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Links 28/3/2017: Linux 4.11-rc4 Kernel Released, Red Hat Surge on Sales

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Blockchain Startups Venture Beyond Bitcoin
    Bitcoin is the most widely-known example of blockchain-based technology, but many of today's startups are looking past the cryptocurrency and towards other, more business-friendly implementations.

    European blockchain startup incubator Outlier Ventures and Frost & Sullivan have mapped out the blockchain startup landscape, identifying several key areas of activity. It outlines possible paths to success following a busy year for blockchain investments.

  • Another Sandy Bridge Era Motherboard Now Supported By Coreboot
    The Sapphire Pure Platinum H61 is the latest motherboard to be supported by mainline Coreboot for replacing the board's proprietary BIOS.

  • OSI Welcomes the Journal of Open Source Software as Affiliate Member
    The Open Source Initiative€® (OSI), a global non-profit organization formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source software and communities, announced that the Journal Of Open Source Software (JOSS), a peer-reviewed journal for open source research software packages, is now an OSI affiliate member.

  • Open source project uses Docker for serverless computing
    Serverless computing has fast become a staple presence on major clouds, from Amazon to Azure. It’s also inspiring open source projects designed to make the concept of functions as a service useful to individual developers.

    The latest of these projects, called simply Functions as a Service (FaaS) by developer and Linux User contributor Alex Ellis, uses Docker and its native Swarm cluster management technology to package any process as a function available through a web API.

  • PyCharm 2017.1, MicroStrategy 2017.1, Next.js 2.0, and Ubuntu 17.04 final beta released — SD Times news digest: March 27, 2017

  • Open source JavaScript, Node.js devs get NPM Orgs for free
    The SaaS-based tool, which features capabilities like role-based access control, semantic versioning, and package discovery, now can be used on public code on the NPM registry, NPM Inc. said on Wednesday. Developers can transition between solo projects, public group projects, and commercial projects, and users with private registries can use Orgs to combine code from public and private packages into a single project.

  • Slaying Monoliths at Netflix with Node.js
    The growing number of Netflix subscribers -- nearing 85 million at the time of this Node.js Interactive talk -- has generated a number of scaling challenges for the company. In his talk, Yunong Xiao, Principal Software Engineer at Netflix, describes these challenges and explains how the company went from delivering content to a global audience on an ever-growing number of platforms, to supporting all modern browsers, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and beyond. He also looks at how this led to radically modifying their delivery framework to make it more flexible and resilient.

  • Mudlet, the open source MUD client has a new major stable build available
    I don't know how many of you play MUDs, but Mudlet, an open source cross-platform MUD client has hit version 3.0.

  • Events

    • Ten years of Codethink
      Spring is here and it is the 10th anniversary celebration of Codethink. Nobody could have orchestrated it this way but we also have GUADEC happening here in Manchester in a few months and it’s the 20th anniversary of GNOME. All roads lead to Manchester in 2017!

      The company is celebrating its anniversary in various ways: cool new green-on-black T-shirts, a 10 years mug for everyone, and perhaps more significantly a big sophisticated party with a complicated cake.

    • Arranging Install Fest 2017
      Next Thursday at the auditorium of the School of Computer Science, we are going to install in more than 200 new students of the university FEDORA + GNOME, since during the first year they study algorithms, C programming and GNU/Linux in general.

    • Moving OpenStack beyond borders (and possibly to Mars)
      The inaugural OpenStack Days Poland event drew more than 300 users, upstream developers, operators and vendors to the Copernicus Science Center in the heart of Warsaw, Poland on March 22.

      Although Warsaw is Poland’s capital city—and according to “Forbes,” a hotbed of startups and multinational tech companies’ European branches—this meetup traces its roots west to Wroclaw, the Silicon Valley of Poland, according to some event speakers.

    • Pay it forward: Sign up for Speed Mentoring at the OpenStack Summit Boston
      After a successful launch at the Austin Summit, Speed Mentoring is back in action in Boston.

      Organized by the Women of OpenStack, it’s designed to be a lightweight mentoring initiative to provide technical or career guidance to beginners in the community. Mentees should already be part of the community; they should have gone through, or be familiar with Upstream Training.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Testing LibreOffice 5.3 Notebookbar
      I teach an online CSCI class about usability. The course is "The Usability of Open Source Software" and provides a background on free software and open source software, and uses that as a basis to teach usability. The rest of the class is a pretty standard CSCI usability class. We explore a few interesting cases in open source software as part of our discussion. And using open source software makes it really easy for the students to pick a program to study for their usability test final project.

  • CMS

    • [Older] Drupal member sent out after BDSM lifestyle revealed

      Drupal, like many other open source projects, has a stated goal of welcoming and accepting all people, no matter their heritage, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity or other factors.

    • Controversy Erupts in Open-Source Community After Developer's Sex Life Made Public
      Drupal is a popular open-source content-management system, used to build websites. Like many other open-source projects, Drupal is guided by several committees that are supposed to be accountable to the community and its code of conduct, which enshrines values like "be considerate" and "be respectful." Also like many other open-source projects, Drupal attracts all sorts of people, some of whom are eclectic.

      Last week, under murky circumstances, Drupal creator Dries Buytaert banned one of the project's technical and community leaders, Larry Garfield. Buytaert attributed the decision to aspects of Garfield's private sex life. Many Drupal users and developers are up in arms about the perceived injustice of the move, exacerbated by what they see as a lack of transparency.

  • Healthcare

    • HospitalRun: Open Source Software for the Developing World
      When open source software is used for global health and global relief work, its benefits shine bright. The benefits of open source become very clear when human health and human lives are on the line. In this YouTube video, hear Harrisburg, Pennsylvania software developer Joel Worrall explain about HospitalRun software – open source cloud-based software used at developing world healthcare facilities.

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • Scotland emphasises sharing and reuse of ICT
      Scotland’s public administrations should focus on common, shared technology platforms, according to the new digital strategy, published on 22 March. The government says it wants to develop “shared infrastructure, services and standards in collaboration with our public sector partners, to reduce costs and enable resources to be focused on front-line services.”

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Austria state secretary promotes open data
        The State Secretary at Austria’s Federal Chancellery, Muna Duzdar, is encouraging the making available of government data as open data. “The administration must set an example and support the open data culture by giving society its data back”, the State Secretary for Digitalisation said in a statement.

      • Study: Hungary should redouble open data initiatives
        The government of Hungary should redouble its efforts to make public sector information available as open data, and actively help to create market opportunities, a government white paper recommends. The ‘White Paper on National Data Policy’ was approved by the government in December.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Williamson School Board OKs developing open source science curriculum
        Science textbooks may be a thing of the past in Williamson County Schools.

        The Williamson County school board approved a proposal Monday night to use open source science resources instead of science textbooks.

        The switch will require a team of nine teachers to spend a year developing an open source curriculum.

      • How Elsevier plans to sabotage Open Access
        It was a long and difficult road to get the major publishing houses to open up to open access, but in the end the Dutch universities got their much awaited ‘gold deal’ for open access. A recently revealed contract between Elsevier and the Dutch research institutes lays bare the retardant tactics the publishing giant employs to stifle the growth of open access.

  • Programming/Development


  • Four years later, Xbox exec admits how Microsoft screwed up disc resale plan

  • [Old] Collaborative Overload [iophk: "add into that the colossal inefficiency and clumsiness of Microsoft Outlook's UI..."]

    How much time do people spend in meetings, on the phone, and responding to e-mails? At many companies the proportion hovers around 80%, leaving employees little time for all the critical work they must complete on their own.

  • [Older] Pope Francis issues social media warning: 'Don't be led astray by this false image of reality!'

    “Don't let yourselves be led astray by this false image of reality! Be the protagonists of your history; decide your own future.”

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday

    • FedEx Will Pay You $5 to Install Flash on Your Machine
      FedEx is making you an offer you can’t afford to accept. It’s offering to give you $5 (actually, it’s a discount on orders over $30) if you’ll just install Adobe Flash on your machine.

      Nobody who knows anything about online security uses Flash anymore, except when it’s absolutely necessary. Why? Because Flash is the poster child for the “security-vulnerability-of-the-hour” club — a group that includes another Adobe product, Acrobat. How unsafe is Flash? Let’s put it this way: seven years ago, Steve Jobs announced that Flash was to be forever banned from Apple’s mobile products. One of the reasons he cited was a report from Symantec that “highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009.”

      Flash security hasn’t gotten any better since.

    • Every once in a while someone suggests to me that curl and libcurl would do better if rewritten in a “safe language”

    • An insecure dishwasher has entered the IoT war against humanity

      Regel says that he has contacted Miele on a number of occasions about the issue, but had failed to get a response to his missives, and this has no updated information on the vulnerability.

      He added, bleakly that "we are not aware of an actual fix."

    • Monday Witness: It's Time to Reconize a Civil Right Not to be Connected
      Along with death and taxes, two things appear inevitable. The first is that Internet of Things devices will not only be built into everything we can imagine, but into everything we can't as well. The second is that IoT devices will have wholly inadequate security, if they have any security at all. Even with strong defenses, there is the likelihood that governmental agencies will gain covert access to IoT devices anyway.

      What this says to me is that we need a law that guarantees consumers the right to buy versions of products that are not wirelessly enabled at all.

    • Remember kids, if you're going to disclose, disclose responsibly!
      If you pay any attention to the security universe, you're aware that Tavis Ormandy is basically on fire right now with his security research. He found the Cloudflare data leak issue a few weeks back, and is currently going to town on LastPass. The LastPass crew seems to be dealing with this pretty well, I'm not seeing a lot of complaining, mostly just info and fixes which is the right way to do these things.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • India to seal border with Pakistan, Bangladesh

      The home minister assured that the border with Pakistan would be sealed by 2018. The decision has been taken in the wake of an increase in infiltration attempts, he said.

    • Pray for London, for Antwerp, for Nice: this is Europe’s new normal

      Of course the fact that the authorities always seem to know where to go after such attacks inadvertently assists the public in making up our own minds. Who could have been remotely surprised that immediately after the Westminster attack there were police operations in Birmingham? Yet no one dares to extrapolate out from this. The nearest most of our political leaders can manage is a type of resigned fatalism. These things are like the weather – or the ever-increasing levels of airport security.

    • As a Muslim, I am Shocked by Liberals and Leftists

      My father was brutally tortured -- justified by some of the fundamentalist Islamic laws of the ruling governments in both Iran and Syria. The punishment extended to my mother, my family, and other relatives, who were tormented on a regular basis.

      What was even more painful was, upon coming to the West, seeing the attitude of many people who label themselves liberals and leftists, towards radical Islam.

    • About 82 per cent of militants radicalised on social media in Bangladesh
      The result is based on a survey of 250 jailed militants by the Bangladesh police presented at an international police seminar. Last year’s massacre in Dhaka showed how some Islamic preachers influence young people on the Internet.

    • The 712-page Google doc that proves Muslims do condemn terrorism
      It happened in history class. Heraa Hashmi, a 19-year-old American Muslim student at the University of Colorado, was supposed to be discussing the Crusades with the man sitting next to her. Within a few minutes, however, he was crusading against Islam.

      “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims,” Hashmi’s classmate told her. What’s more, he complained, not enough Muslims were making a stand against terrorism.

    • With 200+ Iraqi Civilians Feared Dead, Carnage Surging Under Trump
      The carnage continues. And appears to be growing.

      With the war that President George W. Bush started and that President Barack Obama failed to end now in the hands of President Donald Trump, global outrage and condemnation was expressed over the weekend as details emerged over a U.S. bombing in Iraq that may have killed 200 or more innocent civilians, many of them children and families seeking shelter.

      The aerial attack on homes and buildings in the city of Mosul, where Iraqi and U.S. coalition forces have been battling Islamic State (ISIS) forces for months, actually took on March 17 but as evidence of the destruction and deathtoll emerged, the Guardian reported Saturday it may turn out to be "one of the deadliest bombing raids for civilians since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003."

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Monday Witness: Bravo for the Enemies of the People
      Donald Trump’s escalating attacks on the press should alarm anyone who believes that a free press is essential to the maintenance of freedom and the avoidance of tyranny. That’s what the authors of the Constitution believed, a document Trump pledged on inauguration day to “preserve, protect, and defend.”

      Trump’s accusations of falsehood in journalism are particularly dangerous because they invite those sympathetic to the president’s cause to accept his manufactured version of reality and reject accurately reported events and statements. This is a tactic from a very old playbook, and we don’t need to look very far back in history to see where that strategy can lead.

    • How US Flooded the World with Psyops
      Newly declassified documents from the Reagan presidential library help explain how the U.S. government developed its sophisticated psychological operations capabilities that – over the past three decades – have created an alternative reality both for people in targeted countries and for American citizens, a structure that expanded U.S. influence abroad and quieted dissent at home.

    • Why did anti-globalisation fail and anti-globalism succeed?
      Across the world the political centre ground is disappearing, and the new enemy of the people is globalism. Watching the rise of the nationalist right is particularly frustrating if, like me, you took part in protests in the late 1990s and early 2000s against globalisation. These protests for a few years united the radical left with the less radical NGO world. All were in agreement that there was something rotten about free market overdrive globalisation, that it was creating more losers than winners. Millions of people turned out across the world to say ‘No’.

      But the centre left parties – the Democrats, Labour, and their equivalents across Europe – were not among them. There were multiple reasons why they gave in to the siren call of globalisation: many of them were or would one day be handsomely paid by global corporations benefiting from their policies. Most of them were taken in too by the tinpot version of economics – neo-liberal and poorly evidenced – that had taken hold in academia, with the help of rich donors. Politicians also have a tendency to think not much beyond the next election, and the effects of free trade agreements often took longer than that, though not very long, to hit home. But there was another reason why the centre left parties couldn’t get on board with the anti-globalisation movement. From the ‘non-political’ NGOs to the radical left, they were offered no alternative ways of organising economies.

    • The King of Crash and Burn
      Republicans created hard-line districts that produced hard-line congressmen: obstructionist absolutists are gerrymandering’s political offspring.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • EU moves one step closer to the world’s worst internet filtering law

      Under the extreme rules proposed by the Commission in the Copyright Directive, uploads to the internet would need to be scanned to assess if any photo, video or text that is being uploaded can be “identified” based on information provided by copyright holders.


      iIn order to encourage internet companies to monitor and delete information as thoroughly as possible, it is also proposed that their legal liability for uploads would be increased.

    • Detained Pakistani Bloggers Face Blasphemy Charges [iophk: "death penalty"]

      The official crackdown was launched after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered authorities to take urgent steps to rid social media of any anti-Islam content posted by people in Pakistan.

    • Convicted Murderer's Grave in Pakistan Becomes Shrine for Some

      According to Human Rights Watch’s latest annual report on Pakistan, at least 19 people are on death row after being convicted under blasphemy law and hundreds are awaiting their trail.

    • Donald MacLeod: Censorship would only hide the true evil of terrorism

      But in this age of 24-hour rolling news reporting there are many other questions, just as important, that also need answering.

      If we agree with the old idiom that a picture paints a thousand words, then what kind of words, or sentiments, should we attribute to those who take the pictures?

      Should they be framed as cold-hearted, mawkish ghouls, blind to the suffering of those around them and only interested in instant glory on social media platforms?

    • If the government is serious about cracking down on "safe spaces", it should begin by looking at the example it sets

      The fightback against campus censorship seems to be gaining traction. Students at City University have successfully overturned a ban on tabloids, while Queen Mary’s Free Speech Society distributed copies of The Sun in defiance of their union's ban. The government is now keen to also get in on the action.

      Echoing Theresa May’s criticism of intolerant "safe spaces" last year, universities minister Jo Johnson has proposed that universities should be actively required to promote free speech. In a letter to Nicola Dandridge, the chief executive of Universities UK, Johnson maintained that it was a "legal duty" of universities to ensure that freedom of speech is secured on university campuses.

      For those of us who maintain that campuses should be unsafe spaces where any and every idea should be aired and confronted in open and tolerant debate, Johnson’s statement couldn’t have come at a more fitting time.

    • The New Governors: The People, Rules, and Processes Governing Online Speech

      Private online platforms have an increasingly essential role in free speech and participation in democratic culture. But while it might appear that any Internet user can publish freely and instantly online, many platforms actively curate the content posted by their users. How and why these platforms operate to moderate speech is largely opaque.

      This Article provides the first analysis of what these platforms are actually doing to moderate online speech under a regulatory and First Amendment framework. Drawing from original interviews, archived materials, and leaked documents, this Article not only describes how three major online platforms—Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube—moderate content, it situates their moderation systems into a broader discussion of online governance and the evolution of free expression values in the private sphere. It reveals that private content moderation systems curate user content with an eye to First Amendment norms, corporate responsibility, and at the core, the economic necessity of creating an environment that reflects the expectations of its users. In order to accomplish this, platforms have developed a detailed system with similarities to the American legal system with regularly revised rules, trained human decision-making, and reliance on a system of external influence.

    • Twitter Reports On Government Agencies Using 'Report Tweet' Function To Block Terrorism-Related Content
      Twitter's latest Transparency Report contains a new section that shows some governments may be trying to use Twitter's own rules to achieve censorious goals. Legislators and misguided lawsuit plaintiffs have been complaining for years social media services don't do enough to curtail terrorists and terrorism-related content. This has been the subject of multiple lawsuits and multiple Congressional hearings.

      However, governments can only do so much to pressure social media services into regulating content. If the government steps in to set the rules, then it crosses the line. The US government has, so far, been unwilling to act as a direct censor of content. Other governments have no qualms about censorship, but have found their efforts somewhat blunted by Facebook, Twitter, etc. being US-based companies, where compliance with foreign directives is a nicety, not a legal requirement. Of course, both companies have voluntarily acted as local censors in response to foreign laws and legal threats.

    • Censorship pointless in the age of internet, says Anurag Kashyap
      Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap believes that in a world exposed to the internet, censorship doesn’t hold any meaning. “To have some kind of censorship in the age of YouTube and Internet is pointless. It’s not even what I think is right or wrong. What are you trying to block people from? You have to start treating your audiences as adult people who can think for themselves,” said Kashyap at the discussion panel at ongoing FICCI frames 2017 on March 22.

    • UK Home Secretary: I Need People Who Understand The Necessary Hashtags To Censor Bad People Online
      We don't necessarily (hashtag or not!) need to rehash just how wrong this is -- we've covered that plenty of times in the past. The fact is there are always going to be tons of places where "terrorists" can communicate with each other that no one can see. Sometimes it will be in person. Sometimes it will be in public, but using a pre-designated code. And, of course, even more importantly, this crazy decision to blame encrypted communications apps in a case where even Rudd admits the guy was a lone actor, completely ignores just how important encrypted, private communications are to the rest of us. It takes quite a misguided thought process to think "here we have a disturbed lone actor who did an attack, and therefore we need to make absolutely everyone else significantly less safe." It takes an even more misguided process to take that thought and go on TV and announce it as an official plan of the UK government.


      You're not saying open up and you don't want to go into the cloud? But you are saying that encryption shouldn't be allowed to work? What is she even saying? This is all nonsense. The companies do engage with governments all the time. When given a valid and legal warrant, they do what they can. Sometimes that's nothing.

      Of course, all of this is coming on the heels of another misguided outrage at other tech companies for sometimes allowing bad people to use their tools. Paul Bernal has an oasis of sanity responding to some of this cesspool of craziness.

    • Codes won’t defeat campus censorship
      The UK government, spearheaded by minister for universities and science, Jo Johnson, has announced plans to urge universities to commit themselves to freedom of speech. By encouraging universities to sign up to new governance documents and codes of practice protecting free speech, Johnson and others hope to halt the censorious culture sweeping the British academy. It sounds good, but those of us who believe in free speech on campus shouldn’t hold our breath.

      There is unquestionably a crisis of free speech on campus, and it needs to be challenged. As the No Platforming of controversial speakers, Safe Space policies and bans on tabloid newspapers increasingly become the norm, Johnson is right to be concerned about the kicking free speech is getting at universities – the supposed centres of intellectual freedom. But the idea that government intervention and codes of practice will shake off this censorious culture is fanciful.

    • Twitter Censors Latest Posts With Words 'Pot', 'Jackass' – Not 'OxyContin' or 'Doofus'

      If you're looking to follow news and advocacy about an anticipated Vermont legislature vote this week on legalizing marijuana, a search for the latest tweets that use the combined terms "Vermont" and "marijuana" will for many Twitter users yield zero results.

      Same goes for searches for tweets using the terms "pot," "weed" or "cannabis."

      The latest results for "jackass" and "jerk" – words generally printed without censorship by news outlets – also yield a blank page with the message: "Nothing came up for that search, which is a little weird. Maybe check what you searched for and try again."

    • Censorship: Is it happening at MSU?
      Columnist Ali Spies revealed last week in The Standard that her COM 115: Fundamentals of Public Speaking instructor, purportedly acting on instructions of the Department of Communication, rejected her proposal to research, compose and deliver a brief speech about Planned Parenthood in the United States. The instructor asserted that the topic has “... too much controversy ...” and implied that, while some controversy might be acceptable, too much controversy is off-limits. Spies’s Department of Communication instructor censored Spies. Dr. Shawn T. Wahl heads the MSU Department of Communication.

    • Eddie Redmayne’s The Danish Girl blocked from airing in India

    • Censorship again: Hollywood movie's telecast cancelled by CBFC

    • CBFC bans telecast of ‘The Danish Girl’

    • Censorship, Not the Painting, Must Go: On Dana Schutz’s Image of Emmett Till
      The presence of blackness in a Whitney Biennial invariably stirs controversy — it’s deemed to be unfit or not enough, or too much. The current Whitney Biennial is no exception — the art press has been awash this past week with reports of a protest staged in front of a painting of a disfigured Emmett Till lying in his casket and a letter penned by an artist who called for the work to be removed and destroyed. The painter is Dana Schutz, a white American. The author of the letter is Hannah Black, a black-identified biracial artist who hails from England and resides in Berlin. The protestors are a youthful coalition of artists and scholars of color. The curators being called on the carpet are both Asian American. Debates about the painting and the letter rage on social media, to the exclusion of discussion of the many works by black artists in the show, most notably Henry Taylor’s rendering of Philando Castile dying in his car after being shot by police. This multicultural melodrama took a rather perverse turn on March 23, when an unknown party hacked Schutz’s email address and committed identity theft by submitting an apologia under her name to the Huffington Post and a number of other publications; it was printed and then retracted. Up to now, none of Schutz’s detractors have addressed whether they think it’s fine to punish the artist by putting words in her mouth.

    • Why Fury Over Emmitt Till Artwork At Whitney Biennial Is So Dangerous

    • Destroy the Emmett Till painting? This is hysteria

    • Morning Links: Obama Portrait Edition

    • White artist’s Emmett Till painting under fire at NY museum

    • Should Art That Infuriates Be Removed?

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Activists want to know why feds are searching more devices at the border

      Ars and other media reported that there has been a rapid uptick in the number of such incidents: February 2017 alone had more border searches of phones, tablets, and computers than all of 2015.

    • The TSA's Selective Laptop Ban

      Of course, the details are all classified, which leaves all of us security experts scratching our heads. On the face of it, the ban makes little sense.

    • [Older] With New Arrests, Iran’s Election Season Starts

      This week, intelligence authorities ramped up detentions of peaceful critics, arresting journalists Hengameh Shahidi, Ehsan Mazandarani, and Morad Saghafi. Authorities told Mazandarani, who had been released from prison just a month earlier after serving his sentence for vaguely defined national security charges, that his release had been “a mistake.”

    • Laws in contradiction to Islamic laws are void, says former Chief Justice

      In his interpretation, Ahmad Fairuz said that anything that is in contradiction to Islam or anything that went against Islamic laws’ main sources, which are the Quran and Sunnah, is unconstitutional.

    • “A Jekyll-Hyde Existence:” Inside the CIA’s 1980 Manual for ferreting out Homosexuals
      In 1980, it appeared to activists as if a small bit of progress was finally being made in the push for LGBT civil rights, with the Democratic Party becoming the first major political party to endorse a gay-rights platform. That same year, the CIA appears to have released a three-page memorandum on how to recognize and ferret out homosexuals during investigations, perhaps for the purposes of blackmail.

    • Hundreds Arrested as Unsanctioned Anti-Corruption Protests Erupt Across Russia
      Hundreds of people, including a key opposition leader, were arrested in Russia on Sunday as thousands participated in unsanctioned protests against corruption and the anti-democratic tendencies of the ruling government.

      A reported 500 people were detained in Moscow alone, where opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has accused both President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of corruption, was also taken into custody.

    • Appeals Court Says Right To Bear Arms Isn't A Right If Cops Are Banging On Your Door In The Middle Of The Night
      Qualified immunity -- a legal doctrine that originates from court decisions rather than statute -- received another boost from the federal court system last week. Qualified immunity is the concept that allows overreaching and abusive government employees and officials to stay one step ahead of accountability. If their actions don't "clearly violate" established law and/or precedent, police officers, etc. can walk away unscathed from deprivations of other people's life and liberty.

      The Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court has declined [PDF] a chance to rehear a case in which the Second Amendment is implicated nearly as much as the Fourth Amendment. In doing so, no further precedent will be set, which just adds to the list of actions law enforcement officers can perform and still expect to be granted qualified immunity. If there's no precedent set, it's pretty hard to "clearly violate" it. Handy.

      The short story: Andrew Scott was home playing video games with his girlfriend when someone began banging loudly on his door. Since it was 1:30 am, Scott was cautious and answered to door with a gun in his hand, pointed at the floor. He opened the door to see only a "shadowy figure" and began stepping backwards. The shadowy figure was Deputy Richard Sylvester, who immediately shot Scott six times, killing him.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Streaming Video Competition Slowly Begins Killing The Bloated, Pricey Cable Bundle

      If you recall, the cable industry has spent the better part of the last decade arguing that a la carte television (offering users the ability to buy channels individually instead of in bloated bundles) would do two things: raise rates for all consumers, and kill off niche channels, which the industry argued simply couldn't survive outside of the bundle. The industry repeatedly used this logic to justify its decision to avoid delivering not only a la carte, but cheaper and more flexible channel bundles in general.

  • DRM

    • Why American farmers are hacking their own tractors

      Well, it depends on what you mean by “own”. If you mean you can do what you like with your new tractor, think again. This is because your splendid machine is now controlled by software that comes embedded in the vehicle – and John Deere controls the software.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UK Professor Charts Path To Reconciling IP Rights, Farmers’ Rights
      The role of farmers in agricultural innovation can be perceived in different ways. Proponents of intellectual property rights view farmers mainly as recipients of innovation, while others view farmers as main drivers of innovation. Considering those seemingly contradictory points of views, some measures could help reconcile IP rights and farmers' rights, a UK professor in international governance said this week.


      Another speaker at the event spoke on the United Nations draft declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, currently under negotiations in a dedicated open-ended intergovernmental working group at the UN Human Rights Council, which includes reference to intellectual property rights and farmers’ rights to seeds.

      According to Dutfield, there are different views on the role of farmers in terms of innovation.

      The conventional view since the Second World War is of a formal sector where farmers get seeds, agro-chemicals, credits, and expertise, and tend to be viewed as passive recipients, he said.

    • Trademarks

      • Broadway Play Changes Set Design Over Cafe Trademark Threat And, No, That Doesn't Make Any Damned Sense
        When you write enough about trademark disputes, a recurring thing that happens is you keep thinking you've seen it all, but then something insane happens. And truly, after years of writing here at Techdirt, I've come across some mind-bending trademark disputes. But I can't think of a single one that matches the Broadway version of A Bronx Tale changing its set design to appease a cafe owner who insists he is a monarch of Italian pastries.

    • Copyrights

      • Movie Studios Considering Tightening Release Windows When They Should Be Eliminating Them
        The very idea of major movie studios simultaneously complaining about movie piracy during the initial release of a film and instituting long release windows so that films are only in the theater for legitimate viewing has never made a bit of sense. As study after study has shown, one great way to reduce piracy for a film is to make it available for home viewing as early as possible. The reason for this should be obvious: in this case, piracy of a film is a sort of market study, one which informs the studios that a part of the public really wants to watch the movie at home as opposed to in the theater. Trying to force that part of the market into the theater by delaying home rentals or purchases no longer works, because piracy is an option. Stamping out piracy has never worked, but making the film product available the way the customer wants would, at least to decent percentages.

      • Court Says Posting Georgia's Official Annotated Laws Is Not Fair Use, And Thus Infringing
        We've written a number of times about Carl Malamud and his organization, a nonprofit that focuses on making the world's laws more readily accessible to the people governed by those laws. You'd think that people would be excited about this, but instead, Carl just keeps getting sued. All the way back in 2013, the state of Georgia first threatened Carl for daring to publish online the "Official Code of Georgia Annotated." Two years later the state did, in fact, sue Carl for copyright infringement.

        The case is, at least somewhat tricky and nuanced -- even if it shouldn't be. The key issue is the annotations and other additions to the official laws created by the legislature (the state of Georgia claims that "names of titles, chapter, articles, parts and subparts, history lines, editor notes, Code Commission notes, annotations, research references, cross-references, indexes and other such materials" are all covered by copyright). Obviously, it's crazy to think the underlying law itself is covered by copyright and unpublishable, but this has to focus on the annotations -- which are the various notes and links to relevant case law that add important context to the code itself. As people studying the law quickly learn, "the law" is not just the regulations written down by legislators, but also the relevant caselaw that interprets the laws and sets key standards and makes decisions that influence what the written code actually means. I don't think anyone disagrees that a private party who develops useful and creative works as annotations could potentially hold a copyright on the creative elements of that work (merely listing relevant cases, probably not, but a deeper explanation, sure...). And here, these annotations are developed by a private company: LexisNexis. The issue is the "official" part. Under contract with the state, LexisNexis creates the annotations, gets the copyright, and then assigns the copyright to the state of Georgia on those annotations, with Georgia releasing it as "the Official Code of Georgia Annotated."
      • Are You Sure You Want That DMCA Takedown to Be Permanent?

        A content industry dream is to order infringing content to be taken down and for it to remain down permanently, no matter what. That's currently outside the scope of the DMCA, but some anti-piracy outfits are already trying their luck by suggesting that content should never reappear. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if they targeted the right stuff in the first place.

      • Pirate Bay’s Oldest Torrents Are ‘Teenagers’ Now

      • ‘Pirate’ Movie Streaming Sites Declared Legal By Italian Court

        The Court found that merely providing links does not qualify as distributing files protected by copyright, even though the sites generated revenue via advertising.

      • More Financial Scandals Involving A Collecting Society: Remind Me Again Why They Are Credible Representatives Of Artists?
        If you've been reading Techdirt for any time you'll know that copyright collecting societies have a pretty poor record when it comes to supporting the artists they are supposed to serve. Sometimes, that is just a question of incompetence, but often it veers over into something worse, as happened in Spain, Peru and India. TorrentFreak has some interesting news about an audit of the Greek collection society (AEPI).

      • Megaupload Wants to Recover Failing Hard Drives, But Won’t Sign Away Its Rights

        After more than five years, some of the Megaupload evidence retained on hard drives has become unreadable. The MPAA and RIAA have submitted a plan to recover the data, and while Megaupload is in partial agreement, it refuses to sign away the constitutional right to access its own files.

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