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06.29.18

Union Syndicale Fédérale: Apparently ILO Considered Kicking Out the EPO for Repeatedly Refusing and Failing to Obey the Law

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

USF (Union Syndicale Fédérale) also alludes to suspected corruption at the EPO, citing the latest from German media

Mafia Battistelli

Summary: Pan-European unions-syndicating entities (not just USF) keep expressing extremely big concerns about the affairs of the EPO, where Battistelli not only attacks the unions but also breaks the law without any consequences for these actions

THE STAFF UNION of the EPO (SUEPO) has just highlighted this “Press communication from USF (Union Syndicale Fédérale),” which wrote a great deal about union-busting assaults from Battistelli for a number of years (it has already been in touch with Campinos and it repeatedly berated the yellow union that helps Battistelli and Bergot with their union-busting and defamation campaign against SUEPO). The new post (dated yesterday) reads like a press release, so we’ve decided to reproduce it with some highlights. It’s titled “EPO’s acts were not only flawed but seriously flawed” and in yellow below are important bits:

AT ITS 126th SESSION THE ILOAT SETS ASIDE THE DISCIPLINARY MEASURES WHICH EPO PRESIDENT BATTISTELLI INFLICTED ON THREE UNION REPRESENTATIVES

Union Syndicale Fédérale is relieved and delighted about the results of the 126th Session of the ILOAT. A number of EPO colleagues, arbitrarily downgraded or even dismissed won their cases again. Instead of damages, ILOAT ordered reinstatement in the dismissal cases, an indication that the EPO’s acts were not only flawed but seriously flawed.

As the outgoing President of the EPO, Mr. Battistelli, praises his brilliant contribution to the EPO’s alleged success over the last eight years, the 126th ILOAT session results are a further powerful indicator of Mr. Battistelli’s disastrous, not sustainable management of the EPO.

The 126th ILOAT session coincides with serious doubts expressed by a number of external actors of the Intellectual Property world on the sustainability of Mr Battistelli´s policy, especially on excessive production targets that put a threat on the required high level of quality of the patents granted. The petition signed by 900 EPO examiners on the same issue was quoted.

This week’s German “Wirtschaftswoche”, a leading magazine for economics, comes with a harsh criticism of Mr Battistelli’s policies, the general lack of search for consensus, the use of public funds outside public scrutiny, his autocratic style.

Over the last few years, the ILO Governing Board’s requests to Mr Battistelli seem to have been flatly ignored. The ILO Governing Board also launched a consultation process amongst the more than 60 member organisations which rely on the ILOAT as an internal jurisdiction, aiming at creating a procedure allowing the termination of the cooperation with organisations which do not anymore meet the initial commitment. In other words, an organisation that does not behave anymore as an international public service organisation will have to seek other jurisdiction. Such an initiative is unheard of in the ILOAT’s 90 years of service. Such a termination imposed by the ILO would trigger an institutional crisis of the international organisation concerned, dramatic for both staff and organisation.

In the light of the ILOAT 126th session’s results and all other abundantly available evidence, it is not exaggerated to claim that Mr Battistelli leaves the EPO to his successor as a uniquely messy construction site, whatever the production figures. A thorough analysis will have to be run jointly by the new President of the EPO and the EPO staff representatives, to take stock on the damage done as a first step.

USF wishes to warmly congratulate all claimants who obtained a decision at the historical 126th session of the ILOAT and also the supporting branches of SUEPO. Under extreme adverse conditions, solidarity and the impressive resilience of the claimants and union officials allowed to re-establish a minimum level of rule of law fundamentals.

Complaints allowed: Judgments 4052, 4047, 4043, 4042, 4051

Firms like Control Risks participated in likely illegal activities on the payroll of an institution that likely engages in corruption. But Control Risks is used to working with military and private companies, not international institutions that are placed above the law. What a catastrophe. What an utter mess. It’s slowly killing people. Anyone who participates in Team Battistelli is complicit and time will tell where things will go.

WirtschaftsWoche Authors Articles About Corruption of the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SIPO Lamy and Battistelli
Saint-Germain-en-Laye: Battistelli, Lamy (Battistelli’s ‘handler’ in France) and Raimund Lutz conducting EPO affairs

Summary: The profound corruption in the European Patent Office (involving billions of euros) receives some media attention, but it may be too late to do something about it because a former banker from a disgraced bank, a friend of Battistelli who hereon enjoys diplomatic immunity (passed from Battistelli at the EPO), will be difficult to interrogate about Battistelli’s affairs

AS we noted exactly a week ago (last Friday), the EPO is being belatedly subjected to scrutiny, for corruption like Battistelli’s passage of EPO funds to his other employer and gambling with billions in cash reserves, just like Lamy (his other boss, the one in Saint-Germain-en-Laye).

Here is SUEPO’s English translation [PDF] not of the main feature, which is behind a paywall, but of the short and partial item, which reads as follows:

AUDIT OFFICE Sharp criticism of the financial conduct of the European Patent Office

EXCLUSIVE

by Petra Sorge
24 June 2018

EPO Munich side
Main building of the European Patent Office in Munich.
Picture: imago

As from July, a fund will be administering the assets of the European Patent Office, in the amount of 2.3 billion Euro. The Federal Audit Office and financial are sharply critical of the change.

The Federal Audit Office and financial experts are heavily critical of the planned changes to the assets administration of the European Patent Office (EPO). As from July, plans are for a fund to manage the Patent Office assets, in the amount of 2.3 billion Euro. The fund, under the name “EPO Treasury Investment Fund”, EPOTIF for short, is also said to be intending to purchase risky bonds, among them asset-backed securities and credit default swaps, which in large part became worthless during the financial crisis, and drove banks to the brink of disaster. This derives from records and reports which WirtschaftsWoche has been able to examine.

According to WirtschaftsWoche, the Federal Audit Office has found fault with the fact that the guidelines for the fund contain “no requirements for the creditworthiness of the contracting parties, issuers, or products”, that there are “no provisions for avoiding cluster risks”, and that the risk consideration is based on only one model, “with correspondingly high risk of loss”. The Administrative Council of the EPO still need to give their agreement to the planned changes by the end of June.

Former constitutional judge and patent examiner Siegfried Bross calls the 2.3 billion Euro EPO fund a “shadow budget”. This is “violating the fundamental democratic principle according to which public budgetary arrangements must be subject to Parliamentary supervision”, Bross told WirtschaftsWoche. This “financial behaviour” is not covered by the European Patent Convention, the foundation instrument of the EPO, and is therefore “impermissible” Munich patent attorney Thorsten Bausch of the firm of Hoffmann Eitle considers the new investment strategy “fundamentally a scandal”. He fears that the Office is alienating its resources from their purpose. The money belongs to patent applicants, and the EPO has no right simply to gamble it on the stock market”, he says.

EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE The sinister gamble

PREMIUM

The European Patent Office has accumulated 2.3 billion Euro – and now wants to join the speculators.
The Federal Audit Office is sounding the alarm.

Battistelli’s ‘mentor’ has done this before, as we covered in the following articles one month ago:

Battistelli’s ‘vassal’ (successor of choice) is former banker, António Campinos, whose bank also made many headlines for financial melt-down and serious abuses (in the “P” of “P.I.G.S.”). Campinos does not want people to know about this part of his career (omitted from his CV).

Insults, Lies and Propaganda on Battistelli’s Last Day at the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This too might find use somewhere

Modernising the EPO

Summary: Another new ‘booklet’ of lies (“Social Report 2017″) has just been released, lying about the legacy of Battistelli on his very last day at the Office

TODAY was Battistelli’s last day at the Office (the European Patent Office). António Campinos commences his job next week and we keep seeing his name in this month’s news, more so over the past week in relation to two potential OHIM or EU-IPO ‘scandals’. One of these was recalled some hours ago by IP Kat, remarking on the bizarre case of who ‘owns’ France.com. Remember that the head of OHIM or EU-IPO is French and he is close to Battistelli, whose history with trademarks in France gives room for concern.

“…a much bigger scandal can be attributed to Battistelli, whose financial scandals are now in Austrian media.”To quote IP Kat, “the US-based company France.com Inc. lost its registered rights in France to the domain name and trade mark ‘France.com’ in favour of the rights held by the Republic of France (hereand here).” This eventually reached CJEU.

Either way, a much bigger scandal can be attributed to Battistelli, whose financial scandals are now in Austrian media. This was pointed out by SUEPO (we wrote many articles about that last month and broughtit up a few days ago).

The articles of relevance:

We’ll say more about that in our next post.

Meanwhile in Germany Dr. Thorsten Bausch, who also wrote about these financial issues, posted a provocative photo/drawing to “mark the occasion” and the only other blog post in Kluwer Patent Blog came from Brian Cordery (Bristows) for Craig Lumb.

And speaking of Team UPC (Bristows), the Liars Lawyers Monthly has just published some more lies about the “forthcoming Unified Patent Court (UPC) system…”

It’s not forthcoming, it’s dead. Even more so after the latest ILO rulings, which embolden the complainants and reinforce the constitutional complaint’s claims. But Geoff Hussey, Nick South and Varuni Paranavitane from CIPA (Team UPC) will promote those famous lies.

They work for “AA Thornton [but] write on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys,” it says. They start from the flawed assumption that UPC is coming soon and then proceed to the lie that the UK can participate (in something which does not exist, never mind compatibility issues).

“Remember that the head of OHIM or EU-IPO is French and he is close to Battistelli, whose history with trademarks in France gives room for concern.”Lies like these we have, over time, become rather accustomed to; we also became accustomed to IP Kat (Bristows/CIPA Kat) not touching EPO scandals even with a bargepole. It’s intentional. Here’s their weekly summary, published earlier today with not a single mention of the EPO. As if there was nothing to report or at least comment on… still not a word from any of the contributors there regarding ILO or ILO-AT. They have totally abandoned EPO staff, they use Bristows as their de facto headquarters, and nowadays push more or less the same agenda as Battistelli. Christian Kirsch of Heise has just published an article (in German, as usual) on this matter. But IP Kat cannot? IAM cannot? Managing IP cannot? They’d rather ignore Battistelli’s abuses. They say they cover “IP”; they’re highly selective it seems… (Heise isn’t even about patents!)

Speaking of Battistelli (which we’d rather not, but it’s his last day), he has just come up with some rather insulting lies, which are the verbal equivalent of spitting on staff, or adding insult to moral injury. The EPO has just wasted money on another ‘booklet’ of lies. Not commenting on the outcome from ILO-AT, the EPO has instead released this garbage around midday (warning: epo.org link). Maybe they’re just googlebombing with lies about “social” aspects at the Office, hoping to distract applicants (for jobs and patents) from all those ‘pesky’ news reports about the social climate. Not only for 8 years did this happen. It’s a longterm issue which greatly exacerbated under Battistelli and not even on his very last day at work will Battistelli (and the crooks he brought with him) stop lying to enrage staff and mislead the whole world. “The EPO has published its Social Report 2017,” the EPO said, “which provides a comprehensive overview of staff and working conditions at the Office.”

Don’t expect staff to agree with any of the contents; some are literally converting these 'booklets' into coarse toilet wipes.

“The EPO has just wasted money on another ‘booklet’ of lies.”One last Battistelli photo op/self-promotion (before this parasite leaves the EPO) comes from or about South Africa (warning: epo.org link). This is definitely the last and if he is to be put on trial some time soon (his immunity runs out any moment now), then maybe his next one will be next to policemen and lawyers (or at the back of a police car, just like Nicolas Sarkozy). Now that he does photo ops with a South African official remember where they (South Africans) stand on software patents. They’re very apprehensive when it comes to patents. “Under the MoU,” says the Battistelli puff piece, “the EPO will support the CIPC in establishing substantive search and examination of patent applications in line with South Africa’s new National IP Policy. ”

But Battistelli has eliminated “substantive search and examination of patent applications”; instead they have “Early Certainty” and other such buzzwords for rushed examination that likely results in a grant (it takes a lot more work to reject as that requires authoring detailed grounds for rejection, which in turn takes a lot of research, not just typing).

Other than “Early Certainty” there’s also PACE, which also speeds up examination beyond what’s reasonable and truly harms small companies. The EPO has just pushed more of that #IPforSMEs nonesense (this is a routinely-repeated lie and it will likely carry on under Campinos). “Battistelli’s policy at the EPO greatly harmed SMEs,” I told them. “Reusing this hashtag ad infinitum won’t change the facts…”

“…Battistelli has eliminated “substantive search and examination of patent applications”; instead they have “Early Certainty” and other such buzzwords for rushed examination that likely results in a grant (it takes a lot more work to reject as that requires authoring detailed grounds for rejection, which in turn takes a lot of research, not just typing).”They later (today) added: “Well thought out filing strategies enable companies to speed up the granting process as well as to postpone decisions where needed.”

But either way the examination isn’t done properly due to lack of time. Slow or fast, the workload is far too high to maintain any reasonable level of quality.

Do not overlook the critical fact that the EPO is still not commenting on ILO. Nothing. Neither the Office nor the Organisation has said anything. Suppression of information has long been part of the modus operandi. In fact, Techrights is still blocked and we don’t expect Campinos to end this crude act of censorship.

I could never figure out why the “European Patent Office” (account name) Twitter account is “EPOorg” (username) because the Office and the Org(anisation) are very different things. Deliberately conflating? Or insinuating that the Office (i.e. a one-man team/monarchy) took over the whole Org (its boss), grossly violating the EPC?

“Do not overlook the critical fact that the EPO is still not commenting on ILO. Nothing.”It often seems, as Bausch said quite recently, that one man runs the entire thing, even the supposedly ‘independent’ courts. A few hours ago the EPO wrote: “The annual “Boards of Appeal and key decisions” conference provides a unique opportunity for patent practitioners to gain an insight into the case law of the Boards of Appeal.”

Well, the Boards of Appeal repeatedly complain (even as recently as 2 months ago) that they lack resources, are overworked, and are being intimidated by Battistelli (who made an 'example' of their colleague).

But life goes on at the EPO. The Official Journal for June 2018 (warning: epo.org link) has been released and announced. Having quickly browsed though it, there’s not much of interest in it. This time, for a change, it’s not a load of promotion for Battistelli's other employer (like in April).

Three Days Later Still Not a Single Word From the EPO About Union Busting Gone Awry and Court Orders to Reinstate/Promote Staff Representatives

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They won't pay attention to your crime. If you keep insisting you oppose that crime...

Summary: It doesn’t look so likely that the fight against SUEPO is over or that resolutions will be implemented by the Office, even by António Campinos, who starts his job at the Office on Monday (July 2nd)

WE CANNOT say it surprises us that EPO management says nothing about those ILO-AT judgments, which everyone now speaks about… except the EPO. They only speak about ILO when it suits the management.

More importantly, however, where are the assurances to staff that law would be obeyed? Yesterday the EPO wrote about judges and courts, but not about ILO; it was pure hogwash about the very same Boards of Appeal whose independence and judicial potency are under attack by the Office. Timely opportunism? Maybe. Subtle? Yes. Intentional? Who knows…

“Yesterday the EPO wrote about judges and courts, but not about ILO; it was pure hogwash about the very same Boards of Appeal whose independence and judicial potency are under attack by the Office.”The EPO found a new thing with which to distract. It’s just a construction site still, but we’re supposed to think that there’s a meaningful milestone (the real milestone to be found there is Battistelli’s departure, but he attempts to ‘dress it up’ as a tangible achievement like a building). That ceremony at that building wasn’t about its opening. It’ll take a very long time before the building is safe to enter and construction is not even finished yet (like alone furnishing and other critical aspects). The ceremony wasn’t about the EPO or about that building; it was all about Battistelli. The EPO’s tweets too were all about Battistelli, not anybody else in that odd room (which still looked like work in progress, far from being ready for guests). Battistelli was talking about staff in terms and words that can make one throw up. The media now speaks about the building with the term “inaugurates” in the headline. The article is in English and the word “inaugurates” is simply a misfit; the work isn’t even finished yet. It’s a mirage. It’s all about Battistelli trying to attribute the building to himself. There were protests there, but these barely received media coverage. We wrote about the protests twice yesterday [1, 2] and now there are some more details, affirming that SUEPO was behind it (SUEPO also organises a party to celebrate liberation of the Office, i.e. Battistelli’s exit). To quote:

Suepo Munich organised a demonstration today to celebrate the latest decisions of AT-ILO. Ion Brumme, Malika Weaver and Elisabeth Hardon were present.

In Suepo’s words:

“The ILOAT ordered the reinstatement of Ion Brumme ‘to the position he held immediately before his dismissal’ and the restoration of Malika Weaver ‘with retroactive effect to the grade and step she would have held but for the imposition of the disciplinary sanction’, as well as payment of interest on the resulting remuneration arrear, payment of moral damages and payment of costs. Elizabeth Hardon’s case has been remitted by the ILOAT to the EPO ‘to enable a Disciplinary Committee, differently constituted, to consider the matter under Article 102 of the Service Regulations and for the President to make a fresh decision. She is entitled to moral damages and payment of costs.

The decisions of the ILOAT are a slap in the face of Mr. Battistelli and clearly demonstrate his incompetence to manage an international organization.”

It then links to the following comment, raising legitimate worries that António Campinos — working under the ‘invisible hand’ (or thumb) of Battistelli — will perpetuate the union-busting campaign (just as Battistelli perpetuated fear in the Boards of Appeal by denying Judge Corcoran a return to his job, in essence making him a judge no more). We encourage people who want to know what Campinos does at EU-IPO to check out this article from last night. EU-IPO isn’t free of controversies these days (we gave another example from the news yesterday).

The above remark/post points out the following new comment:

With only a few hours before ILO-AT decision concerning SUEPO members, I’d like to voice a prediction.

ILO-AT will just remit the case on a small technicality for the EPO to reconsider.

Why? Simply because that is simply the best option for EPO’s management. It allows them to play cat and mouse for another couple of years, effectively keeping SUEPO busy. It passes the bucket to the next president, with a blank check to do nothing for a few years. It deprives the affected persons of any recourse, because the legal process would still be running.

For Battistelli and his clicque, it is much better than a negative decision. Their objective is to keep the staff at the brink of despair, but without having them understand that they face a brick wall. If they realised that the cannot win at ILO-AT, ever, they would seek other means. Keeping the process running keeps the proverbal carrot hanging in front of their noses

Yes, this is quite probable. Remember that the same management is in place, bar Battistelli (who is still lurking in the shadows). There’s also the Investigative Unit, as “Naked Emperor” noted yesterday:

The recent ILO decisions also show which use the President made of the distasteful activities of his willful helpers in the Investigative Unit.

The EPO spoke about privacy of staff and stakeholders recently (piggybacking GDPR to spread lies) and the next comment is interesting in relation to this:

Despite what appears to have been a victory for another SUEPO staffer in ILO judgement no. 4502, we are all still in the dark regarding the precise nature of the electronic “monitoring” that the EPO has been conducting. This is because the complainant’s request for production of documents explaining how the EPO came about certain information was side-stepped by the ILO.

In case 4502, it is stated that the alleged misconduct of the complainant (who was by then a former EPO employee, and was instead employed by SUEPO) “consisted in the unauthorised publication on the Internet, at least throughout 2014 and under the use of various pseudonyms, of information and opinions about the work of the EPO, including non-public information and defamatory and insulting opinions”. It is also stated that “acting under various pseudonyms and using his blog, other Internet sites and Twitter the complainant had (a) published or caused the publication of information and opinions dealing with the work of the EPO without permission from the President …; (b) disclosed in an unauthorised manner non-public information about and belonging to the EPO … ; (c) published opinions of insulting, defamatory and/or libellous content against various EPO staff members and management, but also against the management of other international and public organisations; …”.

These allegations raise a very important question, namely: if the complainant no longer worked for the EPO (and so, presumably, did not use any computers owned by the EPO to conduct the alleged misconduct), how is it that the EPO was able to identify the complainant as the author of the various pseudonymous posts?

Personally, I find it impossible to believe that the EPO could have come about that information without somehow gaining access to the blog sites and/or the complainant’s computer. But why would either a blog site or the complainant voluntarily allow this? And should someone alert the authorities in Germany of the possible commission of (hacking) offences relating to the manner in which the EPO came into the possession of key data?

Finally, what does this mean for the data security of those posting opinions here that are (at least in my view) justifiably critical of the current EPO management?

Abuses against the rights of workers are set to carry on, so the fight is far from over. Battistelli’s departure is merely the beginning of a potential salvation, but the reputation of the EPO still suffers, the profile of the EPO as an employer changed a lot, and large-scale layoffs are still expected. We recently saw a comment about the EPO giving up on job applicants whose applications were successful. It’s as though there was a sudden hiring freeze. Who gave these instructions and why were applicants required to prepare for interviews etc. for jobs that don’t exist? We saw that same thing in UPC; people were shown job openings and invited to job interviews… for jobs that never existed and probably will never exist.

“We saw that same thing in UPC; people were shown job openings and invited to job interviews… for jobs that never existed and probably will never exist.”It is worth remembering that the fate of at least one staff representative from the Netherlands is still unknown. It may take until next year (if not longer) for ILO-AT to get through to his case and by that stage his workplace (below, with credit to SUEPO’s Web site) might already be demolished, just like Corcoran’s colleagues had been moved to Haar, where he no longer had a desk, computer etc. What a cruel workplace this is.

Battistelli’s departure (today is his last day) will allow us to publish some previously-suppressed things.

SUEPO in the Netherlands

Links 29/6/2018: Python 3.7.0, Google as Linux Foundation Platinum Member

Posted in News Roundup at 1:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Get Mojave’s Dynamic Wallpaper in Windows and Linux Right Now (While Mac Users Wait Until Fall)

      Mojave, the new version of macOS coming out this fall, features a desert wallpaper that subtly changes throughout the day, reflecting the sunrise and sunset where you live.

      Windows and Linux users can have this feature right now, even though macOS users have to wait until the fall. Life isn’t fair.

    • Linux on a 20th century laptop

      Starting with a 20th century computer that struggled to run Windows95.

      [...]

      After reformatting the hard drive and adding 128MB of swap space to the drive I was ready to install the OS to the hard drive. To do this I simply used the dsl-hdinstall tool which exists within the ISO. The first time round I went for the more lightweight LILO bootloader but in every instance on booting from the hard drive I would get the error “storing in het besturingssysteem” (as it is a dutch hard drive and laptop) meaning there is a problem with the operating system. However after following the same progress again inside the virtual machine but choosing GRUB instead of LILO as the bootloader it worked beautifully,

    • Linux apps on Chrome OS coming to 18 more Chromebooks

      Eighteen more Chromebooks are getting support for Linux apps on Chrome OS, with laptops based in Intel’s Apollo Lake architecture now able to run the applications, via XDA Developers.

    • Google brings Linux apps to 18 more Chromebooks [Ed: complete with the usual bias of Microsoft sites]

      The firm now supports Apollo Lake-based Chromebooks from Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Dell including the Acer Chromebook 15, Asus Chromebook Flip 2313SA and Dell Chromebook 11 5190.

    • Google Announces Renewed Support for Linux Software Running on Chromebooks

      A few months back, Google announced that they were enabling some support for container-based Linux applications running on Chromebooks. While it’s possible to install an open-source GNU/Linux distro on top of Chrome OS, Google’s announcement seemed to indicate that users would be able to run these programs out of the box without installing a second operating system.

      Google’s own Pixelbook and Samsung’s Chromebook Plus were said to be early adopters of this technology. News then broke that Acer’s Chromebook 13 and Spin 13 would also be among the first units to ship with Linux application support. HP’s X2 will apparently be the first detachable unit that can run apps in this way.

    • Skylake, Apollo Lake Chromebooks Add Linux Apps Via Crostini

      Being that the Core chips of the Skylake flavor are probably the most available “power” Chromebooks at the moment, I was beginning to think developers were having an issue getting Crostini up and running. Whatever the reason, it looks like devices like the Samsung Pro, HP Chromebook 13 G1, Acer 14 for Work and others may soon see the addition of Linux apps in Chrome OS.

    • 18 more Chromebooks can now run Linux apps (ever model with an Intel Apollo Lake chip)

      There are a growing number of Chromebooks that can now run Linux applications thanks to Google’s Project Crostini. And when I say growing number, I mean that this week Google added support for 18 Chromebooks.

    • 18 more Chromebooks, running Apollo Lake chips, get Linux app support

      Chromebooks are slowly becoming more versatile as they gain Android app support and more offline functionality. Linux apps have also come to a select few devices, but it seems like Google is ready to open the floodgates.

      According to XDA-Developers, Linux app support was switched on for all Chromebooks running Intel Apollo Lake processors. There are at least 18 Apollo Lake devices, according to the outlet.

    • Why I’m Glad I Escaped The Wintel Monopoly All Those Years Ago
  • Server

    • Containers: Debunking the myths

      Linux-based containers themselves are nothing new, but the community driven by Docker has recently become hugely popular across a large cross-section of technology users

    • Linux Powers ALL TOP500 Supercomputers In The World | US Beats China For #1

      Just recently we told you about the IBM Summit supercomputer that is developed for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US. The computing beast is being called the most powerful supercomputer yet, beating China’s Sunway.

      Summit has tasted another bread of success as the TOP500 List of the world’s fastest supercomputers renews for the year 2018. It’s not surprising to see Summit ( with its Linpack score of 122.3 petaflops) taking the throne away from Sunway TaihuLight (Linpack score: 93 petaflops). But China still has the largest number of supercomputers on the list.

    • Linux Finally Stands Alone on the TOP500 Supercomputer List [Ed: Finally? No. That happened in past years.]

      The new TOP500 list, which shows the 500 most powerful computer units in the entire world, shows some form of the Linux kernel powering every single machine that packs that kind of processing ability. Linux has already been the force behind most of the world’s most powerful computers for years, so this isn’t a surprising fact.

      What’s more surprising is how long it’s taken to get to this point since the kernel was only finally able to shove all other operating systems off the list back in November.

    • Why Kubernetes Is the New Application Server

      Have you ever wondered why you are deploying your multi-platform applications using containers? Is it just a matter of “following the hype”? In this article, I’m going to ask some provocative questions to make my case for Why Kubernetes is the new application server.

    • As Cloud Computing Providers Post Record Profits, One Company Wants to Make Them Obsolete

      Another blockchain-based startup, called AXEL, is similarly trying to wrest a portion of the cloud from large stakeholders—this time, cloud storage. By letting users set up their own remote storage devices, rather than paying an exorbitant monthly fee for access to a terabyte of storage space, AXEL users simply can buy a cheap terabyte drive, plug it in to their desktop at home and link it to their AXEL account—at that point, they have an entirely private connection to that HDD that allows full cloud access without even the possibility of outside interference or surveillance by the service provider. And if you want another five terabyte of cloud storage? It’s as easy as buying five more terabytes of storage and hooking them up to the network. Since you own the drives, moving a file onto a linked drive takes zero upload time—it’s in your cloud-linked folders, after all, and thus has nowhere else it needs to go.

    • How Important Is Open Source for DevOps, Really?

      Depending on your perspective, you might believe that DevOps and open source go hand in hand. Or you may think that, quite to the contrary, the two have little to do with each other. There are good arguments to be made for both interpretations.

    • Blockchain evolution: A quick guide and why open source is at the heart of it

      It isn’t uncommon, when working on a new version of an open source project, to suffix it with “-ng”, for “next generation.” Fortunately, in their rapid evolution blockchains have so far avoided this naming pitfall. But in this evolutionary open source ecosystem, changes have been abundant, and good ideas have been picked up, remixed, and evolved between many different projects in a typical open source fashion.

      In this article, I will look at the different generations of blockchains and what ideas have emerged to address the problems the ecosystem has encountered. Of course, any attempt at classifying an ecosystem will have limits—and objectors—but it should provide a rough guide to the jungle of blockchain projects.

    • Open Source Developers Improve Networking, Storage and More in Kubernetes Update

      The open source Kubernetes container orchestration project this week shipped its second release of the year, with improvements to networking, storage and more.

      Kubernetes, under direction of The Linux Foundation, focuses on automating deployment, scaling and management of containerized applications.

      Kubernetes 1.11, announced yesterday (June 27), includes several new features, with project backers especially highlighting two features that have graduated to general availability: IPVS-based In-Cluster Load Balancing and CoreDNS as a cluster DNS add-on option. The release team said these result in increased scalability and flexibility.

    • Kubernetes 1.11 Released for Improved Container Orchestration

      Kubernetes, a rising star in the open source ecosystem for containers, has improved its orchestration capabilities on a number of fronts in its latest release, version 1.11

      This is its second release of the year, adding improvements to networking, storage and more.

  • Kernel Space

    • 4.18 Merge window, part 2

      By the time that Linus Torvalds released 4.18-rc1 and closed the merge window for this development cycle, 11,594 non-merge changesets had found their way into the mainline kernel repository. Nearly 4,500 of those were pulled after last week’s summary was written. Thus, in terms of commit traffic, 4.18 looks to be quite similar to its predecessors. As usual, the entry of significant new features has slowed toward the end of the merge window, but there are still some important changes on the list.

    • TCP small queues and WiFi aggregation — a war story

      This article describes our findings that connected TCP small queues (TSQ) with the behavior of advanced WiFi protocols and, in the process, solved a throughput regression. The resulting patch is already in the mainline tree, so before continuing, please make sure your kernel is updated. Beyond the fix, it is delightful to travel through history to see how we discovered the problem, how it was tackled, and how it was patched.

      The academic life is full of rewards; one of ours was the moment in which three USB/WiFi 802.11ab/g/n dongles arrived. We bought dongles with an Atheros chipset because both the software driver and the firmware are available and modifiable. We were using the ath9k_htc kernel module with the default configuration. We compiled the latest (at the time) available kernel (4.13.8), and then we started the access point to create an 802.11n network to build the core of our future testbed for vehicular communications.

    • ARM Updates Energy Aware Scheduling For The Linux Kernel

      ARM Linux developer Quentin Perret has sent out the latest set of kernel patches for implementing Energy Aware Scheduling (EAS).

      This Energy Aware Scheduling is a simplified version of what is currently being used by the Android AOSP kernel and is already being used in today’s Android smartphones using big.LITTLE SoCs.

    • Reiser4 Ported To The Linux 4.17 Kernel

      For those still holding out hope for the Reiser4 file-system, it’s now been ported to work with the Linux 4.17 kernel.

      The patch was updated yesterday to allow the Reiser4 file-system code to work with the Linux 4.17 kernel, which was released about three weeks ago. There are no other known functionality changes/additions with this Reiser4 code beyond the compatibility with this latest stable kernel release.

    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa 18.1.3 Is Coming This Week With Many RADV Fixes

        For those sticking to the Mesa stable releases, Mesa 18.1.3 is expected to be out by this weekend and features a few dozen changes.

        Mesa 18.1.3 at this point has just over three dozen patches. With those patches the RADV Vulkan driver stands out as having quite a number of fixes in this release. Besides RADV fixes there are also a number of Meson build system updates, some core GLSL and NIR fixes, and then just the assortment of other small changes/fixes.

      • AV1: next generation video – The Constrained Directional Enhancement Filter

        AV1 is a new general-purpose video codec developed by the Alliance for Open Media. The alliance began development of the new codec using Google’s VPX codecs, Cisco’s Thor codec, and Mozilla’s/Xiph.Org’s Daala codec as a starting point. AV1 leapfrogs the performance of VP9 and HEVC, making it a next-next-generation codec . The AV1 format is and will always be royalty-free with a permissive FOSS license.

      • DXVK 0.61 Released With Performance Improvements

        DXVK 0.61 is out today as the newest version of this Direct3D 11 over Vulkan translation layer to help with running Windows D3D11 games on Wine.

        While DXVK has already been quite performant in comparison to the Wine’s D3D11-to-OpenGL translation layer, with DXVK 0.61 there are even more performance enhancements. DXVK 0.61 sports small performance improvements for AMD GPUs, “significant” performance improvements for some NVIDIA GPUs, better GPU utilization in some games, and reduced performance overhead of the DXVK Heads-Up Display.

      • DXVK for Vulkan-based D3D11 in Wine version 0.61 is out with improved performance

        For those of you chugging back that Wine, you might want to update DXVK, as the Vulkan-based D3D11 compatibility layer for Wine has a fresh update.

    • Benchmarks

      • Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux With OpenGL/Vulkan On GTX 1060/1080 Ti & RX 580/Vega 64

        Here are our latest benchmark numbers for looking at the performance of Windows 10 vs. Linux for OpenGL/Vulkan graphics driver performance for both NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon hardware using the latest drivers as of June 2018 for OpenGL and Vulkan.

        [...]

        The Java graphics performance with using OpenGL was substantially faster on Linux.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Those top Konsole Contributors

        Of personal interest to me is that in 2002 I contributed to Konsole for FreeBSD compatibility, and in 2009 for OpenSolaris compatibility, but nothing else in the history of the project. And Konsole spent a year licensed as Artistic, rather than the GPL2-or-later, in 1999.

      • The KDE e.V. Community Report for 2017 is now available

        KDE’s yearly report gives a comprehensive overview of all that has happened during 2017. It covers the progress we have made with KDE’s Plasma desktop environment; Plasma Mobile (KDE’s graphical environment for mobile devices); and applications the community creates to stimulate your productivity, creativity, education, and fun.

        The report also looks at KDE’s activities during 2017, giving details on the results from community sprints, conferences, and external events the KDE community has participated in worldwide. It also covers what is probably the most important community milestone of 2017: defining and agreeing on what are the most important global goals, goals that will direct the efforts of KDE community members for years to come.

      • The Awful Dilemma

        I like fixing bugs… It makes people happy who have their bugs fixed, it makes Krita better, and it can be done in relatively small time laps. And it gives one a sense of having been usefully productive to go to the weekly bug summary, and see oneself in the top-five of bug resolvers. Not that I’m there right now, though I was last week, because sometimes one has to dig deeper.

        These weeks I’m working on refactoring Krita’s resource systems. Resource in graphics app parlance are things like brushes, gradients, patterns — mostly small files that are stored somewhere on disk and that are loaded on start up. This code dates back to 2000 or so and was originally designed for a world where people would have a few dozen of each resource installed, and where brushes and patterns wouldn’t be bigger than 64 x 64 pixels.

      • KDE Plasma 5.12.6 LTS Point Release Brings Better Support for Snap, Flatpak Apps

        The KDE Project released the sixth point release of the long-term supported KDE Plasma 5.12 desktop environment to address various issues in an attempt to increase the overall stability and reliability of the desktop.

        KDE Plasma 5.12.6 LTS comes almost two months after the KDE Plasma 5.12.5 LTS point release to add no less than 113 fixes across several components, including Plasma Desktop, Plasma Workspace, Plasma Discover, System Settings, Plasma NetworkManager (plasma-nm), plasma-integration, Milou, KWin, KSysGuard, Info Center, KDE Hotkeys, and Plasma Add-ons.

      • KDE’s 2017 Community Report Is Now Available

        KDE e.V. has published their annual report for 2017 to cover the software advancements made for this open-source desktop environment, highlight their financial health, etc.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Nautilus File Operations 2.0

        Following (and during) my latest blog post I was in the middle of my final exams session. While that has concluded eventually and I managed to pass everything just fine, that meant less time hacking and toying around with nautilus’ operations I’ve been working on.

        More work was put in the aforementioned move operations until it was a finished product that would set the tone for the following operations as well.

        With the move test out of the way, following operations could (more or less, with some needing extra nitpicking) be approached in a similar manner, which we tried to do, also giving them a nice sense of modularity.

      • Going to GUADEC: talking about the state of GLib and metered data handling in downloads
      • Summer with Maps

        It´s been a while since I wrote a blog post last time… and even though we´ve had summer weather here (more or less) since quite some while, it seems appropriate with a little “start of summer” summer post. Since last time time I´ve amended a pretty long-standing issue we´ve had when running under a Wayland compositor (at least with the Mutter compositor, as used by gnome-shell) that makes the revealer widgets we´ve had for showing notifications not working in this case, as the map view is using the Clutter scene graph library and overlaying GTK+ widgets on that is not working under Wayland. Since Clutter is deprecated and this issue won´t be fixed and re-writing the map view library using some other backend (also making it working under the upcoming GTK+ 4) is a rather big undertaking, I´ve went ahead with a few workarounds to get rid of the overlayed widgets.

      • Is Adwaita Icon Theme Finally Getting a Revamp?

        The Adwaita icon theme is the default icon theme of the GNOME desktop and …Well, it is what it is.

        Adwaita is not generally considered to be the best icon theme for Linux but it’s perfectly palatable and coherent.

        But is a dramatic modern makeover on the way?

      • GNOME Will No Longer Crash If Attaching A Monitor While The System Is Suspended

        On GNOME 3.26~3.28, if attaching a monitor to the system while suspended — such as when setting up for a presentation with a laptop and projector/monitor — when resuming the system, GNOME Shell would likely crash. That rather glaring bug has now been fixed in the newest Mutter code.

        Bug #786929 that dates back nearly one year is now resolved. The issue comes down to “Attaching a monitor to laptop while in suspend and then waking up laptop will reliably crash gnome-shell.”

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Peppermint 9 Offers Some Cool New Options

        Peppermint 9, released June 22, accomplishes something most other Linux distros don’t: It melds the best components from other desktop environments and integrates them into a solid operating system.

        Peppermint OS is a lightweight Ubuntu-based distribution featuring a desktop environment mashup of Xfce and LXDE components. The latest release nearly completes a process begun several upgrades ago, using more Xfce elements and fewer LXDE components.

        Peppermint is a good alternative to the Linux Mint Xfce release with a sprinkling of Cinnamon to spice up the desktop a bit more. Peppermint also uses Ice — a cloud and Web application management tool — which makes the operating system refreshingly different.

    • New Releases

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 software goes software-defined

        EARLIER this week, SUSE announced Linux Enterprise version 15, a jump from version 12 (both 13 and 14 are held to be unlucky to superstitious types in Western and Chinese societies).

        The new released is based on version 4.12 of the Linux kernel and is suitable for a wider range of chipsets than its predecessor, including ARM devices — increasingly found powering internet of things (IoT) devices. This follows on from March when SUSE put out a port of its Linux Enterprise Suite (SLES) for the typically tiny devices.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian and free software personal misc news
      • My free software activities, June 2018
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Fing snaps up 30,000 customers with a secure, future-proof IoT device

            Fing, a company known for its network security app, considered all these questions and more when developing their consumer-facing security toolkit hardware; Fingbox. One of Fing’s main priorities from the outset was to be able to future-proof so their device so that their customers could benefit from latest feature updates and seamless security patches. From their own perspective, Fing also wanted to ensure that they could build a sustainable business from Fingbox that wasn’t reliant on shipping new hardware and opened up a new revenue stream throughout its lifecycle. To address all these requirements, Fing adopted Ubuntu Core, snaps and Canonical’s IoT app store to facilitate their product.

          • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E16 – Sixteen Cows – Ubuntu Podcast

            It’s Season 11 Episode 16 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • MintBox Mini 2 now available for purchase with Linux Mint 19 ‘Tara’ pre-installed

              Back in March, we reported on the Mintbox Mini 2 — a diminutive Linux Mint desktop PC manufactured by a company called “Compulab.” Of course, it can run other distributions too, such as Ubuntu and Fedora. Heck, it can even run Windows 10 if you want/need. This is the second generation of Mintbox Mini with the big difference being a switch from AMD to Intel. The fanless device is not a powerhouse, but it should run the Linux distribution like a champ. Quite frankly, it is very beautiful too — the fins look cool as hell.

              Barring any last-minute issues, the release of Linux Mint 19 “Tara” is imminent — it should be made available any day now. As a result, starting today, you can finally order the MintBox Mini 2. Apparently, Compulab was waiting for Tara’s release to get closer before taking orders. In addition to the standard model, there is also a “Pro” variant.

            • Monthly News – June 2018

              A huge thank you to all of you who helped us find bugs during the BETA. You sent us so much feedback we had to literally stop reading just so we could focus on processing and fixing what you pointed out. We’ve never received so many reports so fast before. Although we couldn’t possibly answer everyone or fix everything, it helped us fix a lot and improve the quality of Mint 19 significantly since it’s BETA release.

              Many thanks also to our sponsors and to all the people who sent us donations. You help us so we can work on Linux Mint. You’ve been empowering us and supporting us since the start of this project. This is the result of your efforts as well. We hope you’ll enjoy this new release.

            • Linux Mint 19 “Tara” Now Available to Download as Cinnamon, MATE & Xfce Editions

              The Linux Mint 19 “Tara” operating system is now available to download ahead of the official release later this week as Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce editions for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures.

              Linux Mint project leader Clement Lefebvre announced today that work on the forthcoming Linux Mint 19 “Tara” operating system is now over and that the team prepares for the official release later this week. However, the final ISO images for all three editions of Linux Mint 19 are already available to download on the official servers.

              So if you want to get a head start and install Linux Mint 19 “Tara” on your personal computer, you can download the Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon, Linux Mint 19 MATE, or Linux Mint 19 Xfce editions right now. These images should be the same as the final release, but the official unveiling usually takes longer for all download mirror to sync.

            • Linux Mint 19 stable to be announced soon, here’s how to get it early

              The stable release of Linux Mint 19 will be announced “at the end of the week” according to Clem Lefebvre who runs the project. The new update, dubbed ‘Tara’, has been in testing for much of June but as of the end of the week it’ll be production ready and will receive updates until 2023.

            • Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) 3 ‘Cindy’ Beta coming next month

              Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution, right? Yes and no. While the “normal” version of the operating system is, in fact, based on Canonical’s distro, there is yet another version. Called Linux Mint Debian Edition, or LMDE, it is based on Debian — as the name implies.

              Today, we learn some interesting news. The Beta of the next version of the operating system, LMDE 3 — code-named “Cindy” — should be released next month, in July.

            • MintBox Mini 2 Computers Are Ready to Ship Worldwide with Linux Mint 19 “Tara”

              Linux Mint project leader Clement Lefebvre announced today that the MintBox Mini 2 and MintBox Mini 2 Pro computers are now ready for shipment worldwide and comes pre-loaded with the soon-to-be-released Linux Mint 19 “Tara” operating system.

              Linux Mint project leader Clement Lefebvre announced today that the MintBox Mini 2 and MintBox Mini 2 Pro computers are now ready for shipment worldwide and comes pre-loaded with the soon-to-be-released Linux Mint 19 “Tara” operating system.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • ERPNext: An Open Source ERP Solution for SMEs

    Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) refers to the system/software that a business uses to manage its projects, inventory, financials, sales, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and HR (Human Resources).

    While there are a lot of ERP software systems available, finding a free and open source ERP software solution for small and medium enterprises can be tough. Fear not, we have found a good one – ERPNext.

  • GIPE: Open source tech is here to stay

    Open source technology is here to stay, according to Martin Yagi, IP manager of First Light Fusion, speaking at the Global IP Exchange in London.

    Speaking in a presentation on maintaining IP integrity whilst participating in open source, Yagi said that applications for technologies featuring open source increased by 60 percent alone from 2016 to 2017.

    He highlighted that in terms of industry, there had been a 16 percent in hardware products and 69 percent increase infrastructure applications featuring open source technology.

    Despite a bright future for open source technology, Yagi warned there are some dire consequences for those who don’t comply with regulations relating to open source.

  • What Is Open Source? Why Open Source Software Are Popular?

    Nobody has ever accused me of being a romantic, but I have been overturned by the generosity of these geeks around the world who have contributed their skills for free, free of charge and for nothing to a huge library of freely accessible software. A Google search for “open source accounting software” produces 31 million hits and although two thirds of them will be freeloaders trying to sell you some 10 million free accounting packages cannot be a bad thing, though two thirds of those hits will be technical “Freeware”, rather than real open source, we still have a very large number to play.

  • Facebook Watson & Open Cellular Rotundu Get Coreboot Support

    Two interesting mainboards are now supported by mainline Coreboot Git.

    First up is support for the Facebook Watson. I haven’t been able to find much about the Watson, but appears to be one of their Open Compute Project boards. Watson is Broadwell-based and its firmware support package is derived from the Intel Camelback Mountain.

  • Events

    • Video: How to Manage Requirements, Expectations, and Project Delivery (Without Sucking)

      One thing I see clients reach for the Pepto about over and over again is how to manage work effectively. They often struggle to (a) gather and communicate requirements (and not a Christmas list), (b) understand these needs and set expectations, and (c) manage how this work is actually delivered. When this isn’t smooth, it is a royal pain in the behind.

    • How to plan projects in the open, without the stress

      I see the same conundrum over and over again with my clients: how to plan and manage work in a way that keeps people on their toes—but doesn’t make them want to rip their hair out. (Trust me, you think I have this little hair for some generic reason?)

    • Montreal’s Debian & Stuff June Edition

      This is me inviting you to the next Montreal Debian & Stuff. This one will take place at Koumbit’s offices in Montreal on June 30th from 10:00 to 17:00 EST.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox hooks up with HaveIBeenPwned for account pwnage probe

        Firefox has started testing an easier way for users to check whether they’re using an online service that has been hacked, through integration with Troy Hunt’s HaveIBeenPwned database.

        The hookup will work like this: part of a user’s email address is hashed, and this hash is used to check if the address appears in HaveIBeenPwned’s database of 5.1 billion email addresses linked to compromised internet accounts.

        The “Firefox Monitor” test will start with 250,000 users, mostly in the US, according to Mozilla’s announcement this week.

      • Firefox Nightly: Protecting Your Privacy in Firefox Pre-Release

        As a matter of principle, we’ve built Firefox to work without collecting information about the people who use it and their browsing habits. Operating in this way is the right thing to do, but it makes it hard to infer what Firefox users do and want so that we can make improvements to the browser and its features. We need this information to compete effectively, but we have to do it in a way that respects our users’ privacy. That is why experimentation in our pre-release channels like Nightly, Beta and Developer Edition is so critical.

      • Widmer Brothers and Firefox Collaborate on Open Source IPA

        Firefox is one of the world’s most successful open source software projects. This means we make the code that runs Firefox available for anyone to modify and use so long as it adheres to our licence policy. Developers and anyone else who understands code can play with Firefox code, for free.

        This approach to creation is not something that started with the internet. So long as humans have been making things there have been gearheads, chefs, quilters, crafters, brewers and all other kinds of people rebuilding, remixing, crafting and tinkering.

      • Mozilla Firefox 62 Web Browser Enters Development with New Privacy Features

        Now that Firefox 61 is out, Mozilla kicked off development on the next release of its popular open-source and free web browser, Firefox 62, which is now available for public beta testing.

        Firefox 62 promises to enhance the overall privacy of users by implementing a few new options starting with a “Clear Site Data and Cookie” button in the identity pop-up found next to the address bar. Mozilla says that this would make it easier for users to delete local browsing data for visited sites, including history, cookies, etc.

      • happy bmo push day!
  • Databases

    • A MongoDB Secret Weapon: Aggregation Pipeline

      MongoDB is best known for creating a document database that Web and mobile developers love to use. But developers and analysts alike may be interested in a little-known MongoDB feature called the aggregation pipeline. What’s more, the aggregation pipeline just got easier to use with MongoDB 4.0.

      The aggregation pipeline presents a powerful abstraction for working with and analyzing data stored in the MongoDB database. According to MongoDB CTO and co-founder Eliot Horowitz, the composability of the aggregation pipeline is one of the keys to its power.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Quantum open source fund launched

      A ‘no-strings’ grant program targeting developers of quantum computing software has been launched with the aim of filling the gaps in the nascent field.

      The Unitary Fund – its name taken from the physics concept of unitarity – is offering US$2000 grants to projects developing open source quantum software for near term, hybrid quantum-classical programming.

      Any project that “will benefit humanity that leverages near-term quantum computing” qualifies to apply for the fund.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • To stop another Ebola outbreak, science went open source (How science beat Ebola)

      I sat still watching a stranger die. She was just 27; her breathing became erratic, nearing a standstill, her head flopped over to look at me, her eyes glazed over and her stare became distant. She died alone, at an isolation unit known as Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Sierra Leone. I could not reach out to hold her hand. With no hope, no vaccine, no effective treatment, no cure, I was overwhelmed, beaten and felt desperately hopeless, spending my time helping people to die more comfortably.

      That was three years ago. Working as a medical doctor during the West African Ebola virus epidemic of 2013–2016, it was my first encounter with this virus. Ebola is one of the deadliest viruses in the world – a haemorrhagic fever known for its bloody symptoms and mortality rate of up to 90 per cent. That outbreak was the most widespread in history the history of the virus, with 28,000 known cases and more than 11,000 deaths.

    • Open Source at Coaxial Arts

      On June 19, 2018, Coaxial Arts was the venue for a program of noise, experimental music and sound. The snug downtown Los Angeles location filled up with a congenial crowd of the knowledgeable and the curious for a concert presented by the wulf titled Open Source: Anderson, Hutson, Shiroishi, Smith. An impressive array of cables, synthesizers, mixing boards, computers and radios was spread over several tables, including a large reel-to-reel tape loop. Casey Anderson, William Hutson, Stephanie Cheng Smith and Patrick Shiroishi were on hand to bring it all to life.

  • Programming/Development

    • Python 3.7.0

      Python 3.7.0 is the newest major release of the Python language, and it contains many new features and optimizations.

    • Python 3.7 Released With C API For Thread-Local Storage, Data Classes, Context Variables

      Python 3.7 is now available as the latest major release to Python 3 with new features, performance optimizations, and other enhancements.

    • Python 3.7.0 Released, Timesys Announces New Threat Resistance Security Technology (TRST) Product Protection, Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 Now Available and More

      Python 3.7.0 has been released. This is a major release of the Python language, containing many new features, including new syntax features, backwards-incompatible syntax changes, new library modules, significant improvements to the standard library and much more. See the release highlights for all the updates, and go here to download.

    • Python 3.6.6

      Python 3.6.6 is the sixth and current maintenance release of Python 3.6. The Python 3.6 series contains many new features and optimizations.

    • Python 3.7.0 and 3.6.6

      The latest feature release of Python, 3.7.0, has been announced, along with the latest maintenance release for Python 3.6, 3.6.6.

    • Mentoring and diversity for Python

      A two-part session at the 2018 Python Language Summit tackled the core developer diversity problem from two different angles. Victor Stinner outlined some work he has been doing to mentor new developers on their path toward joining the core development ranks; he has also been trying to document that path. Mariatta Wijaya gave a very personal talk that described the diversity problem while also providing some concrete action items that the project and individuals could take to help make Python more welcoming to minorities.

    • Getting along in the Python community

      In a session with a title that used a common misquote of Rodney King (“can’t we all just get along?”), several Python developers wanted to discuss an incident that had recently occurred on the python-dev mailing list. A rude posting to the list led to a thread that got somewhat out of control. Some short tempers among the members of the Python developer community likely escalated things unnecessarily. The incident in question was brought up as something of an object lesson; people should take some time to simmer down before firing off that quick, but perhaps needlessly confrontational, reply.

      The post by Ivan Pozdeev was never directly cited in the discussion (though a response in the thread by Steven D’Aprano was put up as a slide). As Guido van Rossum put it, the original poster was “being a jerk”. Pozdeev complained about the tkinter module in the standard library being broken for his use case. Beyond that, he claimed that almost no one uses it and that “no-one gives a damn”. He suggested that it should be removed from the standard library since it could not be maintained.

    • PEP 572 and decision-making in Python

      The “PEP 572 mess” was the topic of a 2018 Python Language Summit session led by benevolent dictator for life (BDFL) Guido van Rossum. PEP 572 seeks to add assignment expressions (or “inline assignments”) to the language, but it has seen a prolonged discussion over multiple huge threads on the python-dev mailing list—even after multiple rounds on python-ideas. Those threads were often contentious and were clearly voluminous to the point where many probably just tuned them out. At the summit, Van Rossum gave an overview of the feature proposal, which he seems inclined toward accepting, but he also wanted to discuss how to avoid this kind of thread explosion in the future.

    • GalecinoCar: A Java-based self-driving vehicle

      We are your typical geeks… always looking for a new hobby project to keep our skills sharp, pass time, and hopefully one day create a project that will make us rich. OK, the last part hasn’t happened yet, but someday… The rest of it has been just having fun working on some interesting projects together. Usually at night after our kids are in bed, we meet in one of our garages and just code.

      A while ago, we heard about Donkey Car, a self-driving robotic car and thought, “Wow. That’s cool. Wonder if we can do that?” We were even more fired up when we discovered that the Donkey Car project is Python-based, and we are over on the Java side. So, enter GalecinoCar, our Java and Groovy port of the Python-based Donkey Car project. (Mad props to the Donkey Car community, BTW!)

    • Stack vs Heap. What’s the difference and why should I care?

      I’m four months into the curriculum at Holberton School and we’ve solved multiple problems using the malloc, realloc, calloc and free functions in the C programming language. What better way to build a solid foundation of how memory gets allocated then to write a technical post on the stack versus the heap?

      [...]

      The stack is a segment of memory where data like your local variables and function calls get added and/or removed in a last-in-first-out (LIFO) manner. When you compile a program, the compiler enters through the main function and a stack frame is created on the stack. A frame, also known as an activation record is the collection of all data on the stack associated with one subprogram call. The main function and all the local variables are stored in an initial frame.

Leftovers

  • Tooting

    As I’m just getting started, I’m exploring this whole space a bit. I picked the instance to join (mastodon.technology) based on the fact that KDE lives there. As mastodon is federated, I can still interact with users of other instances.

  • A Twitter Leak Scuttled An NBA Draft Day Trade This Year

    It’s probably well known at this point that major professional sports leagues have a strange relationship with Twitter. On the one hand, many leagues use the social media site quite well when it comes to sharing highlights and getting their brands out there in front of people. Major League Baseball is particularly good at this, although the NBA is not terribly far behind. On the other hand, these leagues have been known to adopt quite restrictive policies when it comes to who can share what on Twitter. This is especially the case on league draft days. For instance, the NFL insists that its broadcast partners, such as ESPN and the NFL Network, not allow their journalists to tweet out draft picks on draft day before they are announced on television. The league obviously wants as many eyeballs tuned into the drama on television as it can muster and has theorized that making TV the first place to get draft picks announced will help with that.

    For anyone that follows sports on Twitter, this is obviously a very, very stupid theory. Many sports journalists are not working for ESPN and NFL Network, and they quite happily inform followers of draft picks before they are announced based on their sources. This is how journalism works.

  • Science

    • eLife Trialing Radical New Approach To Peer Review

      eLife, an online publisher of research in the life and biomedical sciences, is trialing a radical new approach to peer review to increase editorial transparency and promote more efficient access to innovative new research.

      According to the eLife website, “Having free and open access to the outcomes of research helps make achievements more visible, accessible and usable – ultimately accelerating discoveries and their applications.”

  • Hardware

    • Apple Engineers Its Own Downfall With the Macbook Pro Keyboard

      A titan of tech and industrial innovation has been laid low by a mere speck of dust. Last week, Apple quietly announced that they were extending the warranty on their flagship laptop’s keyboard to four years. As it turns out, the initial run of these keyboards, described by Jony Ive as thin, precise, and “sturdy,” has been magnificently prone to failure.

    • Apple’s Terrible Keyboards and Why Repairability Matters

      Apple is fixing busted MacBook keyboards for free, which is going to cost them money. This all could have been avoided if the keyboard were easy to repair or replace.

      As laptops become thinner repairability is compromised. Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro are prime examples, and the keyboard issues show why this is a problem.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Opioid Makers, Blamed for Overdose Epidemic, Cut Back on Marketing Payments to Doctors

      The past two years have been a time of reckoning for pharmaceutical manufacturers over their role in promoting opioid drugs that have fed a national epidemic.

      Lawsuits and media reports have accused Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, of aggressively marketing the powerful narcotic even after it knew the drug was being misused. Prosecutors have charged the founder of Insys Therapeutics and several of the company’s sales representatives and executives for their roles in an alleged conspiracy to bribe doctors to use its fentanyl spray for unapproved uses. State and local governments have sued a host of drugmakers, alleging they deceptively marketed opioids and seeking to recoup what it costs to treat people addicted to the drugs.

      But as public attention increases, the marketing tide may finally be retreating, a new ProPublica analysis shows. Pharmaceutical company payments to physicians related to opioid drugs decreased significantly in 2016 from the year before.

      In 2016, drug makers spent $15.8 million to pay doctors for speaking, consulting, meals and travel related to opioid drugs. That was down 33 percent from $23.7 million in 2015 and is 21 percent less than the $19.9 million in spent in 2014. Companies are required to report the payments publicly under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, a part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

      ProPublica analyzed these payments in conjunction with our update of Dollars for Docs, an online tool that allows users to view and compare promotional payments to doctors from drug and medical device companies. Today, we updated the tool to add payments to doctors for 2016. It now includes more than $9 billion in payments since 2013 to more than 900,000 doctors.

    • U.S. Senate Committee Proposes $50 Million to Prevent Mothers Dying in Childbirth

      Tackling an issue that Congress has largely ignored for decades, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to request $50 million in new funding for programs aimed at reducing the comparatively high U.S. rate of women who die in pregnancy or childbirth.

      More than three-quarters of the proposed funding — $38 million — would go to the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau to expand life-saving, evidence-based programs at hospitals and increase access to the Healthy Start program for new mothers and babies. The remaining $12 million would go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enhance data collection and research as well as support state boards that count and review maternal deaths.

      “I’m kind of blown away,” said Charles Johnson, a maternal health advocate whose wife Kira died from a hemorrhage after giving birth in 2016. Maternal mortality, he added, has come to be seen as “not a black issue, not a white issue, not a liberal issue, not a conservative issue, not even just a woman’s health issue, but what it truly is, which is a human rights issue — that’s the big shift.”

    • Australian Tobacco Plain Packaging Upheld In Decision At WTO

      A World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel has ruled that Australia’s law requiring tobacco products be sold in plain packages in the interest of public health does not violate the country’s obligations at the global trade body. In Australia and increasingly in other countries, tobacco must be sold with no trademarks or marketing visible other than name. The landmark dispute was seen by some as at the nexus of economic and health interests for the WTO.

      [...]

      The large decision document shows the extensive analysis and effort on all sides in this years-long case. It details the arguments of the parties at every stage, and breaks down the meaning and definitions of all related concepts, such as the impact of the measures, and the possibility of achieving results using alternatives to the measures (such as taxation or new marketing campaigns).

      The decision also includes a full section (beginning with 7.3, p. 588) of thorough analysis on the TRIPS Agreement, addressing issues such as articles of the agreement, the meaning of trademark, registration of trademark, and obstacle to registration in TRIPS, and issues of distinctiveness, and reaches conclusions on whether there is violation.

  • Security

    • Toward a fully reproducible Debian

      It’s been a little over one year since we last covered Debian’s reproducible builds project. The effort has not stopped in the interim; progress continues to be made, the message has sharpened up, and word is spreading. Chris Lamb, speaking about this at FLOSS UK in a talk called “You may think you’re not a target: a tale of three developers”, hinted that the end may be starting to come into sight.

      The three developers of the title are part of the sharpened message, each being an example of the problem that reproducible builds aim to solve. Alice, a system administrator who contributes to a Linux distribution, is building her binaries on servers that, unknown to her, have been compromised; her binaries are trojan horses, carrying malicious content into systems that run them. Bob, a privacy-oriented developer, makes a privacy-preserving browser, but is being blackmailed into secretly including vulnerabilities in the binaries he provides. Carol is a free-software user whose laptop is being attacked by an evil maid called Eve, the third developer of the title; each time Carol shares free software with her friends, it is pre-compromised by Eve. All of these attacks hurt free-software users and the reputation of free software as a whole.

    • Fingerprinting: A new security for open source software

      Open Source Software (OSS) has changed the way software works. It’s found in almost everything, with almost all new apps and modern systems incorporating some open source components. The vast majority, 78 per cent, of companies run open source software, and two-thirds create software for customers built on open source; but like many things that come free, there are always rules to follow.

      The problem? Some members of the developer community can also be very casual about copying files, code snippets, images, binaries or entire modules without respecting their open source licences. Even if the developers are strict about reporting licences for their main components, chances are they’re using code that was already casually copied and enhanced.

    • How can a text editor plug-in enable privilege escalation? [Ed: Shock and surprise that installing rogue or bad software ("plug-in") can cause issues? It's not insulated.]

      Extensible Unix and Linux text editors that allow for the use of third-party plug-ins give users a useful way to add functionality, but the text editor plug-ins can also be exploited by local attackers to take control of a victim’s machine through privilege escalation.

      Dor Azouri, a security researcher at SafeBreach, examined how text editor plug-ins for leading text editors, including Emacs, Vim, Sublime, gedit and pico/nano, could be exploited by attackers for privilege escalation — and crafted proof of concept exploits for all of them except pico/nano.

    • Github Gentoo organization hacked

      Today 28 June at approximately 20:20 UTC unknown individuals have gained control of the Github Gentoo organization, and modified the content of repositories as well as pages there. We are still working to determine the exact extent and to regain control of the organization and its repositories. All Gentoo code hosted on github should for the moment be considered compromised.

    • Gentoo GitHub mirror hacked and considered compromised

      Linux distribution Gentoo has had its GitHub mirror broken into and taken over, with GitHub pages changed and ebuilds replaced.

      In an alert, Gentoo said the attacker gained control of the Github Gentoo organisation at June 28, 20:20 UTC.

      “All Gentoo code hosted on github should for the moment be considered compromised,” the alert said.

    • Et tu, Gentoo? Horrible gits meddle with Linux distro’s GitHub code

      If you have fetched anything from Gentoo’s GitHub-hosted repositories today, dump those files – because hackers have meddled with the open-source project’s data.

      The Linux distro’s officials sounded the alarm on Thursday, revealing someone managed to break into its GitHub organization account to modify software and webpages.

      Basically, if you downloaded and installed materials from Gentoo via GitHub, you might be compromised by bringing in malicious code. And until the all clear is given, you should avoid fetching anything from the project’s ‘hub org account.

      “Today, 28 June, at approximately 20:20 UTC unknown individuals have gained control of the Github Gentoo organization, and modified the content of repositories as well as pages there,” Gentoo dev Alec Warner said in a bulletin.

    • Gentoo Linux GitHub organisation hacked, content modified

      The GitHub organisation of the Gentoo Linux distribution has been compromised and the project behind Gentoo is warning users not to use code from this source.

      In a statement, the Gentoo leadership said some unknown individuals had gained control of the GitHub Gentoo organisation on 28 June at 20.20 UTC and modified the content and pages.

      Gentoo is a Linux distribution meant for advanced users. The source is compiled locally depending on user preferences and is often optimised for specific hardware.

    • Protecting Software Updates

      I’m pleased to say that Debian has already implemented many of the technical recommendations we describe, including leading the way on reproducible builds. But as individual developers we might also be targeted, as lamby points out, and it’s worth thinking about how you’d defend your users from such a situation.

    • FastBooking breach sees hackers steal customer data from ‘hundreds’ of hotels
    • Identity theft warning after major data breach at Ticketmaster

      The Guardian understands that a number of Ticketmaster customers have already had fraudulent transactions debited from their accounts, with the fraudsters spending people’s cash on money transfer service Xendpay, Uber gift cards and Netflix, among other items.

      Ticketmaster said customers who bought concert, theatre and sporting event tickets between February and 23 June 2018 may have been affected by the incident, which involved malicious software being used to steal people’s names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, payment details and Ticketmaster login details.

    • Ticketmaster’s data breach – what to do next

      Strictly speaking, it wasn’t Ticketmaster that was the target, but one of its suppliers. The company said malicious software had infected a customer support product hosted by Ibenta Technologies, which runs on Ticketmaster’s websites. Ibenta is an external third party supplier to the ticketing giant, offering products such as chatbots, knowledge management and case management such as queries that come in over email or social media.

    • ‘Monitor your accounts’: Ticketmaster customers in suspected data breach
    • Ticketmaster Discloses Breach That Impacts Nearly 5 Percent of Its Customers

      The company said the breach occurred at Ibenta Technologies, a third-party supplier hosting a Ticketmaster customer support product. According to Ibenta’s website, the company provides an AI chat-based support agent able to reply to customer questions when live staff are unavailable.

      An attempt to reach an Ibenta spokesperson by phone was unsuccessful.

    • Security updates for Thursday
  • Defence/Aggression

  • Finance

    • Why You’re Being Kept In A Constant State Of Impotent Rage

      Amazon can deliver goods same-day at little cost only because they ride their warehouse workers like animals. We can summon an affordable Uber ride like magic because the drivers get paid shit and work themselves to exhaustion. We’re all very aware of this. We’ll see a news story about those companies’ work conditions (on a website that got paid ad revenue to run it) and maybe share it on social media (generating ad revenue for Twitter/Reddit/etc.) and feel like we’ve done our part to fight back … but we sure as hell won’t stop using those companies.

      [...]

      This is a system that runs on anxiety even more than it runs on fossil fuels, and the same media that connects us profits by making us all feel like we’re under siege.

    • Kroger will use autonomous vehicles to deliver groceries this fall

      Now Nuro is announcing its first commercial partnership: with Kroger, one of the nation’s leading grocery chains. Starting this fall, Kroger plans to start delivering groceries to customers using Nuro’s autonomous vehicles.

    • Amazon Makes $1 Billion Splash in Health Care, Buying PillPack

      Most immediately, the move represents a formidable challenge to pharmacy chains including Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and CVS Health Corp., the two largest drugstore chains in the U.S. Walgreens shares sank 8.5 percent at 10:49 a.m. in New York, while CVS shares shed 8.9 percent.

    • The Economist’s Premature Obituary for the Sanders Movement

      Earlier this month, the US politics opinion column of the Economist (6/7/18), pseudonymously written by “Lexington,” was accompanied by a cartoon depicting Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.–Vermont) with a comically oversized hook nose. Perhaps cartoonist KAL was unaware of the connotations of the hook nose in antisemitic caricatures of Jews over the years, though this seems unlikely.

      The nasally enhanced Sanders was shown riding a train, directing it leftwards on its track. The track, however, is circular, suggesting that Sanders’ brand of left politics will go nowhere. The article itself is just as heavy-handed as the cartoon.

      [...]

      Yet the Economist thinks that this leftward shift is but a passing fancy that peaked in 2016, because outside of universal healthcare, “none of Mr Sanders’s other big ideas—including free college and massive public works—is getting much play.”

      Of course, leftist policy proposals like Medicare for All, free college or jobs guarantees are consistently attacked by corporate media, the Democratic establishment and Beltway donors as politically unrealistic or too expensive, favoring more “serious” Democratic proposals that don’t upset powerful financial or corporate interests. The Economist is one of the biggest culprits of this approach, and has in the past referred to Sanders’ policies as “utopian schemes,” “divisive” and “not merely unaffordable, but bad.” It has written off Sanders’ jobs guarantee proposal as “flawed,” and continues to decry his healthcare plan with the same old gripe—how are we going to pay for it?—a question that isn’t raised when Republicans pass out trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy and fight endless wars abroad.

    • The Tax Act Actually Promotes Off-Shore Tax Tricks [Ed: Lesser-known fact is that patents are, to large companies, also a tax evasion trick, in essence robbing the public]

      The Tax Act on its face will do nothing to reverse this trend, because it eliminated the tax on dividend repatriations, the last barrier to profit-shifting. However, Tax Act supporters point out two provisions designed to counter the incentive to shift: the Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI) and the Foreign Derived Intangible Income (FDII) provisions.

      Under GILTI, U.S. parents of foreign subsidiary corporations are taxed on GILTI, which is defined as their profits in excess of a 10 percent return on tangible investments offshore. This provision is designed to limit profit-shifting incentives, especially for multinationals like Apple, Google, and Amazon that derive their profits from U.S.-developed intangibles and have low levels of tangible investments offshore.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • WaPo’s Civility Fetish Delegitimizes Opposition to Trump

      The Washington Post ran three articles between Sunday, June 24, and Monday, June 25, calling for “civility” and criticizing those who interfered with the dining experiences of Trump administration officials. In the highest-profile case, workers at the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, decided not to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders over the government she represents’ discrimination against transgender people and its policy of separating children from their parents at the US/Mexico border.

      [...]

      Opposition to what’s called incivility is opposition to resisting the extreme injustices of the present moment. A Post editorial (6/24/18) highlighted this point: The editors say they are against much of the Trump government’s actions and rhetoric, but “we nonetheless would argue that Ms. Huckabee, and Ms. Nielsen and Mr. Miller, too, should be allowed to eat dinner in peace”—referring to Stephen Miller, one of the architects of the policy of ripping apart families.

      The editorial worried about the work/life balance of Trump staffers: “Never-at-rest social media have blurred the line between work hours and private time. Cellphone cameras make it ever easier to intrude and broadcast.” Those who run the Trump administration, the paper suggests, deserve to be able to clock out after a hard day of sending migrant children to internment camps.

      The civility fetish, to borrow a phrase from Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson (Citations Needed, 6/13/18), narrows the horizons of resistance—for example, the academic Steven Salaita was fired for opposing Israel’s massive 2014 assault on Gaza with “uncivil” tweets. By suggesting that it’s going too far to mildly inconvenience people who propagate transphobia and carry out what the UN describes as an “unlawful,” “serious violation” of the rights of children, the Post is delegitimizing efforts to stop such measures.

    • Meet the Government Employees Spending Taxpayer Dollars At Trump Hotels — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      Shortly before President Donald Trump took office, his lawyer promised Trump would forgo any profits his hotels made from foreign governments. There was no similar pledge for money earned from federal government employees, state officials or anybody else who might be seeking to curry favor.

      In this episode of Trump, Inc. we’re going deep on Trump’s hotel rooms and the people who are paying to stay in them, including federal government workers.

      ProPublica has just released an interactive detailing at least $16.1 million spent at Trump Organization-managed and branded properties from his campaign, Republican organizations and government agencies since Trump announced his candidacy. The vast majority of the money — at least $13.5 million — was spent by Trump’s presidential campaign.

    • These Trump Staffers — Including an ex-NRA Lobbyist — Left Their Financial Disclosure Forms Blank

      Before accepting a position at the U.S. Department of the Interior last October, Benjamin Cassidy championed gun rights for nearly seven years as a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, collecting a peak annual salary of $288,333 for his work on Capitol Hill.

      The public wouldn’t know that by looking at Cassidy’s government financial disclosure report. The form, which he filed soon after taking a job as senior deputy director of the office of intergovernmental and external affairs, doesn’t list his old job at the NRA — or any past job, for that matter. Cassidy’s form was nearly blank, save for his name, title and some bank holdings and investments. In the space allotted to show his income, it incorrectly stated “None.”

    • Soaring Cost of Clues Leaves Thomas Friedman Apparently Unable to Buy One

      The reason that highly skilled workers are benefiting at the expense of less-educated workers is because we have made patent and copyright protection longer and stronger. It is more than a little bizarre that ostensibly educated people have such a hard time understanding this.

      We have these protections to provide incentives for people to innovate and do creative work. That is explicit policy. Then we are worried that people who innovate and do creative work are getting too much money at the expense of everyone else. Hmmm, any ideas here?

      Remember, without patents and copyrights, Bill Gates would still be working for a living.

    • How Mitch McConnell Made Donald Trump

      There is an unusual space in the basement of the University of Louisville library, in the large anteroom to the official archives for Sen. Mitch McConnell. The space is called the Civic Education Gallery, but it is, essentially, a kind of shrine to the political career of McConnell, not unlike the exhibits on Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron you’d find at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      The mere fact of the shrine is curious enough, given that it memorializes a politician who shows no sign of leaving the stage any time soon. What’s most unusual, though, is what it chooses to highlight. There are a few artifacts from McConnell’s youth — his baseball glove, his honorary fraternity paddle — but most of the exhibits are devoted to the elections he won, starting with high school and on up through Jefferson County executive and the Senate.

      When I visited the room while researching my 2014 biography on McConnell, I was struck by what was missing: exhibits on actual governing accomplishments from the Senate majority leader’s four decades in elected office. That absence confirmed my thesis that McConnell, far more even than other politicians, was motivated by the game of politics — winning elections and rising in the leadership ranks, achieving power for power’s sake — more than by any lasting policy goals.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • EFF Sues to Invalidate FOSTA, an Unconstitutional Internet Censorship Law

      We are asking a court to declare the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (“FOSTA”) unconstitutional and prevent it from being enforced. The law was written so poorly that it actually criminalizes a substantial amount of protected speech and, according to experts, actually hinders efforts to prosecute sex traffickers and aid victims.

      In our lawsuit, two human rights organizations, an individual advocate for sex workers, a certified non-sexual massage therapist, and the Internet Archive, are challenging the law as an unconstitutional violation of the First and Fifth Amendments. Although the law was passed by Congress for the worthy purpose of fighting sex trafficking, its broad language makes criminal of those who advocate for and provide resources to adult, consensual sex workers and actually hinders efforts to prosecute sex traffickers and aid victims.

      EFF strongly opposed FOSTA throughout the legislative process. During the months-long Congressional debate on the law we expressed our concern that the law violated free speech rights and would do heavy damage to online freedoms. The law that was ultimately passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump was actually the most egregiously bad of those Congress had been considering.

    • New Lawsuit Challenges FOSTA – The Federal Law Sparking Website Shutdowns

      Fears of Criminal Charges Muzzle Online Speech about Sex Work and Force Community Forums Offline

      San Francisco – Two human rights organizations, a digital library, an activist for sex workers, and a certified massage therapist have filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to block enforcement of FOSTA, the new federal law that silences online speech by forcing speakers to self-censor and requiring platforms to censor their users. The plaintiffs are represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Davis, Wright Tremaine LLP, Walters Law Group, and Daphne Keller.

      In Woodhull Freedom Foundation et al. v. United States, the plaintiffs argue that FOSTA is unconstitutional, muzzling online speech that protects and advocates for sex workers and forces well-established, general interest community forums offline for fear of criminal charges and heavy civil liability for things their users might share.

      FOSTA, or the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, was passed by Congress in March. But instead of focusing on the perpetrators of sex trafficking, FOSTA goes after online speakers, imposing harsh penalties for any website that might “facilitate” prostitution or “contribute to sex trafficking.” The vague language and multiple layers of ambiguity are driving constitutionally protected speech off the Internet at a rapid pace.

      For example, plaintiff the Woodhull Freedom Foundation works to support the health, safety, and protection of sex workers, among other things. Woodhull wanted to publish information on its website to help sex workers understand what FOSTA meant to them. But instead, worried about liability under FOSTA, Woodhull was forced to censor its own speech and the speech of others who wanted to contribute to their blog. Woodhull is also concerned about the impact of FOSTA on its upcoming annual summit, scheduled for next month.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Saudi woman reporter leaves country after being probed for ‘indecent clothes’

      The conservative petro-state has some of the world’s toughest restrictions on women, who are required to wear body-shrouding abaya robes in public.

    • Glynn County, Georgia’s Crooked Public Defender

      Rather than trying to get his clients out of jail, this public defender extorts money from them.

      As the public defender for Glynn County, Georgia, Reid Zeh is entrusted with advocating for the most vulnerable members of his community when they come up against the criminal justice system. Rather than do his job, however, Zeh routinely ignores his clients or worse — extorts them to enrich himself.

      That’s what happened when Robert Cox and his 75-year-old mother, Barbara Hamilton, came to Zeh for legal assistance after Cox was charged with a misdemeanor. Instead of looking out for his client’s interests, Zeh took advantage of the family by charging them $2,500 for public defense services that should have been free-of-charge.

      Zeh is paid a flat fee by Glynn County to represent people who can’t otherwise afford legal representation in their criminal cases. Hamilton and her son didn’t know that Zeh could not legally or ethically require payment for his public defense services. Nor did they know that the county was already paying Zeh to provide these services.

      Pushing Cox and his family to pay fees they didn’t need to was effectively the last time Zeh took an interest in Cox’s cases. In the last two years, Cox spent over 170 days in jail because he could not afford bail on various misdemeanor charges such as trespassing and misdemeanor theft and not once did Zeh visit him or help him request a bail amount he could afford. Zeh only met with Cox to process a guilty plea, but he was a ghost during Cox’s long periods of pretrial incarceration and first appearance in court.

      That’s why this week we’re seeking permission from the court to add Cox and Hamilton to our lawsuit against Zeh for his role in perpetuating Glynn County’s wealth-based incarceration system and for failing to provide legal assistance to his clients who cannot afford a private attorney.

    • Killing a Journalist in Kashmir

      Large crowds gathered in Kreeri village in Kashmir last Monday to honor the life and journalistic work of Shujaat Bukhari, the slain editor of the Rising Kashmir. Bukhari, who lived under constant threat, was gunned down as he was leaving his office last Thursday. Three heavily armed assassins on motorcycles-opened fire on him with dozens of rounds, killing the fifty-year old family man, along with two of his security guards. He was on his way home to break his Ramzan fast with his family.

      Bukhari, who had already been kidnapped once and escaped, was murdered soon after he took up the case of a young man, Kaiser Bhat, who was tragically run over and killed by security forces, during one of many recent street protests in Indian-Administered Kashmir. Last tuesday, local and regional newspapers in Kashmir left large blank spaces where editorials would typically appear to honor the highly revered editor and journalist.

      I spoke at length with writer and noted author Vijay Prashad about the life and times of Shujaat Bukhari. Prashad was a colleague of Bukhari–who was for many years the bureau chief of the Hindu newspaper where Prashad’s work also appears

    • Journalist Barrett Brown Kickstarting Project To Engage In The Same Activities That Landed Him A Bullshit Conviction

      It’s not entirely clear what motivations lie behind Barrett Brown’s Kickstarter project, but you have to imagine it has to partially be an extended middle finger to the DOJ.

      Journalist Barrett Brown was tried and convicted on a handful of charges related to the act of journalism. He ended up with a 63-month sentence and a $890,000 restitution order — some of which was tied to this activity.

    • Reality Winner Takes Plea Deal, Will Serve Five Years For Letting The Public Know About Russian Election Interference

      After being held in jail for over a year because the DOJ managed to talk a judge into viewing Reality Winner — leaker of single document pertaining to Russian interference in the US elections — as a national security threat in need of constant containment, Winner has agreed to plea deal.

    • Kennedy’s Legacy: A Moderating Force and a Concern for Equal Dignity

      Kennedy’s swing vote allowed the Supreme Court to stay within the mainstream.

      Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement on Wednesday after more than 30 years on the Supreme Court, was a Republican appointee who over time became the swing vote on many of the court’s most controversial decisions. Especially after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired in 2006, as Kennedy went, so went constitutional law. Sometimes he swung right, other times left. But whichever way he went, more often than not, his was the deciding vote. We’ve called it the Roberts Court, after Chief Justice John Roberts, but it’s been the Kennedy Court in all but name.

      Kennedy was a conservative. One study identified him as the 10th most conservative justice to serve in the last century. But he was open to considering arguments on the other side, and not infrequently ruled in favor of liberty for the marginalized. For example, Kennedy wrote all the court’s major cases recognizing the rights of gay men and lesbians, many in 5-4 decisions. In Romer v. Evans, the court struck down a Colorado referendum barring protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In Lawrence v. Texas, Kennedy wrote for the court as it struck down a law making same-sex “sodomy” a crime. And perhaps most importantly, he wrote Windsor v. United States and Obergefell v. Hodges, both 5-4 decisions extending constitutional protection to the marriage of same-sex couples. In these and other decisions, he saw in anti-LGBT measures a direct affront to the equal dignity of all persons.

    • The Supreme Court’s Term Just Ended. Here’s How Civil Liberties and Rights Fared.

      The Supreme Court’s 2017 term saw a decisive conservative shift on the bench in large part to Justice Kennedy’s swing vote.

      On Wednesday afternoon, the Supreme Court’s 2017 term came to an end along with the tenure of one of the nation’s most consequential jurists — Anthony M. Kennedy. The 2017 term saw a decisive conservative shift on the bench, in large part because Justice Kennedy, often a swing vote, joined the conservatives in all 14 of the Court’s 5-4 decisions. The court decided a range of historic cases that significantly expanded as well as contracted our fundamental freedoms. Of the 72 cases heard by the justices, the American Civil Liberties Union was involved in 17, directly arguing four.

      Here are five of the most significant decisions, along with the role we played, the outcomes, and what it means for Americans’ civil liberties and civil rights.

    • ICE Rigged Its Vetting Tool To Make Sure It Can Always Keep Immigrants Locked Up

      As the rhetoric has amped up around immigration enforcement, so have the tactics. ICE was never anyone’s idea of a good time, but its actions have become much more aggressive, thanks to this administration’s steady stream of anti-immigrant sentiment. While not supporting the criminal activity engaged in by its informants, ICE is performing warrantless raids, deporting critics, and claiming helping undocumented children is a criminal offense.

      Now, it’s getting its software to pitch in. Reuters reports ICE is detaining more people than ever, keeping them imprisoned while their court cases — which may take years to adjudicate — are pending. Up until recently, ICE would make a determination on the risk level of detainees, allowing some to post bond and stay with their families while their court cases played out.

      That’s no longer the case. The system ICE uses to make this determination — detain/release — is still being used. But the info fed into it no longer matters. Thanks to Trump’s orders, there’s no determination being made. The software is a facade that spits out a single answer, no matter what info its given.

    • Papers Insist ‘We Need’ Secret Gang Databases—Just Like We ‘Needed’ Stop & Frisk

      When President Donald Trump rails against alleged immigrant gang members as “animals,” as he did last month, he’s reducing complex (and highly political) issues—like the presence of MS-13 in the United States—to a fearsome cartoon of snarling packs of subhuman marauders. Vintage Trump, right? But local media, nowadays lionized as a check on Trump, resort to the same strategy, playing fast and loose with the inflammatory term “gang” and deferring and time and time again to questionable police tactics.

      As FAIR’s Adam Johnson wrote two years ago (“Media Convict Scores of ‘Gang Members’ on NYPD’s Say-So—No Trials Necessary,” 5/2/16), local dailies in New York City were instrumental in convicting alleged gang members in the court of public opinion before anyone had ever even seen a judge. Most other local media outlets took the same approach, never bothering to ask if the scores of people arrested and perp-walked by police as violent gang members could actually be innocent, or unfairly swept up by a police department (in)famous for its dragnet approach to public safety.

    • How Sessions Is Making an Overstretched Deportation System Even Less Fair

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions is restricting a critical tool allowing immigration judges to pause deportation proceedings.

      Let’s say you came to this country as a 3-year-old with your parents and overstayed your visa. You felt American. You graduated from high school and college, and you fell in love with a U.S. citizen and got married. But upon applying for legal status, through your spouse, you got stopped by immigration authorities, arrested, and told you’d be deported.

      In the past, a mechanism called “administrative closure” could have helped. Until about a month ago, it would have allowed an immigration judge in one arm of this country’s sprawling immigration apparatus to pause the deportation process in order to allow another arm of the government to process the petition for legal permanent residency. This crucial tool has for decades helped judges to ensure fairness and efficiency in deportation cases, allowing them to temporarily take certain cases off the docket.

      But now Attorney General Jeff Sessions is restricting this critical power. On May 17, he issued a decision that severely limits administrative closure. Now, instead of having the discretion to close cases whenever it makes sense in light of relevant circumstances, judges are restricted to granting administrative closure only in narrow situations that largely apply to a small and dwindling universe of immigrants from select countries — a small fraction of the total number of cases currently administratively closed.

      Advocates, lawyers, and many immigration judges agree that curtailing administrative closure will have an enormously negative impact on immigrants in removal proceedings — something Sessions knew well when he chose unilaterally to end the practice in nearly all cases.

    • House Dumps Trump’s Immigration Bill, Deep-Sixing A Sizable Increase In Border Surveillance

      Despite the President demanding — via Twitter — that House Republicans pass the “strong but fair” immigration bill, the House Republicans did not, in fact, pass the muscley but attractive immigration bill. The bill would have diverted $25 billion to Donald’s Folly and steeply decreased the number of immigrants the nation is willing to extend citizenship to. It may have done a little good by providing another route to citizenship for children brought into the US by illegal immigrants, but that would have been undone by the removal of time limits for the detention of accompanied children.

      So, it was a hearty blend of bad and worse. There were compromises made to push the few centrists onto the “aye” side but what was offered wasn’t enough to sway the middle ground and wasn’t harsh enough to satisfy the anti-immigration hardliners. The bill will be back again eventually, but there’s no telling what will be added or subtracted before the next push to the president’s desk begins.

      However, there is a silver lining — at least for those concerned about the ability of the border to swallow everyone’s rights. As the EFF noted, the House’s rejection of this bill meant no increase in border-related surveillance, snooping, and data harvesting.

    • Abuse of childhood

      The blog post is in homage to any abuse victims and more directly to parents and children being separated by policies formed by a Government whose chief is supposed to be ‘The leader of the free world’. I sat on the blog post for almost a week even though I got it proof-read by two women, Miss S and Miss K to see if there is or was anything wrongful about the post. Both the women gave me their blessings as it’s something to be shared.

      I am writing this blog post writing from my house in a safe environment, having chai (tea), listening to some of my favorite songs, far from trauma some children are going through.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T Nearly Triples a Fee On Your Bill to Extract Hundreds of Millions From Customers

      You probably don’t notice the small “Administrative fee” on your cell phone bill. AT&T is banking on that. Literally. By quietly tripling that small fee, the carrier is set to rake in hundreds of millions.

      AT&T just spent $85 billion to acquire Time-Warner. Anyone who’s ever had to shell out a ton of cash at once knows the first thing you want to do when your savings take that big of a hit is to start looking for ways to tighten your belt. One way AT&T can start making a bit of money back is apparently to slide into your bill and tweak a fee that you probably weren’t going to notice anyway.

    • Effort To Save Net Neutrality Via Congressional Review Act Appears Stuck In Neutral

      Efforts to reverse the FCC’s historically unpopular attack on net neutrality using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) appear stuck in neutral.

      The CRA lets Congress reverse a regulatory action with a simply majority vote in the Senate and the House (which is how the GOP successfully killed FCC privacy protections last year). And while the Senate voted 52 to 47 back in May to reverse the FCC’s attack on net neutrality, companion efforts to set up a similar vote in the House don’t appear to be gaining much traction as the clock continues to tick. A discharge petition needs 218 votes to even see floor time, and another 218 votes to pass the measure.

    • Bill to save net neutrality is 46 votes short in US House

      A discharge petition needs 218 signatures to force a House vote on the same net neutrality bill, and 218 votes would also be enough to pass the measure. So far, the petition has signatures from 172 representatives, all Democrats. That number hasn’t changed in two weeks.

      “We’re 46 [signatures] away from being able to force a vote on the resolution to restore the Open Internet Order,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) tweeted yesterday.

    • Another 10 Years Later

      The evolutionary path of any technology can often take strange and unanticipated turns and twists. At some points simplicity and minimalism can be replaced by complexity and ornamentation, while at other times a dramatic cut-through exposes the core concepts of the technology and removes layers of superfluous additions. The evolution of the Internet appears to be no exception and contains these same forms of unanticipated turns and twists. In thinking about the technology of the Internet over the last ten years, it appears that it’s been a very mixed story about what’s changed and what’s stayed the same.

      A lot of the Internet today looks much the same as the Internet of a decade ago. Much of the Internet’s infrastructure has stubbornly resisted various efforts to engender change. We are still in the middle of the process to transition the Internet to IPv6, which was the case a decade ago. We are still trying to improve the resilience of the Internet to various attack vectors, which was the case a decade ago. We are still grappling with various efforts to provide defined quality of service in the network, which was the case a decade ago. It seems that the rapid pace of technical change in the 1990’s and early 2000’s has simply run out of momentum and it seems that the dominant activity on the Internet over the past decade was consolidation rather than continued technical evolution. Perhaps this increased resistance to change is because as the size of the network increases, its inertial mass also increases. We used to quote Metcalf’s Law to each other, reciting the mantra that the value of a network increases in proportion to the square of the number of users. A related observation appears to be that a network’s inherent resistance to change, or inertial mass, is also directly related to the square of the number of users as well. Perhaps as a general observation, all large loosely coupled distributed systems are strongly resistant to efforts to orchestrate a coordinated change. At best, these systems respond to various forms of market pressures, but as the Internet’s overall system is so large and so diverse these market pressures manifest themselves in different ways in different parts of this network. Individual actors operate under no centrally orchestrated set of instructions or constraints. Where change occurs, it is because some sufficiently large body of individual actors see opportunity in undertaking the change or perceive unacceptable risk in not changing. The result for the Internet appears to be that some changes are very challenging, while others look like natural and inevitable progressive steps.

    • Internet is losing its memory: Cerf

      Archivists have for decades fought publicly for open document formats to hedge against proprietary and vendor risks – especially when classified material usually can only be made public after 30 to 50 years, sometimes longer.

    • Competition, Civil Liberties, and the Internet Giants

      The power of the Internet historically arose from its edges: innovation, growth, and freedom came from its users and their contributions, rather than from some centrally controlled core of overseers. But today, for an increasing number of users, there is a powerful center to the net—and a potentially uncompetitive and unrepresentative center at that.

      Too many widely relied-upon functions are now controlled by a few giant companies.

      The whole Internet itself is still vast and complex, enabling billions of users to communicate regardless of their physical location. Billions of websites, apps, and nearly costless communications channels remain open to all. Yet too many widely relied-upon functions are now controlled by a few giant companies. Worse, unlike previous technology cycles, the dominance of these companies has proven to be sticky. It’s still easy and cheap to put up a website, build an app, or organize a group of people online—but a few large corporations dominate the key resources needed to do those things. That, in turn, gives those companies extraordinary power over speech, privacy, and innovation.

  • DRM

    • Team Xecutor ‘Piracy’ Code Has DRM, Can Brick Your Nintendo Switch

      Hacking group Team Xecuter released a jail-breaking solution for Nintendo Switch earlier this month, opening the door to homebrew and piracy alike. However, according to a UK-based security researcher, the code contains DRM which can lock your Switch with a random password if there’s an attempt to crack it for unauthorized distribution.

    • Kodi Embraces DRM to Invite Content Publishers

      In the present day and age, it’s nearly impossible for a media distribution platform to be recognized by major content publishers without implementing DRM. This is one of the reasons why the popular Kodi media player has added “digital rights management” support in its most recent version. Several addons are already making use of this new feature, by bringing Netflix and Amazon to Kodi, for example.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Actavis UK Limited v Eli Lilly, Court of Appeal of England and Wales, Civil Division, [2015] EWCA Civ 666, 30 June 2015

      Following its denial of Actavis’ claim for declarations of non-infringement in respect of Eli Lilly’s European Patent, the Court of Appeal ruled on a number of procedural matters arising from that judgment.

    • Germany: Bohrhilfe für Zahnimplantat, Federal Court of Justice of Germany, X ZR 38/16, 11 January 2018

      According to the FCJ, when it comes to the question of whether a particular solution was obvious to the skilled person, it is irrelevant whether a different solution was more obvious. In the present case, it was decisive that two options were available for the skilled person, both of which were suitable for the purpose defined in the prior art.

    • Spain: Xiaomi, Commercial Court of Barcelona, Ruling no. 46/2018, 20 February 2018

      In injunction proceedings decided in just a few hours (likely a record in Spanish patent litigation) in the context of the 2018 Mobile World Congress, Barcelona Commercial Court no. 4 granted a preliminary injunction.

    • Huawei chairman calls for SEP rates to come down under 5G in pledge not to ‘blackmail’ industry

      Addressing a Mobile World Congress event held in Shanghai yesterday, Huawei Chairman Eric Xu called for lower royalty rates and a transparent framework to be the cornerstones of a 5G licensing paradigm. The Chinese company plans to launch a 5G smartphone in less than one year’s time, Xu said. But the IP market is still waiting to see more concrete licence proposals from a company that’s unique in combining huge contributions to 5G standards with a leading global device business. Xu, current chairman under the rotating system employed by Huawei, devoted a portion of his remarks on the 5G future…

    • Meet the people who went to the US Copyright Office to demand your right to repair, remix and preserve!

      Every three years, the US Copyright Office undertakes an odd ritual: they allow members of the public to come before their officials and ask for the right to use their own property in ways that have nothing to do with copyright law.

      It’s a strange-but-true feature of American life. Blame Congress. When they enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998, they included Section 1201, a rule that bans people from tampering with copyright controls on their devices. That means that manufacturers can use copyright controls to stop you from doing legitimate things, like taking your phone to an independent service depot; or modifying your computer so that you can save videos to use in remixes or to preserve old games. If doing these legal things requires that you first disable or remove a copyright control system, they can become illegal, even when you’re using your own property in the privacy of your own home.

      But every three years, the American people may go before the Copyright Office and ask for the right to do otherwise legal things with their own property, while lawyers from multinational corporations argue that this should not happen.

    • Indigenous Knowledge Databases: Is It Something To Be Concerned About?

      Almost all information today ends up in a database. It is organised and made readily accessible. While it sounds positive, for indigenous communities, it can be crucial. Databases of their knowledge, culture and genetic resources, if misused, can undermine generations of community effort and maybe even their sustainability. A panel of indigenous peoples’ representatives presented their concerns about databases this week to governments attending a World Intellectual Property Organization meeting on genetic resources.

    • Disclosure, Sanctions – Still To Be Overcome In WIPO Genetic Resources Negotiations

      Efforts to draft new language to bridge gaps in this week’s negotiations on a potential treaty protecting genetic resources at the World Intellectual Property Organization were praised by a number of participants. However, what is now presented as a “package” proposition, focusing the instrument on patents, left some developing countries with the feeling that the concessions they made on the patent-only focus are not being met with a similar efforts by others, in particular on a proposed disclosure requirement for patent applicants.

    • Germany: Borrelioseassay, Federal Court of Justice of Germany, X ZR 11/15, 17 January 2017
    • Consumers bring motion to bar Qualcomm from enforcing a potential U.S. import ban against certain iPhones

      Yesterday, Judge Lucy H. Koh had the pleasure to terminate the long-running Apple v. Samsung dispute by granting an order of dismissal based on a settlement. Some of the time she’d otherwise have spent on the adjudication of post-trial motions can now be dedicated to this extremely interesting and important motion for a preliminary anti-enforcement injunction.

      There’s a precedent in the Northern District of California. By that I don’t even mean my favorite antisuit injunction process in recent months (Samsung’s anti-enforcement injunction against a couple of Chinese standard-essential patent (SEP) injunctions obtained by Huawei. I mean something much older, and I blogged about it at the time and hailed it as a “landmark decision”: about five years ago, Judge Ronald Whyte (whom Judge Koh succeeded when he became a senior judge), enjoined two WiFi (IEEE 802.11) SEP holders named LSI and Agere from enforcing a potential ITC exclusion order against RealTek Semiconductor.

    • A timeline of Apple v Samsung and why the smartphone wars aren’t over yet [Ed: the patent trolls' lobby, IAM, wants the patent wars to carry on and on]

      Apple v Samsung, the sprawling patent battle that was arguably the central conflict of the smartphone wars, came to an end yesterday as the pair announced that they had reached a settlement. As this blog has pointed, out in many ways the victor in all of this is Samsung which has been undeterred in its growth to become the world’s largest smartphone maker and has been able to remain an active part of the US market, despite Apple’s attempts to win an injunction against the company. Although the terms of the settlement were confidential Apple’s hand was presumably helped…

    • Trademarks

      • CJEU’s Puma v EUIPO ruling makes life easier for brand owners

        A ruling that the EUIPO should have taken its past decisions into account and told Puma why it chose to discount those decisions will help practitioners and brand owners, but it also raises the stakes in EUIPO proceedings

        The EUIPO must examine previous decisions when considering a brand’s older reputation, the CJEU ruled today.

      • GW Pharmaceuticals Wins FDA Approval of First CBD Drug

        Additionally, while the USPTO has categorically declined to grant trademarks based on the cannabis plant itself (and derivatives thereof), as well as cannabis goods and services that contribute to federally illegal activity (often referred to as those that “touch the plant”), rescheduling cannabis-based pharmaceuticals like Epidiolex may help eliminate any hurdles faced in obtaining federal trademark protection for such pharmaceuticals.

    • Copyrights

      • The Monkey Selfie Case Continues, But The Dancing Baby One Does Not

        Thankfully this is not a post about the Monkey Selfie case, which should have ended by now but has not. Instead it’s about Lenz v. Universal, the Dancing Baby case, which shouldn’t have come to an end yet, but has. This week the EFF announced that the case has been settled.

      • Appeals Court Says You Can Copyright A Collection Of Facts… If You Leave Out A Few

        The 9th Circuit is at it again with copyright. For whatever reason, when the 9th Circuit gets a copyright case, it frequently seems to mess everything up about it. This latest case — Experian v. Nationwide Marketing Services — is no exception. One of the most famous, and most important, copyright cases to hit the Supreme Court was the Feist case. We’ve mentioned it many times before. The short summary is that a phone book publisher had inserted a few “fake” names and numbers into its book to try to catch copycats. It found one, and sued for copyright infringement. The Supreme Court rejected it, noting that copyright does not apply to facts, and clearly rejecting any notion that mere “sweat of the brow” in collecting facts gives you a copyright.

        This was good. But… there was one part of the ruling that still left open the potential for mischief, and appeals courts have been making mischief in that loophole ever since. Here’s the issue: 17 USC 103 allows for copyright in “compilations,” though it notes this copyright “only extends to” the creative input in making the compilation, and not the underlying works (whether they are covered by copyright or not). The common sense explanation of this is that if, say, you’re putting together (with the proper licenses) a “best of…” CD (let’s say “Best of the 70′s”), then you can have a copyright on that compilation. Not in the underlying songs, which you’ve licensed properly, but in the creativity in choosing the 7, 12, 15 or whatever number of songs, and the order you’ve placed them in. That requires some creativity, and it may be enough to get a fairly narrow copyright.

        In Feist, the question was whether or not putting together all the phone numbers and names was covered by that compilation setup, and the Supreme Court said no. A mere collection of facts has no creative element and thus can’t be considered a compilation for the purpose of establishing a new copyright. That’s good. But the opinion bent over backwards to suggest that lots of other compilations of data might have the requisite creativity. And… far too many courts have taken the Supreme Court up on that proposition, potentially eviscerating the valuable promises of Feist.

      • YouTube’s Head of Music: We’re Not Discussing the Value Gap

        Article 13, the proposed EU legislation that aims to restrict safe harbors for online platforms, was crafted to end the so-called “Value Gap” on YouTube. However, according to YouTube’s global head of music, it’s something that simply not on the agenda. “I do know, from every single senior executive, that we’re not discussing the value gap,” Lyor Cohen says.

      • ‘We’re Being Sued, Ordered to Pay Copyright Troll’s Legal Bills’ – Web Activist

        A Norwegian court has ordered to shut down a website run by local internet activists, providing free access to court rulings. The owners of the website are now preparing to challenge what they call an unfair verdict in the court of appeals.

      • “Dancing Baby” lawsuit finally settles, baby is now a middle-school student

        Universal Music Publishing Group has finally settled its copyright lawsuit filed against Stephanie Lenz, the woman who posted a short video of her son dancing to a Prince song in 2007.

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