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08.02.17

Links 2/8/2017: DragonFly 4.8.1 Released, Bassel Khartabil Dies

Posted in News Roundup at 10:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 7 mistakes you’re probably making

    It can be tough to start a new open source project. You have an awesome idea in your head, but it takes work to turn it into a productive, healthy, engaging community. Sadly (as seems to be the case in practically anything), the same mistakes are made over and over again by new projects.

  • Some People Want Adobe Flash to Continue as an Open Source Project

    Last week we heard the good news that Adobe is officially killing Flash in 2020. Most people liked the demise of Adobe Flash. But it seems that Adobe Flash has still some fans left and they want to keep it alive as an open source project.

  • The Case for Open Source Software at Work

    Open source has entered the limelight at work. Not only is it frequently being used in businesses – but it’s helping people build their professional reputations, according to the recently released 2017 GitHub Open Source Survey.

    Notably, half of the 5,500 survey GitHub contributors say that their open source work was somewhat or very important in getting their current role.

    The survey found nearly all (94 percent) employed respondents use open source at least sometimes professionally (81 percent use it frequently), and 65 percent of those who contribute back do so as part of their work duties.

  • Leveraging open source tools to power your Core Insurance Business

    It is no secret that insurance and insurers, as we traditionally know them, have been facing many challenges. This is due to the emergence of the new-age disruptive technologies that are altering the landscape.

    Given the age-old philosophy of survival of the fittest, it is companies that manage to adapt themselves in the face emerging technology, which will be frontrunners. The ever-changing Initiatives such as Omni-channel customer experience and digital capabilities need to be at the forefront. However, the basic underlying question is – how can legacy systems and internal IT Architecture respond to the new business models.

  • Choosing open source for your IoT platform is smart strategy

    You have a great idea for an IoT initiative. Maybe improving your insight into your business operations. Maybe increasing the productivity and satisfaction of your workforce. Maybe building customer loyalty with exceptional experiences. Maybe getting a leg up on the competition with a new digital business model. In any case, selecting your IoT platform is an important choice with long-term ramifications.

  • Events

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • DragonFly 4.8.1 released

      DragonFly version 4.8.1 is a bugfix release for 4.8, and also includes improved Intel video support and support for the virtio_scsi driver.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSF announces new fiscal sponsorship for SeaGL conference

      As part of its Working Together for Free Software Fund, the FSF provides fiscal sponsorship for a number of important free software and GNU technical projects, such as the GNU Toolchain and Replicant. Today, SeaGL becomes the first event to receive this sponsorship.

      SeaGL is a grassroots technical conference dedicated to spreading awareness and knowledge about the GNU/Linux community, free software, and freedom-respecting hardware. Their interest in free software extends to how they manage the conference, using tools like Jekyll and OSEM, and making sure that nonfree software is not required for attendee registration. In 2016, SeaGL had an attendance of more than 300.

    • The GNU C Library version 2.26 is now available

      The GNU C Library is used as *the* C library in the GNU system and in GNU/Linux systems, as well as many other systems that use Linux as the kernel.

      The GNU C Library is primarily designed to be a portable and high performance C library. It follows all relevant standards including ISO C11 and POSIX.1-2008. It is also internationalized and has one of the most complete internationalization interfaces known.

    • GNU C Library 2.26 Released With Per-Thread Cache For Greater Performance

      There are also other glibc 2.26 features including Unicode 10.0 support, glibc tunables enabled by default, wrappers for new Linux system calls, 128-bit floating point support in the math library, the DNS stub resolver is in better shape, various bug fixes, and a hand full of CVE security fixes.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Statement on the death of CC friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil

        We are deeply saddened and completely outraged to learn today that our friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil has been executed by the Syrian regime.

        Bassel was Creative Commons’ Syrian project lead, an open source software programmer, teacher, Wikipedia contributor, and free culture advocate. He was also a devoted son and husband, and a great friend to many people in the open knowledge community around the world. The projects and communities he helped to build live on across the globe, and will remain a tribute to his leadership.

        In March of 2012, Bassel was taken from the street in Damascus amid a wave of military arrests. He was jailed for several years, during which time he was allowed to infrequently communicate with family members. Then, in October 2015, he was abruptly transferred to an undisclosed location. At that time, all communications between Bassel and the outside world ceased. The Creative Commons board publicly called for Bassel’s immediate release, and the MIT Media Lab offered Bassel a research position in its Center for Civic Media. His family and friends prayed for his safe return, and are heartbroken today to learn the awful and terrifying news of his execution.

        Over the past several years, a variety of human rights groups called for Bassel’s release. Amnesty International launched a campaign through its Urgent Action network that encouraged the public to write letters to Syrian authorities and urge them to grant Bassel access to his family, a lawyer, and medical attention. The US State Department singled him out on International Human Rights Day in 2015 as a “prisoner of conscience.”

      • Report: Syrian-Palestinian Open Internet Advocate Bassel Khartabil Has Been Executed

        Bassel Khartabil, a Syrian-Palestinian open-source developer credited with helping to bring a free internet to Syria, was confirmed dead today by Creative Commons, the open internet non-profit Khartabil volunteered with. He was 36.

      • Bassel Khartabil, In Memoriam

        Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian open source developer, blogger, entrepreneur, hackerspace founder, and free culture advocate, has been executed by the Syrian authorities. Noura Ghazi Safadi, his wife, received confirmation of her husband’s death by the Assad-led Syrian government yesterday. The execution took place in secret in November 2015. It has taken the Syrian government nearly two years to officially communicate that fact to his friends and family.

        Bassel had been imprisoned by the Syrian authorities since his abduction from the streets of Damascus on March 15, 2012. He was originally taken, interrogated and tortured in secret in a facility controlled by the country’s General Intelligence Directorate. After a worldwide campaign by international human rights groups, together with Bassel’s many colleagues in the open Internet and free culture communities, he was moved to Adra’s civilian prison, from where he was able to communicate with his family and friends.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • MATRIX Voice Open-Source Voice Platform (video)

        Makers, electronics enthusiasts and developers searching for an open source voice platform may be interested in a new piece of hardware which has been created by MATRIX Labs based in San Francisco, California.

      • OSConnect Open Source Mini PC (video)

        A new open source minicomputer has been launched by Kickstarter this week looking to raise $500,000 over the next 28 days to help take the OSConnect mini PC and to manufacture.

        The OSConnect mini PC is fitted with an open sourced motherboard complete with expandable Micro SD on board and solid-state hard drive. Together with connectivity via Bluetooth 4.0, wi-fi b/g/n/ac and Windows 10 with Linux and Android dual boot support. Unfortunately no specific hardware specifications have been listed as yet.

  • Programming/Development

    • How to get the next generation coding early

      You’ve probably heard the claim that coding, or computer programming, is as crucial a skill in the 21st century as reading and math were in the previous century. I’ll go one step further: Teaching a young person to code could be the single most life-changing skill you can give them. And it’s not just a career-enhancer. Coding is about problem-solving, it’s about creativity, and more importantly, it’s about empowerment.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • If you love your email standards, SMTP your feet: 35 years later

      This month marks the 35th anniversary of the sign-off of RFC 821, the first definition of the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, that everyday staple of email comms.

      Although the original spec has long been superseded, with the latest version of SMTP being contained in RFC 5321, RFC 821 laid the foundations for the billions of messages that zip through the intertubes every day.

      An American consultancy estimated (PDF) that there are around 2.7 billion users of email today, and reckons that half the planet will be using email by the year 2020.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Brexit: UK faces £520m bill for moving the European Medicines Agency from London to the EU

      The bill Britain must pay for moving the European Medicines Agency (EMA) from London after Brexit has soared to a staggering £520m, it has emerged.

      The Liberal Democrats said the huge sum for relocating the agency – considered a jewel in the EU‘s crown, because it attracts businesses and experts – was among the most “crazy” aspects of withdrawal.

      “One of the ludicrous ironies of Brexit is we could end up having to pay large amounts of money to lose highly skilled jobs and research capacity from the UK,” said Brexit spokesman Tom Brake.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Kaspersky says that DDoS attacks are back in fashion
    • Man used DDoS attacks on media to extort them to remove stories, FBI says

      A 32-year-old Seattle man is behind bars while awaiting a federal hacking trial for launching a DDoS attack. He is being held without bail on allegations that he attacked a US-based legal services website to force it to remove a link to a case citation about his past criminal conduct. The authorities also say the suspect launched distributed denial of service attacks on various overseas media outlets for not removing stories about his credit-card scam and other crimes.

      The FBI says that the day after a DDoS attack in January, 2015, the suspect sent an e-mail to Leagle.com pretending to be the hacking group Anonymous. The e-mail explained that the DDoS attack was launched because the defendant, Kamyar Jahanrakhshan, “is being unjustly victimised by you” for not abiding by his numerous requests to remove the link and even pay $100 in cash to get the job done.

    • White House Says Russia’s Hackers Are Too Good to Be Caught but NSA Partner Called Them “Morons”

      The hackers behind the dump of Democratic Party emails in the midst of last year’s presidential race left apparent evidence of their identity — a breadcrumb trail winding from the stolen files back to the Russian government, according to assessments from the U.S. intelligence community. Some of this evidence was there from the beginning, embedded inside the first documents to hit the web, raising a niggling question: Why would diabolically skilled Russian operatives operate so sloppily?

      This question has persisted, and last week the White House seized upon it, promulgating the idea that if the Russian government were really behind the attacks, its online agents wouldn’t have left any fingerprints. Russia quickly repeated this claim through its UK embassy.

      But a 2011 presentation to the NSA and its foreign partners by Canada’s signals intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment, undermines the notion of a foreign hacker so skilled that a victim would never know their identity. The document calls Russian hackers “morons” for routinely compromising the security of a “really well designed” system intended to cover their tracks; for example, the hackers logged into their personal social and email accounts through the same anonymizing system used to attack their targets, comparable to getting an anonymous burner phone for illicit use and then placing calls to your girlfriend, parents, and roommate.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Massachusetts State Police Take $180 From Records Requester; Refuse To Turn Over Records

      The police department of the largest city in the US often tops the list of public records villains. According to FOIA requesters, the NYPD manages to out-stonewall notoriously recalcitrant entities like the NSA, FBI, and CIA. Not far behind the NYPD, however, is the entire state of Massachusetts.

      This state has the worst public records laws in the nation, with 19 pages of exemptions — almost one-third of its 60-page public records statute. Various state entities have done things like withhold documents on a 63-year-old murder case, citing the “ongoing” nature of an investigation with zero leads and several dead suspects. Officials have also claimed the state’s SWAT teams are private entities, out of the reach of public records requests. The state’s lawyers have previously argued the state laws — as crippled as they are — hand over too much power to constituents.

  • Finance

    • A coin was born today: first block of bitcoin cash mined

      Bitcoin cash has a maximum block size of 8MB, compared to 1MB in the bitcoin blockchain, which will allow for faster transaction processing speeds. Bitcoin itself will proceed with a different incompatible scalability strategy called Segregated Witness or SegWit.

    • Why the Bitcoin network just split in half and why it matters

      On Tuesday, a faction of the Bitcoin community launched an audacious experiment: a new version of Bitcoin called Bitcoin Cash that’s incompatible with the standard version. As a result, the Bitcoin network split into two mutually incompatible networks that will operate side-by-side.

      The confusing result is that if you owned one bitcoin before the split you own two bitcoins now: one coin on the original Bitcoin network, and a second coin on the new Bitcoin Cash network. The two coins have the same cryptographic credentials, but they have very different values if you sell them for old-fashioned dollars. On Wednesday morning, one standard Bitcoin was worth about $2,700, while—on paper at least—a unit of Bitcoin Cash was worth around $600.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump Came In As A Weak President, And He’s Made Himself Weaker
    • Boy Scouts dispute Trump claim that their leader called his speech ‘the greatest’
    • Facebook ‘dark ads’ can swing political opinions, research shows

      The controversial practice allows groups to hone their messages to match the personality types of their targets during political campaigning, and is being used by firms including Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ to better target voters with political advertising with so-called “dark ads”.

    • ‘Lord of misrule’: Australian thinktank delivers scathing assessment of Trump

      Donald Trump’s presidency is “failing”, and there is little sign that he is learning from his mistakes, according to the executive director of Australia’s respected foreign policy thinktank, the Lowy Institute.

      Michael Fullilove took the opportunity of a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra to provide a swingeing assessment of the American president’s performance, casting Trump as the “lord of misrule” presiding over a White House entourage “animated by egomania and narcissism and marked by coarseness and ill-discipline”.

    • New Web tool tracks Russian “influence ops” on Twitter

      The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan project backed by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), has launched a Web tool to keep tabs on Russia’s ongoing efforts to influence public opinion in the United States and abroad. Called Hamilton 68—named for the 68th edition of the Federalist Papers, in which Alexander Hamilton discussed how to prevent foreign meddling and influence in America’s electoral process—the Web dashboard tracks 600 Twitter accounts “linked to Russian influence activities online.” That’s according to a blog post by the Alliance’s senior fellow and director Laura Rosenberger and non-resident fellow J.M. Berger.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Tim Cook justifies removing VPN apps in China, claiming Apple was only following the law

      During today’s quarter three earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook clarified that the removal of Virtual Private Network (VPN) apps in China late last week was due to a stronger enforcement of the law by the local Chinese government.

    • Adult Tumblrs Hidden From Search (Again)

      So it is now official. The ghetto walls are up and the gates are closed. The adult-Tumblr community is no longer part of the open web. The #pornocalypse has claimed another social media victim.

    • EXCLUSIVE: Saudi investor ploughs millions into liberal icon of UK media

      Human rights activist Peter Tatchell told Middle East Eye: “It would not seem consistent with the Independent’s record of championing liberal values for a Saudi sultan to have a significant share in the ownership of this media outlet.

    • How May 35th Freedoms Have Blossomed With China’s Martian Language

      Martian is an extension of the May 35th approach, but with additional elements, including fairly random ones. That makes it hard for the automated censorship systems to spot forbidden topics, since the Martian elements have to be decoded first. Naturally, though, the human censors eventually work out what the Martian terms mean, and add them to the blacklists for automatic blocking. However, according to the Quartz article, China’s censorship system is not monolithic, and just because a post written in Martian is blocked on one service doesn’t mean it will be blocked on another.

    • Amazon’s Chinese cloud service bows to state censorship days after Apple sparked controversy for removing VPNs used to evade online restrictions
    • Apple, Amazon help China curb the use of anti-censorship tools

      Amazon also was in the spotlight Wednesday after disclosures that the company’s Chinese partner, Beijing Sinnet Technology, sent emails to clients advising them to delete tools used to circumvent censorship. The news was first reported by the New York Times.

      An employee told The Washington Post that Sinnet sent clients emails last Friday and again on Monday warning they must eliminate any content that violates Chinese telecom laws. The instructions came from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the employee said.

      On Wednesday, calls to Amazon Web Services’ China office went unanswered. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Post.)

    • ACLU To Court: It’s Legal To Tell Bob To Eat Shit

      So we fully expected the ongoing to lawsuit filed by coal boss Bob Murray against comedian John Oliver to lead to some truly captivating moments (it already has!), but the West Virginia chapter of the ACLU has leapt into the case with wild abandon and made sure that people were paying attention. If you somehow missed it, Oliver did a segment on coal jobs a month and a half ago, with a particular focus on the head of Murray Energy, a character named Bob Murray. Part of the reason for the focus on Murray was that Murray’s lawyers threatened to sue Oliver… and then followed through on the threat with an actual lawsuit that was even sillier than we expected. Last we’d written about it, the two sides were wrangling over Murray demanding a gag order on Oliver, while Oliver tried to remove the case to federal court, rather than state court. As we predicted, Murray’s lawyers have now been trying to move the case back to state court and papers have been flying back and forth about both that and Murray Energy’s renewed desire for a gag order (the original had been filed in state court, and then again in the federal court). We didn’t think any of those filings were interesting enough to write about yet.

    • An update on our commitment to fight terror content online [Ed: The latest upsurge of creeping YouTube censorship isn't to do with terrorism; that's just what Twitter too is doing.]

      Better detection and faster removal driven by machine learning: We’ve always used a mix of technology and human review to address the ever-changing challenges around controversial content on YouTube.

    • YouTube Has a New Naughty Corner for Controversial Religious and Supremacist Videos
    • Popular YouTubers React To Censorship Of ‘Controversial’ Content
    • Aamir Khan’s Polite Reminder To CBFC: Don’t Censor But Certify
    • Dont know how relevant censorship is in todays time: Aamir
    • Invisible Women: Censorship By Some Orthodox Publications

      Jewish and social media lit up last month over an advertisement published in the Flatbush Jewish Journal, a Brooklyn weekly.

      The ad was placed by social media personality Adina Miles, famous for her rabble-rousing Instagram account “Flatbush Girl,” and was meant to show appreciation to City Councilman Chaim Deutsch for helping her in a local graffiti clean-up effort. When the Flatbush Jewish Journal refused to run the ad because it contained a picture of a woman and the word “girl,” Miles placed an emoji over her face and changed her name to “Flatbush Boy.” The advertisement ran.

    • Apple Caved to China, Just Like Almost Every Other Tech Giant
    • Why Apple plays China’s censorship game
    • Egyptian band beats censorship via YouTube

      Egyptian rock band Cairokee did not give up when the General Authority for Censorship of Works of Art on July 2 banned the sale of their new album “A Drop of White.” Why would they, when there is an alternative outlet in the form of YouTube? The YouTube launch of their 11-song album on July 11 was a resounding success. One song, “Al-Kayf,” (“Fix”) has been viewed over 6 million times since its internet launch.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • 2013 Authority Expansion Means A Whole Lot Of People On Capitol Hill Can View Unminimized NSA Collections

      The unmasking rules House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes has been (somewhat disingenuously) complaining about have been around for a few years now. Normally, US persons’ identities are minimized before government officials can view intel gathered by the NSA. But in cases where it might be necessary to provide context, the White House can ask for the identities to be unmasked.

      This has turned into a mini-firestorm on Capitol Hill, with Nunes striking most of the matches. The problem is Nunes should be aware of these rules, as he’s in charge of the intelligence oversight committee. He apparently doesn’t, or at least wasn’t aware how many people can actually ask for US persons to be unmasked.

    • Privacy Regulations May Improve As Senators, Companies Try To Curtail NSA-Style Snooping

      Data privacy regulation in the U.S. has been a thorny issue with provisions such as the National Security Letters (NSLs) allowing unfettered access to law enforcement agencies into citizens’ communications.

      The power endowed on the government by laws such as the Stored Communications Act has made accessing citizens’ email and other communications fairly easy in the post-2001 period for agencies such as the CIA and the FBI.

    • Senator Asks Spy Chief If Americans Are Targeted Under Expiring NSA Powers

      A Senate Democrat on the Intelligence Committee is pressing the nation’s top spy chief to clarify whether FISA Section 702, an expiring law used by the National Security Agency to conduct broad international surveillance, can be used to domestically target Americans.

      Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden asked Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats in June if “the government [can] use FISA Act Section 702 to collect communications it knows are entirely domestic.”

    • UK Home Secretary Doesn’t Want Backdoors; She Just Wants Companies To Stop Offering Encryption Because No One Wants It

      Having set up her straw app user, Rudd moves towards her conclusion… which is severely lacking in anything cohesive or coherent. The “opportunities” lie in persuading tech companies to provide users with less secure communications platforms. Should be an easy sale, especially if the average user doesn’t care about security. But maybe the company does and doesn’t want to give bad people an easy way to access the communications of others. Hence encryption. Hence end-to-end, so even if the provider is breached, there’s still nothing to access.

      What Rudd is looking for can’t be called a trade-off. The government has nothing tech companies want. All they can offer is platitudes about fighting crime and national security. The government, meanwhile, wants tech companies to write software the way the government wants it, rather than how the company or its users want it. That’s not a trade-off. That’s a one-way street where every internet communication platform becomes a proxy government agency.

    • A Hacker Turned an Amazon Echo Into a ‘Wiretap’

      With just a few minutes of hands-on time, a hacker could turn an Echo into a personal eavesdropping microphone without leaving any physical trace.

    • ‘Real people’ need no encryption: UK home secretary

      In what is the latest attempt by a politician to argue against the use of encrypted apps by the general public, UK home secretary Amber Rudd has penned an article in which she says that “real people” do not need end-to-end encryption.

    • NHS breaches its own security (again)

      The phone numbers, email addresses, national insurance numbers and home addresses of about 500 trainee doctors were posted on a spreadsheet linked to the website of the Trust, which runs St Helens and Whiston hospitals.

    • Privacy warnings spell trouble for millions of low-cost Android phone owners

      Amazon said it’s suspending sales of Android phones made by Blu following a presentation last week that said that three of the manufacturer’s models sent sensitive personal information to third parties in China.

    • NSA Collects MS Windows Error Information

      I don’t remember this being discussed back in 2013.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Journalism Advocates Join In Tracking Trump-Era Attacks On The Press

      Jenni Monet, one of a half-dozen journalists arrested this year covering the Standing Rock pipeline protests in North Dakota, recalled being verbally abused by police during her 30-hour detention, including hours in a freezing garage.

      Monet’s ordeal received some coverage at the time, but less than anti-press incidents in media-saturated cities or on the presidential campaign trail. And it’s been tough to sustain attention, even though the freelance journalist’s story is far from over. Monet, who spoke via video chat to reporters last week in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ office, is scheduled to go to trial next year, charged with trespassing and rioting.

    • Trump Says Cops Should Rough Up Suspects; Receives Backlash From Police Officials

      His pick for Attorney General has backed this up, stating the DOJ will no longer be investigating civil rights violations by local police departments and announced a return to the good old days of harsh sentencing and unrestricted civil asset forfeiture.

      The speech given by Trump shows a man completely enthralled by people in uniforms. It also shows his general disdain for anyone law enforcement officers might run across. First, Trump stated he was going to let law enforcement agencies have all the war gear they want.

    • Baltimore police commissioner orders cops not to stage body cam footage

      Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Kevin Davis ordered street officers not to “recreate” body cam footage in a Tuesday memo that follows a turbulent two weeks for the agency in which at least two body cam tapes have come to light showing officers staging crime scenes.

      “In the event your body worn camera is not activated during the recovery of evidence, under no circumstances shall you attempt to recreate the recovery of evidence after re-activating your body worn camera,” Davis’ memo (PDF) said. “If you must deactivate your body worn camera during an incident, merely explain the reasoning on camera (e.g., to protect the identity of a witness who wishes to remain anonymous, etc.).”

    • Former DOJ Prosecutor Steps Up To Defend DOJ’s New Asset Forfeiture Rules

      Because someone had to, a former DOJ prosecutor has stepped up to defend the grand reopening of federal civil asset forfeiture abuse. George J. Terwilliger III has been given space at the Wall Street Journal to tell everyone why they’re wrong about civil forfeiture. (Non-paywalled version here.)

      As part of the new president’s “law and order” focus, Attorney General Jeff Sessions opened up the federal outlet for forfeiture, allowing state and local law enforcement agencies to route around local restrictions by asking for federal “adoption” of their forfeitures. This reversed the policy put in place by Sessions’ predecessor, which limited adoptions and forced local agencies to adhere to local rules.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • €1.7bn payout from Apple keeps Nokia ticking

      It has not been a bad year for Nokia, despite appearances, and the firm has just welcomed a €1.7bn cash payment from Apple for some intellectual property {sic} hoo-hah.

    • NCAA Strips UCF Kicker Of Eligibility After He Refuses To Stop Being An Athlete That Posts YouTube Videos

      You may recall that several months ago, we discussed Donald de la Haye, kicker for UCF and a very good YouTube personality to boot. After racking up thousands of subscribers and millions of views at his YouTube channel, where de la Haye discusses all manner of things, including his football career, the NCAA came a-calling. The organization first informed him that he would have to shutter his channel completely, arguing that the advertising revenue it generated violated NCAA rules, which are designed to make sure that all student athlete activity that generates revenue does so only in the direction of the NCAA. Then, after the backlash, the NCAA reportedly offered to let de la Haye keep his YouTube channel, but only if he agreed to essentially never reference who he is or what one of his primary life activities is: football. It was a deal devoid of sense, as his football playing career is among the primary motivators for people to check his channel out to begin with. It’s also a strange stance coming from an organization purportedly in the business of supporting student athletes as they become full-fledged adults, limiting his creative expression over a concern of YouTube revenue from his own fans.

    • New Book Puts WIPO Traditional Knowledge Committee In Perspective

      A new book with contributions from key thinkers on the subject details the long history and intensive negotiations of the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore, making a case for conclusion of binding international agreements in these areas as a way to close important gaps in intellectual property policy.

    • Copyrights

      • NSA unlawfully surveilled Kim Dotcom in New Zealand – report

        NSA unlawfully surveilled Kim Dotcom in New Zealand – report | 01 Aug 2017 | The National Security Agency (NSA) illegally used technology to spy on Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, according to new documents from New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). The New Zealand Herald first reported that the GCSB told the nation’s high court that it ceased all surveillance of Dotcom in early 2012, but that “limited” amounts of communications from Dotcom were later intercepted by its technology without the bureau’s knowledge. Dotcom was surveilled by the NSA and the GCSB in a joint intelligence operation named Operation Debut. According to the Herald, that surveillance was scheduled to end in January 2012, but the United States continued to use New Zealand’s technology.

      • NSA illegally spied on Kim Dotcom in New Zealand

        Kim Dotcom has been of interest to the US government and law enforcement agencies for some time, and it was ruled that the Mega and Megaupload founder could be extracted to the US. But now it seems that the NSA was spying on the internet entrepreneur after surveillance was supposed to have stopped.

        New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) had been working with the NSA on a joint surveillance operation called Operation Debut. While surveillance was supposed to have stopped in January 2012, it has emerged that the NSA continued to use GCSB’s technology without its knowledge.

Growing Threat to Free/Libre Software From Software Patents: Apple, Microsoft and Nokia Charge Ahead

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 7:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We have warned about this for over 7 years (since the time when we made the cartoon below)

Patent stooges

Summary: The triplet of phone companies with dying ambitions (or declining market share) and just a big pile of patents is still a potent threat to the success of (GNU/)Linux-powered devices which now dominate the market

THE menace which is software patents has been more or less the basis for the existence of Techrights. We have done this for nearly 11 years.

“Even Android, which nobody can honestly claim to be a “failure”, is Free/Libre at its core (AOSP).”Yesterday, to our surprise, IAM put “the rise and rise of open source” on the cover (sort of). It’s in this introductory post’s headline and it says: “Another big change over the last decade has been open source software’s emergence as the primary underpinning of so many high-tech products.”

Even Android, which nobody can honestly claim to be a “failure”, is Free/Libre at its core (AOSP).

This probably alludes to this article by the publisher’s loudest pusher of software patents, Richard Lloyd. He wrote (outside the paywall): “Open source software has come to dominate the underlying infrastructure of much of the world’s technology. But with success have come the inevitable growing pains…”

“It’s no secret that software patents are probably the biggest barrier to Free/Libre (sometimes called “Open Source”) software.”Due to the paywall we can read no further, but we are pretty certain he is talking about patents (because it’s Lloyd, not just because it’s IAM).

It’s no secret that software patents are probably the biggest barrier to Free/Libre (sometimes called “Open Source”) software. I routinely chat about this with the founder of Free software, Richard Stallman (as I last did yesterday). But software patents are a profound threat to software development in general, not just Free software. That’s a very important point.

The matter of fact is, software patents are inherently incompatible with free distribution of software; in the case of proprietary software, this impacts pricing. Yesterday, a “New Podcast Series” was announced [1, 2] in a press release that said: “Shortly after Versata discovered Ford’s secretly-developed, copycat software, Ford raced to file a secret lawsuit in federal court. Ford sought a federal judge to recognize Ford’s copycat software as not infringing upon Versata’s software patents.”

“The matter of fact is, software patents are inherently incompatible with free distribution of software; in the case of proprietary software, this impacts pricing.”This is a case which we wrote about before. It’s about proprietary software and software patents. Just because something is proprietary software doesn’t mean a patent fight against it is in our interest; in fact, what we preferably want is to bring proprietary software vendors over to our side. Some of them already advocate Alice and openly oppose software patents.

Incidentally, earlier this week we said that software patents from Nokia are a threat to Android and GNU/Linux (a view which was reinforced by IAM the following day). The British technology publishers finally catch up with the news and sent to us by a reader this morning was another British article. The reader was quoting this passage: “It has not been a bad year for Nokia, despite appearances, and the firm has just welcomed a €1.7bn cash payment from Apple for some intellectual property {sic} hoo-hah.”

“As for Microsoft, its “Linux”-related patent deals with LG and Samsung go more than 10 years back.”See what Microsoft turned Nokia into? We were right all along about this.

Apple too continues to battle Android using patents. Yesterday, for example, Managing IP said: “The Northern District of California has ruled that the article of manufacture issue has not been waived in Samsung’s bid for a retrial of its design patents dispute with Apple. But Judge Koh deferred consideration of whether a new trial is necessary until further briefing”

This has gone on for half a decade. Going further back, Apple’s fight against HTC goes more than 7 years back. As for Microsoft, its “Linux”-related patent deals with LG and Samsung go more than 10 years back. It’s not hard to see the pattern and identify the main enemies.

To Save Face, USPTO Ought to Stop Granting Software Patents Altogether

Posted in America, Patents at 7:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) needs to be respected by the patent office, not just the courts

Guilt presumption

Summary: The US patent office continues to grant patents that are obviously not patent-eligible, causing innocent parties to be sued and sometimes settle out of fear or lack of funds (for legal defense)

THE USPTO is trying to mislead itself (and the public) with this new 'report' which was compiled with input from not a single scientist (almost). In spite of Alice, Section 101 is still a subject of ‘debate’ and in the mean time, in spite of very high rejection rates in courts, USPTO examiners continue granting software patents. We have heard from EPO examiners that the same thing happens in Munich (under pressure from management). How long can this charade go on for?

“How long can this charade go on for?”“Only the software per se – that is, the source code – is excluded from patentability” in Brazil, according to this new article from a firm marketing itself. Yesterday it wrote this:

Only the software per se – that is, the source code – is excluded from patentability. Any technical result obtained from a given software can be patented (eg, a method carried out by software instructions and systems or devices affected by software instructions). The Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (BPTO) Examination Guidelines state:

“An industrial creation – process or product associated with the process – implemented by a computer program, which solves a problem found in the technique not solely concerning the way in which this computer program is written, can be considered an invention.”

The term “per se” is also used by India’s patent office; in Europe it’s “as such” (and similar in New Zealand). All these loopholes are a disservice to patent quality and certainly to the software profession (my profession).

“All these loopholes are a disservice to patent quality and certainly to the software profession (my profession).”As the EFF’s Daniel Nazer showed earlier this week, software patents from HP make both the company and the USPTO look like they’re not doing their job. Lo and behold: “Stupid Patent of the Month”

On July 25, 2017, the Patent Office issued a patent to HP on reminder messages. Someone needs to remind the Patent Office to look at the real world before issuing patents.

United States Patent No. 9,715,680 (the ’680 patent) is titled “Reminder messages.” While the patent application does suggest some minor tweaks to standard automated reminders, none of these supposed additions deserve patent protection.

[...]

The ’680 patent comes from an application filed in July 2012. It is supposed to represent a non-obvious advance on technology that existed before that date. Of course, reminder messages were standard many years before the application was filed. And just a few minutes of research reveals that QR codes were already used to encode information for reminder messages. For example, QRickit suggested using QR codes for calendar events and reminders (with the option of adding additional information beyond the event descriptor). This 2011 article suggests using QR codes to embed information such as “assignments for the week.” The only even arguable difference from the prior art is that the patent’s claims require the “article data” to be received after the event data. In our view, that is not a distinction that warrants the government-granted monopoly power inherent in a patent.

So more than 3 years after Alice the USPTO continues granting such utterly ridiculous software patents?

“The reckless granting of software patents in the US needs to stop.”How can this be excused? Certainly, if courts or even PTAB looked into it, they would quickly invalidate the patent. But probably, as is often the case, if such a patent is used against an individual or a small company, he/she/it would not be able to afford a legal battle or challenge and would rather settle.

Then there’s the ITC’s latest controversy, which is still in the news this week because it shows sheer disregard for PTAB. The ITC is not a patent court but an imperialist apparatus for giant corporations like Microsoft, Apple, and Cisco (to embargo rivals by).

“Why can the USPTO not keep up with the Supreme Court of the country?”The reckless granting of software patents in the US needs to stop. The Justices have already spoken on the matter and various determinations from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) have reaffirmed this position since.

In the mean time, here comes another lawsuit involving software patents. It was announced yesterday as follows: “The complaint asserts that Keysight and Ixia’s ThreatARMOR, Vision ONE, and Application and Threat Intelligence products and services are infringing at-least four key patents owned by Centripetal Networks. These patents generally relate to protecting networks by quickly identifying new network security threats, identifying compromised hosts, and dynamically managing massively scaled network security policies.”

Pure software. Bunk!

Why can the USPTO not keep up with the Supreme Court of the country? This is what it leads to…

Vultures of the Financial World Are Ruining the Patent System

Posted in America, Patents at 6:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

High-frequency trading
Reference: High-frequency trading

Summary: The growing intersection between rogue markets that are preoccupied with capital (patents on business methods and finance, computer-generated patents) and a drift away from the scientific raison d’être of patents

THE SHEER INEPTITUDE of EPO management these days (not just Battistelli) may be a sign of the times. So is the departure of the USPTO‘s Michelle Lee (months after Trump was inaugurated). She was a Director who actually had background in science. There seems to be consolidation around power and money, typically at the expense of science and technology. The patent microcosm, for instance, is a perfect symptom of that. So are the following articles:

Blockchain, which was supposed to be a substitute to evil banking, is gradually becoming a patent trap with a gold rush for software patents. Blockstation is the latest to enter this gold rush, based on this week’s statement and also published this week was “Sterling tech firm invents new currency” though it’s actually about patents:

The platform can access 98 patent databases in 67 languages.

They are treating patents like a currency!

Another new article from this week is trying to convince readers that paralegals should be replaced by “robot reviews” — akin to the stupidity of Battistelli who believes he can reliably replace examiners (not just translations) with machines. Here is what they claim:

TurboPatent Corp. on June 28 launched artificial-intelligence products that compare patent claims with past applications to make predictions about patent eligibility.

Pseudoscience or snake oil? A lot of non-technical people (like Battistelli) will believe anything they’re told, provided they aren’t told this by intellectually superior people like patent examiners. Do they want to just remove humans from the loop altogether and let machines generate applications, apply for patents, assess patents etc. (we wrote about this before)? It would be as catastrophic (billions of patents — far more than any person can keep abreast of); just like those stock markets which are gamed by algorithms and notoriously manipulated by bots (about 70% of today’s trading volume).

EPO: Germans “Discover That Behind the Mad Figures, the Granted Patents Are of Crap Quality and That This Does Not Serve Their Interests”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Like EPO ‘Grants’ (up 40% in a Year), Patent Trolls in Europe Are Growing at Double-Digit Rates (Now 20% of All German Lawsuits)

Christopher Lloyd

Summary: A growing debate surrounding the EPO, this time pertaining not just to the tyranny but also the technical failure of Battistelli’s regime, which yields a lot of bogus European Patents

POTENTIALLY plausible explanations are gradually emerging for the German media’s (relative) silence on EPO scandals (this improved a little recently). Some of the causes/motivations were named here in past years and another possible reason is the subject of an ongoing series about Lufthansa. The Croatian media is writing about it right now, so why can’t German media also? It implicates the government of Germany.

“Lots and lots of patents being granted with no quality control is a recipe for chaos for all sorts of industries (except the legal ‘industry’).”One aspect of the EPO we’ve warned about for many years is patent quality (or declining quality). The patent microcosm (litigation ‘industry’) absolutely loves this. See yesterday’s Watchtroll piece where the author (not a technical person) quotes a judge as rejecting a discussion about patent quality. He is wrong of course, as the criteria for validity of patents can change over time and therein lies the question of quality. Lots and lots of patents being granted with no quality control is a recipe for chaos for all sorts of industries (except the legal ‘industry’ and maybe the UPC ‘industry’).

In another one of those self-promotional pieces, this time by Joel Smith and Krishna Kakkaiyadi from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP (yesterday), here is what was said:

From 1 July 2017, the EPO will no longer grant patents for plants and animals exclusively obtained by means of an “essentially biological process”. This follows a European Commission Notice dated 8 November 2016 (please click here for the full text of the Commission Notice) clarifying that the EU legislator had intended to exclude such plants and animals (either in whole or in part) from patentability when adopting the EU Directive on biotechnological inventions (Directive 98/44/EC) (the “Directive“).

So the EPO’s erroneous granting process lays bare for all to see. This marketing piece is titled “EPO Administrative Council clarifies patentability position of plants and animals,” but it’s far too polite; what actually happened was, the EPO stroke out a lot of patents granted against the rules (EPC/EU) and against the public interest.

Belatedly, as the following new comment explains, German publishers “discover that behind the mad figures [of Battistelli], the granted patents are of crap quality…”

We still hope that a translation will surface at SUEPO’s Web site (yesterday they published this PDF to help get around the paywall), but here is how one person summarised it:

beginning of the end?

OUCH in Wirstschaftswoche auf 4 pages : http://www.wiwo.de/politik/europa/europaeisches-patentamt-den-chef-nennen-sie-putin/20112542.html

SUEPO said nothing else for years ,to no avail.

All of a sudden (after having cashed hundreds of Millions Euros stemming from the work done at EPO) the German discover that behind the mad figures, the granted patents are of crap quality and that this does not serve their interests????????

All this could have been avoided had the German delegate in the Administrative Council C. ERNST not supported ALL destructive policies by Battistelli et al. Instead he preferred to bow down.

It will be interesting to learn about Ernst’s role in the German government (mentioned here before) in case — as alleged — there is a major Lufthansa coverup. The story in a nutshell goes like this: Lufthansa used the EPO to essentially pass both a bribe and immunity to corrupt officials. To some people, the EPO certainly seems to have become a place where dirty laundry comes. But we’ll leave this aside for now, until future parts of “EPO, Lufthansa, and the German Government”.

The EPO “fees stayed the same,” said the next comment, “but applicants don’t get the same search quality and examination” (obviously, as leaks clearly confirm).

Here is the full comment:

Sure it will cost more, but it will still cost a lot less than a UPC litigation. But it is quite simple really: for a fee, applicants used to get quality search and examination. The fees stayed the same, but applicants don’t get the same search quality and examination. Hence: it costs more. If an applicant still needs the same quality search and examination… or want to impose it on their competitors, they will need to pay more for doing an extra search themselves, pay extra representation, invest more time, etc…

“The EPO did need quite some reforms,” says a separate comment in another thread. “but not towards an office for nepotism” (we’d go further and say that the EPO breeds institutional corruption).

It’s about the UPC too:

The whole UPC was the reason for Article 4a EPC to be inserted. To meet, once the political process has evolved a bit more, and discuss the implications for the EPO and whether reforms of the EPC/EPOrg/EPOffice would be necessary.
But some technocrats have preferred to work without political supervision, no matter how much the political representatives wanted to meet to discuss exactly these points.

The EPO did need quite some reforms, but not towards an office for nepotism, increasing the post levels for a small select group of people in the direct vicinity….

In this last comment there, President Battistelli is being compared to President Trump: “We have a Trump-ist act here where a decision is made in haste without regard to the consequences (that’s for the little people). EU decisions are applied to non-EU states? Rules are applied retrospectively? Seems equivalent to the Trump no-trans serving tweet – how will it work in practice? Oops. We’ll get back to you but we’ve got immunity so it doesn’t matter.”

In another thread and another place (UK) there’s this ongoing long discussion about the EPO “Gold Standard” and one of he latest comments says this:

Whether a claim is entitled at the EPO onto Paris Convention priority is a matter of “same invention”, what the priority document discloses, and the validity of the claim. Apply the Gold Standard. Forget Snackfoods.

Whether an accused embodiment infringes is an Art 69 EPC issue. Consider the jurisprudence, throughout EPC-land, on Art 69 and its Protocol.

You seem to be trying to bind the Gold Standard to Art 69 EPC. Your crusade is misconceived and not soundly based.

We’ve been through all this already. Really, the discussion is exhausted.

The EPO used to be so good that terms like “Gold Standard” (in another sense of the word) made sense. Under Battistelli it only gives us a chuckle. To Battistelli, the only “Gold” is money. Short-term gains at the expense of the very existence of the EPO.

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