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Links 11/1/2021: Linux 5.11 RC3, Firefox Integrates More Patent Traps

Posted in News Roundup at 3:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Linux Weekly Roundup: Mint 20.1, KDE Plasma 5.21 Updates and More

      Here’s this week’s roundup series, curated for you from the Linux and open-source world on application updates, new releases, distribution updates, major news, and upcoming highlights. Have a look.

    • Linux Weekly Roundup #112

      Hello and welcome to this week’s Linux Roundup!

      We had a full week of Linux Releases, Linux Mint 20.1, and Manjaro 20.2.1.

      There were a few others also so look at distrowatch.com for more information!

      May you have a wonderful week and please stay safe!

    • 9to5Linux Weekly Roundup: January 10th, 2021

      The fifteenth installment of the 9to5Linux Weekly Roundup is here, for the week ending on January 10th, keeping you guys up to date with the most important things that have happened in the Linux world.

      It’s been a great first week of 2021 with lots of awesome news and releases. We have the release of Linux Mint 20.1, KDE’s first Apps update in 2021, a new Slackware-based Puppy Linux release, KDE Plasma 5.20’s latest update, new Linux kernel security patches for Ubuntu, new KDE Frameworks release, and much more.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Top 5 Linux Laptop You Can Buy in 2021

        In 2021 you are deciding to buy a laptop, but you are dubious about choosing which laptop you should purchase to use for your day-to-day work with the Linux preinstall.

        A number of manufacturers that manufacture the best laptop for Linux compatibilities such as Dell, Hp, Lenovo, Acer, and completed dedicated for Linux are System 76, Lambda, Pine Pro.

        Not to worry much we have shortlisted some of the top Linux laptops that are specially built for the Linux eco-system.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • This Week in Linux 132: Linus Torvalds Calls Out Intel, PeerTube Live Streaming, Asahi Linux

        On this episode of This Week in Linux, we’ve got some Distro releases for Linux Mint and Puppy Linux. We’ve got a follow up for a topic about running Linux on Apple Silicon with a project called Asahi Linux. Linus Torvalds is in the news this week for some comments he made about Intel’s policies on ECC. We’ve also got some great news for NVIDIA users and those looking for a way to doing self-hosted Live Streaming thanks to PeerTube. We’ll also cover some unfortunate and annoying news from the Qt Company and then we’ll round out the show on a good note with the latest release from the Lutris project. All that and much more on Your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

      • Open Source Security Episode 253: Defenders only need to be right once

        Josh and Kurt talk about this idea that seems to exist in security of “attackers only need to be right once” which is silly. The reality is attackers have to get everything right, defenders really only need to get it right once. But “defenders only need to be right once” isn’t going to sell any products.

      • Linux Action News 171

        We explain the recent Qt upset, and then go hands-on with the new PeerTube release.

        Plus Wendell from Level1Techs joins us to discuss his thoughts on porting Linux to the Apple M1.

        Special Guest: Wendell Wilson.

      • GNU World Order 388

        CentOS is dead or reborn? Also, all about **Texinfo** and why it’s better than **man** and **groff**.

      • RSS Feeds: The Better Way To Consume

        I love RSS feeds, I use them for all my video topics but it seems like there’s a few people who’ve never used them before so today I thought I’d explain what they are and how you would go about using an rss feed, with an rss feed reader

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux Kernel Developers Discuss Dropping A Bunch Of Old CPUs

        With Linux 5.10 having shipped as the latest Long Term Support (LTS) release to be maintained for at least the next five years, a discussion has begun over dropping a number of old and obsolete CPU platform support currently found within the mainline kernel. For many of the architectures being considered for removal they haven’t seen any new commits in years but as is the case once proposals are made for them to be removed there are often passionate users wanting the support to be kept.

        Longtime kernel developer Arnd Bergmann looked at ARM platforms that could be removed following Linux 5.10 LTS as well as other CPU architectures without any real signs of life.

      • Linux 5.11-rc3
        So in the rc2 announcement notes I thought we might have a slow week
        for rc3 as well due to people just coming back from vacations and it
        taking some time for bug reports etc to start tricking in.
        That turned out to be the incoherent ramblings of a crazy old man.
        Because while the week started out fairly slow, you guys certainly
        showed me, and the final rc3 ends up being on the bigger side as rc3s
        go. Not "beating records" big, but certainly bigger than average. So
        instead of some slow start due to the holidays, I think we saw some
        pent-up fixes.
        The changes are all over, with nothing in particular standing out.
        About half the rc3 patch is drivers, with self-test updates (mostly
        kvm and netfilter) being another healthy 15%. The rest is the usual
        random mix: architecture updates (mostly x86 and arm64 and much of it
        kvm-related), documentation, filesystem code (btrfs, io_uring),
        networking, etc..
        But there's nothing that looks particularly odd in there, and I think
        the size is literally just about that rc2 being so small. So I think
        on the whole everything looks normal for this release, and my theory
        that maybe we'll need an extra release candidate just for the holiday
        impact was just wrong.
        Of course, we may end up with extra rc candidates if some nasty
        development issue rears its ugly head later, but for now it all looks
        So please go out and test, and report any issues you find,
      • Linux 5.11-rc3 Released Following A Post-Holiday Ramp-Up

        While Linux 5.11-rc2 was tiny due to the holidays, with developers and testers returning to work the Linux 5.11-rc3 release that was just issued is much bigger.

      • CPU Isolation – Introduction – by SUSE Labs (part 1)

        CPU isolation is a powerful set of features that can be found behind the settings for workloads which rely on specific and often extreme latency or performance requirements. Some DPDK (Data Plane Development Kit) usecases can cover such examples. However CPU isolation’s documentation and footnotes for many subtleties remain scattered at best if not lagging behind recent developments. It’s not always easy to sort out the benefits and tradeoffs hiding behind the existing range of tunings. Our series of articles aims at shedding some light and guide the users throughout this obscure Linux Kernel subsystem that we maintain both upstream and in our SLE15 products.


        The role of a kernel is to provide elementary services in order to use the hardware resources through a unified interface. This is the ground on which your workload walks.

      • Changing One “If” To “While” Caused An Unexpected Shift In A Kernel Benchmark This Week

        Several months back you may recall that Linux 5.9 kernel regression we noted that in turn was bisected to code introduced by Linus Torvalds around page lock fairness. That was ultimately worked out in time with allowing a control over the page lock (un)fairness to address the regressed workloads while being fair enough to satisfy his original change. But now this week for Linux 5.11, Linus Torvalds has again altered the behavior. It then ended up causing a PostgreSQL database server performance regression but fortunately any impact should be very minimal and hopefully not appearing in any real-world situation.

        Linus this week merged his own patch, mm: make wait_on_page_writeback() wait for multiple pending writebacks. It comes as a fix for his original rewrite of the wait_on_page_bit_common() logic. The issue is seeing occasional reports of BUG_ON() assertions being triggered since that change. Linus ended up uncovering a race condition where the BUG_ON() happens. See that linked patch for all the technical details for those interested. Within the wait_on_page_writeback() function though the patch is just changing an if statement to a while and fixes the BUG_ON assertion that was happening.

    • Applications

      • KeePass 2.47 Released! How to Install in Ubuntu 20.04, 20.10

        KeePass password manager 2.47 was released user interface and integration enhancements and minor new features and improvements.

      • 7 Best Multi-platform Text Editors

        Technology has become a key part of our lives, as everything is gradually becoming digitized, and our lives are being enveloped by it. Seeing how technology has grown to have such a major role in our lives, it comes off as no surprise as to the popularity that the field of Computer Science is receiving. Today’s demand for developers and technical experts has exponentially increased in the market and shows no signs of slowing down.
        Computer Science itself has seen a large progression in its content as numerous subfields are being introduced. However, one aspect that has always been in the limelight is programming, which sits at the crux of stuff like game development, animations, mobile and web applications, social networking sites, etc.

      • Hypnotix: A New IPTV Streaming App for Watching Live TV, Movies and Series

        These days, the Internet hype might have you thinking that movie streaming is kicking out TV channels but that’s not necessarily the case. While streaming platforms are becoming more popular, there are millions of people who prefer the good old tradition of following TV programs. If you’re one such person, then today’s app from Linux Mint is for you.

        Hypnotix is a free and open-source IPTV streaming application with support for live TV, movies, and series. It is developed and managed by the Linux Mint team to support multiple IPTV providers of the types Xtream API, local m3u playlist, and M3U URL.

      • SMPlayer 21.1.0

        SMPlayer intends to be a complete front-end for MPlayer, from basic features like playing videos, DVDs, and VCDs to more advanced features like support for MPlayer filters and more. One of the most interesting features of SMPlayer: it remembers the settings of all files you play. So you start to watch a movie but you have to leave… don’t worry, when you open that movie again it will resume at the same point you left it, and with the same settings: audio track, subtitles, volume…

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to Install KDE Plasma 5 on Arch Linux

        KDE Plasma 5 is the fifth generation desktop environment from KDE. KDE plasma requires less space and has a higher response rate. Meaning that you can run KDE in low space and feel the great user experience and smoothness. KDE plasma has a great look and feel, fresh and eye-catching icons, animations, customizable, and many pleasing features.

        For this article, we have the latest installation of Arch Linux 5.10.4 with XFCE desktop. We are going to install KDE Plasma 5.20.4 on it.

      • Machine Learning with R: A Complete Guide to Logistic Regression

        Logistic regression is one of the most fundamental algorithms from statistics, commonly used in machine learning. It’s not used to produce SOTA models but can serve as an excellent baseline for binary classification problems.

        Today you’ll learn how to implement the logistic regression model in R and also improve your data cleaning, preparation, and feature engineering skills.

      • A quick introduction to MQTT for IOT

        While I had heard the abbreviation MQTT many times, I never had a closer look at what MQTT is.

        Here are a few quick notes about using MQTT as Pub/Sub bus in a home IOT network.

      • Reverse-engineering a low-power LED flasher chip

        How do you make an LED blink? A vintage way is the LM3909, a chip from 1975 that can flash an LED for a year from a single flashlight battery. This chip has some surprising features, such as a charge pump that lets you power a 2-volt LED from a 1.5-volt battery. This IC was designed for simplicity, using just an LED, external capacitor, and battery. In this blog post, I reverse-engineer its silicon die.

      • How to Setup a Wekan Kanban Server on Linux – Linux Hint

        Wekan is an open-source tool that offers multiple features to maintain daily tasks through virtual cards. It is a fantastic Trello-like kanban board based on the Meteor Javascript framework and licensed by MIT.

        Waken is beneficial for keeping things organized, planning tasks, creating personal to-do lists, managing teams, etc. This tool allows you to use a colored label on different cards for facilitating filtering, project grouping, and assigning projects to a particular person.

      • How to Use Applmage in Linux – Linux Hint

        AppImage is a fantastic tool that works as a versatile software package for Linux. Therefore, a user does not require superuser permissions for installing the application. It also allows application developers for the Linux distribution-agnostic binary software deployment, also known as upstream packaging.

      • How to install Runelite on a Chromebook – Revised Tutorial

        Today we are looking at how to install Runelite, also known as Old School Runescape, on a Chromebook. Please follow the video/audio guide as a tutorial where we explain the process step by step and use the commands below.

      • Dealing with evil ads

        I usually don’t mind ads, as not as they not very intrusive. I get that the current media model is basically ad-funded, and that unless I want to pay $1/month or so to 50 web sites, I have to accept ads, so I don’t run an ad-blocker.

        Sure, sometimes are annoying (hey YT, mid-roll ads are borderline), but I’ve also seen many good ads, as in interesting or funny even. Well, I don’t think I ever bought anything as direct result from ads, so I don’t know how useful ads are for the companies, but hey, what do I care.

        Except… there a few ad networks that run what I would say are basically revolting ads. Things I don’t want to ever accidentally see while eating, or things that are really make you go WTF? Maybe you know them, maybe you don’t, but I guess there are people who don’t know how to clean their ears, or people for whom a fast 7 day weight loss routine actually works.

        Thankfully, most of the time I don’t browse sites which use this networks, but randomly they do “leak” to even sites I do browse. If I’m not very stressed already, I can ignore them, otherwise they really, really annoy me.

        Case in point, I was on Slashdot, and because I was logged on and recently had mod points, the right side column had a check-box “disable ads”. That sidebar had some relatively meaningful ads, like a VPN subscription (not that I would use it, but it is a tech thing), or even a book about Kali Linux, etc. etc. So I click the “disable ads”, and the right column goes away. I scroll down happily, only to be met, at the bottom, by the “best way to clean your ear”, “the most 50 useless planes ever built” (which had a drawing of something that was for sure never ever built outside of in movies), “you won’t believe how this child actor looks today”, etc.

      • How to Install and Use Helm in Kubernetes

        Deploying applications on a Kubernetes cluster can be a complex affair. It often requires users to create various YAML manifest files to create pods, service and replicasets. Helm is an opensource package manager for Kubernetes that allows developers to seamlessly automate the process of deploying and configuring applications in a Kubernetes Cluster. If you are new to Kubernetes, you might want to first familiarize yourself with basic Kubernetes concepts.

        In this guide, we will give you an overview to Helm and how it comes in handy in managing applications and packages in Kubernetes cluster. At the time of writing this guide, the latest release is Helm v3.

      • 2021 New Year’s resolutions for Linux users | Network World

        It’s a good idea to start each year with some ideas about how to make the new year better–even when it comes to working with Linux. This post offers some suggestions on how you might get more value and enjoyment from Linux in 2021.

      • How to swallow clients in i3 with i3-swallow

        A neat feature with the tiling window manager bspwm is the fact that it can swallow clients. This means that when you, for an example open a video with mpv in the terminal (or via Ranger), you can automatically replace that client with the video. This helps you save a lot of valuable space on your desktop.

      • How To Install Eclipse IDE On Ubuntu 20.04 / Linux Mint | Tips On UNIX

        Eclipse IDE is a famous Java Integrated development environment (IDE) and it is a free and open-source tool released under the Eclipse Public License 2.0.

        Nowadays it is an essential tool for any Java developer, including a Java IDE, a Git client, XML Editor, Mylyn, Maven, and Gradle Integration.

      • Setting up a Basic File server Using simpleHTTPserver – The Linux Juggernaut

        In this article we will demonstrate a quick and easy method to use your local system as a basic File Server using simpleHTTPserver. The SimpleHTTPServer is a built in module that comes available with the default Python installation on a YUM based system. It is a simple HTTP server that provides standard GET and HEAD request handlers. This allows users to access their data over a web browser allowing anyone in the local area network to access files and folders on from the local system. An advantage with the built-in HTTP server is that you don’t have to install and configure anything. The only thing that you need, is to have Python installed. You can use this to turn any directory in your system into your web server directory.

      • DeepL-Linux

        Select text in any application, press Ctrl+c to copy selected content into clipboard, then press the shortcut you just defined for loader.sh

      • EasyOS 64-bit running faster in Pi4

        I posted today about EasyOS booting up on the Raspberry Pi 4, getting a desktop and sound and wifi working, but everything running incredibly slow:


        It has defaulted to the “powersave” governor, and the CPUs are running at 600MHz.

      • Use external E-mail server for debian.net subdomain with Sakura Mailbox service

        If you want to set up debian.net subdomain, you may setup E-mail server on your own. But if there is not afford to setup it by yourself, you need external E-mail server.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Kate Text Editor – Quick Open

          After my summary of Kate improvements in 2020, it is my pleasure to show a first improvement coming in 2021.

          Kate has since years a feature called “quick open”. You reach it via the button at the right of the tabs or the default shortcut “Ctrl-Alt-O”. Quick open will provide a list of the current open documents (and in addition files of the current/all active projects) for quick navigation between them. Other editors call this often “Go to file…” or similar.

        • Wayland Goal Virtual Sprint 2021

          We will be having a Virtual Sprint for the Wayland Goal between Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th January 2021.

          This is open to contributors, you can have a look at the current program and more details at Wayland Virtual Sprint.

        • Applet Up For Adoption

          A year ago I felt like getting back into c++ and kde development. Scratching one of my itches seemed to be the right path back. For quite some time I was looking for a plasma applet that allows to control and monitor systemd units. Preferably for both system and session service managers.

          So are YOU interested in taking over? I consider it a very useful applet and would hate to see it perish. I would assist in moving it over to kde infrastructure.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Amanda Shafack: My Learning Curve at the GNOME Foundation

          It’s been six weeks since I started this exciting journey as an Outreachy intern at the GNOME Foundation. Every week, I have a set of tasks to work on and a project review session every start of the week with my mentor.
          During these sessions I present the work I’ve done, challenges I faced and then get feedback. I’ve had to learn most things on the go and every task comes with it’s own unique flavour of difficulty and discovery. Let’s take a quick look at the project I’m working on…

          My project is based on completing the integration between Gtranslator and Damned Lies(DL), so as to permit translators to upload files and reserve for translation directly from Gtranslator.(This is already possible from the DL website). I also need to extend the API endpoints DL provides so as to suite my use case.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Review: PakOS 2020-08-24

          PakOS is a Debian-based distribution that is intended to be a general purpose, desktop operating system. The distribution’s niche or primary audience is people who are from, or living in, Pakistan. The project’s website mentions that the operating system features the WPS office suite, comes with CrossOver installed, and includes an optional Windows-like theme. There are also security tools provided including the Clam anti-virus utility, a firewall tool, and Firejail for sandboxing applications. The project further mentions supplying kernels for both 64-bit (x86_64) and 32-bit (x86) processors.

          The PakOS distribution appears to be available in just one edition running the LXQt desktop. This edition is 3.1GB in size. One of the first things I discovered about PakOS is that, despite the mention of 32-bit kernels being available, the live media does not run on 32-bit machines. It seems that while 32-bit kernels may be available in the repositories I did not see any way to install PakOS on a 32-bit machine.

      • Debian Family

        • Tails Anonymous Linux OS Wants to Migrate to Wayland to Improve App Security

          I think 2020 has been a great year for Tails, with lots of release and achievements, but the development team has much bigger plans for 2021 as they finally want to adopt the next-generation Wayland display system instead of the vulnerable X.Org Server, for their GNOME-based graphical interface.

          By migrating to Wayland, the Tails devs hope to make all the apps included in the distribution more secure, as well as to fix some long-standing issues, such as the way Tail’s Unsafe Browser feature can be used to deanonymize you.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • 9 Decentralized, P2P and Open Source Alternatives to Mainstream Social Media Platforms Like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Reddit

        Tired of Big Tech prying on your data and invading your privacy? Here are some open source, decentralized alternate social platforms.

      • Stuart Langridge: OpenUK Honours

        There are a lot of problems with the open source community. I spoke about divisiveness over “distros” in Linux a while back. It’s still not clear how to make open source software financially sustainable for developers of it. The open source development community is distinctly unwelcoming at best and actively harassing and toxic at worst to a lot of people who don’t look like me, because they don’t look like me. There’s way too much of a culture of opposing popularity because it is popularity and we don’t know how to not be underdogs who reflexively bite at the cool kids. Startups take venture capital and make a billion dollars when the bottom 90% of their stack is open source that they didn’t write, and then give none of it back. Products built with open source, especially on the web, assume (to use Bruce Lawson’s excellent phrasing) that you’re on the Wealthy Western Web. The list goes on and on and on and these are only the first few things on it. To the extent that I have any influence as one of the one hundred top influencers in open source in the UK, those are the sort of things I’d like to see change. I don’t know whether having a medal helps with that, but last year, 2020, was an extremely tough year for almost everyone. 2021 has started even worse: we’ve still got a pandemic, the fascism has gone from ten to eleven, and none of the problems I mentioned are close to being fixed. But I’m on a list with Tim Berners-Lee, so I feel a little bit warmer than I did. Thank you for that, OpenUK. I’ll try to share the warmth with others.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Firefox 86 Will Support Next-Gen Image Format by Default

            A bug report shows Mozilla devs plan to ship Firefox 86, due in February 2020, with AVIF image support by default. AVIF images used on websites and web services will load in-page just like other supported image formats.

            But what is AVIF?

            AVIF is a free, lightweight, and highly optimised image compression format based on the AV1 video codec. AVIF images are up to 50% smaller in size (so they load faster) but are visually comparable to JPEG and other image compression formats in most instances.

          • Firefox – we’re finally getting HW acceleration on Linux

            Firefox 84.0 is a big milestone for Firefox Linux development as it comes with HW acceleration by default for some Linux users. Stock Mozilla Firefox 84.0 enables WebRender (HW accelerated backend) for Gnome/X.org and Gnome/Wayland will be supported in Firefox 85.0. Fedora is bit ahead and enables WebRender for Gnome/Wayland in Firefox 84.0 too.

            WebRender by default is restricted to AMD/Linux graphics cards as NVIDIA is known for various issues – both proprietary and Noveau drivers.

            And why it’s enabled in Gnome only for now? For instance KDE is also a popular desktop environment. I think it’s because Gnome utilizes HW acceleration so when Gnome works on your box there’s assumption that Firefox will work too. KDE provides choices how to disable/restrict HW acceleration setup (for instance it supports disabled screen compositing) and it’s more difficult to cover various scenarios.

          • Mozilla No Longer Supports A Free Internet

            Mozilla, a long-time champion of free and an open source software, recently posted a blog stating that the Internet needs more censorship. According to Mozilla, it is not enough that Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites ban “bad actors”. They want these sites to implement strategies to preemptively silence these people. They want an algorithm that punishes those that say “the wrong things” and reward those that post things that are “factual”.

      • Programming/Development

        • But it works on my machine

          Nevertheless, I regularly notice that developers misunderstand and underestimate the responsibility they carry. Some think that having a code work on their machine is enough to consider a job to be done. That fixing and preventing issues in production is none of their business. Or that error handling, monitoring, and graceful degradation are some magical, extra efforts that only special “devops” people do. The others are simply unaware of the complexities of real world and of the differences between a production environment and their local setup.

          This post is mostly for and about the latter. From the viewpoint of a web/backend developer, we’ll review a few common things that can go wrong in production, which usually are overlooked in a local environment. The discussion will be broad and somewhat shallow, but there are references to a more in-depth content in each section. In no way this post is exhaustive, but still I would have been glad to get my hands on these notes at the beginning of my career.

        • The Platform Is The Enemy

          Popular platforms aren’t just a danger economically because they control commerce. They’re not just a danger politically because they selectively control and amplify political discourse. They’re an extinction-level, existential danger to humans because they prevent people from seriously considering what kinds of categories are important in each of their lives. They resist their own analysis and over time make people dumber. Right now we’re skating through the danger because we’re harvesting people from less-advanced countries to do our hard-thinking for us. That window is quickly drawing to a close.

        • POWER10 Adds New Instructions For Helping Fend Off ROP Exploits – Phoronix

          The POWER10 architecture is adding several new instructions to help prevent return-oriented programming exploits.

          Hitting the GNU Assembler code this past week was support for new return-oriented programming instructions with POWER10. There are several new POWER instructions intended to help safeguard against this common security exploit means. It’s also the first time we’ve seen these new instructions mentioned.

          As it’s just the assembler bits being added, it doesn’t provide much context to these new ROP instructions but they include: HASHSTP, HASHCHKP, HASHST, and HASHCHK. Presumably based on the instruction names, a means of hashing the stack pointer and hashing/checking the call stack.

        • RcppArmadillo Minor update

          Armadillo is a powerful and expressive C++ template library for linear algebra aiming towards a good balance between speed and ease of use with a syntax deliberately close to a Matlab. RcppArmadillo integrates this library with the R environment and language–and is widely used by (currently) 802 other packages on CRAN.

          This release was needed because we use the Matrix package for some (optional) tests related to sparse matrices, and a small and subtle change and refinement in the recent 1.3.0 release of Matrix required us to make an update for the testing. Nothing has changed in how we set up, or operate on, sparse matrices. My thanks to Binxiang and Martin Maechler for feedback and suggestion on the initial fix both Binxiang and I set up independently. At the same time we upgrade some package internals related to continuous integration (for that, also see my blog post and video from earlier this week). Lastly Conrad sent in a one-line upstream fix for dealing with NaN in sign().

    • Standards/Consortia

      • [Old] Did Sisvel just catch AOM with their patents down?

        Both AV1 and VP9 are marketed as “Royalty Free” codecs by the Alliance for Open Media (AOM) and Google respectively, but it seems that Sisvel doesn’t agree with that statement. Sisvel has launched a new website, explaining their view of the history of video codec research and development cycles. Their video specifically flags AV1 and VP9 as “FREE?” codecs, saying they still contain approaches based on patent encumbered technologies. They make no statement as to which specific technologies they do not consider to be royalty free in AV1 and VP9.

      • [Old] Sisvel Announces AV1 Patent Pool

        According to the Luxembourg-headquartered Sisvel, hundreds of further patents are in the process of being evaluated. The group expects to reach a total portfolio offered for license of around 1,000 patents for VP9 and nearly 2,000 for AV1. Details of some of these are now published on Sisvel’s, website with more updated regularly.

      • [Old] AV1 License Terms

        Provided a licensee is in full compliance with its obligations under the AV1 license agreement, the royalty rate payable for each licensed product shall be subject to the Compliant Rate.

      • [Old] Former Refrigerator Manufacturer Says Companies Using Open Source, Royalty-Free Video Technology Must Pay To License 2,000 Patents

        In contrast to the proprietary and expensive H.265, the new video standard, called AOMedia Video 1 (AV1), is open source and royalty-free. Those features, and the backing of many of the top Internet companies, would seem to make it an obvious choice for manufacturers to build into their devices, leading to better-quality video streaming for end users at no extra cost.

        Life is never that simple. Back in March last year, Sisvel announced a “patent licensing program” for AV1. Sisvel is an Italian company that began as a manufacturer of white goods, particularly refrigerators, and has morphed into a group that “identifies, evaluates and maximizes the value of IP assets for its partners around the world”. The AOMedia group wrote in response: [...]

      • [Old] Google’s Royalty-Free Answer to HEVC: A Look at AV1 and the Future of Video Codecs

        Video streaming is a massive chunk of total internet traffic, and even a couple percent improvement in compression can have massive effects on both the network as a whole, and on user experience for that specific application. AV1 and Opus will make it possible to have decent quality video on lower throughput connections (opening up video streaming for more situations and more markets), and will enable even better quality than before on high throughput connections. They also are both designed with use over cellular networks in mind, with AV1 and Opus bringing massive improvements in how well they scale as connection speeds change, not to mention the higher resolutions, higher frame rates, expanded colour space, HDR support (which will be vital for services like Netflix, Youtube, and Amazon Video to take full advantage of the new displays on devices like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the LG G6, with the latter now being able to take advantage of Netflix’s recently-added HDR support in mobile), and lower latency that they will enable when combined in the WebM container.

      • [Old] AV1 Image File Format v1.0 Finalized

        The AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) is the specification for storing images and image sequences (animated images) compressed via AV1 in the HEIF High-Efficiency Image File Format. AV1, of course, being the promising royalty-free video coding format competing with the likes of HEVC/H.265. This is to AV1 as the WebP image format is to VP9/WebM.

      • Firefox 86: AVIF support enabled by default

        Mozilla plans to enable support for the AVIF format in Firefox 86 Stable so that AVIF image files will be displayed just like any other supported image format in the web browser.

      • OpenRAN project will not produce solution in the short term, says expert

        A technologist and inventor has poured cold water on the oft-touted notion that the Open Radio Access Network Policy Coalition — better known as the OpenRAN coalition — will produce anything in the short term to replace products from Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies, which the US and many of its allies have banned from their 5G networks.

  • Leftovers

    • Health/Nutrition

      • As Pandemic Rages, Trump Admin. Approves Tennessee’s “Reckless” Plan to Slash Medicaid

        The eleventh-hour safety net attack is being met with outrage from advocates of strengthening the healthcare program.

      • COVID Has Underscored the Need for Safe Drinking Water. But Not Everyone Has It.
      • COVID-19 Slaughter, CDC Tragedy, and One U.S. Authority without Blood on His Hands

        While anti-authoritarian progressives should have expected nothing less from Trump and Pence, cavalier clowns from the theocratic/pre-Enlightenment wing of the corporatocracy, they should have expected more from scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), whose compromising of science was chronicled by ProPublica (“Inside the Fall of the CDC”) and noted by the Center for Infectious Disease and Research Policy (CIDRAP). Both the ProPublica and the CIDRAP reports will be discussed here.

        For most of 2020, confused, anxious, and terrified Americans simply have had no idea as to which authority to trust, and such confusion, anxiety, and terror obliterated critical thinking. Now, with the arrival of vaccines—hopefully as effective as claimed—along with other good news that I will report, perhaps some Americans are re-energized to think critically. For those who have regained their strength, the goal of this article is to provide information for critical thinking about the CDC fiasco and the increasingly failed state called the United States—failed if your criteria includes how a society treats its elder citizens (according to the December 20, 2020 AARP Bulletin, the COVID-19 fatality rate in U.S. nursing home/long-term care facilities is 16% compared to the Battle of the Bulge fatality rate of 4%).

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • Nissan Source Code Leaks Due to Embarrassing Security Fail

            The North American unit belonging to the Japanese carmaker was using a Bitbucket Git server “secured” with the default login credentials (username: admin, password: admin), thus exposing the source code of mobile apps, the internal core mobile library, sales and marketing research tools and data, client services, the dealer portal, and even tools related to connected car services.

          • Misconfigured Git servers lead to Nissan data leak

            The researcher also found details on Nissan’s internal core mobile library, NCAR/ICAR services, client acquisition and retention tools, sale/market research tools and data, various marketing tools, and vehicle logistics portal.

            The leak stemmed from a Git server that was left visible online with its default username and password combo of “admin.” Nissan is probing the leak, and the Git server was taken offline after the data started disseminating on Monday via Telegram channels and [cracking] forums.

          • The Most Backdoor-Looking Bug I’ve Ever Seen

            This is the story of a bug that was discovered and fixed in Telegram’s self-rolled cryptographic protocol about sever years ago. The bug didn’t get any press, and no one seems to know about it, probably because it was only published in Russian.

            To this day, it’s the most backdoor-looking bug I’ve ever seen.

            Google Translate does a good enough job on the original article, which is still available on Habr, but I’m going to walk you through it along with some context.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • He Created the Web. Now He’s Out to Remake the Digital World.

              But now, Mr. Berners-Lee, 65, believes the online world has gone astray. Too much power and too much personal data, he says, reside with the tech giants like Google and Facebook — “silos” is the generic term he favors, instead of referring to the companies by name. Fueled by vast troves of data, he says, they have become surveillance platforms and gatekeepers of innovation.

              Regulators have voiced similar complaints. The big tech companies are facing tougher privacy rules in Europe and some American states, led by California. Google and Facebook have been hit with antitrust suits.

              But Mr. Berners-Lee is taking a different approach: His answer to the problem is technology that gives individuals more power.

              The goal, he said, is to move toward “the web that I originally wanted.”

    • Defence/Aggression

      • The Entire Point of the 25th Amendment

        The hazard here should be clear. Imagine that an unhinged president is threatening to unleash a catastrophe. The vice president and the Cabinet react by invoking Section 4. The president—unhinged, but still lucid—responds and asserts, wrongly, that he has taken his power back. We now have two people claiming to be in charge of the White House, the executive branch, and the military. More problematically, the president could attempt to fire the Cabinet, to prevent it from re-declaring his inability and sending the case to Congress. It is not hard to imagine the havoc that even a few hours of this tug-of-war could wreak.

      • Details emerge of high-level state involvement in Wednesday’s coup attempt

        In the aftermath of the January 6 fascist coup attempt in Washington DC, new revelations show that the plot was prepared with the involvement of sections of the military, police and Republican Party. The danger has not passed. Trump remains president for 11 days and is using the White House as the nerve center for his efforts to remain in office. There is every indication that plans for a second putsch attempt on Inauguration Day—January 20—are now underway.

        The minimal police presence at the Capitol building on Wednesday was not a mistake or oversight, as the corporate media has claimed, but part of a high-level conspiracy.

      • The Terrorist Attack Is NOT Over.

        The terrorist attack is NOT over. Thousands from Wednesday’s terrorist mob assault on the Capitol have not been arrested and have NOT LEFT the DC area. They are planning more attacks. A poster advertising an “ARMED MARCH ON CAPITOL HILL & ALL STATE CAPITOLS” on January 17th is being displayed all over. It has even been circulated among the members of Congress. [...]

    • Finance

      • Kamala Harris Picks Member of World’s Largest Asset Firm as Top Economic Advisor
      • Burlington, Vermont, Harbinger of Change?

        There’s another mayoral election this March in Burlington. It will be forty years since Bernie Sanders won his first term as Burlington’s mayor in 1981. Similar to the dynamics of that year, the current Democratic mayor has proven to be a friend of developers and financiers. His network of associates and advisors is the 2020 version of a good old boys’ network. In other words, it’s not just made up of heterosexual men. His opposition includes a thirty-something Progressive and independent candidate Ali Dieng. It wasn’t more than a couple days after the Progressive candidate Max Tracy received the nomination of the Progressive Party for Burlington’s mayoral race that the local CBS affiliate WCAX-TV (known for its conservative leanings) ran a segment portraying him as too radical. Interspersing their commentary with images from local Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests, the story featured sound bites from liberal city council member Jane Knodell and the consistently conservative GOP politician Kurt Wright. The implication was that Tracy is a far-left radical whose politics are not what Burlington needs in these times. In an earlier story in Vermont’s more liberal Seven Days Vermont newspaper discussing the Progressive Party’s virtual caucus, Tracy was contrasted with his caucus opponent, longtime Progressive Brian Pine. In this article the reporter could find little difference between the two men’s politics, choosing instead to focus on style and approach. Seven Days, too, quoted GOP stalwart Kurt Wright, who more or less revealed his opinion of Tracy, stating that Tracy “is viewed as very, very far left in almost every circumstance….” Current mayor Democrat Weinberger echoed Wright in his speech accepting the Democratic Party nod in his reelection campaign, saying “As the Democratic Party has been establishing itself, both nationally and locally, as a Party committed to people through policy and progress that are based in science, data, and expertise, today’s Burlington Progressive Party has been moving in a different, rigid, ideological direction.” Not only do these remarks deny that Tracy and those to Weinberger’s left also use data, science and expertise but draw different conclusions than the Democrats, they also pretend that the Democrats are beyond ideology when, in reality, their ideology is an ideology that puts landlords, developers and banks ahead of workers, tenants and the poor. Although this piece was written in the early days of the campaign season, the remarks by Weinberger and Wright and the article by Seven Days indicate that the anti-Progressive elements in Burlington are trying to steer the campaign in a direction where perception matters more than fact. Bernie Sanders certainly knows something about that.

        During Bernie Sanders’ first campaign for mayor of Burlington (and for the rest of his political life), his opponents attempted to pin a similar label on him. When Sanders first became Mayor in 1981 at thirty-nine years of age, the city of Burlington had been controlled by a good old boys’ network of establishment Democrats nominally led by Gordon Paquette. Their circle of friends were real estate developers and others who saw dollar signs instead of people. Bernie Sanders’ campaign for mayor put people—specifically working people—at the center of the campaign’s conversation. The campaign was hard fought and, in the end, it can be argued that it was the votes of less than a dozen voters who aligned themselves with anarchist and social ecologist Murray Bookchin’s politics that put Sanders over the top. Because of the success of his first term, Sanders was re-elected handily in the next mayoral election. For most of the 1980s his opponents in the Democratic/Republican establishment continued to call him a socialist. At the time it was a label Sanders proudly wore.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Opinion | Trump, the Coup, and the Collusion That Made It Possible

        It will be hard to disentangle the levels of causal, moral, and legal responsibility, and harder still to repair the damage.

      • The Failed Fascist Coup and the Futility of “Reconciliation”

        Make no mistake: the bloody attack on the U.S. Capitol – with a death toll of five by Friday afternoon – was the Trump circle’s handiwork. After months of disseminating baseless electoral fraud conspiracies and lending his presence to two previous violent rampages in Washington, Trump sent his Trumpenvolk terrorists over to Capitol Hill. Once the assault began, he refused to condemn it. His first address to the nation after the mayhem broke out threw kerosene on the fire by doubling down on his preposterous claim to have been cheated out of a “landslide” re-election.

        The idea behind the attack was certainly to create enough mayhem to “justify” Trump invoking the Insurrection Act, declaring martial law, and canceling the inauguration of Biden. Just how far up and wide the planning of this failed coup went remains to be seen. It was an inside job, not just an outside “protest” that got too “wild.”

      • Opinion | Confederates in the Capitol: The Re-enactment of a Lost Cause

        The lesson we must learn from the crushing of Reconstruction is that escorting Trump out the door must not be the end of this story.

      • Opinion | Our Post-Trump Democratic Prospects: What the Ming Dynasty Can Tell Us

        ‘Good government’ has always rested on equitable distributions of wealth and power.

      • Trump Loyalists Want to Uphold a Long American Tradition: White License
      • After Attempted Coup, We Must Fight White Supremacy and Sow Revolutionary Love
      • Ocasio-Cortez: We Must Hold Trump Accountable or “It Will Happen Again”
      • Failure to Hold Trump Accountable for Capitol Siege Means ‘It Will Happen Again,’ Says Rep. Ocasio-Cortez

        “If another head of state came in and ordered an attack on the United States Congress, would we say that that should not be prosecuted?” the New York Democrat said Sunday.

      • Opinion | Trump Lit the Match for an Attempted Coup, But Decades of Misinformation Supplied Fuel

        The dangerous attempt at a coup of the Capitol didn’t happen in a vacuum. A culture of misinformation — even from those who should know better — has played a role in distancing too many people from the realities our country faces, including climate change.

      • Opinion | Trump, Social Media and “Orwellian” Bullshit

        After a relentless and unbroken 40-year fight to hand informational control and power over to a small number of corporate actors, the political right is now wetting their collective pants over Trump being banned by a privately-owned company.

      • ‘History Will Not Look Kindly on Us’ If Trump Not Impeached, Says Rep. Ilhan Omar

        The Minnesota Democrat said she will formally introduce two articles of impeachment Monday.

      • Accountability for the Attempted Coup

        Last week’ rampage left five dead, including a Capitol Hill police officer who was injured when he tangled with the pro-Trump mob. We’re fortunate the carnage wasn’t greater.

      • Impeach—and Hold the Articles, if Necessary—Is the Right Way Forward

        Donald Trump may be the biggest liar—and worse—in American presidential history. “This American carnage stops right here and now,” as he declared in his inaugural address, might have been the biggest lie he told. Trump’s election inaugurated the worst wave of domestic violence the nation has seen since the Civil War (and Reconstruction plus Jim Crow terror in the South): Charlottesville; Cesar Sayoc’s anti-Democrat and anti-media pipe bomb spree; the Tree of Life synagogue massacre; the El Paso Walmart massacre; the violent police repression of mostly peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, D.C., this summer; the terrifying militia plot to kidnap and execute Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer this fall.

      • 210 House Democrats Endorse Trump’s Immediate Impeachment

        As demands for the impeachment of Donald Trump grew in intensity Saturday, House Democrats united in support of a strategy to address the threat posed by a president who on January 6 incited a mob to storm the Capitol where members of Congress were certifying the election of Joe Biden as Trump’s successor. House Democrats will on Monday give Vice Pence 24 hours to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump. If Pence fails to act, the impeachment process will begin on Tuesday.

      • [Old] Meet Rebekah Mercer, the deep-pocketed co-founder of Parler, a controversial conservative social network

        Mercer is the daughter of Robert Mercer, a hedge fund manager and the co-founder of the now-defunct political data-analysis firm Cambridge Analytica. The Mercers have been prominent supporters of President Donald Trump and conservative causes.

      • Parler – Meet Rebekah Mercer, a Co-Founder and Funder

        There is much talk about Parler in the last few days because that’s where Trump tried to land his sinking social media ship after Twitter and Facebook (and its Instragram) put a few holes below its water line by blocking him for, well, trying to overturn the US government. As it turns out, Parler was co-founded and bankrolled by the very wealthy Rebekah Mercer. She’s the daughter of Robert Mercer, a hedge fund billionaire who backed Trump among many other right wing nutjobs, started the conservative Heritage Foundation, invested in Breitbart, and also was behind Cambridge Analytica, the political data company now defunct. If CA sounds familiar, that was the outfit that was involved in fucking with the 2016 election in part by using Facebook data to micro-market voters.

      • Bans on Parler and Trump Show Big Tech’s Power Over Web Conversation

        Now, pressured by lawmakers, civil rights advocates and even their own workers, the big tech companies are realizing just how much power and responsibility they have over public conversation — including over apps they didn’t create.

      • Parler: Everything you need to know about the banned conservative social media platform

        Parler was founded by Rebekah Mercer, John Matze and Jared Thomson.

        Mercer, a prominent conservative donor, said she is helping to bankroll Parler “to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended, and also to create a social media environment that would protect data privacy,” she said in a statement in November.

        Mercer is the daughter of Robert Mercer, a hedge fund manager and the co-founder of the now-defunct political data-analysis firm Cambridge Analytica. The Mercers have been prominent supporters of President Donald Trump and conservative causes.

        For years, the Mercers have been key benefactors of conservative groups, ranging from the Heritage Foundation think tank, where Rebekah Mercer serves on the board of trustees, to organizations that have produced anti-Hillary-Clinton books and movies.

      • Amazon to Suspend Hosting Services for Parler, Saying App ‘Poses a Very Real Risk to Public Safety’

        Parler, the far-right social network favored by many Trump supporters, is set to go dark Sunday after Amazon’s AWS division said it is pulling the plug on the service’s hosting account.

        Amazon informed Parler, which boasts of taking a hands-off policy to content moderation, of the imminent loss of its internet hosting services on Saturday. That came after Apple and Google banned Parler from their respective app stores, also citing Parler’s inaction on policing violent and harmful content. On Friday, Twitter banned Donald Trump permanently while the president’s accounts on other internet services have been suspended indefinitely in the wake of Wednesday’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

      • Amazon Is Booting Parler Off Of Its Web Hosting Service

        eople on Parler used the social network to stoke fear, spread hate, and coordinate the insurrection at the Capitol building on Wednesday. The app has recently been overrun with death threats, celebrations of violence, and posts encouraging “Patriots” to march on Washington, DC with weapons on January 19, the day before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

        In an email obtained by BuzzFeed News, an AWS Trust and Safety team told Parler Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff that the calls for violence propagating across the social network violated its terms of service. Amazon said it was unconvinced that the service’s plan to use volunteers to moderate calls for violence and hate speech would be effective.

      • Amazon to suspend US app Parler for ‘violent content’, following Apple and Google moves

        Amazon then moved to wipe it from its cloud hosting Amazon Web Services, pushing it offline entirely.

        In a letter to Parler first published by Buzzfeed, Amazon said the network was not acting quickly enough against violent content on the platform.

      • Amazon and Apple pull the plug on Parler

        Between the lines: Despite being spiked from both major mobile app stores, Parler remains accessible on any mobile or desktop device via its website.

        For the record: Parler was the No. 1 app in Apple’s App Store this weekend prior to the tech giant suspending the service.

      • Sacha Baron Cohen on Facebook, Twitter and Trump

        On Friday, Twitter banned Donald Trump from his favorite platform, citing the 45th president’s potential to whip up more violence after the week’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. The ban followed Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to bar Trump indefinitely from Facebook, limiting the president’s ability to communicate directly to tens of millions of his most diehard supporters. The move kicked off praise from liberal sectors and condemnation from conservatives who believe it’s an example of Silicon Valley overreach.

        For Sacha Baron Cohen, it was the culmination of an extensive campaign, one that has seen the comedian use his celebrity to mount an unusually consequential effort to press big tech to crack down on QAnon and other fringe and far-right groups. Shortly after Twitter enacted its ban, Baron Cohen, one of the most outspoken critics of social media’s role in spreading conspiracy theories and hate speech, was ebullient.

      • Cameron Kaiser: Another way social media is bad

        Social media like Twitter, Facebook, etc., has been in the news this week for obvious reasons due to the political unrest in the United States, where this blog and yours truly are based. For the same obvious reasons I’m not going to discuss that here since I can’t moderate such a discussion and there are a million other places to talk about it. Likewise, please don’t do so in the comments; I will remove those posts.

        But relevant to this blog and this audience is social media’s impact on trying to get the most bang for your buck out of your old devices and computers. Full-fat Twitter and Facebook (and others) are computationally expensive: the bells and whistles cost in terms of JavaScript, and there is no shortage of other client-side analytics to feed you the posts to keep you engaged and to monitor your actions to construct ad profiles. A number of our outstanding bugs in TenFourFox are directly due to this, and some can’t be fixed without terrible consequences (such as Facebook’s asm.js draw code using little-endian floats, which would be a nightmare to constantly byteswap, which is why the reaction icons don’t show up), and pretty much none of them are easy to diagnose because all of their code is minified to hell. As they track changes in hardware and the browser base and rely on them, these problems continuously get worse. Most of TenFourFox’s development is done by me and me alone and a single developer simply can’t keep up with all the Web platform changes anymore.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • New Google Union Will Help Build Labor Struggle Against Technological Oppression
      • Ex-NSA contractor Reality Winner alleges sexual assault by guard in prison

        Reality Winner, the former U.S. intelligence analyst from South Texas who is serving a prison sentence for espionage, was sexually assaulted by a guard in the federal medical lockup in Fort Worth, her lawyer told the USA TODAY Network.

        Alison Grinter, who has represented Winner in her effort to win a reduced sentence and in other matters, said the Kingsville area native made a complaint to officials at the U.S. Bureau of Prison’s Medical Center-Carswell in March about the incident.

      • DoorDash Is Hiking Customer Fees to Pay for a Law It Helped Write

        The company-funded Yes on Prop 22 campaign claimed that not passing the ballot initiative would result in higher prices for consumers, and in early December, news first broke that gig companies would be charging more anyway to cover the cost of benefits promised in Prop 22 such as a healthcare stipend and a minimum pay guarantee. It’s also not clear whether these new benefits warrant price hikes as an October 2019 study by the Berkeley Labor Center of Proposition 22 found that driver pay would come out to $5.64 an hour. Nonetheless, companies in the coalition signaled they’d have to pass costs onto consumers instead of absorbing them into their already unprofitable enterprises.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Pakistan [Internet] connectivity collapses amid nation-scale power outage

        NetBlocks has identified a nation-scale power outage across Pakistan after 11:40 p.m. Saturday 9 January 2021 Islamabad time (6:40 p.m. UTC). Real time network data from the Internet Observatory show severe impact to telecommunications infrastructure leaving only 62% of the country’s observable [Internet] connectivity offline, with residential and business networks most impacted.

    • Monopolies

      • Sunday Surprises
        [Ed: “Intellectual property" -- basically a highly misleading propaganda term which does not mean anything and instead misinforms people -- is promoted by UCL]

        The UCL Institute of Brand and Innovation Law is hosting a course on “Intellectual property agreements: Law and practice” over six weeks starting on 16 February 2021. More information on this course is available here. Other courses hosted by UCL from January to March include “Introduction to Contracts”, “IP licensing: An advanced level drafting workshop”, “Privacy and Data: Law and Practice”, “Drafting “legal” clauses in commercial contracts” and “Contract Drafting Skills Workshop”.

      • Patents

        • [Old] The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls

          In the past, non-practicing entities (NPEs) – firms that license patents without producing goods – have facilitated technology markets and increased rents for small inventors. Is this also true for today’s NPEs? Or are they “patent trolls” who opportunistically litigate over software patents with unpredictable boundaries? Using stock market event studies around patent lawsuit filings, we find that NPE lawsuits are associated with half a trillion dollars of lost wealth to defendants from 1990 through 2010, mostly from technology companies. Moreover, very little of this loss represents a transfer to small inventors. Instead, it implies reduced innovation incentives.

        • Irish patent firm [sic] in multimillion dollar settlement with tech giants [Ed: Even Ireland has patent trolls and the Irish Times cheers for such parasites while abusing misleading propaganda terms such as "intellectual property"]

          Controversial Irish patent-holding company Neodrón has reached a multimillion dollar settlement with 10 of the world’s largest consumer electronics giants over the use of intellectual property it owns. [sic]

          Among the companies Neodrón has gone after for alleged patent violations are Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, HP Enterprise, Dell, Samsung, Sony, Lenovo and LG Electronics.

          The company, which has a registered office in Dublin 18, acquired a number of patents related to touchscreen technology for mobile devices from US company Microchip Technologies a number of years ago.

        • CVC Files Reply to Broad’s Opposition to CVC’s Miscellaneous Motion No. 6; Board Issues Orders [Ed: The sheer madness of patents on life and on nature is still being pursued by profiteering nuts]

          Motion practice continues in Interference No. 106,115 between Senior Party The Broad Institute, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (collectively, “Broad”) and Junior Party the University of California/Berkeley, the University of Vienna, and Emmanuelle Charpentier (collectively, “CVC”), with CVC filing on January 6th its Reply to Broad’s opposition to CVC’s Miscellaneous Motion No. 6 for leave to subpoena discovery (including depositions) from Luciano Marraffini and Shuailiang Lin, neither of whom is a party to this interference (pursuant to an Order authorizing filing of this Reply issued by the Board on December 28th).

          CVC’s motion was predicated on its contention that these witnesses had relevant testimony regarding Broad’s priority, dates of conception, and activities related to reduction to practice, that Broad would not voluntarily provide these witnesses for deposition, and that such testimony would contradict allegations in Broad’s priority statement. CVC also asserted that it had attempted to obtain their testimony voluntarily but had been refused, making subpoena the only avenue available for obtaining their evidence.

        • Both Sides Ask Albright For COVID Delay In HEB Patent Trial

          Grocery store chain HEB and Digital Retail Apps — which are battling over accusations that HEB infringed patents with an app to scan and pay for items in-store — filed a joint motion Friday asking U.S. District Judge Alan Albright of the Western District of Texas to postpone their jury trial set for February, citing safety concerns given the pandemic.

          HEB Grocery Company LP and Digital Retail Apps Inc. asked Judge Albright to push the Feb. 19 trial date back to April 19 in order to allow “the COVID-19 situation to ameliorate.”

          “The worsening COVID-19 pandemic has raised significant concerns for both parties’ attorneys, witnesses, and experts regarding the risks posed to anyone who attends inperson trial,” the parties said Friday.

        • COVID-19, Digitalisation and the GPTO – Three Worlds Collide

          While it is my impression that the IP profession, on the whole, has not had to suffer much under the current COVID-19 pandemic, the same is unfortunately not true for our patent attorney trainees. It all started in early 2020. By then about 1800 trainees had been busy for months learning and getting ready for the European Qualifying Examination, only to be informed – only a few weeks ahead of the exam – that the EQE 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID-19.

          Going forward, German trainees entering their Amtsjahr (the year they have to spend at the German Patent and Trademark Office and Federal Patent Court) were confronted with the double intricacies of remote learning and completely insufficient digital infrastructure on the side of their instructors. This culminated in them being told that they had to acquire a Webex license at their own expense; otherwise the Federal Patent Court would be unable to hold online lectures. And while you may be still scratching your head about whether it is a trainee’s duty to buy a Webex license for his or her employer (trainees are formally employed at the GPTO during this time period and are obliged to attend the lectures, although they do not receive a salary – another unique oddity in Germany), you better go and collect the money. It’s only 180 EUR for a moderately sized group of about 40-50. So the trainees obliged, collected and paid the license fee, and the online lessons started. Well, at least 3 or 4 of them. Then some worryguts at the Federal Patent Court discovered that Webex operates through two web servers, one in Frankfurt and one in London. The latter, however, might possibly not be in conformity with the infamous EU General Data Protection Regulation, since it is not (no longer) located in the EU. Again, no time to scratch your head about whether this is correct on the law and, if so, whether it means that no EU citizen is allowed any longer to hold their online TCs or lectures via Webex (comments welcome, I am not a GDPR expert). In any case, online lectures via Webex were ceased; instead a purely German application was used. I prefer to cover the comments I heard about the *quality* of this application with a gracious cloak of silence.


          Overall, and this is my (personal) comment on the above, the GPTO has really not covered itself in glory by cancelling these exams without even indicating a new date. Just put yourselves in the shoes of a trainee who is confronted with such a message about one month before their final exams for which they have been preparing themselves for months. This is not funny.

        • Supreme Court will hear Assignor Estoppel Case

          The appellate panel in the case upheld the doctrine of assignor estoppel, but also found that an assignor could collaterally attack via IPR since the PTO does not enforce the doctrine. The panel – led by Judge Stoll — also called for reconsideration of the doctrine “as it applies both in district court and in the Patent Office.”

        • Software Patents

          • Apple denied new VirnetX FaceTime patent trial

            After a battery of appeals, the Apple versus VirnetX legal battle over FaceTime patents appears to be finally over, with the judge at the heart of the case denying Apple’s motion for a new trial.

            Robert W. Schroeder III denied Apple’s motion for a new trial in the ongoing FaceTime patent misuse trial saga on Wednesday. In a parallel ruling, the judge also granted, but modified VirnetX’s motion for interest payments and other fees assessed to Apple.


            In March 2020, VirnetX confirmed that Apple sent a $454 million payment for infringing several of its patents through the FaceTime and VPN on Demand features.

          • Marathon Patent Group completes $200M capital raise [Ed: “Marathon Patent Group” is just a fancy name for an extortion apparatus or patent troll]

            U.S.-based Marathon Patent Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: MARA) announced that it had successfully completed its previously announced $200 million shelf offering by utilizing its at-the-market (ATM) facility. Marathon ended the 2020 fiscal year with $217.6 million in cash and 74,656,549 shares outstanding because of the raise.

      • Trademarks

        • Around the Blogs

          Some lucky Kat readers might have received a Birkin for Christmas; Hermes itself received the festive gift of prevailing in the Japan IP High Court against an appeal brought by Tia Maria, the maker of ‘lookalike’ bags, as summarised by The Fashion Law.

        • CJEU on EU trademark appeals in 2020 – year in review

          Here‘s a look-back on the year that is about to end, with a promise not to say anything about Covid, Brexit, or Trump!

          This is about CJEU rulings in 2020 concerning appeals filed in trade mark matters – some numbers and observations – and wishes for 2021!

          The total number of CJEU rulings in such matters in 2020 was 51 (not counting 4 design cases and two procedural cases that had nothing to do with trademark matters). In three cases, there was no need to adjudicate as the parties settled or the appeal was withdrawn. So that leaves 48 decisions.

          Of these 48 decisions, 35 were orders and 13 were judgments. The 13 judgments all concerned cases lodged before 1 May 2019. Some of them contributed significantly although perhaps not always positively to the development of EU trademark law. None of them would have been handed down had the appeals been lodged after 1 May 2019, but more on this below.

        • Hermès Prevails in Japanese Case Over Birkin Lookalikes, as Court Points to Resale Market as Key Factor

          Hermès has prevailed in a trademark fight over the 3D shape of its iconic Birkin bag in Japan. Following a win in June when the Tokyo District Court determined that Kabushiki Kaisha Tia Maria (“Tia Maria”) had engaged in trademark infringement and passing off, the defendant handbag-seller appealed to the Japan IP High Court, arguing that, among other things, there are visual dissimilarities between the two parties’ bags, as well as marked differences in the prices and the quality of their offerings. Unpersuaded by Tia Maria’s arguments, the High Court sided with Hermès and ordered the defendant to pay JPY2,900,000 ($27,973) in damages.

      • Copyrights

        • Sci-Hub and Libgen Up against Academic Publishers: A Death Knell for Access to Research? – Part I

          The plaintiffs heavily rely on the decision in UTV Software Communication Ltd. v. 1337X.TO for seeking the defendant websites to be blocked and for a dynamic injunction to be issued against the same. In UTV, the Delhi High Court went into extensive detail on the issue of digital piracy and its impact on the movie industry. Pertinently, it delved into the question of when a website has to be blocked in its entirety as against a specific URL that contains the alleged infringing content. To this end, the court noted the significant impact that blocking of a website might have and hence the remedy has to be used with caution. Accordingly, the court only allowed it to be used against certain websites that it termed to be as ‘rogue’ websites.

          The court listed out nine suggestive, non-exhaustive factors to categorise a website as ‘rogue’ in nature. These factors are: (i) primary purpose of the website being copyright infringement; (ii) flagrancy of the infringement; (iii) hidden or non-traceable details of the website registrant; (iv) ignorance of take down notices; (v) the presence of directories, indexes or categories of the means to infringe; (vi) the general disregard to copyright by the owner; (vii) blocking of access to the website by other jurisdictions; (viii) presence of instructions on circumventing measures and court orders blocking access to the website; and (ix) the traffic on the websites. Per these factors, the website need not itself be carrying out the infringement, rather it also includes websites facilitating such infringement.

          It would be interesting to see how the court tests the present case on these criteria. Some of the factors including blocking by other jurisdictions, the extent of traffic, non-traceability of website owners, presence of indexes and categories, and ignorance of take down notices prima facie weigh in against the defendants. Similarly the regular updates of mirror links to access the websites could be seen as instructions on circumventing court orders. As to the general disregard of copyright law, the same also weighs slightly against the defendants. However, other factors require strict analysis by the court during the trial to determine the nature of material available on these websites. As Prof. Scaria points out, a lot of material on these websites might actually not be hit by copyright law such as works in which copyright has expired or those where the right vests in the author in which the publishers do not have any claim to begin with. As the plaintiffs have only provided a short illustrative list, a clear conclusion on the primary purpose of the website or the flagrancy of infringement requires a more thorough treatment. It has to be considered that the court in UTV itself had stated that the classification of a website as ‘rogue’ was a qualitative endeavour that requires establishment that the given website is “overwhelmingly infringing”. A sample size of hundred or so articles might not be sufficient to establish infringement to this extent when the total scope of works runs over 84 million each.

          Another allied issue that has to be addressed is that of granting a dynamic injunction as a remedy by the court. The court in UTV suggested it to be granted to stop what it termed as ‘hydra headed’ rogue websites that merely provide mirror links upon being blocked. In such circumstances, the court stated that the plaintiffs could implead the “mirror/redirect/alphanumeric websites under Order I Rule 10 CPC in the event they merely provide new means of accessing the same primary infringing websites that have been injuncted”. The power of supervision over the process was granted to the Joint Registrar, taking away the judicial oversight. This remedy becomes particularly problematic in the case at hand where there possibly exist a large number of non-infringing content on the concerned websites. If supposed the websites are blocked and they subsequently come up with an alphanumeric website hosting merely non-infringing content, the plaintiffs might even get them shut down given the broad leeway provided by a dynamic injunction, despite its emphasis on infringing works. Moreover, as we have discussed earlier on the blog, courts have not been particularly careful in structuring the dynamic injunction orders and have given broad-worded reliefs that can misused by the plaintiffs, thereby unreasonably constraining free speech. In this light, it is particularly important for the care to approach this plea with caution.

          With this background on the arguments raised by the plaintiffs in this dispute, I shall highlight the applicability of a fair dealing exception in Part II of this post (here). Part III (here) would then deal with the exception for education use in the Act and the relief of interim injunction sought by the plaintiffs.

        • Sci-Hub and Libgen Up against Academic Publishers: A Death Knell for Access to Research? – Part I

          In light of these decisions, it appears that the provision could be interpreted to include such use of works that facilitates research. In such a scenario, the court’s decision in this case would then depend heavily on how it appreciates the various factors of ‘fair dealing’ as highlighted above. It must be noted that if the fair dealing argument of the defendants is accepted by the court, this would not set a particularly dangerous precedent as some might fear. This is because the assessment will be particular to the facts at hand which themselves are peculiar in nature. The two features that distinguish this case from other concerns of piracy are the non-profit nature of the venture and the lack of impact on the owner’s market which is not met in any other piracy case. As an aside, even in the UTV case while assessing the website blocking and granting dynamic injunction, the court specifically noted the severe impact of digital piracy on the movie industry, which is far from being the case at hand.

          With this discussion on the applicability of the fair dealing exception in this post, and the background on the litigation and the dynamic injunction plea in Part I (here), in Part III (here) I shall deal with the exception for educational use in the Copyright Act and the relief of interim injunction sought by the plaintiffs.

        • Sci-Hub and Libgen Up against Academic Publishers: A Death Knell for Access to Research? – Part III

          Section 52(1)(i) of the Act allows for “the reproduction of any work” “by a teacher or a pupil in the course of instruction”. This provision was the focus of attention of the landmark DU Photocopy case. The Division Bench of the Delhi High Court had interpreted it to provide that so long as any given work is necessary for the purposes of educational instruction, reproduction of such work is permissible. This essentially means that if, for instance, the plaintiff’s works are necessary for educational instruction, copies of the same can be made by students for their use. Moreover, the Division Bench also specified that the use of any intermediary or agency by the concerned student or teacher for carrying out this copying would be permissible within this provision. The caveat, however, that the court provided was the incorporation of the element of fairness under this provision. It held that this fairness has to be “determined on the touchstone of ‘extent justified by the purpose’” and that “so much of the copyrighted work can be fairly used which is necessary to effectuate the purpose of the use i.e. make the learner understand what is intended to be understood.”

          Applying this rationale to the present case, the defendant websites can potentially be seen as intermediaries that provide access to works that are necessary in the course of instruction. This, however, would be a difficult argument to make for the defendants. This is because in a sense they will have to establish the necessity of each work that they have stored on their database for some instruction or the other. Moreover, it might also be contested on the grounds that under this claim the access to works should be restricted to only those for which it is necessary. For instance, it is difficult to argue why a law student necessarily requires access to scientific articles on nanotechnology.

          Even if this exception is deemed to be inapplicable, another factor needs to be considered. If the court decides against the defendants in this case, that will mean that the applicability of this exception will become minimal. As Divij has explained earlier, the academic publishing industry is already skewed against access for individual researchers, students, and the scientific community at large. Furthermore, a recent piece in Scroll on this litigation aptly highlights the necessity of the defendant websites for academia to tackle the challenges posed by this exploiting structure of publishing agencies (also see here). This challenge is stark even for those institutions with above-average access to subscribed databases. For instance, even for writing this post, I could not access some of the authoritative commentaries on copyright law for analysis, despite having significantly higher access to resources through my University than non-institutional researchers, and the exorbitant costs to buy an individual copy. The excessive costs of subscription charged by publishing houses has led to libraries around the world highlighting their inability to afford them, including Harvard in the past (see here, here, here, here, here, and most recently here and here). Even the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India’s largest science body, has had affordability difficulties in subscribing to major academic journals. As an aside, a detailed research on the availability of library budgets in Indian universities and the concerns on affordability of major databases within the same will be an interesting exercise. The figures for the top 3 NIRF ranked universities in Law, Medical, and Engineering share some interesting insights. For instance, the approximate expenditure on library in 2018-19 ranges from 30 lakhs to 2.4 crores in Law, 5.4 crores to 28.5 crores in Medical, and 16 crores to 19.5 crores in Engineering, in the top 3 ranked universities. These figures, however, offer a limited insight given their vast range and non-contextualised presentation as factors like receipt of external donations, extent of prior availability of resources, and segregation of expenditure on books and academic journals, significantly affects the viability of spending.

        • Copyright and the Sci-Hub/Libgen Case: A Constitutional Query

          By now, most readers are likely to be aware of the case against the shadow libraries Sci-Hub and LibGen, by three publishing houses. We had a post questioning why ‘poorer’ countries were still allowing copyright law to act as a hindrance to development here, and a three-part post looking into the case against Sci-Hub and LibGen, the fair dealing exception and the education use exception here, here and here. We’re pleased to now bring you an incisive post by Saral Minocha looking into questions of constitutionality that this dispute may raise. Saral is a graduate from NLU Delhi (2017). After working in a law firm for a couple of years, he is now teaching at CLAT Possible.


          Irrespective of how this litigation ends, the conversation that it has triggered about the link between copyright law and free speech rights must be continued. This conversation can lead to two solutions: First, an amendment in copyright law that either compels copyright owners to make educational materials available at a reasonable cost (a statutory license scheme?) or clarifies the exceptions to copyright infringement to the effect that research is not inhibited by exercise of copyright. Second, the Constitution can be amended to include “copyright” as a ground in Article 19(2). As things stand in the Constitution, however, I submit that to the extent that our copyright law inhibits research, it invalidly restricts the right in Article 19(1)(a), and therefore, to that extent, it is void. The ongoing litigation, therefore, must, on constitutional grounds if not copyright-related grounds, be decided in the favour of the defendants.

        • Court: Texas Man Must Stop Selling Pirate Boxes on Facebook

          A federal court in Texas has granted a permanent injunction against a local resident who sold pirate streaming boxes through Facebook. The man was identified following an undercover operation. He also faces a $1.6 million damages claim from the Philippine media giant ABS-CBN, but the court needs more info on this request before it can make a final decision.

        • UFC Piracy: Here Are Dana White’s Legal Options Following Streaming Threat

          In response to a fan saying he couldn’t wait to pirate the upcoming rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, UFC President Dana White recently warned that his company has a “surprise” waiting for pirates in 2021. So what options does combat sports’ most outspoken boss have in his arsenal?

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