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03.26.17

Links 26/3/2017: Debian Project Leader Elections, SecureDrop and Alexandre Oliva FSF Winners

Posted in News Roundup at 4:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • SAP buys into blockchain, joins Hyperledger Project
  • Events

    • foss-north speaker line-up

      I am extremely pleased to have confirmed the entire speaker line-up for foss north 2017. This will be a really good year!

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chromium/Chrome Browser Adds A glTF Parser

        Google’s Chrome / Chromium web-browser has added a native glTF 1.0 parser. The GL Transmission Format, of course, being Khronos’ “3D asset delivery format” for dealing with compressed scenes and assets by WebGL, OpenGL ES, and other APIs.

        There are glTF utility libraries in JavaScript and other web-focused languages, but Google adding a native glTF 1.0 parser appears to be related to their VR push with supporting VR content on the web. Their glTF parser was added to Chromium Git on Friday.

  • CMS

    • Sex and Gor and open source

      A few weeks ago, Dries Buytaert, founder of the popular open-source CMS Drupal, asked Larry Garfield, a prominent Drupal contributor and long-time member of the Drupal community, “to leave the Drupal project.” Why did he do this? He refuses to say. A huge furor has erupted in response — not least because the reason clearly has much to do with Garfield’s unconventional sex life.

      [...]

      I’ll unpack the first: open-source communities/projects are crucially important to many people’s careers and professional lives — cf “the cornerstone of my career” — so who they allow and deny membership to, and how their codes of conduct are constructed and followed, is highly consequential.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • MRRF 17: Lulzbot and IC3D Release Line Of Open Source Filament

        Today at the Midwest RepRap Festival, Lulzbot and IC3D announced the creation of an Open Source filament.

        While the RepRap project is the best example we have for what can be done with Open Source hardware, the stuff that makes 3D printers work – filament, motors, and to some extent the electronics – are tied up in trade secrets and proprietary processes. As you would expect from most industrial processes, there is an art and a science to making filament and now these secrets will be revealed.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Cod fishing catches plummet in waters off New England

      The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released an assessment of the Gulf of Maine cod stock in 2014 that said the spawning population was at its lowest point in the history of the study of the fish. Scientists have cited years of overfishing and inhospitable environmental conditions as possible reasons for the decline.

    • [Old] Methane Hydrate: Killer cause of Earth’s greatest mass extinction [iophk: "warning: Elsevier"]

      Global warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic, but the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic

    • Kochs pledge millions to GOPers in 2018 — if they vote no on health care bill

      In a last-minute effort to sink the Republican health care bill, a powerful network of conservative donors said Wednesday it would create a new fund for Republican 2018 reelection races — but they’ll only open it up to GOPers who vote against the bill.

      The advocacy groups helmed by Charles and David Koch have unveiled a new pool of money for advertisements, field programs and mailings that would exclude those who vote for the health care bill they oppose on Thursday. The effort, which they described as worth millions of dollars, is an explicit warning to on-the-fence Republicans from one of the most influential players in electoral politics not to cross them.

    • Kochs Bankroll Move to Rewrite the Constitution

      A constitutional convention, something thought impossible not long ago, is looking increasingly likely. Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, if 34 state legislatures “issue a call” for a constitutional convention, Congress must convene one. By some counts, the right-wing only needs six more states. Once called, delegates can propose and vote on changes and new amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which, if approved, are currently required to be ratified by 38 states.

  • Security

    • NSA: We Disclose 90% of the Flaws We Find

      In the wake of the release of thousands of documents describing CIA hacking tools and techniques earlier this month, there has been a renewed discussion in the security and government communities about whether government agencies should disclose any vulnerabilities they discover. While raw numbers on vulnerability discovery are hard to come by, the NSA, which does much of the country’s offensive security operations, discloses more than nine of every 10 flaws it finds, the agency’s deputy director said.

    • EFF Launches Community Security Training Series

      EFF is pleased to announce a series of community security trainings in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library. High-profile data breaches and hard-fought battles against unlawful mass surveillance programs underscore that the public needs practical information about online security. We know more about potential threats each day, but we also know that encryption works and can help thwart digital spying. Lack of knowledge about best practices puts individuals at risk, so EFF will bring lessons from its comprehensive Surveillance Self-Defense guide to the SFPL.

      [...]

      With the Surveillance Self-Defense project and these local events, EFF strives to help make information about online security accessible to beginners as well as seasoned techno-activists and journalists. We hope you will consider our tips on how to protect your digital privacy, but we also hope you will encourage those around you to learn more and make better choices with technology. After all, privacy is a team sport and everyone wins.

    • NextCloud, a security analysis

      First, I would like to scare everyone a little bit in order to have people appreciate the extent of this statement.

      As the figure that opens the post indicates, there are thousands of vulnerable Owncloud/NextCloud instances out there. It will surprise many just how easy is to detect those by trying out common URL paths during an IP sweep.

    • FedEx will deliver you $5.00 just to install Flash

      Bribes on offer as courier’s custom printing service needs Adobe’s security sinkhole

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The New Laptop Ban Adds to Travelers’ Lack of Privacy and Security

      It can be difficult to understand the intent behind anti-terrorist security rules on travel and at the border. As our board member Bruce Schneier has vividly described, much of it can appear to be merely “security theater”—steps intended to increase the feeling of security, while doing much less to actually achieve it.

      This week the U.S. government, without warning or public explanation, introduced a sweeping new device restriction on travelers flying non-stop to the United States from ten airports in eight Muslim-majority countries, and nine airlines from those countries. Passengers on these flights must now pack large electronics (including tablets, cameras, and laptops) into their checked luggage.

    • Laptop ban on planes came after plot to put explosives in iPad

      The US-UK ban on selected electronic devices from the passenger cabins of flights from some countries in north Africa and the Middle East was partly prompted by a previously undisclosed plot involving explosives hidden in a fake iPad, according to a security source.

      The UK ban on tablets, laptops, games consoles and other devices larger than a mobile phone came into effect on Saturday. It applies to inbound flights from six countries – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey. Six UK airlines – British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson – and eight foreign carriers are affected.

      It follows a similar move in the US, which applies to flights from 10 airports in eight countries – Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

    • Risks to US from War on North Korea

      Experts agree that within a few years, at most, North Korea will have mastered the ballistic missile technology needed to destroy U.S. cities with nuclear warheads. It recently demonstrated the use of solid-fuel technology in intermediate-range missiles, and earlier this month the regime tested a sophisticated new rocket engine that even South Korea called a technical breakthrough.

      [...]

      Last fall, the influential Council on Foreign Relations issued a major white paper calling North Korea’s weapons program “a grave and expanding threat” and asserting that Washington may have no choice but to “consider more assertive military and political actions, including those that directly threaten the existence of the [North Korean] regime and its nuclear and missile capabilities.”

      Such threats are foolhardy and counterproductive. As many analysts point out, a pre-emptive attack by the United States cannot guarantee to destroy all of North Korea’s hidden nuclear weapons or mobile missile launchers. Missing even a handful would guarantee the incineration of Seoul, Tokyo, and other nearby cities in radioactive fireballs. Even in the best case, North Korea could respond by flattening Seoul with artillery barrages, and killing tens of thousands of Koreans and Japanese with chemical weapons.

    • The war in Yemen: two years old and maturing?

      The United Nations has stated that, of the four famines predicted for 2017, Yemen is the worst, with seven million people close to starvation and a further ten million in urgent need.

    • Trump’s War on Terror Has Quickly Become as Barbaric and Savage as He Promised

      From the start of his presidency, Donald Trump’s “war on terror” has entailed the seemingly indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people in the name of killing terrorists. In other words, Trump has escalated the 16-year-old core premise of America’s foreign policy – that it has the right to bomb any country in the world where people it regards as terrorists are found – and in doing so has fulfilled the warped campaign pledges he repeatedly expressed.

      The most recent atrocity was the killing of as many as 200 Iraqi civilians from U.S. airstrikes this week in Mosul. That was preceded a few days earlier by the killing of dozens of Syrian civilians in Raqqa Province when the U.S. targeted a school where people had taken refuge, which itself was preceded the week earlier by the U.S. destruction of a mosque near Aleppo that also killed dozens. And one of Trump’s first military actions was what can only be described as a massacre carried out by Navy SEALS in which 30 Yemenis were killed; among the children killed was an 8-year-old American girl (whose 16-year-old American brother was killed by a drone under Obama).

    • Trump Insults the Media, but Bush Bullied and Defanged It to Sell the Iraq War

      As we pass the 14th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, its chief progenitor is suddenly beloved by the mainstream media again.

      Every time former President George W. Bush pops up somewhere these days, media pundits gush about how good he looks now, compared to Donald Trump. Recently, for instance, he described himself – and was dutifully portrayed as — a great supporter of the free press.

      “I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” he told NBC’s Matt Lauer in early March. “That we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”

      The same week, he similarly assured a gushing daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres that “I’m a big believer in free press.”

    • America Digs Its Own Afghan Grave

      Afghanistan has long been called the “graveyard of empires,” the site of failed invasions. But the U.S. – in its 15-plus-year endeavor – seems determined to dig its own grave there, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.

    • America Digs Its Own Afghan Grave

      The United States had an earlier experience injecting armed force into Afghanistan, with its provision of lethal aid — most notably Stinger anti-aircraft missiles — to mujahedin fighting against the Soviets in the 1980s. During that effort, U.S. policymakers showed little or no concern with the political nature and direction of the forces they were aiding, which included what we would today quickly label as violent Islamists. Those forces were used as a tool to bleed the Soviets, who got themselves stuck in a military expedition that reached a strength just slightly bigger (about 115,000 troops) than the later U.S. expedition.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The North Atlantic may get its first-ever named storm in March next week
    • Trump’s Defense Secretary Cites Climate Change as National Security Challenge

      Our story on March 13 concerning Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ views on the relationship between climate change and national security was based on excerpts from unpublished written exchanges between Mattis and several Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee following his Jan. 12 confirmation hearing. ProPublica has now obtained more comprehensive sets of these “Questions for the Record” and his answers.

      While the exchanges mainly focus on climate change, fossil fuel and renewable energy and related security issues, which was the initial reporting focus, they include discussions of Mattis’ views on issues ranging from Iran’s nuclear weapons program to ISIS, Guantanamo and LGBT issues in the military. The merged documents are posted on DocumentCloud.

  • Finance

    • [Possible paywall] Uber Group’s Visit to Seoul Escort Bar Sparked HR Complaint

      woman who dated Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for three years, Gabi Holzwarth, says she was with Mr. Kalanick when he and a team of five Uber employees visited an escort-karaoke bar in Seoul in mid-2014.

    • We’re in a fine mess if George Osborne is our last hope of halting Brexit

      To adapt Dr Samuel Johnson’s famous saying: attacking the BBC for alleged bias is a last refuge of the scoundrel. In this case, the scoundrel is one Julian Knight MP, who last week assembled some 70 fellow Brexiters to attack the BBC for allegedly being biased in favour of the Remain camp.

      Yes, we Remainers still exist and, according to an interesting finding by Alastair Campbell, our numbers may well be growing, which could help to explain why the Leave camp, ostensibly monarch of all it surveys, is displaying increasing signs of insecurity, as the falsity of its prospectus becomes manifest to a more reflective audience.

      Campbell wrote in the New European that at speaking events, he asks for a show of hands in response to the question: “Are you broadly optimistic or pessimistic about Brexit?”

      When he put this recently to 250 people who recruit from universities for their companies or organisations, only one optimistic hand went up. As Campbell says: “For the other 249 or so … you get the picture. Pessimism by a landslide. These are people who feel they have no voice in the debate as May wishes to conduct it.”

    • The Observer view on triggering article 50

      Like sheep, the British people, regardless of whether they support Brexit, are being herded off a cliff, duped and misled by the most irresponsible, least trustworthy government in living memory. The moment when article 50 is triggered, signalling Britain’s irreversible decision to quit the EU, approaches inexorably. This week, on Black Wednesday, the UK will throw into jeopardy the achievements of 60 years of unparalleled European peace, security and prosperity from which it has greatly benefited. And for what?

      The ultra-hard Tory Brexit break with Europe that is now seen as the most likely outcome when the two-year negotiation concludes is the peacetime equivalent of the ignominious retreat from Dunkirk. It is a national catastrophe by any measure. It is a historic error. And Theresa May, figuratively waving the cross of St George atop the white cliffs of Dover like a tone-deaf parody of Vera Lynn, will be remembered as the principal author of the debacle. This is not liberation, as Ukip argues, nor even a fresh start. It is a reckless, foolhardy leap into the unknown and the prelude, perhaps, to what the existentialist writer Albert Camus described in La chute – a fall from grace, in every conceivable sense.

    • Former Lobbyist With For-Profit Colleges Quits Education Department

      A former lobbyist for an association of for-profit colleges resigned last Friday from the Department of Education, where he had worked for about a month.

      As ProPublica reported last week, the Trump administration had hired Taylor Hansen to join the department’s “beachhead” team, a group of temporary hires who do not require approval from the U.S. Senate for their appointments.

      On the day Hansen resigned, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, citing ProPublica’s reporting and requesting more information on Hansen’s role.

    • AT&T, Verizon Feign Ethical Outrage, Pile On Google’s ‘Extremist’ Ad Woes

      So you may have noticed that Google has been caught up in a bit of a stink in the UK over the company’s YouTube ads being presented near “extremist” content. The fracas began after a report by the Times pointed out that advertisements for a rotating crop of brands were appearing next to videos uploaded to YouTube by a variety of hateful extremists. It didn’t take long for the UK government — and a number of companies including McDonald’s, BBC, Channel 4, and Lloyd’s — to engage in some extended pearl-clutching, proclaiming they’d be suspending their ad buys until Google resolved the issue.

    • 50+ Economists Warn Against Neoliberalism’s Return in Ecuador

      Over the past ten years, Ecuador has achieved major economic and social advances. We are concerned that many of these important gains in poverty reduction, wage growth, reduced inequality, and greater social inclusion could be eroded by a return to of the policies of austerity and neoliberalism that prevailed in Ecuador from the 1980s to the early 2000s. A return to such policies threatens to put Ecuador back on a path that leads not only to a more unequal society, but to more political instability as well. It is important to recall that from 1996 to 2006, Ecuador went through eight presidents.

    • The First Brick in the Wall

      President Donald Trump’s administration announced a $600 million bidding contest late Friday night to kick off construction of The Wall, a towering physical barrier between the United States and Mexico.

      The process will start with little walls — an unknown number of barriers of concrete and other materials that will serve as models for the bigger wall, which Trump made central to his political campaign.

      Construction will proceed with unusual haste. Companies have just two weeks to submit proposals. Finalists will make a 2 1/2-hour-long oral presentation to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, which is overseeing the contest. Winners will be announced by late May.

      Steven Schooner, a professor of government contracting at George Washington University, tweeted that the process was “extremely/uniquely complicated (and confusing).”

      But CBP officials said the approach was designed to get the best value for the government.

      “Through the construction of prototypes, CBP will partner with industry to identify the best means and methods to construct border wall before making a more substantial investment in construction,” the agency said in a statement.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • From Russia, with Panic

      The Russians hacked America.

      After Donald Trump’s surprise victory in November, these four words reverberated across the nation. Democratic Party insiders, liberal pundits, economists, members of Congress, spies, Hollywood celebrities, and neocons of every stripe and classification level—all these worthy souls reeled in horror at the horribly compromised new American electoral order. In unison, the centers of responsible opinion concurred that Vladimir Putin carried off a brazen and successful plan to throw the most important election in the most powerful democracy in the world to a candidate of his choosing.

      It seemed like a plotline from a vintage James Bond film. From his Moscow lair, Vladimir Putin struck up an alliance with Julian Assange to mount a massive cyber-offensive to discredit Hillary Clinton and her retinue of loyal Democratic Party operatives in the eyes of the American public.

      The plot was full of twists and turns and hair-raising tangents, including tales of Russian-American retiree-agents sunning in Miami while collecting payoffs from Russia’s impoverished pension system. But the central ruse, it appears, was to enter the email server of the Democratic National Committee and then tap into the Gmail account belonging to John Podesta, founder of the Center for American Progress and premier D.C. Democratic insider.

    • Trump in No Hurry to Staff ‘Enemy of the People’ Offices

      The New York Times (3/12/17) reported that the Trump administration, for a variety of reasons, was filling the offices of administrative agencies at a glacial pace. From the Department of Agriculture to the Weather Service, over 2,000 mid-level political-appointee positions were still unfilled; the Times called it “the slowest transition in decades.”

      One place that slowness has showed up clearly is in the staffing of what are variously called Public Affairs offices, Newsrooms or Media Offices of these government departments and agencies—the very offices that reporters in both Washington bureaus and in newsrooms around the country depend on to get routine information about what these departments and agencies are doing, or, in the case of more investigative assignments, to ask basic questions and set up interviews with key personnel.

      This reporter stumbled upon the problem earlier in the month while researching a story for High Times magazine on the fate, in the Trump administration, of the now 19-year-old ban on federal student aid for any students who are convicted of even a minor criminal drug violation. In my case, I began by calling the Department of Education’s Press Room. (As of March 17, the website was still listing Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education, though he left a year ahead of Obama, and there was another secretary, John King, before Trump nominee Betsy DeVos took over.)

    • Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics

      A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst entitled Explaining White Polarization in the 2016 Vote for President: The Sobering Role of Racism and Sexism found that “while economic dissatisfaction was part of the story, racism and sexism were much more important and can explain about two-thirds of the education gap among whites in the 2016 presidential vote.” The analysis used data from a national survey conducted during the final week of October (just days before the election), and concluded that the negative effects of neoliberalism and the rule of Wall Street were not the single most important factor in the victory for Trump. Rather it was “whiteness” and misogyny which played a pivotal role.

    • Chris Hedges Explains the Importance of ‘Robust’ Public Broadcasting (Video)

      Chris Hedges just received a Daytime Emmy nomination for his weekly online show “On Contact.” The Truthdig columnist is nominated for Outstanding Information Talk Show Host, alongside mainstream daytime hosts like Dr. Oz and Steve Harvey.

      “We need programs where dissident voices that challenge the dominant narrative, that critique systems of power, including of course corporate power, can be heard,” Hedges said in a press release. “And there is almost no space left, and that’s what we’ve tried to do with ‘On Contact,’ to fill that void.”

    • What causes the populist infection? How can it be cured?

      According to this study, while older generations keep thinking that democracy is essential, younger generations are much more indifferent. In Europe, about 52% of citizens among the generation born in the 1930s believe that to live in a democratic country is fundamental, but only about 45% among those born in the 1980s share this opinion. In the United States, the intergenerational gap is even more heightened. 72% of citizens born in the 1930s believed democracy is essential, while only around 30% of those born in the 1980s had the same view.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Charter’s Trying To Kill Recent Merger Conditions Banning Usage Caps, Net Neutrality Violations

      For decades now the FCC has been an expert at imposing utterly meaningless merger conditions. Usually these conditions are proposed by the companies’ themselves, knowing full well these “demands” are utterly hollow — and FCC punishment for ignoring them will be virtually non-existent. The end result has been a rotating tap dance of merger conditions that sound good upon superficial press inspection, but wind up being little more than hot air. It’s a symbiotic relationship where as the telecom sector consolidates (often at the cost of less competition) the FCC gets to pretend it’s not selling consumer welfare down river.

    • Confidence Wavers In Google Fiber As ISP Cancels Installs, Refuses To Explain Why

      Late last year Google Fiber announced it would be pausing expansion into several new markets, axing its CEO, and shuffling a number of employees around. Reports subsequently emerged suggesting that Alphabet higher ups were growing frustrated with the high cost and slow pace of fiber deployment, and were contemplating an overall larger shift to wireless. While the company continues to insist that there’s nothing to see here and that everything is continuing as normal, signs continue to emerge that the ground Google Fiber is built on may not be particularly sturdy.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UC Berkeley Receives CRISPR Patent in Europe [iophk: "now we are seeing what the US universities have been allowed to become"]

      The European Patent Office will grant patent rights over the use of CRISPR in all cell types to a University of California team, contrasting with a recent decision in the U.S.

    • Consumers Press the USTR Nominee on Trade Transparency

      A third front in our battle to reform the USTR’s closed and opaque trade negotiation practices is in a submission to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that we submitted this week. The ITC was seeking public submissions in an enquiry on digital trade, to gather input into a report that it is writing to advise the USTR on the topic.

      [...]

      As the renegotiation of NAFTA is around the corner, the need for USTR to reform its outdated practices is becoming increasingly urgent. With Congress, consumer groups, and international trade experts all demanding similar reforms from the next Trade Representative, we certainly hope that Robert Lighthizer is feeling the heat, and that he will rise to the challenge once he takes office.

    • Trademarks

      • Trademark Censoring: Hungary Considering Banning Heineken Red Star Trademark Because Communism

        When it comes to trademark law, it’s worth repeating that its primary function is to prevent customer confusion and to act as a benefit for consumer trust. This mission has become skewed in many ways in many countries, but one of the lessons learned via the Washington Redskins fiasco is that even well-meaning attempts to have government play obscenity cop will result in confusing inconsistency at best and language-policing at worst. When government begins attempting to apply morality to trademark law in that way, it skews the purpose of trademark entirely.

        To see that on display elsewhere, we need only look to Hungary, where the government is considering stripping the trademark protection for some of the branding for Heineken beer because it resembles the ever-scary demon that is communism.

    • Copyrights

      • Congress Leaks Draft Bill To Move Copyright Office Out Of The Library Of Congress

        Well, we all knew this was coming, but Rep. Bob Goodlatte has been passing around a draft of a bill to move the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress. Specifically, it would make the head of the Copyright Office, the Copyright Register, a Presidentially appointed position, with 10-year terms, and who could only be removed by the President.

        [...]

        Either way, by making this a Presidential appointment, the MPAA and RIAA know that it will give them significantly greater say over who leads the office. Right now they can (and do!) lobby the Librarian of Congress on who should be chosen, but the Librarian gets to choose. One hopes that the Librarian would take into account the larger view of copyright law, and who it’s actually supposed to benefit — and we’re hoping that the current Librarian will do so (if given the chance). But making it a Presidential appointment will mean heavy lobbying by industry, and much less likelihood that the public interest is considered.

      • eBook Pirates Tend To Be Older And Well Off, Which Means They Pirate Because Of Human Intuition On Economics

        People tend to have a hard time discussing the two mathematical concepts of zero and infinity. It’s not hard to understand why this is, of course, with reality being a material thing and both the lack of and the infinite amount of something being somewhat foreign. And this manifests itself in all sorts of disciplines, from cosmology to spirituality to physics. And, of course, economics, particularly in the digital age where many of the axioms surrounding physicality no longer apply to digitized goods. Zero and infinity play heavy roles here, both in the discussion of free content (zero) and the concept of digital and freely copyable goods as a resource (infinity). The economic nature of these concepts have long vexed established industries, even as some of us have pointed out how efficient and useful infinite digital goods can be if properly applied.

        [...]

        With nearly half of eBook pirates falling into their thirties or forties, and the study later showing that two-thirds of eBook pirates have household incomes of at least $30k per year, and almost a third having incomes in six figures, this simply isn’t a situation that can be explained away by pointing at young poor people. So, why do older, more affluent people pirate eBooks?

        I would argue it’s instinctual. Most of these people may not even be able to explain the term “marginal cost”, but by instinct they feel that something that costs nothing to reproduce ought not to require payment. Their brains do this calculation behind the scenes, not thinking about the sunk costs of initial production, nor the sweat-equity spent by the content creator. Marginal cost is the term used by economists to explain pricing laws that emerged organically through human instinct.

      • Rightscorp Boss Signs Deal That Could Be Bad News For Pirates

        Unfortunately for them, the company is a miserable performer and has lost millions over the past few years. On a good day its stock is worth around $0.04. On a bad one, barely half of that.

      • Lawyers & Academics Warn UK Against Criminalizing File-Sharers
      • Australia Stalls Copyright Safe Harbor Proposal

        Copyright safe harbors for Internet intermediaries are under attack from Big Media both in the United States and in Europe. Laying the blame for falling revenues on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook (despite that fact that revenues aren’t actually falling at all), their aim is to impose new controls over how these platforms allow you to access and share content online. The control at the top of their wish-list is a compulsory upload filter, that would automatically screen everything that you upload. Such a requirement would be a costly imposition on smaller platforms and new innovators, and provide governments with a ready-built infrastructure for content censorship.

        In Australia, the situation is a little different—because due to an oversight in implementation of the original U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement in 2005, they never had a copyright safe harbor system to begin with; or rather, a much narrower one which only applies to ISPs, but not to other Internet platforms, nor even to other Internet access providers such as libraries and educational institutions. This oversight was due to be remedied with the passage of new amendments to Australia’s Copyright Act. (The TPP, had it passed, would also have required Australia to bring in this reform.)

      • Australian Govt.: Just Kidding On That Whole Safe Harbors Reform Thing, Guys

        It was just last week that we discussed the pleasant news that Australia’s Prime Minister was backing the idea of reforming the country’s safe harbor laws, which are far out of line with much of the world as the result of poor wording. The whole thing can be basically summarized thusly: in Australia, safe harbor protections only apply to commercial ISPs, as opposed to service providers like websites or institutions that offer internet access, because someone decided to use the term “carriage service providers” in the law as opposed to simply “service providers.” Essentially everyone agrees this was done in error as opposed to intentionally, yet it’s been decades and nobody has bothered fixing the law.

        Until some members of the government revived an attempt to do so and got the Prime Minister’s support. Doing so would have put Australian law on equal footing with the EU and American safe harbor provisions, meaning that service providers generally couldn’t be scapegoated for the actions of a third party. You know, holding the actual people culpable of a crime accountable instead of the service provider.

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  7. Freedom is Not a Business and Those Who Make 'Business' by Giving it Away Deserve Naming

    Free software is being parceled and sold to private monopolisers; those who facilitate the process enrich themselves and pose a growing threat to freedom in general — a subject we intend to tackle in the near future



  8. Concluding the Linux Foundation (LF) “Putting the CON in Conference!” (Part 3)

    Conferences constructed or put together based on payments rather than merit pose a risk to the freedom of free software; we conclude our series about events set up by the largest of culprits, which profits from this erosion of freedom



  9. “Mention the War” (of Microsoft Against GNU/Linux)

    The GNU/Linux desktop (or laptops) seems to be languishing or deteriorating, making way for proprietary takeover in the form of Vista 10 and Chrome OS and “web apps” (surveillance); nobody seems too bothered — certainly not the Linux Foundation — by the fact that GNU/Linux itself is being relegated or demoted to a mere “app” on these surveillance platforms (WSL, Croûton and so on)



  10. The European Patent Office Does Not Care About the Law, Today's Management Constantly Attempts to Bypass the Law

    Many EPs (European Patents) are actually "IPs" (invalid patents); the EPO doesn't seem to care and it is again paying for corrupt scholars to toe the party line



  11. The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Once Again Pours Cold Water on Patent Maximalists

    Any hopes of a rebound or turnaround have just been shattered because a bizarre attack on the appeal process (misusing tribal immunity) fell on deaf ears and software patents definitely don't interest the highest court, which already deemed them invalid half a decade ago



  12. Links 17/4/2019: Qt 5.12.3 Released, Ola Bini Arrested (Political Stunts)

    Links for the day



  13. Links 16/4/2019: CentOS Turns 15, Qt Creator 4.9.0 Released

    Links for the day



  14. GNU/Linux is Being Eaten Alive by Large Corporations With Their Agenda

    A sort of corporate takeover, or moneyed interests at the expense of our freedom, can be seen as a 'soft coup' whose eventual outcome would involve all or most servers in 'the cloud' (surveillance with patent tax as part of the rental fees) and almost no laptops/desktops which aren't remotely controlled (and limit what's run on them, using something like UEFI 'secure boot')



  15. Reader's Claim That Rules Similar to the Code of Conduct (CoC) Were 'Imposed' on LibrePlanet and the FSF

    Restrictions on speech are said to have been spread and reached some of the most liberal circles, according to a credible veteran who opposes illiberal censorship



  16. Corporate Media Will Never Cover the EPO's Violations of the Law With Respect to Patent Scope

    The greed-driven gold rush for patents has resulted in a large pool of European Patents that have no legitimacy and are nowadays associated with low legal certainty; the media isn't interested in covering such a monumental disaster that poses a threat to the whole of Europe



  17. A Linux Foundation Run by People Who Reject Linux is Like a Children's Charity Whose Management Dislikes Children

    We remain concerned about the lack of commitment that the Linux Foundation has for Linux; much of the Linux Foundation's Board, for example, comes from hostile companies



  18. Links 15/4/2019: Linux 5.1 RC5 and SolydXK Reviewed

    Links for the day



  19. Links 14/4/2019: Blender 2.80 Release Plan and Ducktype 1.0

    Links for the day



  20. 'Poor' (Multi-Millionaire) Novell CEO, Who Colluded With Steve Ballmer Against GNU/Linux, is Trying to Censor Techrights

    Novell’s last CEO, a former IBMer who just like IBM decided to leverage software patents against the competition (threatening loads of companies using "platoons of patent lawyers"), has decided that siccing lawyers at us would be a good idea



  21. Guest Post: The Linux Foundation (LF) is “Putting the CON in Conference!” (Part 2)

    Calls for papers (CfP) and who gets to assess what's presented or what's not presented is a lesser-explored aspect, especially in this age when large corporate sponsors get to indirectly run entire 'community' events



  22. Patent Maximalists Are Enabling Injustices and Frauds

    It's time to come to grips with the simple fact that extreme patent lenience causes society to suffer and is mostly beneficial to bad actors; for the patent profession to maintain a level of credibility and legitimacy it must reject the deplorable, condemnable zealots



  23. Further Decreasing Focus on Software Patents in the United States as They Barely Exist in Valid Form Anymore

    No headway made after almost 4 months of Iancu-led stunts; software patents remain largely dead and buried, so we’re moving on to other topics



  24. Links 13/4/2019: Wine 4.6 and Emacs 26.2 Released

    Links for the day



  25. Links 12/4/2019: Mesa 19.0.2, Rust 1.34.0 and Flatpak 1.3.2 Released

    Links for the day



  26. Caricature: EPO Standing Tall

    A reader's response to the EPO's tall claims and fluff from yesterday



  27. The EPO is Slipping Out of Control Again and It's Another Battistelli-Like Mess With Disregard for the Rule of Law and Patent Scope

    The banker in chief is just 'printing' or 'minting' lots and lots of patents, even clearly bogus ones that lack substance to back their perceived value



  28. Global Finance Magazine Spreads Lies About the Unitary Patent and German Constitutional Court

    Alluding to the concept of a "unified European patent," some site connected to Class Editori S.p.A. and based in Manhattan/New York City tells obvious lies about the Unified Patent Court (UPC), possibly in an effort to sway outcomes and twist people's expectations



  29. New Building as Perfect Metaphor for the EPO Under the Frenchmen Battistelli and Campinos

    The EPO is in "propaganda mode" only 9 months after the latest French President took Office; the Office is seen as dishonest, even under the new leadership, which routinely lies to the public and to its own staff



  30. Links 11/4/2019: Twisted 19.2.0 Released, Assange Arrested

    Links for the day


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