociologist, First Amendment scholar, and assistant professor of journalism, Cal State-Northridge) will examine news censorship, the origins of “fake news,” and how critical media literacy, particularly among young adults, will be essential for sustaining democracy in the 21st Century.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • A preview of self-censorship in the new political landscape

      Over the next few months, there’ll be plenty of debate about the role of the government in funding public broadcasting.

      The Trump administration reportedly has the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — and a host of other cultural and arts organizations– targeted for elimination.

    • Why Suzanna Mukherjee thinks the online space is evolving

      The biggest advantage of the medium, is that there is no censorship yet, says Suzanna. “In film and television, censorship is the biggest problem. At the end, owing to cuts, one finally cannot end up telling the story he or she sets out to do so,” Suzanna adds.

    • Legal impediments to Internet censorship

      Back then, cinema and television, on account of their inaccessibility to ordinary researchers, did not provide a convenient source of research information. To put it simply, it was basically impossible to cite television, and motion pictures were exhibited at the cinema houses at the whim of the film distributors.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Oldham headmistress makes fresh ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations against Islamist parents

      Allegations of a new Islamist “Trojan Horse” plot to wrest control of a state school have been made by a headmistress in the north of England.

      Trish O’Donnell, head of Clarksfield Primary School in Oldham since 2006, emailed the local council saying she had “very strong reasons to believe that… a ‘Trojan Horse’ agenda [is] being played out”, The Sunday Times reported.

      “Trojan Horse” refers to plots uncovered in 2014 in Birmingham schools in which Islamist groups attempted to infiltrate positions of authority and impose a conservative or Salifist ethos on their running.

    • Revealed: new ‘Trojan Horse plot’

      Fears of a new “Trojan Horse” Islamic plot to take over a state school in Oldham have been raised by its head teacher, who says she has been concerned for her personal safety.

      Trish O’Donnell, head of Clarksfield Primary School since 2006, has been so worried that she has worked from home for short periods in recent months.

    • Iranian morality police beat and detain 14-year-old girl ‘for wearing ripped jeans’

      A 14-year-old girl has been beaten and detained for wearing ripped jeans in Iran in the latest incident of police brutality against women and girls.

      Zahra*, who The Independent is not identifying for fear she may suffer reprisals, was celebrating her birthday with friends last week when a patrol of “morality police” pulled up.

      The teenager said officers tried to force her and her friends into their car in the city of Shiraz, beating them when they resisted.

    • ‘How is this ALLOWED?’ Fury as Turkish PM holds election rally in GERMANY
    • New Homeland Security Guidelines Call for the Sweeping Detention and Deportation of Illegal Immigrants: Report

      The Homeland Security Department has drafted sweeping new guidelines aimed at aggressively detaining and deporting immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, according to a pair of memoranda signed by DHS Secretary John Kelly.

      The memos dated Friday seek to implement President Donald Trump’s broad directive to crack down on illegal immigration. Kelly outlines plans to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand on the priority list for immigrants marked for immediate removal and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests, according to a person briefed on the documents, who confirmed the details to the Associated Press.

      “The surge of illegal immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” Kelly wrote.

    • Scrutiny for Supreme Court Pick Fails to Focus on Rights of Disabled

      Since Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court, media have coalesced around a few themes: One is about whether any Trump appointment should be blocked as payback to Republicans, as expressed in a New York Times headline (2/13/17): “Democrats’ Quandary on Gorsuch: Appease the Base or Honor the Process.” Spoiler: The paper thinks the real strain is on “those in the middle.”

      Another theme is Gorsuch’s “eloquence” and his being “hard to pigeonhole” as conservative: One story said he “didn’t skip a beat” when a friend came out to him as gay.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Jessica Gonzalez on FCC Chair Ajit Pai

      This week on CounterSpin: “T-Mobile Very Pleased with Direction of Change under Trump Administration, CEO Says.” That headline tells you pretty much what you need to know about Ajit Pai, Trump’s choice of chair for the FCC—the entity charged with representing the public interest in the communications industry. The phone company exec is pleased, he says, because Pai’s appointment signals “an air of less regulation.”

      The idea that the media industry hates regulation is fiction, given that it’s government that grants licenses to companies to use the public airwaves and monopoly franchises to cable companies. In so doing, as media scholar Bob McChesney has said, government isn’t so much setting the terms of competition as picking the winners. What’s objected to, of course, are public interest regulations—including the net neutrality rules that allow for a democratic and diverse internet. What’s ahead for the public interest under Ajit Pai’s FCC? We talk with Jessica Gonzalez, deputy director and senior counsel at the group Free Press.

  • DRM

    • Chrome 57 Will Permanently Enable DRM

      The next stable version of Chrome (Chrome 57) will not allow users to disable the Widevine DRM plugin anymore, therefore making it an always-on, permanent feature of Chrome. The new version of Chrome will also eliminate the “chrome://plugins” internal URL, which means if you want to disable Flash, you’ll have to do it from the Settings page.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Google v. Oracle: Fair Use of a Copyrighted API

        Back in 2012, the N.D. Cal. district court ruled that the portions of Java structure that Google copied were not themselves entitled to copyright protection. On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit reversed and ordered a new trial. In particular, the Federal Circuit panel led by Judge O’Malley held that the Java API taxonomy copyrightable as a whole and rejected the applicability of idea/expression merger doctrine. “Merger cannot bar copyright protection for any lines of declaring source code unless Sun/Oracle had only one way, or a limited number of ways, to write them.”

      • Search Engines, Rightsholders Agree Plan To Stop UK Consumers From Reaching Infringing Websites

        Search engines Google and Bing have signed a voluntary code of conduct with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the Motion Picture Association to prevent consumers from being directed to copyright-infringing websites, the UK Intellectual Property Office said on 20 February. The deal, brokered by the IPO, comes into effect immediately and is intended to reduce the visibility of infringing content in searches by 1 June, the office said.

      • Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom Can Be Extradited to the U.S., a New Zealand Court Rules

        New Zealand’s High Court has found that Kim Dotcom, best known for creating the now-defunct file sharing service Megaupload, is eligible for extradition to the U.S., rejecting a legal appeal by the self-styled “internet freedom fighter.”

        But the judges supported an argument put forth by Dotcom and his legal team that the U.S. cannot extradite him for charges related to copyright violation, reports the New Zealand Herald.

      • New Zealand appeals court upholds Kim Dotcom extradition ruling

        An appellate court in New Zealand has upheld a lower court’s 2015 decision that Kim Dotcom and his co-defendants should be extradited to the United States to face criminal copyright-related charges involving his former website, Megaupload.

        In a ruling issued Monday afternoon local time (late Sunday night, Eastern Standard Time), Justice Murray Gilbert of the High Court of New Zealand ruled that while he agreed with one of Dotcom’s attorneys’ primary arguments—”that online communication of copyright protected works to the public is not a criminal offence in New Zealand”—the judge noted that nevertheless, Dotcom and his co-defendants remain eligible for extradition based on other elements in the case.

      • Dotcom Legal Team on High Court judgment

        This case is no longer the “largest criminal copyright case”, 1 at least as far as New Zealand is concerned. As we have said all along, there is no such offence under our Copyright Act. We were right. However, this afternoon the High Court judgment 2 was issued and, ultimately, although it concluded we are right, 3 the Court concluded that Kim is still eligible for surrender.

      • NZ court rules Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom can be extradited to U.S. for alleged fraud

        A New Zealand court ruled on Monday that internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom could be extradited to the United States to face charges relating to his Megaupload website, which was shutdown in 2012 following an FBI-ordered raid on his Auckland mansion.

        The Auckland High Court upheld the decision by a lower court in 2015 on 13 counts, including allegations of conspiracy to commit racketeering, copyright infringement, money laundering and wire fraud, although it described that decision as “flawed” in several areas.

        Dotcom’s lawyer Ron Mansfield said in a statement the decision was “extremely disappointing” and that Dotcom would appeal to New Zealand’s Court of Appeal.

      • Pirate Site With No Traffic Attracts 49m Mainly Bogus DMCA Notices

        It’s likely you’ve never heard of mp3toys.xyz since the site has very little traffic. However, thanks to a bungling anti-piracy outfit, the site is now the second most complained about ‘pirate’ site on the Internet, with Google receiving more than 49 million notices in just over six months.

No, Doing Mathematical Operations on a Processor Does Not Make Algorithms Patent-Eligible

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway” —Marshall Phelps

Summary: Old and familiar tricks — a method for tricking examiners into the idea that algorithms are actual machines — are being peddled by Watchtroll again

I COME from a professional background of computer vision and I am also familiar with (and trained in) processor technology, so when I say that software is inherently mathematics I am not just merely repeating what other people are saying. In fact, having debated this in length with Watchtroll a couple of years ago, it became abundantly clear that he (Mr. Quinn) does not know that the heck he is talking about; he could not even name any computer program he wrote. It’s astounding that people who want to believe that software is patentable take him seriously*.

I therefore worry that Watchtroll is seen by many as some sort of ‘authority’ on the subject; it’s a site by and for law firms, or a propaganda mill for their pockets (software patents). They do a lot of lobbying and also shaming of officials like the Director of the USPTO (they never even mention the EPO).

“The latest Watchtroll piece wants people to think of computer programs as computers; as if putting something that is akin to prose through a processor magically makes it patentable.”The latest Watchtroll piece is titled “Operational Mathematics on a Processor is not an Abstract Idea”. They are mixing two things here; processors are not abstract but mathematics is a whole different thing. They cannot just magically link two things to make them look like the same thing. In our view, which was consistent over the years, the processor itself can have patents associated with it, and we don’t object to that. But algorithms are not processors and they are rarely if ever embedded in gate level. The computers are programmable. That’s what Manchester innovated after the (second) World War and what the Computer Science department here — the department which I studied in — became most renowned for.

The latest Watchtroll piece wants people to think of computer programs as computers; as if putting something that is akin to prose through a processor magically makes it patentable. Clueless or just lying to oneself?

We often wonder how many of the software patents proponents who write for Watchtroll actually come from Computer Science and can comprehend computer programs/code. We cannot recall even one. “Peter also works as a patent engineer in patent prosecution,” says the disclosure in the above article. What the heck is a “patent engineer”? That makes it sound like the act of patenting itself is an engineering task? Can they patent the process of patenting too? I once dated a girl who said she was a “nail engineer” (later it turned out she meant manicurist), so here again we have these artistic semantics.

“Sadly, based on what we heard, the above-mentioned pattern of deception (combining or blurring the gap between machine and code) is often used to trick EPO examiners into granting software patents; they can mislead themselves into thinking that they don’t grant software patents, but they do.”“Operational math on a processor is a switching device and not an abstract idea,” Peter writes. The processor just takes an instruction or a set of instructions (input) and produces some output, yielding something that can be processed for visualisation, sound etc. But the processor is not the program itself. The programs are stored in memory or in registers, which themselves resemble a book and are already covered by copyrights, not patents, just like a book. We could go on and deconstruct the whole piece from Peter, who is an Electronic Engineer, not a software engineer (far from the same thing).

Sadly, based on what we heard, the above-mentioned pattern of deception (combining or blurring the gap between machine and code) is often used to trick EPO examiners into granting software patents; they can mislead themselves into thinking that they don’t grant software patents, but they do.
____
* Well, here is Mr. Watchtroll being treated as some kind of guru on the subject [1, 2] just a few days ago.

Paid-for UPC Proponent, IAM ‘Magazine’, Debunked on UPC Again

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IAM 'Magazine' Debunked

Summary: The impact of the corrupted (by EPO money) media goes further than one might expect and even ‘borrows’ out-of-date news in order to promote the UPC

THE EPO has already paid (one might say bribed) a lot of media organisations as large as the Financial Times for fake news about the UPC. It also spent over a million Euros for a PR firm (FTI Consulting) to manipulate the media and this PR firm paid IAM ‘magazine’, which for a number of years had promoted the UPC (even before FTI paid).

Over the weekend we found IAM stating: “Interesting news from Spain – opposition Socialist party tables Parliamentary motion urging Spanish participation in unitary patent system. [...] Up to now, there has been a united political front in Spain keeping country outside the UPC system. It challenged its creation at ECJ & lost” (untrue). Spain would be utterly foolish to ever look at the UPC, for reasons we explained here before; the UPC would only harm Spain and the EPO does almost nothing — or worse than nothing — for Spain.

“But hey, if it helps the UPC campaign, why not air it, right?”There is one major problem with what IAM stated to create a false sense of optimism. As Francisco Moreno pointed out, along with a screenshot: “Participating in the UP (English, French, German) supporting at the same time Spanish was in their 2015 electoral program” (so this is far from news).

IAM tried to make ‘news’ (more UPC promotion) out of something that was not; there’s no excuse for this other then shoddiness or sloppiness in reporting, especially given that IAM’s editor in chief, by his own admission, lived for a long time in Spain and can probably speak Spanish (or Catalan) just fine.

But hey, if it helps the UPC campaign, why not air it, right? Especially when EPO (or EPO PR) money flows in

Lack of Justice in and Around the EPO Drawing Scrutiny

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Abject poverty when it comes to human rights cannot be compensated for with a generous salary

Heiko Maas saleSummary: The status of the EPO as an entity above the law (in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and so on) is becoming the subject of press reports and staff is leaving in large numbers

THE EPO has been reasonably quiet this year; the same goes for SUEPO, which came under severe and almost mortal attacks. ILO has barely helped as Team Battistelli mostly ignores it even when it rules against Team Battistelli. It’s more of that “above the law” attitude.

We recently became aware of this site which speaks of the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO. It also has this update:

Latest news: In the meantime the High Court of The Netherlands (Hoge Raad) maintained the international organisation’s immunity, despite severe human rights violations. Contrary to what the judges ruled a complainant has no means of accelerating a trial with the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO – in any case Articles 15 and 7bis of the Tribunal’s rules cannot be considered such means in “normal” lawsuits (cases of conflict), cf. http://www.ilo.org/tribunal/about-us/WCMS_249195/lang–en/index.htm . The two Articles were translated and interpreted wrongly by the Attorney General of the High Court – which the complainant’s Borgersbrief indicated, yet the judges seem to have ignored it. They went even further by ruling that the absence of such acceleration means is not a reason to remove the organisation’s immunity – that not only the complainant’s career was destroyed by the decision impugned, but also her health permanently harmed, did apparently not matter (I wonder in which case the organisation’s immunity would be disproportionate then….any clue??).

It is inexcusable that the EPO can enjoy immunity under these circumstances, for reasons we already explained in posts such as:

  1. Battistelli is an Autocrat Above the Law and It’s OK, Holland’s High Council Says
  2. EPO Abuses Now Make the Netherlands Look Like a Facilitator of Human/Labour Rights Abuses
  3. Media Blasts EPO Over Immunity Amid Suicides, Battistelli’s Behaviour Compared to Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s
  4. Leaked: Team Battistelli, Exploiting a Controversial Decision From the Netherlands, is Trying to Squash SUEPO
  5. The EPO’s Freedom to Disregard the Law and Abuse Employees is “Being Taken up by the Council of Europe”
  6. The Netherlands With Its Bizarre Decision to Let the EPO Violate Dutch Law, Now in English
  7. “Team Battistelli Continues With Intimidation Tactics”
  8. The European Patent Office Officially Dishonours Justice, So It’s Time for SUEPO to Become Clandestine
  9. Culture of Terror at The European Patent Office Escalates Thanks to Dutch Government’s Complicity

We are attempting to gather more information on the above case, but in the mean time all we have is the list of ILO decisions regarding EPO staff. Occasionally we look more closely at a few.

Yesterday we explained why the EPO is becoming a threat to the European Union. It’s not just about reputation issues but also growing disdain that leads to revocation of memberships, such as Britain’s. Responding to the British press, one person asked: “Does [the EPO] do anything useful at all, apart from making headlines with complaints about their boss?”

And here is the latest comment, taking note of Germany’s failure as well (Maas has his own interests):

The EPO staff has no fundamental rights at all.

I read in the comment of Int.og: ¨ The host country may not be able to do anything directly, but as with anyone under diplomatic immunity they could say that he is no longer welcome, and ask him to leave.¨. This could surely be a possible reaction of Germany and The neteherlands.

The German prime minister Angela Merkel said to the new US President Trump:

“Germany and America are bound by common values — democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person, regardless of their origin, skin color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or political views. It is based on these values that I wish to offer close cooperation, both with me personally and between our countries’ governments.”

Mr Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection is well informed that there is a bad copy of Donald Trump President of the European Patent Office: namely Benoit Battistelli of french nationality. He is a bad copy because he has no respect for the rule of law, even not for the European Patent Convention, and the dignity of each and every person.

A nice overview you can find in the document for the Bavarian State Parliament published on 02 February 2017: Request – finally ensure the fundamental rights of the staff of the European Patent Office! https://www.bayern.landtag.de/www/ElanTextAblage_WP17/Drucksachen/Basisdrucksachen/0000009500/0000009748.pdf

It is for me and many others not clear what the reason is why Mr. Maas did nothing until now and many people working at the EPO have to suffer day after day.

And along the same lines, another comment:

A corporate dictatorship with diplomatic immunity?

I find it deeply disturbing that a commercial organisation can attain a status comparable to a sovereign nation, operate as a dictatorship, then be essentially immune to any government intervention, merely because it’s “international”.

So is Google, Microsoft and Apple, but that doesn’t make them immune to government intervention.

Frankly I think the EPO is an abomination that should be exterminated and replaced with something that is fully accountable in every jurisdiction in which it operates, starting with its present Gangster-in-Chief.

According to this new comment from IP Kat, the EPO has “more than one hundred examiners retiring and leaving this year,” probably running away from Battistelli’s sinking ship. To quote:

Again and again the rumours about over recruitment appear…..
Yes there are a few directorates where the stocks are decreasing, but there are many more where the stocks are still increasing.
Overall in the EPO the stocks are very very slowly going down.
With more than one hundred examiners retiring and leaving this year, without recruitment the stocks would increase again next year.
Why is this so hard to understand?
We were shown a simulation which predicts exactly this for our directorate, so also we have to recruit.
It made sense, and shows that there is enough work overall.
It doesn’t make me happy that the new examiners do searches while I do much more examination, but it’s fair since I have enough!

We are in the meantime attempting to contact the above-mentioned people, for there are clearly stories that ought to be told.

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