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03.15.17

Links 15/3/2017: Desktop GNU/Linux Praises, X.Org Server 1.19.3 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Life of free software project

    During last week I’ve noticed several interesting posts about challenges being free software maintainer. After being active in open source for 16 years I can share much of the feelings I’ve read and I can also share my dealings with the things.

    [...]

    Obviously if you can not cope with the work, let’s find more people to do the work. Unfortunately it’s not that easy. Sometimes people come by, contribute few patches, but it’s not that easy to turn them into regular contributor. You should encourage them to stay and to care about the part of the project they have touched.

    You can try to attract completely new contributors through programs as Google Summer of Code (GSoC) or Outreachy, but that has it’s own challenges as well.

    With phpMyAdmin we’re participating regularly in GSoC (we’ve only missed last year as we were not chosen by Google that year) and it indeed helps to bring new people on the board. Many of them even stay around your project (currently 3 of 5 phpMyAdmin team members are former GSoC students). But I think this approach really works only for bigger organizations.

  • Nine Funny Quotes about Free and Open Source Software

    Open source programmers are celebrated for the software they create. But they don’t often get the credit they deserve for one trait: Being funny. With that in mind, here’s a list of some of the more entertaining statements made by members of the free and open source software community.

  • 6 Operational Challenges to Using Open Source Software

    In today’s rapidly evolving markets, companies that consistently innovate, most quickly and at the least cost, will win. And, as you’ve seen in our ongoing series, using Open Source Software (OSS) enables rapid, low-cost innovation. But it can also introduce operational challenges and legal risks.

    We’re at a point now that OSS has become such a mainstream phenomenon that not using open source almost certainly places your organization at a disadvantage. So you must learn how to navigate the challenges and risks in order to remain competitive.

  • GitLab acquires software chat startup Gitter, will open-source the code

    GitLab, a startup that provides open source and premium source code repository software that people use to collaborate on software, is announcing today that it has acquired Gitter, a startup that provides chat rooms that are attached to repositories of code so that collaborators can exchange messages. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

    Gitter has popped up more and more on GitHub, which is arguably GitLab’s biggest competitor. But Gitter chat rooms are also sprinkled throughout GitLab. For example, a repository for a command-line interface (CLI) for talking on Gitter itself has a Gitter chat room.

  • GitLab Acquired The Chat App Gitter And Plans To Open Source It

    Today GitLab announced that it has acquired the chat app Gitter that many communities use for communication. Also, many Laravel sub-communities use it as well, and you can find these through the Gitter Laravel Tag

  • Events

    • Solving Monitoring in the Cloud With Prometheus

      Hundreds of companies are now using the open source Prometheus monitoring solution in production, across industries ranging from telecommunications and cloud providers to video streaming and databases.

    • An Exploration of Citrix Delivery Networks

      While many of us may be more familiar with the virtualization and remote access products from Citrix, Danny Phillips was talking about their products in the networking space during his keynote presentation at LinuxCon Europe.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Five issues that will determine the future of Internet Health [Ed: It would be awesome if not rather bitter-sweet and ironic now that Mozilla helps make the WWW less 'sanitary' with DRM]

        In January, we published our first Internet Health Report on the current state and future of the Internet. In the report, we broke down the concept of Internet health into five issues. Today, we are publishing issue briefs about each of them: online privacy and security, decentralization, openness, web literacy and digital inclusion. These issues are the building blocks to a healthy and vibrant Internet. We hope they will be a guide and resource to you.

        We live in a complex, fast moving, political environment. As policies and laws around the world change, we all need to help protect our shared global resource, the Internet. Internet health shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but rather, a cause we can all get behind. And our choices and actions will affect the future health of the Internet, for better or for worse.

  • Databases

    • [PostgreSQL] Parallel Query v2

      A recent Twitter poll asked What is your favorite upcoming feature of PostgreSQL V10? In this admittedly unscientific survey, “better parallelism” (37%) beat out “logical replication” (32%) and “native partitioning” (31%). I think it’s fruitless to argue about which of those features is actually most important; the real point is that all of those are amazing features, and PostgreSQL 10 is on track to be an amazing release. There are a number of already-committed or likely-to-be-committed features which in any other release would qualify as headline features, but in this release they’ll have to fight it out with the ones mentioned above.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Programming/Development

    • Happy IDEs of March: Which code editor do you prefer?

      Welcome to the Ides of March, or as we’d like to call it, the IDEs of March. To celebrate, we’re asking our readers to let us know which code editing tool they prefer, whether a full-fledged integrated development environment or a simple text editor. Fortunately, there are tons of open source options out there for you to choose from. Which one is your favorite?

    • There’s More to Life Than Code: How to Keep Your Team Engaged

      She found that her engineers actually were most productive when they not only felt like they were part of an engineering team, but when they felt like they were a part of the entire company. When Rent The Runway created cross-functional teams — with people from all departments working together to solve single problems — her engineers were at their happiest and most productive.

    • Teaching Children to Code

      Two experiences in my life have shaped the way I try to talk about technology. One was over ten years ago when I taught a room full of retirees, long-term unemployed, and recent immigrants basic computer skills. I realized that I could throw many of the subjects I had studied out of the window and that the best way to teach people was to give them a reason to learn. Fast forward to last year (and a subject I wrote previously on SitePoint) when I taught programming to a group of recent Syrian refugees. Again, I had to throw away much of my own learning and preconceptions and think afresh.

Leftovers

  • Best social media analytics tools 2017: Eight of the best tools for social media analytics
  • Is This The Future Of Online Publishing? Leading Chinese Social Networks Add Paid-For Content

    One of the topics that generates strong feelings in the online world is adblocking. Many users love it, but many publishers hate it. That’s a big problem, because advertising has turned into the main way of funding what appears on the Internet. As adblockers become more common, so the advertising revenue available to pay for creating articles, images, sound and video diminishes. Some want to ban adblockers, but that’s hardly a solution: forcing visitors to your site to view ads they hate is not a good way to foster a long-term business relationship. Improving ads seems a better approach, but that’s easier said than done, and may come too late now that so many people have installed adblockers.

  • Security

    • Red Hat Product Security Risk Report 2016

      At Red Hat, our dedicated Product Security team analyzes threats and vulnerabilities against all our products and provides relevant advice and updates through the Red Hat Customer Portal. Customers can rely on this expertise to help them quickly address the issues that can cause high risks and avoid wasting time or effort on those that don’t.

    • Google Eliminates Android Adfraud Botnet Chamois

      Google removed a handful of malicious apps from its Play marketplace recently that were found manipulating ad traffic, sending premium text messages, and downloading additional plugins.

    • Google deploys flamethrower on Android ad-fraud apps
    • New Linux Malware attacks AVTech IOT devices [Ed: When a Microsoft propaganda site writes about security it's not about Windows back doors but a 'Linux' thing (password)]

      A new malware that targets Linux-based Internet of Things (IoT) devices has been detected by Search-Lab, a Security research and development firm. This Linux ARM malware called as ELF_IMEIJ.A exploits a vulnerability in devices from AVTech, a surveillance technology company.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • This troubled, covert agency is responsible for trucking nuclear bombs across America each day

      The unmarked 18-wheelers ply the nation’s interstates and two-lane highways, logging 3 million miles a year hauling the most lethal cargo there is: nuclear bombs.

      The covert fleet, which shuttles warheads from missile silos, bomber bases and submarine docks to nuclear weapons labs across the country, is operated by the Office of Secure Transportation, a troubled agency within the U.S. Department of Energy so cloaked in secrecy that few people outside the government know it exists.

      The $237-million-a-year agency operates a fleet of 42 tractor-trailers, staffed by highly armed couriers, many of them veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, responsible for making sure nuclear weapons and components pass through foggy mountain passes and urban traffic jams without incident.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Recognizing the Year’s Worst in Government Transparency

      A thick fog is rolling in over Sunshine Week (March 12-18), the annual event when government transparency advocates raise awareness about the importance of access to public records. We are entering an age when officials at the highest levels seek to discredit critical reporting with “alternative facts,” “fake news” slurs, and selective access to press conferences—while making their own claims without providing much in the way to substantiate them.

      But no matter how much the pundits claim we’re entering a “post-truth” era, it is crucial we defend the idea of proof. Proof is in the bureaucratic paper trails. Proof is in the accounting ledgers, the legal memos, the audits, and the police reports. Proof is in the data. When it comes to government actions, that proof is often obtained by leveraging laws like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state-level public records laws—except when government officials seek to ignore the rules to suppress evidence.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Scientists Are Racing to Prevent a Total Wipeout of the World’s Coral Reefs

      The world has lost roughly half its coral reefs in the last 30 years. Scientists are now scrambling to ensure that at least a fraction of these unique ecosystems survives beyond the next three decades. The health of the planet depends on it: Coral reefs support a quarter of all marine species, as well as half a billion people around the world.

      “This isn’t something that’s going to happen 100 years from now. We’re losing them right now,”

    • Scientists to EPA head: You don’t know what you’re talking about

      In sum, the letters argue that Pruitt’s statement was wrong on multiple levels. We can measure the impact of humanity on the climate, and there’s not much reasonable scientific controversy over that or the results, which clearly show humanity’s impact. Continuing the analysis is obviously critical, but there’s not much point in continuing debates that, by any reasonable standard of evidence, should have ended years ago.

  • Finance

    • Theresa May is dragging the UK under. This time Scotland must cut the rope

      Here is the question the people of Scotland will face in the next independence referendum: when England falls out of the boat like a block of concrete, do you want your foot tied to it?

      It would be foolish to deny that there are risks in leaving the United Kingdom. Scotland’s economy is weak, not least because it has failed to wean itself off North Sea oil. There are major questions, not yet resolved, about the currency it would use; its trading relationship with the rump of the UK; and its association with the European Union, which it’s likely to try to rejoin.

    • Donald Trump tax: Leaked 2005 document reveals $38m bill

      US President Donald Trump paid $38m (£31m) in tax on more than $150m (£123m) income in 2005, a leaked partial tax return shows.

    • Brexit and the new British Constitution

      The set out of a text book on the ‘British Constitution’ used to be straightforward.

      (And yes, the British do have a constitution, it just is not codified. There is a descriptive answer to the question: how is Britain constituted?)

      After the various chapters on the executive, legislature, judiciary, local government, nationalised industries, the police, and so on, there would perhaps be a short chapter on Scotland and Northern Ireland.

      Wales would have an index entry which said ‘for Wales, see Scotland and Northern Ireland‘.

    • The Disappearing Prime Minister

      I was delighted by Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement today, both the content and the manner of her making it.

      I am unsure why she put the window for the referendum as far back as autumn 2018 to spring 2019. Autumn 2018 is fine but spring 2019 is late – Nicola Sturgeon spoke of Scotland needing to declare its choice for independence before the UK actually leaves the EU or very shortly thereafter. But very shortly thereafter is too late. In diplomatic terms, a miss is a good as a mile here and in diplomatic terms at the EU, negotiating to get back in will be much harder than negotiating to remain a part of the EU.

    • Brexit and the UK Parliament

      Nothing illustrates the atrophy of Parliament more persuasively than the fact that the debates regarding the scope of parliamentary sovereignty in Miller began in the courts and affirmed a sovereignty that Parliament was unwilling or unable to claim for itself via Parliamentary process. If Parliament cannot reform itself internally as Stein Ringen calls for in openDemocracy there is a need for an extra-parliamentary movement for a codified constitution which would include the reform of the House of Lords, entrenchment of social and economic rights, a more proportional system of election and a transparent process for any citizen to raise their constitutional concerns via petitioning a constitutional court.

    • Donald Trump set to completely scrap US consumer protection agency, says man expected to lead it

      Mr Neugebauer said his meeting with Mr Trump included discussions about deregulating financial markets and gutting the CFPB.

    • Uber: the illusion of growth

      It’s no secret that Uber is haemorrhaging money.

      [...]

      Instead of Uber’s pockets being lined by the hard toil of its drivers, the company is eating through investment from venture capitalists to keep its low-fare strategy going.

    • NYT Sees Fed on Collision Course With Trump–for Doing What Trump Said to Do

      By failing to remind readers of Trump’s stance on interest rates during the campaign, the Times is doing the president two big favors. One is the pretense that his economic proposals are coherent, which they are not. The other is that they allow him to point to the Fed as a scapegoat when his promises of spectacular economic growth fail to materialize: It will be Janet Yellen’s fault, for raising interest rates like he told her to.

    • Danish shipping company uses blockchain in IBM partnership

      Maersk and IBM test out the application of blockchain technology to track and manage the paper trail of shipping containers around the world

      IBM and Danish shipping giant Maersk are using blockchain technology to digitise transactions in the global shipping industry.

    • Donald Trump Isn’t Even Pretending to Oppose Goldman Sachs Anymore

      The continuity of Wall Street’s dominant role in American politics — regardless of what party sits in power or how reviled the financial industry finds itself across the country — was perhaps never more evident than when Jake Siewert, now a Goldman Sachs spokesperson, on Tuesday praised the selection of Jim Donovan, a Goldman Sachs managing director, for the No. 2 position in the Treasury Department under Steve Mnuchin, himself a former Goldman Sachs partner.

      “Jim is smart, extraordinarily versatile, and as hard-working as they come,” Siewert gushed. “He’ll be an invaluable addition to the economic team.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Germany threatens £44m fines for social media firms that fail to remove offensive content

      The newly-announced measures will also require that the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter delete offending material within a week, illegal material (such as posts containing racist material) within 24 hours, and run 24-hour helplines to help concerned users.

    • Germany threatens to fine social media companies €50m for hate speech and fake news

      If the measures pass into law it will require social media companies to employ staff that monitor content around the clock. Individual members of staff responsible for handling complaints could also be fined up to €5 million for failing to comply with the regulations.

    • NY Legislators Looking At Installing A Free Speech-Stomping ‘Right To Be Forgotten’

      There’s nothing like being negatively compared to Arizona (remember the short-lived “First Amendment-protected activity is against the law” bill?) to take the gloss off the latest legislative ridiculousness. A new bill in the state legislature would make New York an outlier in constitutional protections (or no, it wouldn’t, because it wouldn’t survive a constitutional challenge, but for the sake of argument…). For no conceivable reason, the bill seeks to implement a New York-located “right to be forgotten.” How that’s supposed to work out when it’s not the law in the other 49 states remains unexplained.

    • Mob Censorship on Campus

      In today’s political climate, there are sharp divisions of opinion over a range of issues, from health care and climate change to education and labor law. Ideally, a civil debate undertaken with mutual respect could ease tension and advance knowledge. Politics, however, often takes a very different turn.

      One of the landmark decisions of the United States Supreme Court, New York Times v. Sullivan, was decided in 1964 at the height of civil rights movement. Writing for the majority, Justice William Brennan insisted that the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech rested on “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” He then concluded that the First Amendment offered extensive protection to the media from defamation suits brought by private individuals—a principle that was later extended to apply to public figures as well. Defamation suits in his view could chill public debate.

    • PIO censorship in the era of Trump

      President Trump has already labeled major press outlets the “fake news media” and the “enemy of the people.” His administration has blocked major news outlets from a briefing because it didn’t like what they published.

      With that in mind, the public should understand “censorship by PIO” at the federal level: For years, in many federal agencies, staff members have been prohibited from communicating with any journalist without notifying the authorities, usually the public information officers. And they often are unable to talk without PIO guards actively monitoring them.

    • Letter: When censorship is effective

      Spicer is not a minister of propaganda; he is employed as a spokesman for our delusional president and must try to twist Trump’s wild statements into more reasonable language. His performance is painful to watch. The worst I can say about him is that he lacks personal honor.

    • Japan Foundation slammed for allowing ‘censorship’ at art exhibition (VIDEO)
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • DOJ Argues For iPhone Hack Secrecy By Contradicting Statements Made By The DOJ

      Someone’s assertions are wrong. Either the DOJ was lying when it said it would only work on certain iPhones, or it’s lying now to protect its secrecy by implying the purchased exploit is usable on other iPhones.

      The DOJ clarified last spring the exploit affected any iPhone 5c and wasn’t limited to those running iOS9. But even if that clarification is applied to its arguments in this lawsuit, this paragraph stills points to someone at the DOJ being dishonest. The counterargument that people wishing to prevent the FBI from accessing their phone’s contents could just switch to a newer iPhone still applies. And that’s the part the DOJ is calling “unvarnished speculation.”

    • NSA hacking chief’s mission impossible: Advising White House on cybersecurity

      NSA hacking crew bossman Rob Joyce is set to join US President Donald Trump’s National Security Council as a cybersecurity adviser.

      Joyce headed up the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations division, the spy agency’s elite computer exploitation squad.

    • Proposed NSA Headquarters Expansion Under Review

      The National Security Agency is proposing to expand and modernize its headquarters site at Fort Meade, Maryland.

      “For NSA/CSS to continue leading the Intelligence Community into the next 50 years with state-of-the-art technologies and productivity, its mission elements require new, centralized facilities and infrastructure,” according to a newly released Final Environmental Impact Statement for the site.

    • What is Privacy? Why is it even important for us? [Ed: What a garbled and messed up explanation of privacy]

      Privacy is not something that me or you going to read in some social media or any type of website’s Privacy Policies and then, Yah, I understood all, they are not taking any single coin from my pocket! Done! It’s more sensible and much deeper thinkable point than we can even imagine. One should understand what is privacy and even if we completely read out the Policies and Terms, doesn’t mean we are not likely to be at any risk.We should understand what we are sharing and how they can be used.

    • D.C. Circuit Court Issues Dangerous Decision for Cybersecurity: Ethiopia is Free to Spy on Americans in Their Own Homes

      The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today held that foreign governments are free to spy on, injure, or even kill Americans in their own homes–so long as they do so by remote control. The decision comes in a case called Kidane v. Ethiopia, which we filed in February 2014.

      Our client, who goes by the pseudonym Mr. Kidane, is a U.S. citizen who was born in Ethiopia and has lived here for over 30 years. In 2012 through 2013, his family home computer was attacked by malware that captured and then sent his every keystroke and Skype call to a server controlled by the Ethiopian government, likely in response to his political activity in favor of democratic reforms in Ethiopia. In a stunningly dangerous decision today, the D.C. Circuit ruled that Mr. Kidane had no legal remedy against Ethiopia for this attack, despite the fact that he was wiretapped at home in Maryland. The court held that, because the Ethiopian government hatched its plan in Ethiopia and its agents launched the attack that occurred in Maryland from outside the U.S., a law called the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) prevented U.S. courts from even hearing the case.

      The decision is extremely dangerous for cybersecurity. Under it, you have no recourse under law if a foreign government that hacks into your car and drives it off the road, targets you for a drone strike, or even sends a virus to your pacemaker, as long as the government planned the attack on foreign soil. It flies in the face of the idea that Americans should always be safe in their homes, and that safety should continue even if they speak out against foreign government activity abroad.

    • Maker of connected vibrator agrees to destroy sensitive user data

      A sex toy company has settled a class-action lawsuit filed by women who alleged that its connected vibrators collected “highly sensitive” personal information without their consent.
      [...]
      and did not admit to any wrongdoing.

    • Sex toy maker forced to pay out millions over intimate data invasion

      A class action was born, and that class action has just delivered some financial compensation.

      The lawsuit was filed in the North District of Illinois Eastern Division District Court, and the settlement is online. The courts decided that Standard Innovation should pay out $4 million Canadian dollars and should now only collect non-identifiable information.

    • These are the 17 House Representatives that introduced a bill to let telecoms sell your personal internet history

      Most Americans don’t know that telecoms and internet service providers store the internet history of their users; even more don’t know that recently introduced legislation aims to do away with privacy protections on this high value data.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Why is Erdoğan picking a fight with the EU over the Turkish referendum?
    • A man’s personal experience with corporate heartlessness
    • Are MPs now delegates rather than representatives?

      This valve is a feature of the UK’s “parliamentary democracy”.

      And, in turn, “parliamentary democracy” is a principle of the (uncodified) British constitution.

      Against this principle is now this relentless and alien doctrine of the referendum mandate.

      The 2016 referendum on EU membership was not legally binding: MPs could have legislated for this but chose not to do so. MPs instead chose for the Brexit referendum to have advisory power.

      But it is now being treated by many MPs as having total power: things are being done in the name of the “mandate”.

    • Brexit Diary – one hurdle surmounted, but another gets more awkward

      But as that obstacle to Brexit falls away, another very much came into view yesterday – not an obstacle as such to Brexit but to a ‘hard Brexit’. This, of course, was because of the the speech of the Scottish First Minister.

      This can be read here. The First Minister announced that there will be an independence referendum when the Brexit proposals become clear.

      The (intended) effect of this speech is to place UK government policy on a wire. If the outcome of Brexit is too ‘hard’ then there will be an independence referendum for Scotland which may support independence.

    • On Brexit, the SNP and Sinn Féin have been waiting and preparing the whole time

      But yesterday, the Scottish First Minister made her move.

      Now we wait for Sinn Féin’s move.

      The SNP and Sinn Féin have been watching and waiting and preparing the whole time.

      The SNP and Sinn Féin have thought hard about how to exploit this political opportunity. Only a fool would underestimate either entity.

      So soon the proper politics of Brexit will begin, with the UK government facing skilled and determined politicians taking full advantage of the power and leverage presented by the government’s policy of a ‘clean’ (ie, hard) Brexit.

      And this is all in addition to the politics of UK’s negotiations with EU27.

      The political Phoney War is coming to an end.

    • Research Shows ATF’s Bogus Stash House Stings Target Poor Minorities, Do Almost Nothing To Slow Flow Of Drugs And Guns

      The ATF’s sting operations have already drawn plenty of criticism. Not from law enforcement agencies who partner up with the ATF for easy busts or the DOJ which oversees them, but from almost everyone else, including federal judges. These stings result in government-made criminals who are led by undercover agents towards robbing fake stash houses of nonexistent drugs, cash, and weapons. The fun thing about the nonexistent drugs is it can be whatever amount ATF agents say it is. And that amount of drugs — that exists nowhere but in the imagination of federal agents — is used to determine lengths of sentences.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • New York City Sues Verizon For Fiber Optic Bait And Switch

      For years now, we’ve highlighted Verizon’s tendency to grab all manner of tax breaks and subsidies from a town or city — in exchange for fiber optic upgrades that are often never delivered. All up and down the eastern seaboard, Verizon was given the keys to the kingdom in franchise and other agreements filled with loopholes that let the telco, time and time again, promise one thing, then deliver another. And because the company enjoys immense lobbying power over regional regulators and state legislatures, Verizon has never really been held accountable for this behavior.

      New York City has been a particular point of contention. In 2008, former mayor Mike Bloomberg and Verizon signed (behind closed doors) a new franchise agreement promising “100% coverage” of FiOS across the city by 2014. As some local reporters had warned at the time (and were promptly ignored), the city’s deal with Verizon contained all manner of loopholes allowing Verizon to wiggle over, under and around its obligations. And wiggle Verizon did; a 2015 city report found huge gaps in deployment coverage — particularly in many of the less affluent, outer city boroughs.

    • USAToday Latest News Outlet To Completely Miss The Point Of Cord Cutting

      So we’ve noted a few times now how every month or so there’s a media report proclaiming that you can’t save any money via cord cutting. The logic in these reports almost always goes something like this: “Once I got done signing up for every damn streaming video service under the sun, I found that I wasn’t really saving much money over traditional cable.”

      Authors leaning on this lazy take almost always tend to forget a few things. One, the same people dictating cable TV rates dictate streaming video rates. Two, adding a dozen streaming services to exactly match your bloated, 300 channel cable subscription misses the entire point of cord cutting. The benefit of streaming is you can pick and choose the content you prefer. And yes, if you prefer a massive bundle of religious programming, horrible reality television, and infomercials, then yes — you may want to stick to paying an arm and a leg for cable.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Canadian Federal Court awards Nintendo C$12.8m in TPM first

        The Canadian Federal Court has shown it isn’t playing when it comes to copyright infringement in game industry, in the first ruling to consider technological protection measures introduced in 2012

      • Prenda May Be Dead, But Copyright Trolling Still Going Strong

        Copyright — with the help of insane $150,000 statutory damages — is still being used as a shakedown weapon, scaring people into paying up, not because of actual infringement, but because copyright trolls have learned how to use the law and the court system as a business model very similar to the one used by organized crime in certain neighbors: pay up or someone’s going to get hurt. The unfortunate “new” part of this is that the “weapon” here isn’t a baseball bat, but federal copyright law and the judicial system.

      • UK Court Grants First Live Blocking Order To Stop New Infringing Streams As Soon As They Start

        As we noted last week, one of the main copyright battlegrounds in the UK concerns the use of Kodi boxes — low-cost devices running the open source Kodi multimedia player, usually augmented with plug-ins that provide access to unauthorized content. One of the popular uses of such Kodi boxes is to watch live streams of sporting events. TorrentFreak reports on an important new court order obtained by the UK’s Football Association Premier League (FAPL) to prevent people from viewing live streams of soccer games free of charge. The problem for the FAPL is that the addresses of the servers streaming matches are often only known once the games begin. To meet that challenge, the court has granted a new kind of injunction: one that allows live blocking.

      • New UK ‘Kodi’ Piracy Blocking Injunction is a Pretty Scary Beast

        The new piracy blocking injunction obtained by the UK’s Premier League is groundbreaking on several levels, court papers have revealed. Not only did the football outfit work closely with Sky, BT and Virgin (who all have a vested interest) but the ISPs also monitored traffic from ‘pirate’ servers requested by their customers. Live blocking of streams will be possible too, with no immediate court oversight.

      • Film Distributor Creates Torrent Site Clone That Gives Away Movie Tickets To Combat Piracy

        Much of the way the movie industry looks to combat film piracy will seem familiar to readers of this site. It typically involves shakedown threat letters, games of DMCA whac-a-mole, and a paint-by-numbers approach that mostly amounts to film studios shaking their lawyers’ fists at the sky. All that produces the status quo, where piracy is still a thing, films still make gobs of money, and regular observers of it all are left scratching our heads wondering how so much noise could be made over it all.

        But I will give credit where credit is due as Costa Rican film distributor Romaly deserves some style and creativity points for its new anti-piracy tactic.

New Examples of Fake News About the Unitary Patent (UPC), Courtesy of Patent Law Firms Looking to Prey on Gullible SMEs

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“All warfare is based on deception” (many quotes to that effect, basically the idea that disseminating lies is acceptable when you gain power by it)

The vote on UPC
This is what Team UPC vainly calls “the unanimous UPC vote.” The vote on UPC isn’t what they tell us it was.

Summary: Tackling some of the latest fake news about UPC (too much to keep abreast of) and the misleading figures proclaiming to be EPO ‘results’

Steve Howe, writing on behalf of his employer (a law firm), has just supplied us with an excellent new example of fake news about the UPC, courtesy of greedy UPC hopefuls, which we collectively refer to as Team UPC because they not only lobby for the UPC but are also the same people who came up with it, wrote it, promoted it, and now hand it over for politicians to sign. It’s coup basically. It’s an insult to British and European (EU) democracy.

Howe’s headline is a loaded statement and a lie, wanting us to believe that UPC is inevitable here in the UK, and that it’s only a matter of “when”, not “if”. Howe’s closing words are these: “So the current signs are that the Unitary Patent Package may come into effect within the next year, long before the UK finally leaves the EU. However, as we have seen over the last year, predicting the future is a very inexact science, and the path towards Brexit and the path to the Unitary Patent Package probably have some mileage left.”

Well, that last sentence was deemed/considered particularly catchy by UPC antagonists. Putting aside the lies and lobbying in that paragraph (the “inevitability” tactics), there is no disclosure and it very much resembles other fake news which we have come across very recently in the UK (e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]), even in blogs without disclosures (yes, we are looking at you, IP Kat).

In its official Twitter account Howe’s employer wrote: “After @theresa_may’s Art. 50 statement, our very own Steve Howe looks at what comes 1st, Brexit or unitary patent?”

How about neither? Or only one of them (as the two are inherently and patently incompatible)? Of course, Howe’s employer presents loaded statements, which make us assume that both are done and dusted, confirmed and destined to be true irrespective of some supposedly absent/non-existent opposition.

The above is not the exception but the norm. We have, by this point at least, become accustomed to such fake news. It happens every day and we’re failing to keep track of it all. There is certainly a lot more on the way.

Yesterday we saw Wolters Kluwer’s Christine Robben‏ (Team UPC) promoting the latest propaganda from her employer. Team UPC now amplifies all that fake news about UPC. Here is the latest pile of lies. Just notice what they DON’T say. It’s just an echo chamber. See the screenshot at the top, showing what kind of ‘vote’ there was in Germany, at 1:30 AM (yes, AM!). Is German democracy becoming as big a farce as Turkish democracy?

For information and background, see what we wrote about Germany only days ago:

EIP, which has been part of the UPC boosting (this was noted here repeatedly in the past), is meanwhile contributing to the latest propaganda by writing that “German Parliament paves the way for European patent reform,” without noting the full facts. “Last paragraph,” as Francisco Moreno‏ points out to them, says “[o]nly 35 of 360 Bundestag members voted (at 1:30AM!) 2/3 majority is required when dealing with delegation of sovereign rights…”

Out of 600+ actually, not 360. Francisco Moreno‏ later took the above screenshots and told me: “Right, 630 members! Here, the 35 members present at the unanimous #UPC vote.”

As Benjamin Henrion put it, “you mean this vote is not constitutional?” They just need to get politicians to operate based on false assumptions, like making voters vote based on fake news (and when they realise it was fake all along it’s already too late to change one’s vote).

“No idea,” Moreno told Henrion, “but last paragraph suggest that this vote could be vulnerable.” German readers and Dutch people have already told us so too. It’s like a classroom inside a massive school conspiring to vote in the small hours of the morning to help construct lobbying material for Team UPC. That’s what it looks like anyway…

Also revisit what we wrote about the UK on Sunday night:

Last but not least, this is the latest about Spain:

Moreno is keeping abreast of fake news in the Spanish media. He writes about it in Spanish, so our Spanish readers are encouraged to follow his writings.

The above are rebuttals to fake news from the past week alone. We also needed to post many rebuttals to the EPO‘s fake ‘results’, namely:

Yesterday, Barker Brettell LLP published this piece titled “Grants up, backlog down – EPO Annual report 2016,” in which it had constructed and spread misleading spin. it does not tell readers that patent quality is down, applications are down, and skillful people are leaving the Office, which is starting to resemble just a registration office (as insiders feared).

“Cool map!” Francisco Moreno‏ wrote about it (tongue in cheek). “If this tendency continues, the EPO will be granting in 2017 100% more patents than in 2010, with only a 10% increase in examiners…” (nothing like this has happened at the USPTO in the same period).

That’s the ‘Battistelli effect’….

Another Battistelli effect is the effect on integrity. The EPO lies so much these days that almost every single tweet (except event promotion) is a lie. Yesterday it said “Medical technology remains the field with most patent applications filed in 2016…”

Click on the link and see what they don’t say. It actually DECLINED in the past year (minus and red); Like patent applications at the EPO in general….

Another EPO tweet from yesterday said: “These virtual classroom events are ideal for SME staff new to IP management…”

The EPO cares not at all about SMEs, as it promotes the UPC that’s against them, and then there is systematic discrimination against their applications (left at the bottom of the pile).

The European Patent Office has lost all respect and even insiders are sick of it. Read the following new comment from George Brock-Nannestad of Denmark, who in his fourth paragraph onwards speaks of the UPC and SMEs that should be up in arms over it (“I am surprised that the SMEs are not up in arms,” but some noticed and spoke out). To quote:

Dear Merpel,

thank you for having undertaken the onerous and disheartening task of keeping tabs on what goes on at the European Patent Office. I can well understand that you are worn down. Your coverage as the main source and a few other sources have provided me with a total of 1.35 GB of material that only goes from bad to worse. I have kept this because it reflects a scandal of momentous dimensions, and one could fear that some of it will disappear simply due to public embarrassment. On the other hand, reading the material is not for the weak, and I cannot recommend it.

I think that the IPKat posts have been the only trustworthy ones in the field, but the comments only have very little trustworthiness. Collectively, though, the comments through their mere numbers, do draw ugly pictures.

I myself have been driven to saturation, I have become numb, there is very little that can shock me anymore, and I am only wondering ‘WHY’? Who benefits from this situation, except the perpetrators, of course. But where are the checks, where are those who ought to insist on adhering to the European Patent Convention? It is true that the subject matter is somewhat esoteric, and very few really understand what we had as a smooth-running machinery that is rapidly becoming a formalities-only examination and early certainty of acceptance. A whole collection of jurisprudence on the fundamental properties of a patent system that serves society will become an empty academic exercise that was good for a period of perhaps 25 years, but which will stand as a non-reachable Utopia because of the constant attrition.

I am surprised that the SMEs are not up in arms. Maybe they believe the hogwash that politicians have told them about the UPC. They are dependent on the state (delegated, though the power is) to weed out the patent applications that do not merit acceptance. To an SME faced with a patent that is purportedly infringed it does not matter whether the company prevails in a court case, if the result is 5 years into the future. It is just as bad as ILOAT providing justice to wronged employees of the European Patent Office so many years after the infraction.

SMEs do not have the stamina to survive an unreasonable court case. The only thing left for SMEs is to be pro-active, i.e. do the work of the European Patent Office. Search independently, file observations, but probably better: file good oppositions. Get the opposition count up! It is expensive, but it only takes one or two saved court cases to fully recoup the costs. But getting the count up also changes the statistics at the European Patent Office, and it is something that its present management may not like but can do very little about. Well, they can increase the opposition fee to the ridiculous, just as the fee for opposing a trademark in Denmark was increased by a colossal amount more than 20 years ago, because some big players leaning on the authorities thought that they had a right to bad trademarks and resented that they were being hampered by successful oppositions from the general public. Who is leaning on the EPO?

Again, many thanks, and please continue to moderate the comments that come in to the last posts. There are now at least two posts that have more than 200 comments, but it cannot be helped if there are so few posts.

Very disheartened,

George Brock-Nannestad

Brock-Nannestad was quoted in the Danish media after we had published a series of articles regarding Jesper Kongstad; he probably understands that the shenanigans at the EPO are harmful to the entire profession centered around patents — if not well beyond it — and moreover it’s incredibly damaging to Europe’s economy (much like the UPC promises to be, essentially giving corporate, globalist sovereignty over Europe to few large corporations, with a little ‘trickle down’ effect to their patent lawyers in Europe).

More Good News About the US Patent System Crushing Software Patents While the Reformer, Michelle Lee, Stays

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents at 5:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Something positive for a change

Reading newspaper

Summary: A quick roundup of patent cases in the US and what these mean to growing optimism about the practicing industry, not a bunch of parasitic firms that prey on and tax the practicing industry

TECHRIGHTS has been emphasising for nearly a decade now that low patent quality leads to patent trolls or gives them greater strength. If one removes software patents, that will immediately knock out a large majority of patent troll lawsuits. To a certain degree, in the US at least, this is already happening, thanks largely to Alice.

“Another example of the value of Alice in improving patent quality & protecting businesses from trolls,” United for Patent Reform wrote this week about this article, which was mentioned here before. To quote a portion again, it’s about Microsoft’s patent troll which was a ticking time bomb until several years back:

After staying quiescent for years, IV [Intellectual Ventures] opened up a barrage of lawsuits to enforce its patents in 2010. But the companies that decided to stand up to IV rather than buckle under have been faring well, as judges have found the patents that IV has chosen to enforce in court less than impressive. It’s a telling sign about the giant patent-holder’s collection. Given the opportunity to pull just about any patent out of its huge collection, one would assume the company would choose the best of the lot. But much of it appears to be exactly the kind of easy handouts from the dot-com boom era that have been called out by critics of “patent trolls.”

Never forget Intellectual Ventures’ very strong ties to Microsoft, and to Bill Gates at a personal capacity. A lot of people choose to forget this or simply don’t know. Intellectual Ventures also has literally thousands of satellite firms, based on numerous reliable reports. This is very relevant in light of our previous post. Microsoft runs an expensive and extensive trolling operation which is being used to coerce (or exercise control over) a lot of companies out there. It’s a form of blackmail: do as we tell you or someone out there will come and burn your house/business (e.g. patent trolls). Microsoft now offers the equivalent of ‘protection’ money, in the form of “Azure IP Advantage”, equivalent to “peace of mind” back in the Novell days (one decade ago).

Thankfully, as the above report shows, Intellectual Ventures is not so successful (so far) and there have been both layoffs (since about 3 years ago) and departures of top executives. Intellectual Ventures is basically rotting. It wouldn’t have rotten if it weren’t for decisions like Alice, which some fear the Trump administration has a financial incentive to overturn (Trump’s family business). IP Watch has just caught up with the ‘news’ about Michelle Lee (it’s not really news that she keeps her jobs; Nobody ever said otherwise, except the patent maximalists’ propaganda mill, which had been hoping and trying to oust her in favour of trolls-friendly candidates). To quote IP Watch:

A letter made public only by a United States Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request confirms that Michelle Lee remains the director of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), ending a mystery that has been curiously kept secret since President Trump took office over 50 days ago.

One might ask, why do we care so much about Michelle Lee? Well, we have written more than a dozen posts about her since Trump’s inauguration because we noticed a malicious lobbying campaign to remove her, primarily because she did not tolerate trolls and was reasonably OK with the demise of software patents. For those who may be wondering where we stand right now, it’s still looking good. As of this week, software patents proponents take note of software patent being invalidated, with holders relying on wasteful/futile appeals. To quote this one example: “Patent Owner Brief Appealing Invalidation of Email Patent under Alice/101: https://dlbjbjzgnk95t.cloudfront.net/0901000/901132/document%20(27).pdf

That’s unlikely to change. See this new article titled “Fed. Circ. Affirms Nixing Of Email Patent Under Alice,” which says a “district court had found the asserted claims of Network Apparel Group LP’s patent to be invalid…”

Even a district court found the patent to be invalid. District courts are typically more tolerant of software patents than the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). Here is another new report from the same site:

Fed. Circ. Affirms Medical Billing Patent Invalid Under Alice

The Federal Circuit on Monday affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s rejection of an application for a patent on a method of electronically transferring patient medical records over a network, saying the concept is abstract and therefore not patent-eligible under Alice.

In a per curiam opinion, the three-judge panel said the claims of inventor Angadbir Singh Salwan’s U.S. Patent Application Number 12/587,101 are unpatentable because they cover the abstract idea of billing insurance companies and organizing patient health information.

See the trend? The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is crushing software patents and, as happens about 80% of the time, CAFC reaffirms its judgment. Dennis Crouch is trying to put an end to that or at least slow that down as it makes him increasingly redundant/obsolete. Yesterday he chose to cover a particular CAFC/PTAB case because challenged patents were not invalidated, for a change (as happens only about 20% of the time). Here’s an except:

That suggests to me that the case is over with the patentee winning the IPR.

Claim Scope: I’m still somewhat confused about whether the claim structure used here is proper under the law. 35 USC 112 states that “A claim in dependent form shall be construed to incorporate by reference all the limitations of the claim to which it refers.” In my mind, one element of claim 12 is that it is a “method” and claim 21 is a “machine . . . configured to perform the method.” As such, claim 21 cannot itself meet the method limitation of claim 12.

Well, there are far, far more such cases where CAFC agrees with PTAB and invalidates patents; we suspect that Crouch just doesn’t want to highlight such cases; maybe he picks edge cases or exceptional scenarios for the purposes of open inquiry. Whatever it is, let it be clear that software patents are in an unprecedented crisis in the US and this is hurting firms which choose to just sue rather than innovate.

“In the more than two years since the Alice decision,” Industry Week wrote yesterday, “courts have held many software patents invalid as claiming nothing more than an abstract idea.”

Let it stay that way.

Microsoft Continues to Hoard Patents — Even Buying Patents — While Using Them Against GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game.”

Mark Shuttleworth

Protection racket
Wikipedia

“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”

Mark Shuttleworth

Summary: Basic scrutiny of Microsoft’s patent activity and its latest moves serves to reinforce the prior analysis, which says Microsoft uses patents to force OEMs to ‘bundle in’ Microsoft ‘apps’ (typically spyware that sends user data to Microsoft) and pressure companies to host GNU/Linux virtual machines only in Azure, for perceived “peace of mind” (they call it “Azure IP Advantage”) in a climate of patent aggression which Microsoft contributes to by sending patents to large patent trolls

THE USPTO continues to grant software patents, albeit at a slow pace (because of the courts and the most recent, post-Alice guidelines). We should not take things for granted and simply assume that software patents will always be toothless.

“Microsoft attacked the independence of both Yahoo and Nokia, leading their patents into the hands of patents trolls.”Microsoft, in the mean time, continues using software patents to blackmail or at least coerce large GNU/Linux/ChromeOS/Android OEMs, either for money, for bundling of Microsoft spyware, or both (see this recent hybrid deal with Xiaomi). This is a very serious matter because at the midst of all that coercion Microsoft claims that it “loves Linux”, which is of course an utterly ridiculous lie. As we put it last year, "Microsoft Loves Linux Patent Tax" (it loves Linux inside its plate, like people love beef).

Now watch this (via). From the company that continues to attack GNU/Linux using patents there is now a large patent purchase. The proponents of Microsoft (and software patents and patent trolls), namely IAM, said “[i]t is worth noting that Microsoft itself does not compete directly in the chipmaking market. This makes it unlikely that the US company purchased the patents purely to secure its own freedom of action. Rather, the acquisition may be intended to provide defensive coverage for strategic partners, or for customers of Microsoft’s cloud computing services through its Azure IP Advantage programme.”

“At the same time Microsoft is harvesting all sorts of patents which it actively uses to attack the independence of various Android OEMs, forcing them to put Microsoft spyware on phones and tablets (or else face ruinous patent lawsuits).”This is Microsoft’s latest trick for taxing GNU/Linux and Free software, using all sorts of patents.

In addition, need we remind readers that Microsoft sent Nokia‘s patents to Google-hostile patent trolls like MOSAID (Conversant), which incidentally also pays IAM? Something quite similar may be happening with Yahoo (another famous victim of Microsoft entryism) as IAM reveals that Yahoo’s software patents find their way into the hands of trolls. It also recalls the following:

This is a sensible tactic to try to convince potential buyers that the company has plenty of options. Plus it’s worth remembering that one of Altbaba’s board members, Jeffrey Smith of Starboard Capital, has a track record of pushing companies to do more with their patents. In 2012 the activist investor bought into AOL and forced the company to look at actively monetising its portfolio, ultimately leading to a $1 billion patent sale to Microsoft.

Microsoft attacked the independence of both Yahoo and Nokia, leading their patents into the hands of patents trolls. In Novell’s case, Microsoft grabbed Novell’s patents. At the same time Microsoft is harvesting all sorts of patents which it actively uses to attack the independence of various Android OEMs, forcing them to put Microsoft spyware on phones and tablets (or else face ruinous patent lawsuits).

So much for ‘new’ Microsoft… new PR and new CEO, but same old villainous tactics. We have been writing more on that subject recently. See the list of articles below.

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