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07.30.17

Microsoft’s (Patent) War on GNU/Linux Continues, But It’s Disguised Using Intermediaries

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 2:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft and trolls

Summary: A look at Microsoft’s latest manoeuvres that implant patent traps in Linux and have patents passed to patent aggressors, which in turn go after original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that distribute GNU/Linux

THE previous post was about companies that choose to use patents for pure aggression (even pro-actively). They typically use terms like “protection” or “defense”, but they are not the defendants. They’re the bullies. Such is the case with Microsoft, which leverages software patents (granted by the USPTO) against companies all around the world. Microsoft typically uses proxies to do the litigation (for fear it might otherwise damage the image of Microsoft). Almost every day we still see some gullible journalists who mindlessly repeat the “Microsoft loves Linux” jingle.

“Microsoft typically uses proxies to do the litigation (for fear it might otherwise damage the image of Microsoft).”Let something be very clear; Microsoft still attacks GNU/Linux with patents; pretty hard in fact. Silently, Microsoft uses patents to compel companies to pre-install Microsoft programs (even on operating systems such as Android) and sometimes — as the lawsuit against Samsung served to show — Microsoft takes the aggression public (outside the back room) by filing lawsuits and flinging a lot of weak patents at the defendant, in order to pressure towards quick (albeit ruinous) settlement.

Microsoft is not a reformed company; it’s actively taxing everything in an effort to raise costs (or “rents”) associated with production and distribution, even of mere software, i.e. no devices/hardware sold. See what Azure has become patents-wise [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. Using various consortia (like those of the Linux Foundation), Microsoft also acts like a Trojan horse. It’s trying to add patents-encumbered ‘standards’ to all sorts of things. 3 days ago Tuxera resurfaced again, this time promoting a Microsoft patent trap (and tax) inside Linux with the promotional headline “Tuxera FAT+ File System for Embedded Systems is Compatible with FAT32, Faster, and Supports Files up to 16TB” (putting aside GPL issues, not just patent issues).

“Microsoft is not a reformed company; it’s actively taxing everything in an effort to raise costs (or “rents”) associated with production and distribution, even of mere software, i.e. no devices/hardware sold.”To make matters worse, a couple of days ago MOSAID resurfaced again in “Conversant” clothing (it changed its name after all the negative publicity) and this pro-patent trolls site put a happy face on it. A Microsoft-connected patent troll (which Microsoft passed Nokia patents to) comes to Europe and IAM seems satisfied. “The NPE has seen mixed results in its attempts to monetise the portfolio,” it wrote, “although recently it has notched up significant court victories in the US against LG and Apple. Despite those wins, filing this latest case in London shows that, like many patent owners that have become frustrated with the US courts, Conversant believes that in certain circumstances Europe offers a much more conducive climate for patent assertion.”

It means trolling, not “climate for patent assertion.” Disregard these euphemisms. As noted above, they also go after Android OEMs (not just the likes of Apple). They are doing this already. And in Europe! For those who missed it, Ericsson's troll is doing this as well in Europe. It has become a growing problem and potentially a massive headache for firms in Europe.

No company in Europe, however, has been a bigger ‘troll’ than Nokia, especially after Microsoft took charge. As we showed earlier this month, Nokia now targets Android OEMs with its patents.

“No company in Europe, however, has been a bigger ‘troll’ than Nokia, especially after Microsoft took charge.”Having already assigned, at the behest and request of Microsoft, some of its patents to the above patent troll, Nokia now goes further. “Microsoft Transfers 500 Nokia Design Patents To HMD Global,” said a report some days ago, but nobody else seems to have covered it. “None of the involved parties have yet issued a comment on the matter in any capacity,” the report said. So they pass 500 patents and nobody says a thing? I informed the Linux Foundation about it (2 days ago), but have heard nothing since.

Is Microsoft still using Nokia as a patent attack vector against Microsoft’s rivals?

Here are the details:

Microsoft transferred approximately 500 Nokia-related design patents to HMD Global Oy, according to the filings uncovered in the database of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The patent portfolio that the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant yielded to the Finnish tech company doesn’t represent the entirety of Microsoft’s remaining Nokia-related holdings, with the company’s mobile division still owning around 200 design patents that it originally acquired following its purchase of Nokia in mid-2014. It’s currently unclear whether the patents that have now changed hands were part of the original deal that saw Microsoft sell Nokia to the Foxconn-owned FIH Mobile for $350 million and HMD Global Oy being granted a license by Nokia to develop and sell new devices under its brand, or if the transfer was negotiated at a later date.

For those who view it as benign, mind the role of HMD after Microsoft essentially destroyed Nokia. It’s more like a licensor. Microsoft turned Nokia into a patent troll that attacks Microsoft’s rivals. It’s even in the news today. A few days ago a reader sent us this link, quoting the following passage:

The lawsuit, the second high-profile patent dispute between Apple and Nokia in the last decade, began last year when Nokia accused Apple of infringing on dozens of patents it owns, as well as patents owned by Nokia subsidiaries.

Yes, “Nokia subsidiaries.” The same old trick. Microsoft too has all sorts of subsidiaries that act like classic patent trolls.

“For those who view it as benign, mind the role of HMD after Microsoft essentially destroyed Nokia.”Tom Hochstatter‏, a patent professional, asked Unified Patents: “Is Nokia considered at troll? Nokia gets $2 billion from Apple $AAPL for #patent infringement…”

He linked to this article, but it’s all over the news today (even though it’s a Sunday), e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. This is about software patents too; they’re definitely in the mix. As one article put it, “Nokia alleged Apple of 32 patent infringements related to display, user interface, software, antenna, chip-set, and video encoding…”

“Microsoft too has all sorts of subsidiaries that act like classic patent trolls.”A lot of these are pure software.

When does Nokia sue or settle with Microsoft? Well, the answer here says it all really. Nokia and Microsoft are in this together.

Here is how AOL framed it 2 days ago:

After a quick fight, Apple and Nokia settled a patent lawsuit back in May. But the two companies didn’t comment on the value of this settlement. While terms of the deal are still undisclosed, Nokiamob first spotted that Nokia announced that it has received a $2 billion upfront cash payment from Apple (€1.7 billion).

[...]

It’s going to be interesting to look at Nokia’s upcoming quarterly earnings release to figure out how much Apple is paying for this agreement. But there’s one thing for sure — Nokia must be quite happy with this new revenue stream.

At whose expense?

“Android OEMs are already affected by this and some need to shell out money to avoid being sued.”Not only Apple is impacted.

Android OEMs are already affected by this and some need to shell out money to avoid being sued. BlackBerry, for that matter, is on a similar boat, except without Microsoft on it. BlackBerry too has become a patent parasite, suing companies in the Eastern District of Texas as it cannot sell enough products to survive. Some people evidently continue to worship BlackBerry’s patents. If only they knew what BlackBerry has truly become…

Our Wiki page about Nokia chronicled its various attacks on Android over the years; don’t be mistaken by the company’s new Android phones (or BlackBerry’s). They take advantage of Android (because there’s nothing else they can use; iOS is an Apple monopoly) while suing fellow Android OEMs.

“Microsoft — more so than Apple — does a lot of these patent battles via intermediaries and the mainstream media rarely bothers mentioning that. Instead it’s obsessing over “Microsoft loves Linux” and advertising proprietary Microsoft software as if it’s a “Linux” thing.”Suffice to say, what makes matters even worse is that Apple too sues Android OEMs. Florian Müller has the latest on the Samsung case. “The parties have until Tuesday to propose a briefing schedule, and a case management conference will be held on Wednesday,” he wrote this weekend. And in other noteworthy news, Apple is being sued again. “Florida company CustomPlay filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple today,” Mac Rumours said on Thursday, “claiming a Siri feature that allows fourth-generation Apple TV users to rewatch a portion of video with closed captioning copies its movie companion software.”

Timothy B. Lee seems to be back at Ars Technica and he wrote about it too. “It’s a problem everyone has had,” he said, when “you’re watching a movie and don’t catch a key bit of dialogue. In September 2015, Apple unveiled a new feature for Apple TV that solves the problem. Users can ask “what did she say?” and Siri will skip back 15 seconds and temporarily enable captions.”

Software patents again.

But the bottom line is, patents that oughtn’t even be valid (under Alice/Section 101) are actively used to elevate the price of products with GNU and/or Linux in them. Microsoft — more so than Apple — does a lot of these patent battles via intermediaries and the mainstream media rarely bothers mentioning that. Instead it’s obsessing over “Microsoft loves Linux” and advertising proprietary Microsoft software as if it's a "Linux" thing.

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

Mark Shuttleworth

PACE of Prosecution Prioritised Over Quality of Patents and Examination

Posted in America, Deception, Europe, Patents at 1:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents are not just for lawsuits unless you’re an aggressive firm

Inviting patent aggression

Summary: Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) puff pieces neglect to highlight the danger of the concept, which promotes litigation at the expense of thorough examination (including proper opportunity for oppositions)

THERE IS a real danger that one day there will be a UPC-like regime in Europe. It won’t happen any time soon and if we combat this threat, it will almost certainly fail to materialise. Firms that profit from litigation (whether successful or not) are egging on the Battistellis of the world, urging them to put the burden on defendants, not plaintiffs (accusers). Very dangerous! Lethal in the case of Goliath v David situations.

The UPC, at its core, is about broadening and speeding up litigation. Very bad idea. Applicants sometimes prefer a slower process which properly assesses all the facts, otherwise it’s only the lawyers who profit. Various parties need to get involved in order for patents to be correctly assigned and verified.

“It does not improve quality, it probably reduces quality and just like the notorious PACE program it gives some actors disproportional power over others (typically small and vulnerable businesses are affected badly/worst).”Yesterday we found a new marketing/puff piece from Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick. It’s about PPH. It’s an old global system, but it focuses on large, wealthy nations or works in their favour (giving advantage to their national patent offices). The firm focuses on the EPO in southeast Asia rather than the USPTO. Battistelli did some publicity stunts in small countries with barely any European Patents, waving PPH documents as some kind of ‘trophy’ (or a sign of accomplishment). We covered that earlier this year.

Like ITC, which we wrote about yesterday, PPH presents all sorts of issues, including lack of neutrality and lack of appeals/oppositions window. Putting quick prosecution and potentially embargo before quality control of patents is rather dangerous, but the puff piece titled “The Patent Prosecution Highway gets more traffic” says this: “The PPH framework promotes work sharing and accelerated processing where patent examiners can make use of work carried out by other offices. The framework allows leveraging of an eligible application whose claims have been determined to be patentable in the Office of First Filing (OFF) to go through an accelerated examination in the Office of Second Filing (OSF) with a simple procedure upon an applicant’s request. The intention is to secure more uniform patent rights, improve quality and reduce the search and examination burden on the participating offices.”

“They are obviously becoming more and more concerned that antitrust (competition abuse) issues are being raised in relation to patents.”That’s not what happens in practice. It does not improve quality, it probably reduces quality and just like the notorious PACE program it gives some actors disproportional power over others (typically small and vulnerable businesses are affected badly/worst).

The article (or ad) from Mary Munroe contains a lot of statements we could easily challenge if not successfully rebut, but there’s even more eyebrow-raising material out there, including this latest IAM piece about SEPs and patent pools in China. They are obviously becoming more and more concerned that antitrust (competition abuse) issues are being raised in relation to patents. When massive corporations amass patents and merely use these as a tool to bar competition, what good are these patents on a societal basis? We’ll give an example in our next post.

Dutch Government Publication Confirms Battistelli’s Influence Over Smaller EPC States

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“An unreal situation”

Bank robbery

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) makes a mockery of the Convention (EPC) by allegedly 'laundering' or buying the votes of the small member states to the advantage of Battistelli

“Official Dutch Government publication,” a reader told us, “confirms Battistelli’s influence over smaller EPC states.”

From the “Bijblad bij De Industriële Eigendom,” an official publication of the Dutch Patent Office (Supplement to the Intellectual Property Gazette) Issue No. 2 – April 2017 – Vol. 85:

De Administrative Council (AC) van de European Patent Organisation (EPO) kwam laatstelijk bijeen op 15 en 16 maart 2017.
Ter inleiding kan worden gesteld dat de AC, nog maar één jaar nadat de AC zelf met een (unanieme) resolutie zeer concrete opdrachten meegaf aan EOB-President Battistelli, inmiddels veel terrein heeft verloren. Door zijn evidente invloed op een grote groep van kleinere landen hoeft Battistelli niet erg beducht te zijn voor de kleinere groep van grotere (kritische) octrooilanden (Zwitserland, Nederland, Duitsland, Frankrijk, Verenigd Koninkrijk, Zweden). Een onwerkelijke situatie.

Translation: “The Administrative Council (AC) of the European Patent Organization (EPO) held its latest meeting on 15 and 16 March 2017. To begin with, the AC has now lost a lot of ground, just one year after the AC itself issued very concrete instructions to EPO President Battistelli, with a (unanimous) resolution. Due his apparent influence on a large group of smaller countries, Battistelli does not have to worry about the smaller group of larger (critical) EPC states (Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Sweden). An unreal situation.”

That’s pretty serious.

“2018 promises to be one heck of a year at the EPO.”“Summer recess agenda” said today: “Lately some rumours going on, that BB [Battistelli] and VP4 look to replace 3 of his PD’s in the framework of the new DG2 re-structuration. Apparently the areas procurement, HR social dialogue and buildings are named. A new EPO era?”

VP4 is the subject of our ongoing series about Lufthansa and the EPO (we are fact-checking future parts). 2018 promises to be one heck of a year at the EPO. Can it get any worse than it already is?

Links 30/7/2017: Flathub, Jolla Tablet Refunds, Cutelyst 1.8.0

Posted in News Roundup at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Dual Boot Happy Hacking Linux and Mac OS

      Last December, I created a new Linux distro called Happy Hacking Linux, specifically for developers who need fast, minimalist desktop that comes with a good package system. Arch Linux has been my favorite distro for past 10 years, because it lets you build your system by yourself, and gives more than 55.000 packages in its official and community package registires.

      So I took Arch Linux, changed the logo with a cat wearing sunglasses (my wife drew it for me), built a new installation wizard from scratch, and automated what many developers do; setting up users, fonts, network, Xmonad desktop with default config, etc… This new installer is created using command-line dialogs, but it’s smart enough to detect if user is on a Macbook. It automatically sets up wifi, audio, also configures screen brightness, keyboard backlight buttons so you don’t have to.

    • This Project is Going to Create Linux Laptops … Based on PowerPC

      Recently, a new group has appeared in cyberspace with the goal of creating a line of Linux computers based on the PowerPC architecture. They are currently raising money and are in the early planning. The question is: Can they pull it off? And, if they do, will it be worth it?

  • Kernel Space

    • Some stable kernel updates
    • Linux 4.12.4
    • Linux 4.9.40
    • Linux 4.4.79
    • Linux 3.18.63
    • Reconsidering the scheduler’s wake_wide() heuristic

      The kernel’s CPU scheduler is charged with choosing which task to run next, but also with deciding where in a multi-CPU system that task should run. As is often the case, that choice comes down to heuristics — rules of thumb codifying the developers’ experience of what tends to work best. One key task-placement heuristic has been in place since 2015, but a recent discussion suggests that it may need to be revisited.

      Scheduler wakeups happen all the time. Tasks will often wait for an event (e.g. timer expiration, POSIX signal, futex() system call, etc.); a wakeup is sent when the event occurs and the waiting task resumes execution. The scheduler’s job is to find the best CPU to run the task being woken. Making the correct choice is crucial for performance. Some message-passing workloads benefit from running tasks on the same CPU, for example; the pipetest micro-benchmark is a simple model of that kind of workload. Pipetest uses two communicating tasks that take turns sending and receiving messages; the tasks never need to run in parallel and thus perform best if their data is in the cache of a single CPU.

    • Why Codethink is a founding member of the Civil Infrastructure Platform, a Linux Foundation initiative
    • Graphics Stack

      • libinput and button debouncing

        A few days ago, I pushed code for button debouncing into libinput, scheduled for libinput 1.9. What is button debouncing you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked, because otherwise typing this blog post would’ve been a waste of time :)

        Over in Utopia, when you press the button on a device, you get a press event from the hardware. When you release said button, you get a release event from the hardware. Together, they form the button click interaction we have come to learn and love over the last couple of decades. Life is generally merry and the sunshine to rainbow to lollipop ratio is good. Meanwhile, over here in the real world, buttons can be quite dodgy, don’t always work like they’re supposed to, lollipops are unhealthy and boy, have you seen that sunburn the sunshine gave me? One way how buttons may not work is that they can lose contact for a fraction of a second and send release events even though the button is being held down. The device usually detects that the button is still being down in the next hardware cycle (~8ms on most devices) and thus sends another button press.

      • Vulkan-CPU Has Working SPIR-V To LLVM IR Translation, x86 Code Almost Working

        Jacob Lifshay, the student developer via GSoC 2017 working on a Vulkan CPU-based implementation to essentially serve as a software renderer that is making use of LLVM, now has working SPIR-V to LLVM IR translation.

        SPIR-V, of course, being the intermediate representation used by Vulkan and OpenCL 2.1+. Jacob’s work is separate from the other SPIR-V LLVM work being pursued by other parties. Lifshay has now implemented enough of a SPIR-V to LLVM IR translator that it can translate simple shaders onwards to LLVM IR. He also says he is almost at a stage where in turn it can then generate x86 machine code. So in the end it will go from SPIR-V shaders to x86 code that can be executed by the CPU.

      • Mesa 17.2 Is Measuring In As One Of The Largest Releases Ever

        Mesa 17.2 is coming in as one of the largest updates ever to Mesa 3D, at least in terms of code delta.

        Out of curiosity given the recent branching and release candidate, I used Git to compare the code size of the 17.1 branch to 17.2.

      • OpenMAX Tizonia G3D State Tracker Begins Working For H.264 Encoding

        One of this year’s Google Summer of Code projects affecting Mesa is porting its OpenMAX IL Gallium3D state tracker from using Bellagio to Tizonia.

      • The Etnaviv Driver Is Beginning To Work Out For Android Users

        The Etnaviv open-source driver stack that provides reverse-engineered graphics driver support for Vivante graphics cores is working now not only on conventional Linux distributions but also Android environments.

        Collabora has been working on some improvements in this space and a few days ago recapped some of the highlights going into Etnaviv for i.MX6 and Android.

      • Linux Driver Expectations For The Radeon RX Vega
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Akademy 2017 in Almería, Spain: Wrap-up

        Akademy, KDE’s annual developer conference, is over — and as always, it was a great experience! Thanks a lot to the local organization team, and of course to all the nice people attending and discussing things.

      • Cutelyst 1.8.0 released

        Cutelyst the Qt Web Framework, has another stable release, this release is mostly filled with bug fixes, the commit log is rather small.

        It got fixes on Cutelyst-WSGI to properly work on Windows, QtCreator integration fixes, properly installing dll’s on Windows, fix returning the right status from views (this allows you to know if for example View::Email sent the email with success).

      • KDE PIM on Akademy

        Me and Volker sat down and went through all KDE PIM wikipages on community.kde.org, userbase.kde.org and techbase.kde.org. Most of our wiki pages are horribly outdated, so we tried to clean them up, remove pages that are no longer relevant or useful. With fewer pages to take care of and better overview of what all content we have, we should be able to keep them more up-to-date than we did in the past years.

        [...]

        We will be meeting soon again in Randa. Our main plan for the sprint is to continue with removal of KDateTime from our code, and thus making KDE PIM free of kdelibs4support.

      • Live data features alive in LabPlot

        Hey guys. It’s been a while since my last post here, but we did a good job meanwhile. Beside implementing the features I have described in my previous post I have implemented some other useful features/additional options. Let’s see what we have here.

      • A new Beginning
      • GSoC Second phase analysis

        The month took a rough start with me getting ill from the very start of the month. I decided to get the relatively “easy” job done within the first month, so that I can fully focus on the topics that require much more concentration once I start recovering. I started out by refactoring the code and using nodeWidth and nodeHeight and keeping the same generation node within the same vertical level. Also, I made sure that the changes get reflected with change in the dimensions of the activity.

      • Policy Updates

        KDE is getting good at writing statements on visions and missions and values which define who we are. But less sexy and more technical is our various policies some of which are getting out of date. Pleasingly at Akademy we’ve been able to update two of these policies to comply with current practices and define our activities better.

        Application Lifecycle policy defines how projects get into KDE and how they die. The new version adds in Incubator our method of bringing projects into KDE from elsewhere. It also says what is allowed to be done with Playground projects, you can make an alpha release but if you want to make a beta or final release it should go through kdereview.

      • Meteo-Qt: Keep An Eye On Weather Directly From Indicator Panel

        There are various weather applications available for Linux. Meteo-Qt is an elegant weather application written in Python3 and Qt5 licensed under GNU General Public License v3, it displays weather information right on the panel and show notifications, further more you can check current week weather on its own window.

      • GSoC’17-Week #6

        I will just give an overview of what all I have worked on during the past few weeks. The main aim of the project was to integrate share. krita.org with our Krita application. It should have the ability to download the items from the site directly into default folders of the resources we choose to download. So, I created a widget content_downloader widget to perform all sorts of functionalities we needed to get from the downloader. The functions like download then install and to perform uninstall the items downloaded were added. Then search functionality, different ways to filter resources using the categories and order by method too. Used KRating API to rate the items showed inside the content downloader. Also, small functionalities like, Description viewer as labels and printing out certain data like the author and all as well were added.

  • Distributions

    • Nine Months and Counting With Solus

      According to my /var/log/eopkg.log file, I installed Solus on this computer–my main work machine–on October 19 of last year. After more than nine months in production, it’s safe to say that I’m highly satisfied with how Solus has performed. Indeed, I have not given serious consideration to switching to another Linux distribution since I made the move to Solus.

      Like many Linux users, my first distribution was Ubuntu, specifically the recently expired 12.04 LTS release. But within a few months I fell into the trap of “distrohopping”–trying virtually every Linux project for a few weeks, days, or even hours–hoping to find something better. While many Linux folks swear by distrhopping, I personally found it a miserable slog.

      Eventually I settled on CrunchBang, a minimalist distribution based on Debian. But the original developer discontinued the project–which was subsequently revived by the user community as BunsenLabs, now a fine distribution in its own right–so I went back to hopping for awhile.

    • New Releases

      • Linux Lite 3.6 Arrives September 1, Still Based on Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS, Linux 4.4

        Linux Lite developer Jerry Bezencon and his team have recently started working on the next major release of the Ubuntu-based GNU/Linux distribution designed for old computers or PCs with little RAM and CPU power.

        The current version of Linux Lite is 3.4, and it’s based on the Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, using the Linux 4.4 LTS kernel, but the team is now preparing the Linux Lite 3.6 release, which they say will bare two major new features while remaining based on Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS and Linux kernel 4.4 LTS.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE aims to tackle skills shortage in open source in ME

        SUSE is teaming up with the training arm of technology distributor Ingram Micro to offer a set of 18 instructed-led SUSE training modules in the Middle East.

        A Linux Foundation study last year found out that 87% of hiring managers say open skills are hard to come by.

    • Slackware Family

      • Chromium 60 packages available

        Google released chrome/chromium 60.0.3112.78 on 25 July. My mother-in-law passed away which shifted my priorities this week, but I found some time to compile new packages. In my VM, the 64bit package creation took more than 24 hours… perhaps now is a good time to look at that Ryzen CPU and empty my savings account. This is getting ridiculous.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Packettracer 7 in Fedora 26

          Cisco Packet Tracer 7.0 is created by Cisco SystemsTM and is now provided for free distribution. Self learners are now able to download Cisco Packet Tracer after registering on Cisco Netacad website. A free Packet Tracer 101 (English), a 1-hour self-paced online course is also offered to every registered (free) student to help them get started with PacketTracer 7.0, So you can register and download from here.

        • GSoC2017 (Fedora) — Week 5-8
        • Reaching Beyond My Screen

          I’ve been involved with Women’s Leadership Community (WLC) at Red Hat since starting my first internship last summer and about a week and a half ago (maybe two weeks ago) I heard about an opportunity that I just could not turn down. This opportunity came in the form of an outreach and mentoring-type program hosted at Boston University (BU) called the Artemis Project. The Artemis Project is coordinated by a group of four female undergraduate students studying computer science or engineering at BU to expose Boston-area 9th grade girls to the traditionally made-dominated fields referred to as STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).

          The folks at Artemis reached out to Red Hat in search for a couple of women willing to speak to the girls and I, having spoken about STEM initiatives for women and served as a coordinator for the I Hate Math: Women in STEM Conference at Southern New Hampshire University, immediately responded that I wanted to be involved! My friend, colleague, and fellow designer Laura Wright also volunteered to speak, so we decided to use this platform to draw connections between graphic design and computer science.

        • It Will Still Take Fedora A Few More Releases To Switch Off Python 2

          Finalizing Fedora’s switch from Python 2 to Python 3 by default is still going to take several more Fedora release cycles and should be done by the 2020 date when Python 2 will be killed off by upstream.

          While much of Fedora’s Python code is now compatible with Py3, the /usr/bin/python still points to Python 2, various python-* packages still mean Python 2, and the end game is to eventually get rid of Python 2 from Fedora but that is even further out.

        • Hello again!

          In any case, the main point of this blog post is that I’m at GUADEC in Manchester right now, and I’d like to blog about Flathub, but I thought it would be weird to just show up and say that after 7 years of silence without saying hello again.

        • Welcome, Flathub!

          At the Gtk+ hackfest in London earlier this year, we stole an afternoon from the toolkit folks (sorry!) to talk about Flatpak, and how we could establish a “critical mass” behind the Flatpak format. Bringing Linux container and sandboxing technology together with ostree, we’ve got a technology which solves real world distribution, technical and security problems which have arguably held back the Linux desktop space and frustrated ISVs and app developers for nearly 20 years. The problem we need to solve, like any ecosystem, is one of users and developers – without stuff you can easily get in Flatpak format, there won’t be many users, and without many users, we won’t have a strong or compelling incentive for developers to take their precious time to understand a new format and a new technology.

          [...]

          Enter Flathub. The idea is that by creating an obvious “center of gravity” for the Flatpak community to contribute and build their apps, users will have one place to go and find the best that the Linux app ecosystem has to offer. We can take care of the boring stuff like running a build service and empower Linux application developers to choose how and when their app gets out to their users. After the London hackfest we sketched out a minimum viable system – Github, Buildbot and a few workers – and got it going over the past few months, culminating in a mini-fundraiser to pay for the hosting of a production-ready setup. Thanks to the 20 individuals who supported our fundraiser, to Mythic Beasts who provided a server along with management, monitoring and heaps of bandwidth, and to Codethink and Scaleway who provide our ARM and Intel workers respectively.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Jolla Tablet refund update

      Dear Jolla Tablet contributor, As promised, we are beginning to process the refunds further on cash flow positive months by randomly selecting a number of backers and providing them with a few of options in order to handle their refund situation. As of end of July is now at hand, we can confirm the financial situation is allowing us to start the process with 100 random backers. While admittedly that is not a huge number, it is what the situation permits us to do so far. We are determined to continue with the process each month we have a positive cash flow.

    • Rugged Skylake box PC offers up to 8x USB and 5x HDMI ports

      Advantech’s Linux-ready “UNO-2484G” Box PC offers dual-core 6th Gen U-series CPUs, 4x GbE ports, and either HDMI/USB or “iDoor” expansion units.

      Like Advantech’s Linux-on-Quark based UNO-1252G IoT gateway and Intel Apollo Lake based ARK-1124C embedded computer, the new Skylake based UNO-2484G embedded PC offers up to four of the company’s homegrown “iDoor” expansion modules. The mini-PCIe based iDoor modules, which include varying mixes of wired and/or wireless features, are protected in an enclosure extension located on the bottom of the unit.

    • Microsoft culture led to Windows Phone failure: ex-Apple chief

      “Microsoft’s smartphone troubles started well before the birth of Android,” he said. “In a reversal of the famous dictum Victory Has Many Fathers But Defeat Is An Orphan, Windows Phone’s collapse seems to have had many progenitors deeply embedded in the company’s decades-old culture.”

Free Software/Open Source

  • Digital transformation and IoT will drive investment in IT ops management

    A primary driver for organisations moving to ITOM open-source software (OSS) is lower cost of ownership, it said.

  • How IT operations management is embracing open source

    Open source software adoption continues to disrupt the traditional IT markets, as enterprise CIOs and CTOs seek ways to evolve by working with progressive vendors and service providers who have a proven track record of open innovation.

    The growth of digital business transformation and the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to drive large investment in IT operations management (ITOM) through 2020, according to the latest global market study by Gartner. A primary driver for organisations moving to ITOM open-source software (OSS) is lower cost of ownership.

  • Events

    • [Older] Containers micro-conference at Linux Plumbers 2017

      This year’s edition of the Linux Plumbers Conference will once again feature a containers micro-conference. This is a great occasion for users and developers of Linux container technology to meet and talk about the feature.

      LPC 2017 will be held in Los Angeles, California from the 13th until the 15th of September 2017. This will be in the same venue as the Open Source Summit 2017 (11th to 14th) and the Linux Security Summit (14th to 15th).

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Milestone Complete! OpenRC conversion

      The OpenRC conversion project is done! Over one thousand script/port conversions are complete, and all will be available in the TrueOS UNSTABLE and STABLE tracks soon. The project wants to extend a huge thank you to all those who contributed to completing this milestone, and a special thank you to contributors ZackaryWelch and elarge011 for doing the lion’s share of the work.

    • TrueOS Finishes Porting Scripts To OpenRC

      The TrueOS BSD distribution has finished porting over more than one thousand FreeBSD RC scripts into OpenRC format for this dependency-based init system.

      This year the TrueOS crew has been working on migrating to the OpenRC init system for better boot performance, easier configuration, better organization of configuration files, more reliable service status, etc. Popular services had been in OpenRC form already but now they have finished porting over more than 1,000 other scripts for OpenRC on TrueOS.

    • mandoc-1.14.2 released

      With the improved mandoc features, only twenty-five out of the ten thousand software packages in the OpenBSD ports tree still need groff to format their manual pages.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • 3DR Solo Back as Open Source Platform

        Don’t play Taps for 3DR‘s Solo yet. 3DR’s CEO Chris Anderson tweeted today that the Solo is getting a second life.

        In an article title “The Solo Lives On,” on the ArduPilot Blog – ArduPilot is an opensource autopilot system – the team explains how a community of developers worked to give the Solo a “heart transplant.” The developer of the now-obselete Pixhawk 2.0 hardware flight system, the Solo’s stock system, has developed a bolt-on replacement which will allow for new ArduCopter firmware changes.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Bluetooth Mesh networks: Is a standards body right for IoT innovation?

      Mesh networks are not new. It is a network topology in which each node relays data for the network. All mesh nodes cooperate in the distribution of data in the network. The IoT-purpose-built Zigbee—a low-power, low-bandwidth ad hoc network—is a mesh network. Dating to 2002, Aruba Networks was founded to build Wi-Fi mesh networks. In 2014, student protesters in Hong Kong used mobile app FireChat to turn the crowd’s smartphones into a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth mesh network so authorities could not interrupt protester’s coordinating conversations by blocking 3G and 4G network access.

Leftovers

  • Google Grabs Nielsen as Business Apps User From Microsoft

    For word processing and spreadsheets, Nielsen staff now uses Google Docs and Sheets instead of Microsoft’s Word and Excel applications from its familiar Office suite of software. For video conferencing and messaging, Nielsen dropped Microsoft’s Skype in favor of Google equivalents.

  • Science

    • Report: Human embryo edited for first time in US, pushes limits

      Until now, the only three published reports of human embryo gene editing were from researchers in China. But their experiments—using a gene-editing method called CRISPR—caused “off-target” genetic changes, basically sloppy changes in the DNA that were not intended. Also, not all the cells in the embryos were successfully edited, causing an effect called “mosaicism.” Together, the problems suggested that the technique was not advanced enough to safely alter human embryos without unintended or incomplete genetic consequences.

    • Genetic evidence suggests the Canaanites weren’t destroyed after all

      The Canaanites are famous as the bad guys of the Book of Joshua in the Tanakh, or the Hebrew Bible. First, God orders the Hebrews to destroy the Canaanites along with several other groups, and later we hear that the Canaanites have actually been wiped out. Among archaeologists, however, the Canaanites are a cultural group whose rise and fall has remained a mystery. Now, a group of archaeologists and geneticists has discovered strong evidence that the Canaanites were not wiped out. They are, in fact, the ancestors of modern Lebanese people.

      The Canaanites were a people who lived three to four thousand years ago off the coast of the Mediterranean, and their cities were spread across an area known today as Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Syria. Though they were one of the first civilizations in the area to use writing, they wrote most of their documents on papyrus leaves that didn’t survive. As a result, our only information about these people has come from their rivals and enemies, like the Hebrews, whose accounts were likely biased.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Senators buck Sessions, move to protect state medical marijuana laws

      The amendment prevents the Department of Justice from using any of its funds to prevent states from “implementing a law that authorizes the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” It was added by a voice vote to the 2018 Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill.

    • John McCain Isn’t a Hero for Not Killing His Constituents

      John McCain was no hero this week, but his vote did expose the cowardice of 49 of his colleagues. Senator Lindsey Graham, McCain’s frequent partner-in crime, called the GOP’s “skinny” repeal bill “half-assed,” the “dumbest thing in history” and a “disaster,” before voting for it.

    • FDA wants to make cigarettes non-addictive, give e-cig makers a leg up

      The US Food and Drug Administration announced a comprehensive, multi-year plan Thursday to stamp out the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the country—tobacco use.

      The agency intends to reduce the amount of nicotine allowed in traditional combustion cigarettes with the goal of making them “non-addictive.” At the same time, the FDA will delay regulations on electronic cigarettes and other newer products to “afford the agency time to explore clear and meaningful measures to make tobacco products less toxic, appealing, and addictive,” the agency said in a press statement.

    • Goop doctor says she’s not really Goop’s doctor, calls site a “caricature”

      Two weeks ago, Dr. Aviva Romm provided a signed letter included in a Goop post titled “Uncensored: A Word from Our Doctors.” The post, written in part by the Goop team, including Romm and another doctor (Steven Gundry), collectively defended Goop’s questionable health products and penchant for unproven and often nonsensical medical theories. Those theories include Moon-powered vaginal eggs and energy-healing space-suit stickers.

    • Meta-analysis finds sperm counts dropped 50%, media predicts human extinction

      Men’s spunk may be getting noticeably less spunky in some high-income countries, according to a meta-analysis of international swimmers.

      Skimming and re-examining sperm data from 185 past independent studies, researchers estimated that sperm counts of men from select high-income regions—North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe—dropped about 52 percent between 1973 to 2011, from 99 million sperm per milliliter to about 47 million per milliliter. Likewise, estimates of total sperm count per batch dropped 59 percent, from 337.5 million in 1973 to 137.5 million in 2011.

      The researchers, led by Hagai Levine of Hebrew University, also looked at data from what they referred to as “other” countries, including some in South America, Asia, and Africa. They saw no trends in these places, but they also had relatively little data from them.

    • In wake of CTE study, Ravens’ smarty John Urschel retires from football at 26

      John Urschel, a Baltimore Ravens’ offensive lineman and PhD candidate in applied mathematics at MIT, has announced his retirement from football at the age of 26. The announcement comes just days after publication of a case study that found widespread signs of a degenerative brain disease among football players who donated their brains to research.

  • Security

    • Security pros at hacker conference: Be more boring
    • Linux SystemD Wins Pwnie Award at Black Hat, and No It’s Not a Good Thing

      Some awards are better than others. When it comes to security awards, the Pwnie Awards can sometimes be a good thing to win and other times – not so much.

    • Systemd wins top gong for ‘lamest vendor’ in Pwnie security awards

      The annual Pwnie Awards for serious security screw-ups saw hardly anyone collecting their prize at this year’s ceremony in Las Vegas.

      That’s not surprising: government officials, US spy agencies, and software makers aren’t usually in the mood to acknowledge their failures.

      The Pwnies give spray-painted pony statues to those who have either pulled off a great hack or failed epically. This year it was nation states that got a significant proportion of the prizes. The gongs are divided into categories, and nominations in each section are voted on by the hacker community. The ponies are then dished out every year at the Black Hat USA security conference in Sin City.

    • Seattle man held over DDoS attacks in Australia, US and Canada

      The DDoS attacks took place in 2015 and many of the businesses were contacted by an individual who made unspecified demands from them.

    • Joint international operation sees US citizen arrested for denial of service attacks on IT systems [iophk: "no word yet on any arrests of those that deployed Microsoft systems and connected them to the network in the first place"]

      A two and a half year joint operation between the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Toronto Police Department has resulted in a 37-year-old Seattle man being arrested in connection with serious offences relating to distributed denial of service attacks on IT systems.

    • Broadcom chip bug opened 1 billion phones to a Wi-Fi-hopping worm attack

      It’s not often that a security researcher devises an attack that can unleash a self-replicating attack which, with no user interaction, threatens 1 billion smartphones. But that’s just what Nitay Artenstein of Exodus Intelligence did in a feat that affected both iOS and Android devices.

      At the Black Hat security conference, Artenstein demonstrated proof-of-concept attack code that exploited a vulnerability in Wi-Fi chips manufactured by Broadcom. It fills the airwaves with probes that request connections to nearby computing devices. When the specially devised requests reach a device using the BCM43xx family of Wi-Fi chipsets, the attack rewrites the firmware that controls the chip. The compromised chip then sends the same malicious packets to other vulnerable devices, setting off a potential chain reaction. Until early July and last week—when Google and Apple issued patches respectively—an estimated 1 billion devices were vulnerable to the attack. Artenstein has dubbed the worm “Broadpwn.”

    • Sounds bad: Researchers demonstrate “sonic gun” threat against smart devices

      At the Black Hat security conference on Thursday, a team of researchers from Alibaba Security demonstrated how sound and ultrasound could be used to attack devices that depend on sensor input from gyroscopes, accelerometers, and other microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). A sonic “gun” could in theory be used to knock drones out of the sky, cause robots to fail, disorient virtual or augmented reality software, and even knock people off their “hoverboard” scooters. It could also potentially be used to attack self-driving cars or confuse air bag sensors in automobiles.

      Many of the commercial gyroscope sensors in electronic devices are tuning fork gyroscopes—MEMS devices that use the vibrations of two “proof masses” to track rotation and velocity. But an outside source of vibration matching the resonant frequency of the gyroscope could interfere with the sensor’s stability and cause the sensor to send bad data to the device it is embedded in.

    • Stealthy Google Play apps recorded calls and stole e-mails and texts

      Google has expelled 20 Android apps from its Play marketplace after finding they contained code for monitoring and extracting users’ e-mail, text messages, locations, voice calls, and other sensitive data.

    • For a security conference that everyone claims not to trust the wifi, there sure was a lot of wifi
    • WikiLeaks releases Manual for Linux Implant “Aeris”
    • New Car Hacking Research: 2017, Remote Attack Tesla Motors Again

      Keen Lab discovered new security vulnerabilities on Tesla motors and realized full attack chain to implement arbitrary CAN BUS and ECUs remote controls on Tesla motors with latest firmware.

    • Hackers {sic} break into voting machines in minutes at hacking competition

      Hackers {sic} at at a competition in Las Vegas were able to successfully breach the software of U.S. voting machines in just 90 minutes on Friday, illuminating glaring security deficiencies in America’s election infrastructure.

    • This is how absolutely headdeskingly clueless politicians are at anything IT security related

      The Swedish IT leak scandal has caused a governmental crisis: even when having every kind of self-interest to read up on IT security, today’s politicians just can’t get it right. The Swedish leak where classified data and networks were outsourced outside the European Union was not an isolated incident, but a pervasive pattern where things are kept safe mostly by good luck and the occasional person who knows their stuff fixing things properly out of pure subordination. This week, the opposition leader stated that the physical location of a server is of no importance as far as security goes.

    • Hackers ‘could make car wash attack’

      The pair shared their findings with PDQ in February 2015, but the firm only replied to their emails this year.

    • How hackers can hijack drug pumps to kill patients
    • Wikileaks Exposes CIA’ 3 Linux/macOS Malware- Aeris, Achilles, SeaPea

      We all know what CIA is capable of but what WikiLeaks has been publishing lately under the Vault 7 leaks series is simply astonishing. According to the latest set of information provided by WikiLeaks in its ongoing Vault 7 leaks saga, the CIA developed three dangerous malware for Linux and macOS systems.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Finance

    • Detroit charter school teachers get tough news: Their school was in debt so they won’t get paid
    • Why the feds took down one of Bitcoin’s largest exchanges

      As some suspected, Vinnik’s alleged crimes go beyond just operating the exchange. Feds believe he played a role in the theft of more 800,000 bitcoin — about $400 million at the time — from Mt. Gox, a staggering loss that ultimately shuttered the exchange. According to the indictment, 530,000 of those bitcoin ended up passing through wallets controlled by or associated with Vinnik, although his role in the larger scheme remains unclear.

    • Drinking Rum Until I Understand the Cuban Embargo

      It was easier for me to pass through Cuban customs and immigration than it was for me to come home to the U.S. “Be sure to try our rum while you’re here!” said the Cuban official. “You’ll need to pay duty on that rum,” grumped the American official a week later, after the retinal scan, facial recognition scan, photo, passport inspection, agricultural questioning, and bag check that allowed me home.

      The rum is in a way what a trip to Cuba for an American is really all about. Rum, and el bloqueo.

      It becomes the first Spanish word you learn after the glasses are filled: el bloqueo, the blockade, the economic and political embargo. Some 60 years ago the United States slapped a near-complete economic embargo on Cuba, a Cold War spasm that lives on long after the struggle it may have served ended. It accomplished little of substance in Cuba except perhaps to impoverish some while fostering blackmarkets and corruption that enriched others. And like that other imperial boil, Guantanamo, the embargo sits atop Cuba as a symbolic wet blanket of American foreign policy, maintained by presidents Democratic and Republican alike.

      [...]

      The embargo started in earnest back in 1962, and grew to include almost all commerce between the United States and Cuba, snaring famously that Cuban rum (and cigars. Then-president John F. Kennedy loved his Cuban cigars so much he had an aide buy out existing stocks in Washington DC before he initialed the embargo paperwork.)

      The stated purpose of the embargo is to pressure the Cuban government toward “democratization and greater respect for human rights.” The result was that American businesses could not invest or operate in Cuba. Cubans could not sell their agricultural products in the United States. The embargo preserved those wonderful classic American cars you see in any documentary about Cuba, frozen in time as new vehicles could be imported. The Russians slid into place as Cuba’s economic godfather, followed by the Special Period, those years of particularly acute suffering after the collapse of the Soviet Union. There was a limited loosening of the embargo as it applied to tourists under the Obama administration (and a titular change of the American Interests Section in Havana into the American Embassy in Havana; “unofficial” diplomacy never really ceased) followed by a planned re-tightening of tourist travel by President Trump.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • First proof that Facebook dark ads could swing an election

      Though Facebook doesn’t explicitly provide the tools to target people based on political opinions, the new study shows how the platform can be exploited. Using combinations of people’s interests, demographics, and survey data it’s possible to direct campaigns at individuals based on their agreement with ideas and policies. This could have a big impact on the success of campaigns.

    • Guarding Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club cost taxpayers $6.6 million: report

      President Trump’s Florida club cost taxpayers more than $6.6 million to protect since January, according to a new report published Friday.

      Mar-a-Lago, one of Trump’s resort golf courses which sits on waterfront property on Florida’s coastline, requires protection by both air and sea while the president is visiting.

      Spending for one of Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago is close to $1 million dollars, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

      In comparison, security costs for a similar trip to Florida by former President Barack Obama in 2013 cost closer to $586,000.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Apple Bans VPNs From App Store in China

      Apple has started to ban VPN applications from its iOS store in China. According to the company, these apps include content that’s illegal in the country, thereby violating Apple’s policies. Needless to say, VPN providers and users are not happy with the privacy-obstructing censorship efforts.

    • Apple removes China censorship-dodging apps from store, software makers say
    • Apple Accused Of Removing Apps Used To Evade Censorship From Its China Store
    • Apple Removes Apps From China Store That Help Internet Users Evade Censorship
    • Apple removes VPN apps from the App Store in China
    • Apple says it is removing VPN services from China App Store
    • China’s Struggle for a Free Internet Worsens as Apple Removes VPN Apps from its Store
    • China Says It Will “Severely Strike” Websites Involved in Piracy

      A new campaign launched by Chinese authorities is threatening tough action against any Internet site that assists in the unlawful online distribution of movies, TV shows, eBooks, and even news articles. Pirate sites and app stores will come under the spotlight while social media platforms will be subjected to “strict supervision.”

    • Judge Tosses Vexatious Litigant Brett Kimberlin’s Lawsuit Against Conservative Blogger

      This should have been a simple anti-SLAPP case. Should have. Wasn’t. (Part of it is Maryland’s weak take on anti-SLAPP.) It took four years to resolve and tons of pro bono hours. Kimberlin claimed he had been defamed by Frey’s post, which was based on four news sources and covered his conviction for bombing and his rise to dubious fame as Dan Quayle’s pot dealer (back when Quayle was still VP/relevant).

      Kimberlin has a long history of abusive, vexatious lawsuits — all of them filed with the intent of shutting down criticism. His defamation claim was just the tip of iceberg. In his legal threat (all the way back in 2010), Kimberlin claimed a variety of injuries from Frey’s post, accusing him of cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and “interference with business.”

    • How Arby’s Dealt With Their Greatest Twitter Troll By Being Awesome; Also Sandwiches And Puppies

      There are many ways to handle being trolled on Twitter if you’re a company or a famous person. You can track down the trolls, investing hundreds of hours all for a payoff that amounts to showing up at their house physically and making them uncomfortable. You can figure out who the trolls are and call their parents, because that’s apparently a thing that actually happened. Or you can be James Woods, completely the worst, and whip out the lawsuits to unmask the troll and then gloat gleefully like a three year old that stole his favorite popsicle when the guy happens to die.

    • Politicians’ social media pages can be 1st Amendment forums, judge says

      Now there’s some legal precedent on the matter. It comes from a federal judge in Virginia who said that a local politician had violated the First Amendment rights of a constituent because the politician briefly banned the constituent from the politician’s personal Facebook account.

    • Censorship of ‘Time’ magazine in China sparks outrage and ridicule on the Web

      Taiwanese netizens yesterday responded feverishly to a microblog post by a Chinese subscriber of Time magazine that a page containing a report on the death of Nobel Peace Price winner Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) had been torn out of the latest issue of the magazine’s Asia edition, saying the incident could be the result of Chinese authorities censoring Time.

      “A page in the latest issue of Time was secretly ripped out. I managed to find the missing content and now I know what it is about. It is very old school to censor content by tearing pages out of books in this day and age,” the subscriber said on Sina Weibo.

    • Cinema & censorship

      In a system that sets much store by retaining the power to censor films in the name of certifying them, random attempts by petitioners seeking cuts or even a ban often add to the pre-release anxieties of filmmakers. While rejecting the petition filed by a person claiming to be the daughter of the late Sanjay Gandhi to set aside the certificate granted to Indu Sarkar, a film directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, the Supreme Court has rightly banked on a well-established principle that freedom of expression cannot be curtailed without a valid reason. It has reiterated that the film is nothing but artistic expression within the parameters of law and that there is no warrant or justification to curtail it. Earlier, the Central Board of Film Certification, which under its present director, Pahlaj Nihalani, has not exactly distinguished itself, had granted a certificate to the film after suggesting 14 cuts. The Revision Committee had reduced the number of cuts, leaving nothing to be adjudicated as far as the suitability of the film for exhibition is concerned. Yet, a single individual managed to create some uncertainty over the release of the film by approaching the courts. The film relates to events set during the 1975-77 Emergency and, going by the director’s disclaimer, its factual content is limited to 30%. Apart from the expression of concern by some Congress functionaries, there was little to suggest that anyone would take seriously the claim that the party’s leaders may be convincingly shown “in a bad light”.

    • Cinema & censorship
    • When is censorship a good idea?

      Let’s take the example of Charlie Hebdo. Created in 1970 by François Cavanna and Professor Choron, it was originally named Hebdo Hara-Kiri. It was published every Wednesday and cost €3. In France this newspaper is considered as the guardian of a free press. They did essentially caricatures of politics, religions, sects, far right, Islam.

    • Google Asks US Court To Block Terrible Canadian Supreme Court Ruling On Global Censorship

      Going back to the earliest days of Techdirt, we wrote numerous times about what a jurisdictional mess the internet was for various laws and legal regimes. But, even so, decades later, it’s still pretty shocking just how messy Google’s dispute over global censorship with Canadian courts has become. Last month, we wrote about a positively terrible decision in the Canadian Supreme Court, which upheld an appeals court and a district court, ruling that a Canadian court could order a site to block access to content on a global basis. The lawsuit itself, brought by a company called Equustek against another company apparently selling knockoff/counterfeit equipment, pulled Google into its orbit when the court ordered Google, as a non-party in the case — to block access worldwide to sites managed by the defendant in the lawsuit (who never showed up in court).

      Google pointed out (quite reasonably) that Canadian courts don’t have jurisdiction over the global internet any more than a Chinese or Iranian or Russian court would have jurisdiction across the globe. Over and over again, the Canadian courts more or less ignored the issue, saying, “doesn’t matter, block it, this is bad stuff.” We’ve discussed at great length the dangers of such a decision, so we won’t rehash it now — go read the previous posts, if you want to review that argument.

    • Court says politicians can’t block people on social media
    • Saudi investor buys significant stake in the Independent

      The Saudi investment is likely to cause concern among staff at the Independent given the publication’s liberal stance and the Middle Eastern country’s record on freedom of speech. Saudi Arabia is one of several Middle Eastern countries that has demanded the closure of broadcaster Al-Jazeera in return for lifting a blockade of Qatar. The Independent has written a number of articles questioning Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy.

    • Activists Say Censorship in North Korea Will Not Last
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • When sextortion suspect refused to unlock her iPhone, the FBI stepped in

      The FBI has inserted itself into an ongoing state case in Miami involving two suspects accused of sextorting Julieanna Goddard, a South Beach socialite who goes by YesJulz online. The accused sextortionists are reality-TV star Hencha Voigt and her then-boyfriend, Wesley Victor.

      According to a recent court filing, which was provided to Ars by the Miami Herald, the FBI offered to cover Florida’s costs to pay Cellebrite, a well-known Israeli digital forensics firm, to extract data off of one of the suspects’ iPhone 6. The Cellebrite effort was successful.

    • Shadow Brokers post new message as US hunts for disgruntled ex-NSA agent in cyberweapons leak

      On Thursday (27 July), the mysterious hacker group Shadow Brokers once again advertised their recently launched monthly dump of NSA cyberweapons. Even as the hacker group’s alleged sale of NSA hacking tools continues, US investigators probing the matter are reportedly looking into former insiders, who may have links to the Shadow Brokers.

      According to a report by CyberScoop, US authorities believe that a disgruntled ex-NSA agent or an insider within the US intelligence community (IC) is involved in the theft and subsequent leak of the spy agency’s cyberweapons. Several former NSA employees have reportedly already been contacted by investigators probing how the Shadow Brokers got their hands on the vast trove of NSA hacking tools.

    • Facebook gains patent on privacy settings

      Social media major Facebook has received a patent in India for systems and methods providing privacy settings for applications installed in their profiles.

      According to the Patents Act, 1970, a mere invention in software is not eligible for patent, but the Patent Office observed that the amended claim of Facebook showed the necessary physical interactions among the hardware components and the invention was patentable.

    • Privacy Isn’t Dead. It’s More Popular Than Ever [Ed: Wired spreads the lie that whatsApp offers privacy. It does not. It's surveillance. The vendor, Facebook, sees everything and holds the keys.]
    • Joint letter to European Commission on EU-US Privacy Shield

      Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International write to urge the European Commission to re-evaluate its Implementing Decision 2016/1250 on the adequacy of the protection provided by the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield on the basis that the United States of America (United States) does not ensure a level of fundamental rights protection regarding the processing of personal data that is essentially equivalent to that guaranteed within the European Union (EU).

      We further call on the European Commission to encourage the US legislative and executive branches to adopt the necessary binding reforms so that the transfer of personal data to the United States does comply with the requirements of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, the Data Protection Directive, and the General Data Protection Regulation.

    • Court Blocks Wisconsin Augmented Reality Permit Law From Being Enforced

      You will recall that earlier this year we discussed a lawsuit brought by the makers of a mobile augmented reality game entitled Texas Rope ‘Em against the city of Milwaukee over an ordinance it had put in place requiring game developers to obtain a permit to function within the city. Aside from the $1,000 permit fee the ordinance put in place, the requirements to obtain the permit were both odious and laughably non-applicable to the makers of mobile games such as Texas Rope ‘Em. Examples of these requirements include plans for garbage collection left by players, plans for on-site security to protect players, and estimates of “crowd sizes.” For makers of augmented reality apps, none of these requirements make any sense. When the developer of the game, Candy Lab, cried foul over First Amendment concerns, Milwaukee County replied that the game maker is not entitled to First Amendment rights, arguing that the game wasn’t expressive enough to warrant them.

    • First Playpen FBI Spyware Warrant Hits The Appeals Court Level; Is Upheld On ‘Good Faith’

      The first FBI Playpen investigation warrant challenge to reach the appellate level has been denied. Andrew Workman moved to suppress evidence obtained by the FBI’s Network Investigative Technique (NIT) because warrant was deployed far outside its Eastern District of Virginia jurisdiction. Workman lives in Colorado.

    • Live Event: Discussing Data Protection at a New York Times ‘CryptoParty’

      Raise a drink to locked-down data at our first-ever “CryptoParty,” where you’ll learn the basics of cybersecurity and how to protect your data against online vulnerability in the age of WikiLeaks.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • 34 criminal cases tossed after body cam footage shows cop planting drugs

      Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said that, in all, 123 cases are under review in the wake of a scandal in which one officer has been suspended and two others put on administrative duty. Body cam footage revealed nearly two weeks ago showed one of the officers planting drugs when he didn’t realize his body cam was recording. The Baltimore Police Department’s body cams, like many across the nation, capture footage 30 seconds before an officer presses the record button. The footage was turned over to defense attorneys as part of a drug prosecution—and that’s when the misdeed was uncovered.

    • British hacker Lauri Love: I’d rather kill myself than go to a US prison

      Last September, Westminster Magistrates’ Court granted the extradition request. If found guilty of the charges, Love faces up to 99 years in prison and $9 million (£7 million) in fines.

    • British computer hacker Lauri Love ‘would rather kill himself’ than spend years in US jail

      In April, the High Court granted Mr Love permission to appeal against his extradition to the United States.

    • New York City Council Passes Bill Making NYPD’s Forfeiture Process More Transparent

      For months now, the NYPD has been arguing in court it can’t possibly hand over records related to its forfeitures. The problem appears to be the NYPD itself. The department spent millions on new software specifically to track the disposition of seized items. But when faced with a public records suit by the Bronx Defenders, the NYPD claimed the software can’t do the one thing it’s supposed to do: track the disposition of seized items.

      The NYPD provides limited reporting on forfeitures, but the numbers produced have almost zero relation to reality. According to the NYPD, it only forfeited $12,000 in cash in 2015. According to numbers obtained by the Bronx Defenders, the NYPD’s forfeiture office had nearly $69 million in cash on hand when queried in 2013 — something that would take 5,750 years to amass at the rate cited by the NYPD. Not only that, but other documents showed NYPD property clerks were processing thousands of dollars every month, totaling $6 million in forfeiture transactions in 2013 alone. It seems unlikely the NYPD’s forfeitures dropped to this impossibly-low level between 2013 and 2015.

    • Court Strips Immunity From Sheriff’s Office That Raided Hobby Gardener’s Home Over Tea Leaves

      The whole ordeal lasted two-and-a-half hours. Robert and Addie Harte, along with their children, were held at gunpoint for most of it. The supposed probable cause were tea leaves pulled from the Hartes’ trash, which supposedly tested positive for marijuana. There was no follow-up lab test. The gardening supplies were… well, gardening supplies. Robert Harte was a stay-at-home dad who liked gardening.

      This hobby is what brought law enforcement to the Hartes’ house in the first place. A state trooper with nothing better to do spent a few hours every day sitting in a local gardening store’s parking lot writing down descriptions of shoppers and logging their license plates.

    • Police body cam footage of man tased in back prompts $110K settlement

      Body cam footage of an Aurora, Colorado, cop tasing an unarmed black man in the back paved the way for the city to pay $110,000 to settle police abuse allegations, the man’s lawyers told Ars Thursday.

      Footage from September’s tasing shows two black men being questioned by police who are responding to a weapons incident at a nearby apartment building. One of the men is seen and overheard on the video demanding to know why he’s being questioned. “For what… ?” he says.

      The victim, Darsean Kelley, then appears to thump his chest with his right hand and yell, “I know my rights.” He’s then tased in the back, loses his faculties, and falls flat on his back. He begins screaming uncontrollably, according to the video. Adding insult to injury, he’s also arrested, charged with failure to obey police, and then jailed for three days because he’s unable to post bail.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • [Older] ‘It’s digital colonialism’: how Facebook’s free internet service has failed its users

      Free Basics, Facebook’s free, limited internet service for developing markets, is neither serving local needs nor achieving its objective of bringing people online for the first time.

    • Sprint seeks merger with Charter to create wireless and cable giant

      Wireless carrier Sprint is trying to merge with cable giant Charter Communications, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

      Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son proposed the merger to create “a new publicly traded entity that would combine Sprint and Charter and be controlled by Japan’s SoftBank Group,” the Journal wrote, citing “people familiar with the matter.” Son is the founder and CEO of SoftBank, which owns Sprint.

    • West Virginia Tries To Improve Broadband Competition, Incumbent ISPs Immediately Sue

      So by now you’ve probably noticed that the broadband industry is somewhat, well, broken. Unaccountable giant telecom incumbents, with a stranglehold on both federal and state lawmakers, work tirelessly alongside well-compensated lawmakers and covertly paid policy vessels to protect the status quo (read: limited competition, high prices, poor customer service). Often that involves quite literally writing and buying state laws that make it impossible for anybody to do much of anything about this dance of dysfunction.

      And when it comes to highlighting the end result of this corruption, there’s no better state than West Virginia. Whereas bigger incumbents in more populated states can often hide their stranglehold over a broken market under layers upon layers of exquisitely crafted bullshit, many West Virginia lawmakers and regional incumbent Frontier Communications lack the savvy and competence to mask what they’re truly up to.

    • Cable lobby claims US is totally overflowing in broadband competition

      Many Americans who feel that they have only one viable choice for home broadband might think that cable lobbyists are describing an alternate reality. But it’s easy to see the difference between NCTA marketing and Internet users’ actual experiences. Yes, if you factor in any wireline home Internet provider offering any speed, then US customers can generally choose between a fast cable network and a slow DSL one. But if one of your two options isn’t fast enough to meet your needs, then there’s really just one choice.

      The NCTA post makes a better case that competition is prevalent in subscription TV services, noting that nearly all American homes have access to a wireline TV provider and two satellite providers. Netflix and other online streaming services also take up a huge share of TV watching, the NCTA pointed out.

    • Over 190 Engineers & Tech Experts Tell The FCC It’s Dead Wrong On Net Neutrality

      There’s now 11 million comments on the FCC’s plan to kill net neutrality, a record for the agency and a significantly higher output than the 4 million comments the FCC received when crafting the current rules. And while many of these comments are fraudulent bot-crafted support for the FCC’s plan, the limited analysis we’ve seen so far suggests the vast majority of those organizations, companies and individuals prefer keeping the existing rules intact. And most people generally understand that removing regulatory oversight in the absence of organic market competition doesn’t end well for anybody not-named Comcast.

    • MPs demand compensation for poor broadband speeds

      The Broadband 2.0 report, which is backed by 57 MPs, calls for automatic compensation for customers who do not get the level of speed promised from the internet packages they buy.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Apple paid Nokia $2 billion to escape fight over old patents

      The lawsuit, the second high-profile patent dispute between Apple and Nokia in the last decade, began last year when Nokia accused Apple of infringing on dozens of patents it owns, as well as patents owned by Nokia subsidiaries.

    • Trademarks

      • Olive Garden Apologizes To Allofgarden.com, Blames IP Enforcement Bot For Legal Threat

        You will hopefully recall the recent story we did on Darden, parent company of the Olive Garden restaurant chain, sending a legal threat letter to the man behind allofgarden.com, a site that reviews Olive Garden dishes, because the internet is a strange, strange place. At issues, according to the threat letter, was that allofgarden.com named Olive Garden in metatags in its reviews of the dishes, which you should already know is nothing remotely resembling trademark infringement or infringement upon any other types of intellectual property, either. With that in mind, Vincent Malone replied to the threat letter in a manner both well-informed of his own rights and one which demonstrated just how funny Malone is. After refusing to comply with the requests in the letter, he demanded a reply within nine days in limerick form.

      • E And J Gallo Sends Cease And Desist Trademark Notice To E And B Beer

        It’s been a refreshing bit of time since we’ve last written about a silly trademark dispute in the beer and alcohol space, so perhaps you, the dear Techdirt reader, had thought that the complete fuster-cluck that is trademark and alcohol had somehow begun to calm the hell down. Sadly, not so much, it seems. To serve as one reminder, E & J Gallo, maker of wines and spirits and a company that has previously demonstrated its inability to tell different kinds of drinks apart, has sent a cease and desist notice to E & B Beer, a company that makes, you know, beer.

      • Cigar City Brewing Sues Cigar City Salsa Over Trademark Despite Being In Different Marketplaces

        I’m generally not much for the summer season, but one sensation I do love is getting home from work on a painfully hot day, having just purchased a six-pack of beer, and cracking open a cold one in the evening. The only thing that occasionally gets in the way of that is when I lift the bottle to my mouth and then immediately realize that instead of beer, I bought salsa.

    • Copyrights

      • YouTube Red and Google Play Music may merge into one service

        Google is notorious for having many services that do similar things, like its array of chat apps. Google’s music services have been fragmented for years, but the company may change that soon. According to a report from The Verge, YouTube’s head of music Lyor Cohen stated at the New Music Seminar conference in New York last night that YouTube Red and Google Play Music should merge to make a singular, cohesive service.

        Although the report doesn’t mention YouTube Music (which is a another separate service), it’s safe to say that all three streaming offerings could be combined into one. Google merged the YouTube Music and Google Play Music product teams together earlier this year, and that move came shortly after the business development teams for both services merged in 2016.

      • Which Domain Names Are Safe From Copyright Bullies?

        In recent years many “infringing” domain names have been suspended following complaints from rightsholders. How these complaints are handled largely depends on the policies of the associated domain registries. In a new whitepaper, EFF and Public Knowledge give some helpful pointers to find out which domains are safe from copyright bullies, and which aren’t.

      • Portugal’s Pirate Site-Blocking System Works “Great,” Study Shows

        New research, commissioned by Hollywood, concludes that Portugal’s voluntary pirate site-blocking system is very effective. It significantly reduced traffic to the country’s most used pirate sites and serves as an example for other countries. The MPAA hopes that these results will help to export the anti-piracy measures across the globe.

      • Italian ISPs Say New Copyright Amendment Infringes Human Rights

        A copyright amendment approved by the Italian authorities breaches the EU convention on human rights, an ISP organization has warned. The law allows the Italian Communications Regulatory Authority to issue “take down, stay down” instructions to websites listing allegedly infringing content but without intervention from the judiciary.

      • Kim Dotcom set to receive seized funds, “4 containers full of seized property”

        The Megaupload founder has been battling an American criminal copyright case from New Zealand for years now, and so far he’s successfully resisted extradition. Dotcom was also hit with a civil forfeiture case filed by the Department of Justice, which was brought 18 months after the initial criminal charges. Prosecutors have sought to seize an extensive list of assets, including millions of dollars in various seized bank accounts in Hong Kong and New Zealand, multiple cars, four jet skis, the Dotcom mansion, several luxury cars, two 108-inch TVs, three 82-inch TVs, a $10,000 watch, and a photograph by Olaf Mueller worth over $100,000.

Blackbird is a Patent Troll, But Its Latest Media Campaign is a Reputation Laundering Campaign

Posted in Deception, Patents at 3:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Infomercial from the Boston Globe (for a patent troll) merits a response, as thousands of victims deserve better media than this

TWO days ago, the Boston Globe — perhaps feeling a sense of blind duty/loyalty to Boston — did yet another one of those puff pieces for this infamous troll; we highlighted another recent one earlier in the month, so it’s not the first of its kind lately. We must wonder how it came about. Media outreach maybe? Infomercial? Paid for?

The latest headline says that this troll is “actually performing a service” and there is femmewashing too. A patent maximalist said, “Wendy Verlander @bbirdtech_CEO gets chance to tell @bbirdtech’s side of the story. Go Wendy/Chris!”

Makes it sound like he knows them personally as friends…

To avoid confusion about what they do and where they came from, consider our previous articles about Blackbird [1, 2, 3]. There’s a long chain of victims they have ‘run over’. Patent Progress has just compared this troll to another, noting that there is a pattern. “Agarwal’s cases appear to be filed against relatively small businesses,” this new post explains (one of the authors of the site once knew this chief troll from Blackbird personally).

What patent trolls do in order to dodge legal challenge is prey on small businesses. Classic troll routine!

Here’s more on this:

You might recall a few months ago I wrote about Blackbird Technologies, an NPE with a novel approach to patent litigation. Blackbird is a company owned by lawyers. It buys patents from patent owners, apparently with a share of any litigation wins flowing back to the owner. The lawyers who own Blackbird also litigate the cases. This, as I noted, creates some ethical and practical issues.

[...]

So far, I count 6 cases filed by Mr. Agarwal in the few months he’s been in operation. A pretty solid pace!

The SR-71 Blackbird, of course, was one of the fastest things in the air.

Agarwal’s cases appear to be filed against relatively small businesses, and (at least so far) none of these cases has gone very far. One was stayed pending an IPR, which was recently instituted. All but two have been dismissed before any significant progress in the case, often by Mr. Agarwal. This kind of pattern of behavior is common amongst NPEs. For example, one NPE (Shipping & Transit) was ordered to pay attorney’s fees in part due to a pattern of behavior including “repeatedly dismiss[ing] its own lawsuits to evade a ruling on the merits and yet persist[ing] in filing new lawsuits advancing the same claims.”

It is sad to see corporate media, which I had experience with (the Boston Globe sought comments from me before), resorting to pure puff pieces that help trolls get away with reputation laundering. This is the kind of thing that erodes trust in the media.

EPO, Lufthansa, and the German Government – Part I: Further Information About Andrej Matijević

Posted in Europe at 2:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

DZIV appointments

Summary: An introductory part leading to a potentially long series which examines the role that the European Patent Office played in a now-famous European scandal (known to Croatian media and suppressed by German media)

IN OUR 3 previous articles about the Lufthansa story [1, 2, 3] (in German) we explained how the EPO had been used as a tool of monetary reward if not bribes to the media as well. There is a big story which people at the top are trying to suppress. We will gradually go through all the evidence and help readers judge for themselves what exactly is happening and why German media is so reluctant to mention it.

“In 2010 Matijević was appointed as spokesperson for the Croatian branch of BSA, the Business Software Alliance.”
      –Anonymous
After careful consideration of the amount of material at hand (and additional information which comes from various sources as we go along), this scandal merits multi-part series. Details about this scandal are to be published starting this weekend and go on indefinitely, as long as informed circles are able to highlight new leads. We welcome new information from anyone out there who may know more about it. Croatian media too is already on top of it (citing us). Translations of reports from Croatia would be much appreciated.

Part one will focus on Matijević.

“Further research into the background and career of Andrej Matijević (the Croatian legal representative of the Lufthansa subsidiary in the Airplus trademark affair),” one reader told us, “has revealed some interesting details. In 2010 Matijević was appointed as spokesperson for the Croatian branch of BSA, the Business Software Alliance. BSA will be familiar to readers of Techrights.”

We generally regard BSA to be systematic liars. We wrote dozens or articles about the BSA’s manipulations and lies. They’re a political apparatus, not just an enforcer.

“given the allegedly close connections between Topić and Matijević and the fact that Topić’s successor at the DZIV is his protegée Ljiljana Kuterovac, there is a suspicion that the appointment could have been influenced at least indirectly by Topić and his circle in Croatia.”
      –Anonymous
According to this page, dated 22/11/2010, “Andrej Matijević, a new spokesperson for BSA Croatia, [is] a world representative of the software industry’s interest in copyright and intellectual property.

“Matijević graduated from the Faculty of Law in Zagreb and mastered intellectual property rights, new technology and trade in the USA at Franklin Pierce Law Center. After working experience in several law offices in Zagreb and New York, he founded the law office Matijević, which mainly deals with intellectual property rights, new technologies, and the right advertising. Currently he is employed as a lecturer of the “Intellectual Property” course at VERN’s graduate school. He is a member of numerous national and international professional associations and regularly publishes articles in professional publications, including ‘Managing Intellectual Property’, ‘IP Value’, ‘Informa’, ‘INTA Bulletin’.”

“Since then,” our reader continued, “Matijević has been quite active for the BSA and has represented it at public events [1, 2]. He has also written occasional articles about IP topics for various publications such as Managing Intellectual Property (MIP).

“Back in 2008 Romana Matanovac Vučković who was closely associated with Topić’s alleged political protector the former Croatian President Ivo Josipović was appointed as the first President of the then newly established Boards of Appeal for Industrial Property Rights.”
      –Anonymous
“His articles in MIP include an feature in 2013 about IP crime law in Croatia. The most interesting detail uncovered to date concerns Matijević’s appointment as the President of the Boards of Appeal for Industrial Property rights in March 2015 a position which he currently holds.

“For the moment, no details are available about the background to this appointment. However, given the allegedly close connections between Topić and Matijević and the fact that Topić’s successor at the DZIV is his protegée Ljiljana Kuterovac, there is a suspicion that the appointment could have been influenced at least indirectly by Topić and his circle in Croatia.

“If true, then this would not be the first case of a politically manipulated appointment to that position.

“Back in 2008 Romana Matanovac Vučković who was closely associated with Topić’s alleged political protector the former Croatian President Ivo Josipović was appointed as the first President of the then newly established Boards of Appeal for Industrial Property Rights. This was an appointment which drew some criticism at the time because of an alleged conflict of interest due to Matanovac Vučković’s previous connections with HDS-ZAMP, the controversial musical royalty collecting society of the Croatian Composers’ Association.”

As readers may recall, the President of Croatia (another Ivo) was arrested for corruption. Ivo Josipović, according to our reader, “has been criticised and accused of corruption and involvement in financial irregularities in connection with the musical royalty collection society ZAMP. But according to available information he has never been placed under formal investigation or arrested in connection with these matters.”

We have made static copies of the above pages in case they get changed/removed later (as often happens when public scrutiny comes into it).

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