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04.13.17

The World is Burning for Qualcomm, Whose Dependence on Software Patent Bullying is Being Tackled in Several Continents

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Asia, Microsoft, Patents, RAND, Samsung at 12:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A company stuck in the past with nothing but a pile of patents (like Nokia)

Qualcomm phone

Summary: The days of Qualcomm’s cash cow (a bunch of standard essential patents) may be numbered, as US, EU and Korean authorities belatedly look at the company’s practices and Qualcomm already caves

Qualcomm’s de facto monopoly (in the patents sense), as we’ve covered here before [1, 2], means that people pay Qualcomm a lot of money even when they buy nothing from Qualcomm. In some sense, Qualcomm does in chipsets what Microsoft does in software. It demands ‘protection’ money from just about everyone and it also has patent trolls to help punish for ‘noncompliance’ with unreasonable demands.

Qualcomm Lies

“It demands ‘protection’ money from just about everyone and it also has patent trolls to help punish for ‘noncompliance’ with unreasonable demands.”Not too long ago Qualcomm came under fire from Apple, even though it had abused many other companies. Florian Müller had a peek at the latest documents and found Qualcomm claiming “credit for enabling Pokémon GO,” which is of course nonsense. To quote Müller:

As the number of pages (the original complaint was approx. 100 pages, now the answer and the counterclaims fill 140 pages) shows, this is a huge commercial litigation and threatens to turn into a battle of materiel. Both parties have enlisted multiple major law firms. The first surprise here is that Quinn Emanuel is among the three firms representing Qualcomm, given that Qualcomm’s filing (in paragraph 192 of the counterclaims part) accuses Samsung–another company QE is defending against Apple–of sharing (with Apple) “a common interest in diminishing Qualcomm’s ability to obtain fair value for its innovations” and trying “to avoid paying fair value for Qualcomm’s intellectual property and to impede Qualcomm’s licensing program.” I wonder how Samsung feels about its own lawyers not distancing themselves from such allegations…

Is Qualcomm trying to suck up to the Japanese and Korean regulators with this “Pokémon GO” fairy tale? As one Android-centric site put it, Qualcomm has “Big Trouble in Little Korea” and an Apple-centric site said that “[i]n a 134-page filing with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Qualcomm provides a point-by-point rundown of Apple’s January lawsuit, denying a total of 389 allegations.”

“Is Qualcomm trying to suck up to the Japanese and Korean regulators with this “Pokémon GO” fairy tale?”What we have here are two patent bullies fighting one another and it’s clear that only law firms are guaranteed to win, as usual (parasites can’t lose).

Qualcomm to Pay BlackBerry

Meanwhile, as emerged in the news last night [1, 2, 3], Qualcomm will need to shell out a lot of money. BlackBerry, which has itself become akin to a patent troll (both directly and indirectly), expects to receive nearly a billion dollars from Qualcomm. BlackBerry awarded $815 million in arbitration case against Qualcomm,” says a headline one reader sent to us about it. Might Qualcomm need to refund even greater amounts of money to other firms?

Qualcomm’s Abuses

Florian Müller published another article earlier today, having watched this case rather closely. “Qualcomm does not want European and Korean antitrust proceedings to impact its FTC litigation,” says the headline. Like Intel and Microsoft, Qualcomm has come under incredible scrutiny in several continents and the effect can be devastating to a company that depends so much on patents rather than actual products. To quote Müller:

Qualcomm, which would have us believe we couldn’t even play Pokémon GO if not for its wireless technologies, is fighting a global, multi-front war against regulators, industry players and consumers (who are piggybacking on the FTC case in Northern California).

On one of those fronts, BlackBerry just won an arbitration award over $815 million. Unfortunately, arbitration is opaque, so the legal basis for this is unclear, other than BlackBerry having claimed to have paid too much in license fees during an unspecified past period. The kind of wrongdoing here is totally unclear, and we also don’t know what an appeals court would have decided. Still, the $815 million award, which is final and binding, has made BlackBerry’s share price soar by 12%. For the Canadian company, it’s a huge amount of money. For Qualcomm, it’s also a very significant amount, but the bigger problem is that every independent finding of Qualcomm having overcharged someone makes it harder for Qualcomm to convince the courts of law and the court of public opinion that it’s just being bullied by the likes of Apple and Samsung and that all those antitrust enforcers have all just been misled by sore losers in the marketplace and by evil companies denying Qualcomm a fair compensation for its innovations.

This concern is real. A joint case management statement filed yesterday by the FTC and Qualcomm–”joint” in terms of being a single document despite virtually zero convergence on substantive questions–in the Northern District of California shows that Qualcomm is indeed concerned about how the various parallel proceedings could influence each other.

The above already mentions the news about BlackBerry, which is important. Is Qualcomm on the run from regulators?

Unfair and Unreasonable

“Apple’s challenge to Qualcomm is already having a positive impact, which is why we said we would support Apple right from the start (in this case alone).”So-called standard essential patents (SEPs) or RAND or FRAND are a subject we’ve covered here many times before. Last night IP Kat said that “It ha[d] been a busy couple of weeks for standard essential patents (SEPs)… and now we have the European Commission’s roadmap on SEPs.”

“FRAND is already in DSM,” Benjamin Henrion explained, “don´t know what is the status of this directive…”

Well, if SEPs like Qualcomm’s lose their legitimacy, the effects would be enormous and also impact software companies. In China, based on what IAM said earlier today, the subject of SEPs and patent trolls that wield them (like Ericsson in Europe) is being brought up and scrutinised. To quote:

We’ve seen a major patent pool introduce a new royalty rate structure aimed at enticing more developing-market implementers to get involved, the first foreign NPE officially enter China through a joint venture agreement, and Apple directly challenging the licensing terms Qualcomm agreed on with Chinese regulators. And, of course, the Beijing IP Court issued the country’s first SEP-based injunction against Sony.

Apple’s challenge to Qualcomm is already having a positive impact, which is why we said we would support Apple right from the start (in this case alone). Companies like Qualcomm offer far too little to society but more importantly, they set a dangerous precedent to be exploited by all sorts of other companies and harm productive companies.

USPTO Director Michelle Lee is Already Reducing Litigation and Saving Lives

Posted in America, Patents at 12:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Good news and real progress for everyone except the litigation lobby that endlessly attacks her and attempts to oust her

Making profit from human suffering
Those who are making money from human suffering (death, being sued into bankruptcy etc.) suffer a setback

Summary: Michelle Lee, the Director of the world’s leading patent office, shows a positive legacy, but at what cost considering the predators who took over and occupied this system for their endless profit (like the “Military-Industrial Complex” which Dwight Eisenhower warned about 56 years ago) that necessitates legal mayhem?

THE USPTO, unlike the EPO (see our latest article), is improving patent quality, as part of a long-needed reform which harms nobody and helps everyone except patent radicals.

“Putting aside the courts, PTAB is invalidating patents at record levels (higher rates than courts)…”Litigation is declining (lawsuits over patents) and even sites of patent maximalists acknowledge this trend by stating (last night) that “district court filing lagging previous years” and “[f]irst-quarter patent infringement lawsuit filing in US courts was essentially the same as 2016’s first quarter [far below the prior year].”

Putting aside the courts, PTAB is invalidating patents at record levels (higher rates than courts), rather than facilitating abusive litigation (instead undermining it or thwarting it before it can even happen at great cost/expense to the accused/defendant). It’s working out pretty well as it not only invalidates a lot of patents but also reduces confidence in many patents like these (to the point where fewer people would bother risking a lot by initiating litigation at district courts).

“Lives will be saved as a result and millionaires who are shareholders will have to worry just a little about their already-fat earnings, which depend on people dying (or almost dying and going bankrupt to avoid death).”“Generics Successful at Invalidating Novartis Gilenya Patent,” said this headline from yesterday, courtesy of a PTAB foe. To quote: “At the conclusion of its Inter Partes Review (IPR) Trial, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) found all claims of Novartis U.S. Patent No. 8,324,283 invalid as obvious. The PTAB had allowed Novartis to include substitute claims as well, but found those also unpatentable as obvious. On appeal here, the Federal Circuit affirms.”

Lives will be saved as a result and millionaires who are shareholders will have to worry just a little about their already-fat earnings, which depend on people dying (or almost dying and going bankrupt to avoid death).

Be aware and rest assured that the patent maximalists will fight back and try to reverse all the above, as it makes them obsolete.

“These events are business-oriented and steered by what Florian Müller called last week “patent extremists and fundamentalists,” saying that they “continue to get their way.” Unless we stand in their way…”Here, for example, we have new promotion by Annsley Merelle Ward from the Litigation Lobby/Team UPC. She pretends that the Fordham IP conference is something to be celebrated (by litigation zealots it is). It’s acting as a think tank sponsored by patent bullies like Microsoft; yes, Microsoft is a speaker again (“Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft Corporation, Redmond”). Remember that Fordham IP promoted software patents in Europe, it does UPC lobbying, and it gives a platform to software patents lobbyists such as David Kappos (sponsored by Microsoft, IBM and other patent bullies). It’s no better than those UPC lobbyists’ events, which are supported by the EPO’s management and sponsored by its PR agency.

These events are business-oriented and steered by what Florian Müller called last week “patent extremists and fundamentalists,” saying that they “continue to get their way.” Unless we stand in their way…

Awful Quality of EPO-Granted European Patents (EPs) Becomes a Mainstream Topic

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The mainstream media is finally talking about it

EPO patent quality declining

Summary: The sharp decline in quality of EPs is being noticed by EPO insiders, EPO stakeholders (attorneys, applicants etc.) and even the media, which tells the wider public about it

TECHRIGHTS has already spent years writing about declining quality of patents granted by the EPO, usually but not always based on words from the inside (insiders do express great concern about it, only to face threatening words from Team Battistelli if they do so publicly rather than privately).

As recently became apparent, outsiders too are noticing and Thorsten Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle) did a whole series about it. Not only he is complaining; watch the comments on his posts (mostly from other patent practitioners) and recall this recent poll from Juve, which showed that patent practitioners are getting fed up with the EPO. So do their clients. In other words, nobody at all seems to be happy and nobody is gaining from this. Maybe some patent trolls overseas are already licking their lips over the potential to sue a lot of European businesses they previously could not sue. Look what happens in Germany, which is quickly morphing into a hub for patent trolls. At whose expense would they gain if the UPC became a reality in Germany? Has Germany learned nothing from the errors of the USPTO?

“Usually the more you speak about something,” someone wrote today. “the less you practice it. Let’s us try with Quality at EPO, article over 2 pages…”

This refers to this morning’s article from The Register, which is based on our posts and posts from Thorsten Bausch. To quote the opening portion alone (it’s a long article):

When he’s not ignoring national laws and threatening employees, the president of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoit Battistelli, is on a crusade to make things work faster.

Against an ever-more unhappy background of EPO staff and patent examiners, Battistelli has for several years put forward the same defence: he is making things run more efficiently.

Last month, as some countries called for his ousting, Battistelli presented figures and later gave a press conference focused on one thing: the EPO has granted more patents faster than ever before. And it has done so, he claims, with rising quality.

“The first of these is a key result,” he wrote in a subsequent blog post. “The number of patents granted has risen by 40 per cent, with the total reaching 96,000. It indicated that we’re processing more patents, more efficiently and with the minimum of delay. This achievement is not because there has been a significant rise in the granting rate. It is the result of the consistent application of a quality and efficiency policy and the reforms that we have made.”

A very similar philosophical thread was pushed by Battistelli last year as well. That time it was a pre-occupation with “early certainty” – which means an early indication to someone applying for a patent whether they are likely to have it approved or not.

Battistelli pushed the exact same points: greater speed while retaining quality. This is his overarching vision and the justification behind his campaign of intimidation against staff, as well as his rewriting of the rules of every part of the EPO that has resisted – even for a second – his reform ideas.

As usual, nobody disagrees with the author in the comments. The first comment says:

How long can it be before Battistelli’s Reality Distortion Field finally gives up on him?

The sooner the better I say….

“What makes you think He’ll relinquish his position in 2018,” one person asked about Battistelli. “The way he’s re-writing the the organisations remit, I wouldn’t be surprised if the necessary ‘hooks’ were already in place to ensure permanent control.”

We wrote quite a lot about that lately.

“A cynic might question whether this is partly because there’s less time to bill hours,” another person said. “It would be interesting to see whether, despite being busier, lawyers are billing less time against each patent.”

The situation may be good for Team UPC, which is now pushing Battistelli’s agenda, including at IP Kat sometimes. These are people who would profit if there was chaotic patent litigation all across Europe. They don’t care at whose expense…

“No doubt some companies like long processing times (likely phrarma who patent a lot),” said another person. “I seriously doubt most small companies do though: the last patent I got through took five years! What odds your company’s inventor works for you anymore by the time you know if spending R&D for v2.0 is financially viable?”

Another wrote: “Would somebody like to tell the US Patent Office? Where the practice is that not even a superficial examination is performed with just a rubber stamping and adding to statistics to prove how innovative US business are. All that then happens is that patent validity is considered “somebody else’s problem”, much to the delight of the US legal system.”

Actually, the EPO has sunk below the quality of the USPTO in many ways. Patents that the USPTO is denying are now being welcomed by the EPO. The EPO is trying to outSIPO SIPO or simply become another SIPO. It would be highly destructive if it was allowed to go on.

“I can’t wait for the EPO to become a proper EU institution like so many others,” wrote another person. “Answerable to normal procedures (and ultimately to Parliament), normal laws, normal operating frameworks that can be amended if needed and people that can be fired if they don’t perform. These fiefdoms don’t benefit innovation.”

The way things are going, there might soon be no EPO left. UPC is an EU thing (hence Britain cannot participate) and EU-IPO seems to be getting close enough to the EPO to make a merger feasible.

Here is a comment relating to a subject we covered earlier this week:

“From 54 per cent unhappiness to 7.7 per cent by, um, deciding that everyone that didn’t answer failed to do so because they were 100 per cent happy with the EPO.”

And even then it doesn’t really help their case. 7.7% isn’t “close” to 4%, it’s close to double that number. Even after all those contortions, they still end up claiming that their policies have resulted in a 100% increase in unhappiness among their customers. That’s well past the point where a normal business would be asking serious questions about what’s gone so horribly wrong, and even if they try to spin it to not look so bad to the outside world they certainly wouldn’t be crowing about it in internal communications. I’ve mainly viewed Battistelli as your run-of-the-mill power-mad dictator, but it’s seeming more and more as though the entire management team has completely lost contact with reality. We’ve gone from regular Soviet-style propaganda to all out “Kim-Jong Benoit was born on a unicorn and invented rainbows”.

A suitable/apt response to that was:

As the old saying goes – Lies, damn lies and statistics.

If you take the figures in the story and change the spin to the opposite direction:

14.28% response rate because every one else is unhappy but don’t see any benefit in responding either because it will impact on any future applications, or because they think it won’t make a difference. This means 144 non-respondents with the 13 who did and weren’t happy is 157 of the 168 sample.

Or tp put it another way 93.45% of are unhappy. As is often the case with these things the actual figure will be somewhere between but just as a purely speculative number for take it half of non-respondents were happy and half weren’t. The satisfaction rate would then be 72 no response plus 13 who did = 85 of 168 = 50.59%

Seems to me that is still a much bigger unhappiness level than there was.

None of this would be complete with some quotes from concerned patent practitioners. One of them focused merely on the pace of granting rather than the quality. It’s about a controversial pilot programme we leaked in 2015, whereupon (after a huge amount of negative publicity) the EPO made it available to everyone and changed history (revisionism). To quote:

I fully understand and approve the comment.
One size fits all is not what applicants/user of the EP system need.
The present rush for quick grant (of easy files) is nothing else than applying the PACE procedure indistinctly.
The number of PACE application, has been, beside certain applicants, never been very high in the past. The reasons are obvious: it is when the validation start that it becomes expensive for the applicant/proprietor.
Why then get a patent quickly? There are no reasons to get a patent as quickly as possible for an applicant, unless specific reasons are present.
The only parties interesting in a quick grant are actually the member states. After grant, the annual fee go to the member states, and only 50% of the annual fees are for the EPO. Before grant, if grant takes more than 3 years, 100% of the annual fee goes to the EPO, and 0% to the member states.
How to get a “positive” vote from member states? Simply allow them to cash in very rapidly annual fees, or to “enhance” cooperation, in other send money from the EPO to the member states (or certain member states which are “worth it “.
Then one should not wonder why certain decisions are issued by the Administrative Council of the EPO. Tactically very clever.
The question is thus: is the primary aim of the EPO or the EPC to help member states or to help the users of the EPO/EPC system?
I think the answer is pretty obvious…..

Another person from that profession wrote:

Thorsten it is my understanding that the “early certainty” from search was intended for the public as much as the Applicant. I mean, when you review emerging A (and WO) publications, you want to do a clearance study. For that you need the prior art. Ideal then would be an A publication, supplemented by a perfect search report and perfect analysis of the adverse effects on patentability, and a law on “added matter” that excludes any improvement in Applicant’s position after filing. That’s as close to a “certain” clearance as you can reasonably get.

After that, it doesn’t matter so much to the public, if Applicant has divisionals pending till the end of the 20 year term, or if nothing at all issues till near the end of the 20 year patent term.

Is the EPO to be commended then, for giving more deference, these days, to the needs of the public, the same degree of deference in fact, as it gives to the needs of the Applicant community?

The original author, Thorsten Bausch, then wrote:

I am not sure whether the EPO management introduced this program in order to satisfy a heretofore unmet need of the public for earlier certainty, which I personally fail to recognize. Other motives suggested by some of the responders appear to me much more plausible. Add to this the quantity-quality fallacy, i.e. the wrong (in my view) belief that high production numbers are always good and a sign of efficient management. In the end, however, it is quality that matters.

The programme was actually introduced secretly and made available only to few large corporations after Microsoft had asked for it. So it was actually designed with large patent bullies in mind. Not even European companies…

Defending Bausch, another person wrote:

The problem is not to obtain as quickly as reasonably possible a search result and an opinion about the patentability of the claimed invention.

There is nothing to say against this, provided the search is carried out seriously and the opinion is not a collection of standard phrases, which looks like an evaluation, but is often not an evaluation of the true value of the invention.

What the problem is, is the idea of the top management of the EPO to grant an application as quickly as it thinks that it is needed by the applicant.

This is what is criticised, and rightly so, by Mr Bausch. The only beneficiaries of this hurry are the member states, and not necessarily the applicants.

The following comment said “this does not justify the rush to patent everything within 12 months after a shoddy search and a meaningless examination.”

As an applicant I want to keep my options open as long as possible, but as third party, I want to have as early as possible certainty on what I might face.

It appears quite difficult to reconcile both points of view, but this does not justify the rush to patent everything within 12 months after a shoddy search and a meaningless examination.

Early certainty yes, but at reasonable cost and in a way that my patent does not risk being pulled apart at the first occasion, or that the patents of my competitors are so bad, that I cannot decide what they cover.

As things develop presently, we are rather in the position of having early certainty in everything meaning early certainty of nothing…

The last comment about this alluded to Battistelli and “his macho instincts, willy-waving at the Americans. Anything you can do, France can do better.” Here is the comment:

OK. I see in your Part II the “early certainty” mantra extension, from mere “search” now to “examination” and “opposition”. I regret to say that I think it is another manifestation of BB indulging his macho instincts, willy-waving at the Americans. Anything you can do, France can do better.

But I stand by my original point, that not only Applicant but also the patent owner’s competitor would like to have “early certainty” to be delivered by the EPO.

Years ago we hoped that examiners and stakeholders alike would start a debate about the declining quality of patents granted by the EPO. Today, the subject is finally in the mainstream media (Britain’s biggest technology site) and people in Team UPC-affiliated blogs are equally concerned. They must be aware that the EPO’s declining reputation is a threat to their project (and Battistelli’s project), the UPC. That’s now how they foresaw this so-called ‘reform’ (more like a coup in practice).

Politician Links UPC to EPO Abuses and Slams the European Commission for Overlooking EPO Tragedies Like “Violations of Fundamental Rights” and Deaths

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

At what cost can politicians turn a blind eye to the destruction of the EPO (some believe to promote/shield the UPC, as Maas certainly does)

Marc TarabellaSummary: A new parliamentary intervention shows that some — albeit very few — politicians do pay attention or care about the situation at the European Patent Office and they try to do something about it

MARC TARABELLA (S&D) is already familiar with EPO scandals and last year he accused the Commission of being passively complicit in the EPO's abuses.

Tarabella, according to SUEPO, has just brought up “European Patent Office (EPO) and social abuses,” putting forth the following “Question for written answer E-002338/2017 to the European Commission…”

From SUEPO’s English translation, which was published earlier today:

In 2016 The President of the European Patent Office dismissed three elected staff representatives, all of them members of the staff union. Three other staff representatives were aggressively demoted in 2015 and 2016. Over the past four years five staff members of the EPO have committed suicide. Sheltering behind its immunity, the EPO has refused any independent enquiry by the local authorities concerned with regard to the circumstances of these deaths. While it is true that the Supreme Court of the Netherlands has recently upheld the immunity of the EPO, the findings of the Court of Appeal with regard to the violations of fundamental rights remain totally valid. If these events had occurred within European institutions, there can be no doubt that action would have been taken rapidly to determine where responsibility lay and to impose the appropriate penalties, but nothing of that kind has been done with the EPO.

“If these events had occurred within European institutions, there can be no doubt that action would have been taken rapidly to determine where responsibility lay and to impose the appropriate penalties, but nothing of that kind has been done with the EPO.”The EU Commission has entrusted the EPO with producing the Unitary Patent. All of the twenty eight countries of the EU are represented on the Administrate Council of the EPO. The Commission has a seat as an observer, and can therefore make its voice heard. For more than three years, many members of parliament have also been condemning the highly “problematic” social situation at the EPO. Is it not high time that it made its views known, and takes up the position adopted by parliament with regard to the EPO?

What if the official position of the European Commission on these social abuses?

Is it in favour of an independent enquiry?

The EPO’s management is of course trying to ignore all this while pretending to be "with science" (or “with research”). It’s distracting at a huge expense even while is mocks and attacks science (more on that later today). Earlier today the EPO promoted this nonsense again. This publicity stunt, which EPO applicants are paying for against their will, is designed to accomplish nothing but distraction. It’s just something for the EPO’s PR people to link to and say that they “support science” even when they promote lies and human rights abuses.

Links 13/4/2017: Nginx 1.12, GNOME 3.24.1 Released; Mark Shuttleworth Back to CEO Role

Posted in News Roundup at 9:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Indian wins top prize at United Nations challenge for open source tool

    An Indian software engineer has won the top prize at a global challenge for an open-source tool that enables users to interactively view UN General Assembly resolutions and gain a deeper understanding of the voting patterns of member states. Abdulqadir Rashik, also an entrepreneur, won the ‘Unite Ideas #UNGAViz Textual Analysis and Visualisation Challenge’ for his ‘Global Policy’, an open-source tool that enables users to search and interactively view General Assembly resolutions to gain a deeper understanding of the voting patterns and decisions made by United Nations Member States.

  • A10 adapts to companies using open source load balancers

    A10 Networks Inc. has integrated its application delivery controller with a second open source load balancer, as enterprises turn to free software for services provided by ADC vendors.

    The vendor announced this week integration between the Harmony Controller and HAProxy, one of several widely used open source load balancers for applications running on Linux. Harmony also supports NGINX, which developers also use with Linux software.

  • Scaling Mastodon : What it takes to house 43,000 users

    My instance mastodon.social has recently surpassed 43,000 users. I have closed registrations both to have more time to investigate the infrastructure and ensure a good experience for existing users, and to encourage more decentralization in the network (with a wonderful effect — the Mastodon fediverse now hosts over 161,000 people spread out over more than 500 independent instances!)

    But providing a smooth and swift service to 43,000 users takes some doing, and as some of the other instances are approaching large sizes themselves, it is a good time to share the tips & tricks I learned from doing it.

  • 3 open source boilerplate web design templates

    In the olden days, creating a website from scratch was easy.

    With a basic understanding of HTML, and maybe a little CSS, you could put together a pretty functional web page with very little effort. Throw it onto your web server, and you were good to go.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Google deprecates Octane JavaScript benchmark, because everyone is basically cheating

      Google has announced that its widely used Octane JavaScript benchmark is being retired, with Google saying that it’s no longer a useful way for browser developers to determine how best to optimize their JavaScript engines.

      Octane was developed for and by the developers of V8, the JavaScript engine used in Chrome. It was intended to address flaws in the earlier SunSpider benchmark, developed by Apple’s Safari team. SunSpider’s tests were all microbenchmarks, sometimes testing something as small as a single operation performed thousands of times. It wasn’t very representative of real-world code, and it was arguably being gamed, with browser vendors introducing optimizations that were aimed primarily, albeit not exclusively, at boosting SunSpider scores. This was being done even when those optimizations were detrimental to real-world performance, because having a good score carried so much prestige.

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 59 To Support Headless Mode

        Chrome 59 stable isn’t expected until early June, but when this release comes it will bring with it an interesting feature: a headless mode.

        Chrome’s headless mode is made for headless/server environments, such as where you may automatically want to be capturing screenshots of rendered pages, etc. This is very practical for automated testing. Or there’s the use-case of just wanting to interact with the DOM but not caring about presenting the contents on any connected physical display.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • How OpenStack releases get their names

      Quite a bit, actually. Open source projects frequently struggle to find a name that’s suitably memorable, descriptive, appropriate, and, above all else, does not find the project in accidental legal trouble.

      While nailing down the name for an open source project can be a challenge, so too can be the naming of individual components or releases. Several projects within OpenStack are on their second name: Quantum became Neutron, Savanna became Sahara, and Marconi became Zaqar.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice the better Office

      In the last 3 months I played with the awesome feature of Notebookbar. This experimental feature give the user the possibility to use a tabbed toolbar like Microsoft does, but it offers more, much more. I like the idea from the LibreOffice UX team about the context based toolbar. Advantage of the different UI elements.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Portugal building new services on national interoperability platforms

      Last month, the Portuguese Ministry of Health started a pilot to make it easier for citizens to get ‘proof of fitness’, a requirement to obtain or renew a driving licence. For this purpose, the Portuguese National Broker (PNB) platform was extended to include the exchange of Driving Licence Certificates between the Ministry and the Portuguese Institute for Mobility and Transport (IMT, I.P.).

      The PNB platform is the national eHealth message exchange, providing technical, semantic and legal interoperability between all health-related entities in the country. Its role is to facilitate the exchange of messages (services/interfaces) while at the same time implementing security mechanisms for authentication and access control. The infrastructure currently processes an average of 300,000 messages per day.

    • Sharing and reuse ‘a government paradigm shift’

      Sharing and reuse of IT solutions should become the default for the EU’s public administrations, said Mário Campolargo, Deputy Director General for the Directorate General of Informatics (DIGIT) of the European Commission at the Sharing & Reuse Conference 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal, last week. “This is the key for open modern government”, he said.

    • German City of Göppingen builds on open source software

      “I would estimate that almost 30 percent of the software we are using (in administration and in 25 schools) is based on open source,” Herbert Rettberg, IT manager at the German City of Göppingen said in an interview blog recently published by consultancy firm IT-Novum.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Openness is key to working with Gen Z

      Leaders and managers everywhere collectively groan with the thought of a new cohort to manage. Boomers and Gen Xers typically try to align the new kids on the block with Millennials—which would be a mistake. While Gen Z and Millennials have similarities, their motivators and influencers are vastly different. Each of the differences affects attraction, recruitment and retention of Gen Z talent.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • FreeSRP: An open source software defined radio covering 70 MHz to 6 GHz with an on-board FPGA and USB 3.0 port.

        “Lukas started his epic SDR-from-scratch build when he was 16. Projects like this aren’t completed overnight. (He’s now 18. We’re impressed.)”

        The FreeSRP is an open-source (hardware and software) platform for software-defined radio that is affordable, high performance, compatible with existing SDR software such as GNU Radio, and includes an expansion port for hardware add-ons.

      • Friday Hack Chat: Open Source Silicon

        This Friday, Hackaday.io will be graced with purveyors of Open Source Silicon. Join us in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat this Friday, April 14 at noon PDT (19:00 UTC) for a conversation with SiFive, an ‘Open’ silicon manufacturer.

        This week, we’re sitting down with SiFive, a fabless semiconductor company and makers of the HiFive1, an Open Hardware microcontroller that you can just go out and buy. Late last year, SiFive released the HiFive1, an Arduinofied version of SiFive’s FE310 System on Chip. This SoC is a RISC-V core and one of the first microprocessors that is completely Open Source. It is an affront to Stallmanism, the best hope we have for truly Open hardware, and it’s pretty fast, to boot.

  • Programming/Development

    • LLVM-powered Pocl puts parallel processing on multiple hardware platforms

      LLVM, the open source compiler framework that powers everything from Mozilla’s Rust language to Apple’s Swift, emerges in yet another significant role: an enabler of code deployment systems that target multiple classes of hardware for speeding up jobs like machine learning.

      To write code that can run on CPUs, GPUs, ASICs, and FPGAs—hugely useful with machine learning apps—it’s best to use the likes of OpenCL, which allows a program to be written once, then automatically deployed across different types of hardware.

    • Intel Developers Looking To Get Nios II Backend In LLVM
    • Weblate 2.13.1

      Weblate 2.13.1 has been released quickly after 2.13. It fixes few minor issues and possible upgrade problem.

    • 12 ways to study a new programming language

      In this article, I outline 12 suggestions for study techniques. Remember that everybody learns differently. Some of these techniques may work excellently for you, whereas others may not meet your needs at all. If you start to feel stuck with one strategy, try another and see where it gets you.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Hardware

  • Security

    • [Older] Improving by simplifying the GnuTLS PRNG

      One of the most unwanted baggages for crypto implementations written prior to this decade is the (pseudo-)random generator, or simply PRNG. Speaking for GnuTLS, the random generator was written at a time where devices like /dev/urandom did not come by default on widely used operating systems, and even if they did, they were not universally available, e.g., devices would not be present, the Entropy Gathering Daemon (EGD) was something that was actually used in practice, and was common for software libraries like libgcrypt to include code to gather entropy on a system by running arbitrary command line tools.

    • [Older] GNUtls: GnuTLS 3.5.10

      Released GnuTLS 3.5.11 which is a bug fix release in the stable branch.

    • [Older] Practical basics of reproducible builds

      One issue though: people have to trust me — and my computer’s integrity.
      Reproducible builds could address that.

      My release process is tightly controlled, but is my project reproducible? If not, what do I need? Let’s check!

    • [Older] Practical basics of reproducible builds 2
    • Why creating an open-source ecosystem doesn’t mean you’re taking on security risks

      Anyone who uses technology benefits from open-source software. Most applications you use have implemented open-source code to varying degrees. This isn’t just small-time developers that use this code, either. Many large enterprises rely on this software to build their own products and solutions.

      Because of this, any CIO would be wise to have their developers follow the same blueprint. However, some developers have concerns about open-source. In an open environment where any contributor can drop potentially harmful code into the global library, is it safe — or wise — to lean heavily on these development resources?

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • 9 Ways to Harden Your Linux Workstation After Distro Installation

      So far in this series, we’ve walked through security considerations for your SysAdmin workstation from choosing the right hardware and Linux distribution, to setting up a secure pre-boot environment and distro installation. Now it’s time to cover post-installation hardening.

    • Is this a Ubuntu-based Botnet deploying Tor Relays and Bridges?
    • Microsoft Word 0-day was actively exploited by strange bedfellows

      A critical Microsoft Word zero-day that was actively exploited for months connected two strange bedfellows, including government-sponsored hackers spying on Russian targets and financially motivated crooks pushing crimeware.

    • Microsoft reduces Patch Tuesday to an incomprehensible mess
    • Nation-State Hackers Go Open Source [Ed: How to associate FOSS with crime? Hmmm… let us think. Our writer Kelly Jackson Higgins can take care of that…]

      Researchers who track nation-state groups say open-source hacking tools increasingly are becoming part of the APT attack arsenal.

      Nation-state hacking teams increasingly are employing open-source software tools in their cyber espionage and other attack campaigns.

    • New release: usbguard-0.7.0

      From all the bug fixes in this release, I’d like to point out one which required a backwards incompatible change and requires an update to existing policies. The Linux USB root hub devices use the kernel version as the bcdDevice attribute value. The value is part of the USB descriptor data which USBGuard uses for computing the device hash and therefore causes the device hash to change on every kernel update. This in turn makes USBGuard rules which rely on this hash to not match and block the device. And because it’s a root hub device that gets blocked, all the other devices get blocked too. The bug fix is simple, reset the bcdDevice value to zero before hashing (applied only for the Linux root hub devices).

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘Endangered species to declare?’ Europe’s understudied bushmeat trade

      An estimated 40 tons of bushmeat is flown into Geneva and Zurich airports every year, with a similar story likely unfolding in other European capitals, where poached, wild caught meat – including endangered species – is illegally being traded and served on urban dinner plates. The problem could be serious, and some trafficking could be well organized, but only a few surveys in a couple of countries have been done so far to determine what’s happening at European points of entry.

  • Finance

    • How Uber conquers a city in seven steps

      “Uber plays by its own rules – [it has been accused of] shortchanging drivers, [avoiding] local taxes and sometimes laws by hiding behind an army of expensive lawyers and lobbyists,” said Carys Afoko, communications director of SumOfUs. “And now, we’re exposing it.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Fake News at Work in Spam Kingpin’s Arrest?

      While there is scant evidence that the spammer’s arrest had anything to do with the election, the success of that narrative is a sterling example of how the Kremlin’s propaganda machine is adept at manufacturing fake news, undermining public trust in the media, and distracting attention away from the real story.

    • Turkey’s lose-lose referendum

      No matter the outcome of Turkey’s referendum on constitutional reform Sunday, there is no good option left for the country’s people.

      A victory for the Yes vote would institutionalize a de facto one-man rule under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The remaining, already severely weakened, voices of the opposition will be even more easily labeled as “traitors.”

      If the No camp prevails, people’s hopes for change might be reignited. But a more insecure Erdoğan would likely crack down even more harshly on any form of criticism.

      In Turkey, the pervading climate is one of fear and collective insanity. As concerns over the transparency of the vote grow, silent grievances are deepening.

      The Yes campaign is backed by vast public resources, making it impossible to talk about a fair race. Indeed, in an environment where people are scared to express their opinion in surveys, few pollsters are confident enough to call it a close one.

      “Naysayers” are treated like terrorists. Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have confirmed cases of intimidation against the No campaign across the country.

    • Crosstalk debate on Russiagate

      A recent debate about “Russiagate” on RT’s Crosstalk show, with CIA whistleblower, John Kiriakou, and former US diplomat, James Jatras, along with host Peter Lavelle.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Possible routes for distributed anti-abuse systems

      I work on federated standards and systems, particularly ActivityPub. Of course, if you work on this stuff, every now and then the question of “how do you deal with abuse?” very rightly comes up. Most recently Mastodon has gotten some attention, which is great! But of course, people are raising the question, can federation systems really protect people from abuse? (It’s not the first time to come up either; at LibrePlanet in 2015 a number of us held a “social justice for federated free software systems” dinner and were discussing things then.) It’s an important question to ask, and I’m afraid the answer is, “not reliably yet”. But in this blogpost I hope to show that there may be some hope for the future.

    • Gush: A stack based language eventually for genetic programming

      I recently wrote about possible routes for anti-abuse systems. One of the goofier routes I wrote about on there discussed genetic programming. I get the sense that few people believe I could be serious… in some ways, I’m not sure if I myself am serious. But the idea is so alluring! (And, let’s be honest, entertaining!) Imagine if you had anti-abuse programs on your computer, and they’re growing and evolving based on user feedback (hand-waving aside exactly what that feedback is, which might be the hardest problem), adapting to new threats somewhat invisibly from the user benefiting from them. They have a set of friends who have similar needs and concerns, and so their programs propagate and reproduce with programs in their trust network (along with their datasets, which may be taught to child programs also via a genetic program). Compelling! Would it work? I dunno.

      [...]

      Lee and I met up at the Haymarket Cafe, which is a friendly coffee shop in Northampton. I mentioned that I had just come from LibrePlanet where I had given a talk on The Lisp Machine and GNU. I was entertained that almost immediately after these words left my mouth, Lee dove into his personal experiences with lisp machines, and his longing for the kind of development experiences lisp machines gave you, which he hasn’t been able to find since. That’s kind of an aside from this blogpost I suppose, but it was nice that we had something immediately to connect on, including on a topic I had recently been exploring and talking about myself. Anyway, the conversation was pretty wild and wide-ranging.

    • Sock puppet accounts unmasked by the way they write and post

      A study of nine websites that use comment service Disqus to let readers post responses to articles found that sock puppets can be identified based on their writing style, posting activity and relationship with other users.

    • An Art Career Intertwined with Censorship: The Murals of Mike Alewitz

      A profile in The College Voice, the student newspaper of Connecticut College, of an activist-turned-artist named Mike Alewitz details his radical, politically charged career that is characterized as much by the provocative works he produced as by the incidents of censorship the works inspired.

      Alewitz, a former professor at Central CT State University , who earned his MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1983, is best known for his murals depicting the American labor movement. According to the profile author, his “stories are a routine of acceptance and decline, of struggle and movement. His pieces are vibrant, loud, colorful. They declare to be acknowledged.”

    • Texas Supreme Court Is Skeptical About Wikipedia As A Dictionary

      This is an interesting opinion from the Texas Supreme Court on citing Wikipedia as a dictionary. The underlying case involves an article in D Magazine titled “The Park Cities Welfare Queen.” The article purports to show that the plaintiff, Rosenthal, “has figured out how to get food stamps while living in the lap of luxury.” After publication, evidence emerged that the plaintiff had not committed welfare fraud. She sued the magazine for defamation.

      The appeals court denied the magazine’s anti-SLAPP motion in part because it held the term “Welfare Queen,” as informed by the Wikipedia entry, could be defamatory. The Texas Supreme Court affirms the anti-SLAPP denial, but it also criticizes the appeals court for not sufficiently examining the entire article’s gist. Along the way, the court opines on the credibility and validity of Wikipedia as a dictionary. TL;DR = the Supreme Court says don’t treat Wikipedia like a dictionary.

    • Internet Censorship Is Advancing Under Trump

      Last Thursday, Twitter sued the federal government. At issue was a demand from the Department of Homeland Security that Twitter reveal the user(s) behind an account critical of the Trump administration. The government withdrew its request the next day, and the issue seemingly drew to a close.

    • Graham Gal: Objects to censorship of comics

      A recent incident brought this home. I work with a colleague at Tehran University. They wanted a copy of a book, but were not able buy it. I went to Amazon, purchased an e-version, and sent the link to them. When she tried to get the book she got a message that, “This title is not available for customers from (the) Islamic Republic of Iran.”

    • U of T researchers uncover extent of China’s censorship on 709 crackdown

      Even as it was arresting, torturing and imprisoning human-rights lawyers, the Chinese government blocked discussion of its actions on local social media, including images distributed by those drawing attention to what had taken place.

      Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab discovered that WeChat, China’s digital-communication lifeblood, has censored 42 combinations of terms related to the “709 crackdown,” so called because it began on July 9, 2015.

      The research underscores how Chinese authorities assert broad control over information inside the country, eliminating unfavourable information.

    • Bill Cosby’s ‘Little Bill’ books targeted for censorship, library group says
    • Librarians ask to pull Cosby books after sex assault charges
    • The top 10 books parents wanted removed from libraries in 2016
    • Censorship Watchdog: Bill Cosby’s Books for Kids Are Vanishing From Schools

      A censorship watchdog has warned that novels by shamed comedian Bill Cosby are vanishing from school libraries.

    • Fighting Censorship: Victories in 1957 & 2017 #ACLUTimeMachine
    • South Korea: Corruption & Self-Censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Data Dump Reveals NSA Infiltrated Cellular Networks of Pakistan
    • WikiLeaks says US security agency hacked Pakistan mobile networks
    • US Security Agency Hacked Pakistani Mobile Networks: WikiLeaks
    • ‘NSA Malware’ Released By Shadow Brokers Hacker Group
    • Dealing With Real-Life, Everyday Security Threats

      Are your hard drives encrypted? Especially laptop drives? If you have data stored on your computers that someone can use to make your life miserable, including credit card numbers, an encrypted hard drive can save the day in case of theft. Using Linux is pretty good, too, since a passworded Linux install will foil most low-end thieves.

    • It’s “National Get a VPN Day” in Australia

      Australia’s mandatory data retention scheme comes into effect today, with telecoms providers expected to retain and store their customers’ Internet usage metadata. In response, privacy group Digital Rights Watch has declared this event National Get a VPN Day, vowing to equip citizens with the tools they need to avoid surveillance.

    • ‘NSA malware’ released by Shadow Brokers hacker group
    • FBI Tries New Rule 41 Changes On For Size In Fight Against Long-Running Botnet

      The DOJ is proud to announce it’s flexing its new Rule 41 muscle. The changes proposed in 2015 sailed past a mostly-uninterested Congress and into law, giving the FBI and other DOJ entities permission to hack computers anywhere in the world with a single warrant.

      With the new rules, the law has finally caught up with the FBI’s activities. It deployed a Network Investigative Tool — the FBI’s nifty nickname for intrusive malware that sends identifying info from people’s computers to FBI investigators — back in 2012 during a child porn investigation and mostly got away with it. It tried it again in 2015 and ran into a bit more resistance.

    • Yes, There Are Other Laws That Protect Privacy, But FCC’s Rules Were Still Helpful

      There’s been a lot of hype and confusion about Congress’s decision (supported by the new FCC) to kill off the broadband privacy rules that were put in place late last year by the Tom Wheeler FCC, though they had not yet been officially implemented. As we noted, it’s an unfortunate exaggeration (pushed by some well meaning folks) to say that ISPs will now be packaging up and selling individuals’ specific browsing history. That’s just not true. Some people responded to us by noting that just because that’s not how the ad market works today, it doesn’t mean that won’t change. But… that’s probably not the case. Don’t get me wrong: getting rid of these privacy rules is still a really bad idea, but let’s look a little deeper at what ISPs can’t do, before we explain why those privacy rules are still important.

      First off, as we noted, the market for internet data is not in sharing some sort of dossier on what you like, but rather connecting into a marketplace, where the information is shared for the purpose of displaying ads, but not in a way where your actual info goes to the advertiser. That is, when you, say, go shopping for a camera, and then start seeing ads for cameras everywhere, it’s not that the camera makers now know that you, Joe Schmoe, like cameras. Instead, what happens is that some company took that info (Joe Schmoe is shopping for cameras) and that gets put into a marketplace where some real time bidding happens for ad placement, such that when Joe Schmoe visits another site, there’s a near instantaneous call out for who will pay the most for the ad slot, and with that info is, effectively, this otherwise anonymous person was just looking at cameras, and the camera company will say “I’ll pay an extra $0.0002 for that ad compared to the TV maker” and thus the camera ad gets shown. The camera maker or retailer never knows its Joe Schmoe, and doesn’t somehow “know” anything more about Joe.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Tanzanian safe house helps courageous girls escape female genital mutilation

      Last December, more than 200 girls arrived at Samwelly’s sanctuary from all over Tanzania; some as young as eight years old fled their homes to avoid cutting.

    • German-Muslim Author Faces Death Threats After Publishing Book Critical of Islam

      With her book The Veiled Threat dealing with the plight of Muslim women in Europe, former radical feminist Zana Ramadani has kicked the Islamist hornets’ nest in Germany. Being born a Muslim herself, Ramadani is fearful of her life after receiving countless death threats from radical Muslims in Germany. German authorities have not granted her police protection yet.

    • Pakistani boy’s sexual organ chopped off, eyes pricked for having ‘illicit relationship’ with girl

      The boy, a class nine student, was robbed of his sight for the rest of his life but doctors managed to save his life.

    • Teacher on United flight took students off plane after incident
    • United passenger threatened with handcuffs to make room for ‘higher-priority’ traveler

      So how could United possibly make things worse? Not to worry. This is the airline that knows how to add insult to injury.

    • Dr. Dao Dragged Off A Plane Then Dragged Through The Media

      They then — thuggishly — had the man, Dr. Dao, dragged out of his seat on the plane as if he had done something criminal.

      As for the stories coming out about him now, the reality is, what he’s done in his life is immaterial. He bought that seat, he got to the airport on time, and he got into his seat without incident.

    • United Airlines hasn’t even bothered apologising to the passenger beaten on its flight – this is Trump’s America now

      And what was United’s stellar PR response?

    • City Officials Step Up After DOJ Told To Stop Worrying About Civil Rights Violations By Law Enforcement Agencies

      It appears the DOJ will no longer be in the business of policing the police. A memo issued by every cop’s new best friend, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, states the DOJ will be doing more to empower police and will conduct fewer civil rights investigations of law enforcement agencies. On one hand, it makes sense to have the locals handle their own problems. On the other hand, the locals have repeatedly shown a willingness to ignore abusive policing until the feds are forced to step in.

      It may be difficult to roll back DOJ agreements and oversight of investigated agencies immediately. It may, in fact, be impossible. Those consent decrees that have made their way through the court system on the way to being put into force would take some serious litigating to roll back. It’s not clear the DOJ’s interested in attempting an expensive clawback of police oversight and policy changes.

      It’s those that haven’t been formalized through this process that are in danger of being scaled back, if not removed completely. The DOJ has filed a motion asking for time to review its proposed consent decree with the Baltimore PD in light of AG Sessions’ memo. The DOJ also just finished wrapping up an investigation of the Chicago PD, but statements made by Sessions and President Trump indicate the White House and DOJ are more interested in solving Chicago’s crime problem, rather than its police problem.

    • How Amos Yee won political asylum in the US

      The recent success of 17-year-old Singaporean Amos Yee in seeking political asylum in the US has led to a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

      And while the international media, including the media in Hong Kong, have referred to Yee as a “political dissident”, he has received very little sympathy from among Singaporeans themselves.

    • Online adverts ‘exploit homeless for sex’

      Young, vulnerable people are being targeted with online classified adverts offering accommodation in exchange for sex, a BBC investigation has found.

      The deals, which are legal, are on classified ad sites such as craigslist.

      Charities have described the adverts as exploitative and Hove MP Peter Kyle wants them made illegal. Craigslist, which on one day carried more than 100 such adverts, has not commented.

      One student described how she felt her only option was a “sex-for-rent” deal.

    • Non-Muslims Worship places not allowed to be taller than Mosques – Selangor State Gov
    • Hello, Feminists! Here’s The “Patriarchy” You Should Be Protesting

      Of course, protesting what goes on in Pakistan doesn’t really work if what you’re going for in protesting Israel is cover for Jew hatred — basically, having a plausibly deniable way to protest Jews.

      Oh, and I’m not in favor of everything that goes on in Israel. In fact, I think that if Jews looked at the highest for of righteousness in Judaism, saving a life, they’d do as LA writer Ken Layne once suggested and move Israel to Baja.

      Same weather — missing a few urns and the religious connection and history. However, to save a whole lot of lives (Israeli and Palestinian, in a conflict unlikely to ever end, except in a nuking, Israelis should move away from the people trying to murder them. (And yes, Israel bought Arab land fair and square, for elevated prices, early on, despite Arabs telling other Arabs not to sell.)

      After Israelis vacate to Mexico, the land they’ve left will surely become like all the other Middle Eastern countries — where various sects of Islam are busy killing each other for being “not Muslim enough,” or just because.

      The Jews — in the form of Israelis — are just a convenient distraction from this.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Net Neutrality: Respect my Net presented at BEREC

      La Quadrature du Net publishes a position paper co-drafted with the FDN Federation and presented/exposed during the stakeholders meeting organised by the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) on 14 March 2017 in Brussels.

      The proposals aim to allow a better monitoring of Net Neutrality and present helpful evidence for regulators to enforce the application of Net Neutrality especially through a tool developed to allow users to report Net Neutrality violations in the easiest way possible.

    • Tennessee Could Give Taxpayers America’s Fastest Internet For Free, But It Will Give Comcast and AT&T $45 Million Instead

      The situation is slightly convoluted and thoroughly infuriating. EPB—a power and communications company owned by the Chattanooga government—offers 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gpbs internet connections. A Tennessee law that was lobbied for by the telecom industry makes it illegal for EPB to expand out into surrounding areas, which are unserved or underserved by current broadband providers. For the last several years, EPB has been fighting to repeal that state law, and even petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to try to get the law overturned.

    • Silicon Valley kicks off fight on net neutrality

      “The FCC just held a closed door meeting with lobbyists from the Big Cable, and now they’re moving fast to slash net neutrality and open the flood gates for fast lanes and slow lanes, throttling, and censorship,” the group wrote in its call to action.

  • DRM

    • LibrePlanet Day 2, DRM, contributing, and advice

      The second day of LibrePlanet 2017 started with a talk by author, blogger, editor, activist, and Internet freedom fighter Cory Doctorow. Straight through to Sumana Harihareswara’s closing keynote, the day was full of conversations and presentations touching on a broad range of topics across the free software movement.

      Doctorow presented “Beyond unfree: The software you can go to jail for talking about.” Related to his current anti-Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) work, he addressed the wide range of risks threatened by copyright, trademark, and patent laws, as well as the use and institutionalization of DRM. But he did not just paint a bleak image, instead reminding the audience that the fight against DRM and similar restrictions is ongoing. “My software freedom,” Doctorow said, “is intersectional.”

    • Portugal Pushes Law To Partially Ban DRM, Allow Circumvention

      You might think that copyright on its own has enough problems. And yet DRM, originally designed to protect digital copyright material from unauthorized copying, has managed to make things much worse. It not only punishes with extra inconvenience those who acquire legal copies — but not those who manage to find illegal versions without DRM — it also allows the DMCA to be used to disable competitors’ products, to create repair monopolies, and even to undermine the very concept of ownership. You can see why the copyright industry really loves DRM, and fights to preserve its sanctity. And you can also see why the following news from Portugal, where the parliament has just approved a bill allowing DRM circumvention and even bans in certain situations, is such a big deal.

    • Denuvo Strikes Back: The DRM Has Been Patched And Is Working… For Now

      The recent saga of Denuvo DRM has been fairly fast moving as these things go. Once thought to be the DRM unicorn that video game makers had dreamed of for years, the time it took for cracks to be released for Denuvo-protected games shrunk to months, then weeks, and finally days. It seemed for all the world like Denuvo was destined for the grave.

      But these things don’t always progress in linear fashion. The recently released Bioware title Mass Effect: Andromeda was patched recently for a variety of gameplay functions. Unheralded in the patch notes was the updated version of Denuvo included within it. That updated version appears to be setting back cracking groups, forcing Mass Effect pirates into using the older, pre-patched version of the game.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • BlackBerry awarded $815 million in arbitration case against Qualcomm
    • Trademarks

      • Q&A With Wine Country IP Attorneys Shows Just How Problematic Trademark Is Becoming

        For several years now, we’ve put out the steady warning that the alcohol industries have a trademark problem. In some ways, it’s one of those kinda sorta good problems to have in a goods industry, in that the reason there is a problem at all is because of how well the alcohol business is doing. Not just well in terms of total sales, but also in terms of being an ecosystem that encourages new businesses, startups, and expansion. Those are all signs of a healthy market, but with that comes the trademark problem. With so many new players and and a finite amount of language with which those players can brand themselves, trademark disputes in what has previously been known to be an IP congenial industry have exploded in number.

        It’s become bad enough that the North Bay Business Journal in Santa Rosa, California, smack dab in the middle of wine country, conducted a written Q&A with a couple of intellectual property attorneys to get their thoughts. You can practically hear the frustration at how this is all progressing dripping off of their responses.

    • Copyrights

      • The Bull Statue Copyright Claim Is Ridiculous… But Here’s Why It Just Might Work

        Eventually, because New Yorkers seemed to like the damn thing, the city granted a “temporary” permit allowing the statue to remain (a little ways away from where it was originally placed) — and so it’s remained there, “temporarily,” for 28 years. Of course, there have been some conflicts over the bull. In 2009, we wrote about Di Modica suing people for copyright infringement, which seems kind of nutty given that he originally just dumped the statue in the street without getting permission.

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