Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 19/6/2018: Total War: WARHAMMER II Confirmed for GNU/Linux, DragonFlyBSD 5.2.2 Released

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • 5 open source alternatives to Dropbox
    Dropbox is the 800-pound gorilla of filesharing applications. Even it's a massively popular tool, you may choose to use an alternative.

    Maybe that's because you're dedicated to the open source way for all the good reasons, including security and freedom, or possibly you've been spooked by data breaches. Or perhaps the pricing plan doesn't work out in your favor for the amount of storage you actually need.

    Fortunately, there are a variety of open source filesharing applications out there that give you more storage, security, and control over your data at a far lower price than Dropbox charges. How much lower? Try free, if you're a bit tech savvy and have a Linux server to use.

  • Cooperative Learning
    I’ve got some under-utilised KVM servers that I could use to provide test VMs for network software, my original idea was to use those for members of my local LUG. But that doesn’t scale well. If a larger group people are to be involved they would have to run their own virtual machines, use physical hardware, or use trial accounts from VM companies.

    The general idea would be for two broad categories of sessions, ones where an expert provides a training session (assigning tasks to students and providing suggestions when they get stuck) and ones where the coordinator has no particular expertise and everyone just learns together (like “let’s all download a random BSD Unix and see how it compares to Linux”).


    There is a Wikipedia page about Cooperative Learning. While that’s interesting I don’t think it has much relevance on what I’m trying to do. The Wikipedia article has some good information on the benefits of cooperative education and situations where it doesn’t work well. My idea is to have a self-selecting people who choose it because of their own personal goals in terms of fun and learning. So it doesn’t have to work for everyone, just for enough people to have a good group.

  • Chinese search giant Baidu creates an open-source A.I. for detecting cancer
    “We hope this open-sourced algorithm can serve as a high-quality baseline for future research in this area,” Li said. “The algorithm is only evaluated on a limited number of public datasets at this stage. However, the algorithm needs to be further assessed using much more clinically relevant data to prove it still maintains higher accuracy than experienced pathologists. Our team will continue improving the algorithm and collaborating with researchers with whom we can share new datasets.”

  • Fynd organizes Hackxagon Open Source Challenge for its Engineers
    As an initiative to give back to the open source community, Fynd, the unique fashion e-commerce portal had launched, a few months ago. This project enabled the engineers of the fashion e-commerce portal to learn new technologies, improve the core infrastructure and enhance the Fynd platform.

  • Events

    • Netfilter Workshop 2018 Berlin summary
      Lots of interesting talks happened, mostly surrounding nftables and how to move forward from the iptables legacy world to the new, modern nft framework.

      In a nutshell, the Netfilter project, the FLOSS community driven project, has agreed to consider iptables as a legacy tool. This confidence comes from the maturity of the nftables framework, which is fairly fully-compliant with the old iptables API, including extensions (matches and targets).

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox has a motion team?! Yes we do!
        Motion may sometimes feel like an afterthought or worse yet “polish”. For the release of Firefox Quantum (one of our most significant releases to date), we wanted to ensure that motion was not a second class citizen and that it would play an important role in how users perceived performance in the browser.

        We (Amy & Eric) make up the UX side of the “motion team” for Firefox. We say this in air quotes because the motion team was essentially formed based on our shared belief that motion design is important in Firefox. With a major release planned, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to have a team working on motion.

      • Firefox 61 new contributors
        With the upcoming release of Firefox 61, we are pleased to welcome the 59 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 53 of whom were brand new volunteers!

      • QMO: Firefox 61 Beta 14 Testday Results
        As you may already know, last Friday – June 15th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 61 Beta 14.

        Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place!

      • IOActivityMonitor in Gecko
        This is a first blog post of a series on Gecko, since I am doing a lot of C++ work in Firefox these days. My current focus is on adding tools in Firefox to try to detect what's going on when something goes rogue in the browser and starts to drain your battery life.

        We have many ideas on how to do this at the developer/user level, but in order to do it properly, we need to have accurate ways to measure what's going on when the browser runs.

        One thing is I/O activity.

        For instance, a WebExtension worker that performs a lot of disk writes is something we want to find out about, and we had nothing to track all I/O activities in Firefox, without running the profiler.

        When Firefox OS was developed, a small feature was added in the Gecko network lib, called NetworkActivityMonitor.

      • San Francisco Oxidation meeting notes

        At last week’s Mozilla All Hands meeting in San Francisco we had an Oxidation meeting about the use of Rust in Firefox. It was low-key, being mostly about status and progress. The notes are here for those who are interested.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Mixed Reaction
    • After Github purchase, Microsoft remains a relatively untrusted open source player to some

    • What is GitHub?
      GitHub is now the de facto home of open-source software. But Microsoft’s acquisition reignited a debate over the platform’s centrality. Microsoft assures users the service is safe under its stewardship, but many are wary. When Mr Ballmer spoke of developers, he had a specific sort in mind: those using Microsoft’s tools to build projects for Microsoft products. He once called open-source Linux a “cancer”, which would spread uncontrollably. In a sense, his words proved prophetic: today, open-source software is everywhere, from websites to financial markets to self-driving cars. Under Mr Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft has embraced open-source development. In buying GitHub it hopes to gain the trust of developers it once spurned. But some wonder if the change is complete, or if Microsoft will use its newly bought dominance of open-source hosting to push its own products. Alternatives to GitHub—some themselves open-source—wait in the wings. If it is not careful, Microsoft may find the developers it just paid so much to reach slipping from its grasp.

    • Using W10Privacy To Boost Ubuntu WSL Performance On Windows 10

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD 5.2.2 Released To Fix The Lazy State Save/Restore Bug
      DragonFlyBSD 5.2.2 is now available as the latest stable release to this popular BSD operating system.

      While there aren't usually two point releases per cycle for DragonFlyBSD, the v5.2.2 release is coming to address the recent "Lazy FPU" vulnerability affecting Intel CPUs due to Lazy State Save/Restore as the newest CPU speculation bug.

      DragonFlyBSD began patching their kernel earlier this month and now those fixes are available in stable form with the DragonFlyBSD 5.2.2 release. The OpenBSD folks have also been changing around their kernel and FreeBSD 11.2 RC3 is also mitigated.


  • Licensing/Legal

    • Free software is at risk in the EU -- take action now
      Members of the European Parliament want to turn upload platforms like GitLab into "censorship machines" that require user-uploaded materials to be monitored and automatically filtered, a process which would prevent modified and reused code from being uploaded. This provision is covered under Article 13 of the Copyright Directive.

      If Article 13, embedded within the proposal, becomes official policy, it will be impossible for developers to build off of one another's code -- which is not only a blow to the collaborative development of free software, but a push against the basic freedoms of free software. Software isn't free unless it can be modified and shared. Article 13 will affect all users of free software -- as development of free software suffers, the quality and availability of updates, new features, and new programs will also suffer.

    • Open Source Industry Australia Says Zombie TPP Could Destroy Free Software Licensing

      Without the ability to enforce compliance through the use of injunctions, open source licenses would once again be pointless. Although the OSIA is concerned about free software in Australia, the same logic would apply to any TPP-11 country. It would also impact other nations that joined the Pacific pact later, as the UK is considering (the UK government seems not to have heard of the gravity theory for trade). It would presumably apply to the US if it did indeed rejoin the pact, as has been mooted. In other words, the impact of this section on open source globally could be significant.

      It's worth remembering why this particular article is present in TPP. It grew out of concerns that nations like China and Russia were demanding access to source code as a pre-requisite of allowing Western software companies to operate in their countries. Article 14.17 was designed as a bulwark against such demands. It's unlikely that it was intended to destroy open source licensing too, although some spotted early on that this was a risk. And doubtless a few big software companies will be only too happy to see free software undermined in this way. Unfortunately, it's probably too much to hope that the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence & Trade will care about or even understand this subtle software licensing issue. The fate of free software in Australia will therefore depend on whether TPP-11 comes into force, and if so, what judges think Article 14.17 means.

    • Red Hat changes its open-source licensing rules
      From outside programming circles, software licensing may not seem important. In open-source, though, licensing is all important.

      So, when leading Linux company Red Hat announces that -- from here on out -- all new Red Hat-initiated open-source projects that use the GNU General Public License(GPLv2) or GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL)v2.1 licenses will be expected to supplement the license with GPL version 3 (GPLv3)'s cure commitment language, it's a big deal.

    • The GPL cooperation commitment and Red Hat projects
      As of today, all new Red Hat-initiated open source projects that opt to use GPLv2 or LGPLv2.1 will be expected to supplement the license with the cure commitment language of GPLv3. The cure language will live in a file in the project source tree and will function as an additional permission extended to users from the start.

      This is the latest development in an ongoing initiative within the open source community to promote predictability and stability in enforcement of GPL-family licenses. The “automatic termination” provision in GPLv2 and LGPLv2.x is often interpreted as terminating the license upon noncompliance without a grace period or other opportunity to correct the error in compliance. When the Free Software Foundation released GPLv2 in 1991, it held nearly all GPL-licensed copyrights, in part a consequence of the copyright assignment policy then in place for GNU project contributions. Long after the Linux kernel and many other non-GNU projects began to adopt the GPL and LGPL, the FSF was still the only copyright holder regularly engaged in license enforcement. Under those conditions, the automatic termination feature of GPLv2 section 4 may have seemed an appropriate means of encouraging license compliance.

    • From here on, Red Hat's new GPLv2 software projects will have GPLv3 cure for license violators
      Red Hat on Monday said all of its newly initiated open-source projects that adopt GPLv2 or LGPLv2.1 licenses will be expected to include the GPLv3 "cure" provision.

      The move follows Red Hat's announcement last November, in conjunction with Facebook, Google and IBM, that the four companies intended to extend the GPLv3 violation remediation language to existing projects under GPLv2, LGPLv2.1 and LGPLv2, except when defending against lawsuits.

      In March, CA Technologies, Cisco, HPE, Microsoft, SAP and SUSE joined the group of companies working to make the licenses more friendly to accidental violators.

  • Programming/Development

    • Introducing PyInstaller

      If you're used to working with a compiled language, the notion that you would need to have a programming language around, not just for development but also for running an application, seems a bit weird. Just because a program was written in C doesn't mean you need a C compiler in order to run it, right?

      But of course, interpreted and byte-compiled languages do require the original language, or a version of it, in order to run. True, Java programs are compiled, but they're compiled into bytecodes then executed by the JVM. Similarly, .NET programs cannot run unless the CLR is present.

      Even so, many of the students in my Python courses are surprised to discover that if you want to run a Python program, you need to have the Python language installed. If you're running Linux, this isn't a problem. Python has come with every distribution I've used since 1995. Sometimes the Python version isn't as modern as I'd like, but the notion of "this computer can't run Python programs" isn't something I've had to deal with very often.


  • Why Is a Documentary About Mister Rogers a Hit? Because It Turns Him Into a Rock Star for Our Time

    A lot of people wondered if he was gay (Tom Snyder, in his fumbling and fulminating way, basically comes out and asks him that in an interview clip we see), but the glorious upshot of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is that Rogers’ real secret was the secret of all religious feeling: that it is radical, that the call to love your neighbor as yourself isn’t a slogan to hang in your kitchen with flowers around it — it’s a decision you make at every moment, to view every man, woman, and child on earth as your neighbor. If you don’t see and feel that, and act on it, then you’re just another narcissist with a kitchen slogan.

  • Nearly 60% Australians read news on smartphones: Reuters study

    Fifty-eight percent of those who consume news in Australia do so on their smartphones, the first time this percentage has overtaken the consumption on computers and tablets, according to the seventh annual Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2018.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Lab-Grown Meat Startups Backed by Bill Gates, Tyson Foods Face FDA Oversight

      The FDA plans to hold a meeting July 12 to get input from the industry on the safety of the technology as well as considerations for how to possibly label the products so consumers know they’re getting meat from a lab -- not a cow. There had been some debate over whether the FDA or the U.S. Department of Agriculture should regulate lab-grown meat.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Israeli Drone Fires A Missile At A car In Gaza
      An Israeli military drone fired, on Sunday at dawn, a missile at a Palestinian car which was parked near a mosque, east of Gaza City.

      The missile destroyed the car, which was empty at the time of the attack, and caused fire around it, but did not lead to any casualties, media sources in Gaza said.

      According to the Israeli army, the targeted car was used by what it called “the leader of a cell that launches incendiary kites and balloons into Israel.”

    • Palestinian killed in Gaza border fence blast: Israeli army
      The 24-year-old man’s death in northern Gaza followed a more than two-month surge in tensions along the frontier, where Israeli troops have killed at least 125 Palestinians during sometimes violent mass demonstrations.

    • Suspected explosive carried by Gazan balloon discovered on Israeli rooftop
      Police sappers headed to the site in a village in the Sdot Negev Regional Council area; six brush fires set by Gaza incendiary kites today
    • Former CIA Chief Compares Trump Administration To Nazi Germany Over Border Policy

    • Former CIA Chief Compares Trump Admin To Nazis Over Separating Children From Parents

    • Former NSA director compares U.S. immigration policy to Auschwitz
      Former director of the National Security Agency Michael Hayden issued a statement on his personal Twitter account Saturday comparing recent US immigration policy with the policies of Nazi Germany.

      Hayden posted on his Twitter account a murky photo of the train tracks entering the concentration and extermination camps of Auschwitz- Birkenau with a somber caption: “Other governments have separated mothers and children.”

    • Former NSA/CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden compares U.S. border policy to Nazi extermination camps
      Have you noticed that in the last few days the issue of children separated from parents arrested while illegally crossing the Mexican border has become the latest anti-Trump fury and obsession. This is not a new issue, but is now dominating the media and social media landscape as so many other issues have filled a slow news cycle void.

      The problem of separating children is a problem caused entirely by people crossing the border illegally with their children, which puts U.S. border enforcement in a terrible dilemma of either not enforcing immigration laws or separating families.

    • Ex-CIA head compares US immigration policy to Nazi Germany

    • Ex-CIA chief explains Nazi reference to criticize family separations
      Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Monday that his tweet invoking a Nazi concentration camp to criticize the separation of families at the US border was a warning of where the country could be headed.

      "I was trying to point out we need be careful not to move in that direction," Hayden, a CNN national security analyst, told CNN's John Berman on "New Day."

      Over the weekend, Hayden tweeted out a photo of the Birkenau death camp at Auschwitz, writing, "Other governments have separated mothers and children."

    • U.S.-Russia Relations Worse Than During Cold War, Former CIA Moscow Chief Says
      Relations between the United States and Russia may be worse than they were during the Cold War, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is intentionally stoking divisions within the U.S. political system to undermine American democracy, according to a former top CIA official.

      Dan Hoffman, who previously served as station chief for the CIA in Moscow, claimed the two superpowers were very much at risk during the tense nuclear standoff that dominated the global stage for most of the 20th century, but that the countries could be “in a worse place today,” according to an interview with Australian outlet ABC released Sunday.

      “As dangerous as things were between our countries during the Cold War, as much risk as there was of conflict, you might argue that we’re in a worse place today,” Hoffman said.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Bringing Julian Assange Home: John Pilger
      Tomorrow marks the 6th anniversary of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s application for political asylum with Ecuador, and his effective house arrest in London. John Pilger take up the case, again.

      The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Or it will end in tragedy.

      The Australian government and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull have an historic opportunity to decide which it will be.

      They can remain silent, for which history will be unforgiving. Or they can act in the interests of justice and humanity and bring this remarkable Australian citizen home.

      Assange does not ask for special treatment. The government has clear diplomatic and moral obligations to protect Australian citizens abroad from gross injustice: in Julian’s case, from a gross miscarriage of justice and the extreme danger that awaits him should he walk out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London unprotected.

    • Watch: Rally to Free Julian Assange held in Sydney
      Hundreds of people participated in Sunday's demonstration in Sydney Town Hall Square to demand Julian Assange's safe return to Australia. The rally, organised by the Socialist Equality Party, featured speeches from SEP Australia national secretary James Cogan and independent journalist and filmmaker John Pilger.

    • Julian Assange’s Lawyer on 6 Years of Arbitrary Detention & Humans Causing the End of Earth (E624)
      In this episode, we ask Julian Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson if Australia will rescue its citizen – as this week marks six years of his incarceration in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Plus, Professor Simon Lewis and Professor Mark Maslin, two award-winning scientists, explain how the mass movement of people, exacerbated by NATO wars, has precipitated a global re-ordering of all life on Earth.

    • Grenfell Fire Forum endorses vigils to demand freedom for Julian Assange

      The Grenfell Fire Forum, initiated by the Socialist Equality Party, held its monthly meeting Sunday, just three days after commemorations to mark the first anniversary of the inferno.

      Seventy-two people died as a result of the fire at Grenfell Tower, West London on June 14, 2017—the worst high-rise fire in British history.

      The entirely preventable tragedy was the outcome of the deregulatory policies carried out by successive Labour and Conservative-led governments, which left residents living in a death trap. Yet, still no one has been charged, let alone prosecuted.

      As a statement by the SEP on the anniversary pointed out, “The refusal of the ruling elite to pursue the real criminals guilty of the Grenfell atrocity is also in stark contrast to their determination to silence anyone fighting to establish the truth about events.” Those speaking out about responsibility for the fire have been subjected to hysterical witch-hunts. The aim is to silence the truth and shield the guilty.

    • WikiLeaks: James Clapper ‘Gets Literally Everything Wrong’ About DNC Hack Timeline

      Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper seemed to lack a grasp of basic details of the hack that led to WikiLeaks publishing the Democratic National Committee’s emails, and WikiLeaks said Friday that “Clapper gets literally everything wrong.”

      “In April, Russia used a third party ‘cut-out’ to send more than 19,000 DNC emails and more than 8,000 documents to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, attempting to cover its tracks and to give WikiLeaks some degree of deniability in knowing the source of the leaks,” Clapper wrote in his new book “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence.”

    • The Sydney rally to defend Julian Assange: An important step forward
      Yesterday, Sunday June 17, a demonstration was held in Sydney’s Town Hall Square to fight for the immediate and unconditional freedom of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. The rally demanded that the Australian government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull secure the release of Assange from his confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and his safe return to Australia.

      The rally was introduced and chaired by longstanding Socialist Equality Party (SEP) leader Linda Tenenbaum. It was addressed by SEP National Secretary James Cogan; Evrim Yazgin, the president of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) at the University of Melbourne; and Sue Phillips, the national convener of the Committee For Public Education (CFPE). It concluded with a powerful speech by well known journalist and documentarist John Pilger, who has been a tireless fighter for the freedom of Julian Assange and the media.

    • Supporters Prepare To Speak Out On Sixth Anniversary Of Assange’s Entrance Into Embassy
      On June 19th, Julian Assange will mark the sixth year since he entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, seeking refuge from the efforts of the US and UK governments to persecute him in retaliation for his journalistic work as Editor-In-Chief of WikiLeaks.

      Julian Assange’s voice has proven so effective that the most powerful forces on earth have coalesced to silence him: on June 19th, the public must respond by becoming Julian Assange’s voice, by raising that unified voice to resonate until the glass halls of power are shattered by its force.

      That the Ecuadorian government has silenced Assange for over 70 days makes the sixth anniversary of his asylum more significant than ever. Assange entered the embassy as a sanctuary, not a site of imprisonment.

      In order to realize the significance of all this, the public must understand the real circumstances that undergird Assange’s need for asylum from the ire of Western governments, in order to then realize that in fighting for Julian Assange, we are fighting for our own voices to be heard. For justice in the face of injustice around the world, for the truth to be known in an era of institutionalized ignorance.

    • New Charges in Huge C.I.A. Breach Known as Vault 7
      Federal prosecutors have charged a former software engineer at the center of a huge C.I.A. breach with stealing classified information, theft of government property and lying to the F.B.I.

      The engineer, Joshua A. Schulte, 29, of New York, had been the main suspect in one of the worst losses of classified documents in the spy agency’s history.


      Mr. Schulte worked in the C.I.A.’s Engineering Development Group, which designed the hacking tools used by its Center for Cyber Intelligence. In late 2016, he left the spy agency and moved to New York to work for Bloomberg.

      In a previous statement, WikiLeaks said the source of the damaging disclosure had hoped to “initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”

    • Julian Assange and the Mindszenty Case
      During World War II Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty was a huge critic of fascism and wound up in prison. In Oct. 1945 he became head of the Church in Hungary and spoke out just as strongly against Communist oppression. He wound up back in prison for eight more years, including long periods of solitary confinement and endured other forms of torture. In 1949 he was sentenced to life in a show trial that generated worldwide condemnation.

      Two weeks after the trial began in early 1949, Pope Pius XII (having failed to speak out forcefully against the Third Reich) did summon the courage to condemn what was happening to Mindszenty. Pius excommunicated everyone involved in the Mindszenty trial. Then, addressing a huge crowd on St. Peter’s Square, he asked, “Do you want a Church that remains silent when she should speak … a Church that does not condemn the suppression of conscience and does not stand up for the just liberty of the people … a Church that locks herself up within the four walls of her temple in unseemly sycophancy …?”

      When the Hungarian revolution broke out in 1956, Mindszenty was freed, but only for four days. When Soviet tanks rolled back into Budapest, he fled to the U.S. embassy and was given immediate asylum by President Eisenhower.


      In 2010, while he was still a free man, the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity gave its annual award to Assange. The citation read:

      “It seems altogether fitting and proper that this year’s award be presented in London, where Edmund Burke coined the expression “Fourth Estate.” Comparing the function of the press to that of the three Houses then in Parliament, Burke said: “…but in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sits a Fourth Estate more important far then they all.”

      The year was 1787—the year the U.S. Constitution was adopted. The First Amendment, approved four years later, aimed at ensuring that the press would be free of government interference. That was then.

      With the Fourth Estate now on life support, there is a high premium on the fledgling Fifth Estate, which uses the ether and is not susceptible of government or corporation control. Small wonder that governments with lots to hide feel very threatened.

    • Julian Assange is a journalist, not Putin’s bitch

      “Journalism is not a crime”. Really? I’d say this slogan is hardly unassailable. I’d say this slogan, which began to appear in hashtag and t-shirt form when the Australian journalist Peter Greste was detained for his journalism practice, needs a second, a third, a seventeenth unflinching look.

      Surely, Sarah Ferguson’s fantasy Putin trilogy, which concluded last night on Four Corners, is a form of public assault. Surely, the pages of The Australian that continue to argue for the upward redistribution of wealth in a time of great precarity are indecent. Surely at the time of Greste’s arrest, the refusal of local journalists to name our national support for US policy in Egypt was colossal negligence. Apparently, it was fine to bankroll the coup without which Greste would never have been interned.

    • Confinement in Ecuadorian embassy ‘having severe impact on Assange’
      A lawyer for Julian Assange has urged the United Nations to make an official visit to see the impact on the WikiLeaks founder of living inside the Ecuadorian embassy for the past six years. Jennifer Robinson told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that Mr Assange was unable to obtain proper medical attention and was being denied sunlight or outdoor access. A vigil will be held outside the embassy in London on Tuesday evening, six years to the day since he arrived, later to be granted political asylum. Ms Robinson told the UN that the British authorities had made it clear that if Mr Assange leaves the embassy to seek medical treatment he will be arrested.

  • Finance

    • Who is Satoshi? CIA can neither confirm nor deny, FBI and NSA are unresponsive
    • Satoshi Nakamoto Known to CIA? FBI? Created by NSA? Search Intensifies

    • Why Are Millions Paying Online Tax Preparation Fees When They Don't Need To?
      As internet use took off at the turn of the millennium, the Office of Management and Budget asked the Internal Revenue Service to create no-cost electronic tax-filing options for low- and moderate-income taxpayers. The tech-challenged agency turned to the online tax-preparation industry for help and soon struck a deal with companies such as Intuit (the maker of TurboTax) and H&R Block, which had organized as a 12-member consortium called the Free File Alliance.

      The Free File Alliance agreed to offer tax-prep service to millions of Americans at no charge. In exchange, the IRS pledged to “not compete with the Consortium in providing free, online tax return preparation and filing services to taxpayers.”

      The arrangement went into effect in 2003 and the IRS and the alliance have kept the framework in place ever since. Today the Free File system appears on track to become permanent. In April, the House voted unanimously to enshrine the provision in law, and the Senate is now considering whether to follow suit.

    • Google to Invest $550 Million in China E-Commerce Site JD

      Alphabet Inc.’s Google will buy newly issued Class A shares at $20.29 per share, equivalent to $40.58 per ADS, the companies said in a joint statement Monday. The pair plan to explore joint development of retail solutions in regions, including Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Europe. The deal comes just a week after Google struck an alliance with Carrefour SA to sell groceries online in France through the U.S. company’s platforms including Home and Assistant.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A Longer View

      Meantime the rich get richer at an unprecedented rate. The concentration of wealth is mirrored by a concentration of the ownership of housing. Media ownership concentration into an ever-tightening circle continues to exert social control, while the gatekeeper role of the big new media corporations of twitter, facebook, google and wikipedia is now being very openly abused to maintain the Establishment narrative.

      In the international world, the interests of the City of London and the armaments industry shamelessly and openly drive British foreign policy, with the continuing economic dependence of the flimsy UK construct on the pandering services to the global 1% offered by the City of London remains always at the front of the government’s mind. At the front not in acknowledgement of the fact that London’s days as a major global financial centre are very plainly numbered as economic gravity moves East, but rather in desperate attempts to avoid the need for an economic re-orientation that would affect the distribution of wealth in the UK away from the core of the Tory Party.

      The days of the United Kingdom itself are now numbered in a very short series of figures. Tory hubris at having climbed, on the back of an incredible concerted propaganda deluge, to 25% electoral support in Scotland, appears to have convinced them that Scots will endure any humiliation at all and not have the courage to stand up. The incredible arrogance involved in the Tory abrogation of devolved powers, against the express vote of the Scottish parliament, was captured by the jeers of “Bye-bye” at SNP MPs leaving the Commons in protest at the lack of debate. That “Bye-bye” will have a significance they did not intend.
    • No, President Trump, You Are Not Above the Law
      No one, including the president, is above the law. But you wouldn’t know that if you listened to a number of recent assertions from President Trump and his legal team.

      “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself,” President Trump announced last week on Twitter. His lawyers have made similarly far-reaching claims of executive power. “[I]t is abundantly clear,” they assert, that “no FBI investigation ... even could have been obstructed by the President.” It is their view that “the President’s actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”

      These claims raise three questions: As the chief law enforcement official, is it impossible for the president to obstruct justice? Can the president pardon himself? And, more specifically, can he use the pardon power in a way that obstructs justice?

      The answer to all three questions is no. The Constitution gives the president broad powers to pardon people and direct Justice Department investigations — but it does not give him the power to undermine the democratic safeguards enshrined there.

    • The 500-Page Inspector General’s Report In 900 Words
      The long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general examining the department’s conduct in the Hillary Clinton email investigation came out on Thursday, and, if nothing else, it’s exhaustive. At more than 500 pages, it carefully and meticulously unpacks how organizations and individuals acquitted themselves before and after the 2016 election. Of course, very quickly, much of the nuance was stripped out; interested parties -- President Trump, his supporters, former FBI Director James Comey -- all found in the report plenty of ammunition to load the gun they were already holding. Cherrypicking aside, however, the report did come to some conclusions.
    • Trump's Meeting With Kim Jong-Un Tops This Week's Internet News Roundup

      Last week, social media was awash in commentary about the historic meeting between the US president and the North Korean leader.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • SEP (UK) meetings on war and censorship: “War preparations are powered by lies”
      These meetings were called immediately after the April 14 missile strikes on Syria by the US, UK and France. The strikes, which took place with no discussion in parliament, let alone a vote, were presented as a limited measure in retaliation for a supposed chemical attack by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad on Douma. This is an attribution that is highly dubious and for which, like the Skripal affair that preceded the air strikes, there is still no coherent, let alone plausible, account.

      You will remember the comments of Theresa May and others that the strikes were simply to send a message to the Assad regime and nothing else. That wasn’t just the line of the government, but also of the so-called “left.” The Stop the War Coalition, for example, spoke of the major powers not really having the stomach for a war, as did Alex Callinicos of the Socialist Workers Party.

      We took a very different approach. In the advert for these meetings we warned that the Syrian air strikes were not the end, and that “the imperialist powers will not be satisfied without further bloodshed. A campaign is growing in the political and military/intelligence establishments in the UK and US for a wider war that would threaten a nuclear conflict with Russia.”
    • 'Campaign of fear' drives Pakistan's journalists to self-censorship as pressure mounts ahead of General Election
      "Militant organisations, who call them non-state actors, are active," said former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif in an interview to Dawn, one of the country’s oldest and leading English dailies. In the interview published on 12 May, the former prime minister went on to ask: "Should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me.”
    • Moderate Islam Falters in the Face of Silicon Valley Censorship
      In April, a federal court ruled that President Trump’s Twitter account serves as a public forum, meaning that his account may not block other Twitter users. Writing in the New York Times, law professor Noah Feldman declared: “This is the first time, to my knowledge, that the First Amendment has ever been applied to a private platform.”

      In Silicon Valley, however, the thinking is currently very different. Social-media companies favor censorship, especially as a means to deal with the topical issues of “hate speech” and “fake news.” Facebook, for example, recently published its “community standards” policy on censoring “hate speech” in the wake of many months of bad press and public inquiries. The tech giant promises its users protection from attacks on race, ethnicity, disability, gender, and so on. Facebook even inadvertently released a proposed new feature that asked users whether each social-media post they encountered qualified as “hate speech.”
    • Lessons From Making Internet Companies Liable For User's Speech: You Get Less Speech, Less Security And Less Innovation
      Stanford's Daphne Keller is one of the world's foremost experts on intermediary liability protections and someone we've mentioned on the website many times in the past (and have had her on the podcast a few times as well). She's just published a fantastic paper presenting lessons from making internet platforms liable for the speech of its users. As she makes clear, she is not arguing that platforms should do no moderation at all. That's a silly idea that no one who has any understanding of these issues thinks is a reasonable idea. The concern is that as many people (including regulators) keep pushing to pin liability on internet companies for the activities of their users, it creates some pretty damaging side effects. Specifically, the paper details how it harms speech, makes us less safe, and harms the innovation economy. It's actually kind of hard to see what the benefit side is on this particular cost-benefit equation.

      As the paper notes, it's quite notable how the demands from people about what platforms should do keeps changing. People keep demanding that certain content gets removed, while others freak out that too much content is being removed. And sometimes it's the same people (they want the "bad" stuff -- i.e., stuff they don't like -- removed, but get really angry when the stuff they do like is removed). Perhaps even more importantly, the issues for why certain content may get taken down are the same issues that often involve long and complex court cases, with lots of nuance and detailed arguments going back and forth.

    • [Older] Russian Censorship of Telegram

      Internet censors have a new strategy in their bid to block applications and websites: pressuring the large cloud providers that host them. These providers have concerns that are much broader than the targets of censorship efforts, so they have the choice of either standing up to the censors or capitulating in order to maximize their business. Today's Internet largely reflects the dominance of a handful of companies behind the cloud services, search engines and mobile platforms that underpin the technology landscape. This new centralization radically tips the balance between those who want to censor parts of the Internet and those trying to evade censorship. When the profitable answer is for a software giant to acquiesce to censors' demands, how long can Internet freedom last?

    • Section 230 Can't Save Snapchat From Lawsuit Involving Its 'Speed Filter'
      Section 230 of the CDA gave us the internet we know today. It has allowed hundreds of tech companies and dozens of social media networks to flourish. To some people, however, Section 230 immunity is the internet's villain, not its hero. Recent legislation has created some damaging holes in this essential protection, but it's still insular enough to fend off most legal action in which plaintiffs choose to sue service providers rather than the end user who did/said whatever the plaintiff finds tortiously offensive.

      Similar to what has been argued in multiple piracy-related lawsuits, the plaintiff in this lawsuit filed against Snapchat alleged one of the company's photo filters encouraged users to break the law. This lawbreaking had particularly tragic consequences.
    • French Political Party Voting For Mandatory Copyright Filters Is Furious That Its YouTube Channel Deleted By Filter
      It's been a long tradition here on Techdirt to show examples of politicians and political parties pushing for stricter, more draconian, copyright laws are often found violating those same laws. But the French Rassemblemant National (National Rally Point) party is taking this to new levels -- whining about the enforcement of internet filters, just as it's about to vote in favor of making such filters mandatory. Leaving aside that Rassemblemant National, which is the party headed by Marine Le Pen, is highly controversial, and was formerly known as Front National, it is still an extremely popular political party in France. And, boy, is it ever pissed off that YouTube took down its YouTube channel over automatically generated copyright strikes.


      So... we have a major political party in the EU, whose own YouTube channel has been shut down thanks to automated copyright filters in the form of YouTube's ContentID. And that party is complaining that ContentID, which is the most expensive and the most sophisticated of all the copyright filters out there, was unable to recognize that they were legally "quoting" another work... and their response is to order every other internet platform to install their own filters. Really?

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • UK Lawmaker Who Quizzed Facebook On Its Privacy Practices Doesn't Seem To Care Much About His Own Website's Privacy Practices
      Jason Smith, over at Indivigital has been doing quite a job of late in highlighting the hypocrisy of European lawmakers screaming at internet companies over their privacy practices, while doing little on their own websites of what they're demanding of the companies. He pointed out the EU Commission itself appeared to be violating the GDPR, leading it to claim that it was exempt. And now he's got a new story up, pointing out that the website of UK Parliament member, Damian Collins, who is the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee... does not appear to have a privacy policy in place, even though he took the lead in quizzing Facebook about its own privacy practices and its lack of transparency on how it treats user data.

      Now, there are those of us who believe that privacy policies are a dumb idea that don't do anything to protect people's privacy -- but if you're going to be grandstanding about how Facebook is not transparent enough about how it handles user data, it seems like you should be a bit transparent yourself. Smith's article details how many other members of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee don't seem to be living up to their own standards. They may have been attacking social media sites... but were happy to include tracking widgets from those very same social media sites on their own sites.
    • Over 150,000 People Tell Amazon: Stop Selling Facial Recognition Tech to Police
      By making this technology cheaply available, Amazon is empowering police to track vulnerable groups with staggering ease.

      On Monday afternoon, civil rights, religious, and community organizations are taking their demand that Amazon stop providing face surveillance technology to governments, including police departments, to the company’s headquarters in Seattle. The groups will deliver over 150,000 petition signatures, a coalition letter signed by nearly 70 organizations representing communities nationwide, and a letter from Amazon shareholders.

      Monday's action is a part of a nationwide campaign to stop the spread of face surveillance technology in government before it is unleashed in towns, cities, and states across the country.

      By making this dangerous technology cheaply and easily available, Amazon is uniquely positioned to spread face surveillance throughout government agencies, and it has been working behind the scenes to do so for years. Documents obtained by the ACLU reveal Amazon is aggressively marketing its Rekognition face surveillance tool to law enforcement in the United States, and even helping agencies deploy it.

      Amazon’s size and power — and its nearly ubiquitous Amazon Web Services cloud system — make it easy for the company to offer its face surveillance software as a service for very little money, lowering the bar for even small-town police departments to track people going about their daily lives. App developers can also build easy-to-use face surveillance software for police using Rekognition.

    • GCHQ spymasters advertise for gay codebreakers 60yrs after Alan Turing was hounded to death over homosexuality

      The intelligence agency listed an advert in this month’s issue Pride Issue of online magazine Fyne Times saying potential recruits would "see things differently."

      The service has appealed to gay men and women to join, saying: "Alternative perspectives spark the innovative thinking needed to achieve our mission."


      But the intelligence service relationship with the LGBT community has a far muddier history.

      Openly gay men were barred from joining the security services until 1991.

      A ban on joining the Armed Forces remained in place until 2000.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Fired FBI Official Now Discovering The 'Civilian' Delight Of Being Jerked Around By Govt' Agencies
      FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's career came to a sudden end earlier this year. Following in his predecessor James Comey's footsteps, McCabe swiftly found himself on the front sidewalk with a Sessions footprint on his ass. An Inspector General's report followed soon after, detailing many reasons McCabe might have been fired -- lying to investigators, leaking stuff to the press, evading concerns about his investigative neutrality in light of his wife's acceptance of donations from a Clinton-linked PAC... We don't know if any of these are why Trump fired McCabe, but pretty much any one of these things makes a firing justifiable.

      Lying to the FBI is serious business, even when it's just its oversight. Ask anyone who's been charged with nothing but lying when the FBI fails to build a better case. For McCabe, though, it was just a little "administrative misconduct." Something that could be addressed with a writeup or, in this case, a firing. That the trigger was pulled hours away from McCabe's retirement sucks for McCabe, but I find it very difficult to sympathize with career government employees who feel they're still owed a lifetime of retirement benefits after they've been fired for cause.

    • U.S. expected to retreat from main U.N. rights forum: activists, diplomats
      - Talks with the United States over how to reform the main U.N. rights body have failed to meet Washington’s demands, activists and diplomats say, suggesting that the Trump administration will quit the Geneva forum whose session opens on Monday.

    • Majority oppose policy that causes family separation, but Republicans approve
      Two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the Trump administration's practice of taking undocumented immigrant children from their families and putting them in government facilities on US borders, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS. Only 28% approve. But among Republicans, there is majority support for the policy that has resulted in an uptick of children being separated from their families. The separations are the end result of the administration's "zero tolerance" policy of criminally charging people who cross the border illegally.

    • Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated From Their Parents at the Border
      The desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children, separated from their parents one day last week by immigration authorities at the border, makes for excruciating listening. Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream “Mami” and “Papá” over and over again, as if those are the only words they know.

    • DHS Chief is Confronted With ProPublica Tape of Wailing Children Separated from Parents
      Minutes after ProPublica posted a recording of crying children begging for their parents, Kirstjen Nielsen stepped up to the podium in the White House briefing room to answer questions from reporters, as well as a growing chorus of criticism from Democrats and Republicans.

      Nielsen, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, blamed Congress for the Trump administration’s policy of separating children detained at the border from their parents. Nielsen said the administration would continue to send the children to temporary detention centers in warehouses and big box stores until Congress rewrites the nation’s immigration laws.

      At one point, a reporter from New York magazine, Olivia Nuzzi, played the tape ProPublica obtained from inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, according to tweets she posted.

    • How Police Can Stop Being Weaponized by Bias-Motivated 911 Calls
      Police departments should instruct dispatchers and officers to exercise independent judgment when responding to biased calls.

      Too often, law enforcement lets itself be hijacked by a biased call to 911 — usually a caller reporting a “suspicious person” who is actually just Black. In response to a spate of well-publicized incidents, many are saying that white people should avoid calling the police when an actual crime is not being committed. That’s a start. But police departments also need to retool how they respond to these calls.

      Black people and other people of color shouldn’t have to endure police intrusions that lack a legal basis. When police enforce the racial biases of private citizens, they convert those biases into governmental discrimination. Furthermore, such arrests undermine the legitimacy of the police and carry disturbing historical echoes of when the law explicitly relegated nonwhite people to second-class status. By enforcing the will of white people to exclude Black and brown people from public space and everyday activities, these officers recall the role of law enforcement in maintaining Jim Crow and, before that, slavery.

      Thanks to the internet and cellphones, the nation at large has seen numerous examples of police acting on the racial biases of those who called them.

      At a Starbucks in Philadelphia recently, a white manager called the cops on two Black men waiting for a business meeting, just minutes after they arrived at the coffee shop — the police responded by arresting the two men. In a Yale University dorm, a white graduate student called the cops on a Black graduate student for napping in a common room — the police responded by detaining the Black student for nearly 20 minutes before letting her back inside her own dorm room. At Colorado State University, a white woman on a campus tour called the cops on two Native American teens because they “just really stand out” from the others on the tour — the police responded by pulling these prospective students from the tour to interrogate them.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC, Big Telcos Take Aim At Line Sharing Rules In Bid To Further Hamstring Broadband Competition
      So you might recall that part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the concept of line sharing, or local loop unbundling. Simply, the rules set forth by that law required that incumbent telcos needed to share their networks with smaller competitors, providing wholesale access to bandwidth. It was an effort to foster something vaguely resembling competition in the broadband space by letting smaller companies piggyback on existing network infrastructure. The thought was that because the barriers to market entry were so high, this could help smaller competitors gain footholds that would otherwise be impossible.

      Unsurprisingly incumbent telcos utterly loathed this idea, and quickly got to work dismantling it. First by ensuring that the coordination between incumbent telcos (ILECs) and smaller competitors (CLECs) was as clunky, cumbersome and annoying as possible (something you probably noticed if you ever waited for installs from one of these smaller ISPs in the late 90s or early aughts), then by lobbying to have the rules dismantled. Incumbent telcos then used the resulting failure as evidence that the idea was doomed from the start, despite the fact we never truly gave it a chance.

      The idea of opening incumbent networks to competitors is pretty common in some parts of the world. France for example managed to take the same concept and made it work quite successfully in cities like Paris, where to this day users can get TV, phone, and 100-500 Mbps broadband connections for a tiny fraction of what American consumers pay ($40 to $50 or so). A variation on this theme is open access, where multiple ISPs come in and compete over a core (sometimes government co-run) network; an idea that works well here and abroad, but also sees fierce incumbent ISP opposition for obvious reasons.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Volkswagen Claims Ownership of an Entire Group of Insects
      Using word searches to find infringement is a bad way to go about things. It is likely why Volkswagen filed three takedown requests for art of beetles. Not Beetles with four wheels and headlights. Beetles with six legs and hard, shiny carapaces. For the record, Volkswagen holds no rights to literal bugs.

      Peggy Muddles is a scientist and an artist who marries her two lives by making science-themed art. Among her many digital prints are a number of works featuring beetles—the type of insect. And, well, Volkswagen was not having any of that.

      Muddles sells some of her prints through the website RedBubble. On December 1, 2017, she received a takedown notice for her rove beetle art from Volkswagen. Now, the rove beetle is a common insect found throughout Europe. A Volkswagen Beetle is a car.

      Volkswagen, it turns out, does not own beetles the insect, the largest group of animals on this planet. Nor does it own rove beetles, the largest group of beetles alive. And it does not own the depiction of the species Paederus fuscipes, the species Muddles depicted in her art.

      In response, Muddles did the right thing: she consulted a lawyer, crafted a counter-notice explaining that her bug was not the same as a car named for a bug, and sent it to RedBubble and Volkswagen. “After VW’s option to pursue expired, I repeatedly attempted to contact RedBubble to have my listing reinstated, but received only automated replies indicating that my email had been received,” Muddles told EFF. “After about two months, I chalked it up to a simple error and re-uploaded the design.”

    • Evidence on Patent Disclosure via Depository Libraries
      When I first started practice, the place to go for patents was the Patent Depository Library at the Sunnyvale Public Library. Not only did they have copies of all the patents, they had other disclosures, like the IBM Technical Disclosure series. For those who wonder whether people actually read patents, I can attest that I never went to that library and found it empty. Many people, mostly individual inventors who did not want to pay for Delphion or some other electronic service, went there to look at the prior art. Sadly, the library ceased to be at the end of 2017. Widespread free availability on the Internet, plus a new USPTO center in San Jose siphoned off all the traffic.

      Rather than rely on my anecdotal evidence, a new NBER paper examines the role of Patent Depository Libraries as evidence of patent disclosure. Jeffrey Furman (Boston U. Strategy & Policy Dept), Markus Nagler, and Martin Watzinger (both of Ludwig Maximillian U. in Munich) have posted Disclosure and Subsequent Innovation: Evidence from the Patent Depository Library Program to NBER's website (sorry, it's a paywall unless you've got .gov or .edu rights).

    • Body/Performance art loses in court
      Last month, the Paris Court of Appeal handed down its decision in the case between Lady Gaga and the French body and performance artist Orlan (Paris Court of Appeal, 1st ch. 5th pole, 15 May 2018, No 16/1477: Porte k/a Orlan v Germanotta k/a Lady Gaga and others). In this dispute, the French performance artist argued that Lady Gaga’s album cover and video clip for the record ‘Born this way’ reproduced a number of her works and traits of her personality – most notably some of her body transformation including her face implants.

    • The Myth Behind Health And Trade Agreements – Q&A With Othoman Mellouk
      Intellectual property exporters and intellectual property importers do not have the same interests. Countries which export intellectual property, whether it be in pharmaceuticals or software, will be interested in protecting what they produce nationally and globally, whereas those who import them have a different set of interests and should develop a policy to suit their own interests. Developing countries which rely on others’ intellectual property want minimum safeguards, which is laid down in TRIPS. Now, TRIPS is not perfect but at least while it guarantees minimum protection for IP rights holders, countries still have policy space to adapt national laws with their level of development. So it is not surprising that the United States and the European Union are pushing for stringent IPR regimes with ‘TRIPS plus’, because they are protecting their own industries. The big mistake is when countries which rely on others’ intellectual property also apply TRIPS plus, because it does not benefit them. This happens because of propaganda and the the big myth that intellectual property promotes innovation.

    • Copyrights

      • BitTorrent is selling for $140M to Justin Sun and Tron
        BitTorrent, an early mover in concept of building a business around decentralised computing architecture to distribute and store data, is being sold for $140 million in cash to Justin Sun and his blockchain media startup Tron, TechCrunch has learned.

        Variety yesterday reported that a sale of the company to Sun closed last week, without naming a price, following rumors that circulated for at least a month that the two were in negotiations.
      • BitTorrent Acquired By Tron Cryptocurrency Founder For $140 Million: Report
        Even though the popularity of peer-to-peer file sharing platform BitTorrent might be taking a hit these days due to the rise of video streaming services, it remains a powerful force in the internet world. In an interesting development, Justin Sun, the founder of Tron decentralized platform and its TRX cryptocurrency, has acquired the company.

        The rumors of BitTorrent’s sale first appeared online last week, thanks to Variety, but the terms of the deal remained unknown. However, as per a new TechCrunch report, Sun’s company has finalized the acquisition for $140 million in cash.
      • In two days, an EU committee will vote to crown Google and Facebook permanent lords of internet censorship
        On June 20, the EU's legislative committee will vote on the new Copyright directive, and decide whether it will include the controversial "Article 13" (automated censorship of anything an algorithm identifies as a copyright violation) and "Article 11" (no linking to news stories without paid permission from the site).

        These proposals will make starting new internet companies effectively impossible -- Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and the other US giants will be able to negotiate favourable rates and build out the infrastructure to comply with these proposals, but no one else will. The EU's regional tech success stories -- say, a successful Czech search competitor to Google -- don't have $60-100,000,000 lying around to build out their filters, and lack the leverage to extract favorable linking licenses from news sites.

        If Articles 11 and 13 pass, American companies will be in charge of Europe's conversations, deciding which photos and tweets and videos can be seen by the public, and who may speak.
      • Norwegian Court Orders Website Of Public Domain Court Decisions Shut Down With No Due Process
        What's up Europe? We've been talking a lot about insanity around the new copyright directive, but the EU already has some pretty messed up copyright/related rights laws on the books that are creating absurd situations. The following is one of them. One area where US and EU laws differ is on the concept of the "database right." The US does not grant a separate copyright on a collection of facts. The EU does. Studies have shown how this is horrible idea, and if you compare certain database-driven industries in the US and the EU, you discover how much damage database rights do to innovation, competition and the public. But, alas, they still exist. And they continue to be used in positively insane ways.

        Enter H&‌aring;kon Wium Lie. You might know him as basically the father of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Or the former CTO of the Opera browser. Or maybe even as the founder of the Pirate Party in Norway. Either way, he's been around a while in this space, and knows what he's talking about. Via Boing Boing we learn that: (1) Wium Lie has been sued for a completely absurd reason of (2) helping a site publish public domain court rulings that (3) are not even protected by a database right and (4) the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff (5) in 24 hours (6) before Lie could respond and (7) ordered him to pay the legal fees of the other side.

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